Sometimes, when we watch superhero movies, we like to sit back and let ourselves get carried away by the majestic special effects and the epic music. At other times, we like to tear the magic apart, and then the slightest display of superhero power will have us searching for countless articles and videos breaking down the comics, hunting down any explanation we might find as to how the mutant's abilities work.
For instance, a lot of superhero powers seem suspiciously incompatible with real-world physics once you take a closer look. Sure, most of the comics and movies have got the inconsistency covered with some kind of twist, but what would actually happen if superheroes had to submit to the laws of gravity?
Read on for five scenarios in which Superman, Hulk and co. have to deal with Einstein's rules.
1. Cyclops Would Break His Neck
Cyclops has got quite the impressive résumé, what with being one of the founding members of the X-Men and all, and is known for the ability to shoot beams of energy from his eyes. These beams require him to wear a special set of eyewear to control them.
But technically, Cyclops would break his neck using the beams. Because the kind of beams that let you burn stuff are powerful, and that much power also involves some recoil. Shoot, boom, crack.
Marvel has (more or less) explained how the beaming man doesn't snap his spine in two, but the explanation has changed a few times. While the X-Men comic #43 says that his eyes act as mini solar batteries, the 1983 Official Marvel Handbook defines them as portals to another dimension, where the laws of physics "do not pertain." Then, in 1986, a corrected version brought back the solar cell theory, but this one doesn't solve the problem of recoil.
2. Dr. Octopus Would Break His Back
Super strength might sound cool, but it has two major drawbacks: The first one is keeping that thing you're lifting intact, the second one is keeping your bones and joints in one piece.
Taking something heavy in your hands (or metal tentacles), like a building, makes that building rest on a very little surface. Which means that your hands (or metal tentacles) are going to break through that building. Not very practical. After that, the weight of the building would also take quite a toll on your spine.
That is certainly why in Spider-Man 2, Dr. Octopus always keeps an arm on the ground when he lifts heavy stuff, evening out the weight to spare his bones.
3. Superman Would Get Cooked
The first of Superman's problems is that he would be covered in bugs traveling at his speed, like a motorcycle helmet but much, much worse. And that's not very sexy. Need a picture? Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal's got your back:
In our lame physics-ruled world, he would burst into flames pretty quickly. Smashing into an obstacle would also constitute an unhappy scenario. And even if you assume that part of his power is having a skin that doesn't catch fire when submitted to extreme friction, he wouldn't be able to carry anyone with him without turning them into a half-cooked steak. For more information on charring meat at hypersonic speeds, please refer to XKCD's What If? "Steak Drop" episode.
4. Invisible Woman Would Be Blind
In order for your eyes to see, you need light to be reflected off your cornea. But if you're invisible, your cornea is invisible, and the light has got nowhere to reflect off of. Basically, being completely invisible would make you blind. Too bad.
Obviously, Invisible Woman covered this, as she didn't really like the idea of bumping into furniture all the time. Since her power is characterized by the ability to manipulate and distort light rays, she still makes sure that enough undistorted light reaches her eyes. If you were standing right in front of her, you could probably see two little dots floating in midair.
5. The Hulk Would Make Very Tiny Poops
Apart from ripping his clothes every time he goes green, The Hulk has got a number of problems on his hands. His strength would cause the same troubles as to Dr. Octopus, meaning he would make a nice dent into that taxi (see above) and do some damage to his joints.
But there's another tiny issue:
Clearly, being a superhero here on Earth isn't an easy job.
Which superpower would you rather have?