Heather Anastasiu On The Trouble With Superpowers

Superpowers are just that — super. But the teen heroine of Heather Anastasiu's Override, quickly realizes that it's easy being different. In the Sophomore novel in the author's Glitch trilogy, Zoe finds herself part of a team of young superhuman fighters who battle to save humans and other gifted "glitchers" from an oppressive ruler. Zoe's telekinesis certainly comes in handy during the fight, but that doesn't mean it isn't without some serious drawbacks. Today the author shares 5 reasons why you would want to say "no thanks" to having superpowers. 

As the characters in my Glitch trilogy realize, having superpowers can be both a blessing and a curse. Because after all, it’s hard to root for a character who is perfect and can solve any problem with a mere flick of their hand. Without flaws, there’s no tension or conflict, and it makes the character unrelatable. It’s why Superman has to have kryptonite.

Learning to control the superpower can be difficult, and in the meantime, destructive. My main character Zoe creates a lot of accidental destruction throughout the entire series. Having the most powerful superpower might seem awesome, but it also means there’s just that much more energy to go haywire. When we normal humans get upset, we might yell at someone or go have a good cry, whereas if a superhero is having a bad day they can, you know, accidentally take out a city block.

Some powers feel like a curse. Some of my favorite superheroes are the ones who struggled with the effects of their powers, like the Hulk. Sure he has immense power when he goes all hulk, but it’s at the cost of losing control of himself. I dug into this downside of superhero powers by having a boy who sees the future but can’t change it. Adrien’s always doing everything he can to alter his visions, especially after he has one that especially haunts him. In the meantime fear clouds his every step as he wonders, will this be the one time he’s actually able to subvert the future?

Conflict between the Haves and the Have Nots. Superheroes are most often going to make up a smaller percentage of the population, and they often have to work with normal humans to achieve their goals. But this creates a myriad of problems — there’s always an underlying sense of us vs. them, which makes for a lack of trust. Each might be using the other to further their goals but be ready to snap the tenuous bond whenever it becomes expedient, not to mention the good old fashioned sense of jealousy that comes when someone else is far more skilled at something. This kind of conflict can erupt between fellow superheroes too. Just think of how much infighting there is all during the first half of the Avengers movie.

Some superpowers mandate isolation. There’s a whole category of lonely superheroes. Think of Rogue from X-Men, who can’t touch anyone without severely hurting them. In my series, there’s a boy whose self-defensive superpower makes everyone forget him as soon as they leave his presence. Among the myriad other problems, this makes having a girlfriend difficult ;)

Having amazing superpowers still isn’t always enough to defeat the bad guy. Because superheroes are flawed and have weaknesses, and often the bad guys have powers too, sometimes no matter how hard they try, our favorite superheroes still occasionally get their butts handed to them on a plate. 

- Heather Anastasiu

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