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JeSuisRickSpringfield's avatar

What would be the proper political and legal ramifications of superpowers?

Asked by JeSuisRickSpringfield (697 points ) June 4th, 2012

Despite the occasional storyline depicting attempts to register or regulate them, superheroes in comic books and movies are more or less allowed to roam about on their own so long as they do not become supervillains. What if people in the actual world were to develop superpowers, though? What would be the proper way for society to react in political and/or legal terms. Would it matter whether it was only a few people or everyone who had obtained superpowers?

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15 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

They would all be abducted in the night and end up dissected in some secret military laboratory, so their abilities can be replicated and exploited by the government and the military industrial complex.

tedd's avatar

If I have super powers, I make the god damn ramifications… I’m the one with the f*cking super powers b*tch

digitalimpression's avatar

It would be chaos. Mankind has already proven it can’t even handle the power it currently has.. let alone something superhuman.

It would take a superhuman police force to regulate them.

Bill1939's avatar

Given that in most societies any significant deviation from the common will elicit fear and the desire to remove its source, “super powers” will have to be closeted and the opportunity to use them severely limited. Also the psychosocial development of such gifted would likely be impaired, possibly resulting in their becoming “supervillains.”

wundayatta's avatar

If some people had superpowers, and they misused them, then others would band together to protect themselves against those superpowers. The police and military would develop the superpowers or coopt them. So would private business. It would be part of the never-ending arms race that already has been going on for millenniums.

As always, those with more knowledge and who can think more creatively would do better, whether or not they had superpowers. It isn’t so much the power as how you use it that matters.

wildpotato's avatar

This is a large topic of discussion and the impetus behind many, many stories in the DC universe (I don’t follow Marvel; maybe there too). In DC, the governments of the world tend to build up their own superpowered forces by genetic recombination, brainwashing, blackmail, cloning, plain old patriotism, and other tactics. Captain Atom is a good example of a superhero sometimes torn between his duty to the Justice League and his duty to his country.

The Suicide Squad (aka Task Force X) is one such government agency. Project Cadmus is another, though sometimes they have other goals. Amanda Waller is my favorite government anti-hero who works to offset the power of the superheroes, though she is not superpowered herself. Even STAR Labs eventually works to further government interests in opposition to the Justice League, after Professor Hamilton becomes disillusioned with Superman’s rhetoric. There’s also a large story arc involving Lex Luthor as President for a bit (he’s not usually superpowered, but sometimes is, especially when Brainiac is involved).

You might be interested in the comic Red Son, which is a depiction of the person Superman might have been if his capsule had landed in the USSR.

So to answer your question – there are a lot of political and legal ramifications of superpowers, and if you’re interested in this, check out a bunch of comics, because a lot of cool scenarios have already been imagined. A great way to take in one of these, involving a good deal of what I mentioned above, is to watch Bruce Timm’s Justice League Unlimited (Not Justice League – which, though also a great series, is not political. JLU is the direct sequel to JL).

JeSuisRickSpringfield's avatar

I would just like to remind everyone that this question is about what should be done, not about what we think would actually be done. That’s why I asked what the proper (that is, appropriate) response would be.

Bill1939's avatar

“Would it matter whether it was only a few people or everyone who had obtained superpowers?” Yes, if everyone had superpowers, no one’s powers would be super. I don’t understand the question of “what should be done?” Isn’t the notion of superpowers hypothetical enough?

bolwerk's avatar

If I were God, I would give Mexicans superspeed and make them bullet proof. Totally pizz off the border states.

JeSuisRickSpringfield's avatar

@Bill1939 But not all superpowers are created equal. Some might be able to shoot laser beams from their eyes while others might be able to make bread rise extra fast. As for the question of what should be done, I am asking what the proper political and legal response would be. Should they be forced to register their powers with the government? Should they be left completely alone?

@wildpotato I’ve read all of those comics. They are part of the background to this question.

@all I’ve seen a lot people say what they think would happen in fact, but are you endorsing those actions as being correct? If not, then I would ask you to answer the question I actually asked: what would the proper political and legal response be? Should we just leave them alone and not regulate them in any way? Should we require them to register their powers? Et cetera.

wundayatta's avatar

We should expect ethical behavior of people with superpowers the same as we expect of anyone else. Really, our moral expectations of people are no different from people just because they have different abilities.

JeSuisRickSpringfield's avatar

@wundayatta But the question isn’t about what we should morally expect of them. The question is whether or not the advent of superpowers should result in any particular political or legal actions.

wundayatta's avatar

The clear implication to my statement is NO! NO! NO! How many times do I need to say this? I don’t care how you ask the question. The answer is still the same. Nothing needs to be done. Politically, legally or morally. Superpowers don’t change a thing.

If you’re looking for something else, you better say it yourself. You are not leading me somewhere other than where I want to go.

Bill1939's avatar

Whether a government should intervene, @JeSuisRickSpringfield, should depend upon what “powers” someone had. I strongly believe that an individual’s talent, such as intelligence, athletic or artistic abilities (or even bread making), should be identified early in their life and its development facilitated. Only a government can muster resources that insure everyone, regardless of their economic status, can reach their full potential. However, any government will likely try to exploit super powers that might be useful in war and defense against war.

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