You might have noticed that superheroes are having a bit of a prolonged moment. There’s much to be said for their commentary on society’s outcasts, but their appeal also includes wish fulfillment. We can’t yet fly or move things with our minds (or can we?), we can read and watch really good-looking people do it.
But really, how passé. Been there, done that with the superheroic abilities. It’s time for a new age: that of the pseudopower. You know them, these sorta-superpowers, the incredible knacks your favorite fictional characters possess. Looking at you, Ms. Nancy “Oh, Gosh, Another Mystery” Drew. Here are some of the fictional semi-powers we most covet:
Stumbling Upon Mysteries (Nancy Drew)
It’s fortuitous Nancy checked “detective” on her career-day wish list, because mysteries are falling all over themselves to find her. Like the time she’s saved in a lake by an orphan girl with a backstory straight out of The Rescuers. There’s also the fact that her social circle can’t seem to hold on to their heirloom jewels, or keep their grand estates unburnt. Enigmatic happenings are drawn to her like moths to flame, which is how you could describe Ned Nickerson, too, if he could ever summon that much passion.
Making Everyone Love You Despite Your Sour Personality (Bella Swan, Katniss Everdeen)
One sulky, one surly, both beloved by the public at large in their respective universes. Not that Katniss doesn’t rightfully possess all that righteous malice (and it rains a lot in Forks, I’d be in a funk, too), but typically when I’m in a foul temper, people aren’t quite as indulgent—or lovestruck. Where are my muscular, brooding love triangles?
Migrating Wounds (John Watson)
Follow the bouncing bullet hole. Is it in his leg? Is it in his shoulder? The world may never know. But it could be a convenient talent, shifting your physical impediments. Tetherball tournament? Best move that aching injury farther south. Time to sprint away from some baddies? Shoulder marks the spot. Skeptical malcontents like Holmes might explain it away as narrative inconsistency, but I think he’s just too proud to admit his sidekick’s got his own special claim.
Magnetic Eccentricity (Don Quixote)
Anyone else think they’d have the magnetism to pull off this level of delusion so endearingly, while involving accommodating members of the public? Not every knight-errant can so charm a group of goatherds, and Sancho Panzas don’t exactly grow on trees.
Nurturing Archenemies Who Care About Academics (Harry Potter)
Whatever Voldemort’s murderous intentions, he really did care about Harry’s education. True, there were all those times he could have been killed, or worse, expelled. But he really kept the pinnacle of his dastardly schemes confined to the end of term. Either Harry inspired in his nemesis a desire to preserve the sanctity of academia, or Voldy really hated standardized testing.
Attracting the Right Crowd (Dorothy)
When I board a plane I have a certain helpless magnetism that sends people running to assist my insignificant upper-arm muscles in hoisting a carry-on bag into the overhead bin. This is not unlike Dorothy Gale in Oz, who attracts followers with the ease of a charismatic cult leader. What with the witches, munchkins, scarecrows, tin persons, lions, monkeys, etc., etc., there’s no more room on this helpless foreigner’s bandwagon to the Emerald City. She’s got 99 problems, but her charm ensures followers that can help her solve them.