Here’s something to think about when they start handing out super-powers, whether “they” is some cosmic space-god with a Santa disposition or a freak lab explosion that covers everyone in glowing goo:
Teleportation is the best super-power.
Now that’s a bold statement (literally…ok I’ll stop), because in media today super-powers are a dime a dozen. You may be thinking, ‘Random Blog Post I’m Probably Not Reading Right Now, how can you say that when super strength, flight, invisibility, eye-beams, immortality, invisibility, shape-shifting, telepathy, telekinesis, weather-control, invulnerability, super-speed, and that time travel thing from Superman: The Movie are all on the table?!?’
Well, like this.
The first thing I want to say is that not everyone is going to end up a super-hero/villain once they get juiced up, so usefulness in a fight does not necessarily translate to “best power,” but with that said, Teleportation is definitely the most useful in a fight.
The above link will take you to one of the coolest scenes in the X-Men franchise where, despite the weirdness of Alan Cummings wafting around like so much sulfuric bamf-smoke, Nightcrawler storms the goddamned White House single-handedly. The significance of this isn’t that Bryan Singer really knew his stuff and made a really awesome X-Men sequel (he didn’t), but that were Nightcrawler in his right mind and possessed of a will to do so, he totally would have killed the President of the United States, and nothing anybody could do, as we see in the scene, could stop him.
Ok, yes, he does have super agility and acrobat training which helped him dodge a few bullets and kick a few more faces, but if teleportation is the only power you’re packing, you can do the same exact thing just by teleporting a few more times and appearing in just the right spot to face-kick anyone trying to hit you.
Whether you’re fighting close range or at a distance, the simple solution to getting the upper hand is not to ever be in any one place at the same time for long enough for your opponent to do a damn thing about it. Now of course there’s always room for random chance to screw you over as your enemy fires at the exact spot that you might suddenly appear and hits you dead in the face, but as far as superhero weaknesses go, extreme improbability is pretty harmless.
Due to the popularity of Quicksilver’s similar scene in X-Men: DoFP, some people out there may be thinking that all these same things are true of super-speed. I mean, travel time is basically the same when you compare the fraction of a second it takes to teleport across the room vs the fraction of a second it takes to super-sprint across it, right? ‘Porting wins out though due to the seemingly slight advantage of not being tangible in those fractions of moments. This becomes more important in scenes where (a different) Quicksilver is doing his time-freeze thing and happens to see a cool hammer fly by in Avengers 2, tries to grab it, and gets dragged along to get a pile of crates toppled on top of him. The simple lesson here is that you can either be in danger or out of it no matter how fast you’re going, because you never know when something will surprise you.
An argument could be made that Quicksilver need not have died since he jumped in front of a gun to save someone else, so that’s not exactly his powers’ fault. In that case the same thing could’ve happened to a teleporter right? Well the point I’m trying to make is that you can still be hit by random chance either way, but the time you’re open to chance is significantly lowered if you’re only tangible for another fraction of a second. For example, in season 1, episode 4 of the all-around-meh CW show The Tomorrow People. two of the main characters are stuck in a trap with 6 bombs that are all rigged to blow in a matter of seconds. Only one of them knows anything about bombs, and due to being one of the mutan-umm–‘tomorrow people’, he’s able to teleport from bomb to bomb every fraction of a second to diffuse all 6 at once, moving so fast that he’s essentially in all 6 places at once while simultaneously being in none of them. That is, in professional terms, damn impressive, and is one of the many reasons why John is the only cool person in that whole show. If that’s the scale of teleportation expertise we’re working with, then yeah, eat your heart out, super-speed.
‘But surely,’ the avid readership I don’t have yet cries, ‘wouldn’t it be better altogether to just be immortal? Then you wouldn’t have to worry about not staying still in order to stay alive!’
To this, I suggest my hypothetical readership should refrain from any Faustian bargains they may have in the works, because they have not thought this through. Firstly, it depends on the kind of immortality you get: are you comfortable with the possibility of spending eternity as a pile of disconnected limbs? Do you like the sound of awaiting judgement day in the form of a paper-weight? If you answered no to either, then you’re superpower is out of the running. IF you’re lucky and get the good kind of immortality, then guess what? You’re still screwed, just take it from Image Comics’ The Immortal after a few more centuries of the unending torment that indefinite existence turns out to be:
On that note, any argument about what constitutes the best superpower shouldn’t be dominated by a weighing of their merits in combat because, as I mentioned before, most people don’t actually see a whole lot. Any power that’s primarily offensive is going to see diminishing returns on its usefulness for someone who’s afraid of accidentally punching someone’s head off (i.e. everyone, hopefully).
This is where teleportation really shines, day-to-day usefulness. And for this, I must draw your attention to 2008’s Hayden ‘My-Bad-Dialogue-In-Star-Wars-Was-George’s-Fault-I’m-Actually-An-Ok-Actor’ Christensen led sci-fi film, Jumper.
Say what you want about how this movie is nothing special, easily forgettable, but what it does very well is drive the exact point I’m trying to make right now home. So thanks for that.
This movie portrays teleportation as what it really is, complete freedom. From a young age, after discovering his ability and running away from home, the movie’s protagonist David Rice becomes self-sufficient at 15 by simply teleporting in and out of bank vaults till he lives the high life in a sweet apartment. He parties in Paris, has lunch on the Sphinx’s noggin, takes a date to the restricted part of the Colosseum, literally nothing is off limits. Samuel L Jackson’s sole motivation to hunt down and kill Rice and his kind down is that their power is basically too cool to exist, and he’s exactly right!
Imagine it for a second: keep out signs are just a suggestion, no door is ever closed, nothing you want is out of reach, and if you get caught, jail is just a room.
For those of you with a conscious who might be thinking ‘yeah, sounds cool if all I want to do is fuck over my fellow man but it’s a hard pass for me’ (yeah, I think there are some out there), I’d tell them to imagine all the shit you could do that’s perfectly damn legal! Think about it. So much of the expense of money or effort in life comes down to transportation, just think of all the disposable income you have as a fine upstanding citizen who’s able to cut that shit out of their life? Paying for gas (or needing a car, for that matter)? Thing of the past. You never have to call another Uber and force small-talk, you can always be where you like the weather, vacation anywhere, travel effortlessly, you can escape dangerous situations, and you never have to listen to elevator music again unless you want to, like if you’re some weird elevator-music connoisseur.
That’s it, that’s my spiel. Let me know in the comments though if you think I missed something, or am just a filthy filthy liar that Samual L Jackson is going to taze-murder. At least I’ll be forewarned.