Who are some people with unusual super powers

Teenagers with superpowers

| by Christopher Diekhaus

There have long been stories in which the development of superpowers coincides with adolescence. During puberty, the supernatural gifts suddenly come to the fore, turn out to be a reaction to oppression and abuse, promote identity crises or even lead the young protagonists to the limit of losing control. Overview of a narrative pattern that is particularly common at the moment.

Superheroes have become an indispensable part of film and television. At least since the start of the action blockbuster “Iron Man” by Jon Favreau in 2008, which launched the so-called Marvel Cinematic Universe, stories about people and other beings with extraordinary abilities have had a lasting impact on pop culture. Every new Marvel flick draws crowds to the cinemas. And the film adaptations of the DC Comics also attract numerous viewers, despite weaker reviews. Recently, narratives that merge superpowers with the sensitivities of growing up have become an increasingly popular variety. A pattern that is used by the two recently launched series “Ragnarök” (2020) and “I Am Not Okay With This” (2020).

The development of supernatural powers as a strike of liberation

Admittedly, the fact that teenagers' fears coincide with the sudden discovery of supernatural gifts is not a new phenomenon. The Stephen King adaptation "Carrie - Des Satan's Youngest Daughter", published in 1976 and directed by Brian De Palma, describes the all-round blow of a teenager with telekinetic abilities who suffers from the harassment of her fanatically devout mother and is bullied by her classmates . Because she was not informed about the changes in the female body during puberty at home, Carrie panics when she has her first menstrual period in the shower after gym class at the beginning of the film. The classmates, in turn, use their seizure as an opportunity to mock the girl. Actually, the main character just wants to be a normal teenager. However, their environment drives them with ever new humiliations to use their power of thought in destructive ways.

The emergence of special skills as they grow up also plays a role in the 2001 television series "Smallville," which sheds light on the teenage years of a certain Clark Kent, later Superman. Over the course of the ten seasons, the protagonist gets to know more and more of his extraordinary gifts and understands where he comes from and what destiny awaits him. Stories with this kind of thrust have evidently been around for a long time. For some years now, however, an accumulation has been observed, so that one can certainly speak of a small current.

Joachim Trier's romantic mystery thriller “Thelma” from 2017, for example, looks like a modification of the “Carrie” story, but develops an individual strength of expression. The focus is on the insecure title heroine, who leaves her strongly conservative parents' home in the Norwegian wasteland to study in Oslo. The painful cutting of the cord coincides with Thelma's first love. And moreover, she feels more and more that unusual powers are awakening inside her. Forces that their father and mother always tried to keep in check with religious rigor. The whole thing is a haunted, atmospherically photographed self-discovery trip that turns out refreshingly ambivalent to the furious end.

Telekinesis also uses the main character from the horror drama "Dark Touch" (2013). Here the abilities are a brute response to the abuse that the mentally damaged protagonist suffered from her parents. In “Brightburn - Son of Darkness” (2019), Brandon, who fell from space and was adopted by a childless married couple, makes use of his extraordinary gifts out of pure lust for killing. As a kind of sinister revenant of Superman, the innocent-looking boy causes chaos and devastation.

Superpowers and identity crises

The connection of youthful worries with the blossoming of superhuman qualities is not only evident in the two "Spider-Man" films directed by Jon Watts (2017 and 2019) for the major Marvel screen series. The animated film “Spider-Man: A New Universe”, which was released in 2018 and won an Oscar, also starts at this point. The hero is not the well-known Peter Parker, but Miles Morales. A normal teenager with Afro-American and Hispanic roots who wants to meet his father's expectations and struggles with insecurities after changing schools. When he gains spider-like superpowers from a bite, he slides into an adventure that swirls space and time up and down. The film carries its Believe-in-You-then-you-can-do-everything message, perhaps a little too hastily, but shows in breathtakingly animated images how the protagonist learns to master the responsibility arising from his abilities.

In recent times, Netflix in particular has stood out when it comes to looking at particularly talented young people and their turbulent inner life. "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina", running in the second season since January 2020, tells of a 16-year-old girl who tries to reconcile her different identities - half human, half witch. The series "The Umbrella Academy", which was published in 2019 and is based on a comic series, presents a dysfunctional family consisting of seven superhero siblings who have to avert an apocalypse after the mysterious death of their adoptive father. While they worked together badly for a while, painful realizations about the relentless training directed by their father in their childhood and youth are revealed. The figure of the violin player Vanya is particularly exciting here. For a long time she believed she was the only one in the group to be ordinary. Gradually, however, she becomes aware of her telekinetic abilities and realizes with horror that these have always been deliberately suppressed. An aha experience with devastating consequences.

On the verge of losing control

The series productions “Ragnarök” and “I Am Not Okay With This”, which started at the beginning of 2020, also feature attractive expressions of the teenage superpower pattern. The fantasy saga "Ragnarök", which draws on the fundus of Nordic myths of gods, revolves around Magne, a dyslexic with autistic features who is drawn into a battle with ancient forces after returning to his hometown. The phenomenon of physical changes that every teenager notices during puberty is not only confusing in Magne's case, it is downright scary. Without warning, his poor eyesight disappears, while his muscle strength increases dramatically at the same time. Heralds of a great task that the outsider, ridiculed by many, is ready to accept at some point.

The seven-part series "I Am Not Okay With This", based on the graphic novel of the same name, is less epic, but all the more sarcastic. The 17-year-old Sydney Novak - wonderfully charismatic and multifaceted played by Sophia Lillis - likes to flirt with her status as an eccentric, is cheeky and direct, but is quite vulnerable. She is troubled by the unrequited love of her only and best friend, the mysterious suicide of her father and the constant quarrels with her mother, who does not want to talk about the blow in the family. With great discomfort, Sydney observes her growing telekinetic powers, which break out whenever negative feelings get out of hand. That this ability is difficult to keep under control can already be guessed from a foresight placed at the beginning, which bows clearly before Stephen King's novel “Carrie” and De Palma's screen adaptation.

More superhuman teenagers would have been just around the corner. Since cinema operations have come to a standstill for the time being due to the Corona crisis, we have to do a bit more on the release of the science fiction flick "New Mutants", which focuses on characters from the cosmos of X-Men comics waiting.

Back