4/10/2010

It was X-Men that started the craze, but Heroes continued it. What we're talking about is the idea that evolution can lead to superpowers. It makes sense on some level; if you have a normal human being, and a human being who can shoot fire out of his hands, most people would agree that the fire-shooting human has a advantage in combat. Therefore, one would argue that the fire-shooting man is superior on an evolutionary level.

The problem is that evolution isn't supposed to work that way. According to the theory of evolution, small changes over time are adopted by successive generations, gradually turning into larger adaptations. Creatures aren't just born with completely new and fully-developed abilities, according to evolution. That would be like a horse giving birth to a horse with fully-developed wings. If squirrels at Central Park started being born with super-speed, teleportation, and invisibility, people would start looking for elevated radiation levels in the water supply.

Speaking of which, one would think that evolution would start by giving humans abilities already found in Nature. To have a human born with wings or claws or night vision kind of makes sense. But laser beams shooting out of the eyes? Or the ability to stretch into different shapes? Or magnetism? These came out of nowhere. They also require some pretty major changes to the body, which would require some engineering problems to solve. So I think we can safely say that evolution wouldn't lead to the superpowers we see on Heroes and X-Men. Which leaves the question, if not evolution, what? The answer to that would probably end up sending the comic in uncomfortable directions, unless it appeared in the Christian comic book stores.

Does evolution work as an origin for superheroes? What about intelligent design? Sound off in the comments.

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