Friday Free for all #46: Superpower, character swap

Friday Free for All

The next in an ongoing series in which I answer random questions generated by a website, although it’s been on hiatus since the Christmas Countdown began. Here, I resume with this week’s questions. Feel free to give your own answers in the comments.

What would be some of the downsides of certain superpowers?

A lot of people would like the power to be invisible, but if we’re going to be completely realistic about it, in order to be invisible, you have to be completely transparent to light. This is all well and good except… if you are transparent to light, then when you’re invisible, you can’t see a damn thing.

The only workaround would be if the essential parts of your eyes — iris, lens, cornea, retina, and optic nerve — were still sensitive to light, but if they were, then they would become visible. Ergo, you would be a pair of creepy eyes on stalks floating around, and that defeats the purpose.

The abilities to fly or run super-fast also seem like cool powers, but they come at a cost, and that is caloric intake. To do either would take enormous amounts of energy, and we’re talking numbers that would put triathlete-in-training 10,000 calorie a day diets to shame.

At least flying, at the right speed, would actually be akin to swimming in terms of course control. Running, though, would be a different matter, and to get up to Flash speeds, the human brain just doesn’t have the perceptive power to navigate that fast.

Unless, of course, the brain also ran as fast as the body, but that would up the energy requirements even more, and it would probably be physically impossible for anyone to consume enough calories to power that.

Super strength? Year, sure, maybe — if we replace the calcium in your bones with iron, which weighs 40% more. But then we also have to do something about your joints, particularly knees and elbows, so that they don’t blow apart, so you’d need something stronger than cartilage which would also likely be much, much stiffer. Finally, you don’t want to rip a ligament on every power move, so those things would need to be made of something stronger as well and, likewise, less stretchy.

So you’d probably wind up super strong, but also super slow and clunky

If you could switch two movie characters, what switch would lead to the most inappropriate movies?

This was a fun question, and I came up with a few fun pairs. Strap in and enjoy.

Annie Wilkes (Misery) and Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins)

To refresh your memory, Annie Wilkes was the crazed fan who inadvertently ends up taking in her favorite author Paul Sheldon (James Caan) after he has a car accident near her home. She proceeds to keep him prisoner and terrorize him and brutalize him because, after he lets her read the draft of his latest Misery book, she is outraged by the profanity in it, not to mention that he dares to kill off the character.

Meanwhile, Mary Poppins is a nanny in Edwardian England, hired by a banker who doesn’t exactly know how to deal with his kids — although, interestingly enough, watching the film as an adult, Ms. Poppins is actually kind of a bitch.

On the other hand, she never intentionally smashes someone’s ankles with a sledge hammer, and she probably would have taken Sheldon on a series of adventures to colorful, animated places.

The Banks family, on the other hand, would probably not have fared as well.

Patrick Bateman (American Psycho) and Forrest Gump (Forrest Gump)

This one could get messy. Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) never met anyone he didn’t despise, and while the argument could be made that the killing spree in the book and movie is entirely in his head, he’s still a pretty vicious person at heart.

The imaginary spree angle isn’t specious, by the way. American Psycho was, above all, a critique of the “Go-go” Reagan era in which greed trumped everything. Bateman was just the embodiment of that attitude, and the murders real or imagined in the book are targeted at everything Republicans were taught to hate in that era and still do — the poor and homeless, the LGBTQ+ community, women, and people of color.

Meanwhile, we have Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) who, while being a completely despicable character in a really bad movie for entirely different reasons, also seems to have never met anyone he didn’t like — and he met everyone.

And this is where it gets messy. Forrest wouldn’t last five minutes in the power-suited, high stakes world of New York wheeler-dealers of the 1980s. At the same time, Patrick Bateman would suddenly meet absolutely everyone, and the path of death and destruction he would cut through the rich and famous, assuming he actually did, would be devastating.

Aileen Wuornos (Monster) and Mia Thermopolis (The Princess Diaries)

The former character was a female serial killer, which in itself is a rarity, although she did seem to only target men who were really shits to women. Meanwhile, the latter was a normal American teenage girl who suddenly finds out that she is actually heir to the throne of one of those obscure made-up movie countries that is vaguely somewhere in a non-controversial corner of Europe.

The princess would not fare well in Wuornos’ sleazy world. Meanwhile, drop the patriarchy-hating serial killer in a land that still has monarchs and, presumably, what’s actually a patriarchy in waiting only temporarily stalled by a lack of heirs with a Y chromosome and, yeah. Heads are gonna roll.

Caligula (Caligula) and Dave Kovic (Dave)

Caligula is one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies, because it has an all-star cast, a script by Gore Vidal, and is a pretty accurate rendition of events told in The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius. Thanks to having been produced by Bob Guccione of Penthouse fame, it’s also full of hardcore porn and very graphic violence. That’s what makes it such a romp.

Meanwhile, Dave is the Kevin Klein vehicle in which a comic who impersonates the current president is enlisted to actually pretend to be that president, due to the real deal having had a stroke while banging his mistress and winding up in a coma.

I think you can see where the fun is going here, especially if you transport the plot of Dave into both movies.

Dave Kovic would be out of his depth in Rome, and probably poisoned secretly or assassinated openly within months. Meanwhile, as soon as Caligula realized that he was essentially in charge of the planet’s greatest super-power, and what kinds of weapons and military forces he controlled, then it would be game over, because he would probably proceed to invade the shit out of every other country, friend or foe.

Hannibal Lecter (Hannibal Rising) and Julia Child (Julie & Julia)

For this one, I specifically chose the movie that tells young Hannibal’s origin story with the background of Nazi Germany because… Julia Child happened to have been a resistance fighter at the time, and quite a badass one. Why do you think she’s so good with kitchen knives.

But, the swap is just so wrong and so right. Julia gets to go on to get revenge on Nazis. Meanwhile, Hannibal would definitely be cooking up some really odd meals on that TV show. Bon(e) appétit!

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