The Secret Science of Superheroes
CHAPTER 2: The Evolution of Superpowers
Published:01 Aug 2017
Special Collection: RSC Popular Science eBook CollectionProduct Type: Popular Science
Louise K. Gentle, 2017. "The Evolution of Superpowers", The Secret Science of Superheroes, Mark Lorch, Andy Miah
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Superheroes seem to have quite similar background stories – either they were born with their superpowers (such as the X-Men), or they were involved in some sort of radiation accident (The Hulk, Spider-Man, etc.) which caused them to mutate or evolve rapidly, resulting in the acquisition of superpowers. However, in either case, we might ask what were the circumstances that caused the evolution of these superpowers? Superpowers, along with many other traits, can be viewed as beneficial to the individuals who possess them, even if many superheroes struggle to see the benefit of their powers. So, why and how do new traits such as superpowers evolve? Well, evolutionary theory dictates that if an organism evolves a feature that is environmentally advantageous – in that it increases the chances of reproduction – then this advantage will be passed on to the next generation, but the manner in which that takes place varies.