If We Had a Superhuman Registration Act, Who Would Have to Register?

There are mutants among us.


In Marvel’s upcoming Captain America: Civil War, the world’s superhumans will be forced to sign their names to the “Superhero Registration Act,” effectively putting their powers under federal control. It’s a [classic comic-book trope](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Registrationacts(comics) (cough, Mutant Registration Act, cough) for two good reasons. First, superheroes got their start during the Red Scare so hearings on the Hill were baked into the initial storylines. Secondly, as heroes endured the Cold War, their relationships with an increasingly neurotic government became central to their characters. There is, after all, a certain inherent rebelliousness to superpowers, which exists almost by definition in a legal gray area.

The superhumans that walk among us might not spit webs from their wrists or draw power from an arc reactor, but their powers wouldn’t be dismissed by the government, either.

Name: Wim “The Iceman” Hof

Superpower: Withstanding Extreme Cold

Reality: This 56-year-old Dutchman can apparently turn up his body’s thermostat by meditating. While most people would quickly die from hypothermia under conditions below 50 degrees, Hof successfully completed a marathon in the -16 degree cold of Arctic Finland wearing nothing but shorts and sandals.

Name: Kevin “Powerlifting Pastor” Fast

Superpower: Pulling Large Objects

Reality: In 2009, the pastor from Cobourg, Ontario straight-up pulled a 416,299-pound CC-17 cargo plane nearly 29 feet. He’s also pulled a house and tractor trailers full of cars and arm wrestled a fire truck. For real.

Name: Abby Ross

Superpower: Barely Sleeping

Reality: The 60-something retired Miami psychologist sleeps only 4 hours each day. But she’s not just pulling the occasional all nighter: She’s been doing this her entire life. A tiny fraction of the population carries a “short sleeping” mutation in the gene DEC2. Ross might just be one of them.

Name: Grand Master Zhou “Jewel of China” Ting-Jue

Superpower: Channeling Heat

Reality: Among his other healing abilities, the Thai Chi master can supposedly channel his energy — “Qi” — into his hands, allowing him to generate enough heat from his palms to boil water. It’s pretty suspicious, but Stan Lee’s Superhumans used a heat-sensing camera to record him heating a towel to 157 degrees.

Name: Usain Bolt

Superpower: Extreme Speed

Reality: The 29-year-old was far and away the world’s fastest person ever and still holds records for the 100-meter dash at 9.58 seconds and the 200-meter dash at 19.19 seconds likely to stand for some time. He’s a bit older and slower now so no anti-aging powers here.

Name: Johannes Mallow

Superpower: Retaining Information

Reality: The top-ranked memory champion in the world can store 1080 binary digits in 5 minutes and memorize a deck of cards in 27.55 seconds, using a combination of mnemonic strategies and the age-old “memory palace” technique.

Name: Javier Botet

Superpower: Super Bendiness

Reality: The Spanish actor and director is perhaps best known for his role in the 2013 horror film Mama, where he played the terrifyingly thin and eerily flexible titular monster. Botet has Marfan’s syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes individuals to grow unusually tall and and weirdly pliant.

Name: Steven Pete

Superpower: Feels No Pain

Reality: Congenital analgesia is a medical term for the inability to feel pain. The condition is caused by a rare genetic disorder, which both Steven Pete and his brother suffer from. Pete chewed off a quarter of his tongue while teething as an infant and spent most of his adolescence with various limbs in casts. Because he’ll never be able to tell just how bad an injury is, he has to be extremely vigilant. Still, he’s unlikely to lose a fight.

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