Superheroes are dedicated to making a better world, or at least to protecting the status quo from villains in scary masks. Most heroes have some sort of superhuman ability to help them achieve their goals, whether it's Wolverine's healing factor or Spider-Man's indomitable will to crack jokes. Some heroes and villains come to the fight less than well equipped for battle, though. Bad powers have plagued superheroes and villains alike since their inception and are always worth a laugh.
However, many powers aren't exactly bad, just impractical and/or bad for fighting supervillains. A Nobel Prize isn't much good in an MMA cage match, but earning one is still a very good thing. These powers may be weak by superhero standards, but as long as their owners aren't wasting them on trying to send Rhino to jail, they're genuine game-changers.
10 Shamrock's Lucky Poltergeist
A red-haired woman who dresses like a shamrock-themed billiard ball, Molly Fitzgerald's usually seen as the most stereotypically Irish hero imaginable. Her power set doesn't disabuse anyone of this notion, since she has "the luck of the Irish" to help her win fights.
Unlike other lucky heroes like Domino and Longshot, though, Shamrock's not altering probabilities. She's haunted by extremely protective ghosts. It's laughably weird, but imagine how rad this would be! Forget sucker punches, say good-bye to slipping on ice or even losing a coin toss. This is a power most of us could have without realizing it exists, but that wouldn't stop it from enhancing our lives.
9 Kite Man's Super Hang Gliding
Kite Man's long been a joke, even if he's enjoying a renaissance. Named after a perpetual loser, Charles Brown's gimmick of combining hang gliding with kite-themed weapons and gadgets hasn't served him well in battles with Hawkman and Batman. He's a fairly clever thief with zero combat skills, which might make sense in a world that wasn't overpopulated with superpeople who can only be overcome via martial prowess.
However, unlike hang gliders in the real world, Charlie Brown almost never crashes. He can navigate urban environments flawlessly. In a world without flying superheroes he'd be an international daredevil celebrity, not a Gotham City stooge.
8 U.S. 1 Has... Super College?
Ulysses Solomon Archer is one of a small number of super truckers on Marvel's Earth-616. He has a few trucker-specific gifts, in his driving abilities and the fact that he can pick up CB radio signals via his tooth fillings. However, his greatest gift is his college education.
His non-specific Bachelor's degree somehow turned him into an enhanced version of MacGyver. This let him not only build James Bond-style gadgets for his truck, but super science devices like a palm-sized remote control for his 18-wheeler. Archer evidently has the power to extrapolate advanced engineering techniques from basic principles and texts. Teamed with some creative minds and Quality Assurance experts, he'd be able to reshape Silicon Valley in his absurdly-named image.
7 Rainbow Raider's Emotion Gun
Roy Bivolo's Prisma-Beam is one of his more ridiculed powers, which is impressive given the fact he also rides rainbows for transportation. This weapon fires a spectrum of beams that affect human emotions: yellow scares people, red enrages, etc. Without getting into the similarities between his weapon and the various Lantern Corps, it's been used to laughable effect in the past. You don't win fights by making Batman sad.
What you can do is defuse any negative situation. Scare off bullies, get an apology from your passive-aggressive co-worker, whatever. More manipulative types could also score promotions, free groceries, romance, the works. All of which is more sensible than robbing art museums with this non-weapon.
6 Gold Star's Super Niceness
Ernest Widdle is a kind-hearted, mild-tongued hero from a planet named Harmony, with an impressive array of abilities. In some ways he's an even more of a Boy Scout than Superman, and his goody-two-shoes approach to crimefighting is made for mockery. This is especially true of Gold Star's "niceness vibes," which makes his positive attitude rub off on others, and makes bad people do good things.
Gold Star typically uses this power on a micro-level, stopping bank robbers and similar, where it's worth a giggle. Imagine this power used in the real world, though! You could bring shame to the shameless and honesty to liars! Detractors would call it mind control, but in their hearts they'd know what's up.
5 Matter-Eater Lad's Omnivorous Mouth
The power to eat absolutely anything isn't appetizing, but it is useful. The Legion of Superheroes' Tenzil Kem's been the butt of a lot of jokes, but his matter-eating knows no limits. In his novel Nobody Gets The Girl, James Maxey demonstrated how this could be terrifying via the villain Pit Geek, who ate guns and cops alike. This gruesome application aside, though, it's still an underrated power.
Tenzil's mouth and teeth are indestructible, which means no need for dentists. You'd not only save on your grocery bill, but with a body that can handle raw plasma as food, never have to worry about indigestion or weight gain either. The main drawback to this power are its social costs, but it's an easy ability to keep secret.
4 Lightning Lass's "Lightening"
Another Legionnaire, Lightning Lass' powers were somehow altered by a spelling error and she gained the power to make things lighter. This seemed like a downgrade for the electrical Ayla Ranzz, but it turned out that she could negate gravity. The problem isn't the power, it's the fact that she treats it badly, like it's only good for magic tricks and helping people move. Brainiac 5 thinks she's one of the most powerful beings in the universe. If she'd just apply herself she'd be at least as formidable as the Marvel villain Graviton.
Even at the levels Ranzz tends to use her powers, this is a great ability. Whether you're lifting your car into a tiny parking space or disposing of bodies by hurling them into deep space, this is hugely useful.
3 Superman's Miniature Clone Finger-Guns
Superman's had almost every power in his long history, from super ventriloquism to an electromagnetic body. One of his most inexplicable and short-lived abilities was given to him by (other) aliens, though. The power to fire tiny Superman clones out of his hand. These miniature duplicates were similarly super strong, fast, and indestructible, and could be harmlessly discarded or reabsorbed into his body.
This is a disquieting power, but the ability to create remote control Supermen is incredibly OP. Even if it's only the power to create duplicates of yourself, it's still useful for everything from espionage to small engine repair. Exploring the walls of your house would be like a video game with infinite lives. It's a stupid-looking power, but a very legit one.
2 Chlorophyll Kid's Plant Growth
Chlorophyll Kid's from the Legion of Substitute Heroes, a couple steps below the Legion of Super Heroes. His mistake was in using his Plant Growth powers to fight crime, when what he needed to do was eliminate starvation. Making grass super tall isn't useful, but making crops harvestable overnight definitely is.
While people may not need or deserve a hero who embiggens weeds at bank robbers, great quantities of wheat grown almost instantly in the desert would save millions of lives. If just one decent person had this power, it would change the world.
1 Cypher's Omni-Translation
Poor Doug Ramsey is often referred to as the lamest of the X-Men, simply because being a living Google translator doesn't win many laser fights. However, his power to understand any language intuitively and fluently -including machine languages and body language- is one of the most potent abilities an intelligent professional could have.
Not only can he understand a person's words, he can read their intentions, making him an incomparable international lawyer or diplomat. His machine language skills alone would revolutionize AI research to the point that self-driving cars would be safe and commonplace. This dude should be much richer and much cooler than he is.