Superpowers are weapons — the most useful and expensive in the world. Governments of the world utilize them in armed conflict, special operations and covert operations. The generals and spies that direct them call individuals with super powers assets.
Assets are rare. Numerous established programs produced assets with similar profiles of super powers: cyborgs, super soldiers and psionics. Others come from less conventional sources: accidents, twists of nature or from misunderstood powers. Hundreds of assets fought the wars of the last century where most died.
After the cold war the need for assets waned. The world desired prosperity after a century of war. Military budgets were trimmed and many jobs were privatized. Vast expenses were no longer justified so most assets were cut loose. Some were assassinated, some escaped and some just disappeared. A few were able to work for themselves as criminals, mercenaries or ideologues.
In the aftermath of the the terrorist attacks, the world needed to reactivate military capabilities and assets were prized above all others. Together, the sudden need for superpowers, a cohort of unemployed assets and a robust military contracting community created a new role for superpowered assets: private armies.
Although only a small community of elite soldiers and scientists know of the programs to create assets, there are more volunteers than slots. Volunteers die or worse but the survivors become something wholly new: the most dangerous weapons in the world. Unlike the assets of the last century, those with superpowers are aware of their value. They undergo the risks only so that they can one day go into business for themselves, as super-powered entrepreneurs.
The products of the asset-creation programs of the past century are well known. Still, ongoing programs continue to develop new and ever-more powerful assets.