Captain America, Hanna and the Bourne super-spies: Uncle Sam Wants You?
Many of Hollywood’s most popular superheroes and spies have been built on a seemingly fantastical leap of faith: through genetic modification or special serum, they’re given super-strength, enhanced mental acuity, lightning-quick reflexes and incredible speed.
Captain America goes from weakling to warrior with a serum and a zap of “vita-rays,” Jeremy Renner depends on those green and blue pills (“Chems!”) in The Bourne Legacy and Saiorse Ronan’s bad-ass teenage superspy in Hanna is genetically engineered to have “high intelligence, muscle mass, and no pity.”
But these superpowers aren’t as sci fi as they seem. In fact, military scientists around the world are pushing toward a future that includes human biological modification, or “biomods.”
A new Wired.com story features Andrew Herr, a 29-year-old researcher, who’s urging the U.S. military to invest in biomods. Herr studied gene therapy, hormones, injections and other treatments, and believes that American troops could one day be aided by man-made “mutants.”
So far, the U.S. government has been extremely reluctant, even fearful, of jumping in headfirst but some experts believe that other countries like Russia and China will make a bigger, faster play for biomods.
Of course, there are the potential risks. One possibility, says Herr, is that biomods could be weaponized and used as a genetic sneak attack. In other words, enemies could be genetically modified without even knowing it. Basically, Magneto’s plan from X-Men could totally happen.
And if there’s one thing movies and TV have taught us, it’s don’t mess with nature: zombie apocalypse, anyone?
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