Stranger Than Fiction: The U.S. Military is Developing Real-Life "Superhero" Tech
12.28.12 by BJSprecher
No matter how many times superheroes risk their lives to save the innocent from crooks, terrorists and aliens, the powers that be in most of these fictional universes would rather the "civilians" leave the heroics to the professionals and give up the secrets to their superpowers in the name of national security. In the real world, billionaires spend their money buying islands and giving to charity instead of designing bat-gadgets and battle armor, and radiation exposure causes cancer instead of spider-like mutations. But, just because there are no superheroes to beg, borrow and steal from, that doesn't mean that the real U.S. military doesn't want superhero technology. In fact, in the not too distant future, U.S. soldiers will have the technology of Batman and Iron Man and the abilities of Spider-Man to use in defense of our freedom.
The Strange Truth
With the motto "lighter, smarter, deadlier," the U.S. Air Force's BATMAN (Battlefield Air Targeting Man-Aided kNowledge) program aims to outfit Special Forces soldiers as if they were "human chassis," using their bodies as scaffolding for mission-appropriate gear. They don't make Batarangs (that we know of), but they do have Batman inspired gear like sophisticated communications gear, helmet displays, built-in computer and the Remote Auxiliary Power System or "Bat Hook," which allows soldiers to draw power directly from power lines.
While the Air Force is intent on making Batmen, military contractor Raytheon is designing its very own Iron Men. Raytheon’s second-generation exoskeleton (XOS 2), is a 150-pound wearable robotics suit powered by high pressure hydraulics. The XOS 2 increases the strength, speed, agility and endurance of the user, allowing one man to perform the tasks of three.
Check out this video of the XOS 2 in action, worn by none other than S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson, Clark Gregg.
The military wants to get in on Spider-Man's act, as well, funding research at Cornell University into wall-crawling technology. The palm-sized device developed at Cornell uses water to create a "reversible adhesive bond" that allows the user to stick to not only smooth materials like glass and marble, but even wood and brick. The military hopes to integrate the tech into gloves and boots to allow soldiers to scale vertical walls.
The Dark Knight Rises, Iron Man 2, The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man
After travelling the world to learn the ways of criminals, detectives and martial artists, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) used prototype military technology designed by his family's company, Wayne Enterprises, to outfit himself with a protective bodysuit, a utility belt packed with crime-fighting gadgets, and several Bat-themed vehicles, such as the Bat-wing, which he used to save Gotham from the League of Shadows.
Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) used his incredible intellect to build a suit of battle armor out of scrap material to help him escape from terrorists and later used his company's resources to upgrade and refine his armor. The armor increases his strength, allows him to project energy blasts and to fly, which comes in handy when one needs to redirect a nuclear missile into a dimensional rift.
When a genetically modified spider bites Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), the brilliant, but socially awkard teenager is granted extraordinary powers, including superhuman speed, strength, a spider-sense that lets him know when he is in danger, and the ability to stick to surfaces. When he fails to stop a criminal who ends up killing his Uncle Ben, Peter dedicates his wall-crawling abilities to helping others as Spider-Man.