Quotes / Reed Richards Is Useless

Superman: I know I'm forbidden to interfere... and yet the Earth is threatened by the same fate as Krypton's.
Elder #1: The Earth is too primitive! You can flee to new worlds, where war is long forgotten!
Elder #2: If you teach the Earth to put its fate in any one man, even yourself, you're teaching them to be betrayed.

One of the most charming elements of the superhero story, for me, lies in the fact that the world it all happens in is our world — that this fantastic, furious, cosmic stuff happens in what could be the skies over our heads — and sure, it should turn the world into something unrecognizable, but it doesn't.
Kurt Busiek, introduction to Astro City

"This subgenre amounts to mawkish glurge in which the fact that stories are fiction is treated as a flaw, and anybody who writes it should be punched. (Note: This proposal would likely prove fatal to J. Michael Straczynski.)"

"This is the problem with trying to tackle 'real world' problems in a 'serious' way with a character like Superman. He’s basically God. He can walk into a neighborhood full of drug dealers and just magically destroy all their drugs and drive them off. In order to explain why he doesn’t just do this all the time, or any number of other things that he could do with minimal effort that would drastically change the lives of every single person in the country, if not the world, writers like Straczynski resort to utter inanity."

"I mean really, you’d think that if the Joker enrolled himself in medical school, let alone made off with a nuclear warhead, Batman would try to be on top of that situation."
Chris Sims, "The Injustice: Gods Among Us Prequel Comic is the Dumbest Comic You'll Read All Year"

"John McClane's once-relatable, everyman hero now makes no sense. According to this movie he's still just an NYPD detective after all four movies. HOW? Yeah, they keep telling us he's tough to work with every other day, but now he's saved Los Angeles, Washington, New York, and the entire country. And everyone knows about it! Why isn't this guy running the Department of Homeland Security? Or a private security firm? Or just write a book and retire rich as hell?"

Sue: Who else would have the world's coolest PDA? You going to put it on the market?
Reed: I can't. Sony paid me three million not to.

As a side note, those superheroes who develop or invent entirely unique powers, and then hoard them? Screw those guys. When Edison invented the incandescent lightbulb, did he keep its secret to himself, and then bust nocturnal crime as the Illuminator? Fighting the nefarious Doktor Lightning with the help of the Amazing Flight Brothers? No. Because, as a man of Science, he was familiar with Newton's statement about the shoulders of giants.

The greater the problem, the faster he could solve it. He’d taken the time one afternoon to solve world hunger. Six hours and twenty-six minutes with the internet and a phone on hand, and he’d been able to wrap his head around the key elements of the problem. He’d drafted a document in the nine hours that followed, doing little more than typing and tracking down exact numbers. A hundred and fifty pages, formatted and clear, detailing who would need to do what, and the costs therein.

It had been bare bones, with room for further documents detailing the specifics, but the basic ideas were there. Simple, measured, undeniable. Every major country and ruler had been accounted for, in terms of the approaches necessary to get them on board, given their particular natures and the political climate of their area. Production, distribution, finance and logistics, all sketched out and outlined in clear, simple language. Eighteen years, three point one trillion dollars. Not so much money that it was impossible. A great many moderate sacrifices from a number of people.

Even when he’d handed over the binder with the sum total of his work, his employer had been more concerned with the fact that he’d shown up late to work for his job. His boss had barely looked at the binder before calling it impossible, then demanded Accord return to work.

While it may strain credulity, one of the accepted tropes or conventions of the superhero genre is that the world not be changed by the presence of the supernatural, supernormal and supertechnological heroes. (I would argue that Watchmen by Alan Moore is arguably science fiction, not superhero fiction, because it sets aside that convention, and dares to have the world change.)

The world defended by the Justice League of America or the Teen Titans has extraterrestrials, Amazons, mindreaders, witches, cyborgs, and reincarnated Egyptian princes with antigravity wings, but none of these inventions, discoveries, or fantastic elements has any effect on the world outside (except perhaps for a secret military, espionage or police teams using futuristic weapons).

Mr. Teavee: So can you send other things? Say, like, breakfast cereal?
Willy Wonka: Do you have any idea what breakfast cereal's made of? 'sthose little curly wooden shavings you find in pencil sharpeners.
Charlie Bucket: But could you send it by television if you wanted to?
Willy Wonka: Of course I could.
Mike Teavee: What about people?
Willy Wonka: ...Well why would I want to send a person? They don't taste very good at all!
Mike Teavee: Don't you realize what you've invented!? It's a TELEPORTER! It's the most important invention in the history of the world! And all you think about is chocolate!

"So the Neweyes fart tells [the dinosaurs] his goal is to use the Time Machine to travel back in time to grant all the wishes of children of the world. I would use it to stop 9/11, unethical jackass. I mean, the Kennedy assassination? The bombing of Pearl Harbor? Really? None of these are important compared to entertaining whiny little bastard children? Well, while you're taking requests, here's a kid named Hitler. He just wants to start his own Third Reich and bring joy and happiness to the world. Why don't you grant him that wish? Huh, huh?! But no, Neweyes sees it best to take animals out of their natural environment and into an unknown world of fear and violence. I can't see this going right at all."

The biggest problem, and the one that nagged at me in the back of my head the entire movie, was that Hank Pym was a terrible scientist. Just like most fictional scientists in the heroic genre, I guess, but his bad attitudes were more prevalent here, more center stage. He invents something amazing and selfishly keeps it to himself instead of using the resources of the rest of the world to refine and perfect the technology he developed. It is a particular sort of egoism in this genre (the super hero genre), an arrogance, that one man and one man alone can and should decide the rate of progress or what the rest of the world is "ready" for. It is like the intellectual or business version of a Hard Man making Hard Decisions. I can't imagine how backwards our world would be today if innovators and brilliant minds had been so arrogant and repressive... but then this is a world where Hydra (or some other strawman) will ALWAYS conveniently show up to prove how any new tech is bad tech.

God, I rolled my eyes at that. After everything, they whip out Old Hydra as a narrative scapegoat to be the "see, this is bad after all! Bad people will use it! Oh no, bad people!"

Bullshit. Not only is Hydra smashed to hell at this point, but we're supposed to ignore the obvious fact that the one who would be bidding on this was the DoD? I know. I know people with DoD funding. They throw a lot of money around. They would spend billions on this. But of course we can't have Ant Man bust in, punch a bunch of Defense Department lawyers and colonels, and escape with something that - we know - would have been taken apart and used to protect American Troops. Or used to shrink down tons of stuff to make space-lift cheaper, or any of a million revolutionary uses.

No, no, no. Heaven forbid. Let's fight bad guys with it instead. The common man, the plebs, the fools of the world, they would just abuse this power which belongs only in the hands of Great and Worthy Men. Disgusting. A disgusting, elitist, anti-progressive ideology. Imagine I find out something revolutionary in my lab and decide "this is too dangerous" and that the world would surely never be the same (in a bad way) and so keep my discovery to myself. I work on drugs that fight type 2 diabetes. But is the world really ready to fight type 2 diabetes? I think the one to make that decision is me, and I say "lol, no, of course not! I'll just use it myself, and maybe give it to my friends and that's it."

Not only is this selfish and wrong-headed, as this very movie shows, it won't stop other people from developing the tech. No one is SO GREAT that their work can't be reproduced. That's why this is called "science" and not "magic" or religion. Sooner or later, sooner or god-damned later, someone will make the discovery, connect the dots, do the research! Which is why when you develop something or discover something, you publish it and patent it and INVITE other scientists to test your theories! Test your fucking theories!

That's why you don't have one lone maverick wondering about why his wife is sub-atomic and how to fix it, you have a thousand people all over the world exploring the problem until it gets solved. And sometimes solving a problem is hard. Sometimes it takes years, billions of dollars, thousands of man-hours. There's a saying in science: 9 women don't make a baby in 1 month. To me, Hank Pym isn't just a bad scientist (and that's confirmed), he's a unethical person. It would be like a defense lawyer watching a movie where another defense lawyer betrays his client because his client is guilty. Yes, you can do it, yes, people might even approve, but it is WRONG. Within the profession it is wrong. Immoral. It goes against the code of conduct that is designed to maximize good and minimize harm.

And you know what else? When you patent your discovery - like I have to assume Cross did - it becomes legally yours. You can control how it is used. Of course, it won't stop criminals from using it, or stealing it, or copying it, but it will put the details out on the table. It will enable others to refine it and defend against it, while boosting everyone else up along the way; it will only add to the body of human knowledge that we ALL draw from! That's why we have this process to begin with! Because it is, overall, a positive for the common good! Those Pym Particles? Guess what, you idiot? They're Cross Particles now because someone else decided to legally file for a patent while you were busy sitting on your discovery doing nothing. And all those servers you blew up (I won't even get into that act, just shy of terrorism, how many people could've been killed if not for magic comic-verse last-second evacuations) don't fucking matter, because the essential info is in DC, so maybe you should break into the patent office and blow that up, too, anything to keep this tech in Your Worthy Hands.

I hate this trope so much. It sends the wrong message. A bad message.

I don't care what sort of "chaos" you think would be caused by this new technology. You think the development of the cell phone didn't cause chaos? You don't think that terrorists are happy as hell that it was invented, refined, mass produced? Of course not! The cell phone was a huge boon to assholes like ISIS and AQ. But you know who else it was a boon for? Everyone else. But in Marvel Land the cell phone wouldn't ever exist. It would be the mid-80s and instead of setting up that first wireless network and revealing that first wireless phone to the press and making that famous call to one of Alexander Bell's descendants in Germany, it would've been turned into a goofy suit and used to fight crime as Wireless Transmission Man or something. The same is true of any technology, from nuclear fission to transistors to the internet to fire and the wheel.

And the root of this problem, the cause of this ire I feel, is the same problem with Stark's Arc Reactor. It'll never amount to anything or change anything or improve anything. It can't be allowed to, just like Pym Particles can't ever be allowed to amount to anything, and anyone that tries to take it beyond the "I'll fight with it" stage is quickly turned into a strawman villain: an obvious enemy who would misuse the gifts of Worthy Men. Invents Death Ray = Sells it to Dirt Poor Terrorists = This is how you run a business, right? Guys?

The trope is needed though.
I know. I'm not too blind. You can't have the super heroes save the day unless they are super. Unless no one else can do anything. The story falls apart if Iron Man is just the "most advanced" of two million NATO Iron Men waiting to swarm the next threat. That doesn't mean that it doesn't irk me sometimes... it was just lampshaded more strongly in this movie than in others. I couldn't help but think: what if Cross had been an actually respectable scientist, entrepreneur, and innovator. Not an idiot out to sell to Hydra ASAP and who conducts unnecessary tests on animals (surprise: you need to justify animal tests to a board of ethics before you can do so in almost every country) instead of cell cultures for no fucking reason.

"We can make the matter irrelevant. There are Capes and Assets in our employ that we have not utilized to their full potential, to avoid destabilizing the world's economy and social fabric beyond repair."

I snorted, glad that my mask concealed my sneer. Of course... The line of the corrupt and bloated establishment, the same line that I'd had spouted at me time and again whenever I tried to improve the status quo. They had the power to unleash miracles and make the world better, and they held back from cowardice and selfishness.

Funny how the greatest adherents to that ideal were usually the ones who were benefitting the most from the status quo.

[T]he woman in the natty business suit returned with a suit bag draped over her shoulder. “Oh. Skyrider. I have something for you.” She handed him an envelope.
“Aw MAN!”
“Skyrider, I HAVE to hand this to you, I signed for it. Complaining like a little boy won’t help.”
“Awww… who is it THIS time?[..]
"It’s from Union Carbide™. They say that your plastics de-polymerization/resin reversal method conflicts with several of their pre-existing patents.”
“WHAT? Bullshit! There are at least five separate and distinct improvements and developments from any existing patents, I already checked and double-checked that!” Skyrider read over the document and snarled. “This is whack, man! They just wanna tie my plastics recycling process up in the courts for ten years, until their pet test tube monkeys can come up with something that does the same thing, only half as well, which they can ram down peoples’ throats with big PR campaigns and bribes! Just like the last time! Of course Reed Richards is useless! If you were shackled hand and foot, bound and gagged in a straitjacket, you’d be useless TOO!” Sky plopped down in a chair, his good mood almost totally spent.
“So, you’ll accept their $15 million dollar purchase alternative?” the woman asked.
“Well YEAH… I mean, at least I can do some good with 15 Mil… and it’ll be better than putting the next generation of lawyers through college- But I WON’T LIKE IT!”
Ms. Biz and Skyrider, "Silent Nacht, part 1", Whateley Universe