Sep 29 2011
1. Invisible jets will probably be feasible within 50 years. We already have rudimentary cloaking devices and one researcher suggests that it could eventually be used on submarines. (I wonder if anyone would bother applying this technology to a jet, though. Isn’t the ability to see jets irrelevant if the battle is resolved from miles away?)
2. An Iron Man-style powersuit might be viable someday. We already have rudimentary jet packs, military grade lasers, exoskeletons and a five-pound rocket launcher. I’m not a scientist, but it strikes me as fairly likely that engineers could figure out how to refine and combine those elements. Then a few questions remain (how to power it, how to stop concussive forces from killing the pilot, and why you’d bother spending all that money on a shell for a human when you could do more with a remotely-operated suit or a robot).
3. Technopathy might be theoretically possible. According to Scientific American, “Signals channeled directly from the brain can already control computers and other machines.” From there, I think it’s relatively easy to suspend disbelief that someone might be so capable at doing it that he can hack into machines with his mind.
4. It’s sort of believable that Batman could be a superb fighter even though he’s probably older than 30. The average age of the members of Navy SEAL Team Six was 36. In sports, a few football players have played deep into their 30s and Brett Favre had an elite season in 2009 despite being 40. Emmitt Smith’s career lasted 4400 carries, and I’m guessing most of them ended with a tackle by at least one 300 pound defender.
5. Prosecutorial discretion gives authors a lot of leeway in how they cover the police’s relationship with superheroes. American “prosecuting attorneys have nearly absolute and unreviewable power to choose whether or not to bring criminal charges.” So, even though most acts of superheroics could be construed as felonies, it’s definitely believable that a prosecutor might pass on indicting a superhero, particularly if the hero is effective and/or popular. (In the United States, district attorneys are either elected directly or appointed by an elected official, so indicting Superman for breaking-and-entering into a supervillain’s Fortress of Terror might be an unsound career move).
6. Some aspects of U.S. jurisprudence are decidedly conducive to hijinks and excitement. For example, forcible personal jurisdiction. There’s a scene in The Dark Knight where a criminal flees to China because China won’t extradite him to Gotham. Batman kidnaps (shanghais?) him from China and turns him over to the Gotham police. Assuming a prosecutor wants to file charges, a judge will hear the case. According to Law and the Multiverse, “the Supreme Court has consistently held that ‘the power of a court to try a person for crime is not impaired by the fact that he had been brought within the court’s jurisdiction by reason of a forcible abduction.'” By the way, I can’t even begin to imagine what circumstances prompted the Supreme Court to address this issue often enough to have a consistent opinion on it.