It looks like sci-fi movies are gradually moving back to the power of human beings after spending some time exploring the possible power of artificial intelligence lately. While some of the latter (“Transcendence” one) failed to capture much interest, exploring AI is far from over in movies and TV. But seeing what our minds and bodies are capable of hasn’t really been done for a while other than in the reboots of “The Incredible Hulk” franchise.
There’s an interesting connection, though, between the exploration of AI and the new superhuman movie “Lucy.” It’s Morgan Freeman who seems to be the new philosophy-spouting character both in “Transcendence” and “Lucy.” His lines seem taken right out of an episode of “Through the Wormhole” in trying to explain scientific concepts that perhaps don’t make sense to the average viewer. In “Transcendence”, there was some scientific theory there. In “Lucy”, it explores the theoretical concept that our minds are capable of so much if there was some way to tap it.
The only problem with the concept is that it plays up the idea that we’re only using 10% of our brains at any given time. If you’ve ever read on the subject, you know this is a myth and that we’re actually utilizing all parts of our brain at once, depending on what the task is. Yet, the myth has perpetuated for years in various circles, including pop culture to use as quotes, and in sham scientific facts. Part of this comes from psychics who constantly make claims that we have 90% of our brains unused we have yet to fully understand and tap into.
While there could be truth about untapped potential in our brains, there’s a difference about what could be buried within compared to using the capacity of our brains. Evidence has shown the whole brain is activated when doing various tasks. What we don’t know is what could be embedded deep into the corners of our mind that may be dormant and perhaps manifest by accident or by will.
In “Lucy” (starring Scarlett Johansson), we see a woman of the future who’s forced to work for the mob after gangs end up running the world. Using her as a mule for drugs, she accidentally gets injected with a drug that taps the other parts of her brain and subsequently turns her superhuman. It’s a little like She-Hulk, without needing gamma radiation or having to paint Scarlett Johansson green (as if we wanted such a thing). Outside of the Hulk-like strength, she can also absorb knowledge almost immediately.
This all creates an interesting look into being superhuman and what the liabilities of these powers are. We saw M. Night Shyamalan touch on this in his “Unbreakable” and exploring just how much superhuman strength we could possibly tap into if we were capable. The same goes with the movie “Limitless” that explored the liabilities of being able to know everything and use it for our own financial gain. These movies get continually interesting, because it gives a warning about becoming godlike. In “Lucy”, it’s the first time we’ve seen it in a female character, and it’s setting off a new wave of movies that show women becoming bad-ass heroines with the actresses doing their own stunts to prove it’s really them.
Will “Lucy” End the Superwoman, or Will There Be More?
With so many of these movies starting to tell us that knowing everything and being able to conquer everyone results in invigorating omniscience, it also tells us that when it happens via drugs, it frequently reverts back to the way things were. If we’ve never seen a story where David Banner manages to stop turning into the Hulk, an injected drug seems to work much differently than gamma radiation. Eventually, the movies have to explore an omniscient female character that was born this way rather than experiencing it only temporarily.
Dealing with natural omniscience here on Earth is a subject too complex to ignore as we’ve seen with Superman. “Lucy” is a good start for a female character like this who should be a little like Superman with some limitations to show vulnerability toward something. And this doesn’t mean remaking “Attack of the 50-Foot Woman” either, even if a remake of that is inevitable.
“Lucy” also puts this idea on the road toward women being the driving force in making something happen and not being secondary to a human leader or a victim. Johansson has been taking some creative roles in this department, sometimes through very un-human characters. Eventually, this might lead to better leading roles for women characters living in our own reality who don’t need to tap special powers to fight back against a corrupt world.