MOVIE REVIEW: Captain America

Bhairavi Savur

You’re a laboratory experiment Rogers. Everything special about you came from a bottle”

Tony Stark

Within minutes of injecting the Super Soldier Serum a weak looking boy from Brooklyn transformed into the tall, muscular and beloved Chris Evans that we know. The procedure not only enhanced his physical appearance, but also his strength, metabolism, speed and endurance.

Is a real-life Captain America possible? Although it might be really difficult to enhance all these features at the same time, it is possible to modify individual aspects with the help of current Biotechnology. Besides his increased size and muscle mass, Cap also has a metabolism which is four times faster than a normal human; downside being he can’t get drunk at all. For such optimal physiology, regulation of hormones like growth hormone, insulin, testosterone, cortisol and anabolic steroids is possible. Some of these have already been used to develop performance enhancement drugs to treat stunted growth and muscle wasting associated with AIDS and some cancer, and are also occasionally used by certain athletes and bodybuilders to increase their strength and muscle mass.

Captain America clearly has amplified physical endurance as he’s repeatedly made it clear that he ‘can do this all day’. For increased stamina and performance many athletes use an illicit method called ‘Blood doping’ which involves various techniques like EPO administration and transfusion to increase one’s red blood cell mass as a result of which more oxygen is transported to the muscles. Released from the kidney, EPO (Erythropoietin) is a hormone that stimulates RBC production, and HIF (Hypoxia Inducible factor) stabilizer activates EPO. These hormones have been developed into drugs to treat anemia as a result of chronic kidney failure and some cancer therapies. Blood transfusion involves taking RBCs from the body beforehand and reintroducing it right before the high endurance activity to increase the red blood cell count without the use of drugs.

The much-awaited moment of Cap finally saying ‘Avengers Assemble’ proves that despite having much stronger members, the Avengers are led by Captain America. Besides giving the best motivational speeches, he has an increased memory, cognition and general intelligence which might be a result of brain stimulating drugs combined with cybernetic virtual training. A number of smart-drugs or nootropics are taken by many students to improve cognitive function like memory, attention, creativity etc.

Captain America managed to survive being frozen for almost 70 years. While he was frozen alive, many organizations offer cryonics which involves the freezing of human bodies immediately after death with the speculative hope that resurrection may be possible in the future. Dr. Hiram Bedford, who died in 1967 was the first human to be cryonically preserved.

The process can take place only once they’re legally dead. The body must be packed with ice and injected with chemicals to reduce clotting, it is cooled just above 0℃ and the blood is replaced with a solution to preserve the organs and is injected with another solution to prevent ice from forming in the organs and tissues and frozen to -130℃. The final step is to place the body in a container and lower it into a tank containing liquid nitrogen at -196℃. The procedure for thawing a frozen body and reversing the damages is still uncertain. Unlike Captain America, humans are unable to generate cryoprotectants to save their cells from freezing. Along with an external supply of cryoprotectants, surviving would require manipulation of cellular senescence and genes for cellular regulation.

All these methods of enhancement have a dozen side effects and administering all of it to a single subject could potentially damage the human body. Creating a super-serum might sound relatively easier in theory but it still seems far from reality. After all, even Bruce Banner’s attempts to recreate the serum failed terribly turning him into the always angry Hulk.

Reference (Nov-20-E2)

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