Tuesday Morning Quaterback: It Doesn't Pay To Punt

Could you do a blood panel and EKG on me?The X-Men movies have been the most entertaining Hollywood superhero stuff in years. In order to rationalize another sequel, I will even swallow everyone coming back to life, though coming-back-to-life is sci-fi's worst cliché. Obviously X III sets up Professor Xavier coming back to life. My guess is everyone comes back. Immediately after the movie my 11-year-old, Spenser, pointed out Logan never found Scott's body, just his glasses, while if Jean Grey is more powerful than Professor X and the Prof. could teleport his consciousness an instant before physical death, why couldn't Jean teleport hers too? The Last Stand was the abbreviated title for movie posters. The full title was Don't Worry News Corporation Shareholders, There Is No Way This Actually Is the Last Stand.

Of course, one must suspend disbelief when it comes to superheroes. But what TMQ always wonders about X-Men, Superman, the Flash and the rest is: Where are the body organs that support their powers? I'm willing to believe a superhero can fly, but where is the organ that provides propulsion? Supposedly Earth's yellow star activated in Kal-El powers that he would not have had under the red sun of Krypton. But still, some internal organ must produce the energy for his heat vision and the thrust for his flying and so on. In "Superman Returns," Supe can even fly faster than light, a power he lacked in the comics; apparently some organ too small to even bulge under his skin propels him to warp speed. Really, there must be some physical point of origin for a superhero's power. Storm must have a body organ that projects force fields that control weather. Iceman must have a body organ that can reduce temperature very rapidly, plus shed heat so Bobby doesn't boil. Where in their physiques are these organs?

Beyond that, the X-Men premise defies scientific thinking about natural selection, which holds that new organs develop very slowly across hundreds of generations. Assume some body organ can allow Shadowcat to walk through walls or Colossus to change his skin to steel: it's unimaginable such an organ could arise de novo in a single mutation. Many generations of relatively minor mutations would be required before a novel body organ could come into full functionality. Biologists from Richard Goldschmidt of the early 20th century to Stephen Jay Gould of the late 20th have speculated there is an as-yet-undiscovered natural mechanism that enables accelerated evolution. Otherwise it's hard to imagine how creatures lived through long chains of generations with still-evolving incomplete organs, since incomplete organs should be a fitness disadvantage and thus render their possessors less likely to reproduce. Unless the X-Men are an argument for intelligent design! The intelligent-design crowd believes natural selection can produce minor alterations in existing forms but cannot produce new organs or new species; a higher intellect controls that. The sudden, drastic evolutionary jumps depicted in the X-Men movies and comics sure feel like intelligent design. In fact one of the most interesting X-Men, Nightcrawler, asserts that the very rapid evolution he and his friends experience could not occur naturally and must be the result of God intervening for reasons not yet known.

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