SPOILER WARNING FOR THE Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Season 3 Finale
Tonight saw the conclusion of the third season of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. After the threat of Hive was defeated in “Ascension,” we were treated to an epilogue set six months into the future. In the epilogue, it was revealed that Dr. Holden Radcliffe is working on a new project that should excite fans of the Marvel Comics Universe, something called “LMD.”
Don’t know what an LMD is? We can help you out with that.
“LMD” stands for Life Model Decoy, and they’ve been a staple of the Marvel Comics Universe since they’re first appearance Strange Tales #135 in 1965. While it appears that Radcliffe is their progenitor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, their origin in the Marvel Comics Universe is significantly different. As revealed in Secret Warriors #26, LMDs are based on a mysterious piece of self-replicating technology discovered by Nick Fury, his brother Jake Fury, and Thomas Davidson. The technology bonded with Jake and Davidson, spawning robotic duplicates, the first known LMDs. Jake’s LMD would go on to become the terrorist known as Scorpio. Nick Fury planted Davidson’s LMD in Hydra, though it later went mad and revealed itself.
S.H.I.E.L.D. was then able to reverse engineer the technology to create LMDs at will. These robotic duplicates were perfect duplicates of a person. They have been used to infiltrate opposing organization, and to take the place of important people whose live were in danger. These models could be outfitted with enhanced strength, speed, durability, stamina, agility, the ability to repair themselves, and the ability for their owner to take remote control of the decoy, speaking and acting through it.
The most famous LMD in Marvel Comics is Nick Fury himself. For years, Fury evaded death using LMDs, but nobody understood just how far the illusion went until the Original Sin event, when an LMD led the Avengers on a wild goose chase. Eventually it was revealed that Nick Fury, who had aged considerably, had been in space, defending the Earth by any means necessary as the Man on the Wall, while his LMDs acted on his behalf on Earth.
The Original Sin event also revealed the Dum Dum Dugan, Fury’s longtime best friend and right hand man, had died decades ago. Fury was so saddened by Dugan’s death that he created an advance A.I. based on Dugan’s personality and implanted it into a series of highly advanced LMDs. Only Fury knew the truth of Dugan’s demise.
Other important LMDs include Max Fury, an LMD stolen by Scorpio and programmed with the memories of Nick Fury. Max was programmed so well that he actually believed himself to be the real Nick Fury. Another is Machine Man, a robotic member of the Avengers who was destroyed, but manage to revive himself by bonding to an LMD.
Interestingly, in The Avengers, Iron Man tries to blow off Coulson by claiming Coulson is speaking to a Life Model Decoy of Tony Stark and not the real thing. This would seem to suggest that LMDs were already known technology in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which led to lots of speculation about Coulson being an LMD after his death, or that Nick Fury would prove to be an LMD when he “died” in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The theory proved to be false in both instance, and the reveal in “Ascension” seems to suggest that Radcliffe is developing this technology or the first time. An odd continuity error, unless it is later explained that LMD technology was a known theory before Radcliffe began applying it practically.
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.will return in fall 2016.