Season four of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has been divided into two parts, the first portion was subtitled, Ghost Rider, and focused on the Robbie Ryes incarnation of the Rider. Part two had been dubbed LMD, (Life Model Decoy) and, seems to be building on the momentum part one generated. In this case the titular LMD, is Aida, Dr. Holden Radcliff’s personal assistant, who oozes deadly professionalism with a hint of sexy. This post is going to look at the origin and evolution of LMDs in both the comics and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It is easy to see the appeal of LMDs, who out there hasn’t dreamt of having another you, to go to work, walk the dog, or wait in line at the DMV for you? The LMDs became a trope in the MU, if the writer need to apparently kill of Nick Fury or Captain America, he could just off the heroes’ LMD. Or if writer wanted to have it appear that Phil Coulson was attacking Deadpool, a LMD looking like the every-man agent could be used. Though not as ubiquitous as mutants, LMDs, over fifty years, became quite prominent in the 616 Universe.
That’s right, LMDs have been a plot device in Marvel comics since 1965, first appearing in Strange Tales issue number 135, where a pre-S.H.I.E.L.D. Col. Furry is ordered to undergo a series of medical examination. The reason for the tests is to make a duplicate robot of him. Though that sounds nefarious, the real reason behind it turns out to be benign, the robot is going to be used as a body double to stop assassins, who might try to kill him after he is recruited into S.H.I.E.L.D.
This origin story is ret-conned some in Secret Warriors # 25 (2011), where a new origin for the LMD was revealed. In 1961, the Fury brothers and Thomas Davidson, were sent on a mission, by the immortal Leonardo da Vinci, and discover a high tech artifact that would be reverse engineered into the LMDs.
The first reference to LMD’s In the MCU was in 2011’s The Avengers, when Tony Stark was trying to dodge a phone call By Phil Coulson by saying “You have reached the You have reached the life model decoy of Tony Stark, please leave a message.” Originally I think this line was meant to be a throw away Easter egg for the fans, but we discover in the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that Radcliff got the idea for the LMD’s from an old S.H.I.L.D. project. It would make sense that the head and driving genius behind Stark Industries would be aware of the project. He also knew that as an agent, Coulson would get the reference. Either that or he is Tony Stark, and he’s just to cool to care if others get his references or not.
On Agents of S.H.I.E.L. D. we learn a little bit more about phase one of the LMD. We learn that Radcliff was inspired by the original project for the idea, he had the first attempt’s files on his computer on Aida’s birthday, the day he transfers his house’s AI in to her LMD body. In the episode Hot Potato Soup, we find out that at least some of the Koenig brothers worked as technicians on the original LMD project. In the mid-season finale, The Laws of Inferno Dynamics, Director Mace explains that creation of a self-aware android goes against Sokovia Accords, because of the damage caused by Ultron.
Aida, the first known successful LDM played by Mallory Jansen, with gleeful perfection. One moment she is still and robotic, the next she lets her guard down with a look or a smile, that gives you the impression she thinks she is smarter than all the humans on the planet. You never quite get the sense who is really in charge, Radcliff or Aida. On the surface she seems to being following his orders to the letter, but you get the feeling that she is running algorithms just to figure out how she can twist his words against him.
upload itida also comes from the comic books, her name stands for Artificial Intelligence Data Analyzer. Aida did not originate in the 616 Universe, the primary comic book universe, but 712, a universe that is a parody of the DC Universe. She first appears in 1985’s Squadron Supreme, and is created by the diminutive hero/scientist Tom Thumb. She was his houses artificial intelligence, much like the Aida from Agents of S.h.I.E.L.D. was Radcliff’s when she started out. A big difference is that in the comic books, it was Aida who tried to create a robotic body for her dead creator’s memories rather than the other way around.
In the comic books Aida and Tom Thumb would have sexual tinged banter, but the whole idea of LMD having their own sexual identity, seems to get carried to a point of near inappropriateness with the advent of Agent Cheesecake. She is a LMD that doesn’t seem to be based on anyone individual. She first appeared in She Hulk 15, programed for espionage and seduction, her uniform seems to be part cat suit and part lingerie. She uses her feminine willies to subdue a villain more than once. Not to be completely sexist, the good scientist of S.H.I.E.L.D. Also created an Agent Beefcake, a male version of A.C.
Another interesting LMD from the comics was Number 13. First appearing in Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #5, in 1968. 13 was the best and most advanced LMD created to that date. S.H.I.E.L.D was going to test 13, by putting him in a gauntlet of death, each challenge worse than the last until they found out exactly how much it would take to destroy the android. However Scorpio (AKA Jake Fury), knocked out Fury, drugged him so he was week and could not talk, and replaced 13 with Fury, sending him to the death trials. Scorpio then disguised himself as his brother and began to watch Nick demises with Fury’s own team. Fury however was able to defeat the challenge, and ultimately foil his brother’s plans.
Another interesting example of a LMD is Timothy “Dum-Dum” Dugan, you may remember him as Nick Fury’s mustachioed Bostonian BBF, who has been with the S.H.I.E.L.D. director since his World War Two days. Everyone assumed that Dum-Dum was getting the same special formula that kept Fury young, but he was in fact an android, since 1965. On the surface this ret-cons the action in 1988’s Nick Fury Vs S.H.I.E.L.D. Where Dum-Dum is seen being killed by Hydra, only to reveal that it was a LMD that was killed, but why couldn’t a LMD be replaced by an LMD
In Original Sin, released in 2014, it was revealed that Dum-Dum was killed in 1966, when on a secret mission. Nick Fury sadden at the loss of his best friend and moral compass, had him recreated with a LMD. The android kills himself, asking never to be brought back from the dead again.
Scorpio, Nick Fury’s brother Jake, created eleven LMDs to recreate the super villain team Zodiac. When his pans failed, he killed himself rather than be captured. The Zodiac Key, created a LMD and endowed it with Jake’s memory and personality. The new Scorpio, felt that Jake’s soul was transplanted in to the robotic body by the arcane artifact. It is unknown if it really is Jake’s spirit or just programing that drives the Scorpio LMD.
With the advent of Aida, LMD’s are now firmly placed in the MCU. Like all cross overs from the comics to the cinematic universe, the movie/televisions LMDs are based in spirit of their comic book counterpart if not a panel by panel adaptation. Now that they are allowed to run loose in Earth-19999, hopefully they do not become a cliché. As for now let’s keep guessing if your favorite Marvel’s Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. character is who they say they are.