So, in my world, the government wants to show of their amazing military power to the citizens of the country. They have just added an extra 50 billion to their 600 billion dollar military budget, and have developed all types of fancy war toys. The military leaders decide that to show of their new power, they will create powerful supervillians just for them to defeat. They go to a maximum security prison, find three sociopathic killers and give them superpowers

  • Super Strength, limit 10 tons

  • Super Speed, limit 115 mph

  • Laser vision, can create small fires

  • Invulnerablility to small arms and smaller explosives

  • Flight, they can fly for 80 miles before they need rest

They then knock them unconscious, erase their memories of getting powers, put them in a helicopter and leave them in a field out in the Midwest. My question is: would any government ever create supervillians just for them to defeat?

  • $\begingroup$ What is "small arms and small explosive"? Vision is about receiving light, not emitting. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented Jun 23, 2018 at 3:21
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch: Handguns and grenades $\endgroup$
    – Leo VI
    Commented Jun 23, 2018 at 3:28
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Yes. They do it all the time. The war on drugs, the war on terror, war against the Evil Empire (tm) so on and so forth. This is simply using a physical target, instead of an ideological one. $\endgroup$
    – nzaman
    Commented Jun 23, 2018 at 4:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "would any government ever ..." All questions like this are doomed to be answered "It's impossible to rule out". It's an insanely contrived and politically risky strategy so why do it when normal politics can create the image of a dangerous enemy without all the risks ? But you couldn't rule out some insane toupee wearing lunatic coming to power somewhere and doing something crazy like that. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 23, 2018 at 4:58
  • $\begingroup$ You already asked this question, and it even evolved in: would the hero send the bad guys in a coma to strip them of their power? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 23, 2018 at 6:03

3 Answers 3


False Flag Attacks

In 1939 the Nazi military intentionally sent small under armed border incursions into Poland simply so they could die. The Nazi Media fanned the outrage into massive public support to "defend" themselves from Poland. The Viet Nam war was sparked by the Gulf of Tonkin incident, in which a flotilla of communist torpedo boats was reported as attacking an American ship. It was later determined that no such torpedo boats were in the area and credited as a false alarm, however, some rather convincing conspiracy theorists have made arguments that it was a false flag operation as well.

Creating enemies gives justification for increased military spending and creates support for new laws that might otherwise be considered draconian. There are a myriad of people in the right places who stand to benefit by a false flag attack.


This is a term in the intelligence community for the unintended consequences of a covert action. For instance, while Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator with few redeeming qualities it turns out he was actually providing a highly valuable and unrecognized service. By toppling his regime all of the various extremist groups in the region he had been brutally suppressing could suddenly team up and focus on exporting their violence internationally. The blowback from removing his regime was a war that has simmered for nearly 20 years.

The reason there aren't more false flag attacks is the risk of being discovered, or the public reacting to your covert attack in the wrong way. Perhaps the people sympathize with the super-humans being oppressed. Or maybe, the superhumans can't be killed and come back to haunt you. Maybe you get discovered and instead of ending up getting promoted to the nearly all-powerful position as the primary general of a new massive branch of the army you instead end up swinging from a rope on national television.

There can be massive rewards for a false flag, but there can also be major risks as well. That being said, false flag attacks are not unheard of and are quite possible.


Possible - yes. Plausible - no.

There are three problems with this scenario:

  1. Criminal sociopath is in a field somewhere with superpowers and no memory of how they got them or how they got out of prison. Even a moderately intelligent sociopath will realise that someone has taken them out of prison and done something to them and that they are being set up. The logical thing to do is lie low and preferably get out of the country without revealing their superpowers unless unavoidable. Which means that they never become a high profile threat to be dealt with by the military, or they will be a high profile threat to be dealt with by another country's military. (If the government is like the United States with restrictions on use of the military on their own soil then there is even less chance they can show off their toys.)

This problem can be worked around - pick stupid sociopaths who really want revenge against high profile organisations that you are happy to see badly damaged.

  1. Secrecy - this scenario requires way too many players. Even if you fake the deaths in prison of the sociopaths and change their appearance as part of the surgery, you need cooperation from within the prison system, the court system and the most cutting edge biotech researchers and surgical teams around. The researchers and surgical teams are too valuable to be killed off afterwards. Someone will talk, at which point you have to deal with the blowback mentioned in TCAT117's answer. All it will take is one of the sociopaths to talk to people before they die saying who they are and there will be an investigation of how they got out of prison.

The other secrecy problem is that you are giving away information on your own capabilities in terms of creating supermen. (This assumes that making supermen is not a common capability - if making supermen is common then there is nothing special about your military's ability to kill them.)

  1. Benefit - assuming that the sociopaths cooperate by doing something publicly violent and the military gets the chance to blow them away spectacularly - so what? Unless other countries are threating to sic their supermen on your country there is nothing special about being able to kill them. The capabilities you describe are really not that special by modern standards, it sounds like a well-aimed 84mm Carl Gustaf HEAT round fired from ambush or a burst from a 25mm cannon will deal with one fairly neatly, and those technologies are decades old. There is also the problem that your sociopaths are unlikely to cooperate by standing out in an open field, so there is a very high risk of collateral damage in urban areas. If your scheme is found out then the blowback will be that much worse.

Therefore, I suggest that you may need to pick one part of your question or the other but not both.

If the intent of the scenario is to let the government show off its toys then they arrange for one of their existing enemies (they must have some) to attack them and then blow the attackers away spectacularly.

If the intent of the scenario is to have a fight between supermen and the military then the motivation needs to be different. The best I can come up with is that Country A wants to blame Entity B for attacking them with supermen. (Entity B can be a rogue nation, or maybe even a terrorist organisation.) Compartmentalise the operation and make the primary biotech and surgical team think they are working on special forces operatives. (Preferably have them work on real special forces operatives both before and afterwards.) Then have a single cosmetic surgeon alter the appearance of the sociopaths after they have been enhanced so the main team will not recognise their creations when they go on their public rampage. (I shall leave it as an exercise for the student to work out how to perform cosmetic surgery on someone who is immune to small arms fire.) The cosmetic surgeon can meet with a fatal accident afterwards and a short while later the rampage can begin.


George R.R. Martin and his closest buddies wrote a series of books about that: Wild Cards.

The plot is that there is a planet, far away from Earth, that has their DNA and appearance exactly like ours, but their technological level is much more advanced.

They develop a virus, called Wild Card, that can give a person - human or alien - super powers beyond the ones you describe. The virus has a very high lethality rate, though - 90% of the infected die in a few hours after contact with the virus.

This puts the scientists who developed the virus in a dillema. If they use it on their fellow countrymen, they will be powerful enough to take down all their enemies on their planet, but most of their fellow countrymen will die. If they release it as a bioweapon on their enemies, the survivors will be an army of enraged supersoldiers, each as powerful as a DC comics superhero.

So they decide to test on Earth instead, for science. The plan is to study the virus so that they can develop a less lethal version while keeping the ability to give superpowers.. The virus is thrown over 40's NY and 100,000 people die instantly. Among the 10,000 survivors, 9,000 get deformed. Some few thousands do get superpowers.

The end result (for those scientists): when they try to get some specimens back home for studying they get their asses kicked. Everyone involved in the project except a desertor dies horribly. When a handful of survivors does make it to the aliens's planet on their own accord, one of them alone destroys multiple armies, including some from an allied race, single-handedly. The emperor of the alien planet is killed by a third generation victim of the virus they created.

There are multiple examples of "Let's create a challenge for the good guys" gone wrong in other literature as well.

  • In the Order of the Stick comics, gods create goblins, orcs, ogres etc. so that player characters can kill them for XP. Eventually the monsters form their own empire, empowered by a god of their own creation, and threaten the original goda themselves.

  • In Steven Universe, an alien creates a copy of herself for her human protégé to spar with, for experience. The alien is then forced out of existence for a few days - meanwhile her copy keeps trying to off the poor human.

  • In the Fallout series, billions of dollars were invested into a fake nuclear war in order to sell accomodation in underground vaults for civillians. The war eventually became real and the world was never the same again.

  • In the Deus Ex: Human Revolution videogame, the villains empower a supersoldier as part of their R&D, and then try to off said supersoldier when he is no longer needed. Their plan goes sideways spectacularly.


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