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Off My Mind: Why Don't Villains Use Future Tech to Win?

With time travel so often used, why don't villains simply steal technology from the future to rule the present?

In comic books, time travel is almost as common as superpowers. At some point or another, most characters have experienced some sort of time travel. In the DC Universe, Barry Allen had developed the Cosmic Treadmill and Doctor Doom invented his Time Platform. Both have been used and abused by others besides the actual inventors.

In the case of Doctor Doom or any villain that managed to get a hold of a time travel device, you would think it would give them limitless possibilities to rule the world. The easy idea is they could travel back in time and kill their enemies as infants or use their knowledge of the present to lay out intricate plans or investments.

For the most part, there is an accepted belief in comic books that you can't actually travel within your timeline (especially in Marvel Comics). Traveling back in time creates an alternate reality and so any attempts to change the present will result in failure in the person's actual timeline.

There is another solution in using time travel to come up with a way to rule the present.

== TEASER ==

In the recent The Iron Age: Alpha, a forgettable Iron Man villain did manage to gain access to a version of Doctor Doom's Time Platform. Determined to get revenge against Tony Stark and Iron Man, this villain didn't go into the past and try to replace the baby formula in l'il Tony Stark's bottle. Instead he went into the future. He went there and simply made observations.

You don't have to be a genius to go into the future and obtain the schematics on some doomsday device. Venturing forward could have similar time travel problems involving alternate realities but if the right piece of future technology could be obtained, it would make life a lot easier. And that's what this villain did.

It's not just villains that could gain from this. We know the story of Cable and how he was taken far off into the future so he could be cured of the techno-organic virus. When he first appeared in the pages of The New Mutants and the original X-Force series, he had some crazy looking weaponry along with the technology to teleport (or bodyslide).

For the ambitious villain, even the most powerful futuristic gadget might not be enough. There'll always be a Reed Richards or Mister Terrific that could probably come up with a solution to defeat the technology. If a villain is after financial gain, they could journey a few years or decades and pick up whatever the current technological craze is. Imagine if someone in the 70s came up with the plans and ability to manufacture an iPod or iPad? Even if there were some restraints that preventing a traveler from carrying any objects back, just coming up with the idea and being able to figure out enough to have the future tech built would be enough to set them up for life.

Going into the future and just making observations might seem like a boring plan but it's one that could prevent the villain from getting into a superhero battle and facing jail time. It doesn't even have to be a piece of technology that they observe (and steal). They could even take the idea from a blockbuster movie or novel and pass it along as their own. We know fighting isn't always the solution and you would think that eventually the villains would discover the same option.

If a villain is willing to steal in the present, why wouldn't they want to steal from the future. This could be an easy solution for them and free them from being on the receiving end of super-powered punches. The only problem for the villain is finding or getting someone to lend them a time machine.

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Posted by leokearon

Kang uses Future tech and he still can't defeat the Avengers
Edited by lorex

The only thing I can come up with is that in standard comics the heroes are suppose to win over the villains, no matter how the deck is stacked against them. That's why they are the heroes. In reality if someone with advanced technology could travel back in time I am sure they could have a huge impact on the world and if not rule be a major player. In comics things have to get back the the status quo sooner or later, so even big events rarely have a lasting impact.

Posted by VanAce

Maybe a villian should do a Back to the Future 2 and go into the future and come back with the sports almanac. They could make billions which then they would be able to buy out Stark Industries or something. Then the superheros wouldn't be able to afford to fight them.

Posted by The Stegman


  chronos almost destroyed the universe
Posted by justafan

what comic does the last image come from?

Posted by DoctorTrips

Because they lose...all the time.

Posted by GT-Man

they need more of a challenge >:D
Posted by dorsk188

So, you go back in time to kill your enemy, rule the world, and hook up with that girl you like, but backward time travel creates a pocket universe within the multiverse.  So you kill this alternate version of your enemy, and rule the alternate version of the world, and hook up with the alternate version of the girl you like. 
....So what's the difference?  Sure, there's another universe out there where your enemy is alive, the world is unruled, and the girl you like cries herself to sleep ever night because she'll never meet her true love.  ....So?  Who cares?  You got the universe you wanted.  Why does everyone obsess over whether it's the "real" universe or an alternate one?

Posted by jonasLighter

Hell, why don't heroes do the same? 

Posted by Grim

That Superman/Batman issue where dood leaves the one million universe to kill Batman And Superman of now, only to get beaten. He then travels through multiple times getting beaten by every iteration of the team until he gets back to the future.
  As long as the time traveler doesnt know the heroes identity, he cant really stop them. They always win. That guy even beat a superman, only to be beaten by ANOTHER superman and BAtman is the same time period.
 Damn heroes never die. Also, guy like Rip Hunter somehow tend to know what your up to and bring heroes to your time to stop you. damn consistent heroes...

Posted by kfhrfdu_89_76k

No matter if a villain or anyone else trys to mindle with timemachine that wouldn`t create an alternate timeline, the universe will make it so that the future will be exactly same as it is now.  
Besides, the heroes will save everyone from the dangers of any kind of dystopian future anyway. That`s the nature of the story. Everything will change so that everything stays the same.

Posted by NightFang
@The Stegman: Didn't Chronos also try and become a god in a later episode.
Posted by The_Tree

The coolest time traveling villain I can think of is Black Beetle.

Posted by Norusdog

because it wouldn't make for much of a story now would it? that's the ENTIRE reason they came up with the "creates alternate timeline" bullshit anyway.
end of discussion really.

Posted by Grandmaster_Fro

I don't like villains with future tech. It just gets boring. It becomes too easy an excuse for why someone is so much more powerful or how powerful they an get

Posted by Arevish

Victor Von Doom
College Age: With an helmet he can Mind-Control genious people
1990: With a two-finger-ray he can destroy Hulk's Brain (Joe fixit)
2009: He just shoots big rays from his hands. 
Sorry for bad english..

Posted by SC

Those villains smart enough to acquire such technology might be weary to abuse it. Those that aren't weary, pay by not getting any panel time. 

Posted by G-Man
Posted by SleepyDrug
@Arevish said:

                Victor Von Doom  College Age: With an helmet he can Mind-Control genious people 1990: With a two-finger-ray he can destroy Hulk's Brain (Joe fixit) 2009: He just shoots big rays from his hands.   WHY?!  Sorry for bad english..

I've always wondered why the armors of Kang and Doom are so much weaker than Iron Man's.
Posted by FadeToBlackBolt

The same reason Doctor Doom doesn't go back in time and push Maria Stark down some stairs when she's pregnant; it's not a good story.

Posted by Crymsun

The Justice League's villain, T.O. Morrow, did it ALL the time.  It never worked out for him.  Of course, he was a bumbling idiot.. but still.
Posted by Maikel

Booster Gold uses future tech as a hero, the legion time-travels several times, even batman did it in the comics.
However, in each case this is usually done to re-correct the timeline as it should be, because some villain messed it up, also, only the timetravellers themselves remember everything.
Someone here posted the justice league episode, in the second part there is an interesting converstation:
Old Bruce: "Surprised to see me?"
Batman: "I'm surprised I lived this long"
Old Bruce:"Somethings not right, I do not have any recollection of travelling to the future or meeting my future self"
In later DC continuity, JLU batman claims to fully remember the incident, so does Hal Jordan, since they fixed the timeline together by sabataging chronos's timebelt putting it into a continuoous loop and were dropped back into reality. the incident later never happened in Future DCAU, Terry did not die at the hands of the granddaughters of Harley Quinn, and old Bruce lived on to become even older Bruce.
However, both in Marvel and DC, there is at the end of a comic usually a tribute of how the hero fixed the timeline when traveling into the past, be it in the form of a painting or drawing or journal entry by those who he worked with while in the past.

Posted by InnerVenom123
@FadeToBlackBolt said:
The same reason Doctor Doom doesn't go back in time and push Maria Stark down some stairs when she's pregnant; it's not a good story.
Posted by maxicere

Kang is the king of the timetraveller

Posted by Doctor!!!!!

Of course its fair! their smart enough to think of it!

Edited by Fantasgasmic

I think a good reason would be that using any future device before it's conception would cause the space-time continuum to collapse in on itself. I mean, they don't do that in either of the big 2, but it would be a cool idea. Like you couldn't go back and save Lincoln by replacing him with a hologram or life model decoy, but you COULD go back and arrest Booth and the conspirators beforehand. 
 I'm sure the real answer is just "wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff."

Posted by Nova`Prime`
@leokearon said:
Kang uses Future tech and he still can't defeat the Avengers
Usually Immortius helps the Avengers some how by defeating Kang.. so really its Kang being defeated by his future self, so we see how that works out.
The real question is why not go into the past to stop the hero before they are the hero. I mean Doom could have gone and killed the entire F4 before they could even walk. Maybe there is no honor in that and that's why he doesn't do it. Also it makes for a bad story.
Posted by AskaniSon295

I assume Most villians have heard about Kang's and  Zargo's various attempts to rule earth with future-tech and gave up also those face-less office workers will probably get you if they are still around. That was sur-real cool.

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

I think also a more likely scenario why villains aren't so much into the business of time travel is the entire butterfly effect.  They know that with time travel any change, however significant or insignificant it might be, can radically alter reality and possibly even endanger their own existence.  Obviously this hasn't always been shown to be a case in comics traditionally but it seems more and more to be a plot device writers allude to, especially if one reads the current Booster Gold volume.  So yes, maybe a good part of the reason why villains don't go all Back to the Future is because of money issues, but I contend that its mostly because time travel itself is a very risky venture.

Posted by umbrafeline
@vanace: thats what i need to do
Posted by mark5
@leokearon said:
Kang uses Future tech and he still can't defeat the Avengers
Posted by AlKusanagi

Villains try it all the time, but those pesky heroes just keep beating them regardless.

31st century technology will never be a match for Captain America with a inanimate hunk of metal.

Posted by bigpicnic

Villains shouldn't rely too much on gadgets, just ask Wile E. Coyote.

Posted by AirDave817

There really wouldn't be a challenge or a story if a villain could go into the future and find the right weapon and beat the hero. Most villains are too arrogant or stupid to succeed. 
Darkseid's genius plan in Generations III is to send Parademons to Earth with the ability to go back in time. His plan will work, because no one will see it coming! Heroes are weaker in the past than they are now. Unfortunately, thanks to Batman putting it together that Parademons have been attacking around the same time every hundred years, the heroes build up a huge defense that forces the Parademons to jump into the past, only to be beaten there, too...     

Posted by tbone1225

If they used future tech, it would become current tech, and that would just be too confusing.

Posted by Emperormeister734

Kang is always using technology from the future, so does Doctor Doom, well he did use Stark's armor to build himself an new army of DOOMBOTS

Posted by NXH
@bigpicnic said:

Villains shouldn't rely too much on gadgets, just ask Wile E. Coyote.

Posted by BruceW
Posted by UnosInfinitos

Easy: Bad guys can never win it's the cosmic law weaved into every form of fiction because deep down inside despite how bad people seem they would rather be admired for good deeds.  Heck even the greatest villains are great because they have some "for the good of mankind" agenda. Seriously  try to make  a character that is completely ID with no conscious you're going to end with Joker handicaps like whimsical personality and eye candy sidekick to deflate how evil he is.

Posted by EdBlank

Simply put: Time travel is BS. 
If it were possible to timetravel there would be no date at which it became possible. Whenever it was invented it would get spread into the past rigth away. Some guy woul dfall in love in the past and hip his devious GF to it or w/e and we will have always known time travel from before the dawn of civilization (since people would be going back as far as possible to well "before" humans - which would be an innaccurate phrase in this schema). 
Likewise: people would always be undoing everything that's ever been done such that they would undo their own existence each time. The Universe would be an eternally skipping record. The only Universe that could play out from "beginning" to "end" (whatever that means - let's just say in a linear fashion) would be the one where no time travel existed. Once it was invented it would continue to "skip" until time travel was non existant then it could continue. 
Lastly: "Alternate Universe"? You think everytime someone presses a button on a machine AN ENTIRE DUPLICATE UNIVERSE IS BORN? That just doesn;t make sense. This one took unimaginable amounts of time and energy to create. How could the button on a time machine re-create an exact duplicate instantaneously?
Edited by phrosnite

Because comics are weird! Traveling forward in time is totally possible. Traveling back is not.

Posted by TransgressionsofSociety

Villains will never have their way, justice always prevails!  Except, if superheroes turn to supervillains, then they win.

Posted by AirDave817
That's right!
Posted by crusader8463

The heroes would just use the future future tech to beat whatever future tech they would get.

Posted by TheCrowbar

It would be come a cold war. Going further and further into the future for more and more powerful tech. Dr. Doom has super laser, Reed gets a Tritanium Composite shield. If you're smart enough to travel through time, you're smart enough to realize that.

Posted by DemonicBlade

Wasn't the COSMIC CUBE futuristic?

Earth 1610
Posted by Eyz
@DemonicBlade said:
Wasn't the COSMIC CUBE futuristic?
Earth 1610
They should it use more often or at least make better use of it.
Posted by joel77M

To be fair, the Marvel universe wouldnt be as much interesting to read, if all the villains defeated there enemies so easily because they got future tech to aid them, plus, whats to say that the heroes dont have future tech that could be used if a villain does employ the idea you have stated in this article, I'm sure mr fantastic has some future tech lying round in his lab somewhere.
Posted by perry_411
@EdBlank: Valid points, but this isn't reality.
Posted by Paracelsus

It's the old conundrum- known as "grandfather/grandmother paradox"- if you go back in time and cause your grandparents to either die before your parents were born or never to meet-then you yourself will never be born- you can't change the past without changing the future-even if it were possible to go back in time and maybe kill Adolf Hitler(or any other notorious tyrant) as a child or infant, I WOULDN'T advise such a course of action(anyway killing children is repugnant irrespective of what they grow up to be)!

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