Finally, time for the last character appearing in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (it took less time that I expected): near the beginning of the movie, a scientific expedition financed by LexCorp collects items from one of the Kryptonian spaceships, sunk in the Indian Ocean, and retrieves also a big chunk of lethal Kryptonite. The scientist overwatching the entire process is Emmett Vale, portrayed by Ralph Lister, who disappears as soon as he gives the Kryptonite to his boss. The evil scientist already appeared in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, albeit he was split in two brothers, Emmett and Rollie Vale, portrayed respectively by John Rubinstein and Christian Clemenson. The Vale brothers were robotic engineers who created the android Metallo, and the latter even enhanced himself with cybernetic prosthetics. Now, time to see who this umpteenth mad scientist from the DC Universe is.
On Earth-1, Professor Vale’s past was pretty much a mystery. He was a renowned physicist and engineer, and somehow got all the resources he needed to perform futuristic experiments using human guinea pigs. He lived in Metropolis, where his cooperators brought him subjects far too wounded to be properly treated in hospital, and who he could experiment on without any friend or relative looking for them. One day, his men brought Vale an infamous, unscrupolous reporter who had had a terrible car accident, John Corben. Corben’s heart had been terribly damaged in the accident, and the man would have surely died in a matter of minutes. Vale, however, had some ace up his sleeve, and he used some experimental cybernetic prosthetics to replace the reporter’s missing limbs, and he even replaced the man’s heart with an artificial one made of Uranium, then covering everything up with artificial human skin. John Corben regained consciousness, and became the android known as Metallo: his Uranium heart had to be replaced from time to time since the energy was quickly consumed, so the former reporter stole it from several power plants, entering into conflict with Superman for that. Vale, in the meanwhile, suffered from a minor stroke, but he managed to recover nevertheless, ready to help his creature in his new life. When it became clear that the Uranium heart was far too unstable, Vale found another possible source for its empowerment in Kryptonite, the alien mineral that was also a lethal poison to Superman. Professor Vale proceeded to replace Metallo’s heart with a Kryptonite rock the cyborg had stolen from an exhibition, and created a more powerful version of him…or, at least, so he thought, as Superman had tricked them both and replaced the Kryptonite with a normal rock painted green in advance. Without a power source, John Corben died of a heart attack, while Professor Vale was arrested for his crimes, thus ending both his scientific and his criminal careers.
After Chrisis on Infinite Earth, a new Professor Vale appeared, this time an astronomer and a physicist. The only aim of his research was monitoring the skies in search of alien activity, a task that with years brought him to paranoia: Emmett Vale was sure that somewhere in space, unspecified “aliens” were plotting to invade Earth, and that sooner or later he would have been the one to see the threat coming and to save the world. A night, he witnessed a space vessel entering the planet’s orbit: it was the Kryptonian Birthing Martix, carrying aboard infant Kal-El, the last son of dying planet Krypton. Sure he had seen the vanguard of the forseen invasion, Vale dedicated the next twenty-eight years of his life on searching for the alien, but eventually he only found his spaceship, and stole it. Studying the ship, Vale found a recorded message from the alien’s father, Jor-El, that revealed the ultimate fate of Krypton, but he mistranslated it, and believed it contained the instructions for an invasion; he also found the remnants of an unknown mineral, which he called “Kryptonite” after the destroyed planet. His studies on the Birthing Matrix also brought Vale to the conclusion (this time a right one) that the alien Kal-El and the superhero Superman were one and the same, and he dedicated his life to find a way to kill the Man of Steel and save his planet from an invasion it didn’t even know was happening. Vale studied Superman thoroughly, and discovered that Kryptonite was able to damage his otherwise indestructible body. He looked for a way to weaponize the mineral, and he found it in John Corben, a soldier who had been badly injured in a car accident. Vale stole his body, and replaced the missing limbs with cybernetic implants; he then gave the man a heart made of Kryptonite, making him a living anti-Superman weapon. When Corben woke up, Vale instructed him on his mission: to kill Superman, the alien invader, a task that Corben willingly accepted…but not before murdering his creator: he wanted no masters. Superman later found Vale’s body and lab, and he erased all trace of his work: the information the man had gathered on him were far too dangerous if entrusted to the wrong hands.
Emmett Vale is a brilliant man, but not exactly a balanced individual: driven either by his ego or by a crippling paranoia, he uses his remarkable intellect always for the wrong purposes. Convinced without the slightest evidence that Earth is threatened by an alien invasion which Superman is allegedly the vanguard of, he uses his knowledge in physics, chemistry, robotics and engineering to collect data on the alien and to build an arsenal of anti-Kryptonian weapons, the masterpiece of which is the cyborg Metallo, unfortunately just as psychotic as his inventor. One of the most gifted minds on the planet, Emmett Vale is the living proof that sanity doesn’t come with intelligence.