There’s still one character introduced in the latest Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode, and I think it’s safe to say he’ll be a bad guy. In The Singularity, Fitz and Simmons contact the world’s best geneticist, Holden Radcliffe, portrayed by John Hannah, hoping to use his work on parasites against Hive. Radcliffe then is kidnapped by Hive himself, and convinced to work for him instead, using his lust for genetic improvements. The scientist, in fact, is a transhumanist, a man who believes that technology and medicine can and must be used to manipulate human body and genes to force the further evolution of the species (a skill he also used on himself and on his assistant, as they both have very little of “truly human” in them). Now, waiting to see what Radcliffe will do to help Hive spread the Inhuman mutation on the planet, let’s take a look at the original version…who’s more in tech than genetics.
Not much is known about Holden Radcliffe’s early life: a brilliant and gifted man, he became a scientist, and he specialised in robotic engineering. Convinced that robotics was the future of mankind, Radcliffe looked for a way to make his vision become a reality: thanks to the small fortune he earned from his early inventions, the scientist was able to found his own company, Holden Radcliffe Corporation, which gathered other experts in the field of robotics, with the sole aim of developing the perfect android, a completely autonomous A.I. indistinguishable from regular humans. Among the many scientists that Radcliffe managed to recruit in his company there was Dr. Aaron Isaacs, a true pioneer in robotics, possibly the fittest man on the planet to realise Radcliffe’s dream. Isaacs indeed was a genius, and he managed to create the so-called Autonomosly Decisive Automated Mechanism (or ADAM), an artificial intelligence that operated exactly like a human brain. Holden Radcliffe took immediate possession of the invention, and moved it to phase two: militarization. Radcliffe’s aim, in fact, had always been the creation of robotic combat soldiers, to be sold to the highest bidder as a regular army. Seeing his life work perverted this way, Isaacs destroyed the ADAM Radcliffe was experimenting on, and escaped from the Corporation with the beta version of his work; he changed his name into Isaac Aaronson and disappeared from the radars, hiding both himself and the A.I. (who, unaware of his robotic nature, believed to be a regular human, Adam Aaronson, son of Isaac) from his pursuers. Holden Radcliffe, as well as the other scientists working for him, was unable to replicate Isaacs’ work, and needed a completed ADAM to reverse-engineer it: from the very day Isaacs/Aaronson went on the run, Radcliffe dedicated all his remarkable resources to hunt him down and take back from him what was rightfully his.
Despite their ability (and the money he paid them), Radcliffe’s investigators couldn’t find the runaway scientist, nor his “son”. The businessman widened his scope, and started “employing” also the regular law enforcement agencies to provide informations on the two escapees’ whereabouts. The hunt lasted for years, but no significant result had been accomplished. Eventually patience wins it all, and this proved to be true for Radcliffe, as one of the policemen on his payroll, one Officer Michaels, informed him of something strange happening in his town: a local high school student, Ricky Sims, had come to him claiming that one of his classmates was a robot. The “boy” turned out to be Adam Aaronson, and Raddcliffe’s men identified him as ADAM: finally, the businessman could send a team to claim his property back. First of all, Radcliffe had Dr. Isaacs kidnapped and interrogated, then he proceeded to follow Adam’s best friend J.T. Hunt and his girlfriend Carly Whitmere: using an oblivious Carly, Michaels managed to abduct Adam and J.T. as well, bringing the three kids in the same abandoned building he had locked Isaacs in; only then, Holden Radcliffe appeared on the scene, eager to put his hands on ADAM. The scientist was sure he could hack the A.I.’s systems and put him under his control, but couldn’t predict that the life the robot had been living, with all the experiences and the relationships, had made him something unique, and his operative system was now more similar to a human brain than to a computer. As a result, while pretending to be under Radcliffe’s control, Adam was actually still thinking and operating on his own, and allowed his “father”, friend and girlfriend to escape. When Michaels tried to pursue the civilians in order to use them as leverage to make Adam cooperate, the mechanical boy ignited a self-destruct system (Isaacs had taken his computer core with him, so he would have been able to rebuild him); Adam exploded, sacrificing himself to save his friends, and Radcliffe died in the explosion, defeated by the one thing he never understood: humanity.
Holden Radcliffe is a brilliant yet unscrupolous man, a genius scientist and a skilled businessman who uses all his abilities and resources to pursue his one life-time goal, the creation of an army of mechanical soldiers able to make normal humans obsolete. Unable to see the value of anything, but perfectly able to understand the price of everything, Holden Radcliffe has already abandoned much of the humanity he deems to be unimportant for the next evolutional step of the species.