MKUltra Superstar: The Winter Soldier


Your work has been a gift to mankind. You shaped the century.
—Alexander Pierce, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”

That something called “MKUltra” existed is not under debate.

But let’s face it: the very name has become part of our “tin foil hat” mainstream lexicon, the use of which sets off “red flags” (if you will excuse the possible pun) every time it’s mentioned as a sort of “crazy-person” fallback talking point.

And yet, MKUltra folklore is inextricably wrapped up with one of the most currently popular characters in movies and comic books: The Winter Soldier.

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Real Geniuses

Tony Stark and his “asset” Peter Parker

I had originally planned to write a post today about the character Winter Soldier as a MKUltra symbol, but got distracted by a random viewing of the 1985 comedy Real Genius. This movie reminded me of the flip-side of the MKUltra’ed soldier/assassin theme, the “softer side,” if you will: that of the young “real genius” who gets recruited by the government as to exploit their prodigious skills.

And the reason Real Genius “flipped switches” for me is because I also watched Captain America: Civil War for the first time a couple of days ago, and found out (admittedly, quite to my nerd-tinged shock) that Peter Parker—Spider-Man—is essentially an intelligence asset in that movie. Parker is a “Real Genius,” literally pulled out of school by his rich handler (Tony Stark, “Iron Man”) to risk his life out in the field.

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Go Ask Alice: The Trouble With “Uncle Charlie”

Blending the movies “Stoker” and “Alice in Wonderland,” both featuring the actress Mia Wasikowska

There is a whole genre of conspiracy-lore that I call, for lack of a better term, “MK-Girls”—narratives concerning women who are allegedly born into/recruited/exploited/abused and otherwise turned into “sex slave assassins” by a secret society/the Illuminati/warlocks/CIA/etc. The prefix “MK” refers to Project MKUltra, an actual CIA “mind-control” project (the full extent of which remains unclear, though obviously heavily-speculated on).

My goal with this post is not to “prove” whether the “MK-Girls”—and the related “Uncle Charlie” archetype—are real. But rather, it is simply to explore this enduring narrative, and its reflections in pop-culture. When the same story gets retold over and over and over again, you have to ask: why?

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