Myth: Big Boss was in a coma when he was cloned
Fact: The original Japanese script for Metal Gear Solid only states that he simply was sterile.
By Ravi Singh, Posted on July 30, 2011
There are a few times when Metal Gear fans read a myth article I have written and scoff at how it is possible that anyone who calls themselves a Metal Gear fan (or in fewer cases, anyone simply familiar with the Metal Gear series) can believe such a myth. A simple internet search reveals that it is possible, with causes ranging from intellectual laziness, the acceptance of rumors as fact, or simple stupidity. This however is a myth that even the most religious of fans could believe. After all, it is a myth that originates from an official, canon and uncontested Metal Gear title.
Often, it’s easy to forget that the Metal Gear series is Japanese. A grand majority of the characters are American, American foreign policy plays a huge part, and only occasionally does anything Japanese come into play. Maybe the original Metal Gear for the MSX felt Japanese due to the horrific translation job. Metal Gear Solid was an entirely different story though, and arguably remains as the best localized title in the series.
Of course, mistakes are bound to happen in what was then a lengthy script for a video game. When people talk about Big Boss being in a coma during the Les Enfant Terribles project, they are talking about this line from Liquid Snake during his angsty rant on top of Metal Gear REX.
Liquid Snake: But father was wounded in combat and already in a coma when they brought him in. So they created us from his cells… with a combination of 20th century analog cloning and the Super Baby Method.
There is plenty of speculation of this coma among fans especially when taking the alleged “missing link” between Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and Metal Gear into consideration. However, the two “links,” Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker take place two years before and after the Les Enfant Terribles project, respectfully, and the circumstances surrounding the coma itself are not explored. Well, that’s because there was no coma, at least according to the original Japanese script.
I sent this segment of the Japanese script to Marc Laidlaw from from Junker HQ, known for translating the Metal Gear Solid 2 Game Plan and Policenauts. Marc translated it as such:
This actually makes more sense when you think about it. Comatose males can actually have sperm extracted from them. Usually the issue in these cases isn’t the inability of extraction, but rather, the consent of the patient. Even if we try to stay in 1998 and forget about the revelation in later titles that the cloning was done without Big Boss’ approval, we know that consent was not an issue since they ended up cloning Big Boss anyways. So really, the whole thing about the coma makes no sense when discussing the mission to get Big Boss’ offspring.
What the injury itself was, is not 100% clear. It’s assumed that Big Boss became sterile due to his exposure to radiation during the Castle Bravo detonation at Bikini Atoll in 1954. This is revealed in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. I wouldn’t necessarily call being at a base during peace time as “combat” though (no offense to anyone who had the misfortune of being there), so who knows. More importantly, who knows if Hideo Kojima even really thought of what injury specifically led to Big Boss being unable to bear children. Like with many things in the series, he may have not planned it.
As for why the whole coma thing was added in the first place, we will probably never know as we’re talking about a single line in a game that was released over ten years ago. It’s possible that something within the notes provided to the translator made Big Boss being in a coma make sense and flow better. Maybe it was to prevent the brutal images of how exactly Big Boss became sterile from a wartime injury from popping in the minds of players as it was not until Snake Eater that nuclear radiation exposure was hinted at. It should be noted though that despite the changes made to the script for Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes in order to be a more direct translation of the Japanese script, this specific line from Liquid Snake remains as-is.There are 34 comments in our discussion thread.