Myth: Null adds to Gray Fox’s backstory and does not retcon it
Fact: Gray Fox's appearance in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops itself contradicts his already established backstory in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake.
By Ravi Singh, Posted on February 4, 2010
Null's backstory retcons the established backstory given to Gray Fox in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. I don't care if you think Portable Ops is the best thing ever made since Snake's Revenge–This isn't about an opinion, I already wrote up an editorial on that. This is all about facts.
A retcon is a change of previously established facts in a work of fiction. Gray Fox's backstory has been established in 1990 with Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. Sixteen years later a different backstory is set with Portable Ops and it contradicts the one that was already established.
Recall part of Gray Fox's death speech in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake:
History lesson for those who do not know–the Vietnam War officially ended in 1975. That means that according to Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, he was first saved by Big Boss sometime after 1975… at least five years after the events of Portable Ops. Now this myth exists because people will point out that Gray Fox, as Null, was brainwashed possibly to the point in which he wouldn't even remember what the fuck happened in the San Hieronymo Peninsula. Sure, I can give you that much and assume it’s true, but it won’t help.
Gray Fox continues:
Mozambique? Well that's interesting. In Portable Ops, Big Boss does mention seeing Gray Fox in Mozambique…
Gray Fox as a child in Mozambique fighting on behalf of the FRELIMO in 1966. This makes no sense given what we learned in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake.
This isn't the same incident as the one Fox mentioned before his death in Zanzibar Land. RENAMO, for starters, didn't really exist until 1975, so it makes no sense if this incident took place in 1966. The "guerrilla group" fighting for "independence" was likely to be the anti-colonial Marxist group FRELIMO. The FRELIMO ended up taking over Mozambique and fighting a civil war with the anti-communist RENAMO in 1975. This civil war did not end until 1992; Gray Fox was probably talking about this FRELIMO vs RENAMO war where he fought on behalf of the RENAMO whereas Big Boss was talking about the FRELIMO was with the Portuguese.
The possibility of Gray Fox fighting for the FRELIMO and later the RENAMO isn't really impossible–The head of RENAMO was a military commander for FRELIMO during the war with Portugal. Likewise I've already flirted with the idea that Gray Fox could have lost all of his memory after the San Hieronymo Peninsula incident in 1970, so the fact that nothing's ever been mentioned of his involvement with FRELIMO (and Gene's FOX Unit, for that matter) can be explained, too.
So Gray Fox fought as a child soldier for the FRELIMO in 1966, got rescued by Big Boss, taken by The Philosophers to be turned into "The Perfect Soldier" Null and then rescued again by Big Boss in 1970. From here-on, Gray Fox should be able to remember everything. So when did he go back to Mozambique only to be rescued again by Big Boss?
In Metal Gear Solid, Naomi reveals to Solid Snake that she was rescued by Gray Fox in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) and then taken to Mozambique afterwards:
Naomi : He was a young soldier, when he picked me up near the Zambezi River. I was half-dead from starvation and he shared his rations with me. Yes. Frank Jaeger, the man who you destroyed, was my brother and my only family.
Snake : Gray Fox?
Naomi : We survived that hell together, Frank and I. He protected me. He's my one connection… the only connection that I have to my past.
Snake : And he brought you back to America?
Naomi : No. I was in Mozambique when "he" came.
Snake : Who is "he" ? …You mean Big Boss?
Naomi : He brought us to this land of freedom , this America. But then he and my brother went back to Africa to continue the war. And that's when it happened… You killed my benefactor and sent my brother home a cripple. I vowed revenge and joined FOX-HOUND. I knew it was my best chance to meet you and I prayed for the day that I would…
Gray Fox was in Mozambique again sometime after rescuing Naomi. The incident where he was tortured by the FRELIMO either happened while he was in Mozambique with Naomi or afterwards when Big Boss and him went back. Either way, it happens in between 1980 and 1995. From there he works for FOX-HOUND and later for Zanzibar Land. As long as we assume that Gray Fox suffered from amnesia due to "The Perfect Soldier" project, all of this checks it out.
Thing is, there is one little thing Gray Fox mentioned in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake that damns any explanation that can be given–and that is his experience as an Amerasian in communist Vietnam. If we are to assume that Gray Fox had his memory erased, it makes no sense that he would remember being forced into a Vietnamese re-education camp which could have only have happened sometime around 1975, most likely after the fall of Saigon. Also, Gray Fox didn't say anything about actually taking part in the war–he said he lived there. While it's not explicitly explained, it's highly likely that Fox is half-Vietnamese and was probably born there to German-American and Vietnamese parents.
…so why, in 1966, was Gray Fox fighting in Mozambique? As a last resort to make sure that this incident wasn't retconned and that there is an explanation of sorts, I decided to look up Gray Fox on the Metal Gear Solid 4: Database. Guess what? Vietnam is not mentioned anywhere upon looking up Gray Fox’s past.
You have to wonder why they decided to erase this part of Gray Fox's life as canon. What was wrong with it? Too controversial as it not only explores the usual "children in war" theme that Gray Fox shares with Raiden, but racism? Is it because it's possible that Gray Fox's father was a soldier and his mother possibly a rape victim or someone who loved-long-time? No, it's because they put him in Portable Ops.
They might have been able to get away with it, but there are several obstacles. Gray Fox specifically mentioned that the first time he was rescued it happened after the war and then compared it to the supposedly rescued children that are scattered throughout Zanzibar Land. Portable Ops takes place in 1970, before the war in Vietnam was over. Null is also seemingly a teenager, possibly a young adult.
Throw in the fact that one would have to already assume that Fox lost his memories prior to the end of the Vietnam War, and ultimately the retcon seems necessary in order to throw Gray Fox into the game. To make up for it, they reestablish Gray Fox's backstory from a product of war to some random German kid with a knife. Why it was so important to put Gray Fox in Portable Ops and fuck with an already established backstory, on the other hand, is a completely different issue.