Movie made: 1998 | Set in: 2036

Summary Table
Event Likelihood Time frame
Training of soldier from birth very low already possible
Genetic selection and engineering of soldiers very low 2020+
Regular interstellar travel very low? beyond 2100
Interstellar garbage dumping extremely low beyond 2100

Approach to the future

Heavy-handed metaphor and action vehicle


Futurism: 2

Entertainment: 6
Kurt Russell bleeds a lot, speaks two seven-word lines, and, in a sequence that can be viewed by fast-forwarding to the 51st minute of the film, expresses an emotion.

Plausibility: 2

Interesting depictions


Other technologies/topics depicted

Warfare and weapons:
Sergeant Todd has a fairly plausible list of campaign actions, including the Saudi Campaign, the Moscow Incident, and the Montana Insurrection. But by 2036 he is fighting on extrasolar moons, which is wholly unlikely.

Infantry tactics seem to have regressed, and consist of walking forward and blasting everything, but opponents conveniently expose themselves to be shot.

The good guys are attacked by giant wheeled armored “crawlers.” While cute, these vehicles would have had a hard time surviving on 20th century battlefields, much less those of the 21st.

Genetic engineering:
By 2036, soldiers are starting to be produced via genetic recombination and manipulation, for improved endurance, better hand-eye coordination, quicker responses, and improved technical training. Return to top

This will be possible. Genes are beginning to be tied to characteristics, including behavioral characteristics, and the first draft of the human genome has already been sequenced.

It will take decades to learn how to use this genetic information. But by 2036 it should be possible to modify the characteristics of human embryos. The breeding in Soldier would then be possible, and designers could engineer a more suitable soldier. Reflexes and reaction to stress might be improved, for instance. Some regimes might want to create soldiers with traits such as an inclination to unquestioned loyalty or reduced empathy for others.

It seems unlikely any society will make that choice, however. More likely will be disease cures and simpler “improvements.”

A soldier with a ripped eye is described as “worthless.” But biotechnology that can select people’s genetic characteristics would be able to repair such damage, probably through growth of a new eye from the patient’s own cells.

Space travel:
Interstellar space travel has been around since the 2020s and probably earlier: the colonists on the garbage planet seemed to have crashed around 2024. This is wildly improbable: we will be lucky to have a manned moon base by then.

Also improbable is the use of interstellar garbage vessels, which drop aircraft carriers, parking meters, Icelandair jets, and everything else on the planet Arcadia. It is unlikely any garbage will ever be disposed of off planet, except perhaps nuclear waste, which would simply be propelled into the sun. Return to top.

See: A note on space travel.

Interstellar garbage dumping

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The futures depicted in the movies