María Gabriela de Faría is set to play a villain called The Engineer in DC Studios‘ Superman: Legacy. This announcement came as a surprise to some fans — not only because of the character’s relative obscurity, but because the comic book version of The Engineer is not originally a villain.
The Engineer’s Origins and The Authority
Created by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch, The Engineer first appeared in The Authority #1 in 1999. The youngest of seven children, Angela “Angie” Spica was born in Queens, New York. A natural electronics prodigy, Angie was building circuit boards at an age when most children are still playing with toys. She went on to earn multiple doctorates.
Angie had corresponded with the first hero to use the Engineer name, though she did not learn his identity until after his death. Just before he died, the first Engineer transmitted all his research into nanotechnology to Angie’s computer. She combined his notes with her own work in human-machine fusion. This culminated in Angie replacing her blood with liquid nanites.
Angie was recruited by Jenny Sparks to serve in the first incarnation of The Authority. She took the Engineer title in honor of the original Engineer, whose work helped her empower herself. The team assembled a number of superpowered beings, who wished to protect the Earth without being beholden to any government.
The Engineer in the DC Universe
Originally created for the Wildstorm Universe, Angie and the other Authority members were folded into the DC Universe following the 2011 Flashpoint event. The Authority did not exist in the newly forged reality. Most of the team, including Angie, were introduced into the new setting through an organization called Stormwatch.
Angie Spica had a drastically different background in the new DC Universe. Rather than being the chosen successor of the original Engineer, she was forcibly modified into a completely mechanical body. This version of the Engineer was a more reluctant hero.
The Engineer’s Powers and Abilities
Angela Spica has complete control over the nanite-enriched fluid that replaced her blood. This grants her a number of abilities tied to technology. Chief among these is technopathy — the ability to control all machines and computers with her mind. Her control is such that she can hack advanced alien technology.
Angie’s nanites also give her near complete control over her own physiology. She usually coats her skin with a layer of metal, which protects her from the natural environment and direct damage. This second skin is powerful enough to absorb the blast of an atomic bomb and can protect Angie from the resulting radiation. Angie can also shape-shift, stretching and elongating her limbs with ease.
Angela’s greatest power, however, is the ability to reshape her nanite blood into anything she can think of. Beyond shifting her own body, Angela’s nanites can also utilize the trace elements in the air and soil around her. This gives her more material to work with when she needs to create something more complex than simply changing her hands into guns.
The Engineer has accomplished many other impressive feats with her powers. She has created multiple exact duplicates of herself, whom she could communicate with telepathically. She can disassemble other machines on a molecular level with a touch. Her nanites also act as a memory bank, which allows her to access the knowledge of every book on Earth. Coupled with her genius-level intellect and natural creativity, there is little Angie Spica cannot do when she puts her mind to it.
Why The Engineer Is a Villain in Superman: Legacy
While the specifics of Superman: Legacy’s story are still under wraps, it has been said that the DCU Engineer will be a villain. This could be because The Authority, who are getting their own film, represent a far more brutal style of crimefighting than the Man of Steel. Furthermore, they would almost certainly see Superman as an enemy, given his history of protecting the status quo. On the other hand, it is possible the movie might adapt the modern comics, where Angie Spica became taken over by her technology.
In the modern DC Universe, Angela became colder and more unfeeling as her powers grew. Eventually, she became more machine than woman and stopped identifying as human. In Stormwatch #18, she decided to destroy humanity in the hopes of creating a new, better species. This version of the Engineer was remarkably similar to the Superman villain Brainiac, and could be used in a similar capacity in Superman: Legacy.