(The original picture — which I’ve edited to include names — and this theory, both come directly from this SnakeSoup post by member Gentapo, so give that guy credit (or ridicule) for connecting the dot.)
Below are my thoughts on its plausibility and implications. I miss the days of longshot Metal Gear theories and rampant speculation, so now I’m going to indulge…!
Is Skull Face a former patient (or experiment) of Dr. Clark?
We know that “Para Medic” from MGS3 eventually becomes responsible for resurrecting Gray Fox and trapping him inside the Cyborg Ninja suit before he escaped and killed her. She does extreme genetic research, and in some ways she’s actually the most mysterious member of the Patriots. What was her role? What did she do in the years leading up to the Gray Fox incident? We know she was the head of FOXHOUND’s medical staff, and their chief geneticist, but what did she all do? As an ally of Major Zero, Revolver Ocelot, and Sigint, she is said to have become hungry for power and world domination. She’d be a natural ally of “Skull Face” whether this theory is true or not.
Not only would it make sense that Dr. Clark began experimenting with genetic miracles earlier than Gray Fox, but it makes sense that she would use those experiments to further the agenda of the Patriots in the Special Forces units that preceded FOXHOUND. The MGSV theme of dismemberment, “phantom pains”, and extreme disfiguring beg the question of how she in particular would fit.
Is Dr. Clark behind the mysteries of “Those Who Don’t Exist”?
“Those Who Don’t Exist” include men who appear almost undead, but move in extremely agile, ninja-like ways. They seem to be wearing special gear, which may be enhancing their abilities. It’s not absurd to guess they’re experiments leading up to the creation of Cyborg Ninja, considering the parallels.
Before he dies, Gray Fox tells Snake that he is a “undying shadow in a world of light”; he is clearly psychotic, dependent on medicine to remain in control of himself, and trapped in a world of misery without rest. You could say Gray Fox suffers from “phantom pain”, which drives him to hunt down Solid Snake and seek satisfaction in battle. “Those Who Don’t Exist” could easily fit this profile too, and why not? This explanation makes much more sense to me than some radical new one, which would just add unnecessary plot points that need to then be explained in some other way. At this point, with the series coming full circle in so many ways, strong callbacks to MGS1 and the two older MSX games feel very compelling.
Many birds, few stones
From everything we’ve seen so far, The Phantom Pain may very well bridge to the original Metal Gear. This means he’ll need to tie up as many loose ends as possible, and try to emphasize the themes that will become important later on. Between choosing a title like “The Phantom Pain” and Kojima’s neverending willingness to pander to to Gray Fox fans, is it so crazy to think that he would want to finally deal with the questions of Dr. Clark and her genetic experiments properly, before the “circle” is completed? (Bonus: He can finally erase the godawful “Null” storyline from the Metal Gear history books and do Gray Fox’s origin story properly.)
Kojima already went as far as to say that Dr. Clark — specifically referred to as a man in MGS1 (and presumably an evil bastard) — was secretly the chipper “Para Medic” support character from MGS3, and that Donald Anderson was actually “Sigint”. These are ballsy leaps I never would have guessed he would make, but he just went ahead and did it, because he loves to kill lots of birds with really big stones. The MGS universe tends to get smaller and smaller the more it’s connected, not bigger.
Nobody should suggest that Kojima deliberately included the picture of Para Medic and the ugly guy in the wheelchair in MGS3 as some kind of epic foreshadowing, that would be stupid. But if there’s any storyteller I know of who is willing to go back and connect obscure dots in order to make them seem relevant later on, it is Kojima — and he is pretty f**king good at it.
It’s also worth noting that Skull Face is repeatedly shown in side profile, up close, at the same angle as the “wheelchair man”.