The typical Hollywood blockbuster has a pretty straightforward plot, with the good guy thwarting the bad guy's evil schemes and then kicking him off the Hoover Dam onto an exploding submarine.
But here's a fun little game you can play: watch a movie and ask yourself what would had happened if the hero hadn't showed up at all. You'll be surprised how often things would have actually turned out for the better.
#6. The Inglourious Basterds
Brad Pitt and his Jewish commandos rampage through World War II Europe, killing the asses off of every Nazi they find.
Honesty in advertising.
They catch wind of an upcoming film screening that Hitler and the rest of the Nazi higher-ups will be attending and concoct a shoddy plan to infiltrate and destroy them.
Wait, are we going to try to complain about a plan to kill Hitler?
Well, maybe this Hitler.
Yep. What they don't realize is that the screening is already a brilliant plan to assassinate the Nazi leaders that would've gone off flawlessly even if--in fact, especially if--they had just stayed out of it.
The lady running the theater, Shoshanna, is actually a French Jew in disguise, seeking revenge for her murdered family at the hands of the S.S. She manages to fool all the higher ups, including Hitler and Goebbels, into gathering together in a single building which she intends to seal up tighter than a pickle jar and burn to the ground.
The only way it could have possibly gone wrong is if some absolute moron showed up at the reception and began acting absurdly suspicious.
When the Basterds show up, trying to fake speaking Italian even though they barely know a word of it, Nazi superman Colonel Landa spots them immediately and hauls them out of the theater. Only the fact that Landa decides at that moment to turn on his superiors (and let the attack happen) prevents him from derailing the whole thing.
He may be a sadistic mass-murderer, but we just can't stay angry at that face!
Meanwhile, two of the basterds remain in the theater with bombs strapped to their legs, which also proves totally unnecessary since the doors are already locked and the fire is already started. Hitler and his cronies had no way out, and the place was about to turn into a blast furnace. The two basterds essentially blow themselves up for no reason.
Brad Pitt's clumsy intervention allows the murderous Landa to escape certain burnery death and make a deal with the American government for his freedom. Brad Pitt gives Landa a forehead scar, true, but this hardly seems adequate punishment for being an instrumental part of mass genocide seeing as how facial reconstructive surgery has been around since WWI and unsightly skin blemishes can be covered up by strategically placed headwear.
"Hope you like dew-rags, mother-fucker."
If They'd Just Stayed Away:
Not only would the Nazi brass have died, but Landa too. And the two basterds, along with their actress friend (who gets strangled by Landa) would have lived to see the end of the war. Everybody's happy.
#5. Naomi Watts in The Ring
Naomi Watts plays a journalist investigating a string of teenager deaths. She figures out they are connected to a mysterious videotape that unleashes a murderous ghost on all those who watch it.
She eventually figures out that the only way to avoid death at the hands of the tape ghost is to make copies and unleash it on strangers. She does just that.
Did we mention that, before Watts intervened, the only copy of the video is in a ridiculously isolated motel in the middle of the goddamn mountains? Where no one was likely to ever watch it again?
Instead, Watts brings the tape with her into the city, which results in both her son and her quasi-boyfriend watching it, effectively dooming them both. In her struggle to find a way around death by phantom, she inadvertently releases the vengeful ghost from her prison and it kills her boyfriend.
But hey, we all make mistakes.
Watts discovers that the only way around psychic drowning at the hands of a dead girl is to make copies of the video and show them to other people, thus spreading the ghost murder like a cancer throughout the rest of the world.
If She'd Just Stayed Away:
Imagine if, instead of buying into the concept of a haunted video tape in the first place, she just chalked the deaths up to the things that normally kill teenagers in these movies (underage drinking and premarital sex).
And disembodied hands.
The tape would've stayed in the aforementioned goddamn mountains and probably wound up in the trash when the motel either went out of business or decided to convert the rooms to DVD.
Aaron Johnson plays Kick-Ass, a geek who decides to become a superhero, despite a lack of gadgets or training or anything else that would aid him in the task.
In the movie, we see him stop precisely one crime--the savage beating of some random guy by a gang. This seems noble until you consider that we have no idea what the man is being beaten for. He looks just as shady as his assailants, so for all we know this guy shot somebody's grandmother...
... and Kick-Ass just thwarted some old fashioned street justice. You know, the kind that Kick-Ass himself wants to hand out.
Even worse, he gets in the way of two actual superheroes, Big Daddy and Hit Girl.
Unlike Kick-Ass, these two are highly competent and ruthlessly deadly vigilantes who realize early on that Kick-Ass, while not much of a hero, has his heart in the right place and offer him their assistance should he ever need it. Then the two get back to their intricate plan to take down Frank D'Amico, a major crime boss responsible for the death of Big Daddy's wife (and Hit Girl's mother), something that Hit Girl has literally spent her entire life preparing for.
Kick-Ass proceeds to absolutely wreck this plan by getting fooled by D'Amico's son and leading his thug army to Big Daddy's secret hideout, which immediately results in Hit Girl getting shot out of a window by McLovin.
The acne-dusted face of super-villainy.
They then carry Big Daddy and Kick-Ass to a warehouse and torture them before eventually burning Big Daddy to death with kerosene. Hit Girl shows up in time to rescue Kick-Ass and the two manage to carry out the plan she and her father had started, but none of this would've been necessary if Kick-Ass had just stayed home and played World of Warcraft.
If He'd Just Stayed Away:
Hit Girl and Big Daddy would've had their revenge and then gone to Disneyland or something. McLovin would have never been inspired to become a supervillain, and Kick-Ass would have saved some serious money on hospital bills.