#3. Cameron Poe (Nic Cage) in Con Air
Nicholas Cage plays Cameron Poe, an Army Ranger somehow thrown in prison after defending his wife from three drunken switchblade-wielding rapists.
If being creepy as fuck was punishable by jail time, he would have been in for life.
On his way to being paroled, he finds himself on an airplane with John Malkovich, Ving Rhames and Danny Trejo, which by all accounts makes it the greatest airplane ever built.
The second-greatest airplane ever built.
The hardened criminals hatch a daring scheme to hijack the flight and deliver a high profile drug dealer to his cohorts at an inconspicuous airfield in the middle of the desert. There, they intend to board another plane and fly to some country that doesn't have extradition.
Normally, this is the appropriate time for a hero to intervene and thwart the villains' nefarious plans.
We're using the word "hero" loosely here.
The bad guys' plan was doomed from the start, and everything Cage does results in somebody dying unnecessarily. First, it turns out the government has an undercover agent on the flight. He decides to make his move, so in response Cage gallantly distracts him, allowing John Malkovich to shoot the agent in the chest. Cage then takes his place, secretly feeding information to the authorities on the ground.
But this wouldn't have been necessary had he not stepped up at exactly the wrong moment and gotten a man killed.
He did manage to save an easily replaceable inanimate object, we'll give him that.
More importantly, the explosion-laced finale wouldn't have even occurred had Cage simply stayed in his seat and done nothing, because as it turns out the drug dealer was planning on ditching the rest of the criminals in the desert anyway--there was never going to be a flight to haul them to their criminal safe haven. The prisoners end up back on Con Air, dangerously low on fuel and with nowhere to go.
Then, government agents want to shoot down the plane, but Cage convinces the agents not to shoot them down over completely uninhabited sand and rocks, electing instead to take over the cockpit and crash-land... in the crowded Las Vegas Strip, the single most heavily populated area in Nevada.
Oh, and in the chaos of the crash, a serial-killing Steve Buscemi escapes into the city.
Steve Buscemi always escapes.
If He'd Just Stayed Away:
Without Cage's intervention the cons would eventually have been forced to land their plane in the middle of nowhere (they couldn't land at an airport, everyone was looking for the plane and they'd have been arrested on the spot). Then, what? They'd have wound up walking to the nearest town with no money and no resources and every law enforcement agency in the country looking for them? Fine, Nic Cage could have gone right to a pay phone, called the feds and told them right where to find the bad guys. They get arrested and go back to jail.
Worst case scenario, the feds find the plane while it's still circling in the air and it gets shot down by Colm Meany.
Sure, you say, that would have resulted in Nic Cage getting killed and never bringing the stuffed bunny to his kid. But they could have shot up the plane just enough to force it to crash land - which is what ends up happening anyway. Only, you know, without risking the lives of thousands of gamblers and tourists.
#2. Harry Potter
Daniel Radcliffe plays Harry Potter, the boy wizard who manages to fall ass-backwards into intricate plots of villainy and somehow fumble his way out. In this particular case we'll look at the first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, in which the evil Lord Voldemort intends to steal said stone to bring himself back to life.
There were other methods available, but they didn't involve nearly as much bling.
As we have pointed out before, Harry often finds himself solving problems that do not need to be solved.
For most of this movie, Harry and his friends just sit around reading about the stone, which is probably very interesting but does absolutely nothing to thwart Voldemort's scheme. They finally wander into a giant Cerberus' lair and, after singing it to sleep with a goddamn flute, they discover that the door it was guarding is standing open, meaning that somebody is downstairs trying to steal the hell out of the stone.
If your guard can be defeated by rhythmic humming, it might be time to invest in a more robust security system.
At this point, all the little bastards had to do was run back and tell some of the wizard professors back in Castle Nerdgasm, and a team of hardcore sorcerers could've just waited outside the door for the thief to come through and cast a head-exploding spell on him.
Instead, three first-year wizards who know less about magic than Kriss Angel decide to plunge forward and take on Quirrel (currently possessed by super-wizard Lord Voldemort). Once Harry gets through, it turns out the stone was never in danger of being stolen at all--Dumbledore had magically hidden it away inside a magical mirror.
If They'd Just Stayed Away:
If Harry had just kept to the books like a regular student instead of barreling around campus like a moose in the Mystery Machine, Quirrell would've been totally screwed. One of the last things we find out at the end of the film is that the teachers were already onto him (specifically, Professor Snape) and, as we established, he had no way of getting to the stone. It was just a matter of time before Snape and the rest of the staff figured out Quirrell's plan and booted his ass straight to wizard jail.
#1. Jake Sully in Avatar
Sam Worthington plays Jake Sully, a crippled ex-Marine who travels to the planet Pandora to pilot a biologically engineered body as an ambassador to help improve human-alien relations. Jake is also secretly feeding valuable intelligence about the alien's infrastructure to the mercenary commander and the head of the mega-corporation funding the entire operation, allowing them to identify prime targets for their impending assault.
"It's a tree. We have missiles. How much intel do you really need?"
The conflict involves the fact that the aliens home (tree) is sitting on top of a cornucopia of the hilariously named Unobtanium, evidently the most valuable resource in all of space. The humans want them to move, so they can dig it up. The aliens want to stay put.
Sully decides to fight for the aliens, rallying them to beat back the human hordes. Yay!
"$1500-per-chopper for arrow-proofing? Are you fucking crazy? It's not like THEY can fly."
The movie ends too early. The last thing we see are the human armies packing up and going back home to Earth to brood in hateful vengeance, having lost one battle.
And... that's the end? Uh huh.
Kind of like how Custer's Last Stand was the end of Westward Expansion.
Ask yourself: when is the last time Western civilization has stumbled across a pool of massively valuable resources, and just walked away because we met resistance?
After losing billions of dollars and being humiliated by a bunch of giant blue Ewoks, is it more likely that the head of the corporation will see the error of his ways, or will he invest the rest of his assets into burning the surface of Pandora with orbital missiles before sending in an assault fleet the size of Colorado? Did the Europeans give up on the New World's gold the first time one of their settlers took a tomahawk to the head?
Remember, the humans only lost to the Na'vi because they were poorly equipped, fighting with machine guns and fragile aircraft that couldn't even stand up to the local wildlife. They were lacking the future-generation cruise missiles, stealth bombers and who knows what other kind of weapons of mass destruction they've invented in the intervening 150 years. But they'll have them when they come back.
Hell, we're pretty sure this thing is arrow-proof.
And they'll have the permission to use them, too. After all, the aliens killed a bunch of humans. Hell, they'll probably get a government bailout for their losses.
If He'd Just Stayed Away:
True, the Na'vi would have been forced to give up their huge tree (the one sitting on top of the minerals) and that process would still have turned ugly. But after the tree fell, without Sully there to whip them into a fighting frenzy they presumably would have acknowledged it was time to simply find some other huge tree to live in (or maybe settling for several smaller ones). They'd have been forced to figure out a way to coexist with the humans... saving their species in the process.
Remember, the big motivation for the climactic battle was the humans were going to bomb the magical Tree of Souls, and they only decided to do that when they saw Sully massing the Na'vi. The whole thing should have ended before that. Yes, nobody likes to admit defeat and we want to see the underdog win. But sometimes it's worth moving to a new town if the alternative is getting bombed into ash.
Above: Slightly better than genocide.
It just doesn't make for a very inspirational tagline on the poster.
For more heroes that should've stayed home, check out 6 Movie Heroes (Who Sucked At Their Jobs) and The 7 Crappiest "Super Heroes" in Comic Book History.
And stop by Linkstorm (Updated 08.21.10!) because the Book of Genesis says you should. Seriously. Also, are you any good at Photoshop? Got a sense of humor? We're ready to pay you for your skills, click here for details.