#3. Failing to Remember That Bulletproof Vests Exist
The victims: Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Firefly, Human Target, multiple Lethal Weapon movies
If your job typically puts you in front of waves of rampaging gunfire, one would think you would be keen on wearing some kind of protection between your ZZ Top T-shirt and your chest. And, in fact, during some crucial dramatic scene where you see the hero take a bullet, you'll inevitably find he's pulled a Doc Brown and hidden a vest under his clothes. Only the hero does this, and only on special occasions.
"Remember Akmed: Torso shots only!"
For some reason, the onslaught of nameless goons employed by every evil organization in the history of the world, no matter how well-funded, apparently skipped the "bulletproof vest" section of Kohl's on their way to murder John Rambo.
"Holy shit, what are bullets doing here?"
Usually this only affects the anonymous henchmen, like the ones hunting Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The pair has been described in the movie as the world's top assassins, probably because they're the only ones who remember to wear bulletproof vests.
"Thank God these were the last two Wal-Mart had on sale."
But even the good guys seem to forget from one week to the next. The TV shows Firefly and Human Target both featured bulletproof vests in their pilot episodes, coming to play in critical moments that save two major characters from death. But after those episodes, none of the principal characters ever wear one again, despite plunging headfirst into frantic gunfights two to three times a week.
We loved the show too, but it's pretty clear that none of the writing staff had ever been in the same room as a real gun.
Likewise, Mel Gibson gets saved from a shotgun blast partway through Lethal Weapon by a vest, but is never seen wearing one again. His partner, Murtaugh, nearly dies at the end of the second film from a gunshot because he wasn't wearing one.
Oddly, Rene Russo is saved from ultimate destruction in Lethal Weapon 3 by wearing two bulletproof vests (the plot involved special anti-bullet proof vest bullets), but in virtually every other scene, no one else can think to wear even one. Guys, you live in Lethal Weapon. At some point today you're going to be involved in a car chase that involves machine gun fire. Don't leave the house without that shit.
Taking it to the bathroom might be overkill, though.
#2. The Dust-Gathering Superweapon
The victims: Star Trek TOS, Star Gate SG-1, Dr. Who, any movie or show with time travel
Have you ever spent three hours trying to put up a shelf with a butter knife before remembering you have a Phillips-head screwdriver in a drawer in the kitchen? This is a memory lapse frequently seen on any show or movie that relies on technology. Remember the first time Tony Stark breaks out the Iron Man suit, and he uses a tiny little forearm missile to destroy a massive tank?
That sure would have come in handy in the final battle. Could he only afford one of those rockets?
But nothing compares to Star Trek when it comes to life-saving device amnesia. During its many travels, the Enterprise has encountered and promptly forgotten about a plant that can cure any illness and re-grow lost body parts, a drug that grants psychic powers, and an advanced cloaking device and a Warp 11-speed engine. Fans have suffered through entire story arcs that could have ended by simply utilizing some Deus ex Machina the writers put into the show no more than two weeks prior.
But hey, why waste high technology when a good scowl usually does the trick?
Dr. Who, meanwhile, at one point introduces a colossal laser emerging from underneath London and then never mentions it again. Stargate SG-1 sweeps neat little things like immortality pills under the rug, not to mention the fact that they ignore after just two episodes that the titular Stargate can blow up suns.
And don't even get us started on time travel. From Harry Potter's Time Turner to Superman's ability to rewind the universe, no one ever remembers that every single problem they have could be solved by just jumping back to before it started.
An albatross J.K. Rowling will take to her grave.
#1. Assuming That The Hero's Super Powers Won't Work On You
The victims: Superman, RoboCop movies... basically any superhero film ever made
We've all sat and watched henchmen fire an endless stream of bullets at the likes of clearly bulletproof heroes like Superman and RoboCop and wondered what the hell they were expecting to happen. RoboCop deals with this problem in virtually every action sequence in the original film, even after the bad guys learn who he is and what his capabilities are. It's like the thugs all have the Memento disease and can't remember the last 800 bullets they shot into RoboCop's armored chest had no effect. Or maybe they just figure his armor is designed to fail on the 801st, and it's just a matter of being persistent.
"...maybe one of us should aim for the face?"
In Superman Returns, when the Man of Steel flies back to Metropolis after a several year absence, he is almost immediately greeted by gunfire. Regardless of how much time had gone by, a bulletproof alien zipping through the air in bright blue tights is something we imagine would stick out in the minds of Metropolis's criminal underworld.
"...maybe he's a copycat superhero!"
Yet we watch as some guy empties a machine gun into Superman's chest, and after that doesn't work he pulls a pistol out and shoots him in the face only to have the bullet flatten out against his eye. You would remember that for the rest of your life.
"Goddamned hard contacts!"
Not that the villains of Gotham learn any faster. They'll keep charging at Batman one at a time, even with 13 of their cohorts lying on the ground with broken collar bones. We're not suggesting they just walk away and give up their life of crime--we understand that anybody who's signed up to be a henchman for The Joker probably isn't qualified to do anything else. But maybe you should fall back and try a new strategy. You're not going to be the first guy in history to punch Batman into submission. Leave until you can come back with some dogs.
Attention Henchmen: Mace in the mouth really hurts.
Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a freelance online journalist and Japanese-English-Polish translator. Contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org
For more head-scratchers from your favorite movies, check out 6 Life Saving Techniques From the Movies (That Can Kill You) and 5 Ridiculous Gun Myths Everyone Believes (Thanks to Movies).
And stop by Linkstorm (Updated 09.03.10) to learn about God and other holy stuff.
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