#3. Fight Club
What You See
Edward Norton's alter ego starts an underground boxing ring that eventually conspires to blow up the headquarters of several credit card companies. The buildings are destroyed in the middle of the night, because the only people inside are maintenance staff, and they all know about the plan and have evacuated to safety anyway.
But Wait a Minute ...
All right, so they evacuated the buildings. Great. But that's the only precaution they took, and we're pretty sure there's more than one step on the "responsible building demolition" checklist.
Just take a look at movie's final scene:
You see or hear about a dozen buildings go down, and every one of them is a massive skyscraper. Those are some pretty big explosions -- much bigger than what you'd see in a controlled implosion -- and that debris is not going to tumble into a bunch of neat little piles. It's going to be hurtling in every direction. Now, they couldn't have known how callous demolishing skyscrapers for laughs would look to everyone just two years later -- the movie was made in 1999. But for the sake of comparison, the rubble from the World Trade Center towers spread far enough to damage about 20 nearby buildings -- eight of them beyond repair. That was two buildings. This was a dozen or so.
So what was going on down at street level? Well, have you ever been downtown at night? The streets are far from deserted. Homeless people live there. Ladies of the evening ply their trade. Drunken college students wander from club to club, vomiting on their frat-bros as they go. And there's plenty of vehicle traffic as well: taxis, emergency services, cars delivering midnight falafel to your stoned roommate ...
This is Chicago at night. Notice how it isn't empty.
All of those people would have been crushed by the many, many tons of debris. Even if we're generous and assume that the Fight Club somehow managed to shut down several blocks' worth of road traffic without drawing suspicion, it would have been impossible to stop pedestrians from wandering around. Hell, even just the collateral damage from rubble hitting other buildings (like hotels, which are usually located where? That's right: downtown) would definitely be enough to rack up a pretty sizable death toll.
We guess the safety precautions the Fight Club took in the rest of the movie don't apply when their victims are faceless. Which is kind of ironic, considering that the film's message is about fighting back against a society that makes you faceless. Oops.
"Now remember, the first rule of Fight Club is to never, ever talk about all the thousands of people we just murdered to get out of debt."
#2. Batman Begins
What You See
In this origin story, Bruce Wayne trains to become a crime fighter, then uses his new skills to stop Gotham City from being destroyed by a really bad drug trip.
But Wait a Minute ...
At the end of Bruce Wayne's training with the League of Shadows, he's asked to execute a prisoner to prove his loyalty. Shocked by this request (how could he have known something called the League of Shadows would be evil?!), he refuses to kill the man. This is a defining moment in his life: His rejection of lethal force is what separates him from the criminals he hunts down. And it's an ideal he unflinchingly sticks to throughout the- oh wait, he sets the building on fire to escape, which triggers a series of explosions that clearly kills several people. Then we see the entire building explode. You know, that same building where we just saw all the other prisoners still being kept in cages.
Pictured: Batman's idea of a nonlethal approach.
But hey, at that point he was still new to the whole superhero gig, so we guess we can cut him some slack. He got better at the no-killing thing by the end of the movie, right? Like when he stopped the elevated train the bad guy was on by getting Sgt. Gordon to, uh, blow up the tracks and send it plummeting to the ground in a fireball. That seems a little excessive. Couldn't he have just shut the train down, or knocked the bad guy unconscious, or done literally anything besides sending hundreds of tons of flaming shrapnel crashing into a populated area? (And it was populated; you see several people milling about, watching Gordon do his part).
"What do you mean, 'Why didn't I use the brakes?' What the fuck is a 'brakes'?!"
But even that pales in comparison to what the villains accomplished, which was to release a hallucinogenic gas, designed to incite people to murder in their fear and confusion, across the Narrows, an island region of Gotham City. Not only did the gas hit a large number of civilians, but the Narrows was also occupied by pretty much all of the escaped lunatics and serial killers in the city, as well as every member of the riot police. And the only cure for this gas would take weeks to mass produce. So, how does the movie resolve this nightmare situation?
It doesn't. At the end of the film, Gordon casually mentions that "the Narrows are lost" and that half the escaped mental patients are still on the loose. Batman says he'll round them up, because he's just all Batman like that, and that's the end of it. No details on what happened to, say, the hundreds of guys with automatic weapons who currently think all children are demons (remember the scene where a gassed policeman takes aim at a couple of innocent kids?)
So, uh, everybody on the island died, we guess? Gee, that's kind of a downer ending.
"Yeah, so ... that was the worst mass murder in history, but you got revenge on your old teacher, so we'll call it a wash."
What You See
During X2's climax, the genocidal anti-mutant villain attempts to kill all the mutants on the planet with the aid of a special machine and a brainwashed Professor X. His plan is stopped by the genocidal anti-human villain, who then attempts to kill all the humans on the planet with the aid of a special machine and a brainwashed Professor X, before being stopped by the X-Men.
But Wait a Minute ...
Both plans come close to succeeding: During the mutant-killing attempt, we see the X-Men suffer paralyzing pain. During the human-killing attempt, the human villains go through the same terrible effects. Since both attempts are stopped, all the main characters survive ... but everyone else on Earth couldn't have been so lucky.
Remember, Professor X's machine is designed to reach out to every mind on the planet (we see people in the White House knocked unconscious by the attack, even though the machine is in northern Canada). The attack lasts only about a minute or so, but there are plenty of everyday activities that would end in devastation if those involved were rendered unconscious or otherwise inoperative for 60 seconds. For starters, there would be hundreds of thousands of traffic accidents. Most every pilot on Earth would lose control of his plane and come crashing to the ground. Don't forget about doctors in the middle of important operations. Skydivers would be screwed, too. Anyone out for a swim would drown. Dozens of couples experimenting with erotic asphyxiation would -- well, you get the idea.
Really, the only group of people who would have suffered no casualties would be the ones sitting at home and browsing the Internet.
Cracked.com: Keeping you safe from Magneto's villainous schemes since 1958.
And it gets worse. The X-Men are all young and athletic, yet they barely survive the attack. So what about the elderly? Infants? The infirm? If Wolverine -- a man whose body is made entirely of muscle, metal and invincible mutant cells -- barely resisted the mental assault, we doubt Grandma is making it through unscathed.
Although "killed by a supervillain's Mind Murder Machine" certainly beats "fell in the shower."
Add it all up and you have one of the greatest disasters in human history. Professor X's chat with the president of the United States at the end of the film doesn't sound quite as sympathetic when you realize the commander-in-chief is getting ready to address a nation in mourning.
"Humans and mutants must learn to coexist. Also, I'm super sorry about those mutants that killed off half the population yesterday."
And stop by Linkstorm to discover how Jack O'Brien used Professor X's mind machine.
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