In Season 5 of The Wire, a gritty police drama about crime in Baltimore, resident badass Omar Little finds himself outgunned in a shootout and decides to escape by jumping out the window. Well, that doesn't sound very badass to us ... oh, hold on, did we mention that the window is on the fourth floor of an apartment building?
In the immortal words of Marlo Stanfield, "That's some Spider-Man shit there."
Somehow, Omar survives the fall and goes on to kill a bunch of people in revenge. The Wire always had a reputation for being more realistic than your average cop drama, so this moment struck some fans as a little odd -- one critic at The Guardian even wondered if the writers had been drinking when they came up with the scene. What's next, Detective McNulty fighting a mountain lion?
True fans of The Wire (the ones who got the decoder ring after they turned in the box tops from the Cap'n Crunch tie-in) know that the show's major characters are based on people creator David Simon met while working as a journalist in Baltimore. This includes Omar himself, who is actually an amalgam of a few folks -- including a guy named Donnie Andrews, who, according to David Simon, actually made the leap from that episode in a similar situation. Only in real life, it wasn't the fourth floor: He made that jump from the sixth.
"Omar fallin', yo!"
We've previously talked about how falls from higher than the third floor are rarely survivable ... the key word being "rarely," meaning that it does happen. In fact, people have survived falls from as high as a 47th floor or even a freaking airplane. Simon claims that he met other people who confirmed real-life Omar's story, so he wanted to include it in the show. When they were shooting the episode, however, they realized that the building they had only went up to the fifth floor, so Simon decided that "The fourth is fine. They're not gonna believe it anyway."
Oh, and by the way, if you're wondering what a guy who makes sixth-floor jumps and survives looks like in real life, just look at that scene again: Donnie Andrews actually plays Omar's friend, who gets shot in the head during the confrontation.
The film Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe, puts a lot of effort into showing you just how barbaric the lives of real gladiators were in ancient Rome. No one gets "knocked out" in this movie: heads are chopped off, bellies sliced open and sandals forever ruined. Before this film, gladiator movies were best known for all the homoerotic wrestling -- now it's all about the gore.
Thanks for ruining that Airplane! joke forever, Russell Crowe.
The most famous line in the movie is when Crowe, having just decapitated a guy and stabbed several others to death, turns to the audience and yells, "Are you not entertained?" The film is drawing a subtle parallel between the sadistic Roman spectacles of thousands of years ago and today's cruel, voyeuristic TV shows. So Maximus is essentially Snooki, is what we're saying.
Originally, that parallel was A) a lot less subtle and B) a lot more realistic. How? Well, a minor subplot in early versions of the script involved Crowe's character becoming a spokesman for a certain kind of olive oil and having his face and name plastered on signs all through ancient Rome.
Just call him "Sellouticus Maximus."
The producers eventually decided to cut all aspects of Maximus' stardom because it would've looked too much like parody, despite the fact that it also would have made the movie more historically accurate. Real gladiators did sponsor products and had their likenesses plastered all over the Roman equivalent of today's billboards. Here's a Roman mosaic depicting popular gladiators in combat, names and all:
They even had their own freaking action figures: Here's a gladiator figurine from that era that still survives, though sadly someone misplaced all the accessories and the file card.
This one originally came with a little spring-loaded rocket launcher, but had no kung fu grip.
In the end, they cut all that stuff, because to most people, it would look as realistic as the Genie from Aladdin putting on a Goofy hat and a Hawaiian shirt. Hey, maybe when they do movies about Jersey Shore 1,500 years from now, no one will believe that shit was real either.
For more outlandish Hollywood scenes that played out in real life, check out 5 Real Bank Heists Ripped Right Out of the Movies. Or discover 5 Things That Are Way Easier Than They Look in Movies.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 6 Terrifying Spiders That Will Haunt Your Dreams.
And stop by LinkSTORM to discover which aspect of Star Wars didn't make the final cut for "not being CGI'y enough."
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