Movies have given us no shortage of wily and resourceful characters who can seemingly think their way out of any jam, be it with technical wizardry, combat experience, or supreme galactic mind powers. However, some of these characters, in the midst of using their wits to topple complicated obstacles, manage to inexplicably overlook some painfully obvious things that come back to bite them directly on their brilliant asses.
#6. Iron Man -- Tony Stark Forgets to Check Up on His Billion-Dollar Company
Iron Man clubs us to death with the idea that Tony Stark is the hippest genius in the history of goateed science. He farts out impossible technology like he's microwaving tater tots, constructs the most advanced suit of armor ever created while being held prisoner in a hollow mountain in the middle of Afghanistan, and is able to douchequip his way into women's pants on a daily basis.
"Before we do this, you should know I have hepatitis A through Z."
Tony is a billionaire because he is the head of Stark Industries, a company primarily concerned with making weapons for the military, which of course allows him to become a superhero in his off hours.
The Big Twist:
Tony thinks he's going to spend his superhero time Iron Manning terrorists to death, but the surprise twist is that his true enemy is someone close to him. His lifelong friend and mentor, Obadiah Stane, has been secretly selling weapons to terrorists, because there's apparently more money in that. He is, in fact, the one who originally set Tony up to be captured at the start of the movie.
"I see no way that not deleting this video can come back to haunt me."
After his plan to have Tony killed fails, Obadiah makes a move to take control of the company by filing an injunction against Stark with their board of directors behind his back, a fact he shockingly reveals to Tony at some weird tuxedoed science fair.
But How Did He Not See This Coming?
Hold on just a damned second. Tony isn't an entry-level worker or mid-level manager at Stark Industries. He is the fucking CEO. His name is on the goddamned building. Why the hell didn't one of his 7 billion phones and/or answering services ring the instant the injunction was filed? Why didn't Pepper, Tony's personal assistant who handles every single aspect of his life, pass on the information?
Her punishment? She's named CEO in the next film.
We are assaulted to the point of irritation with the idea that Tony is a cosmic genius, yet he makes absolutely no effort to pay any attention to what is happening with his company. And don't say he was a hands-off inventor who didn't really get involved with the business side of things -- after three months of being held hostage by cave terrorists, the first thing he does is completely restructure the business by dissolving the weapons manufacturing arm. It's incredibly important to him, and therefore baffling that he wouldn't check in from time to time to see how everything was progressing in the wake of his job-destroying mental breakdown.
But he's too busy screaming at robots in his basement and zipping around Ferris wheels in his rocket suit to be bothered with any of that bullshit. If Tony had decided to check out the proceedings, he would've noticed that Obadiah was trying to lock him out, which in turn might have prompted him to take a closer look at what his partner had been up to for the past several months, thus uncovering Obadiah's nefarious plot (which, to be fair, seems to change on a scene-by-scene basis). But Tony, the business-savvy super genius who could've hacked any secret file on Obadiah's computer with a sidelong glance, didn't think to make even a cursory checkup on something that was surely big enough news to hit the front page of The Wall Street Journal.
#5. Aliens -- Ripley Should Have Immediately Known She Was Being Set Up
After the events of Alien, Lieutenant Ripley is picked up in her escape pod by a team of deep space salvagers after floating in the cosmos for half a century. She debriefs her former employers about the horrible star beast that face-murdered her entire crew, at which point they offer to send her right back to the planet where she found the damn thing in order to help some Marines investigate why none of the colonists there have answered their phones in three months. They even offer to send a company representative with her to oversee the operation.
The Big Twist:
Of course, the good guys arrive and are immediately attacked by swarms of aliens (that's not the twist -- that part was given away by the title), but the big complication comes when it's revealed that the company was in on it! The company rep, Carter Burke, tries to screw all of them over, because it turns out the goal was never for them to succeed -- the goal was to capture a live specimen of one of the aliens.
The lesson, as always, is never trust a collar popper.
But How Did She Not See This Coming?
This all must have seemed rather familiar to Ripley. In the first film, she intercepts a secret message from the company instructing one of her fellow crew members, Ash, to retrieve the alien at all costs. Ash (who turns out to be an android) interprets "at all costs" to mean "stab Ripley with a porno magazine," which he totally tries to do in order to keep her from destroying the alien. Essentially, Ash was under direct orders from the company to either kill or sacrifice his entire six-person crew in order to retrieve a phallus-headed space demon.
Yet for some reason, Ripley doesn't find her new mission to be the least bit suspicious. Her employers (the same ones who fed her crew to an alien last time) are sending her down to a planet (the same planet where they initially found said alien) to investigate the sudden disappearance of hundreds of people (who all work for the same alien-feeding company).
"We're calling the mission Project: Alien Capture because we're capturing the ... uh, planet back from the aliens."
What's worse, Carter Burke is like a walking red flag waving in Ripley's face for two-thirds of the movie. She agrees to go to the planet only after Burke promises that they will destroy any aliens they might find. As soon as they do find aliens, however, he vehemently objects to any and all suggestions of eradicating them (including bombing the entire facility from orbit, which would've saved us all a lot of time). Ripley then discovers log records indicating that Burke, acting on behalf of the company, specifically sent the colonists to go looking for the aliens, resulting in every last one of them getting killed. So she confronts Burke, vowing to make him pay for his crimes.
However, rather than share this absurdly crucial bit of information with any of the Marines, Ripley decides to go take a nap, because she apparently believes that Burke won't try to kill her in her sleep, even though he's already sent hundreds of people to their doom (by the way, this is precisely what he tries to do). Only after Burke's attempt to unleash a pair of face-raping stellar crabs on her is thwarted does Ripley finally reveal his nefarious plot to the rest of the Marines.
At which point Bill Paxton heroically offers to shoot him in the face.
And at no point do the Marines look at Ripley and say, "Wait, isn't this the exact thing that happened to you last time? Either you're the most understanding woman in the world or you're really slow to catch on to things."
#4. Die Hard -- John McClane Somehow Doesn't Figure Out That the Terrorists Have More Explosives
In Die Hard, John McClane systematically outwits and kills a dozen terrorists led by Alan Rickman's fake German accent in a Los Angeles skyscraper. We learn early on that this is not in fact a terrorist attack, but a very elaborate robbery of the building's vault.
The Big Twist:
Oh, shit, the building is rigged to explode! The bad guys are going to blow up the building and the hostages with them, because they think it will help them escape. McClane foils the robbery, but fails to prevent them from blasting the building in half, since the fact that this was the terrorists' plan comes as a complete shock to him.
"Terrorists ... explode things? Who knew?"
But How Did He Not See This Coming?
One of the first bad guys McClane perforates with the bullets of justice is carrying a duffel bag loaded with bricks of C4 and about 87 detonators, way more than the explosives in the bag would require. Obviously, this bag is fairly important to Alan Rickman's plan, because he immediately throws a murderous tantrum demanding them back.
In response, McClane takes the small amount of C4 in the bag, jams a few detonators in it, and drops it down an elevator shaft, incinerating a few of Alan Rickman's henchmen and, as far as McClane knows, disposing of all their explosives. But Alan Rickman doesn't stop pitching a fit about the rest of the detonators. He even gives some hapless loser pretending to be McClane's friend a 9 mm face-ectomy and threatens to start executing hostages one by one after McClane steadily refuses to hand them over.
"Can you at least kill the assholes in accounting first?"
"Well screw you too, Sheila!"
This is a hint and a half that there are more explosives somewhere in the building (judging by the sheer number of detonators McClane is still lugging around, there are probably a lot more). Why else would the terrorists be so desperate to get the detonators back? Does he think they're rentals that have to be returned to the bomb store?
To be fair, McClane maybe couldn't have anticipated that Alan Rickman would literally blow the roof off of the joint, but he should have at least suspected that there were one or two more bombs still stashed somewhere. But this doesn't dawn on him until they finally meet face to face and yet another demand for the detonators is issued. By then it's far too late, and Alan Rickman consumes the top floors of the tower in a cataclysmic explosion that destroys a helicopter and leaves McClane swinging from a fire hose and swearing at everything.