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Movie characters always manage to succeed at something despite incredible odds ... because failing at something against all odds apparently just doesn't make a very good story outside of an Internet comedian's memoirs. But sometimes the "odds" our plucky heroes pit themselves against are logic, reason, and basic common sense. So here they are, the mightiest triumphs against rationality in film history.

5
Superman Returns: Lois Lane Foils Lex Luthor's Plan With Rampant Child Endangerment

Warner Bros. Pictures

After Metropolis is hit with a mysterious blackout, Lois Lane's journalistic investigation leads her to a seemingly empty yacht where she is captured by the villain responsible for the power outage: Lex Luthor. Luckily, it turns out that Lois' ineptitude is actually a good thing, as she is able to let Superman know exactly where to find Luthor. She also ends up fishing Superman out of the water after he takes a kryptonite shiv to the ol' super-kidneys.

Warner Bros. Pictures
"Why don't you wear body armor so this kind of thing doesn't happen?"
"I don't wear condoms; what makes you think I'd wear armor?"

The Idiocy:

It's all well and good to put yourself in danger in the name of getting to the truth, but while looking into the blackout story, Lois has to go pick up her 5-year-old son, Jason. Sitters must be hell to find in Metropolis, because she decides to bring him along on her potentially dangerous investigation. She even boards Luthor's boat with the kid in tow -- which is, you know, breaking and entering.

Warner Bros. Pictures
If he were really committed to protecting the innocent, Superman would've called Child Protective Services long ago.

Sure, at the time, Lois doesn't know she's dealing with Lex Luthor, but she has to suspect she's chasing someone very dangerous. Or at the very least doing something massively illegal -- both descriptors that generally do not make for a good field trip. Luckily, it turns out Jason was conceived by super-sperm and thus can protect them from Luthor's henchmen, but, again, Lois doesn't know that at the time. All she knows is that daycare costs like $20, kids like boats, and the truth isn't going to find itself.

4
The Dark Knight Rises: Bane's Terrorist Attack on the Stock Exchange Somehow Gets Bruce Wayne Fired

Warner Bros. Pictures

John Daggett, a wealthy Gotham businessman, teams up with Bane to take over Wayne Enterprises in order to give the supervillain access to the company's fusion reactor and himself access to a slightly bigger pile of money and models. First, they hire Selina Kyle to acquire Bruce Wayne's fingerprints, which Bane and his henchmen later use during an attack on the Gotham Stock Exchange to access Bruce's account and make some catastrophically bad investments on his behalf. The transactions wind up bankrupting Wayne Enterprises, so the board of directors is forced to remove Bruce.

Warner Bros. Pictures
"Now take your $40 million severance and go."

The Idiocy:

Lucius Fox tells Bruce that they'll probably be able to prove fraud in the long term, but "long term" should really translate to "two minutes worth of research." An investigation is going to find it highly suspicious that Bruce's bad trades just happened to take place at the exact same time that a bunch of armed men stormed the Stock Exchange, dicked around on the computer for a few minutes, and then left.

Warner Bros. Pictures
"I would've used eTrade, but it just doesn't feel like villainy without the cowering and the gunfire."

There's just no way any transactions that happened during that time would be considered valid. Generally speaking, trading fraud has a much better chance of succeeding if you don't call attention to yourself with a terrorist attack, which have a tendency to close down stock markets.

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3
The Avengers: The World Security Council Inadvertently Saves the Day by Nuking Themselves

Marvel Studios

After the villainous Loki opens up a portal over Manhattan, our planet is invaded by an alien race called the Chitauri, who can be stopped only by the Avengers, Earth's most collateral-damaging heroes. Unfortunately, the World Security Council, who oversees S.H.I.E.L.D., doesn't have a lot of faith in our heroes and decides to fire a nuclear missile into the center of Manhattan in order to wipe out the aliens and hopefully close the portal. Thankfully, Iron Man manages to intercept the nuke and fly it right into the portal, where it destroys the alien mothership and disables all the Chitauri forces. Truly, Convenient Plot Device Man is Earth's mightiest hero.

Marvel Studios
Only he can stand against the most evil villain, Franchise Extender.

The Idiocy:

The nuclear option is such a dumb idea that even Nick Fury calls it "a stupid-ass decision," and that's a man who speaks explosions as a second language. At the time the decision is made, the battle has been going on for, what, half an hour or so? Determining the fate of the entire city of New York gets less time than a pizza-delivery guy gets. In fact, the first time we see any American military forces show up is pretty much the exact moment the Council chooses to fire the missile. They literally give up as soon as they get there.

Furthermore, who knows if a nuclear explosion would even close the Chitauri portal? They could have just sent in more forces after the explosion subsided, as far as the Council knew.

Marvel Studios
"If we nuke ourselves first, the aliens will feel so bad they'll stop invading!"

2
Mission: Impossible: Ethan Hunt Proves He Didn't Betray His Country by Betraying His Country

Paramount Pictures

In the first Mission: Impossible movie, IMF secret agent Ethan Hunt becomes a fugitive after he is falsely accused of murdering his entire team. It turns out that his mentor, Jim Phelps, faked his death because he's the real killer. In order to expose him as a traitor, Ethan steals his agency's non-official cover list (containing the identities of every undercover agent in Eastern Europe) and arranges to sell it to an arms dealer named Max. Real catchy arms dealer name there, buddy. The Jackal? The Cobra? The Specter? Nah, what says "I am master of the black market of weapons" better than "Max"? In the end, Ethan proves that Phelps is guilty, his agency recovers the NOC list and arrests Max, and no one learns a goddamn thing.

Paramount Pictures
"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, in sequels bring in Jeremy Renner."

The Idiocy:

Ethan is so good at pretending that he's betraying his agency that, to literally everybody paying attention, it looks as if he's actually betraying his agency. Especially after he boards a train and gives the disc with the real NOC list to Max, who promptly attempts to upload it to her server.

Paramount Pictures
"Oh no! We've only got ... seven hours to stop her. Stupid dial-up."

In all fairness, Ethan does have his hacker buddy, Luther, sit nearby and use a jamming device to block Max's modem connection. However, at one point, Luther has to flee the train car when he sees IMF agents approaching, which almost results in total disaster. What's worse, it's ultimately only through a stroke of dumb luck that Max doesn't upload the entire list as the train goes through a tunnel at just the right time, cutting off her connection.

Paramount Pictures
A conspicuously absent "Pause Upload" button saves the day again.

If Max had successfully uploaded the list, Ethan would have enjoyed his newfound freedom for about five seconds before his bosses arrested him for Super Treason. Although, being taken into custody would have given Ethan enough time to realize that he could've easily put together a decoy NOC list filled with fake names and have Max's contacts waste days chasing Agents Seymour Butts and Hugh Jass.

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1
Total Recall (2012): Cohaagen Just Plain Forgets a Vital Plot Element They Left Out of the Remake

Columbia Pictures

In the 2012 remake of Total Recall, the beloved sci-fi classic about a three-breasted Martian prostitute, evil chancellor Cohaagen is fighting a pesky resistance movement that opposes his rule. To take them out, he erases the memory of his former top spy, Hauser, sets him up with a new identity as a factory worker named "Douglas Quaid," and even provides him with a fake wife named Lori. Now a seemingly normal working stiff, Cohaagen orchestrates events so that Quaid-Hauser gets involved with the resistance and unknowingly leads him to their leader, Matthias, whom Cohaagen promptly shoots.

Columbia Pictures
Making it still the least convoluted Philip K. Dick adaptation.

The Idiocy:

Lori, Quaid's fake wife who is really one of Cohaagen's agents, isn't in on the plan at all. That's why when Quaid discovers his entire life is a lie, Lori immediately tries to murder him, even though her boss totally needs the guy alive.

Columbia Pictures
"Goddammit, Lori! Could you at least try to check your work email once in a while
so shit like this stops happening?"

Only after Quaid escapes the assassination attempt does Cohaagen tell his employee: "See that guy? Don't kill that guy. I need that guy. My bad, probably should've mentioned that before."

Lori knows she's an agent -- Quaid isn't psychic. She doesn't need to be kept in the dark to preserve the plan. But if for some reason Cohaagen doesn't want her to know, he could have just said, "Oh, and don't murder the guy in his sleep." The best bosses leave clear instructions, Cohaagen. Speaking of psychics: in the original film, there actually is a logical reason for Cohaagen's stupidly complicated plan: the leader of the resistance is a psychic mutant. In fact, the entire resistance is full of mind-reading psychics, so the less people who know about Cohaagen's plan, the better. In the remake, however, Matthias is neither a mutant nor a psychic. In fact, there are no mutants or psychics in the film at all.

Columbia Pictures
With three ridiculous exceptions.

Yep, the movie just plain forgot that it removed basically the entire impetus for the whole memory-erasing plot in the first place.


Robin Warder is the co-owner of a pop culture website called The Back Row and worked on a sci-fi short film called Jet Ranger of Another Tomorrow.

For more movies that pulled fast ones over us, check out 5 Gaping Plot Holes Hollywood Knows You Won't Notice and 5 Movies That Cause Gaping Plot Holes in Their Own Sequels.

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