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Look, movie villains' plans never make perfect sense. That's the price we pay so we can watch our heroes foil them with explosions and clever witticisms, and it's a price we pay gladly. But while we don't expect our bad guys to be infallible geniuses, we at least expect them to not be actively tripping all over themselves like Super Dave Osborne. And yet ...

5
The Dark Knight Rises -- Talia Al Ghul Lets Bruce Wayne Walk Out Of Her Prison Camp

Warner Bros. Pictures

In the MTV Movie Awards' 2012 best shirtless performance nominee The Dark Knight Rises, the villainous Bane and his League Of Shadows punch Batman's spine into dust and take over Gotham City, with the plan to blow the bustling metropolis to kingdom come (DC references!) with a nuclear bomb. But Batman manages to overcome his powdered spine bones with the therapeutic power of motivational chanting and returns to Gotham to save the day, because this movie is fucking stupid.

Warner Bros. Pictures
"If I hit this just right, it'll depunchify the unspineification process. I am a doctor."

How They Screw Up Their Plan

When Batman returns to Gotham, he reunites with his trusted allies, including Fox, Joseph Gordon-Robin, and Wayne Enterprises board member/Batman sex receptacle Miranda Tate, to discuss how to foil the League's plans. Unfortunately, Tate is secretly Talia al Ghul, the true leader of the League Of Extraordinary Villainy. So when Batman comes to her for help, she ... just sort of lets him walk right out of their prison camp to go thwart her evil plan.

Warner Bros. Pictures
"And hey -- good luck."

Sure, we get she's still trying to keep her involvement a secret, but at this juncture, what's the point? The person she knows is Batman has suddenly returned to the city and is leaving to organize a massive resistance against her and the League Of Shadows. Miranda was totally planning on revealing herself as Talia eventually -- why not do it then? All she had to do was call out to the guards, "Yo, this motherfucker is Batman!" And that would've been it. They'd have shot him 14 times before he had the chance to get the drop on them and escape.

What, did she want to give him a sporting chance at destroying her entire life's work because revealing her deception would've been slightly less hilarious at that point? She basically put her entire legacy in jeopardy just to achieve the heartiest Batfrown possible.

Warner Bros. Pictures
"No, you have to wait until the hero is dangling from a ledge or something
to double cross him. That's Supervillain 101."

4
Terminator 2 -- The T-1000 Tries To Get Sarah To Trick John Instead Of Doubling Her

TriStar Pictures

Before three sequels rendered the entire movie pointless, Terminator 2's T-1000 was a genuinely terrifying killing machine. The villainous automaton warlord Skynet sent a shapeshifting, liquid-metal deathbot back in time to destroy future human resistance leader John Connor when he was still an obnoxious teenager. The T-1000 can perfectly mimic any human being it touches, it can assume the shape of any non-mechanical object (even the goddamned floor), and it can make its hands into swords. In the film's climax, all the cops in Los Angeles go home for the night and the T-1000 chases the heroes to a steel mill for what we expect to be an epic battle.

How They Screw Up Their Plan

The T-1000 corners Sarah Connor and stabs her in the shoulder with one of its liquid-metal dagger fingers. With its mortal foe at its mercy, it then ... asks her to call out for John.

TriStar Pictures
"Call him. Then put some compression on that wound, get some fluids
in you, and take it easy."

We already know that the T-1000 can shapeshift into any human being it touches. It has done this several times already, and it transforms into Sarah in the very next scene. So what in the future-destroying tittyshits is it doing here? Why does it need Sarah to lure John? Why doesn't it just lop Sarah's head off, doppelgang her, and call out to John itself? As if this couldn't get any more baffling, Sarah somehow manages to escape, reclaim her shotgun, and sneak up behind the T-1000 in time to blast it in the back while it's trying to trick John with its "I'm your real mother" routine.

TriStar Pictures
It was the least thought out idea until greenlighting Terminator Salvation.

So, not only did the T-1000 not just go straight to "I can duplicate any human being I stab" instead of trying to torture Sarah into calling out to John, it inexplicably let Sarah go. Robots are pretty dumb sometimes.

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3
Tangled -- The Villain Celebrates Her Child Hostage's Birthday

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

In Tangled, an evil career woman named Gothel kidnaps the infant princess Rapunzel because the princess' hair can make people immortal for some reason. Over the next 17 years, Gothel imprisons Rapunzel in a tower and raises her as her own daughter, while filling her with fear about the outside world so she'll never be tempted to leave.

However, Rapunzel's true parents release a bunch of lanterns into the sky every year on her birthday, because their grief is an eternal spring of tragedy. Rapunzel is understandably curious why the air lights up with a thousand floating lights every time she turns a year older, so she disobeys Gothel's instructions and leaves the tower to find out what they are. After some wacky shenanigans, Rapunzel discovers that her entire life has been a psychotic lie and watches Gothel (the woman she grew up believing to be her mother) die horribly.

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
"And they all lived happily ever after, apart from the times that Rapunzel woke up
in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, reeling from emotional trauma."

How They Screw Up Their Plan

Rapunzel was essentially a child slave. Her entire world was defined by what Gothel said, and Gothel was ruthlessly adept at manipulating her. She tells Rapunzel the land outside their tower is infested with more venomous creatures than real-world Australia and more ruthless brutes than Mad Max Australia. Also, she's constantly putting Rapunzel down about her appearance -- Gothel slings more passive-aggressive insults than a friend-zoned men's rights activist. She shows the bare minimum of love and kindness so Rapunzel will stay in line and not doom Gothel to a fate normally reserved for Grail-stealing Nazis, but she's not about to win any Fake Mother Of The Year awards.

Considering all of this, it makes absolutely no sense that Gothel would give Rapunzel a birthday to celebrate, and it's flat-out mind-boggling that Gothel would celebrate Rapunzel's actual birthday. Why does she even bother to explain the concept of birthdays? Gothel is the only other human Rapunzel has ever known, the source of all her worldly knowledge. She could tell Rapunzel that children grow from magic fucking beans and Rapunzel would have no reason to doubt it.

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
"No birthdays? I may have kidnapped and emotionally abused
a child for nearly two decades, but I'm not a monster."

Remember, it was the whole "Why do mysterious lights appear on my birthday?" thing that eventually convinced Rapunzel to escape. Gothel could have told Rapunzel the lanterns were sun rays, giant fireflies, or literally anything other than "magical lights that mysteriously appear in the sky every year on your birthday." Shit, lady, you had to know that at some point in her life she was at least going to start finding the whole thing a bit curious.

2
Sleepy Hollow -- The Villain Fakes Her Death, Then Comes Out Of Hiding For No Reason

Paramount Pictures

In Sleepy Hollow, Johnny Depp plays Ichabod Crane, an 18th-century policeman investigating a series of grisly murders committed by the Headless Horseman, a ghost so distraught over his own body image that his only release is to chop people's heads off. We later discover that the Horseman is being controlled by Lady Van Tassel, the wife of one of the wealthiest men in the village. Like all classic horror villains, she's motivated by a land ownership dispute (that old chestnut), but Crane and his wacky sidekicks manage to break her control of the Horseman and send her to Hell, which is apparently located inside of an old tree.

Paramount Pictures
"Hi-Yo, vagina metaphor! Away!"

How They Screw Up Their Plan

At first, Lady Van Tassel plays the situation like a fiddle -- she is never present at any of the killings, and the murder weapon is a ghost, so there's no evidence pointing to her as a suspect. Furthermore, she fakes her own death, leading Ichabod to suspect her husband. All she has to do is stay in hiding until the Horseman finishes killing everyone, and she's home free.

So of course that's precisely the opposite of what she actually does.

Paramount Pictures
"Well, I didn't buy this dress so nobody could see me wear it."

Instead of summoning the Horseman to deheadify Katrina, the final remaining person standing between her and a vast inheritance of farm land in upstate New York, Van Tassel comes out of hiding to kidnap Katrina herself and squirrel her away to her secret windmill base. She then explains her evil plan to Katrina in exhausting detail, including implicating herself in the murder of a forest witch that nobody would've ever discovered had she not mentioned it, before summoning the Horseman for choppity chops.

Paramount Pictures
"I'm helping!"

Previously, Van Tassel just hung out and did her best not to look suspicious while her terrifying supernatural henchman did all the killing. And by this point in the film, everyone in the village thinks she's dead. So why in the name of Washington Irving's dickey would Lady Van Tassel suddenly reveal that she was still alive and kidnap her final victim? It's not like the Horseman needed her help. We've already seen that he has no problem busting into people's houses and beheading them in their living rooms. There was no advantage to dragging Katrina off to her secret lair beyond making the murder take longer.

Because she comes out into the open, Crane discovers Lady Van Tassel's hiding place and saves the day. If she had just hung out in her cave and done the 18th-century equivalent of marathoning Netflix, she could have gotten away with it completely. That's just bad management, Van Tassel -- you have to trust your employees when you delegate to them.

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1
The Rock -- General Hummel Secretly Takes A City Hostage Instead Of Taking His Cause Public

Touchstone Pictures

In The Rock, General Francis X. Hummel and his team of rogue soldiers steal rockets armed with deadly gas and take a bunch of tourists hostage on Alcatraz Island in order to help Michael Bay make a film that isn't terrible. Hummel, who's portrayed as a military genius, threatens to launch his poison rockets at San Francisco unless the government gives him $100 million. Because paying a disenfranchised military commander less money than it costs to make a Captain America movie was out of the goddamned question, the government instead sends in the elite duo of Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage, who defeat Hummel before the Air Force carpet bombs the island into oblivion.

How They Screw Up Their Plan

As we eventually learn, Hummel never planned to actually use the rockets. The entire plot was an elaborate, high-stakes bluff in order to get the government to give him $100 million, which he intended to dole out to the families of all the soldiers who had died under his command while on secret missions -- because the missions had been secret, the government denied they had ever happened, so the soldiers weren't given a military burial and their families were awarded zero benefits.

Touchstone Pictures
Meanwhile, Sean Connery was awarded the Medal Of Honor and
the Nicolas Cage Tolerance Ribbon.

That's pretty heinous, right? The media would have a field day with that story, wouldn't they? So why the hell wasn't that Hummel's plan?

As a commander of black-ops missions, Hummel has to know two things: 1) The U.S. government never negotiates with terrorists, and 2) If the choice is between 100 people on Alcatraz and millions in San Francisco, they will go with San Francisco every time. He had to have known that the government would rather just bomb Alcatraz than give in to his demands. So why bring the rockets into it at all? And why keep everything secret?

Touchstone Pictures
And why does America's worst poison look like something
your mom would add to her bath?

Hummel clearly had the means to capture Alcatraz already at his disposal, so, theoretically, he could've just taken the island and held all of the tourists hostage in exchange for the $100 million. And instead of making his demands to a secret cabinet meeting at the highest level of the U.S. government, he could've called up a bunch of cable news networks and had his cause aired on national television. He's a decorated war veteran talking about how the government screwed over American soldiers and their families -- everyone in the country would've been on his side. And once the whole thing was on television, there's no freaking way the government could've just bombed the island to make Hummel go away.

By threatening millions of San Franciscans, Hummel gave the government two options -- save the hostages, or save an entire city. The only way the government could let the hostages die and not face a PR disaster was if they were sacrificing them to save millions. Hummel gave the government the only possible way out of the situation.

Touchstone Pictures
"I want to express reasonable opinions in an unreasonable manner,
but I don't have an Internet connection."


Rohan catalogs and analyzes short horror videos over at ScaryShorts.com.

For more cartoonish villainy, check out The 5 Most Needlessly Evil Movie Villain Strategies and 5 Famous Movie Villains With Shockingly Stupid Master Plans.

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