6 Movie Heroes Who Actually Made Things Worse
The typical Hollywood blockbuster has a pretty straightforward plot, with the good guy thwarting the bad guy's evil schemes and then kicking him off the Hoover Dam onto an exploding submarine.
But here's a fun little game you can play: watch a movie and ask yourself what would had happened if the hero hadn't showed up at all. You'll be surprised how often things would have actually turned out for the better.
The Inglourious Basterds
Brad Pitt and his Jewish commandos rampage through World War II Europe, killing the asses off of every Nazi they find.
Honesty in advertising.
They catch wind of an upcoming film screening that Hitler and the rest of the Nazi higher-ups will be attending and concoct a shoddy plan to infiltrate and destroy them.
Wait, are we going to try to complain about a plan to kill Hitler?
Well, maybe this Hitler.
Yep. What they don't realize is that the screening is already a brilliant plan to assassinate the Nazi leaders that would've gone off flawlessly even if--in fact, especially if--they had just stayed out of it.
The lady running the theater, Shoshanna, is actually a French Jew in disguise, seeking revenge for her murdered family at the hands of the S.S. She manages to fool all the higher ups, including Hitler and Goebbels, into gathering together in a single building which she intends to seal up tighter than a pickle jar and burn to the ground.
The only way it could have possibly gone wrong is if some absolute moron showed up at the reception and began acting absurdly suspicious.
When the Basterds show up, trying to fake speaking Italian even though they barely know a word of it, Nazi superman Colonel Landa spots them immediately and hauls them out of the theater. Only the fact that Landa decides at that moment to turn on his superiors (and let the attack happen) prevents him from derailing the whole thing.
He may be a sadistic mass-murderer, but we just can't stay angry at that face!
Meanwhile, two of the basterds remain in the theater with bombs strapped to their legs, which also proves totally unnecessary since the doors are already locked and the fire is already started. Hitler and his cronies had no way out, and the place was about to turn into a blast furnace. The two basterds essentially blow themselves up for no reason.
Brad Pitt's clumsy intervention allows the murderous Landa to escape certain burnery death and make a deal with the American government for his freedom. Brad Pitt gives Landa a forehead scar, true, but this hardly seems adequate punishment for being an instrumental part of mass genocide seeing as how facial reconstructive surgery has been around since WWI and unsightly skin blemishes can be covered up by strategically placed headwear.
"Hope you like dew-rags, mother-fucker."
If They'd Just Stayed Away:
Not only would the Nazi brass have died, but Landa too. And the two basterds, along with their actress friend (who gets strangled by Landa) would have lived to see the end of the war. Everybody's happy.
Naomi Watts in The Ring
Naomi Watts plays a journalist investigating a string of teenager deaths. She figures out they are connected to a mysterious videotape that unleashes a murderous ghost on all those who watch it.
She eventually figures out that the only way to avoid death at the hands of the tape ghost is to make copies and unleash it on strangers. She does just that.
Did we mention that, before Watts intervened, the only copy of the video is in a ridiculously isolated motel in the middle of the goddamn mountains? Where no one was likely to ever watch it again?
Instead, Watts brings the tape with her into the city, which results in both her son and her quasi-boyfriend watching it, effectively dooming them both. In her struggle to find a way around death by phantom, she inadvertently releases the vengeful ghost from her prison and it kills her boyfriend.
But hey, we all make mistakes.
Watts discovers that the only way around psychic drowning at the hands of a dead girl is to make copies of the video and show them to other people, thus spreading the ghost murder like a cancer throughout the rest of the world.
If She'd Just Stayed Away:
Imagine if, instead of buying into the concept of a haunted video tape in the first place, she just chalked the deaths up to the things that normally kill teenagers in these movies (underage drinking and premarital sex).
And disembodied hands.
The tape would've stayed in the aforementioned goddamn mountains and probably wound up in the trash when the motel either went out of business or decided to convert the rooms to DVD.
Aaron Johnson plays Kick-Ass, a geek who decides to become a superhero, despite a lack of gadgets or training or anything else that would aid him in the task.
In the movie, we see him stop precisely one crime--the savage beating of some random guy by a gang. This seems noble until you consider that we have no idea what the man is being beaten for. He looks just as shady as his assailants, so for all we know this guy shot somebody's grandmother...
... and Kick-Ass just thwarted some old fashioned street justice. You know, the kind that Kick-Ass himself wants to hand out.
Even worse, he gets in the way of two actual superheroes, Big Daddy and Hit Girl.
Unlike Kick-Ass, these two are highly competent and ruthlessly deadly vigilantes who realize early on that Kick-Ass, while not much of a hero, has his heart in the right place and offer him their assistance should he ever need it. Then the two get back to their intricate plan to take down Frank D'Amico, a major crime boss responsible for the death of Big Daddy's wife (and Hit Girl's mother), something that Hit Girl has literally spent her entire life preparing for.
Kick-Ass proceeds to absolutely wreck this plan by getting fooled by D'Amico's son and leading his thug army to Big Daddy's secret hideout, which immediately results in Hit Girl getting shot out of a window by McLovin.
The acne-dusted face of super-villainy.
They then carry Big Daddy and Kick-Ass to a warehouse and torture them before eventually burning Big Daddy to death with kerosene. Hit Girl shows up in time to rescue Kick-Ass and the two manage to carry out the plan she and her father had started, but none of this would've been necessary if Kick-Ass had just stayed home and played World of Warcraft.
If He'd Just Stayed Away:
Hit Girl and Big Daddy would've had their revenge and then gone to Disneyland or something. McLovin would have never been inspired to become a supervillain, and Kick-Ass would have saved some serious money on hospital bills.
Cameron Poe (Nic Cage) in Con Air
Nicholas Cage plays Cameron Poe, an Army Ranger somehow thrown in prison after defending his wife from three drunken switchblade-wielding rapists.
If being creepy as fuck was punishable by jail time, he would have been in for life.
On his way to being paroled, he finds himself on an airplane with John Malkovich, Ving Rhames and Danny Trejo, which by all accounts makes it the greatest airplane ever built.
The second-greatest airplane ever built.
The hardened criminals hatch a daring scheme to hijack the flight and deliver a high profile drug dealer to his cohorts at an inconspicuous airfield in the middle of the desert. There, they intend to board another plane and fly to some country that doesn't have extradition.
Normally, this is the appropriate time for a hero to intervene and thwart the villains' nefarious plans.
We're using the word "hero" loosely here.
The bad guys' plan was doomed from the start, and everything Cage does results in somebody dying unnecessarily. First, it turns out the government has an undercover agent on the flight. He decides to make his move, so in response Cage gallantly distracts him, allowing John Malkovich to shoot the agent in the chest. Cage then takes his place, secretly feeding information to the authorities on the ground.
But this wouldn't have been necessary had he not stepped up at exactly the wrong moment and gotten a man killed.
He did manage to save an easily replaceable inanimate object, we'll give him that.
More importantly, the explosion-laced finale wouldn't have even occurred had Cage simply stayed in his seat and done nothing, because as it turns out the drug dealer was planning on ditching the rest of the criminals in the desert anyway--there was never going to be a flight to haul them to their criminal safe haven. The prisoners end up back on Con Air, dangerously low on fuel and with nowhere to go.
Then, government agents want to shoot down the plane, but Cage convinces the agents not to shoot them down over completely uninhabited sand and rocks, electing instead to take over the cockpit and crash-land... in the crowded Las Vegas Strip, the single most heavily populated area in Nevada.
Oh, and in the chaos of the crash, a serial-killing Steve Buscemi escapes into the city.
Steve Buscemi always escapes.
If He'd Just Stayed Away:
Without Cage's intervention the cons would eventually have been forced to land their plane in the middle of nowhere (they couldn't land at an airport, everyone was looking for the plane and they'd have been arrested on the spot). Then, what? They'd have wound up walking to the nearest town with no money and no resources and every law enforcement agency in the country looking for them? Fine, Nic Cage could have gone right to a pay phone, called the feds and told them right where to find the bad guys. They get arrested and go back to jail.
Worst case scenario, the feds find the plane while it's still circling in the air and it gets shot down by Colm Meany.
Sure, you say, that would have resulted in Nic Cage getting killed and never bringing the stuffed bunny to his kid. But they could have shot up the plane just enough to force it to crash land - which is what ends up happening anyway. Only, you know, without risking the lives of thousands of gamblers and tourists.
Daniel Radcliffe plays Harry Potter, the boy wizard who manages to fall ass-backwards into intricate plots of villainy and somehow fumble his way out. In this particular case we'll look at the first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, in which the evil Lord Voldemort intends to steal said stone to bring himself back to life.
There were other methods available, but they didn't involve nearly as much bling.
As we have pointed out before, Harry often finds himself solving problems that do not need to be solved.
For most of this movie, Harry and his friends just sit around reading about the stone, which is probably very interesting but does absolutely nothing to thwart Voldemort's scheme. They finally wander into a giant Cerberus' lair and, after singing it to sleep with a goddamn flute, they discover that the door it was guarding is standing open, meaning that somebody is downstairs trying to steal the hell out of the stone.
If your guard can be defeated by rhythmic humming, it might be time to invest in a more robust security system.
At this point, all the little bastards had to do was run back and tell some of the wizard professors back in Castle Nerdgasm, and a team of hardcore sorcerers could've just waited outside the door for the thief to come through and cast a head-exploding spell on him.
Instead, three first-year wizards who know less about magic than Kriss Angel decide to plunge forward and take on Quirrel (currently possessed by super-wizard Lord Voldemort). Once Harry gets through, it turns out the stone was never in danger of being stolen at all--Dumbledore had magically hidden it away inside a magical mirror.
If They'd Just Stayed Away:
If Harry had just kept to the books like a regular student instead of barreling around campus like a moose in the Mystery Machine, Quirrell would've been totally screwed. One of the last things we find out at the end of the film is that the teachers were already onto him (specifically, Professor Snape) and, as we established, he had no way of getting to the stone. It was just a matter of time before Snape and the rest of the staff figured out Quirrell's plan and booted his ass straight to wizard jail.
Related: The Drunken Wisdom of Harry Potter
Jake Sully in Avatar
Sam Worthington plays Jake Sully, a crippled ex-Marine who travels to the planet Pandora to pilot a biologically engineered body as an ambassador to help improve human-alien relations. Jake is also secretly feeding valuable intelligence about the alien's infrastructure to the mercenary commander and the head of the mega-corporation funding the entire operation, allowing them to identify prime targets for their impending assault.
"It's a tree. We have missiles. How much intel do you really need?"
The conflict involves the fact that the aliens home (tree) is sitting on top of a cornucopia of the hilariously named Unobtanium, evidently the most valuable resource in all of space. The humans want them to move, so they can dig it up. The aliens want to stay put.
Sully decides to fight for the aliens, rallying them to beat back the human hordes. Yay!
"$1500-per-chopper for arrow-proofing? Are you fucking crazy? It's not like THEY can fly."
The movie ends too early. The last thing we see are the human armies packing up and going back home to Earth to brood in hateful vengeance, having lost one battle.
And... that's the end? Uh huh.
Kind of like how Custer's Last Stand was the end of Westward Expansion.
Ask yourself: when is the last time Western civilization has stumbled across a pool of massively valuable resources, and just walked away because we met resistance?
After losing billions of dollars and being humiliated by a bunch of giant blue Ewoks, is it more likely that the head of the corporation will see the error of his ways, or will he invest the rest of his assets into burning the surface of Pandora with orbital missiles before sending in an assault fleet the size of Colorado? Did the Europeans give up on the New World's gold the first time one of their settlers took a tomahawk to the head?
Remember, the humans only lost to the Na'vi because they were poorly equipped, fighting with machine guns and fragile aircraft that couldn't even stand up to the local wildlife. They were lacking the future-generation cruise missiles, stealth bombers and who knows what other kind of weapons of mass destruction they've invented in the intervening 150 years. But they'll have them when they come back.
Hell, we're pretty sure this thing is arrow-proof.
And they'll have the permission to use them, too. After all, the aliens killed a bunch of humans. Hell, they'll probably get a government bailout for their losses.
If He'd Just Stayed Away:
True, the Na'vi would have been forced to give up their huge tree (the one sitting on top of the minerals) and that process would still have turned ugly. But after the tree fell, without Sully there to whip them into a fighting frenzy they presumably would have acknowledged it was time to simply find some other huge tree to live in (or maybe settling for several smaller ones). They'd have been forced to figure out a way to coexist with the humans... saving their species in the process.
Remember, the big motivation for the climactic battle was the humans were going to bomb the magical Tree of Souls, and they only decided to do that when they saw Sully massing the Na'vi. The whole thing should have ended before that. Yes, nobody likes to admit defeat and we want to see the underdog win. But sometimes it's worth moving to a new town if the alternative is getting bombed into ash.
Above: Slightly better than genocide.
It just doesn't make for a very inspirational tagline on the poster.
For more heroes that should've stayed home, check out 6 Movie Heroes (Who Sucked At Their Jobs) and The 7 Crappiest "Super Heroes" in Comic Book History.
And stop by Linkstorm (Updated 08.21.10!) because the Book of Genesis says you should. Seriously. Also, are you any good at Photoshop? Got a sense of humor? We're ready to pay you for your skills, click here for details.