7 Movies That Ignored World Changing Discoveries
Writing movies is hard. We're guessing it is, anyway, because there seems to be a lot that can go wrong. For instance, occasionally in a movie the characters will wind up in a jam where they can be rescued only by some new science, device or technology. Then, once they're out of trouble, the tech is usually immediately forgotten.
The problem is, sometimes the device or technology itself should have been far more important than what the heroes were trying to accomplish in the movie. Consider ...
Spider-Man Has Gene-Splicing Spiders
Before teenager Peter Parker becomes Spider-Man, his class goes on a field trip to a genetics laboratory. A tour guide explains that they've genetically engineered 15 superpowered spiders. When one gets out and bites Peter, the venom rewrites his DNA to give him all sorts of weird spiderlike abilities. He stoically accepts the ramifications of being part-spider for the rest of his life.
"I have seen my future, and it involves a pian- oh what the fuck, Sam?"
Hang on a second ...
Uh, Peter, you don't think somebody needs to know about the spiders? You know, the fact that scientists have accidentally created something that can completely and irreversibly rewrite DNA with one bite? That would make them pretty much the most dangerous creatures on the planet. Think about it: At best, the results are unpredictable -- who's to say the next victim won't just turn into a deformed horror instead, or die -- but at worst, the bite victims will gain superpowers and maybe also become deranged or violent. These spiders could easily transform any person into a weapon of mass destruction.
Who wouldn't let this thing bite them?
And clearly the scientists didn't know the spiders could do it -- when Mary Jane pointed out that one had escaped, the lab didn't exactly go into lockdown.
No, only Peter knows, and he doesn't bother to tell anyone. And it's not out of ignorance; it's clear that Peter is some kind of science prodigy, so when he suddenly develops spider-powers immediately after being bitten by a genetically altered spider, it's unlikely he chalks it up to coincidence. It's not like he just developed a rash; a single spider bite rewired his genome. Yet the rest of the film is devoted to Peter's efforts to impress a girl.
You could say that Peter is afraid of getting turned into a human guinea pig or is afraid of divulging his secret identity. But nobody knows Peter got bitten; he can make the announcement as Spider-Man. He can write a letter to the lab on Spider-Man letterhead saying, "Guys, look at the venom of those spiders under a microscope. It's serious shit. And wear gloves when you handle them. Also, enjoy your Nobel Prize."
"For outstanding achievements in giving absolutely everyone superpowers."
Star Trek (2009 version) Has Eliminated the Need for Starships
After young Kirk gets marooned on an ice planet, he enlists the help of Spock Classic and young Scotty (who are there for no adequately explored reason) to teleport aboard the Enterprise.
Hang on a second ...
For about 40 years, smartasses have been saying, "If the transporters have the ability to teleport people from place to place, why do they need ships?" And, through every episode and every film since the 1960s, the show explained it away as the transporters having some basic limitations: namely that they have a relatively short range -- only 40,000 kilometers, max. Essentially, it's useful only for getting on and off the Enterprise without the producers having to acquire the kind of budget they would need to animate the ship actually landing.
Above: Roddenberry's gift to screenwriters.
Now, the 2009 film has a major plot point where Kirk needs to be teleported onto the Enterprise, but the Enterprise is moving at warp speed at the time. Scotty figures out a way to do it, and the movie celebrates this achievement as being the first time anyone has ever been transported to an object moving that fast. But that isn't the point.
The Enterprise is shooting off at Warp 3 just before Scotty and Kirk beam aboard. Warp 3, by the way, is 27 times the speed of light. Or 5 million miles a second. That means that by the time Kirk has finished saying, "I really liked you in Shaun of the Dead," the Enterprise would be out of the solar system. A distance Scotty has no trouble overcoming with his transporter.
So, uh, why do we need spaceships again?
For the same reason we need classic cars and the Beastie Boys.
The characters don't seem to realize that what Scotty has actually done for space travel here is what e-mail did for the envelope industry. Any means of transportation that has more than zero mass and moves slower than literally instantaneously has suddenly become obsolete. We're only halfway through the first film of a new Star Trek franchise, and already we don't need the Enterprise anymore. By the time Picard is born, spaceships will be a relic of an older era.
Basically, they'll be the Star Trek equivalent of Betamax.
Big Has a Machine That Grants Godlike Powers
After getting turned down by both the girl and the roller coaster of his dreams on account of his size, 13-year-old Josh Baskin finds a lame mechanical sideshow called the Zoltar machine, which promises to grant wishes. After wishing to be "big," the kid discovers that he is now multiple Academy Award-winner Tom Hanks.
This leads to a sequence of events that led us to write an entire other article on why the movie is so unintentionally disturbing.
Is Zoltar hinting at something?
Hang on a second ...
The whole "child in the body of an adult" plot is actually kind of its own genre since Freaky Friday set the bar. In the vast majority of these movies, the writers explain away the body-switching shenanigans as some kind of one-off magic trick of God that you're not supposed to think too much about.
But in Big, it's all because of this carnival machine. A machine that somebody built, deliberately, with the express and stated purpose of being able to grant wishes. It doesn't even try to hide that fact. It's an actual, concrete object with the reality-fucking powers of a genie, and it's just sitting there.
Thankfully, the smell of funnel cake provokes amnesia in small children.
So after the initial shock of Hanksification wears off, surely he puts two and two together, right? Well, actually, he forgets about the Zoltar machine altogether, shrugs his shoulders and decides to settle into his new life as an adult by getting a job to pay his bills. After all, shit happens. When life gives you Tom Hanks, you make Hanksinade.
The Zoltar machine doesn't even come back into the story until near the end, when Hanks decides he wants to be a normal kid again and suddenly remembers it exists. Of course, the most powerful device ever created is still just sitting there, waiting patiently for absolutely anyone to give a shit.
Considering that the entire plot of man-child Hanks' adventures as a toymaker rests upon the premise that his boundless imagination and childlike sense of wonder make him the perfect toy designer, it's downright bizarre that he never realizes the potential of a machine that can grant him literally anything he desires. Even when he finally tracks the Zoltar machine down, he just wishes to be small again without adding "with a working lightsaber" to the end of his request.
Making him unlike any other kid on the planet.
So, just to get this straight: There's a machine that grants multiple wishes exactly as you intend them, whose existence and powers have been verified by several people ... and everyone just ignores it. This thing could end world hunger or make you the richest man in the world. Instead, it's just going to get thrown out once the carnival acquires a Pepsi machine.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Introduces Terminators
In the middle of a movie about giant robots punching each other, it's easy to forget one scene not involving giant robots that, oh by the way, should have changed the entire fictional universe.
At one point, Alice, a sexy blonde with no personality who has been trying to get into Shia LaBeouf's pants for most of the movie, suddenly transforms into a marauding killbot. Megan Fox kills it in order to give her something to do in this film, and everyone forgets about the whole "making out with a robot" thing, probably by mutual consent.
Who doesn't love this charming hunk of orange peels and Brillo pads?
Hang on a second ...
Michael Bay is too busy trying to wedge more explosions into the film at this point to notice that this just became an entirely different kind of movie, because holy shit the robots can look like us now.
Seriously. Fuck everything else. Up until this point, the Transformers were all giant, lumbering golems hitting each other over the head with steel beams. As soon as they learn to convincingly pass off as human, the whole tone of the conflict changes from blunt-force trauma and explosions to paranoia and suspicion, and a movie about giant robots punching each other takes a one-way trip into The Thing territory.
"Wow, Shia, you look a lot less gross right now!"
Worse yet, the Decepticons have figured out that LaBeouf's greatest weakness is T&A, so now he has to be suspicious of any incredibly attractive women who are desperately gagging for his junk, for the rest of his life. Like LaBeouf shouldn't already have been suspicious of that.
"OK, so you don't like kissing."
But in the film, nobody ever mentions the fact that the Decepticons now have access to Terminators, except for an offhand remark by LaBeouf that she tasted like diesel. And though LaBeouf seems willing to trust everyone he sees (including his college roommate, and an actual retired Decepticon) to help him in his quest, the bad guys never see the benefit in perhaps dropping another fake human or two into his merry band of adventurers.
Instead, the giant robots just go straight back to punching each other, and Megatron gets his shit wrecked when the humans bring Optimus Prime to the fight. Good work, buddy -- maybe this is why Starscream keeps trying to steal your job.
Wanted Features a Cure for All Wounds
In this action movie starring Angelina Jolie and some guy, competing bands of super-assassins fight each other by bending bullets, leaping through explosions in slow motion and falling into ravines. They are able to do this because they can heal any wound -- or even near-death -- by taking baths in some white, waxy substance. In a couple of hours, this secret healing formula has them as good as new.
Above: The only scene in Wanted you paid attention to.
Hang on a second ...
In a movie containing at least three so-over-the-top-it's-hilarious stunts for every minute on the film reel, it's necessary for the writers to concoct at least a rudimentary explanation for how the characters survive repeated stabbings, gunshot wounds and train derailments. They patch this up with a few fleeting references to some kind of slime that cures all injuries and ailments. In short, the most overpowered superhero tool since Captain America's everything-proof shield.
"Fuck you, Timmy. Super-healing goo is retarded. Pick a normal power."
According to the film, it has the power to regenerate even the most severe of injuries "in hours, not days" and apparently works by stimulating and speeding up white blood cells. From this we can clearly discern two things:
1) The writers are getting white blood cells mixed up with platelets, and
2) This is the most important medical discovery since our cavemen ancestors first discovered that the cure for starvation was eating.
So why the hell is it used exclusively by the bunch of people who, if they were better at doing their jobs, would have the least need for it?
Detractors will argue that they have some kind of assassin's code that for some reason we can't understand requires them to make the world better by killing criminals, but not a lot better by curing cancer. Problem is (spoiler alert), it turns out that the assassin leader, Morgan Freeman, stopped following the code long ago and is now motivated purely by profit.
Really, it's a role Freeman's been playing for years.
Considering that he's sitting on the most profitable commodity on planet Earth and using it to help him run an extremely high-risk, low-reward international conspiracy, we're pretty sure he's the worst evil businessman ever.
Jingle All The Way Has a Fully-Functioning Jetpack
Somewhere in the midst of Arnold Schwarzenegger's regrettable comedy phase, he made this Christmas movie about a desperate father trying to get that season's hot toy: an action figure of a flying, Iron Man-like superhero called "Turbo Man."
We truly apologize to everyone who'd just barely managed to drink this film out of their consciousness.
After a Goldberg machine-like series of wacky coincidences, Schwarzenegger winds up in a promotional Turbo-Man costume. He then uses it to rescue his son and get him a Turbo-Man action figure while simultaneously thwarting Sinbad's efforts to forge a notable career for himself.
Hang on a second ...
Ahnold has been in a lot of science fiction films and has come face-to-face with plenty of futuristic mechanisms. It's kind of weird, then, that one of the most advanced pieces of technology he's ever encountered appears in a Christmas comedy movie.
Yup, that's a working jetpack. Now, we've mentioned this before, but jet packs aren't really viable in the real world. There's no way to store enough fuel to keep you in the air, and even if you could, the heat from the exhaust would melt away your lower torso.
What the Turbo-Man toy company has actually created here is a fully operational prototype for a device that would revolutionize the defense industry. While suited up, Arnie flies around for a good two-and-a-half minutes straight, burning through obstacles without ever complaining about discomfort, and at one point, he crashes face-first into a brick wall and just gets up and keeps on going. In short, they didn't just create a costume. They created Turbo-Man, the actual superhero who appears on the box. In real life.
Also in this film: Arnold's O-Face.
Remember that all this was intended as a fun sideshow on a Christmas Day float, so it can't have been expensive to build. However they cracked the super-suit algorithm, they did it with the resourcefulness and the budget of Tony Stark trapped in an Afghan cave.
And they use this revolutionary invention for entertaining toddlers and selling toys. That's right: Rather than selling the actual suit and making billions, they use it as a prop to help them shill a plastic action figure that doesn't actually do anything and will probably wind up covered in cobwebs behind some kid's dresser about two weeks after Christmas.
Comes with a bonus Marvel intellectual property lawsuit.
But dismissal of this invention is still nothing compared to ...
The Incredibles Ignore Technology That Would Transform the World
The main villain in the film is called Syndrome, and he and Mr. Incredible have a long history. In the prologue to the film, as Mr. Incredible prepares to bust a supervillain, a young kid named Buddy flies in on homemade jet boots. He says he wants to be Mr. Incredible's sidekick; Mr. Incredible makes fun of him, and he later becomes a supervillain because of it.
Or maybe because of his tragic, ejector-seat-related traumatic brain injury.
Hang on a second ...
Yes, this is an animated movie, but it doesn't star talking fish, rats or toys. Outside of the superheroes, the world of the Incredibles is just like ours -- there are offices and jobs and suburbs and frustrated marriages. People drive cars and live in apartments.
Uh, why? Why do their cities still look like ours when 15 years before Mr. Incredible started dealing with his midlife crisis, a small child invented a propulsion system that can support the weight of a human body, and needs no bulky fuel supply?
Plus, wearing it gives you killer ankles.
That invention -- and the broader technology behind it (the energy source, etc.) should have utterly changed society. And it all came from a kid -- at the age when most boys are just starting to have strange feelings about boobs, this kid is already the greatest scientific mind in history and could probably even beat Tesla in a duel. He would be known as The Kid Who Saved the World.
Yet the whole character arc of Buddy's transformation into the evil Syndrome follows his lifelong quest for attention, in which he's finally forced to build a giant city-destroying robot after his jet boots, hover-cars and anti-gravity devices fail to raise any eyebrows. Really? The technology that can single-handedly end global warming and our dependence on fossil fuels? It's like if the guy who invented the printing press died broke and alone while everyone else continued to chisel out memos on stone tablets with a woodpecker.
"What possible industrial uses could an anti-gravity ray have?"
It's not even like Buddy kept his intellect a secret -- he very publicly demonstrates his jet boots in front of a crowd of onlookers. Sure, he accidentally demolishes a train, but being clumsy doesn't invalidate the fact that he's the greatest inventor the world has ever known. And this is a world in which superheroism is illegal, so there's no reason he wouldn't stand out in a crowd. If Mark Zuckerberg can make the cover of Time magazine, surely there's room for the kid who instantly vaulted human society a century into the future.
And be sure to pick up our NYT bestselling book to see how we're changing the world for the better (maybe).
Check out how some less than reputable things actually did change the world in 5 People Who Changed the World From Inside of Prison and 5 Horrible Diseases That Changed The World (For the Better).
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