5 Movie Characters Who Were Wildly Unqualified for Their Job
Action and sci-fi films are filled with cool-looking jobs that we would die to have. Who among us wouldn't push down a small child for a chance to be a Jedi or a James Bond-esque secret agent? But they require a lifetime of grueling training, beyond even what we see in the montages. Hell, even Harry Potter had to spend six years in wizard school.
Fortunately, if you lack the drive and dedication for that kind of career, there are other equally awesome fictional jobs that apparently just take a few days to learn.
MIB Agent in Men in Black
The Men in Black are the best-kept secret on the planet. They're here to monitor alien life on Earth, make awesome quips and shoot elaborate weapons at ridiculously designed monsters. Best of all, if they ever slip up, they get to erase the memory of anyone who might have noticed.
"You wouldn't believe how often this gets us laid."
So in the film, NYPD officer James Edwards (Will Smith) is recruited to be one of the MIB after he impressively chases an alien on foot for a couple blocks. He is recruited into a class along with other candidates from the Marines, the Navy Seals and the Air Force, all chosen because they are "the best of the best." And Will Smith gets a shot because he can run fast for short distances.
"He passes the 'have a beer' test. Let's promote him to the World-Saving Department."
But, in a "it's so crazy it just might work" moment, Edwards does get the job and becomes Agent J. Well, all right, the MIB are clearly an "outside-the-box thinking" type of organization, so maybe they spotted some innate talent in him that could be cultivated with the right training. So, he gets the job.
"I like the way you shoot children."
So What's the Problem?
From that point on in the movie, they don't teach him jack shit.
Sure, they tell him aliens exist and give him the background on the MIB in the form of a quick tour, but from the moment that J puts on the suit, K (Tommy Lee Jones) throws him into the job headfirst and just expects him to catch up or ... uh, die, we guess?
"You know what totally wouldn't result in dozens of civilian casualties? Giving an inexperienced rookie a powerful and wildly inaccurate weapon and then not telling him."
Agent J is left to figure out how to use an impractically reckless gun and how to fight a giant cockroach unarmed (and other tasks that turn out to be equally dangerous, like delivering a predatory alien baby). Any one of those tasks alone would be difficult for an expert, and J has to stumble through it without so much as a company handbook.
"You're making coffee next."
Keep in mind, it's not like the Men in Black are some ragtag crew who are trying to figure it out as they go along. It's an enormously wealthy organization with lavish facilities and lots of staff. It has been around for decades. It's the "only line of defense against the worst scum of the universe."
And yet, there he stands.
We guess you could say that the reason Smith was partnered with Tommy Lee Jones' character is that this is how they do on-the-job training at MIB, but at the end of the movie, J gets to assume that role as the lead partner doing the training. He even gets to pick his own trainee partner, and naturally, he picks the cute lady from the morgue. What about that whole "best of the best of the best" thing? We didn't see any deleted scenes of her chasing down an alien on foot. Where did all the standards of hiring go in the course of the film?
"No, there's no manual for that thing. Just point and hope."
That can't possibly be an effective staffing model.
Astronaut in Armageddon
There is an asteroid the size of Texas headed straight toward Earth that threatens to wipe out every living thing. NASA has a plan, though: Their team of astronauts will land on the asteroid, drill a hole in the middle and blow it up with a nuclear bomb. NASA knows space, but they don't know drilling, so they seek the advice of the best driller on Earth, Bruce Willis. And that's where things fall apart.
And this is where the movie itself falls apart.
Bruce Willis takes one look at the team of astronauts who have been training on the drilling equipment for five months and decides they're all terrible. He insists that his own team of drillers be allowed to do the job instead and NASA, that pragmatic, rational institution of geniuses, agrees. Now it's time for a crash course in astronaut training for these roughnecks, as the asteroid is just days away.
NASA: We'll pretty much try anything.
So What's the Problem?
We understand that the whole thing was just the writers' excuse to get Bruce Willis and his motley crew of misfits into space. But try to follow the logic here: They replace seven men who have years of astronaut training and months of drilling experience with seven guys who have years of drilling experience but just a few days of astronaut training. The only possible reason they would even consider that is if it were easier to be an astronaut than an oil driller.
"He's got the right stuff. I can feel it."
They turn out to be right. While things go wrong almost from the start, it's the roughnecks who can improvise and find solutions while the astronauts just yell a lot and die. Adding insult to injury, the one Russian cosmonaut who ends up on the shuttle knows how to fix technical problems on an American ship better than any of the American astronauts.
For whatever reason, NASA doesn't train its people to beat the equipment with wrenches.
The only real screw-up on the part of the drilling team is so absurd and out of place that it feels like the writers tacked it on to show that it wasn't just astronauts fucking up right and left. Steve Buscemi, the one man on the drilling team who has Ph.D.s and can solve a Rubik's Cube, gets a made-up disorder called space dementia. He fires a machine gun at everybody and destroys all the pertinent equipment. So the big question hanging over the plot like a, well, like an asteroid is: Why wasn't anybody trained on space madness when it's that big of an issue? And more importantly, why did NASA give this group of pretend astronauts a giant gun?
"We need these for SPACE!"
Avatar Operators in Avatar
If you never actually watched the movie and think Avatar is just about a race of giant Smurf people, an Avatar is actually a lab-grown alien body that can be operated by a human like a remote control toy, via mind link. It's a little like Second Life meets The Island of Doctor Moreau.
The Second Life of Doctor Moreau would be an excellent zombie movie.
So in the film, a man has been training for years to operate one of these Avatars, but he unexpectedly dies. Because the system requires the human and alien body to be a genetic match, the company running the program reaches out to the dead guy's brother, Jake Sully, to do it in his place. And Jake, as you can guess, has absolutely no training.
"And we'll let anyone ride in the suits. Literally anyone. We've got some chefs running around out there."
To give you the proper context, Jake's brother spent three years in Avatar training and five years learning the language of the Na'vi (the aliens the Avatar lets him hang around with). And, more importantly, he logged 520 hours in the Avatar just practicing using the body.
So What's the Problem?
Within two minutes of being in the Avatar, Jake is already running and jumping. The very first time out, he's using his Avatar body to shoot an assault rifle:
"Rambo training is standard for the Future Marines."
The film briefly mentions Jake's lack of experience, but other than a momentary stumble when he first stands up in the body, we never see him struggle with it. Within days or weeks, Jake is fighting, climbing, using weapons with deadly accuracy and riding flying space pterodactyls. So what the hell did his brother spend hundreds of hours learning? How to play a Na'vi banjo?
And even somebody with years of experience in an Avatar Na'vi body should still be behind the curve compared to people who, you know, were born in one. Yet the untrained Jake progresses faster than even the Na'vi themselves, especially when it comes to their most sacred rite of passage: riding a goddamn banshee. This is a flying, thrashing beast that leaves no margin for error -- if you get thrown off once, you're splattered on the rocks a thousand feet below. There is no practicing it.
Avatar's ecosystem works remarkably like Grand Theft Auto.
Then, with just a few months experience walking and breathing as a Na'vi, Jake becomes just the sixth Na'vi in history to link to Toruk, the most badass flying dragon of all. That's not the sixth Avatar, or the sixth Na'vi in their tribe -- that's the sixth of the entire Na'vi species, ever. Holy shit, being a Na'vi is easy!
Ghostbuster in Ghostbusters
For just three dudes, the Ghostbusters accomplished quite a bit. They not only proved the existence of life after death, but also found a way to make it suffer. They even created guns that can trap ghosts in a tiny prison with a hundred other tortured souls (because screw you for having unresolved issues after you're dead, buddy).
He's the ghost of a fitness instructor, making up for lost gluttony.
And while their equipment is dangerous (more on that in a moment), that's fine -- the three of them are trained scientists. They designed and built their ghost weapons themselves. They know what they're doing.
So What's the Problem?
You know who doesn't know what he's doing? The new guy they bring on board later, Winston Zeddemore. His training consists of two lines in the entire movie: "The light is green, the trap is clean" and "Don't cross the streams."
"Unless we decide on the spur of the moment to cross the streams."
Consider for a moment who Winston was before he joined the Ghostbusters. Oh, you don't know? Well, neither does anybody else, because no one in the film ever asks. The only thing we know for sure is that he has no background in paranormal studies and no Ph.D., and that he's completely willing to compromise his system of beliefs if the job calls for it.
"Hell yes I'll wear an unlicensed nuclear-whatever in a densely populated city."
Ray hires him without so much as a glance at his resume, and we never see any indication that he has particular skills that qualify him to bust ghosts. The DVD commentary says they originally intended Winston to be the smartest of all of them but abandoned all that and changed him to the everyman character in order to explain things in layman's terms.
So basically they made him just like you, and despite what your Halloween costume may suggest, you are not qualified to be a Ghostbuster. So why do we blame these guys more than the Men in Black? Well, the MIB at least looked into Will Smith first, and presumably did a background check to make sure he wasn't part of a terror cell looking to use dangerous tech to destroy the city. But also, there is actually more at stake when a Ghostbuster fucks up.
This can't be good for the local economy.
Specifically, using their anti-ghost proton packs wrong could end the universe. All it takes is crossing the streams, and it's not like there's a good method for not crossing them. They are all firing at the same target with guns that are about as easy to control as fire hoses, and they have literally nowhere to practice. They either get it right or blink out of existence.
Still, they trust the first guy who applies for the job with the fate of all life everywhere. Suddenly that EPA representative who wants to shut everything down doesn't seem like such a bad guy, does he?
We're still pretty sure he has no dick.
General of the Rebel Alliance in Return of the Jedi
Look, we understand that the Rebel Alliance in the Star Wars universe was supposed to be a group of scrappy underdogs. They probably had to take whoever they could get to join -- they were at a huge numbers disadvantage and were facing an army of stormtrooper clones that grow at three times the rate of an average Jango Fett. And that's just the clones -- the Galactic Empire clearly had some support that they didn't grow in a lab themselves. We've seen soldiers on the Death Star who weren't Jango clones.
Mitch Thompson: Death Star gunner and amateur break dancer.
So, facing that, the Alliance took anybody they could, including gamblers, thieves and smugglers. And we're not even surprised Luke wound up leading the mission to take down the Death Star in the first film -- he had the Force, why not give him a shot? It wasn't like they had any better ideas.
So What's the Problem?
What doesn't make sense, however, is taking these scruffy new recruits and immediately promoting them to the rank of general. And it happens twice.
"Nothing keeps the troops happy like Colt 45."
In Return of the Jedi, before the attack on the second Death Star, we learned that the Alliance named Lando Calrissian a general for his efforts during the battle of Taanab. We don't know what happened, but whatever it was, it was clearly enough to make everybody forget that he completely betrayed Luke, Han and Leia by hand-delivering them to Darth Vader. Lando later explains that he did it because he was afraid of the Empire, but he still believes in the rebel cause and shows it by helping to rescue Han and Leia. Still, how can they be sure he won't do the same thing again later? He isn't just trusted with a ship in the battle, he is leading the fleet in a critical attack.
His co-pilot is just some alien who wandered in off the street.
But treason aside, what qualifications does he have to be a general, and leapfrog who knows how many more senior officers? It's possible that he has a previous military career we've never seen, or that through his political power he was able to swing an officer job. Fine, we are willing to accept that his rise to a high rank in the military was left on the cutting room floor. But then they declared Han Solo a general as well.
We can't pretend that Han led some incredible military campaign off-camera like Lando. Before A New Hope, he wasn't a soldier at all. He wasn't even the leader of a gang or anything. He was just cruising around doing illegal shit with teen wolf riding shotgun. He has never been trained in military tactics. Hell, he has never been through any kind of basic training. It's true that in The Empire Strikes Back they are calling him captain, so that means he rose to that rank in the three short years since A New Hope.
C-3PO made rear admiral, while R2 was promoted to field marshal.
But between the second and third films, what let him take the massive leap to general that most military men spend 30-plus years striving for? Don't say he accomplished some amazing feat of strategy we didn't see -- he was frozen in carbonite the whole time.
We're guessing it's more likely that he got the job because Leia didn't want to date a smuggler after the war was over, but if Han Solo can get that far ahead in the Rebel Alliance based solely on who he knows, does the Alliance really have any standards at all? At least the Empire picked a guy they knew was skilled before they cloned him hundreds of thousands of times, not just someone's buddy.
It's easy to win promotions when you're boning the head of state.
Davidb Marchetti is a horrible playwright for The Contemporary Theater Company. The b is not a typo for some reason.
For more fictional head-scratchers, check out The 11 Most Retarded Fictional Weapons and 8 Famous Fictional Archaeologists Who Suck At Their Job.
And stop by LinkSTORM to fill out your application for the Rebel Alliance today.
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