5 Badass Movie Heroes (Who Were Actually Just Really Lucky)
Hollywood movies are an alternate reality where every law of the universe operates differently from our own, from the amount of damage a human body can take to the dating standards of hot girls who inexplicably fall for clumsy nerds. In this dimension, even a hero who is specifically described as "down on his luck" will routinely defeat the overwhelming odds thanks to a long list of coincidences falling his way. Like ...
Die Hard -- John McClane Blindly Throws C4 Down an Elevator Shaft, Hits Terrorists
We all know/have attempted to re-enact the scene: About halfway through the first Die Hard, John McClane has successfully contacted the police, and they're making their way to the office building where Hans Gruber and his group of long-haired German terrorists have set up camp. However, their raid is cut short when Gruber unleashes his secret weapon: a rocket launcher that his goons use to blast missiles at the SWAT cars.
"Is there a way we could make them die a little softer?"
The cops can't get anywhere near the building without getting blown to shit. But John McClane is nothing if not resourceful: He grabs a load of C-4 explosive that he borrowed from a dead terrorist, secures it to a chair using an old school computer monitor and drops it down an elevator shaft. What follows is one of the great moments in classic cinema:
The C-4 explodes upon impact at the floor where the missile-launching terrorists are, killing them and making the building a little less insanely dangerous. Thank God for John McClane, right?
The Blind Luck:
How did McClane know the C-4 would explode on that exact floor? He is on the 38th floor when he drops the explosives, and the hostages (including his wife) are on the 30th or so. He doesn't have a detonator switch to set the bomb off, so how did he know the chair would blow on the terrorists' floor as opposed to, say, landing on an elevator and getting carried up to some other random floor (like, say, the one where all the hostages are)? Hell, what's to say it doesn't bounce off the walls of the shaft at some point on the way down, blowing some key structural support and bringing the whole building down? Or at least a huge part of it?
Or, best case scenario, it goes straight to the basement and kills Argyle.
McClane does briefly look down the shaft to make sure the coast is clear, presumably, but one thing elevators tend to do is move up and down in a matter of seconds; he knows there are terrorists using the elevators because he just heard them. In fact, that's his entire knowledge of the situation: He heard an elevator go past, and from that somehow assumed that a) it had to be boarded by the terrorists who would later shoot those missiles and b) they stopped close enough to the ground level that the explosion wouldn't do any serious damage on the top floors where all the innocent people are.
"So ... dyin' hard or hardly dyin'?"
Wait a second, look at that screen shot -- how did that not set the building on fire?
McClane is visibly angry and talking to himself while he does his bomb drop, muttering profanity-laden one-liners at no one in particular -- clearly this guy wasn't in a right state of mind and didn't think things through, at all. We're guessing he woke up in his bed like two weeks later and said, "Did I really fucking do that?" then cried for the rest of the night. He was incredibly lucky that it worked out, but we guess we're all entitled to one moment of unbelievable luck in our lifetimes ... it's not like he went on to shoot down a helicopter with a car or something.
300 -- The Evil Politician Happens to Be Carrying His Bribe Money Around
Near the end of 300, the plot of the movie takes a break from all the slow-motion homoeroticism (slomoeroticism) to show the Spartan Council deciding whether or not to send King Leonidas the reinforcements that he desperately needs to stop the Persians from marching into Greece and killing everything there. As a reminder, there are currently only three hundred Spartans fighting off an army of over a million Persian warriors at Thermopylae.
Luckily, they have a dude who can hold aggro.
While Leonidas' wife, Queen Gorgo, is explaining to the council the painfully simple logic of "We should send the reinforcements or we're all gonna die," some douchebag called Theron accuses her of trying to seduce him into agreeing with her at this meeting, and also of sleeping with some old guy. The council is appalled and disgusted, judging by the series of gasps and mouth-hands that follow. A guard stands behind the queen, and everything indicates that she'll be taken away and Leonidas won't be getting his reinforcements.
However, Queen Gorgo diffuses the situation by stabbing Theron in the dick, causing a bundle of Persian coins to spill onto the floor. The council recognizes that he was a traitor, and Leonidas has his reinforcements sent. (And then he dies anyway, but that's beside the point.)
"We always knew you'd die from hogging all the dick money, McNulty."
The Blind Luck:
So, wait, Theron was accusing the queen of being devious ... and her response was to literally stab him with a sword, right in front of everyone else? Um, OK.
There's no way the queen could have known that Theron had chosen to bring his bribe to the meeting, and she sure as hell didn't know that he was carrying the coins in the general vicinity of his penis, otherwise she could have just said, "Hey, check out this guy's dick, it's stuffed with Persian gold!"
His hubris was an expensive crotch bulge.
If the council had any doubts that she was guilty, this should have been enough to clear that up, since it probably looked like she was just trying to shut him up before he said anything else. Sure, she could have tried to explain her innocence afterward, but it wouldn't have looked very convincing with the guy bleeding to death in front of her.
It was only the queen's astonishing luck -- and the fact that Theron was an idiot with a cock purse -- that saved the situation. Why would Theron carry the evidence of his treason into the meeting where he was planning to accuse someone else of being the traitor? Did he come straight from his treason deal? Was he between banks? Of course, the luckiest part wasn't that Theron was carrying the money, because that could have been from anything -- it's that he happened to be paid in coins that had the face of the King of Persia on them.
How exactly was he planning to spend these?
It's important to note that this scene appears only in the 300 movie by Zack Snyder and not in the comic it's based on. As much as we'd like to keep picking on Snyder, though, the next one was all in the comic ...
Watchmen -- Nite Owl Guesses Adrian's Password
Toward the end of Watchmen, we learn that the recent string of superhero murders at the center of the plot is actually a tiny byproduct of a vast conspiracy headed by one of the heroes, Adrian Veidt, aka Ozymandias, aka "the smartest man on the planet." Even the extremely powerful and extremely naked Dr. Manhattan has been manipulated by Veidt, who tricked him into leaving the Earth by convincing him that his blue dong was giving people cancer.
"I'm gonna have to go back for toilet paper."
The only two remaining heroes who aren't either the bad guy or on Mars decide to check out Veidt's office for clues about what the fuck is going on. After logging in to Veidt's computer, Nite Owl and Rorschach find evidence that Veidt is behind everything and travel to his Antarctic hideout to confront him -- leaving New York just in time to avoid an attack that kills half the city's population. This, too, was part of Veidt's elaborate plan to ensure world peace by uniting the countries against a fictional enemy (aliens in the comic, Dr. Manhattan in the movie).
"I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish
if we were facing a vagina from outside this world." -- Ronald Reagan
Of course, Nite Owl didn't just power on Veidt's computer and find the evidence right there in the desktop: He had to type a password first. Veidt wasn't stupid. The password turned out to be "Rameses II," the Egyptian pharaoh also known as Ozymandias.
The Blind Luck:
Hold on, Veidt used his own superhero name as his password?! The smartest man on the planet? Yep, and it took Nite Owl literally two tries to get it right.
"OK dude, now get on his Facebook and fill it with pictures of dicks."
In the movie it's even worse, because Owl gets the word from a book on Rameses that's right there on the desk. Right fucking there on the same desk as the computer loaded with incriminating files, sort of defeating the purpose of even having a password.
"Smartest and most careless man on the planet."
The luckiest part here is that Nite Owl even bothered trying to guess the password, when there was absolutely no reason for him to believe that it would be anything less than 500 special characters mixed into some sort of complex symbol sequence. We would have just said "Fuck it" and focused on trying to force his top desk drawer open.
Some fans believe that Veidt intentionally chose a shitty password so that his friends would find out about the conspiracy and leave New York before the attack, but there are two problems with that theory: a) It would require risking the entire conspiracy, since Nite Owl and Rorschach could have easily sent the incriminating info to the government or something and undermined the "alien attack" story, and b) this guy just killed 3 million people. He doesn't give a shit about killing two more.
You don't put your trust in a guy who dresses like that. You just don't.
Aladdin -- Aladdin Goads Jafar into a Ridiculously Specific Wish
In the Disney classic of the same name, Aladdin is a street urchin who goes from stealing food in markets to hanging out with the Arabian upper class in a matter of minutes after coming across a mystical lamp.
Life has gotten a whole lot better for Aladdin, his kleptomaniac monkey and his sentient flying carpet ... until the evil Jafar steals the magic lamp and uses it to become the most powerful sorcerer in the world. While no one in the movie ever thinks to ask the genie for infinite wishes, Jafar did the next best thing -- he's so powerful that he can now do pretty much anything he wants, from teleporting Aladdin across the world to transforming himself into a giant snake.
Yet for all his power, he could not master the shirt spell.
Things seem pretty hopeless, but Aladdin has one more trick up his sleeve. When Jafar proclaims himself "the most powerful being on Earth," Aladdin taunts him by pointing out that the genie is more powerful. Jafar uses his last wish to become "an all-powerful genie" ... and becomes trapped inside a magic lamp, just as Aladdin planned.
The Blind Luck:
There's only one problem with Aladdin's plan: It was a stupid plan, and it shouldn't have worked. The success of the trick relied entirely on Jafar using the exact words that, by astonishing coincidence, he ended up using. If Jafar had said "I wish to be more powerful than the genie" or "I wish to be the most powerful entity in the universe" or pretty much anything else, then the heroes' situation would have gone from hopeless to ridiculously hopeless.
And yet Aladdin is so convinced that his unlikely, misguided plan will work that he pulls an expression that can only be described as the world's first troll face.
He actually spoke in misspellings.
Or, you know, Jafar could have simply wished for the genie (aka Aladdin's friend) to kill himself in the most gruesome manner imaginable, and he would have been forced to do exactly that. Had the villain taken a moment to consider his wish, the straight-to-video sequels would have been about Jafar continuously raping the Earth for the next millennium.
That was one hell of a gamble, Aladdin.
Ocean's Eleven -- The Whole Plan
Ocean's Eleven is remembered as the best received and most coherent film in the entire Ocean's franchise, before it became apparent that the whole thing was just an experiment to see how many names can be crammed into a movie poster. Here's the plot, in as few words as humanly possible: George Clooney and his 10 most charismatic friends are planning to rob Andy Garcia of three casinos' worth of cash, which is stored in one vault, while being as cool as humanly possible.
To do this, Bernie Mac poses as an ex-con posing as a blackjack dealer working in the same casino. Matt Damon then poses as a Nevada Gaming Commission agent and accuses Bernie of being a fraud. In the ensuing scuffle, Damon steals a piece of paper containing the security code of the vault off of Andy Garcia.
Meanwhile, Scott Caan and Casey Affleck pretend to be security guards carrying a box full of Andy Garcia's money into the vault. Except it's not money, it's actually a small Chinese man named Yen who will rig the vault from the inside.
Then Matt Damon makes his way down to the vault, punches in the code and opens the big metal door with help from the Chinese guy. A blackout and some more shocking plot twists later, George Clooney and his friends have successfully ripped Andy Garcia off.
And Brad Pitt finally stops eating.
The Blind Luck:
We're constantly told that this casino has the most insane security in the world because Andy Garcia's character is ruthlessly meticulous about every little aspect of his operation. And yet the whole plan hinges on the notion that everyone working there is very, very bad at their jobs.
For example, on the night of the heist, Scott Caan and Casey Affleck are seen walking around the floor dressed as bodyguards, cooks, security guards and paramedics ... and no one ever notices it's the same two guys. They were one "Haven't I seen you before?" away from ruining the entire heist. In one scene, it's implied that they changed clothes inside an elevator, at which point the guy watching the security feed presumably said, "Eww, gross," and stopped watching.
"Hey, aren't there, like, nine other guys who could be doing this?"
Oh, and how did they get the box containing the Chinese man into the vault without a security card? By arguing with each other about who forgot the card until an actual guard steps in and says, "No worries, I'll bring that in for ya." That wasn't a last minute improvisation, it was the actual plan. No one ever thinks to check the box: They just push it in there and forget about it.
Then there's Garcia himself, which the film has spent an hour establishing as a paranoid genius who leaves nothing to chance. Not only does he completely forget about the super important code in his pocket after Matt Damon steals it, but he also leaves Damon unsupervised in a restricted area when he says he forgot his pager in the room they just left. It would have literally taken him five seconds to wait for Damon to retrieve it and see him to the exit.
Meanwhile, Don Chead -- wait, Don Cheadle's in this movie?!
Basically, George Clooney made a lot of ridiculous assumptions about the casino staff while coming up with the plan, needing them to completely fail to do their jobs at a dozen different points. If even one staff member accidentally does the job right, or just doesn't fail in the exact specific way the Ocean team anticipates, the whole plan is busted. There's only one possible explanation here: Garcia was actually in cahoots with Clooney the whole time as part of a longer con at the expense of everyone else, to be revealed in Ocean's Seventeen.
Jake Ferretti has a comedy website with comics, videos and royalty free music/sound fx at StickItInTheWhat.com. You can also follow him on twitter here.
For more heroes that maybe shouldn't have been tapped on, check out 6 Movie Heroes Who Actually Made Things Worse and 7 Badass Cartoon Villains Who Lost to Retarded Heroes.
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