5 Villains Who Went Out of Their Way to Screw Their Own Plan
If you're the type of person who enjoys picking apart movies, by far the easiest (and most amusing) starting point is to simply rewatch the movie from the villain's perspective. What does the villain actually want? Does the way he's going about it make sense at all? The answers are usually ridiculous.
That's because most movies aren't written that way; the bad guy is just there to create conflict and cool scenes for the hero, regardless of whether there is any logic to it from his own point of view. We've already gone over some villains who accidentally saved the day with their own actions. But at least those bad guys screwed up without realizing it. Here are the ones who seem to go out of their way to sabotage their own plans ...
Spider-Man 2 -- Doctor Octopus Needs Peter Parker Alive, Throws a Car at Him (For No Reason)
When an accident turns Professor Otto Octavius into a supervillain (as if he wasn't always destined for that career with a name like that), he starts dressing like a subway pervert and adopts the identity of Doctor Octopus, but still intends to continue his experiments in nuclear fusion ... only in an EVIL way. Doc Ock needs some tritium to finish his reactor, so he makes a deal with Harry "Green Goblin Jr." Osborn, who will give him as much tritium as he wants if Ock brings Spider-Man to him.
"I'm in a position to negotiate, apparently."
Problem is, Spidey has been sort of MIA lately. Since it's common knowledge that the only one who can get a hold of him is Peter Parker, Doc Ock needs Peter to lure Spider-Man into a trap, which he forces him to do by kidnapping Peter's love interest, Mary Jane Watson. Very simple.
How He Tried to Screw It Up:
Doc Ock needs both Peter and Mary Jane to be alive for his plan to work ... and yet, when he finds them sitting in a cafe, literally the first thing he does is launch a friggin' car directly at them.
"Hey, Peter! PETER! Over here!"
There's no way two normal people would have survived that -- the only reason Peter was able to duck out of the way is because of his spider-sense and Neo-like reflexes, which Doc Ock obviously doesn't know he has. Otherwise, both he and Mary Jane would have been squashed by a flying vehicle, rendering Doc Ock's entire plan pointless. No Peter, no one to find Spider-Man, no tritium.
Was the whole point of the car-throwing stunt to get Peter and Mary Jane's attention (by decapitating them)? Or was that just his way to say "hi"? Maybe Doc Ock was trying to open the window and there were no trash cans around. Of course, the more likely explanation is that they just needed an excuse to shoot a scene with Peter ducking out of the way of a flying vehicle so they could put that in the teaser trailer.
If you look closely, you can see the dollar signs reflecting off Sam Raimi's eyes.
Also, killing Harry's two friends would have only pissed him off (he specifically says, "Don't hurt Peter"), and then he'd never give the tritium to Ock. Why the guy with the huge metal arms didn't just take the tritium in the first place, we'll never know.
Casino Royale -- Le Chiffre Wants to Interrogate Bond (After Killing Him)
After losing $100 million to James Bond in a high-stakes poker tournament, terrorist banker Le Chiffre plans to kidnap Bond and torture him until he gives up the password to the Swiss bank account where all the money has been deposited. To accomplish this, he takes advantage of Bond's only weakness: his penis. Le Chiffre kidnaps Bond's love interest, Vesper Lynd, in order to lure 007 into a trap.
How He Tried to Screw It Up:
Like Doc Ock, Le Chiffre seems pretty intent on murdering the guy he desperately needs before he can kidnap him. His brilliant plan consists of:
A) Forcing Bond into a high-speed chase by taking Vesper.
"Get back here, I haven't slept with her yet!"
B) Tying up Vesper and leaving her in the middle of the road so that Bond has to perform a violent swerve at 70 miles per hour.
"I really hope he's not texting."
C) Trusting that Bond will be merely knocked unconscious as the car rolls over a record-breaking total of seven times and crashes down on the side of the road, then kidnapping him. If Bond does what people tend to do in those situations, which is die, the whole plan is ruined.
He doesn't wear condoms. Would you expect James Bond to use a seat belt?
Unless Le Chiffre has a henchman with voodoo powers who can bring people back from the dead, like in Live and Let Die, this makes no sense. And it's not like he wants the money so he can go on a nice vacation or something: He owes that $100 million to some very important terrorists. If Bond doesn't tell him the password for the Swiss bank account, Le Chiffre is screwed big time, so staging a scene that could splatter Bond's brains across his vehicle's upholstery probably isn't the brightest idea.
And let's say Bond doesn't see Vesper in time, runs over her, and then they take him: Even if they fried his balls until he gave up the password, Bond couldn't give Le Chiffre the actual account number ... because the only person who knew that is now roadkill.
"Oh. Well, since you're already here, do you mind if I keep frying your balls for a bit?"
So, instead of the stereotypical Bond villain who makes the mistake of keeping Bond alive too long, here's a bad guy who nearly makes the mistake of killing Bond too soon. They weren't kidding about that total reboot thing.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom -- Mola Ram Tries to Get Back the Magic Stones (by Flooding Everything)
Mola Ram is the high priest of the Thuggee cult, a bunch of Indian dudes who hope to rule the world by gathering five lost magical stones. Mola already had three of these stones in his possession, but then that pesky Indiana Jones and his sidekicks stole them and jumped into a mining cart, escaping into a Donkey Kong Country level. Mola sends some henchmen into the tunnels to kill Indy and retrieve the stones so that he can finally reshape the world in his ugly image.
"... and Sinead O'Connor shall be my queen!"
How He Tried to Screw It Up:
At the end of the movie, Indy knows that the evil cult is thwarted because two of the Sankara stones wind up falling into the river and are lost forever -- that's how we know that the movie is over and the good guys won. So, sinking the stones under thousands of gallons of water is obviously against Mola Ram's best interest ... and yet that's exactly what he tries to do during the cart chase. It's like he was trying to end the plot half an hour earlier.
"I'll eat the heart of anyone who doesn't admit Raiders was better!"
See, henchmen isn't the only thing Mola sends into the tunnels: He also breaks down a huge water tank and floods the tunnels in order to drown the heroes, ignoring the fact that Indy still has the stones in his possession. If his corpse ends up buried in a vast, labyrinthine, watery tomb, how exactly does Mola intend to ever get the stones back?
Keep in mind that this is India in 1935, so we doubt that the Thuggee had lots of high-tech equipment on hand to drain the water out of the mines or could send scuba divers to search for small items. It would be quite a daunting task, and since Indy just freed all of Mola's child slaves in a previous scene, Mola Ram's now a little short on free labor.
"We're jumping ship to Nike."
Indy and his pals flee from the rushing water by escaping through a tunnel, which leads them onto a ledge overlooking a long drop into the river. Had they not escaped, the rushing water could have easily propelled their bodies and the stones into the river, and Mola's most prized possessions would end up in a crocodile's rectum.
The worst part is that the "flood everything" approach completely invalidates Mola's previous, far more sensible plan, which was "send henchmen after Indy." If these guards had managed to catch up with Indy, kill him and recover the Sankara stones, they would have had around 20 seconds to feel victorious before running into the huge wall of water coming after them.
"THIS HAT DOES NOT REQUIRE RATIONAL PLANNING!"
And speaking of classic Harrison Ford movies with inept villains ...
The Fugitive -- The Bad Guy Helps Harrison Ford Figure Out That He's ... Well, the Bad Guy
In The Fugitive, Dr. Charles Nichols is a high-ranking employee at a pharmaceutical company currently developing a new wonder drug. When Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) finds out that the drug causes liver damage, Nichols sends a one-armed killer to murder him, but he winds up killing Kimble's wife instead. This works out for the best, though, since Kimble is wrongly convicted of his wife's murder and sent to death row. All Nichols has to do now is sit back and wait for Kimble to fry.
Or get frozen in carbonite, depending on state law.
How He Tried to Screw It Up:
When Kimble escapes custody and becomes a fugitive, he asks Nichols for help, since he still thinks of him as a friend. Instead of saying, "Yeah, sure thing, buddy, why don't you step into the guest room and have a nap?" and then calling the cops, Nichols ends up serving him the evidence of the conspiracy on a silver platter.
More specifically, Nichols sends Kimble to obtain incriminating tissue samples, even though they contain evidence that he himself was involved in the coverup. This, along with the fact that every lab member turns out to be inexplicably eager to help out a convicted murderer, allows Kimble to clear his name.
Jane Lynch has always had a thing for bad boys.
Kimble finds out that the tissue samples were fudged to cover up the whole "kills your liver" thing, and since half of the samples had been approved by a guy who was recently murdered, it was obvious that his signature had been forged by the only other person who had access. Namely, Dr. Charles Nichols. Both Kimble and the cops reach the same conclusion.
Instead of sending Kimble to the lab to collect the samples, Nichols could have volunteered to get them himself, which would have made sense from Kimble's perspective, since he was a wanted fugitive.
Or how about "Sorry dude, helping fugitives is a crime"?
Also, not to discriminate against people with disabilities or anything, but is a guy with only one arm really the most effective and least conspicuous-looking hired killer he could find? Did Nichols hire him over the phone, and then didn't want to say anything for fear of being rude? Maybe that's what happened with Kimble, too. Nichols didn't want to help him figure out the conspiracy, but just couldn't say no to a pal.
Die Hard With a Vengeance -- Simon Gruber Stages an Elaborate Con, Immediately Tries to Ruin It
Simon Gruber, the brother of the original Die Hard villain, Hans Gruber, wants revenge on John McClane for dropping Hans' ass out of a 32nd floor window at the end of the first movie. Simon accomplishes this by planting bombs all over New York City, then threatening to set them off if McClane doesn't do exactly what he says. However, this so-called revenge plan actually turns out to be a smokescreen for a clever heist in which Simon rips off the entire gold supply of the New York Federal Reserve Bank.
"Avenge me by stealing lots of gold! Avenge meeeeeee ..."
How He Tried to Screw It Up:
Simon's plan hinges on McClane trying to stop a bomb in a very specific place at a specific time, supposedly as part of the whole revenge trip. However, that's not the first thing Simon forces him to do. Nope, first he sends McClane into Harlem wearing a sign that should get him murdered about 37 times before reaching the first corner.
This is like being dropped in Bel Air with a sign that says "I Hate Golf."
If it wasn't for the unlikely intervention of a local shopkeeper named Zeus (Samuel L. Jackson), McClane would have been killed or seriously injured by a Harlem street gang -- sure, he had a concealed gun strapped to his back for safety, but the first thing the gangsters do is break a bottle on McClane's head and reveal the weapon, which is quickly grabbed by Zeus. Had Zeus not been there, that would have been one of the gang members.
"Please, wait! Haven't you guys ever seen that Chris Rock routine?"
The success of Simon's Federal Reserve heist depends entirely on the authorities believing his fake revenge scheme as a distraction. After the Harlem incident, Simon's next game involves sending McClane across town to chase after a bomb on a subway. When the bomb goes off, no one notices that it has disabled the Federal Reserve Bank's alarm system and given Simon an opening to break into their vault.
It's actually a pretty ingenious plan ... except for the part where Simon almost made McClane a casualty of racially motivated gang violence and ruined everything. Couldn't he have just forced McClane to do something less likely to get himself killed, such as streaking naked through Chelsea?
Considering that McClane only survived the Harlem ordeal because of Zeus' intervention, it actually might have been a neat twist if Zeus had been working for Simon all along and was serving as McClane's protector.
He wanted revenge for his brother, Argyle.
Robin Warder is the co-owner of the pop culture website The Back Row.
For more baffling moves in movies, check out The 5 Most Needlessly Complex Terror Plots in Film History and The 5 Most Needlessly Evil Movie Villain Strategies.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The 6 Craziest Superman Stories Ever Written (Twice).
And stop by LinkSTORM because the avenues of ruthlessly dissecting movies are endless.
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