5 Film Franchises Based on One Character's Stupid Decision


Remember that flashback scene in The Lord of the Rings when Elrond and Isildur are right at the center of Mount Doom, and all Elrond needs to do to save Middle-earth from centuries of war is elf-kick that dipshit and his ring-coveting ass into the boiling lava of oblivion? Had he just done what everyone in the audience was screaming at him to do, the movies would have just been 10 hours of hobbits getting drunk.

Well, this kind of thing happens all the time -- one poor decision leads to an entire film series worth of conflict. For instance ...

Batman Exists Because Ra's al Ghul Doesn't Screen His Applicants

5 Film Franchises Based on One Character's Stupid Decision

Christopher Nolan's Batman series begins in a Bhutanese prison, where Liam Neeson's Ra's Al Ghul (who apparently has a key) recruits Bruce Wayne to be trained as a member of the League of Shadows. Ra's takes Bruce under his wing, engaging in an array of standard training exercises, including hallucinogenic ninja hide-and-seek and ice dueling peppered with damning accusations about one's father. He becomes a mentor, teaching Bruce that in order to take on his enemies, he must transcend living as an ordinary man and become an incorruptible symbol (evidently Bruce hears this as "drive around in a car that explodes into a motorcycle").

Sadly, like anything good, there's always a catch -- and after Bruce's training is complete and he knows all of the League of Shadows' secrets, he finds himself being asked to execute a man in a show of loyalty.


"Come on, you're embarrassing me in front of my minions. I told them you were cool."

He also is told that Ra's is determined to use Bruce to facilitate the total destruction of Gotham City, something he waited until just now to mention. This doesn't sit well with Bruce, and because he's already balls-deep in the organization, he ends up having to explosion-stab his way out of the League of Shadows, destroying their headquarters in the process.

5 Film Franchises Based on One Character's Stupid Decision

The best way to show your commitment to not killing your enemies is by blowing them up.

But hey -- free training, right? And now Bruce Wayne gets to be Batman, all thanks to Ra's' total inability to make sure Bruce is cool with murdering people before training him how to bleed out of the shadows and beat the screaming Jesus out of everything on the planet.

Seriously, Ra's -- it's called a job interview, and even the freaking Olive Garden does it. They're not going to start training someone before asking if they're cool with serving soup, salad and bread sticks. Ra's is planning to kill not only an entire city, but the city that Bruce Wayne was born and raised in and where everyone he cares about still lives. Why would he just assume that Bruce would be totally fine with it? This couldn't have been mentioned while they were making Bruce stutter-step on logs while beating him with sticks?

- HH

Apparently the League's motto was "Create unstoppable ninjas first, ask questions later."

Jason Bourne Loses His Memory Because He Sucks at Planning

5 Film Franchises Based on One Character's Stupid Decision

The entire Bourne series is all about Jason Bourne trying to remember his secret agent past. Rather than take any chances, he decides to play it safe and just punch every uniform he sees, whether they be out to kill him or not.

5 Film Franchises Based on One Character's Stupid Decision

For example, these two were just Maytag repairmen.

It's why his former employers try to assassinate him, and why they end up having to shut down their brainwashing-dudes-to-jump-from-roofs-and-ride-mopeds-in-foreign-countries program -- Jason Bourne can't remember shit, and he is going to make everything around him pay until he does. It takes him three movies and a shitload of dead bodies to figure it out.

5 Film Franchises Based on One Character's Stupid Decision

"If you don't want the magazine subscription, just say so."

So what is the source of his amnesia, which seems to have replaced every lost memory with assbeat coupons to be redeemed immediately? Well, as the first film reveals via flashbacks, Bourne had been assigned to kill an exiled African dictator named Wombosi (you can tell how African he is by his name). Bourne used an alias to infiltrate the dictator's yacht and hide out for several days, waiting for the perfect time to strike. Everything went according to plan, except that when it was time to pull the trigger, Bourne was surprised by the presence of Wombosi's kids, causing him to suddenly grow a conscience and abort at the last minute (because as we all know, only good people have children).

It's during this hasty change of heart that Bourne gets shot in the back and falls overboard, left to float in the middle of the ocean. This causes his amnesia, because he was shot in the part of the kidneys where memories are stored.

5 Film Franchises Based on One Character's Stupid Decision

In reality, the most common symptom of this particular injury is shark attack.

So you can trace the events of every movie back to the moment Bourne discovers the kids ... and he was somehow surprised by them? How could he possibly not have known they were there? He planned the job out to the minute, then stowed away on the yacht for five goddamned days. Did he think all the Snack Packs and Hannah Montana CDs belonged to Wombosi and his bodyguards? For a globetrotting CIA-programmed murderbot, this seems like a massive oversight. Especially when you consider what the CIA boss man tells Bourne about the mission later in the film:

You put together a meeting with Wombosi. You found the security company. You broke into the office. You're the one who picked the yacht as the strike point. You picked the boat. You picked the day. You tracked the crew, the food, the fuel. You told us where, you told us when. You hid on that boat five days. You were in, Jason. You were in. It was over.

5 Film Franchises Based on One Character's Stupid Decision

"Wow, I'm kind of an asshole."

So Bourne put this whole thing together down to every last detail, and just completely spaced on the kids. "Whoops, my bad, guys, I just totally forgot to check." As a result, he is completely thrown off and ends up shutting down the mission, all because it never occurred to him that a militant dictator might have working sperm.

Back to the Future Part II & III Only Happen Because Doc Brown Can't Hide a Body


At the end of the first Back to the Future (and consequently the beginning of the second), Doc Brown comes hauling ass through Marty's neighborhood in broad daylight, insisting that Marty and his girlfriend Jennifer join him on another time-traveling adventure.

5 Film Franchises Based on One Character's Stupid Decision

"Great Scott! I'm abducting two minors!"

After tearing through space-time and arriving in the year 2015, Doc is forced to knock Jennifer out with a gadget because she starts asking way too many questions about the future. He babbles out a barely coherent explanation about such questions potentially causing some sort of time paradox thing ... it makes about as much sense as it needs to.

5 Film Franchises Based on One Character's Stupid Decision

"I just wanted her to shut the fuck up."

With Jennifer out cold, Doc lands the DeLorean in a nearby alleyway and briefs Marty on his plan: Marty is to impersonate his own son and keep him from committing a crime, while Doc intercepts the real son and keeps him from ruining his life. It's bulletproof.

For this plan to work, Doc finds it necessary to plop Jennifer's unconscious body in the alley (simply leaving her in the car would have made entirely too much sense). Marty briefly protests the idea of abandoning his girlfriend next to a row of trashcans, but Doc reassures him that they will only be gone for a couple of minutes.

5 Film Franchises Based on One Character's Stupid Decision

"Trust me, it takes at least 10 minutes to rape someone, we'll be back way before then."

Unfortunately, the future police find Jennifer almost immediately, and after a fingerprint scan they bring her to her future self's home, potentially causing that whole paradox thing Doc Brown science-clubbed her for earlier. Doc and Marty now have to rescue Jennifer, and in doing so accidentally allow Biff to steal the time machine and change the past with the sports almanac. This of course leads to the entirety of the film's plotline, which ends with Doc getting lightninged back to 1885, thus setting the stage for the third movie.

In other words, Jennifer getting picked up in that alley was the direct cause of everything else that happens in the series.

5 Film Franchises Based on One Character's Stupid Decision

"I tell ya, Marty ... women: Can't live with 'em, can't leave 'em unconscious in a future alley."

That kind of makes you wonder why they needed to dump her body in that alleyway in the first place, considering there were a hundred ways that could go horribly wrong. Doc didn't need the extra space in the DeLorean for groceries or anything -- he was just going to use his knockout wand on Marty Jr. That's it. Why the hell did he need to empty out the car to do it?

Hell, even if Doc was planning on kidnapping Marty's son, we already know he can fit three people and a dog in that damn thing. There's plenty of room -- why the hell did he leave Jennifer in an alley? You'd think a guy like Doc Brown would know how to properly hide a teenage girl's body.

The Curse That Starts Everything in The Mummy Has No Good Reason to Exist

5 Film Franchises Based on One Character's Stupid Decision

The Mummy and The Mummy Returns all take place because of an ancient curse. Specifically, one placed on the Egyptian high priest Imhotep for laying into the pharaoh's mistress, Anck Su Namun. Their secret love affair, obviously, is a serious affront to the pharaoh, and is totally a punishable-by-death scenario. So, when they are inevitably caught by the pharaoh, their only choice is to supermurder him just as the Medjai, the pharaoh's (terrible) guards, bust into the room.

5 Film Franchises Based on One Character's Stupid Decision

"Wow. This was, like, the one thing we were supposed to do ..."

Anck Su Namun gets killed right there, but Imhotep manages to temporarily escape -- only to get caught by the Medjai later while attempting to resurrect his fallen love. Fueled with rage over making them look like a bunch of Bush League assholes, the Medjai cut out Imhotep's tongue and bury him alive. Boom, revenge accomplished!

Oh, also, they put a curse on him that makes him immortal. This is, of course, the curse that drives the entire series. The curse that the Medjai have been keeping secret for 3,000 years. The curse that will, as they put it, make Imhotep a "walking disease, a plague upon mankind, an unholy flesh-eater with the strength of ages, power over the sands and the glory of invincibility."

5 Film Franchises Based on One Character's Stupid Decision

"He will also totally be able to eat cheeseburgers three at a time."

So, uh, here's a question: Why the hell did they do that?

What possible reason could there have been to do any of that bullshit to Imhotep? He murders the pharaoh, putting the Medjai out of a job, and so their response is to bury him alive with a magical spell that will make him Egyptian Superman if he's ever brought back to life? Why couldn't they just, you know, chop his head off and toss his body in a dumpster? Why condemn themselves to guarding a corpse for thousands of years? Stab his body into taco meat and feed it to scorpions, and then put all those scorpions in a box and cast it into the goddamn sea. Whatever the method, we're having trouble thinking of what good they thought would come from burying him alive and giving him immortal superpowers.

5 Film Franchises Based on One Character's Stupid Decision

"Hang on, guys -- did anyone remember to toss in the Amulet of Eternal Hatred?
No? OK, hoist the sonofabitch back up, we wouldn't want to forget to add that to his coffin of vengeance."

The Green Goblin Feud in Spider-Man Exists Only Because the Butler Is an Ass

5 Film Franchises Based on One Character's Stupid Decision

The original Spider-Man trilogy is a pretty good allegory for that awkward time in adolescence when two friends begin to drift apart after one of them kills the other's father while dressed in a Candyland bondage suit.

5 Film Franchises Based on One Character's Stupid Decision

"He forgot the safe word."

At the end of the first film, Harry Osborn's dad is in a battle with Spider-Man and accidentally kills himself. But, his dying wish was for Harry to never know the truth (note: Harry's dad was a supervillain), so Spider-Man doesn't say anything about what really happened. Instead, he just brings the body back to Harry's house, at which point Harry bumbles into the room. Spider-Man, obeying his father's wishes, just sort of gallops out the window like the tooth fairy, allowing Harry to assume that Spider-Man did the killing. But of course, we can't blame Spider-Man -- he's honor bound to keep the secret, apparently even if it means that Harry will now bear a lifelong grudge against him.

Unfortunately, as a result, Harry is driven steadily insane as the series progresses, eventually taking up his father's mantle as a flying Power Ranger villain with a stroke-frozen face. It's Harry's personal hatred for Spider-Man that fuels the majority of the villainy in these films -- in Spider-Man 2, Harry commissions Doc Ock to capture Spider-Man for him, telling him to kidnap Mary Jane to get the job done. And in the third film, Harry forces Mary Jane to break up with Peter, leading him to embrace the black suit. While indulging his dark side, Peter gets Eddie Brock fired, thus creating Venom. If only Harry knew the truth, it could have saved both him and Peter a lot of pain and anguish (and it could have saved us from Spider-Man 3).

5 Film Franchises Based on One Character's Stupid Decision

Goddamn it, Harry.

Finally, with about 30 minutes left in the final film, Harry's butler -- a man who has spoken maybe 19 words up to this point in the series -- is somehow able to convince Harry to forgive Peter with a meandering emotionless speech. The butler explains to Harry that he cleaned his father's wounds the night Spider-Man dropped the corpse off like a Papa John's driver, and (evidently drawing upon a vast well of medical knowledge and expertise that is never referenced in any way) he was able to determine that the fatal wounds were caused by the man's own goblin glider.

5 Film Franchises Based on One Character's Stupid Decision

"I dragged the glider upstairs and plunged it into your father's stab holes. It was an exact fit."

It's enough to cure Harry's vengeance-fueled insanity, and he shows up at the last minute to save Peter's life. But we have to ask, why the hell didn't the butler mention any of this before?

Seriously, what possible reason could there have been for him to keep this from Harry up to that point? He's watched Harry toil away in his father's office soaked in whiskey and revenge for two whole movies, driven mad over a murder that the butler knows never took place. And he knew the whole time. And it's not like he was afraid to say anything reproachful to Harry, because he does, several times. He tosses out his disapproval in passing, saying things like, "Your father only obsessed about his work!" He clearly doesn't enjoy watching Harry waste away -- and yet he says nothing about how his father was an evil man who engineered his own destruction? He didn't make a deathbed promise like Peter did -- he's just an asshole.

You can follow David on Twitter or check him out over at Film School Rejects, where he is a staff writer.

For more things movies tried to slip by us, check out 8 Classic Movies That Got Away With Gaping Plot Holes. Or learn about 12 Classic Movie Moments Made Possible by Abuse and Murder.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out Why ALF is the Most Tragic Fictional Character Ever.

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