5 Characters Who Ignore Powers That Solve All Their Problems
Creating a good hero or villain is a tricky balancing act: They need to be tough, otherwise your big final showdown is going to be an eyes-closed grade-school slapfight. But make them too tough and they become boring -- invincibility just lacks drama. The correct solution is to write nuanced characters faced with appropriate moral and physical hurdles to overcome. The incorrect solution is to just give your characters a bunch of sick superpowers that they simply forget to use when the chips are down. Like ...
Batman Gives Himself a Super-Powered Kick, Never Uses It
In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane plots to destroy Gotham City by leading a group of terrorists and giving largely incomprehensible monologues. Batman, being the sort of bat-person who is against the wanton destruction of entire bat-cities, tracks Bane down and confronts him with his equally ridiculous voice. Bane then promptly kicks his ass six ways to Sunday before breaking Batman's back and taking all his toys.
While simultaneously setting up Batman v Phantom of the Opera.
But Wait a Minute
Bane is the anti-Batman. He's low-tech and merciless -- he's studied Batman and his gadgets, and his own pure, natural physical prowess is enough to counter all of Batman's training. But Batman has one secret weapon Bane wouldn't be familiar with: Earlier in the movie we see Batman getting back in shape, which includes him strapping on a high-tech leg brace that lets him kick bricks out of a goddamn wall.
"OH GOD! MY ANKLE!"
This ability would obviously give Batman a huge advantage in any fight -- particularly since it's a new trick and would catch Bane by surprise. Which is obviously why it is never, ever referenced again. What, did he forget to put the brace on before he left for the most important fight of his life? How? It's implied that he needs the brace to effectively do bat-things, like dropkick injustice into a dumpster full of vengeance. Bane and Batman's very first showdown should have ended with Batman cyborg-kicking Bane's genitals up into his cerebellum, then doing the Batusi for the last hour of the film's runtime.
The Sith Could Have Wiped Out the Jedi With the Flick of a Switch
Star Wars Episode III concludes the story of a once beloved icon falling to the dark side, and is also about Anakin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader. The opening scene features a huge space battle between the Republic and the Separatists, who are so evil that they've kidnapped Republican Chancellor Palpatine and forced viewers to listen to like 16 hours of dialogue about trade negotiations.
Anakin and Obi-Wan get inside the ship holding Palpatine, where they're immediately greeted by a bunch of battle droids. The two Jedi easily dispatch the droids, because sending a bunch of wacky metal crickets to fight magical space-knights was never going to work out.
"I died as I lived -- pointless plot filler!"
But Wait a Minute
Anakin and Obi-Wan have telekinetic powers, superhuman agility, and, of course, lightsabers. But the otherwise incompetent droids have one key advantage over the Jedi: They don't need oxygen. On the ground, that weakness is irrelevant -- but this fight takes place in a hangar that already appears to be open to space on one side. Why is there even oxygen in that part of the ship to begin with? It's a hangar run entirely by droids. Do they like the taste?
"We need oxygen, otherwise our armor wouldn't be able to rust."
Not only should it be possible to turn off the flow of oxygen to that part of the ship, it seems impossible for it to be there in the first place. Just flip the switch on your mystical life-giving force field for a second and the rest of the movie is the Sith enjoying a pair of nice, cool Jedi-sicles.
Neo Just Plain Forgets About His Amazing New Powers
Near the end of The Matrix, Neo dies and is brought back to life with the power of love and screenwriting cop-outs. Now Neo can fly, stop bullets with his hands, and, most importantly, climb inside Agent Smith and make him explode. He's a goth Superman.
Or a cyberpunk chestburster.
But Wait a Minute
The Matrix Reloaded kicks off with a fight against three agents, and Neo comments on their "upgrades," which is the movie's way of telling us that his "Instantly win the fight through C++ chest-bursting" move will no longer work. And that's fair, because around the 100th time Keanu Reeves explodes out of somebody's ribcage, you kind of stop enjoying it.
"Windows will now reboot to finish installing upgrades."
But what about his ability to fly? In the above clip, he takes off with so much force that the world ripples. In the third movie, his sheer velocity makes the buildings he flies past fall apart. We're far from kung fu experts, as our pitiful schoolyard fight record could tell you, but wouldn't being able to launch into the air at supersonic speeds and slam back into the Earth with enough force to shatter the ground itself be at least a little bit useful?
"Hey, thanks, not like we just finished pouring a new sidewalk or anything."
But no, all of Neo's newly acquired, game-changing powers get ignored during every fight in favor of slightly more elaborate spin kicks. It's like Neo fights battles with the same rule the Wachowskis use to write scripts -- looking rad is more important than making sense.
The Decepticons Keep Forgetting That They Can Fly
Since we're feeling generous, we'll say that the Transformers movies have something like a plot. The first one mostly revolves around the AllSpark, and after approximately 27 hours of CGI robots slamming into each other, Shia LaBeouf tries to spirit away the techno-MacGuffin by loading it onto a military helicopter. But, alas, this is a Michael Bay movie.
This is just his transition wipe.
But Wait a Minute
You can be forgiven for not being able to tell all the piles of CGI metal apart, but the Autobots and Decepticons did have one key difference: Several of the bad guys could fly, while none of the heroes could. So, yes, loading the AllSpark onto a helicopter would have helped ... the Decepticons. They could have just flown after it, leaving the Autobots to shake their fists in impotent fury.
It's kind of sad that Starscream has the coolest name but is the biggest candy-ass of them all.
In fact, forget the AllSpark. How does the battle even get that far in the first place when one side can fly and the other can't? We see that Megatron can fly with Optimus Prime still attached to him, so why don't the Decepticons just grab their enemies, fly them up a few miles, and drop them to their doom? At the very, very least, they could have taken potshots at the ground-bound Autobots without having to worry about getting punched or tackled, which are pretty much the only things in the Autobot arsenal aside from Optimus' sexy, sexy voice.
Magneto Uses His Powers in the Least Effective Way
In X-Men: The Last Stand, Magneto and his band of merry mutants attempt to destroy the source of a cure for mutations. The laboratory is on Alcatraz Island, so Magneto assembles his troops on the Golden Gate Bridge and uses his ability to manipulate metal to move the whole thing to the island, allowing them access. Why he didn't just drop it on top of the island and destroy everything is, surprisingly, not the point we're going to bring up.
Magneto's contribution to the ensuing fight is to randomly throw flaming cars like over-sized Molotov cocktails. The good guys take cover and, long story short, Magneto is defeated and loses his powers.
Great for a metal video, terrible for a battle plan.
But Wait a Minute
In the previous film, we see Magneto transform tiny amounts of iron injected in a man's bloodstream into bullets, which he then uses to take out a couple of guards.
"I really thought he was going to turn those into doves."
So ... why not do something similar when up against a small army? It's not like metal was scarce -- Magneto was standing on a bridge full of cars. He could have turned them into a billion bullets and fired a hail of death at his enemies. That's if he was feeling sporting. If he wasn't, he could conjure up even smaller pieces of shrapnel and turn them into a steel hurricane that shreds every living thing on the island, all without so much as setting foot on it. You can take cover from a softball-lobbed Volvo, but how do you hide from a thousand tiny flechettes? Maybe that's the problem -- Magneto wanted to show off his abilities but forgot that it's not the size of the scrap, but the motion of the metal.
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For more things writers apparently forgot, check out The 5 Most Maddeningly Unresolved TV Plotlines and 6 Unresolved Cliffhangers That Ruined Great TV Shows.
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