Why does a robot need to sit?
A good movie villain needs to be ruthless, evil, and above all, powerful. It's simply not as inspiring if we watch our heavily muscled, steely eyed hero beat the ever-loving shit out of an 11-year-old asthmatic. But that often brings up a problem: If the villain really is that powerful, how exactly can our heroes beat them? Sometimes it's with muscles. Sometimes it's with brains. Other times it's with bad writing. Here are a few examples of screenwriters conveniently brushing aside the villain's abilities for the sake of narrative convenience.
Ultron is a powerful AI-turned-robot-overlord inside an invincible shell. And since he can hack anything and jump into any system, he's basically impossible to get rid of. He has all the powers of the world's best robot and all the tenacity of the internet's dumbest meme.
And yet the Avengers take down this limitless digital enemy with ... punching. Wait, shouldn't "software" be able to stand up to a really well-aimed arrow, or even the best-thrown shield? If Ultron had remembered to use even 10 percent of his powers, he could have wiped out the Avengers at the start of Act II. See, his first move is to take over the Iron Legion -- Tony Stark's army of autonomous Iron Man suits. He also destroys Jarvis, Iron Man's state-of-the-art AI system. So later, when Ultron is straight-up fighting Iron Man in his suit -- which Jarvis was shown to have full control of -- why doesn't Ultron ... you know, hack him too? In any other movie, a rogue AI is an immediate global apocalypse. In Avengers: Age Of Ultron, it's a snarky robot ... making a town float into the sky?
Did he scour the internet for evil plan suggestions and pick the most sarcastic one?
When they finally "kill" Ultron, it's mentioned that Vision has blocked him from the web so he can't send his consciousness out. But during his town-floating rampage, he had access to countless storage spaces on which to upload a copy of himself. Saving your work is something a 60-year-old divorcee learns on their first day of typing class; one would imagine the smartest thing on the planet could manage that level of redundancy. For a guy who loved bragging about being everywhere and limitless, it seems like he's quite limited, and pretty much ... right there.
Loki is the main villain in two of the most popular films in the history of man, so you're probably familiar with him. He's the Norse god of mischief, a being who mostly uses his magic powers to trick and manipulate the world around him. Since he's a wizard, a god, and a comic book character, those powers consist of "whatever we feel like making up at the time." But he always has one base power: illusions.
Here's the problem: For the entirety of his film career, Loki forgets about his illusions the moment he's around someone who can kick his ass. Which is unfortunate, because with enough scheming and foresight -- you know, two traits he's supposed to have -- it's an all but unbeatable super power. Iron Man shoots a volley of rockets at Loki, but oh no! It wasn't actually Loki at all, but an innocent hot dog cart. Loki's really over there. Black Widow is on it: She combat leaps onto his face, only to realize seconds later that she's sexily wrapping her legs around a furious beehive. The point is that with half a brain, Loki could use his illusions to turn every battle against the Avengers into a series of hilarious Wile E. Coyote accidents.
To his credit, there was one brief moment in which Loki remembered he could conjure holograms, and it worked perfectly. Here is that brilliant move in its entirety:
Loki could disguise himself as the president and sign an executive order for stricter bow and arrow control -- that takes care of like 15 percent of the Avengers right there. He could turn public opinion against the group by disguising himself as Jenny McCarthy and telling America's stupid that gamma rays cause autism. And if Hulk gets pissed off at that, at the very least, he could hide on the other side of the room instead of doing this:
Apocalypse is Batman's utility belt in mutant form. He has every fucking power. He can annihilate his foes 70 different ways -- 71 if he's not wearing pants at the time. Maybe he crushes you into a ball with his mind, or maybe he makes you his psychic slave. Or you know what? Fuck you, buddy, you're getting decapitated with ... sand powers?
20th Century Fox
And yet he somehow forgets all of them in time for the final battle. The X-Men fly in to stop him, and instead of waving his hand and turning their bones into hot sauce or something, he sends his four horsemen in to load up the film's 20th unskippable video game cutscene. It's almost like Apocalypse didn't care about taking over the world at all, and only wanted to create jobs for Eastern European visual effects artists.
20th Century Fox
Apologists might insist that he only wanted to kill inferior humans, and was therefore trying to take the X-Men alive -- but he had so many ways to do that, too. The movie showed him sinking people into the ground, trapping them in walls with his limitless sand powers, or -- and they made a big deal of this -- enslaving them with his mind. Where was that? If Apocalypse visited a local kindergarten and asked for foolproof ideas on how his powers could beat the X-Men, the children would all die of old age before they ran out of suggestions.
In the comics, Doomsday was a violent rage monster who managed to kill Superman. This mainly happened because Superman forgot about all of his powers and went toe-to-toe with him in a street fight. In order for Doomsday to win that fight, a man with flight, heat vision, freezing breath, super speed, super ventriloquism, and friggin' time travel had to consciously decide to punch a monster covered in spikes. Well, in Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice, those tables are turned.
In the film, our heroes beat Doomsday by having Wonder Woman hold him with her unbreakable lasso while Superman rams a kryptonite spear into his chest. It would be a great plan at any other time -- "Hold him down while I stab him" is a timeless classic -- but in the movie, Doomsday's face shoots lasers like crazy. Why wasn't he shooting Wonder Woman, Superman, and that stupid spear with lethal eye beams? Or hell, why was he even there? Did Spider-Man 3 teach us nothing about cramming too many villains into a movie?
Earlier in the movie, Doomsday's heat vision utterly wrecks Superman while he's both well-rested and specifically trying not to get wrecked by it. While he's dying, carrying a kryptonite spear, it probably would have carved him in half. I mean, look at the power of this goddamn Doomsday heat vision:
And there he is playing tug-of-war with Wonder Woman, never once thinking: "HOW KILL WOMAN? OH YEAH, FACE SHOOT ATOMIC DEATH."
Dormammu, an all-powerful cosmic being that consumes entire universes, is the final villain in the latest Marvel movie, Dr. Strange. He's painted as a timeless, invincible force of evil that gives his followers great power and eternal life, with the stipulation that their eye makeup will always run. Dormammu is basically unbeatable, even by the loosey-goosey rules of a comic book sorcerer movie. And yet Dr. Strange finds a way, all with a simple trick. It works like this:
Dormammu is timeless -- not just immortal, but literally without time. He never touches the stuff. Dr. Strange has a magical artifact that allows him to manipulate time. You see where this is going. Dr. Strange locks both himself and Dormammu in a time loop, and refuses to end it until the latter promises to leave Earth alone. Sure, Dormammu could kill Dr. Strange over and over and over -- and he does! -- but that grasshopper-faced Cumberbitch keeps coming back to life. And all through the loop, both parties carry their awareness forward. It's Groundhog Day rules.
Now remember, Dormammu is a dark dimension where time has no meaning. He hates time, and though he has complete mastery over Strange -- and slaughters him in like a dozen different ways across the loops -- Dormammu still gives in almost immediately. But with infinite time loops available to him, shouldn't Dormammu have tried taking the time gem? You know, the thing Dr. Strange SHOWED HIM AND BRAGGED ABOUT HAVING during one of the very first loops? Dormammu is like a parent dealing with a toddler who won't finish his dinner, only he starts his side of the argument with "My cosmic schemes have been undone! I curse you from the void, Refuser of Vegetables!" and then runs away forever.
When he's not writing articles, M.A.N. spends his time penning fiction novels and screenplays. You can check out his books, Blade Forged In Darkness and He Who Leads. You can also follow him on Twitter @WarWithWordsEFN, contact him at email@example.com, and visit his site at http://www.warwithwords.com.
For more ways bad writing solved everything, read 5 Characters Who Ignore Powers That Solve All Their Problems and 6 Characters Who Forget They Have Powers That Solve The Plot.
And be sure to check out 9 Types Of Coworkers To Make You Want Your Head To Explode, and let us know about other headsplosion-worthy employees we may have missed.
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