We shouldn't expect movies to completely represent reality. Superhero movies don't work too good otherwise, and no one needs to think about how Tom Cruise's hair color hasn't changed since 1986. But even knowing that, it's still sometimes fun to imagine what some science fiction or fantasy settings would look like in the real world.
Completely nuts, it turns out.
Along with space battles, alien creatures, and angst-filled whining, one of the key ingredients of the Star Wars saga is the lightsaber duel. An amalgam of Samurai duels and coke-fueled disco aesthetics, the lightsaber fight is a cultural icon, as evidenced by every child who's ever whacked a sibling with a broomstick while yelling about the Force.
Or (sigh) ... four broomsticks.
While the movies portray lengthy, intense lightsaber duels, real-life lightsaber battles would probably end faster than a prom night's lovemaking. According to a sword-fighting instructor, because of the lightsaber's "incredible cutting ability and instant lethality" fights would be over almost immediately. As soon as someone made a move, they'd either be victorious or leave themselves vulnerable to being laser-sworded to death. The exciting, prolonged fights we see in the movies don't make sense because "you aren't there to injure the weapon." Think about how fast a point is scored in a fencing match. Fights would have way less frantic slashing and a lot more inaction, each fighter trying to mind-fuck their opponent into fractionally dropping their guard.
"I'll never join you ... Also, your shoelace is untied."
Then there's the possibility that the clash of two lightsabers could explode in your goddamn face killing your opponent, also you, and possibly everyone else in the room. If the lightsabers are made of hot plasma contained by magnetic fields, Dr. Martin Archer argues that when two lightsabers collide, huge amounts of hot plasma would be ejected, doing all sorts of vaporization to hands, legs, and faces. This means Han Solo's preference for blasters isn't ignorant -- it's just plain sensible.
The Little Mermaid was Disney's attempt to take a classic story full of murder and sadness, and turn it into a romantic tale about a young woman altering her DNA to be with a dude. Wait. Really? Did Prince Trust Fund even once offer to grow gills to go live underwater with her?
No. No, he did not.
And while Ariel -- the titular undersea creature with big blue eyes, shell bra, and flowing red locks -- has become iconic, that's probably not how she should actually look. Ariel lives in a deep underwater kingdom, far beyond the reach of even James Cameron. But it's cold down there. Based on what we know about other marine mammals, the only way mermaids could survive would be to have lots of blubber, hair, or both. These mammals would also have short appendages to reduce blood flow, meaning Ariel would quite literally be a hairy or obese mermaid with stubby arms, perhaps resembling something not unlike a demented walrus-potato-wig.
"Hey, sailor. Wanna screw?"
Also, because water is denser than air, mermaids would have to have "incredibly powerful voice boxes" in order to speak underwater. Meaning that were Ariel to ever arrive on land, she wouldn't sound sweet and innocent, she would sound like an all-whale version of the Star Wars Cantina Band.
What child didn't watch the original Jurassic Park and dream about visiting a dinosaur sanctuary full of T-rexes, velociraptors, and glistening, bare-chested mathematicians?
And to a kid, the premise even seemed pretty sciency. As that double helix cartoon explained, you simply need to extract DNA from mosquitoes in amber, clone dinosaurs with it, and build a poorly secured park around them. Why couldn't there be a real Jurassic Park? Well, there could be, but there'd be some problems.
It turns out that the science behind Jurassic Park has a few flaws. For one thing, any prehistoric mosquitoes would probably have feasted on more than one species of dinosaur, leading to a park full of Cronenbergian dino-pastiches rather than proper dinosaurs. Secondly, DNA wouldn't last long enough for us to clone dinosaurs.
The googly eyes and Southern accent also turned out to be bullshit.
So what prehistoric animals could we resurrect and stuff inside a theme park? Well, scientists are apparently close to being able to clone a woolly mammoth. And if a hirsute elephant doesn't sound too exciting, ancient DNA expert Beth Shapiro has also suggested the prehistoric short-faced bear could be feasibly cloned. So that's ... rad?
But what about dinosaurs dammit?! Well, the closest we can get might involve mutating chicken DNA. Since we now know that Dr. Alan Grant was right when he discussed how similar birds and dinosaurs are, it's been suggested that scientists could tinker with the genetic traits of a chicken to remake a dinosaur. Suppressing their feathers, giving them back claws, reducing their viciousness a bit, that kind of thing. Meaning that our real-life Jurassic Park wouldn't be full of dinosaurs so much as mutant chickens.
Universal Pictures, KFC
And that we've been picturing the wrong kindly, bearded man as its architect.
We're all familiar with the Mad Max series, the story of a widowed cop in a world that keeps falling apart while he mysteriously gets younger. In its universe, the earth has suffered a full-on nuclear apocalypse. Leaving behind only a smattering of people, punked-out cars, and the power-balladry of Tina Turner.
Interesting how many synthesizers survived the apocalypse.
The latest entry in the franchise, Fury Road, portrays this post-apocalyptic world as a vast, sun-drenched desert where people have to fight for a taste of whatever water gets vomited out of Mount Skullface each day.
"SIP UPON MY BILE, SHITHEADS!"
But this vision of what the earth would look like after a nuclear holocaust is way off. For one thing, the soot released in the stratosphere by a nuclear war would turn the goddamned skies black. Less Mad Max movie, more Evanescence music video. Eventually, the sky would clear, but even that process would take "around 30 years." But in Fury Road, Max is still as fresh-faced as ever.
Even if we say that it has been 30 years since the bombs dropped (and between movies Max visited one of the future wasteland's best plastic surgeons) the world wouldn't be the desert craphole we see in the movie. Water wouldn't be particularly scarce, in fact, nor the world a desert. The nuclear winter would have cooled the planet, if anything. And with all those people dead, groundwater aquifers would have begun replenishing. So a real-life Max would probably be kicking back with a nice glass of well water instead of battling the goth division of Cirque du Soleil.
While the Tobey Maguire-era of films modified Spider-Man's powers to include ejaculating webs from his wrists, thus furthering its rather icky metaphorical underpinnings, the comics and more recent movies show that Peter Parker actually crafted mechanical web-shooters -- devices on his wrist that contain what is essentially super-strong silly string, allowing him to swing from building to building.
Buckle Up: We're about to get deep into the weeds of a fight between two equally stupid ideas.
But how could Spider-Man keep canisters of a such an amazingly strong material coiled around his wrist like one of Johnny Depp's dumb bracelets? What would that look like in real life? Even the toy version appears to be about as convenient as strapping a mag light to your wrist.
Giving these things to teen boys stirs up all sorts of troubling imagery.
Worse is the problem of ammo. Wired did some math and figured out how big Spidey's web-shooters would have to be if he had about 50 uses of his web-shooters. It turned out to be about the equivalent of strapping eight or nine soft drink cans to your wrist. So not exactly the sleek, skin-tight devices of the comic.
Wrist ejaculate seems so much tidier now.
Warp engines are the faster-than-light travel devices used in the Star Trek franchise, powered by, well, let's shorthand them as "magic crystals." Forgiving the fact that the source of this scientific advancement is the same thing new age druids prescribe for serious illnesses, there's another issue around warp speed that would make the Trek universe look even wackier than usual: ghost ships.
CBS Television Distribution
"Set engines to 'OooOOOOoooOOOooo'."
A paper by a physicist at Michigan Technological University theorized that if a spaceship left earth, traveled at five times the speed of light to a planet around ten light-years away and then returned, a whole bunch of ghost images of that ship would appear, even years apart. Now, this isn't entirely outside of the Trek canon -- Captain Picard once used a sudden burst of warp speed to create just such a ghost ship to confuse his enemies. This, of course, became known as the "Picard Maneuver."
CBS Television Distribution
Another, less heralded "Picard Maneuver" was done entirely in the bedroom.
According to The Physics Of Star Trek, this phenomenon would make the universe an "interesting and barely navigable one, full of ghost images of objects that long ago arrived where they were going." Somehow the writers never got around to explaining which crystal the Federation used to stop that problem.
Who among us hasn't dreamt of living in Harry Potter's secret Wizarding World? What's that? Healthy, well-adjusted people? What are you even doing here? Go away.
But for the rest of us sweaty, wand-clutching Potter fans, it turns out we may have been idealizing a world which would really be gross as hell. Why? Owls.
Yes, you, you swivel-necked fucks.
For some reason, the wizard community's primary form of correspondence isn't by phone or email, it's by owl. Now, one of the less-celebrated aspects of phone calls and emails is that they don't shit all over the place. Owls do, and now you see the issue. And it's not just poop. Owls also occasionally throw up pellets of fur and bone. And worse, once a day they empty their "ceca" intestinal sacs, yielding a foul smelling substance that's a bit like the devil's own chocolate pudding. Oh, and researchers have also found that some owls use their feces to mark their territory.
Basically, owls are gross as crap. And the majestic, awe-inspiring turrets of Hogwarts would, in reality, be encrusted in a thick layer of well-scented crap. Probably a good thing books are a scent-free medium then, huh?
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check out Why The Scariest Sci-Fi Robot Uprising Has Already Begun, and other videos you won't see on the site!
Follow us on Facebook, and let's be best friends forever.
Imagine being trapped aboard the doomed Titanic on an icy Atlantic. . . with the walking dead. Check out Chris Pauls and Matt Solomon's Deck Z: The Titanic.
Instagram influencers are often absurd.
A good horror story is hard to pull off.
All commercials are a least a little weird.
These actions stars were so bad at being badass, they were just ass.