5 Movies Where Being A Background Character Would Be A Nightmare
In all of drama, the difference between good and evil always depends on the narrator. Even the most virtuous heroes can’t please everyone all the time, and sometimes the people who consider them the biggest pain in the ass might have been hiding just off-camera this whole time. We're talking about folks like …
The Police in Nearly Every Superhero Movie
The cops in every superhero flick have to be frustrated as hell. Imagine them trying to justify their annual budget when some costumed weirdo with god-like powers or a massive arsenal of self-funded weaponry is single-handedly doing their job better than they are. And surely all of those officers are more than a bit salty when said freak gets all the headlines with none of the paperwork, review boards, or accountability. The superheroes may think they’re cleaning up the streets, but it’s the cops who are left sweeping up the mess.
You’d think it would be convenient for the cops when Superman swoops in and drops the criminals at the front door of the police station, right? Legally, it’s much more complicated. These cops still have to investigate the crime scene, which was no doubt contaminated by a being who defies the laws of physics, and they’re holding the suspects with no probable cause other than the word of an alien in blue tights who just flew away before they could question him further.
One prime example of a superhero making the cops’ work way too needlessly complicated is The Dark Knight. When Lau, a key witness against the mob, flees to Hong Kong to avoid extradition, Batman crashes into his office there to kidnap him and sneak him back to Gotham to testify. This was bad news for the mob, but it was way worse for the Gotham Police department, because they are now complicit in the extraordinary rendition of a Chinese citizen on Chinese soil. Major international incident, here. Forget the Joker trying to get to Lau, the GCPD’s greatest threat really should’ve been the U.S. State Department trying to avoid triggering a diplomatic crisis with America’s greatest nuclear rival.
Some movies have used superhero legal accountability as plot points. In Superman Returns, we learn that Lex Luthor was released from prison on a technicality because Superman wasn’t available to testify at his appeal hearing... although in Supe’s defense, it would’ve been hard to get a process server out to the ruins of Krypton. The MCU also threw the Avengers a major bureaucratic curve ball by adopting the Sokovia Accords to keep them in check after the devastation they have caused trying to save the world.
Perhaps the best example of the police’s frustration with superheroes was The Incredibles 2. After the opening bank robbery/battle with the Underminer, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl were berated by two detectives who are correct to point out that the infrastructure was already in place to handle the situation, and that if they had simply done nothing, everything would have gone much smoother. That admonishment was foreshadowing for the rest of the movie, because if the Incredibles had not accepted Winston Deavor’s offer and instead did absolutely nothing, none of the destruction that followed would’ve happened.
The Villagers - Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
France in the 1700’s was a tinderbox of class conflict, with the monarchy taxing the lower classes into poverty and aristocratic landlords making matters even worse by hoarding as much wealth as they could from their subjects. This time in history has since become a cautionary tale for how not to rule over a nation, and has inspired countless classic novels which have spawned a strangely high number of musicals. Apparently, things were so bad in eighteenth century France that the only way to truly get modern generations to care about it was to set it to music.
Not to say that Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was by any stretch of the imagination emblematic of the troubles of that time, but if they didn’t want the comparison, maybe they shouldn’t have set it in the 1750’s. The young Prince at the beginning of the story certainly fits the profile though, by being a mean little brat and refusing to give an old beggar woman shelter from the cold. But surprise! The beggar was actually a powerful enchantress, who cursed the prince and transformed him into a hideous beast, and all of his servants into anthropomorphic versions of the household items they were using at the time.
The villagers had no idea what happened at the palace. All they knew was some freaky stuff was going on there, the place was now shrouded in darkness and surrounded by wolves, and no one wanted to investigate the matter any further because that might remind the Prince to start collecting taxes and enforcing laws again. The villagers had just stumbled ass-backwards into a libertarian wet dream.
Fast forward ten years, and Gaston rallies the villagers to join him in killing the beast that roams the palace, and save the girl he wants to marry in the process. That night, the villagers find themselves fighting a bunch of possessed furniture while Gaston squares off with the Beast on the roof. By the end of the night, they watch as the furniture transforms back into people, and they find out Gaston is dead, there is no beast, that dick of a prince is back, and he just caught them trying to destroy his house. Awkward!
That’s one hell of a way to greet the man who rules over their kingdom. It also doesn’t help that the Prince has chosen a new bride, and it’s the brainy girl with the crazy dad who the villagers have been making fun of in song form every day. But maybe the Prince, Belle and the villagers are able to put all of the weirdness aside and have a happy ending... just as long as you ignore what happens in France after 1789. It's almost like this is a recurring problem in Disney movies!
Insurance Adjusters In Action Movies
It’s really hard to determine which film director or franchise has caused the most headaches for the insurance industry. Insurance adjusters everywhere must watch action movies like veterans watch the beginning of Saving Private Ryan ... it just hits way too close to home. However, it seems there is a threshold for the amount of destruction a movie can have before it crosses over into national emergency bailout territory.
Roland Emmerich has destroyed Earth three and a half times over by now (The Day After Tomorrow’s damage was limited solely to the northern hemisphere). J.J. Abrams has destroyed eight planets over the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises, but there’s no telling if the New Republic and the United Federation of Planets were covered by State Farm.
The Russo Brothers may have set the record for life insurance claims by killing half of all life in the universe in Avengers: Infinity War. There’s no telling how those claims would’ve been handled in a global catastrophe like that, but it is important to point out that all those insurance companies would be well within their rights to ask for their money back after everyone was brought back to life five years later in Endgame. If only the Avengers had waited an extra two years for all of the dusted to be legally declared dead, they would’ve saved a lot of people from financial ruin.
Perhaps the king of explosive fetishists, Michael Bay, has a shot at the title here. A Quora user back in 2016 had calculated Bay’s property damage tab at around $1.3 trillion. $1.1 trillion alone was estimated for Armageddon, with most of that accounting for the damage to New York and the total destruction of Paris and Shanghai. Nearly all of the rest of that total was from the Transformers franchise. This damage definitely would’ve resulted in government bailouts and global humanitarian aid efforts, but maybe after the first two Transformers movies, space robot attacks probably would’ve become its own special policy category, like they have for earthquakes or flooding.
As far as hypothetical insurance claims are concerned, the winner is arguably the Fast and the Furious films, even though apparently the destruction in that franchise became so ridiculous that industry insiders stopped speculating the damage costs after part seven at a total of $514 million. However, the vehicles in these movies are expensive enough that anyone rich enough to afford to own them certainly has enough money to afford to lose them. So, having their policy rates go up from theft or destruction shouldn’t be much of a concern.
Every Coroner On Murder, She Wrote
Murder, She Wrote takes place in Cabot Cove, Maine, and centers around Jessica Fletcher, a former English teacher turned successful mystery author, who has a unique talent for solving mysteries. She also has a special gift of being able to pull a mystery out of her own ass while everyone around her thinks the case is pretty cut and dry.
There were so many dead bodies piling up on that show that there’s a popular fan theory that Fletcher was in fact a serial killer, and her “mysteries” were all a ruse to frame others for her crimes. Over 264 episodes and four TV movies, there were an estimated 286 murders with one thing in common: Jessica Fletcher was nearby, and she was all too eager to help out with the investigation. So, yeah... the theory kinda makes sense.
But even if that fan theory is false, Jessica Fletcher is definitely considered a monster to one particular group: everyone at the Medical Examiner’s office. Imagine going through college, med school, studying your ass off to be certified by the state as an expert in forensic pathology, and working your way up the ranks to become a coroner, only to have your initial autopsy report be called into question by the hunch of an Agatha Christie wannabe with too much time on her hands.
But wait, it gets even more humiliating. Not only did every coroner get shown up by this woman who has no background in criminology other than fantasizing about murder for a living, but then they have to go to court and testify under oath that her theory turned out to be correct. Plus, every defense attorney would have a perfect way to question their credibility by pointing out they were wrong in their initial assessment.
If only CBS had allowed one more TV movie, where Jessica Fletcher was invited to speak at the National Association of Medical Examiners Conference, and in the final scene she takes the stage, the house lights come on full to find the entire crowd is standing before her with baseball bats chanting, “Payback time! Payback time! Payback time!” It would've added a nice survival horror coda to the MurderSheWrote-iverse.
Roger Murtaugh’s Neighbors - Lethal Weapon 1-4
Over the course of four Lethal Weapon movies. Roger Murtaugh’s house has been through absolute hell. And in the context of a buddy cop movie, it makes for exciting action and a couple of good laughs. However, if you were one of his neighbors, you wouldn’t be laughing along.
The climax of the first movie must’ve looked so bizarre from the perspective of Murtaugh’s neighbors. Two cops get gunned down, and their squad car crashes into a fire hydrant. The gunman blasts his way into the house with a machine gun. Murtaugh and Riggs show up, pull the dead cop out of the squad car, jam a night stick on the accelerator and crash the car into the front of the house. A minute later, two guys are karate fighting on the front lawn while a bunch of cops stand around doing nothing. The guy who loses the fight, resists arrest and gets shot to death. This had to be hard to explain to the homeowner’s association.
"Hold up, stop the fight a second; I forgot to put out the recycling."
The next morning would’ve been frustrating for his next door neighbor, too. The broken fire hydrant would need to be fixed, and with the place also being a crime scene, it’d take water crews a while to get to it. Until then, the neighborhood would need to go without water for most of the day. Later, they discover the hydrant leak had oversaturated their lawn, so now they gotta hire someone to aerate the soil and possibly reseed the grass. Good thing Murtaugh’s insurance should cover that.
Now onto Lethal Weapon 2. Two years have passed, and the neighbors are just starting to get over the events of the first movie, then Murtaugh starts building an addition to his house, and his contractor insists on working at night. That’s annoying enough, but then one day, the neighborhood is filled with cop cars, fire trucks, and the freaking bomb squad! The cops order everyone out of the area. There’s a huge blast and a toilet flies out of an upstairs window onto the hood of a station wagon.
As soon as the cops allow all of Murtaugh’s neighbors back into their homes, they all find that the bathroom explosion caused the sewer to violently back up in every drain and toilet within a half mile radius of the blast. At least two dozen homes now have ankle deep sewage in them, everyone in the neighborhood is pissed, and Roger Murtaugh’s insurance agent’s phone starts ringing off the hook again.
Lethal Weapon 3... three years have passed, and Roger’s neighbors are ecstatic to hear that the family has decided to put their house on the market. Finally, a chance to get rid of that menace to the neighborhood! Unfortunately, their real estate agent is this high strung, shifty looking guy named Leo Getz, who looks an awful lot like a guy who was running around the day of the toilet bomb incident.
One thing that’s keeping Murtaugh from selling his house is the discovery of a termite infestation on the property, and the bad news is that Leo Getz character is in charge of hiring the exterminators. He’d better not cheap out on the fumigation, or else those termites are gonna migrate to the surrounding houses!
Oh, but wait! The Murtaughs suddenly announce they have taken their house off the market. The Murtaughs are here to stay. Son of a bitch! (It’s also fun to imagine one of his neighbors decided to escape the neighborhood once and for all, only to find out his new home was in the housing development Riggs and Murtaugh destroyed at the end of the movie.)
Finally, Lethal Weapon 4 saw the day all of the neighbors have been secretly hoping for all these years has arrived: the day Roger Murtaugh’s house burns to the f-ing ground. Yeah, yeah, everyone made it out of the house safely, good for them ... but c’mon, after everything his neighbors have had to endure over the past 11 years, let them enjoy this cleansing fire. If Jet Li hadn’t died at the end of that movie, those neighbors surely would’ve sent him a thank you card.
Top image: Walt Disney Pictures