4 Badass Fictional Revolutions You Never Realized Are Stupid
I've only been personally involved in four revolutions, which barely places me in the top three of Cracked's experts on the subject. However, since the rest of them are currently training troops for saving from while taking over , and today's column is all about the subject, it has fallen on me to reveal the surprising flaws in famous fictional revolutions. For instance ...
The Hobbits Would Have Kicked Saruman's Ass The Second He Tried to Take Over The Shire
Lord Of The Rings is older than the Internet. Therefore, as long as the Internet has been a thing, people have over-analyzed Lord Of The Rings. I don't think a single site out there has forgotten to mention how butt-breakingly stupid Saruman the White was in his decision to fuel Isengard with wood from the nearby eons-old forest that he must've known was protected by a horde of sentient super-trees who could tear his little kingdom apart at a moment's notice. That's not the beef I have with Saruman today. Besides, I feel the movie version addressed this issue by casting the late great Christopher Lee in the role. Over 98 percent of all ents vouch that "Fuck you, trees, I'm Christopher Lee" is the magic word for them steering the hell out of your case forever.
"You'll play bass on my next heavy metal album."
Yet, Lee-fortified or not, Saruman did get his ass handed to him by a bunch of sentient firewood. The extended edition of The Return Of The King tries to convince us that he died in his crib, too. However, we're wiser, you and I. We've read the books, and know all about the Scouring of the Shire. The depowered Saruman leaves Isengard and heads off to the Shire. He still gets embarrassingly murdered by Brad Dourif, but not before he effortlessly conquers the shit out of the place and makes Bag End his new base of operations.
Which, in all honesty, is fucking ridiculous.
Consider hobbits. Over the course of LOTR and The Hobbit, we meet five of them (Gollum notwithstanding), all rather pointedly as basic as they come. Before the story is over, two of them have dicked around with the most dangerous artifact in the world for a prolonged amount of time. One has killed a giant demigod spider and torn through an orc fortress by himself. One has played a key role in saving the most powerful human kingdom. And one has successfully co-murdered the enemy's unkillable demon general. And that's not even taking into account the whole "saving the world" thing.
Technically the biggest badass in Middle-Earth.
But surely, Bilbo and the Fellowship hobbits were the absolute best the Shire had to offer? Nope! They're all like that. Consider Farmer Maggot, a grumpy agricultural type who was reduced to a bit character in the movies (he's the shivering hobbit pointing the way for the Ringwraiths in Fellowship's "Shire ... Baggins ..." scene). The OG Maggot is a badass. A plain old hobbit farmer who encounters a black rider and basically tells it to fuck off. Then he finds Frodo and his posse and escorts them to relative safety, because he felt he hadn't pissed off the ghostly murder horse guy badly enough. It's worth noting that the rider was offering Maggot money for Frodo's location, and Maggot had a history of animosity with Frodo. He just flipped off one of the most lethal creatures in the whole wide world because he didn't like its attitude.
That is the kind of people a powerless Saruman ran off to conquer with a handful of sorry-ass thugs. Perhaps it's a good thing Peter Jackson decided against filming the sequence -- it would have done no one any good to see Christopher Lee get repeatedly punched in the dick by several hundred grumpy three-footers.
Any Violent Coup In The Harry Potter Universe Would Be Apocalyptic
I like the Harry Potter franchise because it has a truly smart and devious villain. Voldemort's thing is that he's not only super powerful as wizards go, but also unkillable because of the whole horcrux thing he's got going, and a pretty brilliant schemer to boot. He'll quietly build an attack force of half the named characters of the entire series and bide his time. He'll hatch plots that by all logic should kill all their subjects, and most of the time, only the narrative necessity of an if it weren't for those meddling kids card saves the heroes. Even in defeat, Voldemort doesn't mind. He'll spend a semester as a disembodied face in the sweaty turban of a motherfucker, see if he cares.
"This is why I later opted for the no-nose look."
That being said, he's also a goofy-looking noseless baldo foolishly attempting a revolution in a world that would descend into a never-ending (or rather, very quickly ending) whirlwind of madness the second someone would upset the power balance.
Everything in the Harry Potter universe is potentially a lethal weapon which every military of the world could only dream about. Everything. Trees, animals, people, objects. Give the wrong character a sock, and she's suddenly a demigod who can destroy you with a snap of her fingers if she wants. Forget your sorry-ass death curses -- a single Quidditch Golden Snitch could clear out a platoon of men in seconds, not unlike the whistle-arrow Yondu used in Guardians Of The Galaxy. Here's a fun game: Go watch a random Harry Potter movie and take a drink whenever you see an item or character that, with some imagination, could singlehandedly decimate a squad of Marines. You'll be blackout drunk within 20 minutes. An example: Here's Albus Dumbledore, one of the most powerful (and by far the most pacifistic) characters in the series getting fed up with a gaggle of totally-not-zombies.
Huh. That's a pretty powerful spell, and Dumbledore can probably whip it out with relative ease. In Half-Blood Prince, he can clear out a whole cavern, despite being severely weakened. What if shit got real and he'd have to go all-out? At full force, he should be able to throw one of those, what, every few hours? Just give the man one of the infamous time-turners, stick him in a flying car, and toss him off to have a nap and a sandwich before returning to the scene to travel back in time and nonchalantly rain hellfire over the next wave of Death Eaters.
"Wait, I could swear he wasn't holding that Whopper a second ag--Aaaaaaaarrrgh!"
What, the time-turners were all rendered useless during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries? Sure, kid. No one would ever think of mass manufacturing more weapons like that -- and worse -- in a time of high-octane war, consequences be damned. And it's not like they're the only weapon in a wizard arsenal. The contents of the Weasley twins' joke shop alone would be enough to turn the tide of a decent-sized conflict.
But would the wizard world dare to use all the potentially destructive power at their disposal? Fuck yes they would. It took muggle-humanity a couple of world wars to get our technology to a level where we were able to flatten cities, at which point we totally did. That's more or less the starting point in a wizard arms race, and they spend the entire franchise showing that they're all too human in their thoughts and action. So yeah, I'm calling it: The second Voldemort rolled out his Death Eater posse would mark the beginning point of an extremely slippery slope that would end within weeks with, well, this ...
"PLANETORUS DESTROCT-" "Oh, eat a dick, Harry."
... but with more sprinkles and fireworks and shit.
V In V For Vendetta Is Way Too Pedantic To Get His Plan Off The Ground
As fictional attacks against villainous governing bodies go, you can do a lot worse than V For Vendetta. V's incitement of the populace using methodical terrorist attacks and media attention is a fairly clever strategy, and his personal anonymity in favor of his cause creates a powerful, relatable image which eventually leads to a full-on uprising that somehow remains virtually bloodless. (You know, apart from the few hundred or so people V himself probably tore through over the years to get shit done.) It even has some basis in reality: Apart from the obvious Guy Fawkes connotations, the people's uprising in the end and the police not firing into them has similarities to bloodless real-life counterparts, like Ukraine's Orange Revolution.
Sure, there are some peculiarities, like how the hell V managed to set up the whole thing by himself -- explosions, assassinations, TV channel takeovers, acquiring thousands of obvious terrorist masks and sending them out individually. But that's not what we're talking about today. We're going to assume that his determination and seemingly superhuman powers and skills this gave him were more than enough to singlehandedly topple a government in what Wikipedia insists is just ... five fucking years? Okay, right. That's some significant suspension of disbelief, but we'll run with it. After all, it changes nothing. Because in reality, V could have had half a century to turn his plans to reality, and he still would have failed. Because he's a fucking procrastinating pedant.
Exhibit A: The Shadow Gallery, his base of operations.
"Suck it, Batman."
How long would you say it takes to locate a vast cavern like that, let alone secure it and painstakingly fill it with all that gorgeous stuff? Stuff which, remember, is all contraband and thus presumably even harder to steal than it usually would be. But V doesn't care. "I'll just have a free day from plotting the revolution," he thinks as he spends day after day Indiana Jonesing precious works of art and actual fucking suits of armor from government stashes and hauling them to his hideout for precisely no reason besides shits and giggles. Oh, and he stole a few books too:
Somewhere, an underpaid library guard has become very adept at not noticing masked maniacs carrying sacks of books away.
That picture by itself screws up the five-year timeline; it'd take that amount of time just to read through that pile. And it's heavily implied that he has read virtually every book in the world. Even assuming he was already a borderline Batman before his time in Larkhill, how else could a half-crazed, scarred mental patient acquire the necessary knowledge to become a soft-spoken expert in everything from demolitions to rose farming and fucking rapier fencing? I'm not even going into the amount of practice time he'd need for all of those.
See what the guy's doing? He's distracting himself from his main goal -- destruction of the evil pseudo-Nazi regime -- with all sorts of elaborate bullshit that's completely unnecessary to the task. V doesn't need a giant Persian carpet for a hidey-hole that should be completely utilitarian, given his mission and supposed obsession. In fact, he heavily compromises his mission by hauling around 80-pound carpet rolls, probably while fucking subtlety right in the eye socket by wearing his usual attire.
No matter how good he is or how well he executes his plans, that tendency to get distracted, and the constant attention to useless detail he demonstrates, would undermine his mission to the point where the film's events would never really even get a chance to begin. Instead of melodramatically detonating Old Bailey, he'd be off somewhere experimenting with craft microbrewery or tuning the grand piano he somehow managed to carry into his lair without extra help. Passingly, he'd notice that it's Guy Fawkes' Day once again and remind himself to get to the real task ... right after he figures out how to successfully replicate Richard Lenski's evolution experiments with this specific strain of E. coli he just stole from a lab.
And if by some stroke of luck he'd actually get to the point where it's time to send out those thousands of Guy Fawkes masks, good luck to the first people getting them -- they'll be facing the armed cops in a group no stronger than a dozen, as V is lost painstakingly calligraphing the addresses on the next batch in the safety of his lair.
Revolutions In Star Wars Succeed Because Evil Force Users Are Idiots
If there ever was a franchise defined by the concept of revolution, it's Star Wars. The original trilogy was all about toppling an evil empire, the prequels revolve (ha!) around the revolution that created said empire, and The Force Awakens kicks off with a new breed of revolutionary space Nazis which will presumably be toppled by rebels old and new. Bring things down to a planetary scale, and virtually every hunk of rock a named character visits gets invaded (or explodes, which also counts as a change of government, in a sad but very permanent way) at some point during the series.
Another thing that defines Star Wars is, of course, the Force and its users. Which makes sense, because if you replaced every single one of these dumbasses with regular people, things would have been pretty stable for the Galaxy Far, Far Away.
If this guy was a Sith, their average IQ would actually go up a notch.
Maybe it's some weird side effect of midichlorians, but no matter how cunning a revolution-happy Force user seemingly is, the second they embrace their art is the second they start making critical rookie mistakes for their enemies to later exploit. Throughout the first six movies, Palpatine is fucking deadly ... as long as he sticks to his political skills. The vast majority of his successful machinations are non-Force-related, and almost every time he brings the Force is a fucking disaster. Sure, he gets power and a fancy title. But he probably could have done that with just his political and military allies, while keeping his Darths tucked the fuck away -- with the possible exception of Count Dooku (once again, the Christopher Lee factor), whose role is mostly that of a facilitator anyway.
Darth Maul gets one significant kill under his belt before he dies by a rookie mistake. Palpatine himself gets his face melted the moment he goes full Darth Sidious. Anakin Skywalker juggles a whole host of idiot balls of his own throughout the prequels, and when Palpatine finally wins him over, he gets shut inside a robot torture suit instead of being given proper cybernetics the second he sustains significant injuries. Finally, after a couple of decades of presumably relying on political and military might again, Palpatine once again picks up the Force idiot ball and sics this broken, traumatized cyborg fucker on his own son, personally supervising their final encounter and once again blasting into full Force mode himself, managing to get killed and create an Empire-toppling power vacuum in the process.
Apart from a couple of character-establishing shots for Vader in the original movie, every single time a bad guy goes "ooh, Force" in the first six movies, they tend to shoot themselves in the foot somehow. I'm not a betting man, but if I was, I'd wager that if a decidedly more grounded guy, like Grand Moff Tarkin, had been in charge, their supreme command would have focused more on stability and less on a random moisture farmer, and the Empire would still be around.
Dude, I know it's cool to shoot lightning from your fingers, but you'd think you know what your strengths are by now .
And Kylo Ren, with his tantrums and fixations, looks like he's more than prepared to carry the proud tradition. It's all too easy to see General Hux and Captain Phasma desperately insist that the new Starkiller base should be anything, anything but an upscale version of the same old fucking giant death beam with the same old fucking basic vulnerabilities, only to have Kylo and Supreme Leader Snoke bang their fists on the table and go: "No, guys. Got to have that exhaust port. It's not like the Rebels have the best pilot in the universe on their side and a history of disabling our space murder lasers' impenetrable defenses or anything."
If Rey turns to the Dark Side in the next movie, we'll know -- because she'll slip on the rocks in front of Luke and face-plant right into the ocean.
Pauli Poisuo is a Cracked columnist and freelance editor. Here he is on Facebook and Twitter.
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