6 Actors Who Survived Superman-Killing Stuff
The most common superhero power is some form of invulnerability so that every issue of Spider-Man and Superman won't end with a cosplayer getting pummeled to near death by burglars. Being bulletproof really allows you to not sweat the small stuff and focus on bigger issues, like a giant death ray being pointed at city hall or a man that can fucking control metal.
But just because we regular humans can't take hundreds of rounds to the torso or fall off a building without putting our internal organs on street display, it doesn't mean that, in history, there aren't people who have survived things that would annihilate a regular, hapless mortal. And some of these people happen to be the stars of films where a majority of the characters could all get together to laugh about the ineffectiveness of bombs on their skin. You might call it irony, but I prefer to think of it as "secret method acting."
Commissioner Gordon Fell Down an Elevator Shaft
The Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher Batman films are not kind to Commissioner Gordon. He is useless before Batman even shows up, and his ineptitude is amplified infinitely by being in proximity to a guy with a rocket car and little fetish-shaped boomerangs. I can only dream of having the fortitude required to wake up every morning in a neon-lit city that has deemed police irrelevant, while still thinking, "Maybe I could be of help today." As someone who went to school with the idea of perhaps getting a job in print journalism, I totally feel you, commissioner.
Pat Hingle plays Commissioner Gordon in this series, and while he is most known for his tenure in Gotham's incompetent law enforcement, he'd had a long career as a dependable actor, whose body of work comprised Broadway and film. His actual body was also found to be dependably resilient in 1960, when he discovered that the elevator in his apartment building had become stuck between the second and third floors, with him still inside. While myself getting stuck in that situation would probably result in tears and a YouTube video entitled "Skinny guy stuck in elevator screams for help and pees," Hingle decided that it wasn't up to elevators or gravity to decide when he would be able to reach his stop, and he tried to climb out onto the second floor.
"Hey, buddy, while you're at it, can you press the 'Mock Fate' button for me?"
The one undependable part of Hingle's entire being was his balance, because he slipped and fell 54 feet to the bottom of the elevator shaft. This led to the creation of my sole Batman fan script, in which Commissioner Gordon accidentally kills the inventor of the elevator's parents and their lonely young son swears revenge. I call it Batman: Freefall, and I will never have a wife.
Hingle fractured his skull, wrist, hip, and a majority of his left ribs. His left leg was broken in three places, and his left hand's little finger attempted to escape the scene of the accident. If you need a visual, watch this Mortal Kombat compilation, which will explain more than any doctor ever could.
For two weeks, it was unclear whether Hingle would survive, but, to the complete indifference of the population of Batman Returns, he did, though it took him over a year to recover completely. Considering that Burton regarded Batman comics as these weird, lying hand towels when he made his films, he should've just added the elevator fall into Gordon's backstory and given Hingle a monologue where he pleads to Batman for the opportunity to fight just a little petty crime after all he's suffered through.
Lex Luthor Was Eight Decades Old and Was Hit by a Truck
If a scowl could become sentient, the robot that it would pilot would look just like Gene Hackman. The one constant in the last five decades of tumultuous movie history has been Hackman's stone-face, and if anyone was going to be granted the power to see age coming and be able to wave it away, it would be him. He will outlive the sun.
Decrepitude slowly creeps up as we get older, meaning that right now is the prime time for me and the people my age to be hit by cars if we're trying to experience that sort of thing. Hackman looked death in the face and said, "I'm not interested," before he went bike riding on Jan. 13, 2012. For you superstitious folk, that was indeed a Friday, but Hackman hasn't relied on chance since Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. He was 81 years old and not wearing a helmet when a pickup truck hit his rear tire. At that age, not wearing a helmet while doing even small tasks like eating marshmallows is classified as "death wish" behavior ... but not if you're Gene Hackman.
"Make it quick, I'm tired. I've been busting rocks all day with my head."
Since I didn't start this entry by telling you all the things that we should warmly remember Hackman for, you can safely assume that getting launched off of his bike didn't kill him. He was rushed to the hospital, which is expected, since the ER is usually the climax of any octogenarian's trip outside, but he was released after a few hours and some tests, with only minor injuries. One can assume that the names of those tests were, in medical terms, "How in the Fuck Is He Not Really, Really Dead?"
Regardless of the adamantium that lines Hackman's skeleton, it's evident that fate stepped in for the star of Welcome to Mooseport. He would go on to slap a homeless man later that year, because when you're 81 years old and easily surviving collisions with vehicles, neither God nor man is in any position to stop you from doing whatever you've set your mind to.
"Yep, I'm a dick. The fuck are you going to do about it?"
Cars Hate Lois Lane
Margot Kidder's bouts with bipolar disorder have been well-documented, because nothing is more hilarious than a person struggling with serious issues that they can't seem to control. After one massive manic episode in 1996, she ended up vanishing for four days. She was discovered in a backyard after having sheltered in a cardboard box that belonged to a homeless man. She was missing the caps in her teeth. It was a long road to recovery for Kidder, and this wasn't helped by the two car crashes she was in, one of which left her partially paralyzed.
The first crash had the worst outcome. Since none of Lex Luthor's schemes involved kidnapping Lois Lane to teach her the proper way to deflect a collapsing chassis, the resulting medical bills left her bankrupt, and the injuries kept her unable to work for two years. In the entertainment industry, being unable to work for more than a week usually means hoping that your hometown has some jobs available at the local sewage mine. This did nothing for Kidder's depression, which mounted into what I'm sure made for a riveting MadTV sketch in the mid-'90s.
Gaze into her depression and rejoice, Internet!
Kidder had to heal from her crash the old-fashioned way -- through a mix of intense therapy and hoping that she wasn't indebted to anything supernatural. And though she'd go on to regain a normal life and have a modest career, the automobile industry's vendetta against her and her safety didn't cool. In 2002, while driving in rainy Maine, her car flipped three times and would've continued to flip down a ravine if not for hitting a utility pole, marking the first time that anyone has ever been thankful that they flipped three times and only hit a pole. She went to the hospital in critical condition and was able to recuperate, but after all that she had experienced, this was just something to sigh about.
Hellboy Doesn't Give a Shit About Trains
If you're writing a movie and don't have a role that would fit Ron Perlman, you're doing it wrong. With the type of face that develops nine months after cinder-block sex and a way of pronouncing vowels that sounds like he's trying to woo grizzlies, Perlman is the most versatile actor in Hollywood. At 58, he was the oldest man to ever play a major superhero, and I predict at 200 he'll be the oldest man to thwart a bank heist using nothing but headbutts.
During a chase scene in Hellboy, Perlman was required to jump onto a train, which he describes nonchalantly in an interview, as if his main mode of transportation is just the hood of the first car that doesn't have a chance to swerve. He says: "I usually timed it so I hit the train before the train hit me." He acknowledges the scenario as if he is in one big duel with the world. If Perlman told you how he made his breakfast in the morning, it would probably sound like an inmate's story about surviving a delicious prison shanking.
Pictured: Perlman smoking a cigar made out of "some family."
During one take, he mistimed the jump and ended up with a broken rib for the mistake. He attempted to continue the scene, but one of the crew noticed tears rolling down Perlman's face and the director cut. This is all according to Perlman. His admitting that he cried when this happened was probably a ploy to lure the train into a false sense of comfort.
Aside from the reveal of humanity from the world's most reliable walking Easter Island resident, the most terrifying detail to come from the story is Perlman's health self-evaluation. If someone breaks a rib, it's usually due to the most important event that will happen to them that month. Perlman's response to an interviewer's seemingly caring question about bone-splitting? "Yes, but it was just one rib. I have lots more," which is something that he probably tells producers whenever he hears a rumor that he's being passed over for a role. And since Perlman has the Atlas Shrugged of IMDb pages, it's a wonder that all of his auditions aren't just him daring casting directors to punch his chest as hard as they can.
Aunt May Survived a Plane Crash
The new Amazing Spider-Man series, with a mentality dedicated single-mindedly to replicating the success of the Marvel family's favorite brother (the Marvel Cinematic Universe), has managed to throw every idea that they can come up with at the wall, without pausing for long enough to see if any stick. Sony has already announced a possible Amazing Spider-Man 3 and Amazing Spider-Man 4, along with spinoffs for the Sinister Six, Black Cat, and even Aunt May, and none of them rank above the others when it comes to the likelihood of ever being fucking made. If I had my way, we'd get the Aunt May prequel, because the idea of Sally Field's character as the focus of her own Batman Begins is my favorite idea in the entire world, just because it has the gall to exist.
One would think that destiny would see how adorable Field is and refrain from ever putting her through something worse than a role in Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, a film about a group that goes back to the giant, wrecked ship to retrieve all the hidden plutonium on it. Beyond follows the The Ring 2 school of filmmaking, where you add ludicrous details to the plot of a sequel to negate the importance of the original film. But that was just the beginning of the crescendo, as destiny cares naught for Field's impossible charm and decided to put her and her family in a plane crash that involved multiple planes. "Go big or go home," destiny boasted proudly.
"Dear fate: blow me. Sincerely, Sally Field."
In 1988, a plane containing Field, her likability, her husband, her baby son, and her mother, lost control and veered from the runway during takeoff. Because an "Oh, shit" reaction from anyone who would ever hear of this wasn't enough, her plane ran into two other planes, one after the other. That means that her plane had managed to gain so much deadly forward momentum that a second plane wasn't enough to stop it. It would take a third plane to step in and say, "OK, enough with this foolishness," for Field's plane to take its rightful place in not destroying the lives and property of everyone involved.
Compared with what could have happened when it comes to bodily harm and plane crashes (all of the harm that can conceivably happen), the fact that Field escaped with "bruised ribs and a wrenched back" is miraculous. It's due to this example of luck that, if we don't see a scene of her throwing up her fists and saying, "Ninjas again?" in Aunt May: Genesis, I'll be inconsolably disappointed.
Puny Brain Tumor No Stop Hulk
When Elton John sang "How wonderful life is while you're in the world," he was referring directly to Mark Ruffalo. I've never met Ruffalo, but he joins Ethan Hawke in the exclusive "Guys Who Would Probably Be Pretty Friendly at a Barbecue" club. And he also saved us from having anyone else on Earth play Bruce Banner after Edward Norton quit/was kicked out/was amicably replaced/whatever he most recently decided to tell entertainment magazines was the reason that he's just too fucking special now to be paid $3 million every two years to grunt and act troubled. The easiest way to go about casting Bruce Banner is to find the skinniest guy with the best resume. Thus, Ruffalo single-handedly saved us from what probably would have been Adrien Brody's moist-eyed, nasally interpretation of the Hulk.
"You wouldn't like me when I'm ... actually, let's just leave it at that."
Being an actor requires a drastic amount of facial use. It's hard to find a role that doesn't require any eyebrow, nose, or mouth movement, and if there are any available, one of the Baldwin brothers has already called dibs. That's why, in 2002, Ruffalo panicked when he was told that, after a surgery to remove a benign brain tumor (acoustic neuroma), the paralysis he suffered on the left side of his face had no solid date for healing. Before it was dug out, the tumor had grown to be as large as a walnut, and for those of you that are unfamiliar with the size of the average human head, Ron Perlman, that is a fairly big piece of nasty cell mass to be crammed in there with the rest of the skull's important shit.
The tumor was removed in an operation that threatened his facial and auditory nerves, and it could not have occurred at a worse time, even worse than the standard "learning that you have a tumor" time. Ruffalo's son had recently been born, and the tremendous effects of both the tumor and the surgery left Ruffalo in shambles, unable to take care of himself or his child properly. It took him six months to regain movement in his face and longer to regain the morale to continue acting, but considering his career today, I think it's safe to say that he's definitely improved a tad. For a person who plays a man that turns into an unstoppable green giant whenever he gets emotional, the finish to this is extremely fitting. Bruce Banner would react to a tumor in the same way that Ruffalo did: by simply not putting up with that kind of nonsense, and smashing through it.
Daniel lives inside the giant skull of Ron Perlman. He only communicates through Twitter.
For more from Daniel, check out 5 Famous Actors Who Play the Same Role in Every Commercial. And then check out 23 Tiny Changes That Would Improve Famous Superhero Movies.
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