We all love our villains, the inevitable bad guys at the center of pretty much every action/adventure story. They force the intrepid hero into situations that make them question their very status as a hero. Put simply, villains are just fun. They can be complicated and nuanced, hinting at a darker side to humanity that many of us would rather deny. They can force us to confront issues that we’d otherwise ignore. They can sometimes even steal the spotlight, becoming a far more intriguing character than the main hero.
And then there are the times when they’re just stupid.
Here are five of those times.
1. Blofeld and other classic Bond villains
Come on…you knew this one was going to be on here.
Ernst Stavro Blofeld is the most classic of movie villains. He is pretty much the one who kick-started the “volcano lair” trope that future spy parodies in movies and television alike would constantly make fun of. But for all his genius in running an entire global crime syndicate, one has to wonder if he’s really all he’s cracked up to be. I mean he captures Bond more than once, but instead of simply killing him Blofeld places him into situations where he has plenty of time to figure out an escape plan. Even in Spectre, the new Bond movie, this happens. It makes a little more sense in that one (considering his whole “daddy loved you more than me” motivation), but it’s still a bit absurd. And then even after Bond escapes and proves that he is too dangerous to kill with some elaborate scheme, Blofeld goes and tries it yet again.
And this is not unique to Blofeld either. Most of the classic Bond villains are much the same way. For example, Goldfinger (from Goldfinger…surprise surprise) straps Bond to a metal slab and uses a very VERY slowly moving laser to cut him in half. He gets points for using a plan that Bond has no conceivable way out of, but his plan still fails. Bond yells out the name of his top-secret plan, which then somehow convinces him to spare his life.
Pride…the villain’s greatest downfall for some reason.
2. Aliens in giant monster movies (often known as “Kaiju” films)
So I am not an avid watcher of giant monster movies, but I know a little bit about the aliens in some of them. And man, are they lazy.
Basically a familiar plot trope in these movies is that a race of aliens shows up to Earth and wants to conquer/destroy it. So they beam down some skyscraper-sized monster to wreak havoc, which then usually attracts the attention of the resident giant monster of the planet who’s all like “hey…that’s MY gig!” So the two then fight in an epic melee and the Earth-based creature typically wins out, proving that humans are…super lucky I guess?
But here’s the thing: if the aliens are so advanced that they can tame/capture a giant monster, fly it through the vast distance of space, and literally teleport it down onto Earth…why can’t they just destroy everything themselves?
I mean, really guys, if you have the capacity for faster-than-light space travel (which I am assuming they do), then it stands to reason that your weapons are far superior to anything Earth can offer in opposition. Why go for the long-winded plan that has a great chance for failure? Did you not know that Earth had a giant monster on it already or something? Or is your entire culture devoted to just sending giant monsters at each other and seeing who wins?
Seriously…who outsources their work anymore?
You know, the blue guy that shows up at the end of pretty much every modern Marvel movie. He’s all imposing and menacing, but he’s done absolutely nothing but let others do his dirty work for him. Come on man, get off your butt and do something for once!
Freaking lazy space…god or whatever.
4. Aliens (War of the Worlds)
You know I have to say…aliens are really bad at this whole “invading Earth” thing.
If you’ve never seen any of the War of the Worlds movies or read the book, I’ll sum the plot up for you. Aliens invade Earth. Aliens try to conquer Earth. Aliens are defeated by germs, which makes a very interesting philosophical point about humanity’s place in the world.
Now, it’s a very good story (again, one of the classics), but how does an advanced species capable of interstellar travel NOT think to test for deadly germs before landing on a planet? In the original story, it’s somewhat forgivable, as the aliens are shot through giant cannons from Mars and land on Earth as meteors essentially. But in the more recent version (starring Tom Cruise), instead of being from Mars the aliens’ origin is left a mystery. Not only that, but the movie changes things so that the aliens buried their tripod machines on Earth before humanity had even evolved, implying that they were merely waiting until we got all nice and overpopulated before they came in to harvest us. So that begs the question, how did they not know about the super-fatal germs?!
“So we’re totally going to invade this planet and like, harvest their people for energy and food and stuff!”
“Shouldn’t we maybe, like, check for germs or something first?”
“Nah, we’ve been planning this for thousands of years! It’ll be fine!”
“But shouldn’t we take just a little bit more time to-”
“Stop asking questions!”
Now maybe it could be written off as the germs simply didn’t exist until humans came about (which is very probable, considering the ever-shifting nature of our planet’s ecosystems), but that still doesn’t explain their lack of planning in that regard.
Movie aliens man…they really suck at doing things.
5. General Shepherd (Modern Warfare 2)
Ooh…are you ready for this one? This is a fun one.
About a year ago I wrote a long-winded story analysis of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Basically, the game is nothing short of ridiculous. It’s one of those sequels that tries to up the ante far too much, creating a completely insane laundry list of action scenarios that have no impact or meaning.
But this is about the villains. With that said, let’s talk about General Shepherd.
General Shepherd is a character introduced to you in the opening cutscene of the game. He is initially one of the good guys and the one who brings one of the main characters into the fold of a secret CIA task force. That character dies almost immediately during an attack on a Russian airport because the Russian terrorists he was embedded with knew who he was. And it’s vaguely implied that Shepherd somehow set all that up. Because, you see, he was the one behind pretty much everything that happens in the game.
And his motivation is pretty much absolute insanity.
So you see, in the first Modern Warfare, a really bad thing happened. One of the characters you play as rescues a crashed helicopter pilot stranded in the middle of some generic Middle Eastern city, surrounded by bloodthirsty terrorists. You rescue her, then bring her back to your helicopter and begin to extract. But then, a nuke goes off, which takes out your helicopter and renders all your efforts to save that pilot useless. You are then forced to play as that character as they miraculously survive the crash and are left to stumble around the city as a nuclear cloud of dust and ash swirls all about them. The character then keels over and dies.
It’s a fun time.
General Shepherd calls back to this scene, telling the heroes of the game that he lost so many soldiers “in the blink of an eye.” He uses this as his reasoning for masterminding all the events that take place over Modern Warfare 2. And what are those events you might ask?
Starting World War 3. Nope, not even kidding.
To be more specific, his motivation is that he lost soldiers in that nuke back in the first game, so he wanted more soldiers. So to get more soldiers to replace the soldiers he lost, he triggers a chain of events that start a massive global conflict that will undoubtedly kill far more soldiers than the ones that died in that singular event.
Seriously dude, why don’t you just start a massive propaganda campaign or increase the recruitment drive? I mean if your sole motivation is to recruit more soldiers, why would you start an event that in the end will get far more of them killed? I don’t know if this even classifies as lazy because it’s so absurdly convoluted. The amount of hoops he has to jump through to get all of this to work is insane. First, he has to select a soldier to recruit into this CIA task force for the sole purpose of getting killed. Then, he has to assume that the Russians, once they discover this dead American agent on their sole, will immediately get bat-shit crazy and instead of trying diplomacy go right out and invade the eastern seaboard of the United States. Then he has to play dumb and go along with everything Task Force 141 is doing while covering his tracks along the way (which inevitably involves murdering the entire task force, with the exception of two people who then foil all his plans).
Lazy? Maybe not. Inept? Oh most definitely. There were so many other ways he could have alleviated the problem he saw, but apparently he looked at all those other plans and was like “nah, these aren’t bat-shit crazy enough”.
Because what would a villain be without a crazy master scheme that has a high probability of failure?
Well that’s all I have for this post. Check back next Wednesday for another post, and as always, have a wonderful week.
Note: I did realize as I was writing this that my two-year anniversary of starting this blog has come and gone. I thought about making another reflection post, but I didn’t think I’d have that much to say. Honestly the past year just flew by for me. So if you’ve stuck around for this long, thanks so much for reading. I hope you have a wonderful day, a wonderful week, and a wonderful life in general.