Everyone loves a larger-than-life supervillain plot. With good reason, too – after all, our favourite action-adventure franchises couldn’t function without the outlandish schemes of a bad guy trying to take over (or destroy!) the world. Think about it: where would James Bond be without the wicked designs of a cackling mastermind to foil? And yet, for every fiendishly ingenious plan that makes you marvel at the brilliance of the mind behind it, there’s at least as many out there that make no sense whatsoever.
There’s several reasons why a supervillain’s plot can fail to add-up. Maybe it’s the case that the plot in question is poorly thought out and won’t achieve the villain’s stated goals. Perhaps it’s a scenario where that old killjoy, real-world science, makes the successful execution of a plot impossible, at least as stated. Or it could be that the plan isn’t laid-out very clearly, making it hard to follow how and why it will work.
Whatever the reason may be, the end result is a nefarious scheme that leaves fans scratching their heads and asking, “Wait, what’s going on here?” In recognition of moments such as these, here’s a rundown of 15 Supervillain Plots That Make Absolutely No Sense.
15. Ra’s Al-Ghul’s Microwave Emitter / Fear Gas Combo
Batman Begins is a smart movie, but big bad Ra’s al Ghul’s plot doesn’t exactly stack up. Now, it’s not the actual logic behind the plot that’s at fault. Using the microwave emitter device to vaporize Gotham City’s fear toxin-laced water supply so that its citizens murder each other is both clever and well-orchestrated. Except for one teensy, tiny, little thing: humans are made up of around 70% water.
As churlish as it might seem to invoke actual science in comic book movie, the grounded take on the source material adopted for Begins makes doing so practically unavoidable.To that end, if you were to flick the switch on the emitter, Gothamites are more likely to die from severe dehydration (or worse) before they ever have the chance to inhale the fear toxin.
Of course, Ra’s Al-Ghul would still get the mass murder he longed for – just not the way he wanted it to happen. And considering that Ra’s scheme seems to be as much about its dramatic flair as its purpose – it’s important to him that the world see Gotham tear itself apart – this plan fails to pass the sense test.
14. Goldfinger’s Radioactive Gold Caper
Auric Goldfinger is another baddie with a plan that will almost certainly yield the results he’s after – just not in the way he intended. In Goldfinger, the heavyset criminal mastermind plots to irradiate the gold ingots stored in Fort Knox, making his own radiation-free stash more valuable in the process. Unfortunately, this is another instance where boring real-world science throws a spanner in the works.
See, if you expose gold to the levels of radiation Goldfinger has in mind, it will liquefy – and quickly, too. So while the end result – gold that cannot be handled for decades and is therefore worthless – would be the same, the idea that the gold ingots will be otherwise unaffected is flat-out nonsense.
Admittedly, Goldfinger is unlikely to be all that bothered over what happens to the Fort Knox gold, so long as whatever does happen makes his own supply worth more – but it still bears noting that the plan, as stated, isn’t quite on the mark.
13. Whatever Loki Was Up To In The Avengers
Joss Whedon’s The Avengers is a great film – both a rollicking adventure and the triumph of Marvel Studio’s commitment to building a shared universe. That said, it’s not without its faults, and Loki’s villainous designs are widely regarded as the weakest aspect of an otherwise cracking movie. The major flaw here is that the mechanics of the trickster’s plan are frustratingly vague. You can work them out with a little mental exercise, but nothing is made overly clear in the movie itself.
Basically, it boils down to this: Loki strikes a deal with Thanos, and agrees to swap the Tesseract for the Chitauri hordes in order to conquer Earth. Not exactly the most complicated plot in the history of cinema – so why does Avengers struggle to spell it out more obviously? Possibly, it’s because Thanos is kept to the shadows for the entirety of the film-proper (in order to preserve the impact of his post-credits reveal).
This makes the connection between the events surrounding the Tesseract in New York and the goings-on in deep space rather murky, resulting in a supervillain plot that (on first blush at least) makes little sense.
12. Clu’s Planned Invasion Of The Real World
In Tron: Legacy, we discover that humans can be fully assimilated into the virtual reality world of the Grid. Unsurprisingly, we learn that the reverse is true as well, and digital beings can also make the journey from the computer mainframe to the real world. This is the jumping off point for deranged program Clu’s decision to amass an invasion force to enter our reality and conquer it. Sounds pretty sensible (if not a little extreme) – but is it?
Well, not really, no. Grid technology is undoubtedly powerful (and it’s the very definition of retro cool, aesthetically-speaking) but it’s not actually that intimidating compared to conventional weaponry. Could Light Cycles, Solar Sailors, Identity Discs and the like really stand up to modern armoured vehicles, fighter jets and assault rifles? It’s doubtful.
Even factoring in the existence of other, more impressive offensive weapons and transports, Clu’s army appears to have no nuclear capabilities. So even if the Grid forces gained the upper hand against an alliance of human forces (which would vastly outnumber their own, by the way), they wouldn’t be able to savour their victory for very long before being derezzed.
11. Luthor’s Insanely Convoluted Plot To Kill Superman
Batman v Superman already cops plenty of flack, but even so, it can’t be stressed enough just how ludicrous Lex Luthor’s plan to kill Superman really is. Forget that his motivations are mostly glossed over with a series of pseudo-intellectual observations about god-like figures; the increasingly far-fetched scope of Luthor’s scheme is mind-boggling.
The main problem is that Lex’s many-tiered plan relies so heavily on a combination of incredibly good fortune and other characters behaving in the stupidest possible way. For example, Luthor builds a bomb and – in a stroke of luck akin to winning the Powerball – Superman fails to detect it, despite his superhuman extra-sensory powers. Then Lex manages to manipulate Batman and the Man of Steel into conflict with ridiculous ease, despite the former being the world’s greatest detective and the latter working as an investigative reporter.
And then, of course, Luthor does what he should have done up front when his original plan inevitably comes crashing down: creates a living weapon to destroy Superman in the form of Doomsday. Of course, he’s incapable of controlling said creature and will likely die should our heroes not defeat it, but by this point, that’s the smallest amount of oversight Lex has shown…
10. Carver Kick-Starting War Between The UK And China
For a media mogul, Bond villain Elliot Carver sure doesn’t seem to have a very solid grasp on international politics. His plan in Tomorrow Never Dies to engineer conflict between the United Kingdom and China, so his media empire can benefit from the fall-out, doesn’t add up for a number of reasons.
Part of Carver’s scheme involves the British forces wiping out the Chinese, including their Government, so that a new ruling body can replace them and grant him exclusive broadcasting rights. This assumes that not only is the British military a match for China’s (it almost certainly isn’t), but is actually capable of winning this hypothetical showdown (again, not likely).
Then there are the broader consequences. If Carver can successfully start a war between the UK and China, the UK will call on their allies – including the US – for aid. China would then rope in its own allies, and before you know it, this squabble has evolved into World War III.
9. Doctor Octopus Rebuilding The Fusion Reactor
Even smart people can be guilty of making stupid decisions – especially when they are under the malign influence of an AI-driven prosthesis fused to their body. Such was the case for Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man 2, when he decided to rebuild his fusion reactor completely unaltered even after the previous experiment provided unstable and dangerous.
In fact, Doc Ock doubles-down on the lunacy, declaring that he’s going to construct a new reactor that’s even bigger than before – surely this can only end well? Fortunately, Spidey later manages to convince the good doctor to throw off the mental hoodoo of his mechanical tentacles, but not before fusion reactor 2.0 has nearly destroyed New York City.
This serves as a stark reminder that doing the exact same thing as you did before – especially when the results last time were potentially catastrophic – and expecting a different outcome is indeed the very definition of insanity.
8. Graves Masterminding The Invasion Of South Korea
What is it with Bond villains and their failure to comprehend how global politics work? Gustav Graves is another bad guy who fits squarely in this category, with his rationale behind using a solar-powered weapon in Die Another Day making no sense whatsoever.
For reasons best known to himself, Graves has it in his head that if he can decimate the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, he’ll remove the only barrier between the North taking control of the South. Not only does this seem almost endearingly naive, it’s also a terrible idea. Like a really, really terrible idea.
Just say that the demilitarized zone was the only thing stopping North Korea from invading the South (it isn’t) – the moment that happened, America and its allies would immediately rush to the defense of South Korea. As was the case with Tomorrow Never Dies, this aggression would almost certainly transform into a nuclear war, one which would at the very least see North Korea wiped off the map entirely. Not exactly the glorious victory Gustav had in mind…
7. Voldemort’s Goblet Of Fire Port Key
Part of the fun of the Harry Potter franchise are JK Rowling’s intricate plots, but it has to be said that many of Lord Voldemort’s plans are outrageously, needlessly detailed. Without doubt the most egregious example comes in Goblet of Fire, where Voldemort arranges for the Tri-Wizard Cup to be turned into a teleportation “port key.”
Voldemort then has his undercover operative mentor Harry through the Tri-Wizard Tournament, in the hopes that the Boy Who Lived will win the Cup and be teleported into the Dark Lord’s clutches.
Talk about making life hard for yourself! For starters, it turns out Voldemort doesn’t even need Harry’s blood specifically for the revitalizing ritual he plans to perform on himself (and using his actually proves a hindrance, in the long run). He could have used any wizard who hated him – and that’s a long list – so already he’s on the back foot thanks to his own ego.
Then there’s the fact that if he must insist on using Harry’s blood, why go to all the trouble of rigging the tournament and enchanting the Cup? Wouldn’t it be quicker and easier to place the spell on Harry’s broom or mundane items like a quill or toothbrush?
6. Green Goblin Tries To Recruit Spider-Man
The thing about insane schemes is that they always look crazier from the outside. That’s probably why it made perfect sense to the Green Goblin (who was categorically barking mad) to recruit Spider-Man as part of a plan to take over New York City.
Granted, both he and Spidey are impressive physical specimens, but thinking that two guys – even two guys with superpowers – could rule a city makes no sense. Sure, Goblin is the end product of military experimentation and is backed by state-of-the-art weapons tech. And yes, Spider-Man does whatever a spider can/ But to be frank, even if these two guys did team-up to conquer New York, it’s very unlikely that they would be able to survive a direct confrontation with local law enforcement. Even if they did somehow manage to come out on top that round, they’d next be facing off against the National Guard, which again, the odds of them surviving is slim to none.
5. Riddler’s Use Of The Brainwave Machine
No one would ever accuse Batman Forever of being a particularly intelligent flick. That said, Riddler’s brainwave machine plan is almost unbelievably dumb. The device’s full capabilities are somewhat ill-defined, but it can clearly not only read thoughts, but could also potentially be souped-up to allow for full-blown mind control and manipulation.
At the very least, it could be used for some serious blackmail scams targeting the mega-rich, and at the most, to take charge of the entire country. So of course, Riddler uses it mostly to draw in brainwaves to make himself smarter (somehow), which seems pointless given he’s a genius already. A lot of this comes down to Riddler’s insecurity: whilst outwardly arrogant about his intellect, he’s obsessed with proving himself smarter than Batman.
Similarly, once he’s used the brainwave machine to learn that Wayne and Batman are one and the same – a potentially lucrative discovery – he barely does anything with the information. True, he does break into Wayne Manor and trash the Batcave, but it’s all in service of luring Batman into another battle of wits. Considering he could have sold the information to the criminal underworld (heck, the media!) for an astronomically high figure, maybe Riddler’s not so smart after all!
4. Kaecilius’ Quest For Eternal Life
Immortality is one of those things that most people would be tempted by – who wouldn’t want the chance to live forever? However, the eternal life sought by Kaecilius in Doctor Strange doesn’t seem all that attractive a proposition.
Right off the bat, consider that the source of this power is the Dark Dimension, a nightmarish reality where every moment is spent in unspeakable agony. Hardly somewhere you want to spend an unending lifetime, right?
But maybe more confusing is why Kaecilius would even want to live forever, anyway. The guy has already lost everybody he ever loved. That means that every day for him is a new exercise in heartbreak – why in the world would he want to have an infinite number of days to experience that?
3. Shaw Setting In Motion A Nuclear Holocaust
It’s more than a little disconcerting just how many of these supervillain plots so far have involved potential extinction via nuclear war – yet here’s another one! In X-Men: First Class, Sebastian Shaw is hell-bent on igniting World War III between the US and Russia, hedging his bets that he and his fellow mutants would survive (and even thrive) in a nuclear holocaust.
Shaw’s whole agenda seems to be based around the notion that homo superior are the “children of the atom”, which is a pretty big leap of logic. In reality, there’s nothing to suggest that mutants would be fare any better than regular humans when the bombs started raining down.
Shaw’s plan to shepherd in a nuclear winter could (and almost did!) work – but his reasons for doing so just don’t add up. This just goes to show that when you’re devising a dastardly scheme, you should probably base it on hard, scientific facts rather than on cool-sounding buzzwords designed to sell comics.
2. Doom Wants To Recreate The World In His Image
Doctor Doom’s plan in 2015’s Fantastic Four reboot: after being trapped in a harsh reality called Planet Zero, he goes loopy and decides to kill all humans and merge the Earth with his inhospitable new home.
Now, nothing Doom proposes to do won’t work – the question is more why he’d want to do it in the first place. Setting aside the fact that he’s well and truly lost his marbles, Doom’s actions would see the varied, fertile, and beautiful environment of our world replaced with the barren, hostile landscape of Planet Zero. So that’s a bit of a downgrade in his own quality of life right there.
Then, there’s the whole “destroy all humans” facet of Doom’s plan. Granted he’s not feeling too enamored of the human race after being left for dead on alien soil, but c’mon, doc! Planet Zero has no other intelligent inhabitants to speak of! Annihilate the rest of us and you’ll be on your own for the rest of your pitiful life! Even a crazy, arrogant piece of work like you has got to be asking himself, “Why am I doing this again?”
1. Luthor’s Real Estate Scam
Lex Luthor – back for round two. This time it’s his scheme from Superman Returns, which saw him create a Kryptonite-laced island off the coast of Metropolis, which threatened to destroy North America. The plan here was to charge survivors – and anyone else interested in a serious sea change – exorbitant prices to live on his new continent, making him rich in the process.
This plot is essentially rehash of Luthor’s real estate swindle from the 1978 Superman film. He’s creating a hideous island that could wipe out most of his prospective buyers, the displaced Americans forced to take refuge there. Then there’s the idea that the rest of the world is just going to sit back and let this activity go unpunished.
Yes, he’s made the place lethal to Superman (although even that doesn’t 100% work), but he otherwise brags about having advanced alien weaponry that we never actually see. It seems like Lex might’ve wanted to get those extraterrestrial guns ready to go the moment his island started causing tidal waves off the US coast. The fact he doesn’t suggests he’s in for a rude shock pretty damn soon, courtesy of the US armed forces.
Ultimately, this scheme would make more sense as a bitter revenge plot because as a genuine commercial venture, it makes no sense at all!
What are some other supervillain plots that make absolutely no sense? Let us know in the comments!
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