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summer movies 2012

Why Can’t This Summer’s Movie Villains Come Up With a Good Plan?

Villainy may not be easy to pull off, but does it have to be this difficult? We've been blessed with plenty of juicy bad guys during this summer in movies like The Avengers and Snow White and the Huntsman, but their evil schemes all lacked a little something ... and that something is a logical through line. Here at Vulture, we've noticed four summer antagonists whose plans don't quite hold up to close scrutiny. Let's hope they can learn from their mistakes by the time they're resurrected for the sequel. (Spoilers follow, naturally.)

Loki, The Avengers
Part of the pleasure of watching Loki in Thor and The Avengers is that he always seems to be one well-planned step ahead of our heroes ... but once they do catch up to him, Loki's plan doesn't usually hold up. The biggest stumper in The Avengers is Loki's intention once he's captured and brought onboard the Helicarrier: Several of the heroes try to divine why he was so easily apprehended, and it turns out that he wanted to agitate Bruce Banner into Hulking out, which would bring down the entire aircraft, or something. Well, that's one unnecessarily complicated way to do it! Then again, Loki doesn't even seem to have much faith in that plan himself, since he's also called a jet (with backup from Hawkeye) to attack the Helicarrier ... which he himself is still basically trapped on. Why not just stay out of the clutches of the Avengers in the first place, then attack them from afar using the jet? Wouldn't that be a little easier? And then Loki really saps the fun out of the enterprise when it's revealed later in the movie that he doesn't much care about conquering Earth; when it comes to an evil scheme, it's kind of enervating when even your bad guy doesn't really have his heart in it. In fact, maybe Loki was simply running a long con the whole time so that Thor could cuff him and bring him back to Asgard, which is how things end up at the end of The Avengers. Good luck with that one, Thor: Loki's probably got some convoluted plan that you've perfectly played into!

The Witch, Brave
Why does the Witch (voiced by Julie Walters) give Merida a cake that turns her mother into a bear? Just for cruel kicks? The Witch makes no attempts to capitalize on the ensuing chaos in the kingdom, since she takes off for a vacation shortly after that pivotal act, but is she friend or foe? On the one hand, she leaves Merida a helpful answering-service antidote for the bear cake ... and on the other hand, there's an elaborate knife-throwing trap triggered when anyone attempts to enter the cottage to even use that answering service. Make up your mind, lady: Do you want to help the girl out or kill her? If you wanted to help her out, why would you give her such a destructive gift in the first place? And why devise a transforming trick that comes with such suspiciously narrative-bolstering rules (for instance, how could the Witch have known that Merida had a tapestry that needed mending)?

Ravenna, Snow White and the Huntsman
Charlize Theron's evil queen may wear some amazing costumes, but her reign sucks the land of all its fabulousness, which seems like kind of a shame. Ravenna's biggest folly, though, is keeping Snow White alive and imprisoned for so long: Why not simply kill her off, or suck away her youth and beauty as Ravenna does with most other fair maidens? Locking Snow White up in the tower for years and years doesn't do her a bit of good, and of course, as soon as Ravenna finally gets it in her envy-addled head that she should murder the fairest-of-them-all Snow White, that's the day Snow picks to finally bust out of that joint. Bad timing, Queen! As for that sleep-inducing apple ... when you want to off somebody, what's wrong with a straightforward dagger through the heart? It worked on Snow's dad, after all.

David, Prometheus
Michael Fassbender's android character is one of the most intriguing characters to populate Prometheus, thanks to Fassbender's terrific performance, but that doesn't excuse his malevolent, ill-advised motivations. When David poisons Holloway with the black goo, it's hard to figure out where he's coming from: Is he merely spiteful (since Holloway's been kind of a dick), or is he doing some unsolicited research on his human crew? And if it's the latter, well, (a) BAD IDEA, David, and (b) Why does David then seem so blithely unconcerned when Noomi Rapace's character cuts that gestating alien out of her belly and leaves it in the medi-pod? Isn't that the fruit of your experiment, David? Go get that freaking alien ... and please, let us know what exactly you intended to do with it!

This story appeared in the July 9, 2012 issue of New York Magazine.