10 good movies with seriously bad science

Suspend your disbelief.
Suspend your disbelief.

Filmmakers often ask their audience to suspend their disbelief in order to enjoy their movies but sometimes we can’t help but laugh at certain fantastical elements – especially when they relate to science.

From comic book movies to sc-fi, fantasy to horror, there are countless examples of unrealistic scientific reasoning being applied to scenes and sequences that make you question the probability of that actually being able to happen without some sort of injury or death.

A Reddit user started a thread on the subject and numerous people have submitted their favourite science fails to it. Here’s ten of the best.

Black Widow’s human shield

Captain America: Civil War (Disney)
Captain America: Civil War (Disney)

In Captain America: Civil War there’s a scene where Scarlett Johansson’s spy is tossed in the back of an armoured vehicle with two henchman and then Crossbone chucks a grenade inside through a hatch before closing it shut.

Black Widow manages to protect herself from the blast by using one of these henchman as a shield and they are blown out of the back of the vehicle. As one user points out she suffers no harm or even loss of hearing, despite it being a really big explosion in a confined space.

This could be explained away by Stark tech earpieces that prevent hearing damage but as it’s not really explained it does look a little odd.

Indiana Jones and the not-so flammable petroleum

One user pointed out that it’s odd that Indiana Jones doesn’t cause an explosion in the Last Crusade scene were he descends into the Venetian catacombs. “It’s petroleum,” Jones says. “I should sink a well down here and retire.” He then makes a torch, using a rag dipped in the oily water and wrapped around a bone, and lights it but it doesn’t cause the whole place to go up in smoke despite some of the flames falling to the flammable floor.

Later, the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword set the place alight when they put a match to the fluid – so why didn’t it do that when Indy walked through?

Kingsman: The Secret U-bend

THe first Kingsman film has a scene where the trainees must escape their dorm after it fills with water. One Reddit user argues that when they pass a hose through the u-bend of a toilet to get to a pocket of air they should find even more water. Apparently this trick works when a room is filled with smoke but not so much with water as it would fill every pocket and gap, apparently.

Dead Iron Man Walking

In the first Iron Man, after Tony Stark makes his first suit he is able to escape the cave without much harm, apart from having the arc reactor in his chest of course. However, this user argues that this initial suit would not have has inertial dampeners installed so he should have “splattered himself inside his suit.”


When helicopters hover above ground they emit a static discharge that would shock anyone who touches it. This means, as one user points out, the opening scene in Cliffhanger would have gone down a lot differently because Sly Stallone’s character would not have had the correct insulator gloves or protection from the charge to allow him to hang for so long off that helicopter..

Not so Fast and Furious in reverse

This user says that in The Fast and the Furious franchise often you can hear the sound of a car shifting as it accelerates despite it being in reverse. While the motor-loving movies have pushed the boundaries of the gear shift, and just how many gears their cars can shift through, there’s only one reverse gear and it wouldn’t make acceleration noises like if it wasn’t driving front ways.


One of the biggest contradictions in the MCU is that of Ant-Man and his ability to shrink, as this user argues. According to Hank, his Pym particle reduces the space in between molecules to allow the person wearing the suit to shrink, but they retain their strength and mass. This means that Scott (as Ant-Man) would still weigh the same as he would full-size so he wouldn’t be able to ride around on flying ants or run across people’s shoulders without crushing them.

This physics fail could be down to be badly explained then bad science though as in the comics, the Pym particles can affect density and size with dials on the suit so maybe Ant-Man is able to reduce his weight before he gets in any compromising situations.

Period drama

One user spotted a pretty glaring error in the second season of Stranger Things concerning a period table. The poster hanging up in Mr Clarke’s classroom contains elements on it that hadn’t been discovered yet. Those were: Darmstadtium (Ds), Roentgenium (Rg), Copernicium (Cn), Ununtrium (Uut), Flerovium (Fl), Ununpentium (Uup), Livermorium (Lv), Ununseptium (Uus) and Ununoctium (Uuo) which were discovered after 1984 when the show is set.

Mary-Jane’s strong hands

In the first Spider-Man starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, the bridge fight scene with Green Goblin sees MJ able to grab onto the bar of a cable car despite falling at a ridiculous speed. It would be impossible for her to grab it when you take into account her mass, speed and velocity. The same goes for John McClane when he’s falling down that air shaft in Die Hard , as these users point out .

Monty Python’s swallow theory

This kind of doesn’t count as the Holy Grail is fully aware that European swallows wouldn’t be able to carry coconuts to England as they return from migration, but the delivery of this fact is hilarious. As the guard points out to King Arthur, “it’s not a question of where he grips it! It’s a simple question of weight ratios! A five ounce bird could not carry a one pound coconut. Listen. In order to maintain air-speed velocity, a swallow needs to beat its wings forty-three times every second.”

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