Threshold of Disbelief

I mentioned over in this thread that Iron Man 3 underwhelmed me, due to broken physics.

For those who have not seen that movie, I’ll briefly summarize my issue: the Bad Guys have some kind of super-serum/genetic enhancement that lets them superheat their bodies (or a specific part of it) to the point that they can slice though steel with their bare hands like a white-hot chainsaw through room temperature butter.

Yet they suffer no wardrobe damage; no one and nothing within mere feet (dozens of feet!) of them also suffer no heat-related injuries or damage. No fire-suppression system/sprinklers go off.

Now, when you think about most sci-fi offerings, this may seem a silly point to get hung up on. I mean, if you consider the Hulk, where does all that mass suddenly come from when Banner “Hulks Out?” Or the guy with a cybernetic arm that can lift a car one-handed, and disregards the fact that the rest of his organic body cannot support that kind of load?

Years ago, when I worked industrial scales, one of our customers was a steel recycling plant, with melt cradles just like a foundry. I know what molten metals, particularly steel, feels like (from a safe distance, natch). So when I see heat-related powers with no convection-related effects, I go, “Nope; nuh-uh, ain’t buying it.” And at that point, that movie is “broken” for me.

Ray guns/blasters/phasers? Ok. Hyper/warp/jump drives? No prob.

Really hot stuff, with no collateral heat-effects? Ain’t buying it.
So: what’s your Threshold of Disbelief?

ForIron Man my threshold is already passed with rocket shoes.

Iron Man is basically wearing a nuclear reactor in his chest, so I let him get away with the rocket shoes and repellor rays. After all, I give Astro Boy the same break.

My Threshold? Mice that can talk. Fuck you, Mickey.

There are many, although I can suspend disbelief for the sake of a good movie. Nearby explosions that don’t hurt the hero because, you know, he ducked. Automatic weapons that never run out of ammo. Trained assassins who can’t hit the hero because, hey, he moved, goddamnit! Silliness like when Iron Fist (or whatever his name is) punches a vault door off its hinges with only the power of his puny white arm behind it.

Mine is pretty low, but I have more fun ridiculing this stuff than it’s annoying anyways.

Glad I’m not the only one who counts bullets. Like Snake’s gun in Escape From New York that apparently is the world’s only 80-shot+ revolver.

Standard stuff like “enhance image,” “hacking” passwords one digit/letter at a time, massive collateral damage that nobody seems to care about or is ever held responsible for, people using terminology completely wrong (DEFCON 5 = peacetime, not the highest state of alert), large groups of enemies versus one person that patiently wait their turn to fight one-on-one, magic apocalypse-proof closets (or refrigerators :rolleyes:), basic scientific inaccuracies, I will scoff out loud at all of these and more.

You ever want to see a movie that gets pretty much everything wrong? Find a movie from 2017 called Geostorm; I watched it this summer on a flight back from Germany and I was laughing my ass off the entire time. Seriously, it’s like nobody who had anything to do with that piece of shit ever even looked up the words “science” or “physics” in the dictionary.

Based on genre, I can suspend my belief to an infinite degree. Unless the scene is supposed to take place somewhere I am familiar with. Then we have problems. Talking raccoons, sentient trees, cassette tapes that haven’t jammed in 30 years I can handle. Martin Riggs chasing a bad guy on foot in the Valley turning a corner and suddenly being on Sunset Blvd. will have me shaking my head for the rest of the movie. Trite, I know.

I can put up with a lot of bullshit if the writing is good. But if I’m not engaged in the story due to post poor writing, then even the smallest of nits I will pick.

I don’t believe anything I see in the movies, so the OP’s question is kind of moot for me. Nevertheless…

Ant-Man was annoying because the hero retains his weight and strength when miniaturized…yet Michael Douglas has no problem carrying a miniaturized tank on a key chain.
Diamonds are Forever contains a continuity error during the car chase.

At the 3:44 mark, the Mustang goes up on two wheels on the driver’s side. Yet when it comes out of the alley at the 4 minute mark, it is up on the passenger side. The editor apparently thought the disorienting shot inside the car at 3:57 would explain how this happened without any external force acting on the vehicle.
Still, nothing beats Starcrash: “Imperial battleship…halt the flow of time!” And the green ray proves that time was halted.

I do this with my green ray all the time.

I give CBMs and Fantasy movies with “Sci-Fi elements” wide, WIDE leeway.

As long as it gives me the sense of being drawn into a universe where such things are possible, I can forgive much.

The basic explanations in the Marvel Universe from the “Official History of the Marvel Universe” of which I own several volumes are

  1. Cosmic energy
  2. Another dimension

Where does the mass come from, or go to, when Banner becomes the thousand pound Hulk, or Ant-Man shrinks down? Another dimension. Cosmic energy is never defined, but it is what the Silver Surfer shoots out of his hands when he fires his energy bolts. Etc.

My problem with Iron Man is, what are “repulsor rays”? Is that anti-gravity? TOHotMU explains them as some kind of charged particles. The whole question of why Iron Man can knock a truck backward with a blast without suffering a reaction that pushes him in the opposite direction isn’t addressed. My fan wank explanation is that they are monopolar gravitons - they only pull in one direction, and anti-gravitons push in the same way. Yes, I know it violates the laws of physics. So does time travel and faster-than-light. But that I can deal with. Go figure.

Now, how does Mr. Fantastic’s circulatory system deliver blood to his extremities when he is stretched out 500 yards? Why hasn’t Quicksilver worn his feet away to nubs by running so fast? Where does the heat go when Iceman freezes over?

If the movie is good enough, I just don’t ask. If it isn’t, sometimes I amuse myself by asking if his arms and legs are the only things Mr. Fantastic can extend.


It always depends, like my pappy used to say, on whose bull is being gored.

My threshold is helicopters. Take the scene in Die Another Day when Bond drops the 600N out the back and tries to start it and all the warning lights start flashing. Well, I know what every one of those lights is, and not only don’t they flash, they aren’t relevant to the current situation of starting the aircraft. I doubt their transmission chip detector is really indicating a failure, or that the inlet filter clogged light just picked that minute to light. Nor is the battery too hot.

Also, take the scene in Broken Arrow where the helicopter gets hit with an EMP, and all the lights start flashing and the craft spins wildly and then EXPLODES?. You know what would happen to the flying characteristics of most helis if the got hit with EMP? NOTHING! They have mechanical or hydraulic flight controls, which are not affected by EMP.

Speaking of lack of wardrobe malfunction in superhero movies, there’s the climax of X-Men United. Phoenix is disintegrating everything around her, and Wolverine is the only one who can stop her: His regeneration is keeping up with the disintegration long enough for him to get within claw range. His clothes, of course, don’t have a healing factor, and so we, the audience, get to see Hugh Jackman without a shirt… except that his jeans are apparently made out of an adamantium weave, because they’re left unscathed. And this is made all the worse by the fact that Phoenix is basically a raw manifestation of Jean Gray’s id, and she’s clearly sexually attracted to Wolverine: She should be actively trying to rip his pants off, even if she weren’t disintegrating, well, everything.

Another one, that often shows up in superhero movies, is “If they can do that, why don’t they do that all the time?”. For instance, in Wonder Woman, we see her powers (or at least, her confidence and awareness of her powers) developing over time. And that’s fine… right up until the end, when she goes full-on goddess in the fight against Ares. And even that would be OK, if she were just in that one movie, but then years later she also shows up in Batman v. Superman and Justice League and as many Wonder Woman sequels as Warner Brothers can pump out in perpetuity. So why not just start every fight that way?

The flip side, which I really appreciate when I see it, is when someone comes up with something new that really ought to completely change the world… and it does, and the artists turn the work into an exploration of just what that ability means for society.

Physics things will irritate me for a few minutes while I adjust to the tone of the movie, then I’m usually ok. Although, Fast & Furious 8 shocked me into disbelief even toward the end. But it’s like, whatever. Just a movie.

But what REALLY pisses me off is that goddamned Wilhelm Scream. Most egregious usage of which is in every single Lord of the Rings (Peter Jackson) movie. Bopping along with my whole head deep in Middle Earth and then, “AAAAaagh!” summons Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker, All the Transformers, a legion of Pixar characters… Pulls me right out of the movie. I mean, if the director thinks the film is enough of a joke to survive that distracting multiversal howl, why should I take the film seriously? It’s fucking insulting.

I get annoyed at a lot of the errors in physics but the one I remember as “I’m done watching this.” was a TV miniseries where in the beginning scene everyone around the world, Los Angeles, New York, London and Moscow, see the Moon at night get hit by an asteroid at the same time.

Shodan @#10 re: repulsor rays: Old Doc Huer invented non-reactive repulsor rays back in the 1930s (Okay, the 2430s) in the original Buck Rogers comic strip.

The Evil Mongols had already developed ordinary repulsor rays, which they installed in the hulls of their giant airships to keep them aloft. But Doc Huer with the first to come up with a repeller that didn’t carry a backlash, against the laws of Newtonian physics.

If Doc Huer could do it, I accept it. Early Buck Rogers is the BEST. Also, I want a “jumping belt.”

One of my pet peeves is someone glancing into a ordinary light microscope and visuallly identifying chemicals–for a recent example, in the pilot episode of the Charmed reboot, Sciency Witch looks at a demon tissue sample under a microscope and declares that the cell membrane contains hydrogen peroxide.

In “X-Men: Days of Future Past”, I don’t mind Quicksilver running around super-fast, but that doesn’t mean that he can move some other guy’s arm super-fast without snapping it off!

Yes, I know, it’s the Speed Force, er…I mean, some kind of mutant power field…

I will never be able to unknow this now. :(:o

This might be my biggest annoyance with fantasy/sci-fi genres overall.

I give it more a pass in comic books. You have different writers with different imaginings usually attempt to stay in a continuity that has lasted for decades. But movies and TV you have a handful of movies/episodes and far less writers shackled with far less overhead. Keep what the characters can do consistent, damn it! We could go on and on and on about the inconsistency of weight in Ant-Man (not to mention the speed and stamina of those ants). Either lampshade size and weight control or be consistent.

I love superhero fare, but the big “lifting things” often gets me, such as when Supergirl lifted a submarine out of the water. Now, I’m not a structural engineer for submarines, so maybe I’m wrong, but I doubt there is any spot on a submarine where two hands could support its entire weight. Tied into this is catching falling objects.

Another one that bothers me is impenetrable car doors and other types of light or moderate cover in gun battles, such as couches. If I can put a hole in the wall with my fist, it won’t stop a bullet.

I’m ok with time-savers (e.g.: always finding the parking spot) or things meant to keep assholes from being assholes (e.g. 555 numbers).

Is it worse than 2012 ? (Link goes to a Dara O’Briain bit about the science in the movie)