Failures of imagination

Last night C and I watched video (partly to celebrate her birthday): A Hong Kong martial arts film, The Heroic Trio, and an hour-long animated film about the origin of the Justice League.

In the latter, there is a scene where Flash is asked to provide a distraction to the Martian tripods while other superheroes attack their main base. He taunts the tripods and throws a rock at one of them. We clearly see the rock describe an arc through the air and bang off one of them.

This is Flash. He can move faster than light! It would be trivial for him to throw that rock at the speed of a high-velocity bullet, or a meteorite, either blasting a huge hole in the tripod or cleaning severing one of its limbs. The writers weren’t thinking about the physical reality; they were just asking for pretty pictures . . .

As Larry Niven used to say, Think It Through.

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Often when I’m watching television or a movie, I encounter a situation where I’m unsure whether the writers were just daft (and overlooked something that is obvious to me) or whether something was written as such intentionally (e.g. Flash specifically threw the rock at a normal speed for a reason).

I experience a slightly different problem when I’m watching a “who dunnit” police procedure show; I’m never sure if the guest-of-the-week is just bad at acting or if their character is bad at lying.

Ah, the Columbo glass eye query.

This is why I always enjoy taskmaster. People’s logic is always faulty when it comes the time to evaluate it.

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In this particular case I’m highly confident that the writers didn’t think about the physics, rather than having thought through the implications of a rock travelling at 11 kilometers per second and decided not to go there.

It depends; if The Flash threw a rock at supersonic speeds, it may not have been noticed and may not have been as taunting as throwing a rock at normal speeds.

It depends on The Flash’s motives.

I don’t think his foes would fail to notice a meteor, what with the sonic boom and the intense heat. And while taunting might get their attention, crippling one of their tripods would be sure to do so.


I think it would have been funnier if the Flash dashed and tapped the enemies shoulders to disappear again, several times… but probably the rock throwing was cheaper.

Never underestimate the budget challenges…