There’s nothing more frustrating than a great movie with one bad scene. The scene could just be out of place, jarring, or simply ridiculous. In the most extreme cases, a single scene is all it takes to ruin an otherwise good movie. Audiences tend to talk about those scenes rather than the film itself.
Movies are designed to entertain. Now more than ever, there are tons of amazing movies that get released in theaters or on streaming services. While there will always be masterpieces and pop classics onscreen, a single scene can ensure that a film will be immortalized for the wrong reasons.
Updated on May 6, 2023 by Angelo Delos Trinos: Some scenes are a lot more (in)famous than the movie they originated from. Whether in a vacuum or with context, these scenes are so baffling that they arguably overshadowed their entire movie and even outlived them to a degree. This list has been updated to include more questionable scenes that ruined their movie.
15 The ‘Martha’ Moment Just Doesn’t Work
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Ultimate Edition)
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (Ultimate Edition) is a vast improvement over its theatrical release. Here, Batman fought Superman to keep the world safe from someone who he thought could destroy it. Just as Batman went for the kill, Superman begged him to save his mother. This struck a chord with Batman.
Even with the Ultimate Edition’s additions, the infamous “Martha” scene still doesn’t make sense. Batman dropping his murderous vendetta against Superman just because their mothers share the same name is jarring. Not to mention the fact that Batman was easily manipulated by Lex Luthor into fighting Superman in the first place.
14 Talia Al Ghul’s Death Is Perplexing
The Dark Knight Rises
While it didn’t reach the heights of its predecessor, The Dark Knight Rises is a great finale to The Dark Knight Trilogy. In Rises, Batman goes up against Bane and the League of Shadows, both of which are actually being led by Ra’s al Ghul’s cunning daughter, Miranda Tate (aka Talia al Ghul).
Talia’s death is still talked about today for how fake it looks. She died after crashing her truck during a chase with Batman. Marion Cotillard’s delivery of Talia’s last moments were too sudden and the camera should have panned away from her head tilting. It was perplexing that director Christopher Nolan chose this odd take for the final cut.
13 Colin Farrell’s Performance Was Ruined By A Surprise Johnny Depp
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was the first and arguably only successful Harry Potter spin-off. The movie followed Newt Scamander in New York City in the 1920s, where he crossed paths with Percival Graves. The ending twist revealed that the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald was impersonating Graves this whole time.
Viewers felt let down since Colin Farrell played Graves, while Johnny Depp played Grindelwald. Ferrell’s performance was acclaimed, and it turned out that his character didn’t exist. On top of that, Depp only portrayed Grindelwald in the next film and was then recast due to legal troubles. Ferrell should have just played both roles.
12 Darth Vader’s Cry Of Anguish Is Unintentionally Hilarious
Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith
Revenge of the Sith is arguably the best of the Star Wars prequels. Episode III revolveds around Anakin Skywalker’s fall from grace and his rise as Darth Vader. After Anakin is reborn as the feared Sith Lord, he (in)famously lets out a pained “No!” after learning from Emperor Palpatine that Padme died.
This moment took viewers out of the scene. Darth Vader is one of the greatest cinematic villains of all time, and was not a character who had emotional outbursts like this. Fans were even more livid after his “No!” was added to re-releases of Return of the Jedi when Palpatine is thrown into the Death Star’s reactor.
11 Superman Snapped Zod’s Neck
Man of Steel
Man of Steel was a good start for the DCEU, all things considered. Superman’s modernized origin story chronicled Clark Kent’s childhood and early days as Superman, where he fought to protect Earth from General Zod. At the end of their fight, Superman is shockingly forced to snap Zod’s neck to stop him from killing a family with his heat vision.
While it makes sense for Superman to kill Zod, fans were not pleased with the decision. Superman rarely ever kills in the comics. He’s also seen as a leader and role model for other heroes and readers to look up to. No one knew at the time that this was just the first of many polarizing changes the DCEU made to comics canon.
10 Star Wars Never Explained How Emperor Palpatine Survived
Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker
After the divisive The Last Jedi, some fans were overjoyed to hear that Emperor Palpatine was making a return in The Rise of Skywalker. The question on everyone’s mind was how would Palpatine return. After all, Darth Vader threw the irredeemably evil Palpatine to his death at the end of Return of the Jedi
Frustratingly, the Sequel Trilogy’s finale didn’t give any answers. Instead, Episode IX glossed over the Emperor’s return with generalizations, like how the powers from the Dark Side of the Force were “unnatural.” Those looking for a definitive answer as to how Palpatine came back should look anywhere but The Rise of Skywalker.
9 Greedo Shot First
Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope (Special Edition)
Star Wars is a bona fide classic. The amazing film that started it all, A New Hope followed Luke Skywalker as he joined the Rebellion to fight the Empire. Luke made some friends along the way, including the suave but luckless Han Solo. One of the first things the unscrupulous Han does onscreen is shoot Greedo dead. In the original version, at least.
When George Lucas released the Star Wars: Special Editions in 1997, he altered the iconic scene by having Greedo shoot first, arguing that Han fired in self-defense. This change was slammed by fans since they felt it watered down Han’s edge, which coined the pejorative “Han shot first.” The scene is still debated today, in no large part due to Lucas’ later revisions.
8 The Fake Town & “Nuke The Fridge” Stretched Believability
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Audiences were excited to see Harrison Ford return as the swashbuckling archeologist Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 19 years after the last installment. Unfortunately, one scene was so ridiculous that it ruined an otherwise great film.
While escaping the Russians, Indy found himself in an atomic bomb test site made to look like a town. Indy jumped inside a refrigerator and survived. Not only was this impossible in real life, it damaged Indy’s credibility. He did incredible things, but it felt like he survived by the skin of his teeth, not through comical plot armor.
7 The September 11 Twist Comes Out Of Nowhere
The amazing coming-of-age drama Remember Me followed Tyler and Ally as they forged a relationship after a chance meeting despite their separate family tragedies. What everyone remembers about the film, however, is its twist ending. As it turns out, Remember Me ends on September 11, 2001.
Remember Me ends with Tyler looking out of one of the World Trade Center’s windows, just as a plane barrels towards it. Viewers found the tragic ending unearned as it came completely out of left field, while others found it distasteful that the filmmakers used a tragedy like 9/11 as a twist ending.
6 Darwin Somehow Died
X-Men: First Class
X-Men: First Class came out just in time to save the X-Men franchise from complete ridicule. The prequel restored audiences’ faith in the Mutants after the disappointments that were X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. That said, Darwin’s death has made it the subject of intense criticism for years.
Darwin could adapt to anything, meaning he was technically immortal. Despite this, he was killed by Sebastian Shaw. Darwin’s death is especially frustrating because he was one of First Class’ most prominent black characters. It really seemed as if he was killed to obey an outdated trope.
5 Superman’s Time Travel Is Strange & Too Convenient
One of the first live-action superhero movies ever made, Superman starred Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel as he defends Earth and battles Lex Luthor with the help of Lois Lane. Reeve’s performance is still seen as the definitive Superman, but one scene almost ruined everything.
When Lois Lane dies and catastrophic events cascade across America, Superman flies around Earth really fast to rewind time. Superman’s plan works, and he saves Lois and the country. This one plot hole sours an otherwise fantastic movie. Audiences questioned why Superman didn’t just do this all the time, and why it wasn’t foreshadowed at all.
4 Sandy Olson Becomes A Greaser
Even today, Grease is regarded as one of (if not) the best movie musicals and romances ever made. The movie ends with Sandy winning Danny Zuko over by becoming a greaser just like him. In recent years, Grease’s supposedly romantic ending has come under intense fire.
To Grease’s harshest critics, Sandy stopped being true to herself and threw her personality aside just to get a boyfriend. It was also concerning that the arguably more mature Sandy had to stoop down to Danny’s level. Grease is still seen as a classic, but many modern viewers would’ve preferred it if Danny made the change.
3 The Crows Are Racist Caricatures
Dumbo is one of Walt Disney Animation Studio’s irreplaceable classics. Although the film remains a childhood staple for many, Dumbo came under harsh scrutiny in recent years due to the crows’ introduction, as they are racist caricatures of black people.
The crows’ fast and loud mannerisms played into offensive stereotypes of black people at the time. To add insult to injury, the lead crow was originally named “Jim Crow.” The best that could be said about Dumbo’s crows was that they were made in a more ignorant and racist era. The live-action Dumbo solved this by excising them altogether.
2 Cliff Booth Humiliated Bruce Lee
Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood was writer/director Quentin Tarantino’s fantastical love letter to ’60s-era Hollywood and the decade, which is why its depiction of Bruce Lee feels so odd. Here, the legendary martial artist is an arrogant and violent braggart who the fictional stuntman Cliff Booth knocks down a peg.
Lee’s fans and family were understandably offended by his portrayal. They accused Tarantino of racism and hypocrisy, since he previously made his love of martial arts movies and Lee clear. Tarantino defended himself by saying that Lee was reportedly rude on the set of The Green Hornet serials, but this needless jab still ruined an otherwise great period piece.
1 The Ending Stinger Insulted General Audiences
As divisive as it was, Vice came very close to being one of the best satirical biopics ever made. The biopic chronicled controversial ex-vice president Dick Cheney’s life by breaking the fourth wall to tell its commentary directly, but then it went out of its way to insult and condescend audiences in its mid-credits scene.
Here, a detractor and defender of Vice fought while a bystander expressed excitement about the next The Fast and the Furious movie. This was a mean-spirited jab at people who writer/director Adam McKay felt he was better than. McKay’s anger felt misplaced and pretentious, which was exacerbated by his next movie, Don’t Look Up.
NEXT: 15 Oscar-Bait Movies That Bombed With Critics
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