Until Captain America: Civil War turned the topic into an entire plot point, superhero movie audiences were starting to get fussy about the amount of collateral damage inflicted by their heroes. And even though MCU and DCEU releases often fall into the category of movies where the heroes did more harm than good, there are plenty of other offenders that don't follow the same formula. Some of the entries on this list are comedies, some are classics, and more than a handful are summer popcorn movies with the biggest disasters.
Audiences love cheering for the protagonist, but where do we draw the line on suspense of disbelief when an entire building burns down in order for a hero to save a cat stuck in a tree? In addition to all the times a film's protagonists have likely killed off an abundance of people off-screen in their pursuits, the financial cost of the destruction inflicted is almost never factored in to a story's "happy ending." It's time to consider the true cost and list some of the worst offending movies where the price of saving the day just wasn't worth it.
The bank heist in Fast Five was pretty awesome, but, the damage totals and human casualties far outweigh the $100M that was supposedly in that vault. Beyond the dozens of crashed cars, there's no doubt that dragging a 10 ton projectile through the streets of Rio (that crushed multiple cop cars and probably people) is going to cost far more in value than all the cash gained in the robbery.
Outbreak is one hell of a scary ride about an Ebola-like virus called the Motaba virus that finds its way to the United States by way of, wait for it, a monkey. The virus turns people's organs into blood soup in a matter of days, and, the military decided to try and contain the disease by firebombing a small town in Africa and getting ready to bomb an American town of infected citizens.
The film rather glosses over that the US military killed many innocent people and considers bombing their own citizens, especially when it turns out they had a serum the whole time because they created the virus as a bio-weapon.
#28 on The Best Movies of 1995
The brave Jaeger pilots in Pacific Rim have one job: To save the world from alien kaiju. This they do with the help of humongous robots that they man with a neural connection. Usually the huge robots and aliens fight in the ocean, but in the film's end they venture out into Hong Kong and San Francisco. Not to mention as the kaiju get bigger the potential for tsunami grows. There are probably unseen multitudes of Asians and Americans who lost their lives with nary a nod from the heroic pilots.
Sure, it made sense for Officer Jack Traven to try and save the people on board the bomb-rigged bus in Speed, but he put way more people in danger on the way to safety than were even riding on the bus that day. His misplaced heroism involves risking everyone's lives by jumping a freeway with a missing piece of road and barrelling past much slower moving cars to keep the bus at 50 mph - seriously, though, no one would be able to maintain 50 mph during LA's morning rush hour.
Even after the bus retreats to the safety of the airport to do laps and the passengers safely deboard, the bombed bus is sent careening into a large airplane where it detonates, likely resulting in mortal peril for the pilots and crew of the aircraft. The film ends with an LA metro train jumping the track and bursting through the road onto Hollywood Boulevard, the city's biggest site for tourist traffic. Even if no one was hurt, the city would be paying millions to fix the damage. Good job, Jack.
#14 on The Best Movies of 1993
#85 on The Best Rainy Day Movies