Sue and the Wheel

I suppose this blog is six years late, but I have a good reason for it being so, mostly that when this movie came out that I didn't blog about comics, nor did Comic Vine have a blog feature (nor I think did CV even exist.) Anyway I was just randomly thinking about this movie last night, and one scene in particular. There is a reason for this that I will get to, but I am going to examine with a scientific perspective a particular scene from this movie. I should state first of all that I know that this is comic book movie science and not real science. I know things like force fields do not exist, but I still like to look at the interface between superpowers and the real world science.

In the movie the Silver Surfer is going to various locations on Earth and making holes in the ground which will allow Galactus to follow along and start consuming whatever it is that he wants to consume (everything). The group end up going to London to try to stop him, but get side tracked when the London Eye almost falls over. The group intervenes and first by Sue with a large force field. This is what I intend to over-analyze.

This is what it looks like
This is what it looks like

The first issue here which should be established is momentum and mass. I will assume that Sue (or Jessica Alba) as a woman in good shape weighs about 55 kilograms, but just for the sake of the arithmetic, I am going to round this down to 50 kilograms. The weight of the London Eye is approximately 2,100,000 kilograms. This means that it is 42000 times heavier than her. In terms of the combined mass therefore, her mass is 0.0024% of the entire system, which is essentially negligible. Why I am setting all of this arithmetic up to start with? Because it leads into my first major point, the second law of motion, that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

No Caption Provided

Sue's ability to hold up the Eye is completely dependent on her own ability to create force fields. Acting within this closed system of her versus the wheel, if her mass had anything to do with the actual manipulation of the system then she would have been crushed instantly. However, she wasn't and therefore it is not. What is a little out of scientific logic therefore is why she is pushed backed from trying to hold the weight.

High heels in a super hero costume - pointless
High heels in a super hero costume - pointless

She is eventually forced back over top of the water where she creates a force field for herself to stand on. Not bad thinking, except as already identified her mass is irrelevant really to the mass of the wheel. If she has enough power left over to create herself a force field to hold herself up, she would have been better standing in place and using the additional energy to strength the falling wheel, but there is something else which would actually useful, only that it is something which she should have already figured out, angular momentum.

No Caption Provided

One of the things that I liked about this movie and the one before it is that Sue Storm was a little bit reimagined. Instead of being the high school graduate superheroine of the 1960s, she was made into a PhD graduate superheroine of the 2000s. I know a thing or two about science myself, but I don't really know a lot about physics (as I keep mentioning whenever I look into science like this.) One of the basic concepts about physics though is that of angular momentum, and it is reasonable that while I know about this with my knowledge of environmental science that it is reasonable that Sue would know about this as well seeing as she has an advanced degree in science. Without going too much into detail about this (because I can't go into detail about things that I don't understand very well), it is a lot easier to rotate something by applying the force to the outside rotating edge as opposed to the inside rotating edge. The analogy of this would be that you have to open a door - it is much easier to open the door by pushing the side farthest away from the hinge as opposed to pushing the other side. So by moving backwards over the water, she is actually giving herself a better vantage to use a force field where it counts the most, at the top of the wheel. Theoretically she would be best placed by standing (on a force field) exactly where the top part of the wheel would hit ground. The London Eye is 135 meters tall and right next to the water, the River Thames is 250 meters wide at the nearby Tower Bridge, so to best utilize her force field she should be standing more than halfway across the river instead of right next to it. I do have one more complaint though, and here it is - the nose bleed.

No Caption Provided

I don't understand why her nose bleeds whenever she has to do something really hard. The other four characters were also using their powers at various times in this movie to their full potential but they never got nose bleeds. It could be attributed to something to do with her powers (like she creates a small force field inside her nasal cavity any time that she uses her power?) I think the proper attribution though is that she gets them because she is female and more delicate. This is not a really fair representation for women, as it implies that when we use our minds to focus that we get nose bleeds whereas men can operate at full capacity without having to produce a bloody kleenex.

That's it for the over analysis (for now).

128 Comments

169 Comments

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RazzaTazz

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@jorgevy: I guess so but that is all speculative, and to get back to the main point, equally a psychic should be able to control their mental faculties enough not to give themselves a headache.

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Dernman

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Edited By Dernman

The first time I became aware of the nose bleed thing when using mental powers was when I watched that 1984 movie Firestarter. The father bleed every time he used his powers. The daughter also bleed but not as much. I believe it was because her power was greater then his and she didn't have to struggle as much. It makes me wonder who started the trend and when did it start.

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RazzaTazz

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@dernman: It would be interesting to figure it out. I am sure someone on the internet has looked it up.

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Jorgevy

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@razzatazz: true it's speculative. but when it comes to mental powers, it's not something natural to them. I've seen psychics overcome the nosebleed; that's when they have attained full control of their powers.

our muscles were made through thousands and thousands of years of evolutive advance, to do what supers do, except at a smaller scale. psychich powers are unnatural so they kinda dont follow the same rules until you dominate them and learn to control them i guess.

sorry if this sounds like a cop out argument, but it's just how I see those mental powers

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RazzaTazz

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@jorgevy: Its not a copout, part of what I do is try to introduce some hard science into science fiction, where sometimes it needs to be left soft. I understand overthinking things as I do it all the time.

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Jorgevy

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@razzatazz: hu hum, it's hard to resist doing that though! some things are just so in our face we can't just stand by a not pick at it

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Edited By RazzaTazz

@jorgevy: Its why I revisited this even though it was six years later.

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Jorgevy

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laflux

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@razzatazz:

You sound strangely accomplished for someone who doesn't know much about Physics >.> <.<

That aside, I'd say that the Physics problems presented by FF rise of the silver surfer were the least of its problems.

As for Jessica Alba and her runny nose, I'd say it a valid point, but I think its more about highlighting the scale of the feats she is performing. And considering that she is the most powerful of the Four, I don't really see that as sexist, but maybe that's just me..........

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Edited By RazzaTazz
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@laflux: Its just what I could dredge up from my memory from high school. Most physics is pretty basic when I discuss it.

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moorebman90

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Well her powers are psionic so this all is right she has the energy other telepaths use for their powers

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DH69

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Over analyzing a terrible movie, and an even worse portayal of a character...but good math.

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RazzaTazz

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Edited By RazzaTazz

@moorebman90: Well powers being psionic is kind of arbitrary as it is fiction after all.

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RazzaTazz

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@dh69: I stated in the OP that I was overanalyzing and additionally that people would tell me even despite my admission, that I was overanalyzing it.

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SpidermanWins

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Edited By SpidermanWins

This a fantastic blog post. Nice

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cfrehse

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sue might wanna show some skin cause she knows she is good looking lol. THe nose bleed thing has been done in the comics several times also.

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kfhrfdu_89_76k

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She used her powers to their highest limits, which exerted her noses blood vessels enough to make her nose bleed. Unlike the rest of the FF, the movie Sue (as you surely know, Sue merely sweats under alot of pressure, in comics) happens to be more sensitive to nosebleeds, like some people are.

That`s how I figure it.

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LordRequiem

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Edited By LordRequiem

Correct indeed. I also don't know why she's fairly useless in these films, whereas in the comics she is clearly stated by Doctor Doom as being easily the most powerful.

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telepathic666

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Edited By telepathic666

I think the nose bleed is more she's the most powerful and her powers put her body under the most strain. and i think the wheel was actually moving the force field and causing her to need to step back.

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FatFriar_16

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@razzatazz: Most comic book psychics get nosebleeds when they're under pressure (both genders included).

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Gracetrack

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I never once thought her nose bleeds occurred due to the fact that she is a woman. Not until this article.

For whatever that's worth.

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RazzaTazz

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Edited By RazzaTazz

@omnicrono: It was just an observation that I had while writing this, not meant to be canon.

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CalebHara

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@razzatazz: Have you seen the movie Chronicle? That is a more recent movie in which guys get nosebleeds every time they stress their telekinetic powers.

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Edited By RazzaTazz

@calebhara: Ok, but her powers are not telekinetic, at least not in the comics.

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Edited By RazzaTazz

@calebhara: Ok, but her powers are not telekinetic, at least not in the comics.

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DocLuthorVonDoom

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@razzatazz: It's an awful movie with tons of glaring flaws, I'm not in disagreement with you. The wheel is one of many of such glaring flaws; although, not the biggest, and I can forgive the dismissal of basic laws of physics, as it is a movie; I mean, I don't object when there's sounds and explosions in space in Star Trek films, or when Bogie's M3 Tank has a pivotal turret in Sahara; I can forgive the minor mistakes and suspend my disbelief if the movie has been, otherwise, entertaining; sadly the FF movies were not.

But at the end of this thing, you lost me. Isn't it more likely that she gets nosebleeds because she has mental based psionic abilities (the others do not) rather then some subversive bit of propaganda to make women look weak? Nosebleeds are a common theme used to show that a telekinetic has pushed their limits, implicating brain hemorrhaging if the powers were pushed further. It's a bit of a hackneyed and over used device by this point, but I hardly think it's sexist.

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RazzaTazz

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Edited By RazzaTazz

@docluthorvondoom: It was not a major point of my post (though it seems to have become one). I think Sue's abilities are not psychic based though.

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DocLuthorVonDoom

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@razzatazz: Well, all their powers are a bit...undefined. From what i understand, Sue's abilities are meant to be psionic in nature, it's seems Johnny's would be too, but his generally seem to be refered to as an extension of will...I couldn't really tell you how these differ; and I'm sure there's tons of examples supporting or denying these claims. But it's not a stretch for me to believe that this is how the creative, (I use the term lightly), team responsible for the movie interpreted Sue's powers, and so they decided to put in some cliches accordingly; I really don't think gender politics played into it, at least not that particular part of the movie.

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warlock360

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@dernman said:

The first time I became aware of the nose bleed thing when using mental powers was when I watched that 1984 movie Firestarter. The father bleed every time he used his powers. The daughter also bleed but not as much. I believe it was because her power was greater then his and she didn't have to struggle as much. It makes me wonder who started the trend and when did it start.

@jorgevy: I guess so but that is all speculative, and to get back to the main point, equally a psychic should be able to control their mental faculties enough not to give themselves a headache.

i suppose it's comparible to the Alpha level Mutant and Omega level mutant line, whereas an Alpha level mutant like Magneto can use his powers to an extreme extant but not without drawbacks (i. e. Magneto with Kitty pride and the comet), and an Omega level mutant like Iceman simply going and going and going without any visible sideeffects.

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Veitha

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Nice blog! As a lot of people stated before, I think that the nosebleed is due to her powers being psionics(her brain cells are able to react to cosmic energy to create this fields if I'm not wrong). Emma Frost bleeds very often too haha

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Edited By drgnx

Maybe there is a hidden agenda from the directer, added in after he had to work with her for a few weeks, her nose bleeds so her "fans" can imagine she just got punched in the face ...

I'm sorry ma'am, I meant to say: 'This coffee is perfect'!
I'm sorry ma'am, I meant to say: 'This coffee is perfect'!

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RazzaTazz

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@drgnx: I am pretty sure that is kind of mean and furthermore not accurate.

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drgnx

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@razzatazz: Maybe, coincidentally, I just finished reading a bunch of articles about how 'nice' she is on set... my opinion might be a little biased at the moment...

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Edited By ThomasElliot

Actually, bringing up the point about the focal point of the 'stoppage', i.e., it would have been easier to stop the wheel by putting the force closer to the top of the wheel:

So wouldn't that mean her force field here is spread out in a cone shape? In other words, if her force field had less of an area and was more like a giant, straight pencil, couldn't the wheel have tumbled over her like a see-saw? So the momentum of the falling wheel would have carried it over her and flipped it? Or even, the wheel would have bent or broke in half at the point it meets her force field?

I'm not trying to pretend to remember anything from science or physics class, just an uninformed assumption.

Love this analysis though. We all know that we suspend belief for sci-fi movies, but its still fun to break it down.