ByMark Newton, writer at
Movie Pilot Associate Editor. Email: [email protected]
Mark Newton

Many film heroes have special abilities and powers which come into their own when adversity rears its ugly head. For The Martian's Mark Watley (played by Matt Damon) it's the ability to "science the shit" out of any situation and come out on top. However, this Mars-bound space-McGuyver isn't the only film hero to favor brains over brawn.

Check out The Martian trailer below:

Here are 8 other science-minded experts who managed to "science the shit" out of a dangerous situation.

1. David Levinson - Independence Day

Science Skills Used: Computer science

As an MIT-trained computer expert and chess enthusiast, Jeff Goldblum's David Levinson was able to conjure up some serious grey matter and show the aliens a thing or two about human ingenuity and C++. Through developing a computer virus - which is bizarrely compatible with the alien mothership - Levinson is able to cripple the entire alien invasion fleet, resulting in their fiery and patriotic demise.

Although the fighter-pilot veteran Thomas Whitmore might save the day in a more traditional sense, we all know it was only made possible thanks to a computer nerd and his Apple Macintosh Powerbook 5300.

2. Ash Williams - Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness

Science Skills Used: Chemistry, Engineering

Sure, Evil Dead's deadite busting hero, Ash, is mostly known for his adept wielding of his "boomstick," but he's also shown incredible ingenuity and scientific know-how throughout the series.

If strapping a chainsaw to your severed right hand isn't enough, Ash also brought the 20th century to the 14th in Army of Darkness. As well as creating a fully-functional prosthetic hand from a gauntlet and a war chariot from his wrecked Oldsmobile, he also uses a chemistry book to create gunpowder for the fight against the undead hordes. Check out his "groovy" moments below:

3. Preacher - Deep Blue Sea

Science Skills Used: Physics/Electronics/Chemistry
Science Skills Used: Physics/Electronics/Chemistry

Obviously, science is what caused the super-intelligent killer sharks in the first place, but some more basic schoolroom science is also what dispatches most of these sea beasts. Dr. Susan McCallister manages to kill one with electricity, standing on her rubber wet suit to prevent her own electrocution, although the Nobel prize for killing sharks with science clearly goes to LL Cool J's Preacher.

Firstly, he uses his chemistry knowledge to explode one of the monstrosities by igniting the gas from a cooker with a lighter, but he doesn't stop there. After shooting the murder-fish with an explosives filled harpoon, he is able to rig up a simple electronic circuit and detonate the harpoon - turning the shark into chum. It might seem a bit basic, but it certainly does the job. Check out the first of his science kills below:

4. Dr. Ellis Cheever - Contagion

Science Skills Used: Medicine

After the Earth is stricken by a new super virus with a high infection and mortality rate, it's down to Dr. Ellis Cheever (played by Laurence Fishburne) and his team of medical experts to develop a cure and prevent total global catastrophe.

Of the movies on this list, Contagion is probably the most scientifically accurate - and therefore terrifying. Director Steven Soderbergh extensively consulted with representatives from the World Health Organization and noted medical experts to ensure the events depicted in the film are as true to life as possible. In the end, this paid off, as many scientists praised its accuracy after its release.

Check out the trailer below:

5. Tony Stark - Iron Man

Science Skills Used: Engineering, Chemistry, Electronics, Physics

When abducted by terrorists and forced to build a powerful new weapon, Tony Stark and fellow captive Yinsen were in a bit of a dilemma. Luckily, the pair were able to "science the shit" out of the situation thanks to the newly developed arc reactor and a determination not to aid the bad guys.

The pair managed to build a bulletproof suit of powered armor, complete with flamethrower, rocket launcher and primitive flight. Not bad considering all they had to work with was some scrap in an Afghani cave. Check out his dramatic escape below:

6. Professor Edward A. Johnston - Timeline

Science Skills Used: Chemistry

Like, Army of Darkness, the quickly forgotten historical sci-fi, Timeline (which stars Billy Connolly, Michael Sheen, Gerard Butler and Paul Walker), also features men from the future finding themselves in Medieval Europe. A team of archaeologists plan to rescue their professor who has stranded himself in the past, but instead they end up becoming embroiled in a war between the English and the French.

Clearly inspired by Mark Twain's classic, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Timeline sees Billy Connelly's Professor Johnston character save his life by agreeing to make a terrible new weapon - Greek fire - for the English. By using his historical and scientific skills, Johnston creates the deadly mixture, winning favor and providing the team with the means to escape. Watch the demonstration of his new weapon below:

7. Lex Murphy - Jurassic Park

Science Skills Used: Computer science

Despite only being a child, Lex is also a competent computer expert - a fact which isn't really mentioned in the film until it's required for the narrative. This means that when velociraptors come knocking at the door, it's down to her to navigate the parks complex computer system and bring all the electronic doors online.

See, maybe kids spending all their time on computers is sometimes a good thing? Remind yourself of the scene below:

8. Erik Selvig - Thor/The Avengers

Science Skills Used: Pretty much all of them

The Avengers unofficial technical expert, Dr. Selvig is one of the few brains on Earth which fully understands the interaction between Earth, Asgard and the myriad other dimensions of the universe. Furthermore, although he helped Loki build the portal device which was later used to attack Earth, Selvig was also forward-thinking enough to include a kill-switch in Loki's staff.

More importantly, however, Erik Selvig helps us - the audience. Often, comic book movies go on incredible flights of fancy which can boggle the minds of anyone even faintly unfamiliar with the comics. When this happens, Selvig is always there to explain to the less well-informed of us what the hell is actually going on.

If you want to see how Matt Damon survives all alone in the surface of Mars, make sure to check out The Martian in theaters on October 2nd.


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