Sue and the Wheel

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Posted by RazzaTazz (9346 posts) - - Show Bio

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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).

#1 Posted by Delphic (1330 posts) - - Show Bio

@razzatazz: Interesting though I think the nosebleed is more the silly cliche of overexertion in "powers of the mind" causes a nose bleed, rather than the exploitation of a female character. In a weird way you could say that Sue has to actually put thought into her powers where the others just "do".

#2 Posted by RazzaTazz (9346 posts) - - Show Bio

@delphic: I guess so, that is still offensive as the woman gets a nosebleed when she thinks too hard.

#3 Edited by Nerx (15088 posts) - - Show Bio

@razzatazz: thats funny since there is a trope in anime/manga where men/women get nosebleed when looking at perverted/attractive stuff

#4 Posted by Renchamp (2030 posts) - - Show Bio

@delphic: I agree on the mental exertion theory. This occurs in other situations as well, like when someone's mind is fried. Though there is also something to say about how the men on the team have active/aggressive powers while Sue has a more passive power (with some ways to be active or aggressive).

#5 Posted by Delphic (1330 posts) - - Show Bio

@razzatazz: Well maybe it's a little offensive, but there's been far worse. Honestly the high heels and partially unzipped uniform for the sake of showing skin is more exploitative than the nosebleed. (Not to mention this movie and the first one's particular obsession with having Sue appear naked in public.) In the end the nosebleed is is just as you said, comic science. Thinking really hard + heavy object = nosebleed. Like I said it's just effect. Then again perhaps falling to her knees and being out of breath would have been less offensive? If I recall correctly Sue had to hold the London Eye on her own for a while didn't she?

#6 Posted by RazzaTazz (9346 posts) - - Show Bio

@nerx: Oh I have never heard of that, it is interesting, though unrelated I suppose. I guess after mentioning nosebleeds here I am now going to have to blog about that specifically.

#7 Edited by RazzaTazz (9346 posts) - - Show Bio

@delphic: I think Ben was helping her throughout, but she did get a bit of extra weight once Johnny switched powers with Reed. Those go to my other points though.

#8 Posted by Delphic (1330 posts) - - Show Bio

@renchamp: I suppose you could say something about that, but even though Sue has the more "passive" power, she has been my favorite character in the Fantastic Four. I don't read it often, but I always find whatever she's involved with to be more interesting that say Reed Richards. I suppose it's cool to be able to stretch, light yourself on fire and fly, or being a big rock. In the end though, in my opinion I would pick turning invisible and generating force fields over those other powers any day.

#9 Edited by RazzaTazz (9346 posts) - - Show Bio

@delphic: She is considered one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel universe, is she not?

#10 Posted by Delphic (1330 posts) - - Show Bio

@razzatazz: I'm not sure. I know that she is presented as a more motherly figure over all the other women in the Marvel universe.

#11 Posted by RazzaTazz (9346 posts) - - Show Bio

@delphic: If I had to choose a member of the Fantastic Four to try to stop someone like Thor of the Hulk I would choose her.

#12 Posted by RazzaTazz (9346 posts) - - Show Bio

@delphic: If I had to choose a member of the Fantastic Four to try to stop someone like Thor of the Hulk I would choose her.

#13 Posted by Delphic (1330 posts) - - Show Bio

@razzatazz: That's a difficult one for me to choose. It would either be between her or Reed. In the end though you would hope that they wouldn't have to go up against the likes of Thor or Hulk. I love Sue as a character, but I'm worried that Thor or the Hulk would eventually overpower her. I think she could stop them, but it would depend on how she approached the situation, because you've just thrown some heavy hitters at her. It's one of those situations where caution is the better part of valor.

#14 Posted by RazzaTazz (9346 posts) - - Show Bio

@delphic: I meant in terms of power only. If there was prep I might go for Reed.

#15 Edited by Delphic (1330 posts) - - Show Bio

@razzatazz: Well I guess if it was just a random battle then Sue would have the better chance.

#16 Posted by RazzaTazz (9346 posts) - - Show Bio

@delphic: Yes, I just rewatched this scene actually, and there is something else which kind of bothers me about it, anyway, its a missed opportunity.

#18 Edited by Delphic (1330 posts) - - Show Bio
#19 Posted by RazzaTazz (9346 posts) - - Show Bio

@delphic: The drainage of the water out of the Thames. It is unlikely to occur that fast.

#20 Posted by sora_thekey (8105 posts) - - Show Bio

Explination to the nosebleed?... Hehe.

#21 Edited by RazzaTazz (9346 posts) - - Show Bio
#22 Edited by torzone (396 posts) - - Show Bio

I like this topic very much, very detailed and expounding. But, in comics I mostly see character wielding "psionic/psychic" powers have nosebleeds only because the over extension (use of powers) straining so hard that they raise their blood pressure high enough to burst arteries in their nose. Since Sue's powers are considered "psionic" I guess that's why her nose bleeds. And I have seen other male characters like Maxwell Lord, a mind controller in the DC Universe.

#23 Edited by BlueLantern1995 (2448 posts) - - Show Bio

I think the explanation is that her powers are different than the others. Her powers stem from will(as she had said earlier in the movie) while the others' don't. With this logic she uses all her might and the physical strain is literally hurting her will thus allowing her to physically bleed.

#24 Posted by RazzaTazz (9346 posts) - - Show Bio

@torzone: It is kind of different for Maxwell Lord, he gets the nosebleeds as a side effect of the metagene, not because he concentrates too hard.

#25 Edited by torzone (396 posts) - - Show Bio

@bluelantern1995: Right, it was said (in the comics) that her force fields have some mental and physical connection with her. Meaning her force fields are made of psionically and maintained the same way. However, if her force field was to be struck by a powerful object e.g. a car then she would actually feel the impact of the car. the result is called a psionic backlash against Sue herself (in rare cases, sufficiently powerful attacks on her psionic fields can cause her mental or physical pain)

@torzone: It is kind of different for Maxwell Lord, he gets the nosebleeds as a side effect of the metagene, not because he concentrates too hard.

Okay but other characters also include Martian Manhunter, Cable, Magneto (not a telepath, like Sue), Marvel Boy, Nate Grey, gets nosebleeds from concentration (strain) of powers.

#26 Posted by RazzaTazz (9346 posts) - - Show Bio

@torzone: I am not calling you out or anything, just curious when that happened to Magneto?

#27 Posted by torzone (396 posts) - - Show Bio

@razzatazz: It's all good and it wasn't in any of the movies but, when he was attempting to lift an island off of the ground and another time, I don't know the actually issue it was in though.

#28 Posted by Chaos Burn (1755 posts) - - Show Bio

Chronicle, the film in which four boys develop telekinesis, they all experience nosebleeds due to their powers, but not due to over exertion, but a stressful reaction due to their powers. From this and other fiction, I accept that 'mind-based' powers, which require thought to manipulate something, can cause nosebleeds in stressful situations (including exertion of power), regardless of gender

#29 Posted by youmessinwithme (1073 posts) - - Show Bio

it's because her powers are mental and there isn't much other way to show her strain herself if she just has the same dead look on her face everytime she uses her powers no matter the degree, ben gets physically tired and has to strain his body when he pushes his powers because they are strength related, if he got a nose bleed on top of that he would seem pathetic.

#30 Posted by andrew2696 (21 posts) - - Show Bio

Yeah the nosebleed thing is kind of a common representation of overexertion of mental powers I guess. In early previews of the video game BioShock: Infinite one of the main characters has a nosebleed after she opens a portal. This is different than the nosebleeds presented in the final game but at first it was used to show overexertion.

#31 Posted by GREGalicious (464 posts) - - Show Bio

It is my understanding that Sue still feels it when something knocks up against her force fields (it always seemed to work as if she were actually using her own arm to shield herself) so I imagine every time she uses her powers in a telekinetic-type way, it causes her at least a little bit of pain where it doesn't seem to be the case for the others. Sue is very much the most powerful of the four and maybe that tradeoff is experiencing these side effects.

#32 Posted by feargalr (1122 posts) - - Show Bio

I like this post. But I learned a long time ago that you can't even begin to introduce real science to science fiction. As long as a movie/comic/tv show follows the laws that it has set for itself within it's own universe I'm happy.

#33 Posted by RazzaTazz (9346 posts) - - Show Bio

@feargalr: Thanks, I said above though that I was overanalyzing it :)

#34 Edited by thanosrules (546 posts) - - Show Bio

@razzatazz I just had time to read through this entire analysis. Love it.

I also really appreciate that they made her much more powerful than the "June Cleaver" she used to be in the early days.

The pinnacle point for me and how awesome she is was in an issue of FF, where she was threatening Doom with a force field bubble inside his brain. It really made me realize where they could take her character...not to mention the numerous times she has kept her family/team safe from falling debris, lava, etc. In fact, when she went through the lava in one of those issues...awesome.

Anyway, my rambling was a strong divergence from your article, but you got me thinking about this again...which, if anything, is what this is all about!

Thanks for such a detailed look at this one very pivotal (haha) scene.


#35 Posted by RazzaTazz (9346 posts) - - Show Bio
#36 Posted by COBRAMORPH (1405 posts) - - Show Bio

regarding her nose bleed, their powers are all different & have different effects on their bodies. Thing cant turn back into a human. She gets a nosebleed.

#37 Edited by Bruiser (53 posts) - - Show Bio

This is so interesting. I decided to watch both the Fantastic Four films this past weekend, and then I find this!

What you did with explaining these phenomena in scientific terms is excellent. And it was not left at "It's obviously possible", you actually provided something constructive, which is awesome.

#38 Posted by RazzaTazz (9346 posts) - - Show Bio

@bruiser: Oh thanks, that is what I do, critique science while not taking that critique too seriously.

#39 Posted by queenfrost_ (2499 posts) - - Show Bio

I always enjoy your blogs/posts/etc! I agree with all of it, especially the last point about the nosebleed.

#40 Edited by Teerack (4543 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't remember if I posed here before, but to explain the nose bleed thing. Nose bleeds come from a hemorrhaging in your nose or more specifically you sinuses which run thought your your forehead and sense her powers are mental I would image she's get migraines and really bad TMJ witch should be enough to cause a blood vessel to burst in the sinuses, considering she'd putting super human stress on it.

#41 Posted by RazzaTazz (9346 posts) - - Show Bio
#42 Edited by Vitality (1755 posts) - - Show Bio

Nice blog.

However, I don't see how the nosebleed thing is offensive at all.

If anything...this whole scene, nosebleed and all, shows just how non-delicate she is...and that she is definitely the most powerful of them.

#43 Edited by RazzaTazz (9346 posts) - - Show Bio

@vitality: Fair enough, the same thing happened in the first movie as well though. I think it is just a cliche is all.

#44 Edited by Jorgevy (5114 posts) - - Show Bio

@razzatazz: love seeing physics applied to comics or CB movies. since it's comics we can forgive some stuff but other stuff (just like in this case) could be easily dealt with if those movies had scientific teams with them. alas, great blog!

PS: On the nosebleed thing, plenty of people already commented on it but I would also like to join in - I dont think it should be portrayed as offensive to women at all.

whenever I think of mental or psychic based powers, regardless of gender or age or build, I always assume that if that person strains too much he/she will get a nosebleed due to the brain getting cranked up. I actually seen it happen with women and men alike and I think in this case it just shows how powerful Sue really is in comparison to the other team mates; her powers are brutal. Reed is just stretchy

#45 Edited by RazzaTazz (9346 posts) - - Show Bio

@jorgevy: I guess that is true about the nosebleeds, but then it becomes kind of a weird cliche for people with psychic powers.

#46 Posted by Jorgevy (5114 posts) - - Show Bio

@jorgevy: I guess that is true about the nosebleeds, but then it becomes kind of a weird cliche for people with psychic powers.

so true. I guess it might have to do with migraines or headaches, but Im not doctor.

it's also super weird when animé/mangá characters get nosebleeds when they get horny, but it's like super common nowadays

#47 Posted by RazzaTazz (9346 posts) - - Show Bio

@jorgevy: I get the link to mental powers, but it is strange that psychic heroes are the only ones that get side effects from their power usage. Like shouldn't super strong or super fast heroes get a lactic acid buildup from their feats? Probably but no.

#48 Posted by Jorgevy (5114 posts) - - Show Bio

@razzatazz: true. but from what I've seen most super strong or super fast or just physical heroes have less lactic acid build up than regular humans; I think it's one of those "side powers" that people have to help them sustain their powers.some of them refer they have enhanced endurance and stamina and thus don't accumulate that acid or expel it more quickly (isn't it linked to metabolism as well? or am I wrong on this?)

for the mental powers there's really no such thing because there's no biological ground to base it on. the nosebleed, headaches and stuff could have come from the impressions early faux-psychics and freak show mediums made when they were "using" their mental powers. they always seemed to touch their head (which then moved on to comic book telepath) or seemed to strain internally or even struggle with their own mind.

#49 Edited by RazzaTazz (9346 posts) - - Show Bio

@jorgevy: Lactic acid builds up anytime that there is any muscle use. It is a byproduct of the chemical process of using muscles to produce work. Unless heroes defy chemistry and biology in how their muscles work ... the only thing is that their muscles have a much higher threshold before they are being worked to a satifactory limit to make a noticeable acid buildup. Superman picking up a car would be like one of us picking up a grain of rice. Such an action would have to be repeated thousands of times before we felt any effect. Regardless though there should still be some acid buildup. Elite athletes get it when they push themselves to their limits, so should the heroes.

#50 Posted by Jorgevy (5114 posts) - - Show Bio

@razzatazz: IIRC they do build it up but as you said, they have different levels at which they need to do it. also, Im pretty sure I saw somewhere someone explaining some supers had a way to dispose this lactic build up faster than usual, lot faster.

from what I've seen there are two ways to dispose it - through the liver by reconversion into some other stuff I can't remember the name and by cells with lots of oxygen that can oxidate it or something

since supers are way above humans, I'd assume their livers would work much faster and that since they are super they can probably capture much more oxygen and oxygenate their cells much better than we can. so in theory, they could suffer much much less from this than an human right?

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