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Top 10 Smartest Decisions in Fantasy Movies

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Hannah Collins

Script written by Hannah Collins

These fantasy characters had swords, sorcery, and smarts. From Harry Potter, to Doctor Strange, to Aladdin, these films featured some very quick thinking on the part of the protagonists. WatchMojo ranks the top smartest decision in fantasy movies.

Check out the voting page for this list and add your picks: https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Smartest+Decisions+in+Fantasy+Movies Special Thanks to our user Jeremy Drafall for suggesting this idea!


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Script written by Hannah Collins

Top 10 Smartest Decisions In Fantasy Movies

Now that's some quick thinking! Welcome to and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Smartest Decisions In Fantasy Movies.

For this list, we’ll be choosing the cleverest ways characters in fantasy films deliberately outsmarted their opponents. Because we’ll be discussing the outcome of successful plans, a spoiler warning is in effect from this point on.

#10: The Spartans Use a Narrow Path to Defeat the Persian Army

“300” (2006)

Based on the graphic novel of the same name by Frank Miller, “300” tells the story of the ancient Spartan King Leonidas and his legendary stand against Xerxes I and his invading Persian army. The title refers to the comparatively tiny size of Leonidas’ own Spartan forces, who didn’t seem to have a hope in hell of fending off the Persian’s assault. But, Leonidas had a plan up his sleeve (or would have, if he had sleeves). He situated his soldiers at Thermopylae where a narrow, coastal path would funnel Xerxes’ army, making them easier to pick off. This ingenious military tactic is also straight from history. The male nudity? Not so much.

#9: Jonathan Blends in With the Mob Under Imhotep’s Control

“The Mummy” (1999)

Before there was the dark and gritty Tom Cruise reboot, there were the goofy and fun Brendan Fraser “Mummy” movies. In the first film, Librarian Evie does a fair amount of sleuthing to get to the bottom of Imhotep’s legend, while her brother Jonathan... Well, he’s just along for the ancient swag. But, don’t let his role as the comic relief fool you - Jonathan is smarter than you’d think. When confronted with a brainwashed horde, he’s again able to think fast on his feet, and with a bit of acting and a lot of chanting, manages to blend right in.

#8: Hermione Uses a Mirror to Stop the Basilisk From Killing Her

“Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (2002)

Harry Potter may be the “chosen one,” but it’s clear that he couldn’t have gotten far without the help of his friends. Ron and Hermione both help Harry out of some tight jams during his time at Hogwarts, but it’s usually Hermione who comes up with most of their plans. In “The Chamber of Secrets,” Hermione is the first person to figure out that the thing that has been terrorizing Hogwarts is a Basilisk. Knowing that one look into its eyes would kill, Hermione uses a mirror to avoid direct eye contact with the beast, meaning she escapes death with petrification instead, and still manages to clue Harry and Ron in on her discovery.

#7: Edmund Destroys the White Witch’s Wand

“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” (2005)

While his brother and two sisters are inherently heroic in the first “Chronicles of Narnia” story, middle child Edmund struggles to resist the pull to the dark. At the start of the story, he encounters Jadis, the White Witch of Narnia, and through her kindness he is fooled into believing that her side is the right one. But, when he finally sees through her manipulation, he knows he must redeem himself in the eyes of his siblings. That moment comes during the climactic Battle of Beruna. Facing insurmountable odds against an enemy that outnumbered Aslan’s army, Edmund suddenly turns the tide of battle, not by attacking the Witch, but her source of power: her wand.

#6: Moana Creates a Fake Heart of Te Fiti to Fool Tamatoa

“Moana” (2016)

“Moana” quickly became yet another instant classic for Disney when it was released in 2016. Not only was it filled with memorable music and heartfelt messages, but it introduced us to the most resourceful and resilient Disney Princess yet. Moana may have been an Island Chief’s daughter but, out at sea, she had to work hard to win the trust of the demi-god, Maui. She particularly impressed him when she dived into the “realm of monsters,” and helped Maui escape the claws of the crabby Tamatoa by distracting the monster with a fake heart of Te Fiti made out of a rock and glowing moss. The smarmy Tamatoa was totally fooled by a teenage girl.

#5: Doctor Strange Traps Dormammu in a Time Loop

“Doctor Strange” (2016)

Though “Thor” introduced a touch of magic to the MCU (or should we say, “science we just don’t understand yet?”) “Doctor Strange” was the first to give us full-on mysticism. The film is a typical superhero origin story, following Dr. Stephen Strange’s quest to becoming the new Sorcerer Supreme, despite his initial cynicism. Most superhero movies – actually, make that all superhero movies - build to a final battle between hero and villain, and “Doctor Strange” is no exception. But, rather than use brawn, the Master of the Mystic Arts uses his brain - trapping Dormammu in an infinite time loop would only end if the evil entity surrendered. Now that’s how you make a deal.

#4: Merlin Transforms Into a Germ to Beat Madam Mim

“The Sword in the Stone” (1963)

In true Disney style, “The Sword in the Stone” puts a new spin on classic, literary characters: King Arthur and Merlin. Based on the novel, “The Once and Future King,” this movie shows us the English folklore figure as a scrappy kid, with Merlin as his grouchy and eccentric teacher. Merlin is keen to teach Arthur to use his head more, the value of which he proves in his “Wizards’ Duel” with his rival, Madam Mim. The rules are simple: defeat your opponent by transforming into existing animals. After Mim illegally turns into a dragon, Merlin gets creative. He turns into a microscopic germ and infects Mim when she catches him. Genius!

#3: Aladdin Tricks Jafar Into Becoming a Genie

“Aladdin” (1992)

All Disney heroes are dashing and adventurous, but few are as cunning as Aladdin. As a penniless thief, or “diamond in the rough” if we’re being kinder, Aladdin is no stranger to outsmarting the authorities. Unfortunately, he meets his match in the conniving vizier Jafar, whose scheming soon makes him the greatest sorcerer in the world. Staying one jump ahead as always, Aladdin figures out that Jafar’s pride is his weakness. When all hope seems lost, he reminds Jafar that the Genie - who gave him his power - is superior. Enraged, Jafar uses his final wish to become one, forgetting the one terrible price a Genie must pay. Enjoy your itty bitty living space.

#2: Jack Sparrow Steals an Aztec Coin Before Fighting Barbossa

“Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” (2003)

The key to Johnny Depp’s iconic Captain Jack Sparrow character is making everyone else underestimate him. But beneath the slurred speech and slapstick, Captain Jack is a skilled swordsman and canny thinker. This is exemplified when he fights Captain Barbossa. Jack sneakily steals a cursed Aztec coin to survive being fatally wounded, and then throws the coin to Will Turner, who returns it - along with their owed blood - to Cortez’s chest. The immortality curse is lifted just in time for Jack to get revenge on his former first mate. Yo ho!

#1: Perseus Uses Medusa’s Head to Defeat the Kraken

“Clash of the Titans” (1981; 2010)

This is not only a smart decision for a fantasy movie, it’s also one for the ages. Though there are distinct differences between the original Greek myth and the 1981 and 2010 movie adaptations, the ingenious way that the hero defeats the Gorgon Medusa and the kraken always remain the same. Demi-god Perseus is tasked with the dangerous job of slaying Medusa, whose direct gaze turns any who meet it to stone. Perseus avoids this by using his reflective shield to guide him, and decapitates her. Then he weaponizes her severed head against the Kraken, turning the giant sea beast to stone. Using one monster to kill another? Now that’s smart.


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