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Film / Wild Wild West

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It's a whole new West, alright.

Artemus Gordon: So, what does Loveless have? (notices factory complex) Well... he has his own city.
(out of nowhere a giant mechanical spider shows up)
Jim West: He has an 80-foot tarantula.
Artemus Gordon: Yes, well... I was coming to that.

Wild Wild West is a 1999 Cattle Punk film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, starring Will Smith, Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh and Salma Hayek. It's The Film of the Series of The Wild Wild Westtechnically, anyway.

The plot, taking place during the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant, concerns government agents Jim West (Smith) and Artemus Gordon (Kline) attempting to prevent a renewal of the Civil War by amputee Southern scientist Dr. Arliss Loveless (Branagh) and his giant mechanical spider.


Wild Wild West provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: A character played by Kevin Kline is the doppelgänger of a U.S. president, and even impersonates said president at one point... now, are we talking about Artemus Gordon, or Dave Kovic?
  • Adaptational Villainy: Downplayed. Dr. Loveless on the show was still a villain, but also genuinely was the sort of Well-Intentioned Extremist that movie Loveless is only pretending to be. Movie Loveless is also racist and willing to turn on his own men; exactly the kind of person that Show Loveless would have hated. The two are further separated by being given different names - Arliss Loveless in the movie, Miguelito Loveless on the show.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Despite General McGrath's involvement in the New Liberty massacre, it's hard not to show sympathy for him when he, his men and their horses are used by Loveless as target practice; even West himself is horrified seeing the corpses of McGrath's men and their horses while showing some pity towards the dying McGrath when the latter informed him that Loveless is responsible for initiating the New Liberty massacre.
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  • The Alliance: Rare villainous example in the "Loveless Alliance," namely Loveless and his people plus Mexico, Spain, France and Great Britain, all planning to divide the United States amongst themselves.
  • Alliterative Title
  • All There in the Manual: The novelization includes a few more minor details the film left out.
    • Mr. Hudson is a Native American representative working for Loveless on the promise that Manhattan will be return to their control under Loveless' plan. The film implies this is part of the plan with a few references to Manhattan, but doesn't make it explicit. Additionally, he isn't killed in the train attack, it's a random Mook, and he's alive and addressed when Loveless reveals his plan.
    • In the novelization, Jim survives his fall from the spider when his Native American friend comes to him in a vision and heals him. In the film West survives thanks to Gordon's proto-type bulletproof vest, creating a minor Continuity Snarl when Gordon claims to be wearing it not long after, even though he was only ever shown making one and wasn't sure it would work.
    • The novelization includes a minor detail when West and Gordon attack Loveless' spider; the gatling guns on the front weren't designed to be able to shoot up. Loveless takes a moment to figure a way around this by making the spider itself raise its head up on an angle to compensate. The film just doesn't bring this up and the guns are able to shoot up just fine.
    • Rita pretty much admits in the end that she played up the Femme Fatale angle to convince West and Gordon to bring her with them, because she knew they might not if she told them she was looking for her husband; the film implied this but never confirmed it.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Loveless steals the Wanderer with Rita in tow so that he can get to his laboratory in Spider Canyon.
  • America Is Still a Colony: Part of Arliss Loveless' plan for the U.S. surrender and dividing the country was to return the original 13 colonies to the U.K., minus Manhattan which will go back to the Native Americans, Florida (but not the former parts of Mexico) to Spain, and what was more or less the Louisiana Territory to the French. A corner in the Northwest was reserved for "Loveless Land". There was a valid reason for this beyond just a desire on Loveless' part to rip America apart: those countries were financing his experiments and superweapons.
  • Anachronism Stew: Jim West's use of modern slang, such as "boobies" and "booty".
  • An Arm and a Leg: During the war Loveless lost both his legs, a lung, spleen, bladder, thirty-feet of small intestine and the ability to reproduce - but heaven knows he hasn't lost his sense of humour.
  • And Then I Said: Artemus, while discussing Rita Escobar.
  • And Starring: In one theatrical poster: "And Kenneth Branagh."
  • Animal Motifs: Loveless is all about spiders. It's on his flag, his secret base is in Spider Canyon, and his ultimate weapon is a Spider Tank.
  • Armed Legs: Jim West's blade-equipped shoes.
  • Artistic License – History
    • President Grant didn't actually attend the joining of the railroads, let alone hammer in the golden spike.
    • According to the movie, President Grant created the U.S. Secret Service in 1869 to protect the President. It was actually created in 1865 to combat counterfeiting, and wasn't tasked with protecting the President until 1901, after the assassination of William McKinley.
    • When West arrives in D.C., the Capitol dome is shown under construction in the background. This image is taken from a famous photo of the Dome's expansion during President Lincoln's inauguration in 1861. The expansion of the Capitol dome, which began in 1855, was unofficially finished in 1863 when the Statue of Freedom was placed on top, and officially completed in January 1866 when all interior scaffolding, for the fresco Apotheosis of Washington, was removed. By 1869 when the film is set, construction of the dome was long over.
    • African Americans were in the Union Army, but never could become commissioned officers at that time. The first one to get an officer’s commission was Henry Ossian Flipper, about two decades later.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Pretty blatant with the collar trap device. First, the machine easily detects when someone steps over the copper "fence" — even without actually touching it and with no apparent connection between the two. Then the trap neck braces have some truly inconsistent magnetism (the braces only attract themselves after Gordon hits them with a stone, the buzz saws they're attracting rarely go in a straight line...) and the saws more or less have infinite angular momentum, mowing their way through entire cornfields without losing a bit of spin. Plus they explode when they run into each other!
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • The fighting style of one of Loveless' minions, who demonstrates an impressive knowledge of kung fu. Compare and contrast Jim West's Boring, but Practical response of knocking him out with a shovel to the face.
    • Another mook resembles the image for Crippling Overspecialization: two knives, no hands.
  • Bad Boss: Loveless murders General "Bloodbath" McGrath and his men (who seem to represent most of Loveless' mooks) as a weapons demo.
  • Balls of Steel: The cybernetic mook that Jim faces in the spider's engine room. This elicits a Big "NO!" from him when he discovers that this particular bad guy has no weak spots.
  • Batman Cold Open: Jim West and Artemus Gordon vs. General McGrath in the saloon... at least, that's how it was written in the script.
  • Belly Dancer: Jim West as "Ebonia", complete with Mysterious Veil to hide his appearance, in a last ditch attempt to stall the meeting of Dr. Loveless and America's enemies and kill Loveless.
  • Between My Legs: Jim West's legs, as he's standing naked in front of three men after falling out of a water tank.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Don't call Doctor Loveless an animal.
    • Loveless himself pushes West's button by casually throwing racial slurs at him, the last straw being the climax where Loveless calls West a "boy" as both are hanging for dear life above the cliff. The slur gives West the perfect excuse to push Loveless off the cliff to his death.
  • Bilingual Bonus: When Gordon starts up his Nitro-Cycle, he says "Avanti!", which is Italian for forward.
  • Black Comedy: During the slaughter of General McGrath's soldiers, Miss Lippenreader uses a pair of bionoculars to observe their deaths. The incredibly blasé tone she uses to express their horrified last words is unintentionally hilarious.
  • Black-Tie Infiltration: Jim West and Artemus Gordon infiltrate a post-Civil War Southern costume ball dressed as an armed cowboy and a French mountain man, respectively. Problem: the other attendees are white racist former slave owners, and Jim West is black.
  • Black Vikings: Jim West as a U.S. Army captain in 1869. Noted to be highly unusual - many black soldiers did serve in the Civil War Union Army in real life, though mostly in the lower ranks.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: A mook has knives that snap out of his wrists.
  • Bodyguard Babes: Loveless employs four female henchmen who dress as 1800s prostitutes much of the time.
  • Body Horror: Alongside Dr. Loveless, who is missing the lower half of his body, the four Mooks that West fights in the Spider Tank’s engine room have some deformity or another. One has had his hands removed and replaced with knives, another has a large metal spike in his skull, a third has had the upper part of his skull exposed and covered with metal, and the fourth has a lazy eye.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity:
    • After Loveless captures West and Gordon, he fits their necks with the blade-attracting magnets that the professor in the opening was also killed with. Then he leaves before ensuring their demise.
    • Loveless frequently pushes West's buttons by casually using racist slurs at him during conversations. As Loveless himself found out the hard way in the climax, racism can end up having deadly consequences.
  • Brains and Bondage: Holy crap, look at the rig in Loveless' bedroom! Then again... The man is missing everything below the waist, which limits his options somewhat.
  • Briar Patching
    • Subverted. Artemus attempts to have Dr. Loveless capture him, dressed as Ulysses S. Grant, to lure him away from the real Ulysses. Loveless takes them both.
    • Also, when Artemus is caught and about to be executed, he begs to be "shot in my heart, which has loved this country so much" because he is wearing his prototype for a bullet proof vest. Unfortunately, it doesn't work.
      Loveless: Shoot him in the head.
      Artemus: Damn.
  • Brick Joke: West and Loveless continue their Volleying Insults near the end.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Rita repeating what she overheard from the vaguely European henchwoman.
    "Vere is dis "Ootah" anyvay?"
  • Bulletproof Vest: Gordon's Impermeable, a chain mail vest that can stop period firearms.
  • …But He Sounds Handsome: While impersonating President Grant, Gordon spends much of his time praising himself.
  • The Butcher: General "Bloodbath" McGrath is also "The Butcher of New Liberty".
  • Call-Back: The disc chasing West and Gordon in the same way it chased down and eventually decapitated Morton.
  • Calling Card: Loveless sends President Grant a marzipan cake shaped like the White House. Live tarantulas emerge whenever the lid is lifted.
  • Campfire Character Exploration: While traveling on foot to Dr. Loveless' base, Jim West and Artemus Gordon relax around a campfire. Jim West tells Gordon about his childhood and how his parents were among those murdered by Loveless at the free slave town of New Liberty. Gordon (who had been feuding with West up to this point) tells West he'll help him get Loveless.
  • Campy Combat: When the flamboyant US Marshal Artemis Gordon fight Dr. Loveless' Bodyguard Babes at the climax, he uses dance moves to avoid their attacks (and causing one to fall off the Spider Tank).
  • Catapult Nightmare: West flinging himself up from a bad dream in the "Wild Wild West" music video.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • All of Gordon's inventions (West's boot blade, "Impermeable" vest, railway car devices, flying bicycle, etc.). Some are implemented rather awkwardly, as Gordon presents some, such as the bicycle, a mere scene before they actually became useful; even West compliments Gordon as he uses the boot blade and the impermeable vest to defend himself from several of Loveless's mooks.
    Jim: (having used the impermeable vest to stop the bullet that was fired onto his chest) Thanks, Artie.
    • Gordon's disguises also count as well as he went as a prostitute, a pioneer, and even President Grant to fool most people as part of his job. Even when West stated earlier that he hates wearing costumes in general, he forced himself to use one of Gordon's costumes to disguise himself as an African belly dancer in order to stop Loveless from executing Gordon and the other captives.
    • The spider and the wasp, which motivated Gordon to build a flying machine to fight Loveless' mechanical spider.
    • Loveless' magnet collars as they allowed Gordon and West to find Loveless' private track leading to Spider Canyon.
  • Chewing the Scenery: West has a few moments. Loveless, however, surpasses him by several orders of magnitude.
  • Composite Character: The film version of Loveless is a Mad Scientist like his TV counterpart, but his backstory (a Confederate veteran embittered by being crippled in the war) is taken straight from another villain, Colonel Vautrain. (His Steampunk wheelchair also looks an awful lot like the one used by Mr. Braine.)
  • Cool Old Guy: President Grant, as exemplified here.
    Loveless: Well now isn't this a coincidence? I'm out for a little morning ride and right in the middle of nowhere I bump into General Ulysses S. Grant himself! We've never been formally introduced, I'm Doctor Arliss Loveless, formerly of the Confederate Army.
    Grant: Yes, Doctor Loveless. That's a fine-looking spider you've got there...what can I do for you today?
    Loveless: I have a humble abode nearby, I hope you'll accept my hospitality. I have a little proposition to make.
    Grant: What proposition is that?
    Loveless: The immediate and unconditional surrender of the United States of America to the Loveless Alliance!
    Grant: I didn't realize we were at war. You have me at somewhat of a disadvantage. I didn't bring my flyswatter.
  • Cool Train:
    • The Wanderer, used by West and Gordon.
    • Loveless' beats it. An armed, armored doodlebug (powered car) with both a slot for his War Wagon and spider legs.
  • Cosmopolitan Council: Dr. Loveless' foreign backers
  • Cowboy Cop: Jim West. Bonus points for him being a cowboy.
  • Cue the Falling Object: After Jim West manages to dodge an assassin (which was concealing himself as a "living artwork" in the office of Loveless, and kills Miss East at the same time), he pulls out his gun and shoots every piece of artwork in the room that is man-sized. After he does so and walks away, we find out that said artwork included an assassin on the roof when he crashes down onto Loveless' desk.
  • Cyborg: Loveless and some of his Mooks are steampunk cyborgs.
  • Damsel in Distress: Rita Escobar.
  • Dance Battler: Gordon shows off some balletic moves while fighting Loveless' ladies.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Jim West had a rough upbringing. As a child, he grew up in slave plantations before he ran away and was found by Native Americans. He would eventually serve as a soldier of the U.S. Army's 9th Cavalry during the Civil War; one week before the war ended, Loveless murdered everyone at New Liberty, including his birth parents, with a primitive tank as part of a weapons test. He spent the next four years trying to exact revenge on General "Bloodbath" McGrath, blaming him and his soldiers rather than what he thought were wild tales.
  • Deadly Disc: Dr. Loveless' machine that fires high speed homing saw blades.
  • Deadly Environment Prison: After Loveless captures Jim and Gordon, he places them in a small unguarded entrapment in the middle of nowhere. They can leave whenever they want, but doing so will activate a device that sends a Deadly Disc after their magnetic collars. Jim being Jim, he triggers it without even thinking.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Will Smith as Jim West and Kevin Kline as Artemus Gordon.
  • Deep South: Loveless has a southern accent befitting of a former Confederate soldier.
  • Demoted to Dragon: We find this out about Bloodbath McGrath, when he is killed by the real Big Bad.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Dr. Loveless is re-imagined as a steampunk Blofeld on a white supremacist kick. Contrary to what he says, the Doctor has put aside his Confederate past and is conspiring with British, Mexican, and Spanish agents to divvy up the United States between them all. His reasoning is that, since the CSA "betrayed" him by surrendering to the Yankees, he owes them nothing.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Neither Jim or Gordon get to hook up with Rita, because it turns out she's already married. Instead, they get something arguably more awesome: Loveless' 80-foot Spider Tank!
  • Disc-One Final Boss: At first it seems that General McGrath is the main villain, until Dr. Loveless makes his entrance, and dispatches him and his henchmen to test a weapon.
  • Disguised in Drag: Artie as "Dora" at Fat-Can Candy's Saloon near the film's beginning. Later, Jim West as a belly dancer, his beard hidden under a veil.
  • Disney Death: Jim West. He takes a point-blank gunshot to the chest and falls 80 feet to the desert floor but survives because he was wearing one of Artemus Gordon's "Impermeable" bullet-proof vests.
  • Disney Villain Death: Dr. Loveless and nearly all of his henchmen and women fall off the Tarantula to their deaths towards the ending.
  • Divided States of America: Dr. Loveless' plan for the U.S. It seems he didn't love the South quite enough to not see it handed over to foreign powers as well.
  • Dragon Lady: Miss East serves as Loveless' second-in-command.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: See Enhanced Interrogation Techniques below.
  • Earn Your Title: General "Bloodbath" McGrath, AKA "The Butcher of New Liberty". It later turned out that General McGrath was a decoy all along.
  • Ear Trumpet: General McGrath has one, implanted to his skull, and the General tips out accumulated ear wax at one point for disgusting effect.
  • Enhanced Interrogation Techniques: Jim West uses a Dramatic Gun Cock on "President Grant".
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Subverted. While Loveless recruits several women including an Asian as his top lieutenants, a Native American as a henchman and even offering Jim West a job, it's clearly so he can lord over them rather then seeing them as equal to him.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: General McGrath's reaction to Loveless murdering his men is outrage.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Subverted. Loveless seems genuinely shocked and horrified when his weapons master Munitia is sent plummeting to her death. He gets over it pretty quickly and by the next scene is offering a job to the people who killed her.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: General "Bloodbath" McGrath is hardly a pleasant man, but he is haunted and horrified by Dr. Loveless' murderous inventions and his willingness to test them on human subjects, even before Loveless massacres McGrath's men with his tank.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • Dr. Loveless acts as one to both West and Gordon — he's just as murderous and vengeful over the Civil War as West is, and he's just as brilliant and eccentric an inventor as Gordon. In the novelization Loveless lampshades that he feels like he's the middle ground between the two, West being willing and able to take a life but being a fool, and Gordon being able to create amazing gadgets but refuses to use them to hurt people.
  • Evil Cripple: Not only is Dr. Loveless the Big Bad, but he lost his lower body during the Civil War, forcing him to use a wheelchair that can use guns and can transform into his One-Winged Angel miniature version of his Spider Tank.
  • Evil Redhead: Munitia, Loveless' henchwoman expert in weapons. She's presumably his top enforcer too.
  • Exactly What I Aimed At
    Loveless: After all that, you missed?
    Gordon: Actually I didn't.
    [cut to the leaking hydraulic line]
  • Eye Remember: Retinal Terminus Theory.
  • Fake Boobs: Artemus Gordon has some.
  • A Father to His Men: General McGrath draws a gun on Loveless and then tries to kill him when he annihilates all of McGrath's men with his tank, and his last words to West include him calling said soldiers "my boys".
  • Faux Affably Evil: Dr. Loveless acts polite and well-mannered, but it barely hides the mind of an Ax-Crazy psychopath.
    "By the way, I'll be seeing President Grant soon at Promontory Point. What should I tell him for you? I'm afraid it can't be that you're alive and well!" *Evil Laugh*
  • The Film of the Series: The film is an adaptation of the TV series.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • During Loveless' part in New Orleans, a musical group dressed in costume plays inside a framework of a giant painting. Later, Jim West shoots a group of assassins, each of whom is pretending to be a figure in a giant painting.
    • After West accidentally finds the knife Gordon installed in his shoe without telling him, he complains that Gordon had better not have made any other secret modifications to his outfit. Gordon's response indicates that he definitely has made at least one — and much later in the film, West survives a bullet to the chest because of the Bulletproof Vest he didn't know he had.
    • Played With. While Jim West and Artemus Gordon are in the desert, they see a tarantula hawk (wasp) attack a tarantula. Later on, Gordon uses this as an inspiration to create a flying bicycle to use against Loveless' giant mechanical spider. Except they don't have time or patience to complete the invention, so they just take horses. Later still, they actually follow through with the idea.
  • For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: For the costume party, West opts to use his own clothes as his "costume".
  • Freudian Slippery Slope: Many puns are made when Rita comes in with the rear flap of her pajamas unbuttoned.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: In the opening of the film, Jim West is forced to fight a bunch of guys while nude. That is until his clothes are tossed down to him.
  • Funny Bruce Lee Noises: Artemus Gordon, while performing his Karate Kid impersonation.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Artemus Gordon and Dr. Loveless.
  • Gag Boobs: Gordon's woman suit has those. So does a woman whom West confuses for him in drag. The latter leads to a hilarious party foul that the Southerners try to lynch West over.
  • General Ripper: Ironically enough, West to General "Bloodbath" McGrath.
  • Genius Cripple: Dr. Loveless is a Mad Scientist missing the lower half of his body.
  • Giant Spider: See Spider Tank below.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: West smashes a wanna-be martial artist silly on the climax with a shovel and punches people in the face, in contrast with Gordon's more fancy "dancing" fighting style (once used as misdirection so he'll trigger a gadget on West, once used as Deadly Dodging).
  • Gory Discretion Shot: In The Teaser, Morton's death by the saw blade is heard offscreen.
  • Groin Attack:
    • After General "Bloodbath" McGrath chooses the prostitute "Dora" (Artemus Gordon), another man tries to take her. McGrath pulls out a gun and shoots him in the groin. The people nearby turn around to look, then go back to what they were doing.
    • Jim West punches one of Loveless' mooks in the groin while in combat on the giant spider's engine deck.
    • After Jim West tries several attempts to hurt the iron mook, he attempts to kick his groin, with no luck.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Occurs in Dr. Loveless' Backstory, but he survives.
  • Hand-or-Object Underwear: West's hat in the opening scene.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Jim West's and Dr. Loveless' Volleying Insults.
  • Hypocrite: Dr. Loveless's supposed commitment to the Confederate cause is shown to be hollow when he unveils his plan to carve up the States to the European colonial powers, keeping one state for himself while the Confederates get nothing in return.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Dr. Loveless and his crew kidnap the luscious Rita and leave Jim and Gordon for dead in the middle of nowhere. When Jim tries to make fun of Loveless being an impotent cripple, he sneers that he'll simply invent something that will allow him to have his way with her. Though in the end, nothing really comes of it, mostly because Loveless has more urgent priorities such as taking over the damn country first.
  • I Know Karate: A mook tries this on Jim West. And then proceeds to get a shovel in the face.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Jim West to Loveless' cyber mook.
  • Identical Stranger: Artemus Gordon looks like President Grant without the beard.
  • Idiot Ball: When West and Gordon are being chased by the saw blades, they run into the easily-cut corn field, as opposed to taking refuge by the large metal train that would surely stop the blades.
  • Imposter Forgot One Detail: Artemis Gordon has a nearly foolproof disguise as President Grant (the fact that Kevin Kline plays both helps) but West quickly knows it's not Grant because he was wearing the wrong school ring. It doesn't help that "Grant" keeps going on and on about how great an agent Gordon is.
  • Incoming Ham: Loveless' introduction, as he explodes out of Lincoln's head as "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" plays in the background.
    Loveless: Don't you just hate that song?
  • In-Joke: The "DO NOT PUSH" train button is an obvious nod to Sonnenfeld's previous venture, Men in Black.
  • In Name Only: The original show was a merging of The Western with the Spy Drama. It didn't really have many Steampunk elements, just some technology that would have been high-tech for the time period. The movie ran with Steampunk and the specific James Bond-style "save the world" spy escapades. The show didn't have anything like the Spider Tank or the magnetic collars, which makes it a very stark contrast going between the two. According to Cracked, the premise of the Wild Wild West movie is based on a Batman: The Animated Series episode that originally starred Jonah Hex. It isn't exactly known how it became a Wild Wild West story.
  • Insufferable Genius: Gordon.
  • Interrogating the Dead: Gordon is able to see a man's last sight by slapping his severed and presumably hollowed-out head to a light.
    West: That's a man's head...
  • Intimidation Demonstration: Happens twice during Jim West's battles with Dr. Loveless' mooks inside the giant spider robot.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Mecha!: The giant spider.
  • It's Personal: West's unit was the one that found the aftermath of the massacre at New Liberty, and since then, he's been itching for a chance to dust the man responsible. His birth parents were among the victims. At first, West believed that McGrath was the one who caused the massacre, but learns from a dying McGrath that Loveless himself is responsible for it. He even lampshades this as he calls out a defeated Loveless an animal for such a heinous action, an act that made Loveless extremely angry.
    West: (coldly to Loveless) For four long years, I've been chasing the animal that's responsible for the massacre at New Liberty, and I hear tell that's you.
    Loveless: (infuriated) I am NOT an animal, I am a visionary, and I am a genius, and now... I AM ANGRY!!! AND AFTER I KILL YOU, I SWEAR I'M GONNA BOIL YOU DOWN FOR AXLE GREASE!!!!
  • I Would Say If I Could Say: When Loveless reveals that he wasn't actually killed in the Civil War, he declares himself "alive and kicking!" Being Half the Man He Used to Be, he then corrects himself: "well, alive, anyway!"
  • Knockout Gas: Artemus Gordon's sleeping gas billiard balls, except for one.
    West: That was not sleeping gas!
    Gordon: No, the 8-ball is an incendiary bomb.
  • Large Ham: Loveless and Gordon can be quite dramatic.
  • Last Request:
    • Artemus, disguised as President Grant, tries to get Loveless to kidnap him instead of the real Grant in the finale. It doesn't work.
    • Done again when Loveless threatens Grant by shooting his men, starting with Gordon. Gordon, knowing he's wearing a bulletproof vest, ask that he be shot in the heart to symbolize the country he loved. Loveless, true to his name, orders him to be shot in the head.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: West constantly ignores Gordon's planning and runs right into battle. Only after he causes them to run for their lives and runs out of other options does he ask for Gordon to work out a plan. Gordon doesn't take it too well.
  • Licensed Game: Wild Wild West: The Steel Assassin.
  • The Load: Rita Escobar. She forces herself on the search by giving up information that is of little to no help (Loveless willingly informs the duo that he's after President Grant), is nothing more than a distraction to them on purpose, and tops it by getting them all captured when she triggers a sleeping gas billiard ball (which she had been told the purpose of) in a bizarre attempt to avoid exactly that fate.
  • Loves the Sound of Screaming: For practical purposes, of course. Loveless makes a note to drill his gunners harder after the screams of their victims prove unsatisfactory.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr Loveless.
  • Made of Explodium: What the hell was in those flying frisbees of death, anyway?
  • Made of Iron: Jim West falls 80 feet (5 stories) to the ground, and lands on his back. The film seems to try to justify this by Jim being knocked out and severely bruised up when he wakes but the fact still stands. He should be dead.
  • Male Gaze: This film has more jiggling orbs than a cardio ball fitness class.
  • Master of Disguise: Artemus Gordon is known for having many disguises at his disposal, such as the saloon girl in the opening and President Grant.
  • Match Cut: On their way to get to the Wanderer from the White House, Gordon uses his Nitro-Cycle to pass West. The steam fills up the screen, which eventually dissolves into the steam powered by the Wanderer.
  • Meaningful Echo: Gordon tells West and Rita that they need to have a plan to stop Loveless. After rescuing Gordon from Loveless' clutches towards the end of the film, West tells Gordon, "Right now, we need a plan." and suggests to add wings to his Nitro-Cycle.
  • Meaningful Name: All of Loveless' Paid Harem Bodyguard Babes: Munitia the weapons expert, Miss Lippenrieder the lip-reader, Amazonia the warrior, and Miss East the... Asian woman. Loveless himself too: full of lust, but lacking in love.
  • Mexico Called; They Want Texas Back: "Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, revolve a Mexico."
  • Mighty Glacier: The metal-headed Mook West fights in the Spider Tank’s engine room. He can take several strikes from a wrench and punches West across the room, but he moves very slowly.
  • Mistaken for Gay: The whole "touch my breast" scene.
  • Mister Big: Dr. Loveless.
  • Ms. Fanservice:
  • The Name Is Bond, James Bond: "Mr..." "West. Jim West"
  • Narcissist: Arliss Loveless. He even jokes about it.
    Rita: Not to give you a big head, but I kinda missed you.
    Loveless: Well isn't that a coincidence. I kinda missed me too!
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: General "Bloodbath" McGrath, the Butcher of New Liberty, and his boss, Doctor Arliss Loveless.
  • Neck Lift: The last of Dr. Loveless' mooks Jim West battles inside the giant spider robot does this to him.
  • Nitro Express: At the beginning of the film, Captain Jim West jumps on a wagon carrying cases of nitro (with only hay for padding) for a renegade regiment of the former Confederacy.
    Jim: This! Is Not! The Way! You Transport! Nitro!!!
  • Noble Confederate Soldier: Downplayed. While General McGrath wants to bring back the Confederacy and everything that entails and took part in the New Liberty massacre of runaway slaves, he is still appalled that Doctor Loveless would so callously sacrifice his men to demonstrate the deadliness of his new tank prototype. Loveless shoots him and dumps his body in a river when he objects.
  • No, You: When McGrath accuses Loveless of betraying him by using his men for target practice, Loveless snarls back that the Confederates paid back his sacrifices to their cause by surrendering to the Union; in his view, the Confederates betrayed him first.
    McGrath:[shouting] You sawed-off sadistic bastard! You've betrayed us!
    Dr. Arliss Loveless: My dear General, having donated half of my physical being to create a weapon capable of doing this, how did you and General Lee repay my loyalty?! [shouting] YOU SURRENDERED AT APPOMATTOX!!! SO WHO BETRAYED WHOM?!!
  • Nobody Here but Us Statues: Loveless' mooks hiding in the paintings. After Miss East gives it away by looking at one, West quickly kills that mook, and then shoots every other picture.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: Dr. Loveless is sometimes prone to Bond Villain Stupidity, but is far from being subjected to it as he is more clever than he looks in many moments:
    • When Loveless callously orders the slaughter of McGrath's men for target practice with his new tank, McGrath furiously attempts to shoot him down in revenge, only for Loveless to play wise by activating his hidden guns inside his wheelchair to fatally shoot McGrath.
    • When Loveless goes to abduct President Grant, Gordon uses his Body Double guise to try and pull a Bait-and-Switch while West climbs up to confront Loveless. However, Loveless refuses to waste time to determine which one is the real Gordon, so instead, he springs out a net to trap both Gordon and Grant while getting Munitia to shoot West. Fortunately, West was wearing Gordon's wearing body armor to avoid being killed by the shot.
    • Following his successful capture of President Grant and Gordon, Loveless attempts to get Munitia to execute Gordon in order to force Grant to surrender the country. Just like West, Gordon too is wearing wearing body armor and requests that he be shot in the heart. However, Loveless refuses and instead orders for Gordon to be shot in the head for good measure. Fortunately, West (posing as an exotic belly dancer) came to the rescue before that could ever happen.
    • When Loveless goes on a rampage decimating a town with his mechanical spider while still holding President Grant prisoner, Gordon and West use their flying machine to attack the spider with nitroglycerin bombs and kill Munitia. However, this only infuriates Loveless to have his remaining mistresses to shoot down the flying machine, sending both Gordon and Jim to fall into the spider, where they end up being taken prisoner alongside Grant by Loveless and his remaining mistresses.
  • Noodle Implements: Loveless' suite. Yikes.
  • Noodle Incident: The New Liberty incident that gave General "Bloodbath" McGrath his nickname. Though it's eventually explained.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The cockpit for Loveless' Spider Tank is missing a big chunk of railing after West and Gordon rip them away with their flying machine. Sure enough, one of his own henchwomen falls to her death when startled by the heroes.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Coleman is disturbed when he overhears Artemus and Jim touching each other's "breasts."
  • Obviously Evil: Downplayed with McGrath; he's ugly, dirty, rude, a bigot, and a nasty person overall, and he's clearly evil; but he's a lesser evil compared to Loveless.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: Pretty much every female character's costume for most of the film (except for Garcelle Beauvais, who went without.)
  • Off with His Head!: Loveless' collars contain powerful magnets that can attract the saw blade to the wearer's neck, thus decapitating them. Just ask Thaddeus Morton, who gets decapitated at the beginning of the film.
  • One Bullet Left: Artemus Gordon's derringer has only one bullet and he uses it to disable Loveless' spider legs.
  • One-Winged Angel: Loveless gets out of his wheelchair and becomes a miniature version of his Spider Tank.
  • Overcome Their Differences: Jim and Artemus.
  • Overly Long Gag: See Volleying Insults
  • Paid Harem: Dr. Loveless' extremely bizarre bodyguards: Amazonia (the muscle), Munitia (the rear gunner, hint hint), Miss Lippenrieder (the mouth-reader; basically acts as the intelligence agent) and Miss East (Bai Ling in a corset, enough said).
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Jim West's insulting Dr. Loveless about his amputee status.
  • Phallic Weapon: Loveless' rather phallic disc blade launcher.
  • Point Defenseless: Actually averted with the Tarantula - it had Gatling guns on board, which make handy anti-aircraft weapons...
  • Politically Correct History: Mostly averted, actually. Contrary to popular misconception, the US Army had quite a few black officers during the Civil War. Official Army records list 186,097 black soldiers, 7,122 of whom were officers. How many of these achieved the rank of captain is not clear (one suspects most black officers were very junior). Even further, Jim gets himself in a lot of trouble for misbehaving at a party full of white people.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The strongly racist Dr. Loveless. Nevertheless one of his henchmen is a Native American, and his landclaim restoration plan references the (inaccurate) account of Manhattan being purchased from the Native Americans unfairly for beads, a trade which the novelization elaborates would be reversed.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: After West overpowers Loveless' blade-wielding henchmen and ties him to some chains, he says "That's it. No more Mr. Knife Guy." He then kicks him out of the Tarantula with his boot.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: Jim West while fighting a cyborg mook.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    • While discussing with Gordon about what Morton saw during his final days alive, he says, "That... is a man's... head."
    • In the Final Battle, West says, "Shoot... him... Gordon!" shortly before Gordon fires his derringer at Loveless' spider legs.
  • Quizzical Tilt: When the dog looks at Bloodbath McGrath's ear trumpet. Serves as a Shout-Out to the RCA logo, even referred to as such in the script.
  • Race Lift:
    • Will Smith. There's also the issue of his dialect. No matter what race, West would not speak like he was, let's say, 1980s West Philadelphia, born and raised. As noted under Politically Correct History above, the Army did have black officers at the time, though it's uncertain if any ascended to Captain.
    • Dr. Loveless was a Spanish dwarf in the series. In the film, he's a white American Evil Cripple.
  • Rage-Breaking Point: Gordon, who had withstood his rivalry with West through the film so far with aloof humor, finally loses it after West nearly gets them killed via Loveless' magnetic razor disks and asks Gordon to take of the collars around their necks because Gordon is "the master of this mechanical stuff". The resulting rant includes screaming at West and trying to smash West's collar with a rock, with hilariously ineffective results.
  • Raised by Natives: Jim West, by Native Americans.
  • Rasputinian Death: McGrath is shot and thrown into a river before slowly bleeding to death.
  • Reflective Eyes: West narrowly avoids an ambush in Loveless' office thanks to Ms. East's eyes showing his would-be killer.
  • The Remnant:
    • Played straight with General McGrath and his Confederate veterans early in the movie.
    • Then subverted with his boss, Arliss Loveless, much to McGrath's chagrin. He doesn't care about the cause and joyfully guns down both McGrath and his men as a weapons demonstration for the foreign supporters with whom he intends to divide up the United States. Note that while he intends to claim a sizable piece of territory for himself, that territory isn't even in the South.
  • Rescue Romance: Appears to be occurring with Jim, Artemus and Rita Escobar. Subverted when it turns out that she's already married.
  • Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony: President Grant hammering in the Golden Spike.
  • Riding into the Sunset: Parodied by Jim West and Artemus Gordon in the last scene. They appear to be riding horses, until the camera zooms out to reveal that they're actually piloting the 80-foot Spider Tank they took from Loveless. Plus, since they're headed to Washington DC from Utah, they're presumably riding into the sunrise.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: West plots to avenge his parents' deaths at the hands of Loveless and eventually succeeds.
  • Rule of Three: "That is a man's head".
  • Scenery Gorn: The scenographic town of Silverado (built for the eponymous film) was destroyed for the scene the spider tank attacks it. Doubles as Actor Allusion, as Kevin Kline had appeared in Silverado. (Silverado's director even receives a Shout-Out.)
  • See You in Hell: When McGrath tries to kill Loveless for murdering his men for a weapon test.
    McGrath: You go straight to Hell, sir!
    Loveless: After you, sir. [shoots McGrath with a hidden gun on his wheelchair]
  • Shiny New Australia: Loveless wants most of the U.S. Northwest to retire on.
  • Shoot Everything That Moves: President Ulysses S. Grant comments: "And you West, not every situation calls for your patented approach of shoot first, shoot later, shoot some more, and then when everybody's dead try to ask a question or two".
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shovel Strike: During the final battle, Jim faces a man who does a number of flashy martial arts moves and brags that he learned them from a Chinaman. Jim knocks the man out with a shovel to the face and counters that he just made that up.
  • Soul Brotha: Jim West. Parodied and lampshaded on occasion, whenever Gordon suggests he act stereotypically black.
  • Southern-Fried Genius: Arliss Loveless. Confederate backstory, loud and proud Southern accent and mannerisms. Also invents the battle tank fifty years before World War One, plus the flying frisbees of death, and a steam-powered mechanical tarantula the size of an AT-AT.
  • Spiders Are Scary:
  • Spider Tank: An eighty foot tall Giant Spider tank.
  • Spies Are Lecherous: It's shown early on that Jim West is a man with "a girl in every port", so to speak, and the Love Triangle between West, Gordon and Rita Escobar has several scenes that show both men are perfectly okay with perving on Rita in their own way (Gordon compares Rita's (that is Salma Hayek's) bosom with that of a Boticelli painting at one point without having noticed that Rita was tossed into the room by one of his inventions and is hearing everything), while part of the Running Gag between West and Loveless (of constantly tossing racist and ableist insults at each other) includes pointing out that Jim can still please a woman the natural way while Loveless requires "mechanical aides", so to speak.
  • Spotting the Thread: Jim determines that President Grant is really Artemis Gordon by the fact that he's wearing a Harvard class ring whereas Grant attended West Point. Though the fact he spent most of his time praising himself should have tipped him off too.
  • Stand-In Portrait: Loveless' mooks hiding in the paintings. As West leaves, one of the portraits shows a literal cut-out of where the Mook was.
  • Steampunk: The contraptions created by Dr. Loveless.
  • Straw Hypocrite: Doctor Arliss Loveless once fought for the Confederacy along with General McGrath, and murders the General as revenge for surrendering his forces after Gettysburg. However, this appears to be a smokescreen for his real self-serving objectives, since rather than reviving the Confederate States or starting another Civil War, Loveless draws up a plan to sell off the land to several foreign powers and keep a big chunk as his personal fiefdom.
  • Super Wheelchair: A Steampunk, walking, shotgun armed, wheel chair for Dr Loveless.
  • Stop, or I Will Shoot!:
    • When Gordon in disguise pulls his perfume on one of McGrath's henchmen, he says "Stop, or I'll squeeze."
    • At the end of the film, Gordon says "Stop, or I'll shoot." while pointing his derringer at Loveless, who is attempting to crush West with his spider legs.
  • Taking You with Me: The end has Arliss Loveless in a position where he could very well survive along with Jim West, but also has the option of pulling this on him, leaving him feeling genuinely conflicted about the issue (As he puts it, "On the one hand, I have the great love I have for myself, and on the other, the raw, seething hatred that I have for you"). West makes the choice for him (Loveless calling him a coward and a racial slur helps him decide), pulling the lever and sending both down into a very deep chasm. Only West has the option of grabbing a chain.
  • Tap on the Head: Jim West to General "Bloodbath" McGrath with a punch. Played more realistically than usual since McGrath was only down for a few seconds.
  • Tempting Fate: When the Spider Tank is first revealed, Gordon confidently boasts that it will never be able to maneuver past the rock formations outside Spider Canyon. Cue the explosives easily knocking down said obstructions, along with a silent glare from West.
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: When West calls Loveless out as an animal.
    Dr. Loveless: I am not an animal! I am a visionary! I am a genius! And now, I am angry!
  • Theme Tune Rap: Sung by Will Smith. And Sisqo!
  • The Teaser: The film opens with Professor Morton being pursued and eventually killed by Loveless' saw blade.
  • They Fight Crime!: He's a Trigger Happy black U.S. Army captain who was raised by Native Americans! He's a US Marshal who's a Master of Disguise and a Gadgeteer Genius! They Fight Crime!
  • This Is as Far as I Go: The Wanderer's engineer and U.S. Marshal Coleman decides not to participate in the Final Battle with Loveless, but gives them explosives as farewell gifts.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: After Jim West attempts to leave the unguarded entrapment in Loveless' camp, he inadvertently activates the Deadly Disc trap. Gordon's response? "And now we have to run."
  • Thong of Shielding: Miss East
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: When West arrives at the campsite where Loveless killed General McGrath's men, all he can do is stare in silence at the dead bodies.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The nature of Loveless' ultimate weapon is kept a secret through most of the movie, but anyone who's seen the trailers knows it's a giant steam-powered Spider Tank.
  • Traintop Battle: Between James West and Loveless' Native American henchman.
  • Trap Door: On the command deck of Loveless' giant spider.
  • Trashcan Bonfire: The former Confederate soldiers have some at their meeting place at Malheureux Point.
  • Trigger Happy: Jim West. Actually lampshaded by the President: "And you, West. Not every situation calls for your patented approach of shoot first, shoot later, shoot some more, and then when everybody's dead try to ask a question or two."
  • Two-Person Pool Party: Jim and a buxom lady in a water tower.
  • Underside Ride: Jim West does this, using a cart designed to let him move between the Wanderer and Loveless' train. Unfortunately, the rope connecting him breaks.
  • Unfriendly Fire: Mae Lee East is accidentally shot dead by one of the Stand-In Portrait mooks.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: After Jim and Gordon save him from Loveless President Grant takes their train. He justifies it by saying they let Loveless blow up his.
  • Universal Driver's License: Artemus Gordon has a Universal Pilot's License. Justified, since everything we see him driving was invented by him. The only exception is the Spider Tank, which he did not invent and is seen having severe trouble with the first time he tries to steer it.
  • U.S. Marshal: Artemus Gordon. Also Coleman, the engineer of the Wanderer.
  • Verbal Salt in the Wound: When Arliss begins making not-so-subtle racist jabs against Jim West, West counters with a series of jibes mocking Loveless' severed lower body:
    Loveless: Mr West... how nice of you to join us tonight and add... color to these monochromatic proceedings.
    West: Well, when a fella comes back from the dead, I find that an occasion to stand up, be counted.
    Loveless: Miss East informs me you're expecting to see General McGrath here. Well, I knew him years ago but I haven't seen him in a coon's age.
    West: Well, I can see how it'd be difficult for a man of your stature to keep in touch with even half the people you know.
    Loveless: Perhaps the lovely Miss East will keep you from being a slave to your disappointment.
    West: You know beautiful women, they encourage you one minute, cut the legs out from under you the next.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: The film has an over-the-top nature, but it takes a turn for the serious and dramatic whenever Dr. Arliss Loveless is onscreen. His massacre of an entire village of freed slaves is horrifying.
  • Villain Opening Scene: It starts with General McGrath and the death of a scientist.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Loveless loses it when Gordon disables his spider legs to rescue West.
  • Villains Want Mercy: When Loveless gets shot by Gordon to free West, he asks him to show some mercy. West, however, isn't having any of it, forcing an enraged Loveless to stand his ground by reeling himself back into his wheelchair in a last attempt to shoot him.
  • Visionary Villain: Loveless dreams about the United States become divided amongst their enemies. He even admits that he's a visionary himself during the finale of the film.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Gordon and West become this.
  • Volleying Insults: West and Loveless do this at every opportunity; Loveless with a racist tone and West ridiculing Loveless' lack of legs and newfound shortness.
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: The bottom flap falls out of Rita's pajamas, exposing her bare butt to West and Gordon.
  • Water Tower Down: How Jim West meets some former Confederate soldiers.
  • We Can Rule Together: After Jim and Gordon attack Loveless' spider tank with a flying machine, they're captured. Loveless then compliments them on their ingenuity, and offers them to come work for him. West tells him to shove it.
    Dr. Arliss Loveless: Gentlemen, I am truly impressed by your effort and ingenuity. Why not swear an oath of loyalty to me, and forgo your executions?
    Capt. James West: Actually, I was thinking I'd stuff your little half-an-ass into one of these cannons and fertilize the landscape with ya.
  • We Need a Distraction: In order to search Loveless' house undetected, Gordon incites a mob to hang Jim after the latter mistakes a buxom lady for him. Needless to say, Jim isn't pleased with Gordon, even though he rigged the hanging with a trick rope that wouldn't break Jim's neck.
    Jim: "Hang him!" "Hang him!" (Points his gun at Gordon's head) I oughta put a bullet right through your head!
  • Weird West: Of the "Steampunk super-tech" variety.
  • What a Drag: Gordon, holding his high-powered magnet collar, is pulled toward a railroad track and dragged through the desert sands on the way. They soon realize that the tracks lead to Dr. Loveless' laboratory.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The trope centeric podcast "Film Sack" refers to this as "The Chick in the Bucket" after viewing this film, where Jim West leaves the Girl of the Week in a water tower bucket, never to be seen or heard from again.
  • With Due Respect: When President Grant tells West and Gordon that they're going to be working together, they both start to protest while using the phrase "With all due respect". Grant tells them that they will do whatever their Commander-in-Chief orders them to do, and they both back down.
  • World of Pun:
    • Particularly the scenes where James West (black) and Arliss Loveless (has no legs) throw double entendre insults on each other's conditions.
      Loveless: How nice of you to join us tonight and add color to these monochromatic proceedings.
      West: Well, when a man comes back from the dead, I find that an occasion to stand up and be counted.
      Loveless: Miss East tells me you're looking to see General McGrath here. Well, I knew him years ago, but I haven't seen him in a coon's age.
      West: Well, I can see how it'd be hard for a man of your stature to keep track of even half the people he knows.
      Loveless: Well, perhaps the lovely Miss East can keep you from being a slave to your disappointment.
      West: You know beautiful women: they encourage you one minute and cut the legs out from under you the next.
    • A Call-Back occurs when they're stuck dangling over a canyon at the end.
      Loveless: Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle! How did we arrive in this dark situation?
      West: I have no idea, Dr. Loveless; I'm just as stumped as you are.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Loveless was willing to murder children when he was at New Liberty.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Loveless kills off a large number of his men, including General McGrath, because he was at Appomattox when General Lee surrendered to the Union army.

Gordon: Jim.
West: What now, Artie?
Gordon: Mind if I ask you a question?
West: [Beat] Actually, I do, Artie.
[both drive off into the sunset in a Spider Tank]


Video Example(s):


Loveless's 80 ft. Tarantula

Upon arriving at Spider Canyon, West and Gordon are introduced to Loveless's ultimate creation.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / SpiderTank

Media sources: