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Headscratchers / Ghostbusters (2016)

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    Equipment and logo 

  • Why are the Ghostbusters somehow using the same trademark equipment as the original team? Word of God is that this is a complete reboot in which the original Ghostbusters never happened, so how likely is it that the same car (and license), same logo, and same proton packs would be used here? Pandering to the Base explains it, but not in a way that makes sense in the film.
    • Well, to be entirely fair, no one's seen the new film at this point (Feb 2016 at time of writing), so complaining about how it doesn't make sense in the film is a bit preemptive. But essentially, it's a Broad Strokes parallel universe, with emphasis on parallel. In this timeline, things develop in a broadly similar fashion to how they developed in the original timeline, just at a later date and with a few things being different as a result. Kind of like how the Star Trek movies take place in an alternate dimension but still basically have the original Enterprise crew hanging around. Ultimately, it's still a Ghostbusters movie, at some point there's things people would like or expect to see in a Ghostbusters movie, and at some point you do just have to shrug and go with it.
    • Well, the tech is the same because it's supposed to be the same technology powering it, and Holtzmann does Mad Science up a few other tricks. As for the logo and car? Well, mostly why not. It's mostly justified in the film, but there was never really a big reason in the original film how they came up with the logo or license plate, no need to really care much about it in the reboot.
    • To be fair, there's actually no reason they should not use anything else. The logo isn't a really elaborate one, and it explains quite well what they do, why they use a similar car is explained, and as for the equipment, what it works on ghosts is just technobabble anyway, it's a proton pack because that's what works in that universe.
    • That, and it'd be pretty hard to compile all that equipment into something other than a backpack and still allow its wielder any sort of mobility. The ladies' first botched attempt to bust a ghost on the subway certainly demonstrated that hauling the gear around on a cart doesn't work very well in-the-field. So if you're going to shoot particle beams at ghosts, which seems to be the default way to deal with them in either continuity, you're better off strapping stuff on your back than dragging it.
    • It's just parallel development. Different universe, but more or less the same stuff gets produced. It's a reboot, go with it.


    Extreme Ghostbusters 

  • The more and more backlash I see against this film, and all the controversy surrounding it, I just have to ask: Why didn't they just adapt Extreme Ghost Busters? They could still have different characters than the original cast from '84 film, but the new characters would also be familiar, so people probably wouldn't mind as much. Whether or not it would be of better quality then the movie we got is unknown, but at least it would be subject to a lot less controversy before it's release.I know they wouldn't be able to bring back Egon, but just replace him with Ray, and it still works fine.
    • Possibly because Extreme Ghostbusters was too indelibly associated with the one original Ghostbuster they couldn't bring back for the new film. Aykroyd may have felt it'd be wrong to supplant Ramis's most-loved character like that. Note that none of the women in the Reboot is a close Distaff Counterpart to Egon, personality-wise.
    • Also Paul Feig probably wanted to start with a clean slate and bring his own take and characters to the material rather than just adapt a pre-existing version; like how the new Star Wars movies are about new characters and situations rather than just adapting the Expanded Universe. Ultimately, no one but the people who are really invested is going to care that much anyway.
    • Besides, while Extreme Ghostbusters has its fans, it's very much a Contested Sequel, garnering complaints about the new characters, the portrayal of Janine and Egon, some lack of continuity with the original series, the mangling of the theme song, etc. A film version of Extreme Ghostbusters could possibly turn as many fans off as it might attract — the potential payoff is not sure enough to be worth it.
    • There's also the simple possibility that Paul Feig just might not have heard of Extreme Ghostbusters or, if he had, might not considered it worthy of being made into a feature film. It's not like it has the same amount of cache and recognition that the original movie has, after all, and he's a grown man who may not watch cartoons which are intended primarily for kids.
    • Extreme Ghostbusters is a pretty obscure show known only for the hardcore fans (which Feig probably is not one) unlike the 80s TV show which is almost as famous as the movies (and the 2016 movie shows a minor influence on it). On the other hand most filmmakers have certain ego and they prefer to work things their way and with their ideas and not taken already existing material and re-use it as then the credit (and in some cases the royalties) go to another person.


  • Why did Abby and Gillian's hair turn white coming out the portal? It's not something that was ever set up or explained, and it's glossed over in the very next scene after it happens, so why have it in there at all?
    • There's an old myth that if you encounter a ghost (or receive any kind of sudden shock or fright) it can terrify you so much it can make your hair turn white or grey, so I assume it's at least partly a play on that. If we're looking for something more Watsonian, however, then Abby and Erin essentially passed into the Other Side, which is a realm of death. White hair is both symbolic of being 'close to death' (i.e. ageing), so it reflects that they were briefly close to death in a literal sense. Dark objects also appear white in a photographic negative, the Other Side is kind of a negative inversion of the real world (being a world of death instead of life), and both Erin and Abby are dark-haired women, so it's a reflection of them passing through a 'negative' world (theoretically, if Jillian had went through the portal as well she might have ended up with black hair). Ultimately, though, it's just a part of the strange and otherworldly nature of the Other Side and we have to look at it like that.
    • Could possibly be a reference to the Danny Phantom
      • Or to the hundreds of earlier ghost stories that have used the idea.
    • Well, there's a reason why Locked into Strangeness is a trope.
    • Ray's hair turn white in an episode of the animated series after entering a portal to the realm of the ghosts. It could be an Easter Egg for fans of the series.

    Thanatos Gambit 

  • How did Rowan know that he would not only become a ghost from killing himself, but that he would become a ghost that could possess people, mentally control large crowds, and then be able change himself from a formless mist into a giant monster? I know he asked the Ghostbusters to choose the form, but how did he know he could even pull that off? Was "How to control your form after death" a section of the book he read?
    • Possibly some ghostly abilities come standard with a given level of power, and Rowan's large Steampunk device ensured that enough spiritual power got pumped into him as he died that he'd be guaranteed a good selection of them. He may not have known exactly what he'd be capable of, just that whatever he'd become would be major-league dangerous. Note that the sketches of giant-Rowan destroying the city only anticipated him growing to Kaiju-size, not his changing into another shape to do so; the sketch was a wish-fulfillment fantasy, not a prophecy. Possession, crowd control, and shape-shifting were abilities he discovered postmortem, testing out his new ghostly form for a while before he went after Abby.
    • Rowan's also legitimately intelligent in his own right, so while he based his research on Abby and Erin's work, he also no doubt made his own discoveries on top of this as well.
    • Fridge Brilliance: The tour guide never actually stated what Gertrude Aldridge died of, only that she died in the basement where she was confined. It's possible that she'd committed suicide down there, in which case Rowan may have chosen her as the first ghost he'd summon so that he could question her about the process of dying by one's own hand and coming back again. He sneaked back into the Aldridge House to reclaim his summoning device and to question her, and whatever she had to say confirmed that he could indeed come back from the dead himself.
    • One of the most common beliefs about ghosts is that they are souls that came back because of some unfinished bussiness, and Rowan definitely had one. As for the possession, it's possible for it to actually be a standard ability for ghosts (exorcisms are common knowledge), all the ghosts met before Rowan actually didn't have any reason to possess anyone, they were just angry, so possibly he was the only one with enough reason and cool blood (metaphorically) to use that power. As for how he knew that, possibly the same way we know we can punch and spit, or we know how to throw something to hit a certain target: as mentioned above, he only talks about those abilities post-mortem, so I'd guess ghosts just know what they can and what they can't do.
    • It's a very important, very clearly established part of the movie that shows us Rowan is definitely capable of amplifying a ghost's power. That's like, the main obstacle of the story. Why wouldn't he do the same for himself?
    • It also might have been a throw of the dice once he got caught. Rowan might have been smart, but that doesn't mean he was rational.

    Kevin's intelligence 

  • Why is Kevin an idiot? I know the meta reason, but why is he an idiot in-universe?
    • People in real life don't need a reason to be idiots, they just are. I would assume that the same explanation applies to Kevin.
    • Fridge Horror: Given his superficial charm, parasitic lifestyle (doesn't really earn his paycheque AND he decided his workplace was also his home for no reason), poor behavioural control, shallow affect, lack of empathy (via idiocy perhaps, but still) irresponsibility's entirely likely that Kevin is somewhere on the psychopathic spectrum, and his stupidity is due to him being too lazy to get an education and / or playing it up to take advantage of people (they ladies pity / swoon over him too much to fire him).
    • And if you go with the theory offered by 30 Rock, men as handsome as him live in a bubble wherein they face no consequences for their actions and are basically handed everything they want.
    • It's probably somewhere in between the two explanations above, combined with a little amping up of precisely how moronic he is for Rule of Funny. Basically, Kevin's most likely coasted through life on his looks and charms and has never really had to work for anything, including his education.
    • Beautiful people get by simply because they are beautiful. That's why some of them are dumb (male and female) — they don't NEED to be smart, they get a pass because of their looks. Look at how Erin, a professional who worked in academia (where intelligence is worth), lets Kevin slide time and time again.

    Killing ghosts with proton packs 
  • The proton packs were always only incapacitating ghosts and holding them in place until they could be trapped. And yet, when the busters fight the horde of pilgrim ghosts, they simply ... I don't know, destroy... disperse... banish them? Where did that come from? I don't recall even a cursory Hand Wave, like they're overloading their guns to avoid hassling with the traps, or it's an upgrade. They just can do that now, apparently.
    • It is pretty clearly established that Holtzmann is constantly tinkering with the gadgets and they're gradually becoming more streamlined and powerful, so it's not too far a stretch to suggest that the power levels in these proton packs have a substantial boost or a similar capacity which makes them capable of destroying/dispersing/banishing/whatevering ghosts as well as capturing them. It should also be remembered that this is a Broad Strokes Continuity Reboot rather than a strict continuation of the previous film; the old ones might not have been able to do that, but the new ones can.
    • Many of the ghosts in the big battle may not have been powerful enough on their own to threaten humans at all, but were being fed power by Rowan to allow them to manifest. It's not that the ladies didn't bother trapping them; it's that once they smacked such Rowan-boosted opponents around for a while, the artificially-empowered ghosts ran out of borrowed juice and reverted back to a harmless state, so the Ghostbusters didn't need to trap them.
    • Also, Holtzmann is actually showed to be quite aggressive and keen to create dangerous equipment, she creates a trap because the others actually want to have something that can be used to trap, so it's in-character that her creations end up being actually harmful to ghosts.


  • If the bad guy could just possess people as a ghost, what was stopping him from simply possessing the busters one by one and then have them kill themselves?
    • Overconfidence. He tried something like that before he started the Cataclysm, but got booted out of Abby's body and decided Kevin was a better host than any of the girls. After, he was basically a god, and was just having fun. It wasn't until they inverted the portal that he was in any danger.
    • Rowan mentions that he can feel himself getting dumber by being in Kevin's body. Assuming he wasn't joking about that, he's probably wary of possessing too many people in a row, as doing so could cause him to lose aspects of his own identity.
    • Also, he only managed to do minor damage to their equipment before being stopped, and after he lost the surprise element, he would have ended up being two against one (whoever he possessed) in a place full of equipment that could be used to trap or harm him, and whoever he picked there was at least one of the others who could said equipment, not to mention that, for all he knew, the fourth one could be nearby, so it would have been really risky for him to keep trying that. He used the surprise effect to do as much damage as he could, and then went back to his original plan.
    • Accepting that he couldn't possess the Ghostbusters personally and off them one by one is easy. What's harder to explain is how he couldn't freeze them in place and automatically win. It might be a less complex form of possession but he does command all the soldiers and police outside the building to stand to attention and not move. He could have easily done this to the Ghostbusters and killed them however he wanted. Its not even like they dodged all his attacks, he flushed them out of the building with green energy waves so he could have easily stopped them right there.
    • Possibly it's easier to do that sort of thing to people who don't seriously believe in the paranormal than to those who know it exists and aren't caught completely unprepared for that sort of psychic assault. Even the two feds who allegedly knew about such things didn't really seem to take it that seriously, worrying more about PR than any possible danger.
    • I think that's really up for debate about those two feds. They are concerned about not causing a panic but there's no doubt that they absolutely believe in the Paranormal given how they explain other paranormal events that the Ghostbusters haven't heard about and privately support the Ghostbusters. It's about as likely a theory as "Ghost's can't possess people in Subway maintenance uniforms," there's nothing to hold it up.
    • I assume he simply didn't freeze the Ghostbusters out of some kind of respect. The cops and the soldiers and the feds are basically, in his mind at least, the kind of people who have picking on and belittling him his entire life; bullies, jocks, authority figures, and so forth. He freezes them and humiliates them out of a combination of a power-trip and sublimated feelings of revenge. The Ghostbusters, however, are a combination of fellow obscure academics, disdained Butt Monkeys and blue-collar stiffs, and throughout the movie despite their antagonism he's constantly polite and cordial to them (albeit in a rather creepy way) and clearly on some level views them as equals, or at least worthy of what he views as professional courtesy. He wouldn't be the first bad guy to let Worthy Opponent sentiments get in the way of just dealing with the heroes outright.
    • The other factor that may have prevented him from wanting to kill the Ghostbusters is that he'd then be dealing with their vengeful spirits in an environment that empowers spooks. He may have been gambling that they'd be easier to deal with in human form.

    Destroyed equipment 
  • Didn't the bad guy destroy all the busters' equipment? Where did they get a brand new set of proton packs?
    • He tried, but they stopped him before he could do more than superficial damage.
    • By the looks of it, a few hours seemed to have passed between Rowan's vandalism and the Ghostbusters' departure, so the bit of damage he did might have been fixed in that time.
    • Holtzmann works very, very fast. Remember, she made a brand new arsenal in her spare time, over three very busy days. A few strikes with a pipe would have probably taken her an hour or so to fix, if that.
    • It could also be that they have spares. Possibly even just old packs due to building new ones with updated technology. For someone like her, the fun is building anew instead of upgrading. Which could be faster and less taxing on the existing wiring.
    • He barely destroyed anything — he manages to whack like one proton pack twice, and doesn't seem to do any real damage even with that. I'd be surprised if he did any real damage to their equipment.

    First trailer hints at original Ghostbusters 
  • The first trailer makes it seem like it's in the same universe as the 1984 Ghostbusters. Was that just a trick to attract a lot of viewers? If so, it seems a bit dishonest. Why mention the original Ghostbusters?
    • It seems like they were trying to get people's attention to watch it by referring to the original, and weren't exactly clear that it's a reboot instead of a sequel.

  • Why didn't Erin realize that her book was in publication when royalty checks should have been coming to her?
    • It's implied that (a) Abby has only fairly recently re-published the book and (b) it's not exactly been flying off the shelves. It might not have been in publication long enough for the publishers to get around to sending her a check.
    • The book might have been a LONG way from earning out any advance.
    • The hard copies might also have been a surplus of unsold copies of the original print run that Abby had access to rather than a full reprint, and Abby might have set up the e-copy to direct any proceeds directly to her rather than to both her and Erin. In other words, Abby might have been trying to stiff Erin on her rightful cut of the profits.
    • It's almost guaranteeable that Ghosts From Our Past was self-published. Ergo, no royalties beyond what would be earned from sales of the book. As mentioned above, Abby probably set up an e-book and either reprinted a bunch of hard copies or sold whatever surplus she had access to (and tried to stiff Erin on her rightful cut in the process).

    Times Square 
  • So, what did Rowan actually do in Times Square? Was it a (truly impressive) optical illusion? A time warp? Something else? And what would've happened if someone tried to drive that car sitting in the street out of there?
    • Basically, it was a bit of Reality Warper shenanigans. Opening the portal between the world of the living and the world of the dead appears to have made the world of the living malleable to the will of someone who had sufficient power and knew what he was doing (i.e. Rowan), and he was basically reshaping it however he saw fit.

    Marshmallow Rowan 
  • Look at Big Ghost Rowan as he stomps through the city: His skin is white, turning slimy, then black and charred as he takes damage. He steps on a car, and his foot peels off it like chewing gum... he's made of marshmallow, like Mr Stay-Puft. Why? Patty didn't ask him to be, and I can't see why Rowan would choose that for himself...
    • It's likely he wasn't really powerful enough to hold that form long term, meaning the longer he stayed in it, the more it broke down and left ectoplasmic material on things it touched.
    • Alternatively, he's not quite at full power; he appears to get more powerful the closer he is to the portal and the longer it's open, so since it's only been open a short while he's presumably powerful but still susceptible to damage at that point.
    • Out of character, it's yet another reference to the original film. In character, it actually makes a certain amount of sense: Rowan's probably been observing the Ghostbusters' previous battles with his minions, including the way three of them were very nearly crushed to death by a giant marshmallow-man parade balloon just a few minutes ago. He's drawing upon everything he thinks will scare them to mutate his logo-form into something terrifying, so naturally that includes elements that hint of Mr. Stay-Puft.
    • He seemed more made of fabric to me.
    • Just for clarity, he's actually a Bedsheet Ghost as opposed to a marshmallow man, but, per Word of God, he overestimated on how much material he needed. His apparent "marshmallow fluff" texture is the extra fabric billowing and folding as he moves.

  • On a meta/scriptwriting level, why is Erin the one who reacts to a few random addresses by realizing they form a pattern and immediately X'ing them onto a map of New York? Patty's special skillset, besides access to hearses and fabulous taste in hairstyles, is her encyclopedic knowledge of the city. The subsequent cascade of Eureka Moments (realizing the pattern matches the NY leylines, deducing that Rowan is using his devices to charge them, etc.) require the paranormal expertise of the other Ghostbusters, but it seems both egregiously random and a missed opportunity to have anyone but Patty notice and plot out the pattern itself...
    • I suppose because the pattern is fundamentally based on the supernatural connection they have (the addresses all fall on the ley lines), and while Patty is shown to have in-depth knowledge of New York history she's not shown to have any particular knowledge of the supernatural, so as far as she's concerned there wouldn't be a pattern (although I suppose they could have chucked in some kind of historical connection between them all to boost Patti's contribution to events — or maybe did, it's been a little while since I saw it and can't quite remember). Whereas Erin, who has been clearly established to have studied the paranormal, would more easily spot a pattern which was fundamentally based on the supernatural. I suppose it also helps reinforce the fact that Erin, despite her earlier attempts at skepticism, in fact remembers more of what she researched with Abby than she had previously let on.
    • Also, Erin's a lifelong New Yorker. She's just as likely to spot the geographic relationship between the sites as anyone else on the team, because you don't necessarily need to have studied Manhattan's history to know how its streets run.

     Gertrude Aldridge 
  • Gertrude was a mad dog killer in life, and she seems to be just as malicious in the afterlife. Yet she seems more about spiteful mischief than actually killing mortals. She lets Garrett escape completely unharmed (aside from ruined pants), and she simply vomits slime on Erin — which seems more like a petty insult than an attack.
    • She was also completely insane. She does whatever she wants at the time and no matter how nonsensical, it makes sense to her because she's completely nuts. Kind of like how The Joker sometimes, say, leaves "bombs" that are just boxes of marzipan and kittens lying around to fuck with everyone. She also just might not have had sufficient power to do anything more lethal; it was fairly early on in Rowan's scheme, after all, so the phantasmagoric power that he was building up hadn't reached a sufficiently dangerous level for her to act with more lethal intent yet.
    • Also, Rowan needed to be able to control her. Giving her too much power might've made her as dangerous to him as to anyone else, and he can't afford to die anywhere except standing in front of his machine. Plus, if she'd actually killed that tour guide, the whole mansion would've been sealed off as a crime scene and he couldn't have sneaked in to retrieve his sparky-thingy.
  • She also emerges from the cellar, wearing an extravagant ballroom gown (even with a corsage), her hair and makeup freshly done. Like she was at the pinnacle of her youthful beauty. How come she wasn't emaciated, with tangly hair and tattered clothes? The convict specter obviously appeared as he died (obviously the same kind of ghost, a full torso apparition), so why did she get to appear at her absolute best?
    • Presumably ghosts have some power, even if limited, over what appearances their spectral forms take, and if you were a rather vain, entitled and once-beautiful person and you had the choice, would you rather go around looking all bedraggled and gross or would you rather look like you did in your glory days? Presumably the convict ghost looked more like he would have when he died because he was probably poor and ugly to begin with, there's not exactly a huge gulf between looking like a bedraggled, beaten-up convict and a bedraggled, beaten-up poor person, and at least the convict-look is kind of intimidating and cool.
    • We have no idea what sort of delusions Gertrude might have been prone to. She may never, in her own twisted mind, have recognized the squalid state she'd been reduced to, and when she became a ghost, she appeared as she imagined herself to have looked, not as she actually did.
    • Also, while Gertrude's father might have kept her locked in the basement of his house, she was still his daughter and it's still the basement of a pretty fancy New York mansion, not a medieval dungeon. The point was to keep her out of jail and keep her from hurting anyone else, not to reduce her to an animal. It's entirely possible if not likely that he provided her with regular meals, reasonably decent clothes and sufficient amenities to enable herself to be halfway presentable.

     How did they know when to pull the rope? 
  • At the end of the movie, when Erin jumps into the portal to save Abby, as soon as she's caught her, the other two Ghostbusters start pulling them back with the rope attached to Erin. However, Erin and Abby were clearly so deep inside the portal that they had no visual or aural connection to Jillian and Patty, so how did they know when the right moment was to pull the two back?
    • They probably didn't; they just wanted to get at least one of them out of the portal before it was sealed shut forever. They no doubt hoped Erin had managed to grab ahold of Abby, but if she hadn't then at least saving just Erin would be better than losing both Erin and Abby. They probably just waited until there was no more rope (or until it looked like the portal would close before they could pull them back up in time) and then just started pulling it up and hoping for the best.


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