In the 1996 film Independence Day, outer space aliens show up in their enormous ships ostensibly to strip Earth of all its natural resources in a locust-like fashion, but really mostly to destroy lots of our most famous and architecturally significant buildings using their highly efficient alien laser beams. Among the structures they take out are the U.S. Bank Tower, the Empire State Building, and the White House. Luckily, a team of brave fighter pilots are able to fend off the aliens before they take out every last Frank Lloyd Wright house (as was surely their ultimate plan). Now, the aliens are back, and still being huge jerks, in Independence Day 2. The trailers don’t give much of reason why they have returned, but smart money says it’s more wanton architecture destruction masquerading as some sort of resources gathering scheme. (A bunch of skyscrapers meet their ends in two-minute preview, but nothing immediately recognizable.) Anyway, this all got us wondering why aliens hate Earth architecture so much, and then we realized that it’s not just aliens—Earth architecture is also hated by asteroids and ghosts. Let us review the evidence.
We’ve already pretty well covered this one, but it is unclear why gathering resources necessitated so many good buildings being turned into rubble. We can’t help but think that something else is at foot here. Complicating matters is the fact that the aliens also killed a bunch of humans, which might indicate that they just hate people and hating architecture is a byproduct of that. Again, these aliens are major jerks.
The Watchmen are not technically aliens, but Dr Manhattan does exile himself to Mars for a little while, which makes him something of an honorary member of the alien race. He also has his super-power-energy coopted to destroy much of New York City, starting with Times Square. While it is certainly not nice to destroy Times Square, as far as crimes against architecture go, this is probably the least bad one on this list. Also, it wasn’t Dr Manhattan’s fault. Aliens get a pass on this one.
Asteroids, on the other hand, really hate architecture. Look no further than the one in Deep Impact, which takes out, most significantly, the Brooklyn Bridge, which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1972—not that the asteroid cares. You might be saying that the asteroid is a non-sentient mass of rock and doesn’t actually know what it’s doing, but you are wrong. The asteroid knows exactly what it’s doing. You also might be saying that the asteroid in Deep Impact is a comet, not an asteroid (asteroids are made up of metals and rocky material while comets are made up of ice, dust, and rocky material) and if you are saying that then we are very impressed.
Everything we just said about the comet (née asteroid) from Deep Impact, ditto for the initial meteors (meteors are asteroids, but smaller) from Armageddon, which takes out Grand Central Terminal, and also much of the east coast and parts of Europe.
V For Vendetta
Is V from V For Vendetta a ghost? Not in the sense that he is the spirit of a dead person who has reanimated and haunts the living, but yes in the sense that he is the type of character about whom another character might say, "This guy is like a ghost! We just can’t catch him!" Anyway, he blows up the Palace of Westminster (the meeting place of British Parliament) which sounds not cool but in the movie is actually very cool.
One could argue about how much the ghosts in Ghostbusters hate architecture, but one thing that is for sure is that they definitely do not have the slightest bit of respect for it. In addition to exploding the top of 55 Central Park West, they later cover much of New York City in pink slime and the Ghostbusters themselves use the ghost energy to take the Statue of Liberty out for a joyride, which can’t be good for it.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, in addition to having one of the most oddly punctuated movie titles of all time, is a movie where the Kremlin is blown up. By ghosts? We haven’t seen Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol so we can’t say with any authority who the ghosts are.
It’s got to be asteroids. Asteroids are such jerks.