I love the original Spider-Man 2, and I love the train fight scene.

But there are a couple of things that I know I should just ignore, yet they annoy me.

Why does nobody pull the passenger alarm once they become aware of Spider-Man and Doc Ock?

I can understand at first it is just a thump on the roof, so nobody would know what was going on, but it is not long before they are on the side of the train, smashing carriage windows and throwing passengers out of the window. If it was me, I would have alerted the driver by now.

The other thing is that, the train makes no stops at any stations but passes loads, although I guess this can be explained away that this is the "fast" service that skips stations.

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    “If it was me, I would have alerted the driver by now.” You’re very confident about what you would do when confronted by superheroes and villains. Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 8:59
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    The real question is: Why did the driver not hit the emergency brakes? Octavius ripped out the speed controller, but there always is a separate button in trains which triggers an emergency brake. So I would say plothole. Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 13:48
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    @lars I don't think plot hole means what you think it means. And how do you know about a separate button.
    – user16696
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 17:14
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    @cde: Plothole, lazy writing, whatever. But I have to retract my comment anyway. I just rewatched the scene and it turns out the driver actually is shown pushing the emergency brake button, which is not working. Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 19:00
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    Maybe the emergency brake levers in the passenger cars to not work if the one in the cab is broken? I asked a question on Engineering SE: engineering.stackexchange.com/questions/2133/… Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 19:23

1 Answer 1


Short answer: Bad writing or plot hole

Whatever you want to call it, the whole scene is basically patched together without accounting for all the facts.

The Driver

The driver should have been aware of the situation long before Octavius ripped out his controls. He might have noticed two people crashing into the train, he probably would have noticed them fighting on top or inside the train, but he did not.

If he had noticed, he probably would have stopped the train.

The Passengers

The passengers most definitely did notice the fight, but still did not pull the emergency brakes. One reason for that might be that passengers in New York were advised not to pull the emergency brakes in case of an emergency. Here is an article from the NY Times:

Every subway car in the city is equipped with a placard titled “Emergency Instructions.” The first instruction: “Do not pull the emergency cord.”

So what emergency, exactly, does this emergency brake refer to? The explanation, transit officials say, is simple. If someone gets caught between the train’s closing doors, or between subway cars, and is about to be dragged to an unenviable fate, pull the cord. The train will stop, possibly saving a life.

But in case of fire, crime or a sick passenger — in fact, any other situation that could fairly be described as an emergency — the cord should be left alone. Stopping the train between stations will make it harder for help to arrive.

However, in case of two people fighting on top of the train, I would have pulled the emergency brake.

The Train

Lastly, the whole scenario is very much impossible, as some nice people over at Engineering SE confirmed:

As hazzey put it:

Rail brakes are designed to be fail-safe. That is, when a failure occurs, the safe operation happens.

And regdoug writes:

I suspect that ripping out the speed control lever would have immediately applied the emergency brake.

So the train would have probably started to brake as soon as Octavius demolished the speed control, and even if not, the brakes are designed fail-safe, so the passengers would still have been able to pull the emergency brake and stop the train.

In short: The authors probably ignored all the above or did not think about it for the sake of a (imho) very cool fight scene.

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