You could see these plot twists coming from a mile away.
It might be impossible to execute a perfect plot twist that no viewer sees coming, but the best plot twists do at least take most viewers by surprise. There's a fine art to having just the right amount of foreshadowing and hints to make a surprising plot development make sense in hindsight, but not so much that it becomes too obvious what the twist will be well before it happens.
Unfortunately, certain plot twists from films like The Dark Knight Rises and Joker can't be included among those that shocked audiences. It's safe to say that most viewers saw these plot twists coming, whether because the foreshadowing was too strong, there was no other logical explanation, or the pre-release marketing gave too much away.
The following article contains spoilers of the films discussed.
For all the flaws of The Dark Knight Rises—the third film in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy—it did at least link itself well to the first film in the trilogy, Batman Begins. The Dark Knight feels like its own independent movie, in many ways, with The Dark Knight Rises reintroducing the League of Shadows from Begins, who are seeking revenge for the death of their leader, Ra's al Ghul.
Still, the plot twist of the suspiciously blandly named "Miranda Tate," being Ra's al Ghul's daughter, feels a little too obvious. The character never really serves a direct function in the story before the plot twist late in the film, and the child who is shown escaping prison (implied to be Bane early on) does look female (especially nowadays, since Joey King has become more well-known as an actress since 2012). Similarly, the reveal at the film's conclusion that Joseph Gordon Levitt's character's first name is Robin isn't too surprising, but at least that's more of a reference rather than a plot-related twist.
Star Trek Into Darkness was a follow-up to 2009's Star Trek, which was a reboot of sorts for the franchise. That 2009 film mainly did feel like its own thing, but with Into Darkness, more inspiration was directly taken from a previous film: namely, 1982's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which is one of the most beloved Star Trek films and an extremely well-regarded sequel in general, and seen as an improvement on the original film it followed.
The temptation to integrate a new take on that film's villain, Khan, appeared too great for Into Darkness' writers. They also had the charismatic and sinister (when he wants to be)Benedict Cumberbatch at their disposal, who was such a good fit for a smart, ruthless, and calculating villain like Khan that many figured out his generic name of "John Harrison" was just an attempt at misdirection. Similarly, because Spock's death in The Wrath of Khan ultimately wasn't permanent, many weren't surprised when Kirk's "death" in Into Darkness was only temporary.
Alien: Covenant was a sequel to Prometheus, a movie that was promoted as a prequel to Alien, even if it felt strange and unique enough to be its own thing. Still, with fans split on whether they wanted from the series, regarding how much it should feel like a "traditional" Alien movie, Covenant returned to the series' roots in many ways. It got criticism regardless—some of it fair, and some of it not so much.
Still, the "return to its roots" nature of the film may have been one thing that led to it feeling a little more predictable and familiar. The film tries to have a twist ending where it turns out one android was not who he appeared to be, as Michael Fassbender plays both. It turns out the eviler of the two murdered, the kinder one off-screen, and "assumed" his identity—but having two identical characters with differing intents made this more of an inevitability rather than a shocking turn of events.
Count Dooku is now well-known as one of the primary antagonists of the Star Wars prequels, being a right-hand man of sorts to Palpatine, and helping to orchestrate events that would eventually bring down the Jedi Order, leading to the rise of the Empire.
But back in 2002, the year of Attack of the Clones' release, there was still some (intended) mystery around the character. Though he appears somewhat shady, he's not confirmed to be a Sith Lord until later in the film. Still, it always felt pretty obvious he would turn out evil, mainly because the actor cast as Dooku—Christopher Lee—was well-known for his villainous roles, owing to his intense acting style, screen presence, and deep voice.
How do you successfully subvert audience expectations when making a movie about the Joker, one of the most popular villains in the history of fiction? Even people who aren't huge Batman fans know a great deal about the character, as he'd been depicted on-screen many times before 2019's Joker.
Even if the film itself was a fresh (and dark) take on the comic book film genre, its plot was far from original or surprising. Still, Joaquin Phoenix's performance, the look of the film, and its straightforward origin story of Arthur Fleck's transformation into the Joker were enough for many viewers. That all possibly makes the obvious reveal that Sophie—one of Arthur's neighbors—was never actually romantically interested in the lonely, disturbed Arthur somewhat forgivable.
Admittedly, this plot twist's obvious nature wasn't the film's fault. Instead, the marketing squandered the reveal that Harrison Ford would be appearing in Blade Runner 2049, reprising his role from the 1982 original.
Given Ford's still a big-name actor, and Blade Runneris one of his most famous roles, maybe it's understandable why he was included in the trailers and put on all the posters. But at the same time, he only appears in the final third of the film, and much of the film is spent trying to discover whether he's still alive. His first scene is shot like a dramatic reveal, too, and it would have been fantastic if his inclusion in the film had been a surprise. The "spoiler" may make sense from a marketing perspective, but from an artistic perspective, it hurt the film's quality.
It would never be easy for those behind Captain America: The Winter Soldier to properly execute the twist surrounding who the Winter Soldier is. It felt like an open secret that it was Bucky, given Sebastian Stan plays both "characters," with his appearance as the Winter Solider doing little to hide his identity.
It may still be shocking because of how it impacts Steve Rogers, but viewers themselves shouldn't be too shocked by Bucky and the Winter Soldier are one and the same. Thankfully, another plot twist in the film involving HYDRA, a fascist paramilitary organization in the MCU, hits harder and feels genuinely surprising, so maybe the "mystery" around the Winter Soldier was just a distraction to have that other twist hit harder.
With J.J Abrams being the director behind 2015's The Force Awakens, it's unsurprising that the film attempted to build up a few mysteries and have a handful of reveals. After all, Abrams' name has become synonymous with plot twists—for better or worse.
It's hard to tell exactly now how surprising the reveal that Kylo Ren (Adam Driver)—the film's villain—was parented by Han Solo and Princess Leia was meant to be. Star Wars loves its family drama and dramatic reveals relating to unexpected parents, after all, so even if The Force Awakens doesn't reveal the truth about Kylo Ren straight away, the reveal itself isn't very surprising.
KEEP READING: Traitorous Trailers: 9 Times Movie Advertising Lied to Us
Jeremy is an omnivore when it comes to movies. He'll gladly watch and write about almost anything, from old Godzilla films to gangster flicks to samurai movies to classic musicals to the French New Wave to the MCU. When he's not writing lists for Collider, he also likes to upload film reviews to his Letterboxd profile (username: Jeremy Urquhart) and Instagram account.
From 'Star Wars' to The MCU: 8 Movie Plot Twists That Shocked and Awed No One – Collider
You could see these plot twists coming from a mile away.