Subverting Expectations: The Megathread - Or How Baby Dick Creators ‘Sort of Forgot’ What an Anti-Climax Is

Duncan Hills Coffee

Oww, my byaaack
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I recently saw Blue Ruin, and I think it's a revenge movie that subverts expectations in a way that works.

The movie follows a homeless depressed man named Dwight. At the beginning of the movie, Dwight finds out that the man who murdered his parents is released from prison, and judging from the way Dwight lives, we can infer that his parents' death had such a strong impact on him that he simply can't function in society. Already we empathize with him because this is a guy whose life has been destroyed and hates that the man who did it is now a free man.

What makes this interesting is that Dwight actually accomplishes his revenge fairly early on. He stalks Wade Cleland, his family's killer, to a restaurant as Wade celebrates with his family. Dwight kills him but accidentally leaves his car keys, and in a panic he highjacks the limo Wade's family used to pick him up.

The whole movie emphasizes that despite Dwight's seeming meticulousness in trying to enact revenge and fight back against the Cleland's, he is ultimately inept at it. He lacks the intelligence to have any sort of long term success. This is unusual for a revenge movie because most revenge movies rely on that catharsis of seeing the protagonist succeed in getting back at those who wronged him.

Furthermore, it's later revealed that Dwight's revenge was all for nothing. Wade wasn't his family's killer, his father was. However, Wade's father was dying of cancer, leading to Wade to take the blame. The whole thing didn't even need to happen because the real target had been dead for years. Dwight's quest was ultimately meaningless and self-destructive, doubly so since the rest of the Clelands are now after him.

What makes all of this work is that the twists expand on the emotional core of the movie. At first the audience sympathizes with Dwight, but as the movie goes on they start to realize that all he's done is bring more danger to himself and his family by killing someone who didn't even deserve it. It's a movie that effectively shows how meaningless revenge is while also showing how it leads into a pointless cycle of violence (and in a way that isn't fucking exceptional like Last of Us 2).
 

EmpireOfTheClouds

They climbed aboard their silver ghost
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Probably the best example of subverting expectations done right is Infinity War with the soul stone.

So, Gamora tells Peter, "If Thanos gets me... kill me. I know something he doesn't ". And Thanos gets her.

Next, Gamora is captured and Thanos shows us what it is that she knows: she knows where the soul stone is. Gamora won't tell him where it is, starts torturing Nebula in front of her and Gamora finally tells him where it is: Vormir.

Now here's where rule 3, as mentioned in the The Prestige analogy comes into play. There's an old saying: if there's a gun in chapter one, then it better be used to shoot someone later. So this is where they finally do that: they go to Vormir to get the stone, but Red Skull, the keeper of the stone, names his price: "You must sacrifice that which you love most... A soul for a soul". The only way to get the stone is if Thanos sacrifices Gamora, something he clearly doesn't want to do. The reason this is important is because this action has consequences on what happens in the second half of the story and in Endgame: Thanos must do something he doesn't want to achieve this goal.

This is how you properly set up a bait and switch, and pulls left turn on a way that actually feels consequential. If Rian Johnson was making this, Thanos would have stabbed Red Skull and gotten the stone in some ass pull enabled way.
 

Truthboi

The True and Honest Man
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Probably the best example of subverting expectations done right is Infinity War with the soul stone.

So, Gamora tells Peter, "If Thanos gets me... kill me. I know something he doesn't ". And Thanos gets her.

Next, Gamora is captured and Thanos shows us what it is that she knows: she knows where the soul stone is. Gamora won't tell him where it is, starts torturing Nebula in front of her and Gamora finally tells him where it is: Vormir.

Now here's where rule 3, as mentioned in the The Prestige analogy comes into play. There's an old saying: if there's a gun in chapter one, then it better be used to shoot someone later. So this is where they finally do that: they go to Vormir to get the stone, but Red Skull, the keeper of the stone, names his price: "You must sacrifice that which you love most... A soul for a soul". The only way to get the stone is if Thanos sacrifices Gamora, something he clearly doesn't want to do. The reason this is important is because this action has consequences on what happens in the second half of the story and in Endgame: Thanos must do something he doesn't want to achieve this goal.

This is how you properly set up a bait and switch, and pulls left turn on a way that actually feels consequential. If Rian Johnson was making this, Thanos would have stabbed Red Skull and gotten the stone in some ass pull enabled way.
Not only that but you wouldn't expect Thanos to genuinely love Gamora.
 

LightDragonman1

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There's a reason people have said that Infinity War and Endgame are what Last Jedi and Rise of Skywalker respectively should have been.
 
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LightDragonman1

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Also, I know that this may be a contentious opinion, but I felt that the third Madoka movie, Rebellion, was also an example of subversion done well, as it made since within Homura's character that she'd do what she did at the end, it was properly set up through her actions and characterization, and it also built upon and expanded on the themes that were always present in the series.
 
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Trashfire Garbagefuck

Hot Carl
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Also, I know that this may be a contentious opinion, but I felt that the third Madoka movie, Rebellion, was also an example of subversion done well, as it made since within Homura's character that she'd do what she did at the end, it was properly set up through her actions and characterization, and it also built upon and expanded on the themes that were always present in the series.
really? it felt like a weird heel turn to me. the whole movie was a lengthy series of random plot twists and pointless "hey member dis?" moments, but that last one was just too silly, and I was already done with the movie's inconsistent random bullcrap half an hour before that happened. at the end she suddenly makes a generic anime evil girl face and starts fucking shit up because "lol I'm evil and i love madoka". I half expected homura to suddenly grow a handlebar moustache and tie someone up on a traintrack. the writer was convinced to do it this way so there would be room for a sequel which is why it felt so unnatural and sudden. then we never even got the sequel so we'll never get a definitive ending anyways. honestly I thought the original series ending was kinda dumb too, madoka's wish had infinite power and could have accomplished anything, she could rewrite the very nature of the universe itself, but all she did was wish the status quo was slightly less shitty. yet I'd still take that over rebellion, or even rebellion without the added on evil homura twist.
 

LightDragonman1

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Personally, I thought that Rebellion was very easy to understand, as the plot is basically Homura learning that not all is right with the world she is in and trying to uncover the truth, and things escalate from there. Her character change at the end also wasn't exactly clear cut evil, as she did end up making a world that was better and happier for all of the character except for Kyubey, with the dilemma coming from the fact that it is all based on a lie, and it heavily implies that the illusion will not be able to hold up forever, and that Homura herself doesn't feel 100% good about it either.

As for the whole point of the ending in the original, Madoka did rewrite reality so that the girls wouldn't have to have their tragic fate occur, but still allowed the Magical Girl system to continue, as the Incubators pointed out that much of mankind's progress was due to the system, and that by getting rid of it, humanity would stagnate. So it was a fair compromise.
 
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Lensherr

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There's a reason people have said that Infinity and Endgame are what Last Jedi and Rise of Skywalker respectively should have been.
Really? Because in my opinion, those movies aren't much better and the only reason why they get a pass in comparison is because of all the fan service that they offer up.

EDIT:
Probably the best example of subverting expectations done right is Infinity War with the soul stone.

So, Gamora tells Peter, "If Thanos gets me... kill me. I know something he doesn't ". And Thanos gets her.

Next, Gamora is captured and Thanos shows us what it is that she knows: she knows where the soul stone is. Gamora won't tell him where it is, starts torturing Nebula in front of her and Gamora finally tells him where it is: Vormir.

Now here's where rule 3, as mentioned in the The Prestige analogy comes into play. There's an old saying: if there's a gun in chapter one, then it better be used to shoot someone later. So this is where they finally do that: they go to Vormir to get the stone, but Red Skull, the keeper of the stone, names his price: "You must sacrifice that which you love most... A soul for a soul". The only way to get the stone is if Thanos sacrifices Gamora, something he clearly doesn't want to do. The reason this is important is because this action has consequences on what happens in the second half of the story and in Endgame: Thanos must do something he doesn't want to achieve this goal.

This is how you properly set up a bait and switch, and pulls left turn on a way that actually feels consequential. If Rian Johnson was making this, Thanos would have stabbed Red Skull and gotten the stone in some ass pull enabled way.
For me, that scene kind of falls flat because it fails to really give a reason for why Thanos does what he does beyond a vague philosophical commitment. Like, I get that he loves Gamora and is driven in his cause, but the movie never really gets at the heart of why.

EDIT 2: Also, I should say that these movies don't really subvert expectations because anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Marvel Comics lore can predict what's going to happen.
 
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JuanButNotForgotten

Friendly Mexican Ghost
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Turns out the protagonist is related to every plot important character there is to be in the convoluted and fucked up lore of the series. Huh.

Guess Neji was right.
Not exactly. If I recall correctly, Sage of Six Paths said, that he had two sons. One was talented from the moment of birth and could throw magic left and right, so of course he became an asshole. Second son was exactly the opposite, through force of will and determination he found many friends, who taught him many things, "his chakras changed" and he became as strong as his brother. So it's not enough just to be gifted, because without determination he would've just given up.

It gets worse too.

Remember Rock Lee? Remember how he trained super hard to become a strong Ninja because "Hard work is the best thing ever."

How many fights did he actually win over the series?
I don't remember, but his teacher destroyed several enemies, who other ninjas struggled with, including fully roided Madara. And he is basically Rock, only later in life.
 

EmpireOfTheClouds

They climbed aboard their silver ghost
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Not only that but you wouldn't expect Thanos to genuinely love Gamora.
Dunno who here is into wrestling but there is a book called "WrestleCRAP", which is about... well, I'm sure the title says it all. But there's a chapter that talks about a particularly divisive writer named Vince Russo, who was basically forcing nnonsensical swerves into storylines before Rian Johnson even was born. There's one quote in that chapter that sums this whole phenomenon up:

"Think of it this way: if Russo was managing the local Pizza Hut, you'd order a pizza and they'd deliver you a newspaper. Sure it was a surprise, but it doesn't make any sense and you'd never want to order from them again. But it sure fooled you, didn't it? "
 

Dang Woodchucks!

PE⬇️ KO↘️ PE➡️ KO⬆️ PE⬆️ KO⬇️
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Not exactly. If I recall correctly, Sage of Six Paths said, that he had two sons. One was talented from the moment of birth and could throw magic left and right, so of course he became an asshole. Second son was exactly the opposite, through force of will and determination he found many friends, who taught him many things, "his chakras changed" and he became as strong as his brother. So it's not enough just to be gifted, because without determination he would've just given up.


I don't remember, but his teacher destroyed several enemies, who other ninjas struggled with, including fully roided Madara. And he is basically Rock, only later in life.
Oh, sure, hard work sure means a lot when my dad is a space ninja god!

You're really in the wrong thread for trying to justify Kishimoto's bullshit.
 
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EmpireOfTheClouds

They climbed aboard their silver ghost
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For me, that scene kind of falls flat because it fails to really give a reason for why Thanos does what he does beyond a vague philosophical commitment. Like, I get that he loves Gamora and is driven in his cause, but the movie never really gets at the heart of why.
You must have missed the entire "Avengers on Titan" chunk of the movie, because it does describe exactly that.
 
Oh, sure, hard work sure means a lot when my dad is a space ninja god!

You're really in the wrong thread for trying to justify Kishimoto's bullshit.
Honestly Naruto's story would have worked better if it were stated you need "Both hard work and potential." since Naruto was often shown working his ass off in the early parts of the story.

It just all falls apart because Sauske is a cancer on the show, Honestly if the guy had just gotten his ass Whuuped by Super Sage Naruto at some point and got thrown in a jail cell for the rest of the series things would have been far less shitty.

You must have missed the entire "Avengers on Titan" chunk of the movie, because it does describe exactly that.
They say something about some vague "The world ended" horseshit that doesn't make much sense (How does a Spacefaring Society that has anti-gravity shit die to overpopulation and resource problems.)
 
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