5 Hit Movies With Clever Foreshadowing
Unless it was ruined for you by some goober on Twitter, a movie often delivers some unlikely surprises. But filmmakers sometimes can't stop themselves from dropping clues hinting at the big twist ahead of time, as if they're mustache-twirling cartoon villains. And thanks to the miracle of hindsight, we can now pick apart byzantine hints that even dum-dums like us didn't notice during the first watch. SPOILERS for movies such as ...
Captain Marvel -- A VHS Tape Hints At Carol's Origin
When Captain Marvel first comes to Earth, the movie needs a way to let viewers know that all this takes place in the '90s. Rather than having Carol Danvers crash-land into a celebrity Pog tournament featuring Ace of Base battling the Budweiser frogs, she falls smack into a Blockbuster Video. This firmly establishes the film in the past (for everyone except the people of Bend, Oregon).
While perusing the aisles of the store she just partially destroyed, Carol picks up a copy of The Right Stuff, the 1983 adaptation of Tom Wolfe's book about the Mercury Seven astronauts. While we haven't learned Captain Marvel's backstory yet, it turns out to have certain parallels to the experiences of John Glenn and company. The Right Stuff chronicles test pilots who ventured into space, and later in the movie, we learn that Carol was an Air Force test pilot who also wound up going to space.
Not only that, but the bar she later visits is named Pancho's, a reference to "Pancho" Barnes' Happy Bottom Riding Club, the improbably named watering hole featured in The Right Stuff. So do any other random details in that Blockbuster hold any special meaning? Does a VHS copy of Three Men And A Baby provide any clues about Avengers: Endgame? Well, no. But at one point, a spooked Carol shoots a True Lies standee, which might also hint at a later twist. In True Lies, Arnold Schwarzenegger's character has been deceiving his wife since they met, hiding his job as a government agent. Similarly, we learn that Jude Law's Yon-Rogg has been lying to Carol about her past as an alien agent. (Or it could be an F-you to a '90s action flick that holds up like a turd in a rainstorm nowadays.)
Us -- A Bunch Of Subtle Clues Pave The Way For The Big Twist
Jordan Peele's horror hit Us finds a vacationing family dealing with home invaders who happen to be their doppelgangers. The Wilsons' doubles are members of the "Tethered," a secret underground population of America that was cloned from the people above because ... well, reasons. And in a surprise final twist, we learn that the protagonist Adelaide was a Tethered who ambushed her surface-dwelling double and switched places back in the 1980s.
Now sure, that's nutty, but the movie gives us some subtle hints at Adelaide's true nature. Early on, she tells her friend Kitty that she doesn't like to talk, which makes sense, as the Tethered don't speak, but communicate through howls. (The fact that Adelaide's Tethered speaks seems like an aberration, but makes more sense when it turns out she's not originally a Tethered at all.) Later, a different group of doubles inexplicably spares Adelaide's life. In light of the reveal, this may have been because they sensed that Adelaide is in fact one of them. Most intriguing, in the opening, we see that young Adelaide is wearing a Thriller T-shirt (keep in mind this was back in the 1980s, when it was totally acceptable to dress children in Michael Jackson paraphernalia).
The twist in Us is a lot like the twist at the end of the Thriller music video. Adelaide is revealed to secretly be one of the Tethered, and Michael Jackson is revealed to be some kind of monster (because of his creepy glowing eyes, not an HBO documentary).
The Last Jedi Anticipates Snoke And Luke's Fates
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the sequel to The Force Awakens and the prequel a thousand pissy YouTube videos. Foreshadowing has always been a part of the Star Wars saga -- and not just how the Death Star explosion foreshadows a never-ending parade of Death Star explosions. The Last Jedi is no exception. Take Snoke's death, in which he's cut in half like an unlucky magician's assistant. This moment is presaged by a scene in which Rey slices a rock in two. The rock even slides down slowly in a similar fashion to the Supreme Leader's gnarly corpse.
It's not just Snoke. The movie is filled with objects being bisected, from the Mega Star Destroyer to that lightsaber that has surprisingly worked fine for like 60 years.
And in the end, Kylo Ren tries to slice Luke in half.
This time it doesn't work, because Luke isn't really present, and is instead some kind of astral projection. But symbolically, this moment illustrates that Luke Skywalker can't be destroyed like a common inanimate object or elderly wizard in a gold lame robe. His legend is immortal, and nothing can change that. (Unless he comes back as a Force ghost and starts hanging around gym locker rooms or something.)
A Star Is Born Hints At The Depressing Ending Right From The Start
One of the biggest moments of the 2018 A Star Is Born is its bummer of an ending. Like the roughly 50,000 other versions of the story, the movie ends with its male lead (in this case, Bradley Cooper's Jackson Maine) committing suicide. While most of the other variations on his character opted for drowning, he hangs himself in his garage. It's a shocking end, unless you were paying attention to the background. (Or had seen one of the other A Star Is Borns.)
At the beginning of the movie, Jackson is being driven around town looking for a bar to satiate his drinking problem and keep his voice a full octave lower than it should be. At one point the car stops next to an electronic billboard, which is oddly filled with a row of nooses against a rainbow flag.
In retrospect, silhouetting Maine against an image of nooses isn't exactly subtle. As for the rainbow motif, that may symbolize his future wife Allie, who sings "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" during the opening credits. If only it was a different billboard. Perhaps his destiny would have merely involved a trip to Arby's, which would have been (marginally) less depressing.
Raiders Of The Lost Ark -- A Flirty Student Tells Indy How To Survive The Ark
We all remember Raiders Of The Lost Ark as a rousing adventure starring a brassy archaeologist who never writes for academic journals, but the fact is that Indiana Jones spends most of the movie screwing up. In the end, the Nazis totally achieve their goal, and poor Indy has to get bailed out by ancient Biblical poltergeists. How do he and Marion make it through the opening of the Ark? They simply shut their eyes.
Since the moment when Dr. Jones is actually informed about the dangers of looking into the Arc was cut out of the movie, Raiders relies on subtle visual clues to pave the way for this ending. Take the scene in which Indiana is lecturing his students, who clearly want to get in his pants -- which, incidentally, the character was almost totally cool with. Pointedly, Indy is describing how one of the greatest dangers to archaeologists is local folklore. He's obviously a non-believer. That's when one of his students closes her eyes, revealing a secret (inappropriate) message.
This is a great joke, but it also throws off Indy right as he's dismissing the notion of spirituality. Jones' arc (no pun intended) finds him learning to respect cultural beliefs rather than crap all over them, solidified in the moment when he refuses to look inside the Ark. This message is further underscored by director Steven Spielberg continually highlighting characters' eyes as they pursue the Ark.
And the Staff of Ra, the medallion that reveals the burial place of the Ark, is an image of a bird's eye that lights the way. Open eyes lead you to the Ark, and eventually a gruesome death, while closing them means you survive. Coincidentally, closing your eyes is also how we suggest surviving Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull.
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