Film and television history is full of memorable surprise endings; from Planet of the Apes’ famous Statue of Liberty reveal, to the “We have to go back” scene from Lost, to The Usual Suspects’ big twist that Kevin Spacey was really an evil villain all along … which plays slightly differently today. But as we’ve mentioned before, sometimes preserving the integrity of these mind-blowing bombshells requires going to some pretty ridiculous lengths, such as how …

The Mandalorian Pretended That The Big Surprise Cameo Was … Plo Koon?

The Twist:

Star Wars projects haven’t always had the best luck when it comes to keeping secrets, at least not since the actor who played Darth Vader randomly guessed, and blabbed about, the ending of The Empire Strikes Back. Which may be why the folks at Lucasfilm were extra cautious when crafting the second season finale of The Mandalorian, which featured a surprise cameo from a post-Return of the Jedi, pre-bearded crackpot Luke Skywalker, thanks to state-of-the-art digital technology that kind of made the whole thing feel like a cutscene from an early 2000s Polar Express video game. 

How Did They Keep it a Secret?

In the script, and even on set, the character was referred to as “Plo Koon” – you know, the alien Jedi Master who first showed up in The Phantom Menace, was fleshed out more fully in the Clone Wars series, and who generally looks like someone cybernetically-enhanced the contents of the dumpster behind a Red Lobster.  

To further the illusion that this random monster dude was the one fulfilling this crucial Star Wars role, concept art featuring Plo Koon was commissioned, and a CGI Plo Koon head was animated and inserted on the actor’s body for the actual footage shown during dailies.

And you have to wonder whether or not the Mandalorian would have handed over Grogu so easily if the Jedi who was sent to receive him looked like The Predator’s more successful younger brother.

Marvel Straight-Up Lies, Concocts Fake Trailers and Apparently Has a Mysterious Dude in a Trenchcoat On Retainer

The Twist:

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been positively brimming with spoil-able twists lately; from Tony Stark’s death in Endgame, to Kingpin showing up at the end of Hawkeye, to Spider-Man: No Way Home not bringing back 1970s TV Peter Parker  along with the others.

How Did They Keep it a Secret?

Apparently, there’s pretty much nothing Marvel wouldn’t resort to in order to prevent their secrets from getting out. Most famously, they freely tinker with trailers, and Spider-Man: No Way Home was no exception. The two other Spider-Men who showed up at the end were digitally removed from the trailer footage of the third act, which was somewhat apparent because, in one shot, the Lizard appeared to get punched in the face by a completely invisible fist. Actors took lunch breaks together but facing the wall to avoid association, and, since the word still ultimately got out, Andrew Garfield had to repeatedly lie about his involvement while promoting two other movies.

As for Hawkeye, even the costume designer didn’t know that Kingpin was going to be the big baddie until just two months before cameras rolled, forcing them to scramble to throw together a wardrobe, which required doing remote costume fittings. And while actors commonly aren’t allowed to keep copies of these secretive projects’ scripts, Eternals actress Lauren Ridloff claimed that her script was delivered and collected by a “​​mysterious man in a trench coat.” Which all sounds more exciting than, well, Eternals.

Split – The Final Twist Was So Secret, M. Night Shyamalan Almost Created Legal Problems For the Studio

The Twist:

We can’t talk about movie twists without bringing up M. Night Shyamalan, whose work regularly contains last minute reveals that come as a shock to anyone who didn’t read the young adult novels or watch the Nickelodeon TV shows that share suspiciously similar plot lines. One of the best twists of Shyamalan’s career came in the final moments of Split, which dramatically reveals the presence of Bruce Willis. And while this easily could have been yet another movie in which Bruce Willis randomly shows up for two minutes and collects a hefty paycheck, here he was playing David Dunn, his character from Shyamalan’s earlier film Unbreakable

How Did They Keep it a Secret?

In this case, before the studio even had a chance to withhold it from the public, Shyamalan kept it secret from the studio itself. The scene revealing how Split was a stealth Unbreakable sequel wasn’t included in the original script, nor was it part of the dailies submitted to the studio. Even the crew didn’t realize what movie they were making until being summoned for a last-minute three-hour shoot with Willis. 

This wasn’t without its potential problems either, since Unbreakable was made by an entirely different studio. After screening the full movie for Universal executives, according to Shyamalan, they were “completely flummoxed” and in frustration, pointed out that Unbreakable is “a Disney movie!” Despite the fact that Disney (whose Touchstone Pictures division released Unbreakable) aren’t exactly known for their being charitable with their intellectual properties – hence the time they literally sued a bunch of daycares. But Shyamalan assured them that it was “all good” and that he had been given “permission.” While the scene was held back from preview screenings of the film, to guess the twist, all you needed to do was closely examine the poster ... 

The Dark Knight Rises – Christopher Nolan Built a Decoy Tombstone

The Twist:

At the end of The Dark Knight Rises, Batman heroically hauls away a bomb (possibly as a reference to the old Adam West movie) and seemingly dies in the ensuing explosion. But Batman isn’t really dead, just hanging out in Italy, waiting for his trusty friend Alfred to pop by … after Alfried buried his only friend and presumably endured months of emotional agony that Bruce could have easily fixed with, like, a two-second phone call.

How Did They Keep it a Secret?

In order to keep every part of Batman’s faux demise a secret, the funeral scene wasn’t shot next to a tombstone with the name “Bruce Wayne” engraved on the front. No, during the actual filming, director Christopher Nolan used a grave with the name “Miranda Tate” and later used “digital effects to change it” – Miranda Tate, of course, being the alias Talia Al Ghul uses in the film.

That way, anyone who managed to sneak a photo of the set wouldn’t blow the ending. Although, it does beg the question of why this random woman who went on like two dates with Bruce Wayne would be buried next to his late parents (a move that would require at least three dates, minimum). Nolan also had Christian Bale come to the set for that scene, despite the fact that he was ostensibly, supposed to be dead, just in case the call sheet leaked. Although, again, Bruce Wayne was alive – and if he had popped by his own funeral, it probably would have saved everybody a lot of needless grief. 

Psycho – Alfred Hitchcock Bought Up Every Copy Of The Novel

The Twist:

If there was a noxious fog of B.O. wafting throughout the lower hemisphere in the spring of 1960, that was likely due to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho,  which basically acted as an over-the-top anti-showering PSA. 

The iconic shower murder scene was unquestionably brutal, but ultimately what made it so memorable was the shock. Up until that point in the story, Janet Leigh’s character Marion was the protagonist of the story – then, suddenly, she was the victim of the least pleasant cinematic bathroom scene outside of There’s Something About Mary. If that narrative left turn wasn’t enough of a spoiler, there was also the final reveal that the shadowy killer was really Norman Bates, not his elderly mother, who had already died and gone full Crypt Keeper.

How Did They Keep it a Secret?

Hitchcock took great pains to keep the secrets of Psycho under wraps, withholding the script from studio executives and providing “no details” to theater owners. Even the trailer for the movie didn’t actually feature footage from the film, just Hitch skulking around the Bates Motel like a teenage Universal Studios Tour Guide of the future. 

 

Hitchcock printed posters asking audiences not to reveal the story’s “shocking secrets” and also instituted a lateness policy, barring entry after Psycho had started, since back then audiences used to wander into movies whenever they felt like, presumably because they were busy smoking cigarettes, slugging back whiskey, or doing both simultaneously. 

But all of this secrecy was in the service of a movie that was based on a pre-existing novel. So rather than let the book blow the film’s killer twists, Hitchcock enlisted his assistant “to buy up as many copies of the novel as possible from the publisher and from bookstores” and reportedly “came reasonably close to purchasing every copy on the shelves at the time.” Thankfully, Hitchcock refrained from kidnapping the author and burning down every library in America.

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