Main characters are all the rage in movies right now, am I right? They're the focus of their films, the posters, the shitty tie-in video games. They have their bodies melted and contorted into eternal positions of agony when they're featured as Kellogg's fruit-flavored gummy snacks. They also don't die when they should. That's a bummer.
Let me rephrase that: A lot of them don't die at all, and most of the time, that's great. Ryan Gosling didn't die at the end of La La Land, giving us the hope that one day we'll be able to see him in La La Land 2: The Streets. But sometimes a story would really be improved if the lead ate it by the end. Fair warning: SPOILERS INCOMING!
At the end of Batman v. Superman, Superman sacrifices himself to kill Doomsday. It's a slight buzzkill, with Batman, Wonder Woman, and the audience being abruptly prompted to mourn a guy who could barely be bothered to star in a movie that had his name as half of the title. No matter what the "Ultimate Edition" added, Superman's story in Batman v. Superman barely breaks even. He does stuff, he feels bad, he does more stuff, and then he dies. And while I'm sure that this is setting things up for some redemptive showcase in Justice League, it doesn't make sense that you'd leave him out of most of his own movie and then bring him back halfway through the next movie if he's the character that you're most invested in working on.
Seriously, this whole DC Extended Universe thing was started with Man Of Steel as a way to reinvent Superman, but rather than focus on him, they shoved him to the side for a whole movie, and they likely won't even have him be there for most of Justice League, either. A story of redemption doesn't really matter if you don't give a glowing Kryptonian shit about the guy getting redeemed. So rather than kill Clark and leave the series scrambling for some way to render the moment "important," kill off Batman.
Why? Well, first off, Batman gets a whole arc by the end of Batman v. Superman. He starts off as an obsessive murderer, paranoid that Superman is an unforgiving alien who's just going to cause more damage. We see the costume of a deceased Robin in the Batcave, so we know that his closets are nothing but capes and skeletons. But by the end, he accepts Superman and teams up with him, proving that he can trust and dance and live and laugh again. On the other hand, Superman starts the film wondering why everyone hates him, and the only progression he gets is learning that some people might not hate him.
Rather than using Superman's death to prompt Batman to team up with other people (something that we already know that he's capable of doing), use Batman's death to prompt Superman to actually be a selfless hero. Batman's a jacked fascist weirdo with a dozen machine guns in his car, and even he's able to put his differences with others aside to fight a greater problem. If that guy is able to stop worrying and make a positive change, then Superman should definitely be able to get over a bunch of puny humans calling him mean names. Then you make Justice League about the quest to revive Batman, because for real, I'm not sure that the rest of the League knows how to use Google.
Halloween is about escaped serial killer Michael Myers and his constant run-ins with anyone who has the gall to exist on October 31st. While he was institutionalized, he was treated by Doctor Loomis, who alternatively blames handcuffs, an inept mental hospital, and himself for Michael slipping away. So from movie to movie, Loomis kind of follows Michael around, brandishing a gun and screeching at random townsfolk about the evil that's on the loose. He doesn't really accomplish anything, and his purpose in the plot is to basically fill the other characters in on why they're suddenly being pursued by death incarnate. He's six movies' worth of exposition stacked in a trench coat.
And the guys who have played Loomis are no slouches. Donald Pleasance, whom you may remember as the scarred Bond villain template who created the rockets that ate other rockets, brings a kind of manic I-Haven't-Slept-In-Eight-Years charm to the role. And in the Rob Zombie remake series, Loomis is played by Malcolm McDowell, a man unburdened by all of the regular laws of performing, going from overacting to underacting within the same syllable of a word. And both of them don't make sense past the credits of the first movie.
See, they're Captain Ahab characters. Michael Myers is their white whale. And while it's fun to watch two distinguished British men out-act every teenage thespian in the room, at some point, they need to fall victim to their inevitable tragic destinies. They need to pass the baton over to these teenage actors. Otherwise, the movies just devolve into an endless cycle of yelping 17-year-olds being saved in the nick of time by borderline octogenarians. Give the kids the whole "I spent seven years trying to reach him and eight years trying to keep him locked up. Also, bullets seem to be fucking useless" spiel and take a knife to the stomach for the good of the community.
When they're around past the first movie, you absolutely know that the rest of the cast is going to be cannon fodder, or ax fodder, or telephone cord fodder, or electric converter fodder. They're going to be waiting around to die until the next graduating class of the UCLA Department of Theater steps in. And I hate to vouch for kids who make decisions like "This is the murderer's childhood bedroom? GIVE ME THAT DICK, BOY," but it would be way more interesting to watch those teens carry the series after they ran into an expert in serial killing for an hour. I mean if he can't stop Michael, how are the kids going to do it? Well, that's the point: It makes them underdogs, and not the objects of our murder fetish. We ... we all have that fetish, right?
On the other side of the movie slasher spectrum is Hannibal Lecter -- specifically, the version played by Anthony Hopkins. Starting as a serious, menacing presence in The Silence Of The Lambs, he evolves into an infallible cartoon as the films go on. Hopkins' performance becomes an audition for the role of a Hannibal Lecter action figure. To put it in ways that we all can understand and appreciate, his role in Silence is Michael Jackson's "Bad." His role in Hannibal is Pitbull's cover of Michael Jackson's "Bad."
And how do we solve this backslide? You knock him off. Hard to glib your way through your own death.
The primary relationship in Silence and Hannibal is the one between Lecter and FBI agent Clarice Starling. They're shown to be adversaries, partners, and even equals at different times. Except they're never really equal. Clarice gets her comebacks in, and she even manages to free Lecter, saving him from being eaten by giant pigs. But she never quite gets a moral victory or any kind of solid win. That giant pigs thing might be the best example of Clarice's distance from any kind of real relevance in her own fucking story. No deep, thoughtful emotional resonance, but she does get to untie Mega Lecter just as he's about to be devoured by the titanic boars that were created by a disfigured supervillain for the sole purpose of chewing on him.
And then, as soon as she saves Lecter, she gets knocked out and Lecter has to save her. He does this by carrying her in his arms away from the boar buffet like Conan the Barbarian. Christ, Hannibal.
How does she reverse this, display some slight competence in the end, and stop Lecter from fully turning into the '60s Batman villain that he's trying desperately to become? She offs him. For the last two hours, we've watched Hannibal do his mental gymnastics above the heads of the rest of the cast, all while performing kills like a Chianti-loving Leatherface. He has rendered every other character in the film inadequate, including Clarice. So if Clarice teaches him that he can't quip past a bullet, not only does it forcefully drag him down to the more grounded level that he was at in Silence, but it also shows that Clarice, above all, is sensible. She hasn't forgotten that Lecter's whole shtick is eating folks, no matter how unbearably "charming" he's become. On a lesser note, it would actually end the film in a satisfying way, as the only thing that most people remember from Hannibal's climax is that scene in which Ray Liotta ate cooked chunks of his own brain, which is what I imagine Ray Liotta does anyway whenever he's bored.
King Kong is one of the most indelible characters in movie history. The story of a giant ape taken from his island home and then shot down off the top of a skyscraper is tattooed on our pop culture subconscious. I believe beloved Cracked.com staple John Cheese put it best when he said, "Daniel, you sexual Tyrannosaur, pay attention. King Kong is life, and I will not stop until the world knows that."
However, there are a few things that have always bothered me about the King Kong films. And one of them is the fact that the movie director, Carl Denham, who puts together the expedition to go to Skull Island, gets nothing in the way of comeuppance at the end. He lies to a team of unwitting sailors to get them to go to an uncharted island, where they are eaten by the prehistoric wildlife. And then, with half of his crew in the stomachs of giant lizards, he decides that they need to take Kong home. They do, Kong kills more people and trashes New York City after breaking out of Denham's little stage show, and then at the end, all Carl can do is say, "Looks like beauty killed the beast." Oh screw you, Carl. Don't think we forgot that this is all your fault.
It'd be different if Carl showed the slightest bit of remorse or changed as a character at all, but he never does. He just kind of kicks the dirt around Kong's carcass and sighs. "Looks like I did a boo boo." He may as well turn to the camera, smile, and shrug while the Merrie Melodies ending theme plays in the background.
Rarely will I ever get the chance to say "Someone needs to eat that motherfucker" in my life, so I'm gonna say it here: Someone needs to eat that motherfucker. Hopefully it's Kong, because that would be delicious justice, but if it's a dinosaur, that would be fine, too. Just so the moral of King Kong isn't "You can kill dozens of innocent men in the pursuit of blind capitalism, but don't beat yourself up if it all goes wrong, slugger." Instead the moral would be "Maybe don't suck, as it's harder to find yourself in the jaws of a monster gorilla when you don't suck."
At the end of the eighth season of Dexter, Dexter Morgan -- serial killer, narrator, father, and pulled pork sandwich devotee -- takes his beloved sister, Deb, off of life support and dumps her body in the ocean. He then proceeds to drive his boat out into a hurricane, where he supposedly perishes. But a few minutes later, you see that he's totally okay. PSYCH, viewers! You thought you were going to get closure to the show that you've been dedicated to for the better part of a decade, but instead you got the old "Eh, eh? He might be back in the ol' killin' habit? Mayyyyyyybe."
This ending is infuriating because it is, as we critics and scholars like to say, dumb as hell. But that's just the most obvious reason. Why couldn't Deb survive, while Dexter gets wiped out? I understand that we wouldn't have the heartfelt scene wherein Dexter has to pull the plug on a family member, but was there any suspense about that in the first place? Dexter is all about killing people he has connections to. Season after season, Dexter wrestles with killing people he's grown attached to, and very rarely does he pick the option that involves continued breathing. So when he kills Deb, who is brain-dead at this point, it's just him checking another thing off his to-do list.
But Deb, who has gotten about three episode's worth of character development in the span of eight seasons, would benefit greatly from having to mercy-kill her brother, because there's actually a question as to whether or not she'll go through with it. Unlike Dexter, who's made a habit of killing family, friends, neighbors, kiosk dudes at the mall, etc., Deb doesn't have a packed resume of crime. Will she leave her brother be, or will she make the decision to end the life of the most successful killer since Vlad the Impaler?
That's way more interesting than pretending that Dexter might not do something that he's obviously gonna do. Plus, it would resolve the series, rather than delivering one big wink to the people sitting at home. Dexter's a pleasant antihero, but since he's ritualistically carved his way through half of Miami, I don't think I'll be that torn up if his sister decides that he isn't exactly a great role model to have around.
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