Monday, May 13, 2013

When the Hero Doesn't Save the Day

Spoiler Alert. If you haven't seen Skyfall and/or Iron Man 3 and don't want the ending spoiled for you, please skip this post and I'll see you on Wednesday.

You sure?


Okay, read on.

I saw both these movie within the last week and they had something in common that I found interesting.

In Iron Man3, during the big exciting action finale, the hero's (Iron Man/Tony Stark) lady love is in peril. Sounds normal for an action film, right?  Pepper Potts is about to fall from a great height. Tony manages to get close and tells her to let go and he will save her. I believe the line was, "I'll catch you, I promise." Again, pretty standard stuff. She lets go and he makes a desparate grab but...oops, he misses and she falls into the flames below.

What? The hero didn't save the fair damsel? That can't be right.  

Pepper does not die. Not because of Tony but because of a rejuvenation drug forced on her by the villain. In fact, because of the power of that rejuvenation drug, it's Pepper who ends up saving the day.

So the hero didn't save the girl, the villain did. 


Then I saw Skyfall.

Here we have hero James Bond, trying to save his boss, M. At the end of the big action finale the villain has reached M and is about to kill her. In fact, he wants to force her to kill them both (firing a bullet through one into the other). If James doesn't get there in time, the villain and M will both die.

Hooray!  James arrives in the nick of time and kills the villain. But it turns out M was seriously wounded earlier in the battle and she dies in James's arms. The villain and M are both dead...exactly what would have happened if James hadn't got there at all.

When did the heroes stop saving the day?  Especially superheroes. (Oh come on. Of course, James Bond is a superhero.)  Is this a trend I managed not to notice?  Or simply a coincidence?  If you've seen either or both of these movies, did this strike you, too?

Fun Photo for Today:

Okay, it's a Mother's Day picture but I'm actually writing this post on Mother's Day and I thought this was funny.


Lexa Cain said...

I've never been a 007 fan (except for Roger Moore who understood the inherent comedy of the franchise). But I kinda like the fact that Pepper saved the day and is some kind of a superhero herself now. Go Pepper! :-)

Tara Tyler said...

this is hollywood trying to put new twists on movies and not make them so predictable with the old traditional ending... which is good, but sometimes we want it the way it "should" be. its the how thats ok to mess with.

in a couple of books, i dont understand why some of the characters died other than for dramatic effect, which isnt a good enough reason in my book!

have a great week!

Maria Zannini said...

I hadn't seen either movie yet, but spoilers don't bother me.

I think it's a matter of paying a great price (especially in Skyfall) in exchange for who you are or what you have/want.

Much as I hate it when they kill off a favorite character, it feels more real when they do. We're invested. That person matters.

To me, it's a bit of a cop-out to bring them back to life--unless I really, really like that character, then all bets are off. I am a selfish reader and movie-goer.

Stacy McKitrick said...

I kind of figured Pepper didn't die, and WHY, so it wasn't a complete shock she saved his a$$.

As for James Bond, I never really thought about the ending. But it was a surprise, so it had that going for it.

Linda G. said...

Directors (and let's face it--writers, too) stretch to surprise us. Which can be good or bad, depending on how much you enjoy their new contortions.

Julie Luek said...

I love a good James Bond movie-- may have to check this one out.

Gina Gao said...

I've always liked James Bond movies. Skyfall was absolutely amazing.

J. A. Bennett said...

I actually liked what they did in Iron Man, sometimes they heroine can't be saved, and sometimes she has to do things with her own strength. Also, would James Bond be real if he always saved everybody? I think it's quite cool, although I do like a happy ending, doesn't hurt to switch it up :)

Clarissa Draper said...

I actually liked the films better because the hero didn't save the day. It's more realistic to me. Besides, all knew Dench couldn't continue much longer in the series.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That sign is awesome!
With Skyfall, it was just showing that life isn't always a happy ending.
Stark didn't save the day in Iron Man III, but I was all right with that. He was just as busy battling his own inner demons as he was the villain anyway.

LD Masterson said...

Lexa - Sorry. Pepper's powers were temporary. She's back to being Pepper now.

Tara - I agree. Especially if it's a character I like.

Maria - I agree. I would have been seriously annoyed if they'd killed off Pepper. I wasn't too thrilled about M - I really liked Judy Dench in that roll.

Stacy - It was a bit different having James Bond fail come up short. I'm wondering if the next Bond movie will have a new Bond as well as a new M.

Linda G. - I didn't dislike either twist but seeing two action films back to back where the hero didn't save the day surprised me.

Julie - I think the Bond franchise has changed a lot in recent years. I wonder what Ian Flemming would think.

Gina - I'm glad you enjoyed it.

J.A. - I agree but...I think James Bond always been more of a superhero than a real character.

Clarissa - Definitely more realistic but I don't expect a lot of realism in superhero movies. Isn't a "realistic superhero" an oxymoron?

Alex - Hey, you're the first person to comment on it. Thanks. I was really okay with both movies, including the endings. I was just surprised. Guess I don't associate serious, real life endings with superhero/action movies. Or maybe I've not been paying attention.

Pk Hrezo said...

LOL to that sign. So funny!

Maybe peeps are getting tired of always a happy ending? Fact is, people die, and stories should have an element of realism.

Murees Dupé said...

I was sad when M died. But it is a bit of a twist to not have the hero save the damsel in distress. By the way, I awarded you the sunshine award on my blog.

Scribbles From Jenn said...

Great sign! I guess I'm old-fashion in that I like the hero saving the day, too. I guess it's because I want to believe in Happily Ever After, at least in the movies. I still liked both movies even with the new twist.

Lydia Kang said...

I haven't seen Iron man but I had to peek at the ending of your post! eep. Still, I'm going to see it anyway!

Mark Means said...

O.k...I don't want to sound like a total conspiracy whacko, but this goes along with something I noticed when we went to see Iron Man 3 at the midnight showing last week.

There was a poster for the new Star Trek film that showed the Enterprise going down in flames....another poster was for the new Superman movie and showed him being lead down a hall in handcuffs.

It's almost as if there some sort of concerted effort to denigrate the concept of the "hero" what end, I have no idea. Of course, that's only if you believe in such conspiratorial things.

With Hollywood, who knows, though.....

Carol Kilgore said...

I was surprised in Skyfall. But it was more realistic. Haven't seen Ironman 3 yet, but I'd heard the thing about Pepper.

Love the sign!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

My boys were disappointed in I-3 because Tony didn't save the day. I kind of liked it.
Love that picture. None of my kids bought me a bottle this year. I hope they don't think they're not causing me to drink anymore.

Maryann Miller said...

Like Maria, I hate it when a character suddenly comes back to life. Reminds me of those soap opera characters who died, but, whoops, they were really just in a coma off stage for five years, and now they have miraculously come back to life.

It appears, though, that the way the storyline was handled with Pepper it made sense.

And I love the Mother's Day sign.

LD Masterson said...

PK - I related to that sign. *grin*
I think I expect happy endings in romantic movies and I'm prepared for realistic, unhappy ones in dramas, but realism in superhero action surprised me.

Murees - Well, of course, they simply promoted a new M, but I will miss Judy Dench. And thanks for the award. I'll pick it up on Friday.

Jenn - I can't say I was disappointed in the endings, just surprised they did it that way.

Lydia - Oh, do see it. It's a fun couple of hours.

Mark - Ah ha! I asked if this was the beginning of a trend but I never thought of a conspiracy.

Carol - I wonder what Ian Flemming would think of all this.

Susan - I can understand their reaction. Boys want their superheroes to be superheroes. (Maybe you should mention the drinking thing to them. )

Maryann - Yes, they never actually said Pepper was dead so I didn't have a problem with it. A little far fetched but then, this is a superhero movie.