14 Great Movies Held Back By Forgettable Climaxes

List Rules
Vote up the movies that end with a letdown.

Deep down, every film fan has their favorite popular movie with a bad ending. Sometimes, the hardest thing to complete when writing a screenplay is a satisfying ending. And there are plenty of very good movies that, when it comes down to it, just don't have a memorable climax. Or if they are memorable, it isn't exactly the kind of "memorable" studios are looking for. 

People still talk about how War of the Worlds just magically ends with the aliens dying out. MCU fans have numerous options to choose from when it comes to lackluster endings, whether it's Carol Danvers having little to do at the end of Captain Marvel or Tony Stark getting into a boring, forgettable fight with Obadiah Stane in Iron Man. And remember that time in Glass when a main character was drowned in a pothole? Yeah, thanks for that, M. Night Shyamalan. An enjoyable movie can get past having a forgettable third act, but that doesn't mean we can't rag on them a little bit for it.


  • 1
    241 VOTES

    Glass

    2000's Unbreakable is one of the best superhero movies ever made, and it's not even based on an existing property. 2016's Split came out of nowhere to be a highly enjoyable surprise sequel of sorts set in the same world. 2019's Glass united the principal casts of both films to conclude a trilogy almost two decades in the making. And for much of the film's runtime, things go pretty well for M. Night Shyamalan and company. All three leads are putting in good work, the story is engaging enough, and everyone is on board for the ride!

    Alas, if there is one thing everyone knows about M. Night Shyamalan, it's that the man loves his third-act twist endings. Glass is no different. It turns out that Sarah Paulson's Dr. Ellie Staple isn't a benevolent psychiatrist but a member of an Illuminati-type organization that suppresses any and all knowledge that superbeings exist. Cool. And by the time it's all wrapped up, Mr. Glass is dead, Kevin has been taken out by a sniper, and - in one of the most pathetic onscreen deaths ever put to film - David is drowned in a pothole full of water. Yeah... you read that correctly. Sure, David Dunn's weakness is water, but come on.

    241 votes
  • 2
    154 VOTES

    Prometheus was supposed to be the big return to form for the Alien franchise after decades of disappointing sequels and spin-offs. Ridley Scott returned to the series that launched his career in Hollywood, a top-notch cast featuring Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, and Idris Elba was on board, and the script was co-written by Damon Lindelof of The Leftovers and Lost fame. With a huge budget and an aggressive marketing campaign that played on the original Alien trailer, Prometheus did what it was meant to do and put the franchise back into the public consciousness.

    The ending, however, didn't exactly light the world on fire. For all its accomplishments, Prometheus isn't the most straightforward film in the Alien franchise. In a lot of ways, it seems like it's purposefully obtuse in an attempt to seem profound. And the ending is guilty of this as well, from Shaw's doomed search to find the Engineers' homeworld to why David was doing whatever it was he was doing. Also, if a giant ship is falling one way, don't keep running away from it in the direction it's falling... turn and run to the side?

    154 votes

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  • 3
    238 VOTES

    Captain Marvel

    The post-credits scene from Avengers: Infinity War got everybody super hyped up for Carol Danvers's eventual introduction into the MCU. Thanos may have snapped half of the entire universe out of existence, but Captain Marvel was coming back to Earth to kick his giant, purple behind! All we needed was a little origin story via 2019's Captain Marvel and Brie Larson would become everyone's new favorite Avenger.

    For the most part, Captain Marvel is yet another successful entry in Marvel Studios' ever-expanding roster of origin stories. It has the quips. It has the action. It has a bunch of comic book nonsense. The entire cast, from Larson and Samuel L. Jackson to Ben Mendelsohn and Lashana Lynch, is clearly having a good time, and Marvel could always use a little more girl power to go around. But, um, the final act isn't exactly the most enthralling thing Marvel Studios has ever put together. Seeing Jude Law's Yon-Rogg and Gemma Chan's Minn-Erva go out like chumps is fun and all, but having Ronan turn tail like a complete coward is quite the cop-out. Then Carol is just away from Earth for years, out in the galaxy doing... things. Okay, then.

    238 votes

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  • 4
    230 VOTES

    Years after genuine flops like Catwoman and Elektra made studio executives balk at female-led superhero films, Wonder Woman reminded the world what they were missing upon release in 2017. Hollywood bigwigs figured people didn't want to see female-led superflicks off the back of those movies when anyone with eyes could tell their miserable quality is what kept audiences away, not the characters. Then, on the back of debuting in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice a year earlier, Gal Gadot showed that women could not only headline a good superhero movie but make a lot of money while doing it.

    Though there are a great many things to praise in Wonder Woman, the smoky, CGI-laden smashfest of an ending isn't one of them. David Thewlis's Sir Patrick Morgan is revealed to actually be Ares, the God of War and his computer-enhanced glow up from crippled British lord to mega-powerful Greek god is something to behold. It isn't necessarily a good something as Thewlis begins chewing on the scenery and fighting with Diana in a brawl that is more reminiscent of a video game cutscene than a major motion picture.

    230 votes

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  • 5
    203 VOTES

    Years before the "slap heard 'round the world," Will Smith was merely the hottest actor in Hollywood who could do no wrong. Every project he touched turned to gold, and Hancock was no exception, at least as far as box office gross is concerned. The MCU was still a mere glint in Kevin Feige's eye when this superhero satire of sorts was released in theaters. And the star power of Smith, Charlize Theron, and Jason Bateman is difficult to deny. 

    The problem with the ending of Hancock is that the movie ends up not knowing what it wants to be. Is it a parody of superhero films where the hero is both an alcoholic and a jerk to the people he saves? Is it a love story about star-crossed immortals who can't really be together? Is it both of those things while being neither of those things? Anyway, at the end, Hancock ends up putting a corporate logo on the moon for some reason.

    203 votes

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  • 6
    279 VOTES

    It's difficult to oversell how big Black Panther was when it hit theaters in 2018. Seemingly overnight, T'Challa's superhero alter ego became a genuine sensation on the level of Spider-Man and Batman. The Chadwick Boseman-led film did gangbusters at the box office, earning over a billion dollars worldwide, proving once and for all to the Hollywood suits that a black superhero could carry a big-budget franchise and then some.

    Black Panther remains a top-tier Marvel Studios film to this day, but that doesn't mean it's free of flaws. And the biggest flaw of them all has to be the final fight between T'Challa and Killmonger. The preamble to said fight and what comes immediately after it works quite well, but the brawl itself is a CGI mess of a letdown. Watching the two Panthers go toe-to-toe while their suits go haywire should be exhilarating. Instead, it just looks extremely cut-rate, especially for a film with a budget of around $200 million. Then Killmonger gets his final moment in the sun and you just forget about the fight scene! Until you reflect on it later and it sinks in... that final showdown really was lackluster.

    279 votes

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