While a stunning third-act reveal can elevate an okay movie to a borderline classic, obvious plot twists can turn a solid movie into a complete joke. It’s not always easy for writers to come up with plot twists that resonate with audiences or even make sense within the larger narrative. There’s a fine line between something that feels like a ripoff, original, or can be seen coming from a mile away.
In an attempt to avoid revelations that lack logical coherence, filmmakers will often play it safe; putting major clues to a reveal right in front of the viewer's face, making the twists obvious even for those watching a film for the first time. In hindsight, the build-up appears blatant and glaringly obvious. With that in mind, here are the least surprising plot twists that everyone saw coming.
Superman's Ressurection In 'Justice League'Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures
When Henry Cavill’s Superman perished in Batman v Superman, it had next to no impact on the audience since no one believed the Man of Steel wasn’t coming back for 2017’s Justice League.
While the how and why of Cavill’s return was changed from Zack Snyder’s original vision, Superman’s resurrection seemed to be a perfunctory afterthought or a minor side quest for the League on the way to a bigger fight. Even if everyone knew it was coming, Justice League could've done much to make his return a little more original and a little less Pet Sematary.
- Actors: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Ezra Miller
- Released: 2017
- Directed by: Zack Snyder
- Runtime: 119
- Advisories: Adult Situations, Violence
- Premiered: November 17, 2017
- Characters: Batman/Bruce Wayne, Superman/Clark Kent, Wonder Woman/Diana Prince, Lois Lane, The Flash/Barry Allen
The Elderly Couple Are Noah And Allie In 'The Notebook'Photo: New Line Cinema
The 1940s love story of The Notebook is framed as a story read by an elderly man, Duke, to a fellow patient at a modern-day nursing home. As the audience becomes as infatuated and frustrated with Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams’s characters as they are with each other, the film returns to the elderly couple from the beginning.
Turns out, Duke is actually an older Noah and the patient he’s reading to is Allie. She suffers from dementia in her old age, and she no longer remembers their epic romance. The jumps through time (as well as the character’s ages) make this twist less than earth-shattering, but it doesn't make the story any less of a tear-jerker.
- Actors: Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, James Garner, Gena Rowlands, James Marsden
- Released: 2004
- Directed by: Nick Cassavetes
- Runtime: 135
- Advisories: Adult Situations
- Characters: Noah Calhoun, Allie Hamilton, Duke, Allie Calhoun, Lon
- Photo: 20th Century Fox
Phone Booth follows Colin Farrell's character as he’s held hostage in a phone booth by a sniper who torments him over the phone with his past sins/missteps. The audience doesn't see the man who's on the other end of the line, but the voice is unmistakably Kiefer Sutherland's. Near the film’s end, the cops appear to find the caller with his wrists slashed in a hotel room, but the culprit turns out to be the nondescript pizza guy that appeared earlier in the film.
The final twist comes in the form of the realization that the real caller took out the pizza guy and framed him. Since we hear Sutherland's voice the entire movie, it's obvious that the pizza guy who perishes isn't the real culprit, especially because his voice earlier in the movie sounds nothing like the voice we listen to the rest of the time.
- Actors: Katie Holmes, Colin Farrell, Jared Leto, Kiefer Sutherland, Forest Whitaker
- Released: 2002
- Directed by: Joel Schumacher
- Characters: Stu Shepard, Sergeant Cole, Erica, Corky, Adam
- Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures
The Dark Knight Rises brings back the League of Shadows from Batman Begins courtesy of Tom Hardy’s Bane. In the film, specifically when Bruce Wayne is in Bane’s prison, we hear a story about the child of Ra’s al Ghul that strongly implies that al Ghul's child grew up to become Bane. Viewers with a passing knowledge of Batman comics and just an ounce of suspicion could see through this misdirection.
When Marion Cotillard was cast in The Dark Knight Rises, many fans speculated that she was going to be playing Talia al Ghul. However, she is introduced as Miranda Tate, a member of the Wayne Enterprises board. Near the end of the movie, Miranda is revealed to be Talia (surprise, surprise), the child of Bruce’s old mentor and the true mastermind behind the League of Shadows’ latest plan to destroy Gotham.
- Actors: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
- Released: 2012
- Directed by: Christopher Nolan
- Runtime: 178
- Characters: Bruce Wayne/Batman, Selina Kyle, Bane, Miranda Tate, John Blake