In this day and age it seems like everyone is a movie expert. Most of the time audiences know what to expect and are hard to surprise. In the world of big comic book and sci-fi franchises things can get even more predictable, as they’re usually based on previously published material that fans are familiar with. Going into Captain America: The Winter Soldier, most moviegoers knew who The Winter Soldier really was. Knowing the ending ahead of time doesn’t make a film less successful. Titanic still made $2 billion and we all knew how that would turn out.
However, every once in awhile filmmakers come up with something that no one expected. Those are the moments audiences really love. It’s the unexpected nature of the deaths that continues to make low budget horror so successful. The edge of your seat surprises are what we want. Conversely, nothing is more tiresome than when a film builds to a huge reveal and it goes exactly where everyone expected for the entire movie. It takes the air out of the theater and some of the enjoyment out of the experience. For frustrated moviegoers these are the eight awful plot twists that fans expected and seven that they didn’t.
WARNING: Massive spoilers for things you should've already seen by now!
15 UNEXPECTED: MAY FINDS OUT PETER IS SPIDER-MAN
Nearly every incarnation of Peter Parker/Spider-Man has also had him keep his secret from Aunt May. With secret identities not really a thing in the MCU, fans wondered if that would apply to Peter. Once Marisa Tomei was cast as a younger May, there were even more questions about how she would figure into his Spider-Man life.
In the movie, she is supportive and cool, always concerned about the amount of time he spends working on the Stark internship. As he continues to lose backpacks and disappear for extended periods of time, she never suspects that her nerdy nephew is secretly fighting crime, until the last scene. She walks in on him trying on his new suit and the film cuts off before she finishes her “what the” outburst. We’ll have to wait to see how she handles the news, but it will likely be hilarious.
14 EXPECTED: SUPERMAN’S RESURRECTION IN JUSTICE LEAGUE
Obviously we all knew Superman was coming back in Justice League. It was no secret Henry Cavill was returning and he was featured in the trailers. The only question was in how he would come back and whether he would be good or bad. The minute the film opened with Mother Boxes as the focus, it became instantly clear how the team would bring him back.
Once he was resurrected, he fought the team for a few minutes, then became the heroic Superman again. Not only did it make his death in Batman V. Superman seem pointless, there was nothing surprising by the plot. Honestly, no one ever really expected Superman to stay dead, but it would’ve been nice if his resurrection was unexpected and had a lasting effect.
13 UNEXPECTED: TONY STARK REVEALS HE’S IRON MAN
Considering his narcissistic personality no one is actually surprised that Tony Stark wants the world to know he’s Iron Man. He loves being a hero and loves the attention he gets for it. However, in the comic book world, superheroes usually keep their identities a secret. So, at the end of Iron Man when he proudly declares “I am Iron Man,” it’s a major shift for the genre.
It also helped set up the MCU as a different kind of superhero franchise. For the most part, the whole world knows their identities. In that moment before Tony Stark confesses to being Iron Man, fans expect to hear the usual denials and cover stories, so his confirmation is a great shock. It immediately let everyone know to expect the unexpected from the MCU.
12 EXPECTED: SIR PATRICK NOT LUDENDORFF IS ARES
Wonder Woman is universally thought of as the best movie in the DCEU. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect though. One of its few flaws is in the ruse that Ludendorff is actually Ares, the God of War. Diana believes that he is the embodiment of the God and responsible for WWI.
It’s just too easy for it to be him. Why would they make the most obvious choice the God that she’s looking for? At the ball when they meet, he even talks to her like he’s a God, but frankly he just never seems smart enough to be pulling all the strings involved to cause the war to end all wars. Never for one second is it plausible that this guy is a God. It’s far more reasonable that David Thewlis’ Sir Patrick is actually Ares.
11 UNEXPECTED: CAP KNEW BUCKY KILLED TONY’S PARENTS
Bucky spent 70 years working as a HYDRA assassin, so it’s no surprise that he’s killed some very high profile public figures. He was brainwashed, so he really has no idea who he killed or why. Captain America: Civil War opened with a scene of Bucky killing a random couple after a car crash. It isn’t until the very end that it’s revealed the people he killed were Tony’s parents. Even worse Cap has known for awhile and never told Tony.
The death of his parents has shaped much of Tony’s life. We are also shown in the movie how his last conversation with them wasn’t great and he still regrets it. For fans it wasn’t so much that Bucky killed Tony’s parents, it’s that Steve kept it a secret, choosing to protect Bucky over Tony.
10 EXPECTED: EGO IS REALLY THE BAD GUY
For non comic book readers, the mystery of who’s Peter Quill’s dad was one of the really interesting parts of Guardians of the Galaxy. When Kraglin and Yondu discuss his father at the end of the movie, they say he’s a jerk, and it’s a good thing they didn’t deliver Peter to him. Comic book fans wondered if that meant Adam Warlock would be making an appearance in the sequel.
James Gunn took things in a different direction and cast Kurt Russell as Star-Lord’s dad, Ego, the living planet. From the moment he showed up on screen there was something off about Ego. He just seemed a little too perfect. There was also no way they cast Russell just to be his long lost dream dad. Ego always felt evil so there was no surprise when he tried to take over and destroy the universe.
9 UNEXPECTED: SUPERMAN KILLS ZOD IN MAN OF STEEL
Every superhero has a code they live by. For Superman, his is that he doesn’t kill. With all his powers it would be very easy for him to kill someone, so he’s very conscious of staying in control and not seriously harming criminals. In Man of Steel, the DCEU established that this version would be a darker Superman. He was very reluctant to use his powers, keeping them secret from the world until General Zod showed up.
Zod was obviously a maniac, who saw no problem destroying Earth to build a new Krypton. As his plan failed and he had nothing left to lose, he became increasingly unhinged. The fight demolished downtown Metropolis and Clark still didn’t want to kill him. It was clear to everyone that there was only one way this would end, so when he finally had to kill him, it was what everyone except Superman expected.
8 EXPECTED: NICK FURY ISN’T REALLY GONE
From the moment we get to know Nick Fury in Iron Man 2, he is presented as the ultimate spy who knows what’s happening in the hero world at all times. One of the first times we see the Winter Soldier is when he attacks Nick Fury in the middle of traffic. Later, as he tries to tell Steve about how S.H.I.E.L.D. is compromised, he is shot and presumably killed by the Winter Soldier.
Here’s the thing, everything we’ve learned about Nick Fury up until that moment tells us that he is prepared for an assassination attempt, because, let’s face it, this isn’t his first. We even see his heart stop, but still no one in the audience thinks Nick Fury is dead. When the big reveal comes and he’s alive, it’s cool to have the team back together, but not at all a surprise.
7 UNEXPECTED: HYDRA INFILTRATES S.H.I.E.L.D.
For as long as there’s been a S.H.I.E.L.D. there’s been a HYDRA. In The First Avenger, Steve sacrifices himself to thwart Red Skull’s plan and everyone assumes HYDRA is defeated.
In The Winter Soldier it is revealed that everyone is wrong and HYDRA merely went underground and regrouped. America was actually a victim of its own plan when Operation Paper Clip led to several secret HYDRA members being allowed into the country under new identities. They developed Project Insight, helicarriers that were meant to spy on anyone they deemed a threat and eliminate them, thus making it easier for HYDRA to take over. This stunning revelation had a massive and lasting impact on the entire MCU. It completely changed the makeup of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and left some heroes with an uncertain future.
6 EXPECTED: THE END OF HAN SOLO
When it was announced that Star Wars was returning to the big screen with the original cast coming back to their famous roles, fans around the world went crazy. We all thought we would never get to see Luke, Leia and Han on-screen together again. Unfortunately, it became very clear that this would be our last chance to see Harrison Ford as Han Solo.
He spends the entire movie, essentially putting his affairs in order. He teaches Finn about being a hero, offers Rey a job, has a sweet goodbye with Leia, then tries one last time to bring his son back from the Dark Side. From the moment he steps foot on that bridge with Ren, it’s painfully obvious that he’s about to be killed. One of the original heroes of the franchise deserved a much better death, and a much better son for that matter.
5 UNEXPECTED: DARTH VADER IS LUKE’S FATHER
In the nerd world, there is no greater surprise than the moment Darth Vader told Luke he was his father. For younger fans who’ve only ever seen the original trilogy on DVD or TV, this may not seem like a big deal, but at the time it was mind-blowing. Star Wars had been such a success that extra measures were taken to keep plot details of the sequel a secret.
Back in the olden days of 1980, there was no internet to spoil everything happening on a film set at all times. In an interview Mark Hamill revealed that only George Lucas, director Irvin Kershner and Hamill knew about Vader and Luke. We were told that Vader killed Luke’s father, so this turnaround meant that our hero was the son of the worst villain in the galaxy. It was a bombshell that really has no equal in cinema history.
4 EXPECTED: JEAN IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN STOP APOCALYPSE
Anyone who knows the X-Men, knows that Jean Grey is defined by her trouble balancing her regular life with her Phoenix powers. This was a major storyline for Famke Janssen in the original X-Men movies, so it’s no surprise that Sophie Turner’s young Jean struggles with the same issues.
In X-Men: Apocalypse, the whole team comes together to fight Apocalypse, but it turns out Charles isn’t powerful enough to get inside his head. Jean must lose control and unleash all her power to defeat him. Since she spends the whole movie talking about how everyone is scared of her and how hard it is to stay in control, it’s not at all shocking that she must do exactly that to beat the bad guy. With X-Men: Dark Phoenix on the horizon, audiences are probably in store for more unsurprising reveals.
3 UNEXPECTED: MR. GLASS IS ACTUALLY THE BAD GUY
After he stunned audiences with The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan became known for surprise twists like Unbreakable. Bruce WIllis’ David is a regular guy who discovers he has superpowers after he is the only survivor of a train crash. He learns he can touch people and see the crimes they’ve committed. He uses this ability to save a kidnapped family.
He meets up with Samuel L. Jackson’s Elijah aka Mr. Glass to thank him for helping him through his hero journey and upon shaking his hand realizes Elijah caused the train crash and several other attacks to find David. He believes he is meant to be the villain to David’s hero. Mr. Glass is an unassuming, wheelchair bound artist obsessed with comic books, so it was such a crazy surprise when he was revealed to be behind everything.
2 EXPECTED: MIRANDA TATE IS REALLY TALIA AL GHUL
When Marion Cotillard was cast in The Dark Knight Rises as a mysterious Wayne Enterprises board member, fans instantly had her pegged as actually being Talia al Ghul. They thought producers were trying to throw fans off the scent of her real role. As it turns out, they were half right.
Toward the end of the movie, Miranda revealed herself as the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul and the real brains behind Bane’s plan to destroy the city. It was heavily foreshadowed when Bane’s backstory about life in prison was so vague. Clearly they were hiding something. Due to the previous rumors about her role no one in the theater was surprised when her true character was revealed. It doesn’t affect how good the movie is, but it’s one small flaw in an otherwise perfect trilogy.
1 UNEXPECTED: KYLO REN ENDS SNOKE
In the two years between The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, Star Wars fans had millions of fan theories about Snoke’s motivations and identity. They varied from crazy to outrageously crazy. Who was he? How did he meet Kylo Ren? Why was he so interested in Rey? Well sorry, because those questions will never be answered now.
In one of the most shocking moments of The Last Jedi, Ren saves Rey, betrays Snoke and cuts him in half with a lightsaber. It was the kind of scene that leads to noticeable gasps in the theater. This leads to an outstanding fight scene where Rey and Ren take on all of Snoke’s guards. For a franchise that is 40 years old and has the most informed fanbase in entertainment, it’s awesome to know that it can still surprise us.