Movie Clichés: Not Quite Dead

Movie Clichés: Not Quite Dead

You know that moment when the movie lies to you saying someone died only to bring them back to life five minutes later? Don't you hate that? This is my article going over the cliche that annoys me perhaps the most.

There are a lot of movie cliches out there. Some cliches are awesome, like the final showdown between the good guy and the bad guy, exploding cars, slow-mo, etc. Some annoy us. To me one of the worst offenders than even some of the best movies have is this "Not Quite Dead" cliche. This cliche is when the movie lies to the audience, using sad music, fraudulent cutting of shots, and dialogue and tears from other characters to tell you that someone is dead. Then the movie shows the character alive again within five minutes after your moment grieving, making you feel like an idiot for actually believing that the movie was brave enough to kill off the main character.

The Avengers performs this horrible cliche in its most simplified form. It happened so quickly and it happens so often "you may not even notice it... but your brain did." Iron Man carries the bomb through the portal and wipes out the mother ship. As a result, the chitari deactivate and Iron Man falls back down to Earth. The Hulk catches him in mid air and rips open his mask. Oh no! Iron Man's dead. He won't wake up! Shoot! How are they going to make Iron Man 3 without him?

But then the Hulk yells at him, he wakes up and everyone's all happy. Let's go get some shawarma.

You knew he wasn't going to die. I knew he wasn't going to die. So why have the tears, the sad music, the wasted five seconds of my life being forced to think that someone's dead when I know darn well he's not? The movie is lying to you just to cheaply invoke an emotional response. It's cheap. It's easy. It's stupid.

The Avengers wasn't even that bad. The Hulk yelling and then Iron Man gasping, "What the hell?" are great bits. Comedy tends to lessen the annoyance invoked by this "mostly dead" cliche.

The worst in recent memory of this is The Dark Knight Rises Unlike Iron Man who everyone knew had to come back and wasn't dead, this movie makes a HUGE deal out of Batman's sacrifice. The way he "dies" should be an absolute confirmation of death... unless you're in a fridge. Apparently the Bat was lead lined. The fact is we see Batman in the cockpit the shot before the nuke goes off. Catwoman tries to stop him from killing himself. They make several points that the autopilot doesn't work. Alfred cries at Bruce's grave! It's the perfect bitter sweet ending. Batman makes the ultimate sacrifice for the city.


Bruce Wayne is sight seeing with Selina Kyle... why?! Why bring him back? This is the end of the "Dark Knight Legend." There's no need to keep him alive. His fake death makes no sense. Essentially the movie lies to you. It uses dialogue, music, and editing to tell you that Batman is undeniably dead only to tell you later that he's not. It's a cheap gimmick

Hiccup in How to Train Your Dragon appears to be dead before gasping back to life. Ash dies only to be resurrected by Pokemon tears. Jason Bourne gets "shot" only to start paddling later at the end of Bourne Ultimatum. Thor gets bitch slapped to death only to come back.

My problem is not in the pattern of death and coming back to life in itself. But how big of a deal the movie makes out of the death that isn't permanent.

The ultimate problem with this is that it indicates either bad writing, bad directing, or cowardice on both accounts. Like I said before, it's a cheap way of invoking tears from the audience that often fails to work because we're so use to the cliche that we know they aren't really dead. It could also be a coward's way of "killing off a character" without actually doing it. I would have given mad props to Nolan if he actually killed off Bruce Wayne. When a main character dies and the death remains permanent, that takes guts. When a main character "dies" temporarily, it pisses me off.

Does this bother anyone else? Has anyone else noticed this? Also, what is your most hated cliche? Comment below and thanks for reading
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Filed Under "Fan Fic" 12/4/2012
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DrDoom - 12/4/2012, 2:55 PM
What bothers me more is when a character is actually dead and then they get revived for a bullshit reason. Except for Phoenix, who has a legitimate reason for being resurrected, pretty much every death in comics features this problem.
ellispart3 - 12/4/2012, 3:17 PM
i'm cool with it. comic book death's bother me a lot more than movie deaths.
CorndogBurglar - 12/4/2012, 9:56 PM
Iron Man was actually never dead though. Unconscious? Sure. But given what happened, even if it is cliche, it made sense.

What sucks is when a movie makes you think someone bought the farm, and then later in the movie theg show back up to save the day.

I like in Beerfest when the fat guy dies and then five minutes later his twin brother shows up and takes his place and asks for everyine to call him by his brother's name and treat the same way, lol. It was good joke for these sorts of movie moments.

I see your point, though.
AC1 - 12/5/2012, 3:58 AM
@TheYoungMan that's hardly a reason why Nolan brought him back to life, that's just quoting another of their movies. It kind of makes sense as a reference, but it's not the reason Bruce was left alive. It's because Nolan wanted a happy ending to the series, which is fair enough, but the execution wasn't great - even though you are convinced Batman wasn't in the Bat, it appears to the audience that he was, and there is nothing to signify that there is an escape pod or anything of the sort (there's no mention of one in the tumbler either, until you actually see it).

It seems when people try to explain the inconsistencies in this, or any other, film, it's usually just them making up theories with very little foundation in order to try and defend a movie they like. I know because I'm just as guilty of this as everyone else, but it becomes a lot harder to defend a movie in that way if there are so many of these inconsistencies. There's only a certain number of plotholes a person can take in a film before it becomes too incoherent for them to watch, and TDKR had a few too many of my liking.

It's a shame, because what they did right they did incredibly well (for example, Bane explaining his plan to torture Bruce in the Pit), but the bad moments outweighed the good, and this is certainly Nolan's worst film, which makes it all the more disappointing because of how stellar his filmography has been until now.
GoILL - 12/5/2012, 8:54 AM
Not bothered by this cliche at all. I see Bruce/Batmans death as just a nod to The Dark Knight Returns even though it was done differently.
Tainted87 - 12/5/2012, 11:54 AM
Tv Tropes!

I think this is used for everyone else - not the audience. How would the characters react to _____ "dying"? It demonstrates the profound effect a character's heroic sacrifice has to the people around him/her, and if it manages to trick the audience into getting a bit nervous - all the better.

As I always do, I'm going to bring up Mass Effect. The third game is FULL of character death - the actual kind, with no hope of resurrection. At least one main character will kick the bucket. So here's what BioWare does....

And you know what else? It shows how far a character is willing to go, what they are made of.
marvel72 - 12/5/2012, 3:55 PM
faking his death was a cheap gimmick not to upset batman fans.nolan should of just killed batman,it was the conclusion to his version of batman & it would of worked better.

whomever does the next batman film its not gonna be connected to nolan's films in anyway,same as the burton & schumacher are not connected to nolan's.

its gonna be a couple of years before we see another batman film at least.
xRelentlessx - 12/5/2012, 4:37 PM
Talia's death and Batman's fake death were the two things I really disliked about TDKR.
Oxbow - 12/10/2012, 2:23 AM
^ THIS. the whole conversation is moot because all of gotham AND batman (escape pod or no) would have been dead and dying from the nuclear fallout, if not the explosion itself.

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