Batman Gambit: Live-Action Films aka: Live Action Film
A minor one, at the beginning of Sky High. Will's parents defeat a giant robot terrorizing the city and the Commander takes a part of the robot (its eye) as a trophy. That robot eye is still functioning and being used by Royal Pain (who sent the robot to attack the city in the first place) to secretly spy on the heroes. Royal Pain knew he would do just this ("His ego's bigger than a giant robot") and the reporter says its a habit but if he didn't then plans falls flat, and that would detrail the entire Evil Plan.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Kirk baits Khan into following him into the Mutara Nebula by "laughing" at his "superior intellect." It's implied that Khan's perfectly aware that he's being blinded by his own hatred, and simply doesn't care anymore, so long as Kirk suffers.
The series includes a large one by Palpatine/Sidious to get revenge against the Jedi. In doing so, he manipulates virtually every character to make his plan work: first, he (as Sidious) gets the Trade Federation blockading his home planet, knowing the Republic bureaucracy would drag its heels getting the blockade lifted; he gets Padmé to call for a "vote of no-confidence" against the sitting supreme chancellor, to get himself elected. Next, he manipulates multiple commercial and nationalist interests into forming the Confederacy of Independent Systems. He goes back to Padmé, getting her to leave Coruscant "for her safety" after an assassination attempt; then her proxy, gullible Jar-Jar Binks, pushes the Senate to grant him the emergency powers to form the Grand Army, a massive clone army (conveniently ordered by Jedi master Sifo-Dyas on the suggestion of his friend Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus, Palpatine's apprentice). He manipulates Anakin: presenting himself as a fatherly figure, unlike the stern Jedi Order, he makes Anakin likelier to trust his advice; uses his fear of loss to bring him closer, and gets him to kill Tyranus, pushing him closer to The Dark Side; when the Jedi are about to out him as a Sith, Palpatine turns it to his advantage: by not beating Windu, he plays on Anakin's sympathy and convinces him to "disarm" Windu, making it easier to turn Anakin to the Dark Side. With Anakin ready, Palpatine executes Order 66. He then uses his "new" appearance to justify ordering the Grand Army to turn on the Jedi: a Jedi plot to take over the Republic.
This extends into the original trilogy as well. When Sidious learns that "Skywalker" destroyed the Death Star, he concludes Anakin's child survived, a possibility he did not foresee. Seeing a way to turn this to his advantage, he orders Vader to find Luke so that he may turn him, potentially more powerful than Vader, into his new apprentice (unbeknownst to him, Vader already knew of Luke's existence and was planning to do the same thing to Palpatine). He also allowed the Rebel Alliance to learn the location of the new Death Star and its shield generator in order to trap them, knowing they would not pass up an opportunity to attack while he was personally inspecting it. The only flaw in his plan was underestimating Luke's resolve. Luke refuses to turn, forcing Palpatine to try to kill him, which accidentally manipulated Vader again: his desire to protect his family triggered his fall, and now triggered his redemption. Oh, and he also did not take into account the possibility that the local race of Ridiculously Cute Critters could defeat his army.
Hans Gruber's planned theft in Die Hard is completely dependent on the FBI cutting electrical power (per standard procedure), which disables the magnetic lock on the Nakatomi Plaza vault.
Hans's brother, Simon, uses this in Die Hard with a Vengeance, thus proving the Batman Gambit is hereditary. He leads the police on a wild goose chase, making them think he's setting off bombs to get revenge on John McClane for killing his brother, when the bombs are a mere distraction to keep the NYPD away from him while he puts his real plan into motion: robbing the Federal Reserve. He's only undone because he stupidly went back to the same truckstop that he bought aspirin for his migraines (which he then proceeded to give to McClane as a joke).
General Koskov in The Living Daylights has a lot on his plate: a phony KGB defection, two fake assassination attempts (one carried out by his girlfriend), a couple of kidnappings, a few real assassinations, and a weapons-for-opium smuggling operation. All of which would have left MI6 looking like idiots, his rival in the Soviet military dead and discredited, his girlfriend Stuffed into the Fridge and himself very, very rich, if it wasn't for that meddling 007....
The ending of Superman II hinges on Lex Luthor selling out Superman and telling Zod about the "take away all super powers" device... which Superman had set to affect everyone outside the device, having seen this coming.
Another master of plan B would be Tony Wendice from Dial M for Murder. This trope is actually subverted a few times as Tony is never quite able to anticipate everything that will happen, despite his incredibly intricate schemes. The bulk of the film is set up by the failure of his first one: having blackmailed a classmate turned two bit crook into killing his cheating wife Margot and set up a perfect alibi for himself alongside Mark, the man who she was cheating on him with, Margot's will to live is a bit too strong and she ends up killing the man in their desperate struggle. Tony spends the rest of the film trying to make it look like she killed the man in cold blood rather than self defense, wildly improvising whenever someone is about to send it all crashing down again. This is all even lampshaded early on when Mark, a novelist who specializes in just this kind of story, notes that he would never try one in real life because there will always be just one little thing that no one can anticipate.
In the fourth movie, Angelica has Philip apparently killed in front of Syrena in an attempt to make her cry. She knows Syrena's "too tough" to do so under those circumstances, but crying tears of joy when she later finds out that the man she's fallen in love with is still alive, however...
Also in the fourth movie, Barbossa's entire convoluted plan counts: In order to get his revenge on Blackbeard for sinking the Pearl, he joins up with the King's navy as a privateer, uses his well-trained crew and the King's considerable resources to travel to the Fountain of Youth, then takes his revenge on Blackbeard, claims Blackbeard's ship and crew, and uses them to return to piracy.
In John Carpenter's The Thing (1982), the alien puppet whose identity isn't discovered until near the end of the film is executing a Batman Gambit from early on. Given how paranoid and trigger happy everyone was, he could have been shot or Mac could have let him go when he asked, although it could be argued that his insistence that he had calmed down was intentionally unconvincing
The entire film, Confessions, is one against the two students whom killed their teacher's daughter.
In the film, Training Day, part of Alonzo's master plan is to get Jake high on drugs and later use him for cover when he robbed and killed his long time drug contact. If Jake would have refused to go along with Alonzo after being offered drugs, his entire plan to steal the money would have failed.
The entire film, Reindeer Games, is one huge Batman Gambit - setup by Nick and Ashley. Nick also plays one on Ashley.
In Heat, McCauley's crew meet up in a particular location seemingly to paint it as their next target, as well as to map out the viable escape routes, while Hanna's team surveys their activities secretly. When Hanna and his team later assemble on the same location to break down the gameplan of McCauley's crew, they quickly discover the worthlessness of the target location, as well as the absence of any effective escape routes. Hanna then realizes that McCauley's plan all along was to get his team out in the open so that the latter could get a good glimpse of the men pursuing them.
In Mary Poppins, the title character (apparently) pulls this on Mr. Banks. First, she puts the idea in his head that he should take his children on an outing to the bank. Then she tells the children all about the bird woman, whose hang out is conveniently on the way to the bank, and how cool it would be to give her their money. What ensues could only have been Mary's plan.
In the Belgian short film Tanghi Argentini, Andre, the protagonist, in lieu of purchasing Christmas presents for his single coworkers, cruises dating sites for women whose interests correspond to his coworker's skills (i.e. tango, poetry). He then approaches the coworker and asks to be taught this particular skill in time for a blind date he has arranged with the woman. On the night of the date, he asks his coworker to accompany and discreetly coach him. He then deliberately fails at this skill, allowing the coworker to swoop in and "steal" the woman with his superior knowledge.
The eponymous protagonist of The Bourne Series is a master at these, one of his favorite methods being to deliberately get himself red-flagged on the grid in order to facilitate a particular agenda. Lampshaded in Supremacy by Nicky Parsons when she corrects an overzealous agent that assumes Bourne is slipping when they detect him in Naples, asserting that operatives like himself always have an objective to their actions. Pamela Landy, having attained some form of Genre Savvyness with regards to Bourne by the time of Ultimatum, was able to deduce his intentions when he uses the same tactic again in the film's climax.
Ethan Hunt does something similar in the first Mission: Impossible to clear his name after his team's mission goes horribly wrong, including actually stealing the item he's accused of stealing and finally by staying on the phone much longer than he has to to make sure that IMF headquarters can trace the call and find out where he is. This also gets lampshaded: "He wanted us to know he was in London."
After a baffling succession of double- and triple-crosses the big reveal scene of the WWII movie Where Eagles Dare shows that the whole film has been a massive Batman Gambit engineered by MI-6. They fake the crash of an important general in Germany so they have an excuse to send a team of important agents in to rescue him. The rescue team gets itself captured, which means the three known German moles deliberately placed on the team will reveal themselves. The team leader then identifies himself as a German agent too (he is in fact a triple agent, a Reverse Mole pretending to be an ordinary Mole, but the Germans don't know that), and claims that the three real moles were discovered by the British (true) and have been replaced (not true). In attempting to prove they are the real moles, the German agents write a list of all the spies they recruited in their time in Britain. This is the real objective of the operation, and having got the list the team escapes back to Britain.. Brain hurting yet?
My Fellow Americans: It turns out that the events were all orchestrated by the vice-president to get the current president impeached so he could become president.
In Chicago, Billy Flynn manages a rather ingenious Batman Gambit of his own. He fabricates entries in Roxie's diary that state her guilt in an overly-blatant manner and sends it to Mama Morton, knowing that she'll give it to Velma. Knowing, thusly, that Velma will give it to D.A. Harrison, and that Harrison will be so eager to take Roxie and Billy down that he'll make a deal with Velma for the "evidence". And then Flynn builds up a massive mid-trial accusation of Harrison having fabricated the entries himself, since they're so obviously false. In one fell swoop, knowing exactly how everyone will react, Billy manages to get both Roxie and Velma off the hook while taking down his primary rival in the legal arena. Bruce Wayne would be proud... or furious.
In G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, McCullen's master plan is actually a pretty good one, to create global fear of terrorism so the entire world will seek unifying leadership from the most powerful man on the planet. Duke wrongly assumes that McCullen delusionally thinks he's that man. Nope, it's the President of the United States, who's really McCullen's man Zartan.
In The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter's entire escape is one big Batman Gambit. His scheme, in short, was to escape from his handcuffs (using a homemade key he smuggled in) while his guards were in the cell delivering his dinner, handcuff one guard to the bars, take out the other one, kill the first one, cut the face off the other one, switch clothes with him, throw the body on top of the elevator (Lecter was on the top floor of the building), set the elevator to move down the floors, wear the cops face over his own like a mask, lie down, lure the rest of the cops to him by firing his gun into the air, then get taken out of the building on a stretcher by paramedics while the SWAT team focuses on the body on the elevator. The possibility of things fucking up is endless, from the guards refusing to bring him dinner, the guard putting the tray down on the other side of his cell, to having his key discovered, to being found out impersonating the cop. And while he was preoccupied with this, he managed to disembowel the other cop and hang him ornamentally from the bars of his cage like a giant butterfly, since that's what Buffalo Bill is all about. For kicks.
Mr. Boddy employs one of these in the third ending ofClue. The Butler Did It. Sort of. Wadsworth was Mr. Boddy the entire time; the one that was killed was actually his butler. His entire plan involved getting the houseguests he had been blackmailing to kill off his informants, now a liability, and destroy all of the evidence against him. Clearly his scheme would've backfired had one of the guests taken the fake Mr. Boddy's advice and killed him instead, or not killed anyone at all. In the end, he almost succeeded, if not for the Reverse Mole.
Clyde Shelton's "justice" in Law Abiding Citizen relies on a number of these. Of course, it's possible in some cases he did have a back-up plan, but at other times it seems highly unlikely.
Catch Darby by having him panic and helping him escape. Relied precisely on knowing how he would react. Specifically, Darby, instead of forcing the "police officer" to drive using his own gun, may have gotten in the other side and pulled the "officer" out of the car instead. He also may have been carrying a second gun.
Murdering his cellmate to be put into solitary confinement. What if Rice or that other guy had paid attention when their informant told them it must have been a Batman Gambit (or just figured it out themselves, it wasn't that hard), and had taken him out of there and/or searched the cell thoroughly? The funny thing is that they did figure out Clyde had some sort of elaborate plot, but didn't think he'd be able to do anything from jail and he must've had an accomplice on the outside.
Murdering the judge with an explosive cell phone. Very likely to succeed, though, since who wouldn't take the call like that?
Let me go by six o'clock tomorrow or I'll kill everyone (with exploding cars). Failure conditions: If they had checked the gas tanks as well, or one of the people leaving would have got the same paranoid feeling as I did that the cars might explode or something, or if they had let him free. The last might actually have crippled his ability to run the show, but he would've "won" by getting them to abandon the law. Of course... it wasn't very likely anyway.
Rare nonhuman example: In Deep Blue Sea, the intelligent sharks not only find away to get loose in the part-flooded interior of the floating research station, but they herd the humans in such a way that they keep flooding additional parts of the complex, causing it to sink so low that the sharks will be able to swim out of the fenced-in lagoon and into the ocean.
Inception has a rather elaborate one; since the team trying to incept an idea into Fischer's mind stumbled across larger problems, Cobb ends up tricking Fischer into participating in the inception by making him believe that his godfather is the one infiltrating his mind. It would increase the danger for all since Fischer is the subject, meaning that his subconscious would act up after having attention called to the fact that Fischer is in a dream.
In the 1984 parody Me and the Big Guy, the end implies that the annoyingly happy-go-lucky Citizen 43275-B was trying to annoy Big Brother so much that he would kill the telescreen, allowing him to write his diary in peace.
In Le Samourai, a hitman plants himself outside his (married) girlfriend's apartment, waiting for her husband to come home before leaving to perform a hit. The hitman is later brought in for questioning by the police and his girlfriend and her husband are brought in to identify him. The husband (suspicious of him sleeping with his wife) picks him out of a lineup, assuming he's fingering him for a crime, when in reality he's offering him an airtight alibi for the killing.
In PCU, the school president slaps The Pit with money they owe the school. She anticipates that they would throw a wild party, thus causing the politically correct students to file enough complaints to throw out The Pit.
The Punisher manages one in his second film, manipulating the crime lord who had his family killed. Frankie planted evidence that the crime lord's wife and secretly gay right-hand man were having an affair, leading to the crime boss directly killing the right-hand man and hurling his wife onto a railway track.
The sci-fi film Hunter Prey features one on the part of the aforementioned prey.
The end of noir film The Racket has one that hinges on a criminal really not wanting to be thrown under the bus, a corrupt judge being suggestible and venal, and a crooked cop wanting to cover his back. Summed up by a surprised participant afterwards:
"You mean you thought all this through?!"
Every single fight scene in the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes films is a Batman Gambit in miniature; we are treated to Holmes' inner monologue as he determines exactly how his opponents will behave and how he can best counter them, immediately followed by the actual fight in which the opponent behaves exactly as Holmes deduced he would and Holmes thus wins the fight. Subverted in the climax of A Game of Shadows; Holmes and Moriarty play this trick on each other, and both determine that there's no way for Holmes to win, until Holmes does something neither one expected, sacrificing himself to kill Moriarty by grabbing him and jumping off the balcony into the Reichenbach Falls below.
Somewhat subverted in that neither Holmes nor Moriarty had counted on Watson arriving in time to intervene for Holmes, when in fact he shows up just as Holmes and Moriarty go plunging over the railing, which sort of makes Holmes' sacrifice look a little poorly thought out.
Casper and Kat pull this on Carrigan after she dies and comes back as a ghost to steal Casper's treasure and then use his father's Lazurus Machine to come back to life. They reminded her about her supposed unfinished business, noting that all ghost have unfinished business which is why they don't cross over. She promptly boasted that she had everything that she wanted so she had no unfinished business. No sooner had she said that, she crossed over.
In The Usual Suspects, Verbal Kint's (Keyser Soze) whole plan to cover his tracks, depends on convincing Dave Kujan to act exactly like he knew the customs agent would. At any time during the interrogation, Dave could have looked on the police evidence wall by chance and discovered Verbal was weaving a grand lie. He could have also look on the back of his coffee cup and seen the name Kobayashi. He doesn't do this until after Verbal leaves the office, and by then, it's already too late.
The Cabin in the Woods, The entire ritual sacrifice masterminded by the Director hinges on the victims playing up to actual horror movie tropes. They must ignore the warnings and must enter the spooky cellar and mess with an artifact unleashing some type of horror. If they don't, then the entire sacrifice fails and the world ends
Justified by the fact that the cabin is constantly being flooded with some sort of behaviour-altering gas which makes them behave exactly as the Batman Gambit requires, with the exception of Marty, who for unforeseen reasons is immune.
He counts on the Avengers' instability as a team and the Hulk losing control to help his master plan along.
Finally, Loki's eventual defeat and return to Asgard: He knows that the Avengers would want him to take responsibility for his actions, and Thor would of course want to keep Loki as close as possible.
There's also an alternative theory. It's a possibility that the Chitauri picked up Loki from the void and coerced him into stealing the tesseract for them, and then using it to transport their army to Earth - and that Loki, who didn't like being coerced, played both sides against one another instead. By that idea, his actions in the film would have been calculated to unify the Avengers to the point that he could use them as his own personal wrecking ball against the Chitauri. It would also make the spectacle he put on in Germany much less stupid, and more plausible, and explain why he seemed to be afraid of the leader of the Chitauri, which he probably wouldn't have been if he'd was in a position of power with them.
Ironically enough, the Joker pulls off one of these after another in The Dark Knight. The bank heist at the beginning requires every one of his henchman dispatching each other at just the right time, with no slip-ups - even including the last henchman figuring it out at exactly the right time to be standing in just the right spot when the school bus comes crashing through the wall. The escape relies on another example: the school bus joins a line of other school buses, which the Joker knows the police will ignore.
His escape from prison is a masterful example of this. The Joker pushes Batman's buttons and taunts him until Batman gets angry enough to smash the Joker's head against the one-way glass. He then does the EXACT SAME THING to the guard watching him, causing him to lower his guard and allow the Joker to take him hostage using one of the glass shards from the broken mirror. And then of course he uses his leverage to get the other cops to give him access to a phone. Had Batman not smashed the Joker into the window, or had the glass not splintered in just the right way, or had the guard just left and locked the door, none of that would have worked.
He has one fail on him though. His last plot hinges on the civilian ferry seeing the prison ferry as an acceptable sacrifice and/or the prison ferry being ruthless enough to sacrifice the civilian ferry. In the end the civilian ferry couldn't bring itself to blow up the prisoners and the prison ferry decided that Even Evil Has Standards.
In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane's plan hinges on Bruce Wayne and a few other people responding exactly the way he predicts they will every step along the way.
Perhaps the most audacious example of this is that the inmates of the prison won't tell Bruce that the child who escaped was Talia - they leave it up to him and he assumes it was Bane. Justified by the fact that the person telling the story thought it was just a legend of the prison, and didn't fully believe it himself.
In The Lincoln Lawyer, Mick Haller leaks the existence of a jailhouse snitch named DJ Curliss, who was letting it be known he that Haller's current client, Louis Rolet, had confessed to the crime he was accused of to him. Haller knew the District Attorney would pounce on this damning evidence against his client. Haller was counting on his exuberance to make him not look too closely at Curliss' history: He's a known "snitch for hire" and has been nailed for lying under oath before. This completely derails the state's attempted rape/murder case against Rolet. This also causes the DA to take a closer look at a similar previous case, for which another client of Haller's had been convicted. Rolet committed both crimes. Haller's gambit not only cleared his legal obligation for his current case, but helped him make right the previous one, the latter of which is what he really wanted all along.
In Star Trek Into Darkness the suicide bombing that Harrison orchestrates early on is a ploy to get Starfleet's highest ranking officers to follow Federation protocol and hold an emergency meeting, whereupon he attacks the meeting room.
Raoul Silva's escape from MI6 custody in Skyfall appears to succeed only because of several factors outside his control falling in his favour, but at the same time he seems to have planned for things to happen this way well in advance. First he is held in the same facility where his laptop is handled, and it releases a virus which takes down the local computer network, allowing Silva to escape in the confusion. The virus wasn't even set to trigger at the first attempt at breaking into the files, but at a specific method of trying to open them. Fortunately for Silva, his cell and the area around it was also lightly guarded enough that he manages to escape into the old sewer systems under London. Bond chases after him, and catches up in a large cavern, where Silva already had a bomb set in the ceiling where the subway line passes over it. He blows it open, and soon a train comes crashing down, cutting Bond off. Good thing Silva wasn't forced to detonate it a few minutes earlier or later, which would have given the subway controllers enough time to be alerted about the broken track and halt traffic over it. Then Silva surfaces at a nearby subway station, where his henchmen knew to be waiting for him... somehow.
It is also implied that Silva getting captured in the first place was a Batman Gambit to allow him to approach M and cause serious damage to MI6 while escaping, and it is quite possible that he had more Batman Gambits prepared for after his escape, which is why Bond upon realizing he and M are trapped in Silva's Batman Moebius Strip, decides to do something he would never do in different circumstances, to "kidnap" M and to return to his childhood home in Skyfall Manor and set up a trap for Silva and his men there. Sadly this doesn't stops Silva from gradually succeding in the end, since technically his objective was to kill M and destroy MI6 and he succeded in the first part.
Now You See Me: Most of their tricks, and magic in general, depend on being able to accurately predict how people will react and using that to their advantage. Merritt, the mentalist, in particular.
The main crook has planned that his former comrades would kill each other in the process of beating the location of their diamonds out of the fifth member. Unfortunately for him, they never get the diamonds before they all die.
The sushi girl plans on all of the crooks at the meeting will kill each other or eat the poisoned fugu she had made, all without doing any harm to her in the process. This plan actually succeeds.
In Ghost Ship, Ferriman's plan hinges on people falling for their greed to complete his mission to collect souls. His plan goes awry when one of his would-be-victims chooses self-sacrifice to destroy the ship once and for all over the promise of getting rich off the gold.
Heroes, anti-heroes, and villains alike make such plans in The Wrong Arm of the Law. One example is the underworld's 24-hour truce with the police in which no crimes would be committed during that period so that the police would have enough leg room to try to catch the Australian IPO gang themselves. At the end of the 24 hours, the crime rate spikes, with the underworld and the police hypothesizing that such a spike would lead the IPO mob to be more selective with their hits and only go after the bigger jobs. This leads up to the finale, where Pearly Gates, Inspector Nosy Parker, and foreign safecracker Siggy Schmoltz set up a phony job that ends up getting the IPO mob captured.
Bartleby in Dogma pulls off a stupidly simple one at the end of the movie. He needs his wings removed to become human so he can enter the church and his have sins purged, but he's just killed his companion Loki, who would have done it had he not have a Heel Realization much earlier. Enter Jay, who got a hold of a sub-machine gun and is ready to shoot him. Bartleby just ducks down and spreads out his wings, counting on Jay to not aim. Indeed, Jay just shoots Bartleby's wings and by the time Rufus and Serendipity stops him, it's too late: he's ran out of bullets and Bartleby's wingless.
In TheGodfather, Carlo first antagonises his wife, knowing that will drive her insane enough to give him the pretext to beat her, knowing that she will then call her family, so Sonny will get wind of it, go into a rage and drive over to him for revenge, where he can be murdered by Barzini's men at a toll booth between their homes.
Slayne: Forgot to turn your cell phone off. That's how we tracked you—your cell phone.
Clayton: I didn't forget. I knew she'd do her job.
In Robin Hood (1991), Marian's wedding is scheduled for All Fools' Day. The outlaws (except Robin, who sneaks in first) dress up in festive costumes and form a procession to get past the city gates, as merry-makers cannot be refused entry.