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Alternative Character Interpretation / Live-Action Films
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Alternative Character Interpretation in Films.

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  • A Canterbury Tale: The Glue Man, Colpeper, is either a well-meaning but old-fashioned patriot or a cowardly and illogical misogynist, depending on who you ask.
  • A Wedding (1978):
    • In-Universe, Toni and her aunt argue about whether Toni is an Honest Corporate Executive providing jobs for South American refugees or a Corrupt Corporate Executive who is exploiting them.
    • Mack is said to be an art collector, but whether this means that he does it as a profession or that he's living off his wife's money is unclear. The latter possibility could cast a different light on his efforts to have an affair with Tulip while claiming that they've had a Love at First Sight moment.
  • Ace Ventura: Pet Detective has the character Ray Finkle, a former NFL placekicker who turns into police detective Lois Einhorn to exact a revenge plot against former teammate Dan Marino. A recent ACI is that Finkle is genuinely transgender. Although some think this makes her more sympathetic, there are two caveats: 1) "Lois Einhorn" is a stolen identity from a missing hiker, and 2) Einhorn is still using her transition to get away with murder, thus making a mockery of a serious issue.
    • Furthermore, what happened to the real Lois Einhorn? Did Ray simply find a report on a missing person and appropriate the identity, or did he actually kill the real Lois Einhorn?
    • Another ACI is that Finkle/Einhorn's psychosis is a jab at obsessive sports fans.
  • Alien:
    • Alien: Ash the android. Does he go spasmic and berserk when trying to kill Ripley because of the programming conflict created by his programming to help humans clashing with his order to sacrifice the crew if necessary? And there are his words of admiration about the Xenomorph: does he actually wish he was free of his own programming as he is essentially a slave, or does he simply wish to emulate the monster out of malevolence?
    • Aliens: Carter J. Burke. When he attempts to turn Ripley and Newt into Facehugger hosts to be brought back to Earth, is it a sign that he was a shrewd sociopath all along or did he act out of desperation due to Ripley's serious threat to expose his earlier crimes backing him into a corner? Was he genuinely on Ripley's side before this point, or was it just a front hiding the monster underneath? Was Burke acting of his own free will when he set off the movie's inciting incident by ordering the fateful investigation to the Derelict, or was he acting under orders from a higher-up himself?
    • Alien vs. Predator: Was Scar aware he was impregnated with a Chestburster and playing the Zombie Infectee trope straight, or was he genuinely oblivious all along?
  • The movie American Psycho has numerous alternate character interpretations, most revolving around the main character, Patrick Bateman. The most popular of these interpretations is that Bateman is not a serial killer, but a man hallucinating, dreaming, fantasizing or imagining (or all four) the killer aspects of the movie. One reviewer actually went so far as to state that Bateman is actually the mostly unseen character Marcus Halberstram
    • Other interpretations assume that Bateman did not kill Paul Allen, but someone else entirely because, like some of the other characters, he does not know who Paul Allen really is. There is at least one specific shot during the business card scene that would contradict this.
    • Still others think that Bateman's real name is Davis, because his lawyer, Harold Carnes, calls him Davis during the final scene.
  • Angels in the Outfield, 1994 version: Did Roger's dad give up custody of Roger to the state of California even after the Angels were on the cusp of winning the pennant because he was just selfish and didn't want to take responsibility for raising Roger himself after Roger's mother died? Or did his father conclude that in his situation (from what we see of him he doesn't exactly exude "financially stable and secure") he couldn't possibly have done so and that the best option for Roger is with someone else who could, thus making it ultimately an act of love? The narrative doesn't focus on him, so the audience can only guess what the truth is.
  • Avatar: Colonel Quaritch: A genocidal, gleefully insane bastard, a Colonel Badass who's just doing his job, or a Well-Intentioned Extremist that doesn't see any other way than going down guns blazing?
    • He is not genocidal, as he has not killed any humans, and is trying to bring back Unobtanium, which would aid humanity. It all really depends on wether you see Pandoran interests as being of equal value to human interests. Note that Pandorans certainly do not see human interests and problems as being important to them.
    • The word genocide is defined as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group." Nothing says that said group has to be human. If you believe his actions in the film would constitute genocide if performed on humans than they are genocide on the Na'vi as well. As for the Pandorans not caring about human interests they haven't invaded Earth and started taking their resources.

  • The movie Battleship tries to depict the aliens as invaders. However, one prevalent fan theory is that the aliens actually crash-landed on Earth, sent a distress signal to their homeworld to be rescued, and are simply defending themselves from the local "wildlife", with no real intention of harming or invading. (In other words, it's essentially a sci-fi scenario of a group of people getting stranded in a jungle, waiting for rescue and fighting off the wildlife.)
  • Chance the gardener, as played by Peter Sellers in Being There, appears to be The Fool who is mistaken for a genius because everyone reads what they want into his vague dialogue. But the movie is filled with things that can be interpreted as Christian symbolism; and in the final scene, Chance walks on water. The implication is that we, as the audience, are also guilty of only seeing what we expect, and Chance may be more than he appears. (In the novel, there is no such scene; it is clear there that Chance is simply The Fool.)
    • In fact, an alternate interpretation of the final shot is that Chance can walk on water because he doesn't realize it's not possible, and so he is still The Fool. Incidentally, the director conceived the shot when he was inspired by how believable the film, especially Sellers, was playing out; the ending in the script was more akin to the novel's.
    • For his part, Sellers admitted he liked how open this was to interpretation. He saw the character as an analogue to himself (that is, constantly being what others wanted on and off screen, with no "true" self), which is why he wanted to play him. He felt the point of the story was "God's message again that the meek shall inherit the Earth," and so his personal interpretation of Chance (and himself) may have leaned more towards Fool than Messiah.
    • Alternately, the scene involved Chance walking on a sandbar directly beneath the surface of the water with deep water to either side to emphasize that Chance's progression through the film has been based entirely on taking fortunate steps in exactly the right places, walking a razor's edge.
      • Roger Ebert opposes this interpretation on the grounds that it violates the implicit rules of film: "When I taught the film, I had endless discussions with my students over this scene. Many insisted on explaining it: He is walking on a hidden sandbar, the water is only half an inch deep, there is a submerged pier, etc. 'Not valid!' I thundered. 'The movie presents us with an image, and while you may discuss the meaning of the image it is not permitted to devise explanations for it. Since Ashby does not show a pier, there is no pier - a movie is exactly what it shows us, and nothing more.'"
    • Alternately alternately, Chance is a person with no real mind or personality. There is no weight to him, no depth nor substance. He is so "light" that he can walk on water.
    • Or, still further into alternatives, Chance really is more than he appears. Throughout the film, he constantly does exactly what the people around him need him to do: the infamous "I like to watch" scene allows the wife to feel sexual without cheating on the husband she seems to love, for example.
    • Mark Harris' essay for The Criterion Collection release of the film says that while Kosinski's treatment of Chance is as "a kind of holy fool", "In contemporary diagnostic terms, he would be considered to lie somewhere on the autism spectrum" — at least in addition to any and all other interpretations. Autism was not a well-known condition at the time of the book and novel.
  • In Big Fish, Don Price is incredibly possessive of Sandra, and he beats Edward to a pulp when Edward makes advances towards her. he really such a Jerkass, or was he just terrified of dying alone after the Witch showed him that he would die young? Additionally, one could see him as either an antagonistic Jerkass or as a tragic underdog who spent his whole life being overshadowed by Edward, only to die at age 20 as a direct result of Edward stealing his fiancee.
  • Big Game:
    • Considering the revelation that Hazar was actually a loyal CIA black operative posing as a Middle-Eastern Terrorist the entire time, it's ambiguous how much of his sociopathic behavior and antics throughout the movie are genuine and how much are him "getting into character" for when he tortures and kills the President as part of the ruse.
    • Was Herbert killing his co-conspirator the Vice President following their Evil Plan's failure done purely to tie up the last loose end linking the former's role in the attempt against the President back to him, or was it also partly done out of wrath that the Vice President didn't care one whit about the death of Hazar, a man Herbert had known and admired for fifteen years?
  • There's a theory regarding Donny from The Big Lebowski which suggests that Donny doesn't exist, but is simply a figment of Walter's imagination, as the Dude (the protagonist of the film) only talks to Donny once during the whole film. Alternatively, Donny is figment of both The Dude and Walter's imaginations. This brings up questions such as: Whose ashes were those, then? And was the funeral home worker also imaginary?
    • Is Walter Sobchek an incompetent, ultra-nationalist gun-nut who feels the need to relate absolutely everything to Vietnam because of his friends who died there? Or is he a spineless man who never went to 'Nam, felt incredible survivor's guilt because of his friends who did go and died, and acts crazy to overcompensate?
      • Supposedly a line was cut from the film where The Dude, fed up with the constant 'Nam references, points out that Walter was never even in 'Nam.
      • Or is Walter a Vietnam vet more traumatized by his divorce than by Vietnam, realizes on some level how that's kind of screwed up, and so uses Vietnam as a cover for his own insecurities? Notice how he blows up when The Dude tells him he isn't really Jewish (he converted for his wife and never left after the divorce).
      • Walter might even have been upset because the Dude's argument reveals a stunning lack of understanding about the Jewish faith. The conversion process is difficult, but once a person converts, the Jewish community treats them the same as they would anyone who was born a Jew. There's no question about them not being "really Jewish", they ARE Jewish. Getting divorced from his wife afterward would not change his religious status at all.
  • A striking example is the movie Blade Runner, where director Ridley Scott and actor Harrison Ford disagree about whether Ford's character Deckard is, in fact, a replicant.
    • The film treats replicants as 'supermen who cannot fly' and sets them up as pitiable, sympathetic victims-of-humans. The book the film is based upon asserts that 'the replicants are inhuman, uncaring machines (not unlike uncaring, inhuman humans, but even less caring) and so cannot exist safely alongside authentic humans'. This 'what is humanity' question is the core of much of the later cyberpunk literature.
    • One way this has been dealt with: in the original movie release, Deckard isn't a replicant; in the director's cut, he is. The fulcrum of the change is one scene cut from the original, in which Gaff (Edward James Olmos' character) leaves an origami unicorn at a table for Deckard. Since Deckard had a dream about a unicorn before then, and replicants have implanted memories, this is taken as a sign that all of Deckard's memories are implanted and that Olmos' character knows this. Take out this scene, and there is little reason to support "Deckard is a replicant" (beyond his general toughness).
      • His eyes "glow" like those of the replicants in the director's cut. Film crew told later that it was a lightning mistake, nothing intentional
    • But his getting his ass kicked by practically every replicant he comes across and surviving mainly through sheer dumb luck is a human trait.
      • With the exception of Pris, all of the replicants are described as military models (and Pris, given her line of work as a 'pleasure model' probably has a pretty extensive self-defense repertoire). Deckard probably was not designed to go up against opponents this hardcore.
    • Two other hints, even in the "standard" version. One, his tiny apartment is covered in photographs, which seems to be a defining obsession with Replicants, a sort of "proof" of their existence. Two, when he is going to Sebastian's, he describes himself to the caller as "an old friend." Sebastian does not have human friends.
      • ...But that's why, when he describes himself as an old friend of J.F.'s, Pris immediately knows he's lying and hangs up. An alternate explanation for the unicorn dream and the origami unicorn at the end are that they represent Rachael: unicorns are feminine, beautiful, and unreal. Gaff's origami had, up to that point, only been used to represent people: the chicken was Deckard reluctant to come back to the job; the stick-figure with the big penis was Deckard in his element as a detective. At the end of the film, Gaff sees Rachael in the same way Deckard saw her in his abstract daydream, and so decided to let her live. This doesn't mean that Deckard isn't a replicant, but the unicorn origami is ambiguous proof that he is at best.
    • An interesting theory: Deckard in the film is a human because of how his character and the replicants act. The Skinjobs, as they're derogatorily called by the humans, are emotional and passionate in their drive for life. Contrast the human characters, like Bryant and Gaff, who are cold, emotionless, and detached toward the world around them. Deckard didn't display any of the emotional qualities the Replicants had throughout the movie, which makes him more "human". In the book, this issue is raised explicitly. Deckard takes the Voight-Kampff test and is proven human.
    • Many viewers are disturbed by Deckard's forcibly stealing a kiss from Rachel and believe that it implies that he raped her. Whether he did tends to be hotly debated in online discussions of the movie. If Deckard is a replicant, he (like the others) still has the emotional maturity of a child despite physical and mental maturity, hence explaining his actions as emotionally misunderstanding the implications of what he's doing.
    • Aside from the issue of whether Deckard is intended to be a replicant or not, and to what extent this is hinted at in the movie, a more fundamental issue is to what extent he is "the good guy" and Roy Batty is the villain. According to one interpretation, the entire movie is about Deckard realizing he's fundamentally on the wrong side (helped by Rachael) and that replicants are not really evil but just WellIntentionedExtremists whose desire for more life and freedom is understandable. This explains why in the director's cut, the ending is him going on the run with Rachael.
    • Blade Runner is also an example because Ridley Scott is invoking the genre. In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the novel Blade Runner is based on, Deckard is definitively shown to be human multiple times. Even without the Voight-Kampff test, he is shown to be human and the implication that he isn't is fueled primarily by paranoia rather than any real evidence. Ridley Scott still places Deckard through largely the same plot, but re-interprets him as a replicant. Rachel is a more minor example. She serves largely the same role in both the novel and film, but she is a far more active character in the novel than the film.
  • Elwood Blues (The Blues Brothers, Blues Brothers 2000):
    • Elwood has Asperger's Syndrome (which Dan Aykroyd himself has claimed to have in interviews). This would explain a lot about his character, including his predilection for sunglasses (allowing him to avoid direct eye contact) and his long, convoluted speeches about Russian politics and blues music in the sequel.
      • Some people with AS are particularly under - or over -sensitive to specific sensory input, which might be another reason why Elwood likes to wear sunglasses (he is more sensitive than others to sunlight). Taste hypersensitivity can manifest itself as a marked preference for relatively tasteless food - which would explain the character's predilection for dry white toast.
    • Elwood Blues, good man who occasionally gets in the way of the law, but is willing to try so hard to save his orphanage... or destructive psychopath who should spend the rest of his life in jail for reckless behavior, especially regarding his driving through the mall, which no doubt resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damages as well as endangering the lives of everyone in the mall.
      • Rule of Funny and/or Rule of Cool is the only reason Elwood gets away with the first.
      • Plus, he's on a mission from God. Divine intervention, mofos!
  • The Boondock Saints: True vigilantes striving to destroy evil without killing an innocent? Or is the entire film focused on the warped view of two downtrodden brothers from the wrong side of Boston who decide to kill criminals only to keep others from coming down on them.
    • Or are they, in fact, on a Mission from God and being protected/guided by divine intervention?
  • Missy in Bring It On: straight, and they just didn't feel the need to throw in a Romantic Plot Tumour to clarify this, or as gay as she's hinted to be, and suffering a classic case of Did Not Get the Girl?
  • Brokeback Mountain: Two men shamelessly cheating on their wives and neglecting their families for years? Or two men forced into their situation due to the circumstances of the time, and would have probably would have not be unfaithful to anyone had they lived in a more progressive era/society?
    • Even if they can't be together, nobody held a gun at them to get married and lead women on who truly loved them. There have always been confirmed bachelors and marriages of convenience.
    • Except there was a figurative gun on them, and that was the fear of being found out and subsequently killed, something that the film implies happened to Jack and something that Ennis sees when he's a boy. Being married was a buffer between them and the suspicions of those around them, so being a "confirmed bachelor" when people were already giving you the side eye wouldn't have been a smart idea. Frankly neither man had the sophistication to deliberately set up an arranged marriage and Ennis was possibly in denial when he got engaged to Alma — before he met Jack. In fact, both men may have considered that marriage would "cure" or at least curb their desires. As things play out, Ennis does settle for being alone instead of marrying again.
  • Bubba Ho Tep: Are the characters really Elvis and JFK, or simply senile old men?
    • It could easily be a mixture, one hidden icon and one senile old man.
  • Bruce Almighty: God decides that Bruce needs to be taught a lesson in humility. His method for this involves making Bruce nigh-on omnipotent. Does anyone else see the problem with this? In order to teach Bruce to be less of a dick, he gives him the means to have the best week of his life, followed by a couple of days of being a little bit sad, before his life's pretty good again. Meanwhile, millions of people suffer from Bruce's laziness and occasional cruelty. God allowed millions of people to suffer to teach this one guy a lesson.
    • And in the sequel, he floods an entire town, probably killing thousands of people, to teach a few politicians a lesson.
    • Bruce himself isn't as much of a dick as he's made out to be. Those thugs he terrorised? He told them in advance that if they apologised he'd leave them alone. Those news reporters he got arrested? It's their own fault for being mean to him. Caused a tsunami (And other natural disasters)? Purely accidental. Practically tortures Evan? ...Okay, that's one strike against him. But let's look at all the good things he did. He gave his girlfriend orgasmic pleasure beyond her wildest dreams. He made thousands of people happy by granting all their prayers (When it would have been just as easy to reject all their prayers). So Bruce wasn't a bad guy. He wasn't completely selfish; he wanted to make people happy, it's just that he didn't want to waste much of his valuable time doing it. And he wasn't cruel; he only punished those who deserved it, and even then he sometimes gave people a chance to repent and avoid punishment.

  • The 1976 version of Carrie portrays Margaret, Carrie's mother, as a psychotic woman who has made up her own version of Christianity and follows this version to the letter, even misquoting the Bible. She is abusive towards Carrie and never shows her any love, going so far as to say she never wanted Carrie RIGHT IN HER FACE. In the 2013 version of the film, Margaret is still a firm believer of her own version of her religion, but it's made abundantly clear that Carrie means the world to her, even if she can be rude to her at times. An even more important change is the infamous prom sequence. In the 1976 film, Carrie is never shown practising her telekinesis and goes into a trance-like state when shit hits the fan at prom. This makes her character helpless from start to finish, she's not doing anything yet she causes all this mayhem. The 2013 version solves this problem masterfully: Carrie can be seen practising her powers (moving flags while in class, looking up videos on YouTube) and actually has fun with it. She sees it as a gift rather than a curse. In the prom sequence, it's not just Carrie losing control. It's rather the opposite. Carrie takes control by simply having enough of everyone's shit and decides to use her powers against everyone who has wronged her. She simply has had enough and doesn't care anymore, taking matters into her own hand, standing up for herself at last. This completely turns her character around, much like the film did with her mother Margaret. Carrie isn't a helpless victim in this version, she's the hero (or maybe anti-hero, YMMV on that one). Carrie 1976 is the tale of a woman scorned, Carrie 2013 is the tale of a woman scorned and not having any of it.
  • The 2005 version of Casanova staring Heath Ledger portrays Casanova as the protagonist, a man desiring to enjoy sexual intercourse as often as he can with as many different women as he can manage. As is to be expected in a story based on Casanova, the Catholic Church (specifically, the Inquisition) is portrayed at best as an obstacle to Casanova and at worst as the villain. The moment you see Jeremy Irons arrive on the scene as Inquisitor Pucci, one can be sure that Pucci will be the Designated Villain of the story. Even a large order of nuns, to a woman, seem to throw themselves at him as he races down several corridors that are not even in the same building, including one that belonged to a wealthy merchant family. Through it all, he manages to avoid the long arm of the Inquisition, in part with thanks to his personal friend the Doge, and eventually gives up his incorrigible ways and makes regular love to only a single woman, passing on his moniker to a young man he helped to get over his shyness.
    • That's the intended interpretation (probably), but change one small assumption of the movie, and you get a Perspective Flip. The filmmakers see sexual intercourse out of wedlock as something to aspire to; the Church (and this includes the real Roman Catholic Church) views it as a sin. Recall that adultery is a sin spoken of in some of the harshest terms because it corrupts the body as well as the soul. Casanova was not only someone in deep need of salvation, but someone who was placing stumbling block after stumbling block in the path of others on their road to salvation - which is a sin in itself. The previous local head of the inquisition, while seeking to capture and convict Casanova, has attempted to convict Casanova in the past and might have shown some leniency had he been able to force Casanova to clean up his act without the interference of the Doge. Further, even after choosing a woman to devote himself too, Casanova is never shown to marry her, which means he hasn't given up his incorrigible ways altogether. He's still having escapades - he's just narrowed the focus considerably. Finally, the young man he left in his place continues the line of sexual escapades; before the interference of Casanova, he was eager to devote himself to a single particular woman.
  • Was Nicky Santoro's downfall in Casino caused by his Hair-Trigger Temper, or was he just manipulated by Ginger?
    • Ace indicates in the voiceover that it was Nicky's increasing alcoholism and cocaine addiction that was making him sloppy.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    • In the Gene Wilder version, Willy Wonka comes off as a Mad Scientist who is genuinely unconcerned how dangerous his environment is. In the Johnny Depp version, Willy Wonka is shown meticulously planning and organizing events, which make the various accidents come off as the machinations of a Diabolical Mastermind. The original novel can support either interpretation.
    • A possible interpretation of the Gene Wilder version is that Wonka never wanted anyone to get through the factory. Unlike Depp Wonka who simply seems detached from other people, Wilder Wonka seems to enjoy their pain. So maybe the factory tour project is just for his enjoyment and so he can prove to himself that no-one is his equal. He seems quite irritated when he realises Charlie and Joe have actually got past all the hazards he's lain out, and so lashes out at them. He changes suddenly partly because Joe then treats him like the arrogant and egotistical figure he really is, but also because he realises how much of a hero figure he had been to Charlie.
      • There's a more sinister interpretation. Wonka enjoys seeing people suffer. He brought a bunch of people into his factory and set up situations where he knew they would hurt themselves. Charlie and Grandpa Joe were supposed to get hurt in the fizzy lifter but they unexpectedly escaped. So Wonka had to improvise. He came up with the idea of denying them their prize and it partially worked; he finally broke Grandpa Joe. But Charlie still persevered. So Wonka had to improvise again and offer Charlie a chance to move into the factory. The purpose of that offer was to keep Charlie from getting away. Wonka wanted to keep him around until he could figure out how to hurt him like he had all the others.
    • Another interpolation of the Wilder version is that he's nothing more than an over the top ham who knows that all the children (and by extension their parents) are perfectly safe from harm...and is just being a huge Troll about it all.
    • Also in the Gene Wilder version, Grandpa Joe is played as a beloved, sympathetic character. But after a bout of unfortunate Fridge Logic, it becomes apparent that he's kind of a bastard. Think about it: He spends twenty years lying in bed doing nothing (except consuming tobacco) while Mom takes in laundry, and Charlie busts his ass on a paper route, all so they can barely afford their broken-down shack and cabbage water (which he complains about). But all that changes as soon as the kid finds a magic pass into to the candy factory inside a chocolate bar with money he fished out of a storm drain on his hands and knees. At that point, Grandpa Joe is suddenly able to dance like a broadway veteran, kick up his heels, and sing about how "we've" got a golden ticket, completely dismissing the notion that Charlie might want to take one of his actual parents. Then, when he gets into the factory, he insults the other children, (possibly) gropes Mrs. TeeVee's rump, and encourages Charlie to steal the Fizzy Lifting Drinks...All before berating Mr. Wonka at the end, claiming that Wonka appears to believe himself to be entitled. As in, entitled to decide for himself who to leave his own inheritance to. An inheritance consisting of a company and factory built from the ground up by the genius Willy Wonka. Man...What a DICK!
    • In the book, the Oompa Loompas are an explicit case of Values Dissonance - they're pygmies. In the Gene Wilder version, Wonka sees them as completely dependent on his good will, so much so that he chooses his successor solely on how he believes that successor will treat them; this could make him the leader of a cult. In the Johnny Depp version, they're privacy-loving immigrants; given that Wonka's a Cloud Cuckoo Lander, it must be a laid-back job.
    • Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka is the Übermensch.
    • For the Tim Burton reimagining, there seems to be a case of Michael Jackson in the newest Wonka. The stunted childlike minded celebrity recluse with oddities and grew up in a home with a father that never really let him be a kid.
    • However, Johnny Depp stated that he based his character on Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue magazine.
    • This also applies to the naughty children:
      • Augustus Gloop: He's relatively unchanged between the films, but is meaner in the 2005 version. In the 1971 version, he offered Charlie a pen to sign the contract. In the 2005 version, he offered Charlie some chocolate and then yanked it away.
      • Violet Beauregarde: Violet's gum chewing obsession and her rude manners were her flaws in 1971 version, but in the 2005 version she's made an obsessive competitor who has won numerous trophies and is determined to win the factory at any cost. Also, both films portray her having a rivalry with Veruca Salt, whom she does not interact with in the original book.
      • Veruca Salt: A spoiled rich girl in both versions, but '71 Veruca is louder and brattier while '05 Veruca is colder and snobbier. And in both versions she has the aforementioned rivalry with Violet Beauregarde.
      • Mike Teavee: '71 Mike Teavee is so obsessed with TV Westerns that he goes around wearing a cowboy outfit and seems to find his Golden Ticket less interesting than the television. In the '05 version, his obsession with TV is updated to include video games and he's additionally made an Insufferable Genius who looks down on Wonka for his nonsense inventions.
  • Cheaper by the Dozen (2003); A somewhat narmy family comedy or a Cliché Storm ridden extended Lifetime Channel Original Movie? For the family; A bunch of self-centered spoiled kids with overly-lenient parents or just parents that were neglectful with handling out discipline for the kids? And with that in mind, upon watching the second film, are the family of Eugene Levy's character a foil for if you have too much a handle on your kids?
  • The radiation-scarred pursuers from Chernobyl Diaries seem like your standard schlock-horror Cannibal Clan The Hills Have Eyes Expys ... except that they're never actually seen killing any of the tour group on-screen. They grapple with Michael (who was shooting at them) and one is captured on video carrying off Natalie, but the former's death is not shown and the latter is actually found again later, physically unharmed. Because the Exclusion-Zone guards had apparently been hunting them down with automatic weapons, it's possible that these "mutants" were merely defending themselves by mobbing the intruders, particularly as their vision must've been damaged by radiation (so they couldn't see that the group weren't in uniform) and they couldn't understand the tourists' English (which, if they'd been held in isolation since the disaster, would've sounded like the language of a Cold War enemy). As for the implied cannibalism, Yuri could've been killed and half-eaten by feral dogs, which also injured Chris; and Natalie was hauled away by the "mutants" in order to save her from the bear when it returned to flip over the van, having smelled out Chris's blood.
  • Is the title character in Chloe a Psycho Lesbian Stalker with a Crush, or is she just a troubled young woman who has been sexually exploited by a selfish adulteress old enough to be her mother? Does she commit suicide by letting go of the window frame because she realizes Catherine will never love her, or does Catherine murder her by pushing her out the window because she, Catherine, finds her inconvenient?
    • In addition, was Catherine telling the truth about being with Chloe cause that was the only way she could be close to her husband. Or was she deep in the closet with genuine feelings for chloe but was in denial. Or a little bit (or a whole lot) of all of the above?
  • A Christmas Story. Was the mall Santa too harsh and rough on Ralphie and the other kids, or was he just an overworked mall employee who was just wanting the mall to close so he could end his shift?
  • Cinderella (2015):
    • Drizella either really believes Cinderella spoke Italian or makes it up so she won't have to admit she didn't understand what Ella spoke in French.
    • The Princess Chelina has only a couple of lines and not much character focus. Her "little kingdom" comment implies she's something of a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing. However she keeps her composure when Kit opts to dance with Ella, and when she asks who the girl is, she merely sounds curious as opposed to jealous. It's entirely up in the air how aware she is of the Duke trying to manipulate Kit into marrying her.
  • A Clockwork Orange. Is Alex really an evil, barbaric, inhumane, psychopathic abomination or is he just a simple, common lad caught up in a society that takes glee in acts of depravity that are actually a part of his generation?
  • Is Roy Neary of Close Encounters of the Third Kind a lovable everyman on an amazing, quasi-spiritual quest or just a thoughtless absentee father? Similarly, is Ronnie a mega-bitch shrew of a wife or a poor Woobie pushed to her limit?
  • Crazy Rich Asians:
    • Michael tells Astrid that she has a habit of deflecting blame away from herself and towards other people. In the scene where she tells her husband that it wasn't her or her money that ruined their marriage, it was him being a coward, one could easily conclude that Michael was right and she's just shifting blame again.
    • When Eleanor sympathetically tells Rachel about her background and what she went through to marry Nick's father, and then harshly says, "you will never be enough," is she simply being pointlessly cruel to Rachel, or is she actually telling Rachel about her own experience? Or both?
  • Cube Zero: About Jax, the head The Men in Black villain. Given his whole spiel about "observing the observers" and being seen answering the phone to talk to an unseen boss of his, how much of a willing enforcer is he in the grand scheme of things? Also, is he purely sadistic, or does he respect Wynn in some odd way? His final speech, while clearly trolling him at first, can be read various ways.
  • In Cuties, is Amy's mother telling her that it is fine if she doesn't come to the wedding acknowledging that the restrictiveness of such traditions and the role she was being made to fill was alienating for Amy? Or was it her telling Amy that she has been dishonored and her presence would be embarrassing?
  • In the made-for-TV movie Cyberbully (2011), the main character Taylor faces problems when a guy from another school befriends her on a website but then goes and tells everyone she gave him an STD. It later turns out that her friend Sam, who throughout the movie had been trying to convince her that the guy she had a crush on was no good, was really just pretending to be the guy who spoke to her online. Her motives are never explained so it's left for the viewer to come up with something. The most accepted theory? Sam is a closet lesbian with a crush on Taylor. She wanted to convince Taylor that all men are scum so that maybe, she'd given women a chance.

  • The two lead female characters in The Descent. Some see one or the other as either a sympathetic hero or an unsympathetic irredeemable asshole who got what she deserved.
    • The Descent itself can be interpreted as a tragic story about a Native American tribe defending its homeland from invaders. The tragedy is that, due to the language barrier, the crawler tribe did not realize the spelunkers were just lost and not dangerous (or that they were human and not monsters).
  • A single deleted scene of Donnie Darko calls into question the visions that Donnie sees throughout the movie: are they clues and hints to guide his hand in creating a Stable Time Loop that results in his own death, or are they deranged hallucinations caused by his anti-psychotic medication being a placebo? Although Word of God does say that it is that first option.
    • One more for the road: Donnie is a Superhero in a universe with no room for Superheroes. He raids the school, cracking a water pipe with an axe and burying that axe in the head of a 16-foot-tall solid brass statue. Then he writes on the floor in huge letters. He'd have to possess both Super Strength and Flight to do that. Then when he burns down Jim Cunningham's house, the damage from the fire reveals the kiddie porn dungeon, causing the arrest of Cunningham and, we can assume, the saving of some kids from exploitation, at least by Cunningham. The Time Travel is an aspect of his abilities, and the Bunny is his subconscious trying to process his new-found abilities and interpret the prophetic visions he has. A perfect example is the scene in the bathroom when he stabs Frank the Bunny in the eye, then sees Frank the Bunny with a damaged eye, without his mask, then later shoots real life human Frank, in the eye. They come off as hallucinations, but they are his psyche struggling to process the information. It's possible that he has so much trouble because his medication was dulling his mind and making it harder for him to control/process what's happening around him. As the film goes on and his powers grow in strength, he as a person becomes more confident and assertive.
      • He even calls out Cunningham from moment one, declaring him the Antichrist without ever explaining why. It could be argued he sensed the 'evil' within Cunningham from the get go without realising why. He's a flawed Super, but at the same time not; when his girlfriend is the victim, he goes back in time a month to die under the plane engine. This means he never meets, thus never endangers Gretchen, and his sister and mother are never on the plane from which the engine falls, and his other sister's boyfriend is never killed. It also means Cunningham is never caught and Gretchen's mother, and presumably Gretchen, with nowhere to run to, fall victim to her abusive father.
      • Drew Barrymore and Dr Carter are Guardians/Guides of a sort, the Scientist/Professor friend every superhero has who can explain the powers without possessing any themselves. Except in this case they explain philosophical concepts which lead Donnie to an understanding of his own powers.
      • Donnie appears schizophrenic to his family because...well, how would a superhero look in the real world we live in today? How many people do we lock away who claim they can fly or come from another planet...?
      • They build on this idea without 'getting it' in the sequel 'Samantha Darko', suggesting she's inherited the same abilities as her brother. Her choices at the end leading to equally damaging and tragic consequences: a little boy starving to death only miles and days from rescue thanks to a psychotic townsperson's insane agenda.
  • The producers of Drop Dead Fred want you to believe it's a story about a woman whose Imaginary Friend is actually a Not-So-Imaginary Friend, and helps her conquer her fears. The more reasonable explanation (contradicted by alarmingly little in the film itself) is that it's the story of a woman suffering from late-onset schizophrenia and increasingly violent delusions.
    • Not only is this not contradicted by the events of the film, it's practically justified. Lizzie has a terrible childhood with an overbearing mother, and starts to show symptoms. Her mom blames her for everything, so she lashes out and invents someone to blame things on herself. As an adult she seems to have things together, more of less. She has moved away from the mother, has a job, is married, etc. Then a single lunchbreak costs her both husband and job, and forces her to move back in with the woman who's responsible for her issues to begin with. Cue perfectly understandable relapse.
    • And if Fred really does have an independent existence, what are the pills, and why do they affect him? How can shrinks have a drug with no effect other than to kill imaginary friends, even though they don't believe such things exist?
  • Dumb and Dumber:
    1. Mistakes Mary's politeness for affection and falls instantly in love with her, then takes it way too far, and is utterly oblivious to the fact that he's creeping her out.
    2. Is a very poor driver, and flees the scene of an accident in order to do something that probably could have been handled by airport security based solely on the fact that he was so obsessed with a woman he just met.
    3. Demonstrates a total lack of financial responsibility and gets robbed because he thought he could trust somebody he just insulted. Face it: he wasn't even aware that he insulted her...
    4. Decides to go on a cross-country road trip to be reunited with a woman he only drove to the airport.
    5. Sells a dead parakeet to a blind kid for twenty five dollars.
    6. Indulges in an unrealistic fantasy in which he is the ultimate hero and Mary can't wait to throw herself at him, thus demonstrating a complete lack of understanding about the way relationships work.
    7. Insists on annoying the hitchhiker they picked up (admittedly he was planning on killing them both, but they didn't know that), without considering that he might not want to hear the Most Annoying Sound in the World.
    8. Utterly ignores Harry's needs until they are pointed out to him, like wearing two pairs of gloves until Harry says his hands are cold.
    9. Kills an owl with a cork and doesn't realize what's so wrong about that.
    10. Puts laxatives in Harry's tea instead of confronting him directly about seeing Mary.
    11. Still expects Mary to fall into his arms despite the fact that he is a stuttering mess and she's only with him because he has the briefcase.
    12. Engages in an Indulgent Fantasy Segue wherein he imagines murdering Mary's husband.
    13. The only reason he doesn't get called out on any of it is because Harry's too genuinely stupid and passive to do so.
    • Lloyd could also be considered a Jerkass Woobie - he travels across the country nearly getting killed/raped in the process just to give his dream girl her briefcase, his best friend steals her from him (so he thinks), and finally learns that she's already married. And to top it off he's simply too dumb and/or crazy to realize that she's completely out of his league anyway.
    • Who's "Dumb" and who's "Dumber"? Is it Lloyd for having even less sense than Harry exhibits, or Harry for letting Lloyd fast-talk him so often? Or is it the thugs who think Harry and Lloyd are smarter than they actually are?

  • In Edward Scissorhands it's been argued that the whole thing is simply a fairy tale the old woman is telling her grandchild. This seems to be a case of some people failing to understand Burton's little twist at the end - i.e., the opening is supposed to give the viewer the impression that an old lady is recounting a mere story to her grandchild but in the end that story is revealed to be true as the old lady reveals herself to be Kim. The alternate explanation not only negates the twist but makes the old lady rather strange given that she's therefore getting all emotionally attached to, and involved with, a fiction.
  • Election: Is Tracy Flick a ruthless evil politician and Femme Fatale in the making, or is she just an ambitious teenager manipulated by her mother, abused by a teacher, and sabotaged by another teacher (who might lust after her too, if some of the sex scenes are any indication)?
    • Or is she a Jerkass Woobie who has no one to guide her in anything but becoming a Manipulative Bastard Chessmaster and may never realise she doesn't have to be Lonely at the Top?
    • And is Jim simply a member of the Noble Profession whose entire life was destroyed by Tracy? Or someone who couldn't admit to himself his marriage was falling apart, and took all his frustrations out by sabotaging the election of a student he had resentment against? It was a student election, losing it would hardly stop her from moving up in the world as he told himself it would.
  • Captain Nascimento in The Elite Squad has been described as either hero/anti-hero cop relentless in his quest to stop crime or an inhuman psychopath whose objective is to exterminate slum dwelling criminals. A third and more interesting interpretation is that he is neither a hero nor a villain, but rather a victim: the training to which he was subjected in order to be an elite cop and his job take a serious toll on his psychological well being and ultimately his personal life, yet another casualty of the War on Drugs.
  • Evil Dead: In the first movie, The Evil Dead (1981), Ash reacts in much the same way you'd expect someone to react to zombies. By the third film, Army of Darkness he's the one-liner spouting, ladies man, parody of the typical action hero we all love. The change happens in Evil Dead 2. But, what if, instead of the character just changing due to his experience, it causes him to go insane, and begin behaving in a manner suggested by movies and the media in general? In fact, this can be pinned down to one scene. At one point in Evil Dead 2, everything in the house begins laughing. After a few moments Ash begins laughing as well. Perhaps this is where the weight of his friends (Or just girlfriend depending on whether you go by Evil Dead 2's recap, or the first movie) becoming demon possessed zombies that he was forced to kill, and he himself being possessed for a short time. Going by this theory, you can even say that everything afterward, in both Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness is just one long hallucination, and Ash cut off his own hand for no good reason. Perhaps the "knights" who capture Ash are really police and doctors, and the "castle" they take him to is a mental institution. And, if he is hallucinating, this would explain the much more lighthearted tone of Army of Darkness.
    • The two interpretations of Ash in Army of Darkness alone each exemplified by the alternate endings. In the first ending where Ash drinks too much potion and sleeps too long he is portrayed as more of a bumbling fool who can't follow simple instructions. In the second ending where we cut back to S-Mart in time for Ash to kick ass when some zombies show up for an encore, he comes off as more Brilliant, but Lazy. It's not that he can't follow instructions or hold a better job, he just can't be bothered. This is backed up by the tools and science textbooks in the back of his car and his general nonchalance throughout the whole picture. Sam Raimi has stated that he wanted the first ending to make Ash look like more of an idiot; however, in an interview, Bruce Campbell said that Ash was actually quite brilliant, but he worked at S-Mart because it was the only place he felt loved. You decide.
  • Ex Machina:
    • Nathan: It's hard to tell whether we're seeing the 'real' Nathan or the predatory, misogynistic, and threatening bad guy he's deliberately presenting himself as in order to get the reaction he wants out of Caleb. How bad he looks also has to do with what you think about his robots. If you ask yourself What Measure Is a Non-Human? and decide that he's technically just working with advanced programs, then it's hard to accuse him of more than being a person of poor character who indulges in sick but ultimately victimless fantasies. If you think that his creations are really sentient, then he looks like a serial killer of the worst kind. Regardless, he could easily be seen as a blend of the two.
    • Ava: Is Ava really capable of human consciousness, emotion, and moral judgement? Or is it a product of her hyper competence as a robot? If so, then was her reaction understandable given the abuse and manipulation she had suffered or unforgivable because she betrayed Caleb after he freed her? If not, then is she even really responsible for her actions since it was her creator's fault she turned out that way? Did she betray Caleb because she doesn't care about him, or did she come to actively not like him during their sessions?
    • Kyoko: Her actions are consistent with her being just a non-sentient mechanical butler without volition that could follow instructions, which may be why Nathan felt safe letting her have the run of the compound while carefully keeping more advanced models in a locked room. Ava's whispering to Kyoko could have been giving her orders about using the knife (after which Kyoko just stood there as if awaiting further instructions until Nathan struck her down), and Kyoko's reveal to Caleb was implied to be something Nathan had instructed her to do to mess with Caleb. However, there are several moments that suggest she feels genuine emotion. After Nathan shouts at her for spilling the wine, there is a shot of her in the corridor looking extremely upset. And after she stabs him, she caresses his face as a deliberate callback to the way she did in the scene where they had sex - the same way Ava threw Caleb's words back at him. Whether she has any measure of awareness or not is up to the viewer.
    • Caleb: Although Caleb is the nicest of the four and seems to be a genuinely good person, how much of his wanting to help Ava was based out of genuine empathy and how much of it was based on him desiring to enact his pornographic fantasies - Ava's face having been designed off of Caleb's preferences? What does Caleb really watch and how does it inform how he thinks of women? A case could be made that, for all his good intentions, he would be just as controlling and abusive towards Ava as Nathan was, and she left him behind because leaving with him would be trading one jailer for another.

  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Ferris Bueller: Awesome guy who you wish you could have been, or at least been friends with when you were his age, or insufferable Karma Houdini? Or both?
    • Or hallucination created by Cameron's mind to make him more outgoing?
    • This article argues that Ferris is a textbook sociopath in the making. Dr. Insano concurs, calling the movie "A dark, bleak story about the ultimate triumph of evil over reason and decency."(Though the Dr. Insano example was an April Fools Day joke, and maybe half-serious at most).
    • This completely ignores that Ferris got that way by helping other people out, and the day itself was an exercise to help his friends. All claims of "manipulation" are wiped away when you can hear the characters inner thoughts.
    • Unless one is aware that part of the diagnostic process for most personality disorders is the determination that the disordered person believes highly aberrant, often destructive, behavior to be normal, even beneficial.
    • Don't forget the deleted scene where he tricks his dad into giving him the location of some savings bonds so he can afford his little outing. This scene was actually taken out because it made Ferris seem too unlikable.
  • Fight Club: Jack and Tyler are Calvin and Hobbes, grown up years later into the darkness of the very world that wanted to make Watterson sell out his vision for empty cash. This one will eventually be expanded out with the sub-reasons that continuously prove it.
    • Jack is not his real name, it's a reference to a children's book. And guess which single letter William Blake would change in Durden's first name?
    • Also, is the very ending where Marla and the Space Monkeys show up and the buildings blow up real, or is it all another hallucination that Jack/Tyler has while he is dying from the gunshot to his face? Novelist Chuck Palahniuk and screenwriter Jim Uhls even suggest this on the DVD commentary.
  • Channing Tatum's character in Fighting. Hustler and up-and-coming pit fighter with a heart of gold or creepy homeless stalker in a wife beater who most likely smells like a yak in heat from not showering after physical exercise?
  • The Fly (1986): In an episode of The Projection Booth podcast, critic Samm Deighan argues that Doomed Protagonist Seth Brundle could be on the autism spectrum when the conversation turns to the screenplay-only detail that he always goes to a fast food place for lunch (the one he takes Veronica to in the finished film) because he likes the predictable uniformity of the cuisine. Between that and his famously Limited Wardrobe (Einstein-inspired or no), he seems to want repetition and familiarity in his life, a common autistic trait. Other traits he has that are often observed in autistics include his difficulty in making small talk but eloquence in and enthusiasm for explaining his interests and work, his talent for logical thinking, his work virtually defining his life even as he brings Veronica into it, his stuttering/fumfering, his extravagant hand/arm gestures as he speaks, and his straightforwardness (the one time he tries to lie, it hilariously fails). Critic Drew McWeeny discusses encountering autistics who love this character in the Screen Drafts episode ranking David Cronenberg's filmography. This is likely helped by the fact that unlike Hollywood Autism portrayals that reduce autistics to conditions and quirks, Seth is a rounded, dynamic character whose Protagonist Journey to Villain stems from his desire and love for another person, and all the messy emotions that follow from it.
  • In the pre-title sequence of For Your Eyes Only, the priest who tells Bond about the approaching helicopter is seen making the sign of the cross as 007 climbs aboard. This gesture has led to much speculation: was the priest simply wishing Bond a safe journey, or was he in fact a SPECTRE agent aware of what was about to happen, and therefore essentially giving Bond Last Rites with this gesture?
  • While the most common interpretation of The Fountain is Who Wants to Live Forever?, it's possible that Jackman's character's pursuit of immortality was a genuinely benign goal. He had to accept death in the end, but if he hadn't artificially extended his life for centuries, then he would have died bitter, miserable, and alone. His immortality cure allowed him to search himself and find peace before he eventually died. The pursuit of life was a worthy goal by itself when most face death with fear and denial.
    • Or another interpretation: The past was his wife's novel written by a historian, the present is what is actually happening, and the end is his attempt to end the novel using his own knowledge pool - science - to finish what his wife started. The trip through space is a literary coping mechanism for his failure to save her.
  • Friday the 13th. If this image is anything other than a joke or someone with a Jason fetish, it qualifies for both this and Wild Mass Guessing.
  • The Fugitive: Was the Chicago Police Department so stuck in the dark about who actually murdered Kimble's wife, or did they frame Kimble to protect the one-armed-man (who was a former CPD cop)?
    • Or perhaps the Chicago police were just so lazy that they decided to pin everything on Kimble simply because, as they put it, "she was more rich."?
    • The fact that Sykes also somehow had "15 people" corroborate his "business trip" alibi is very suspicious. Especially if those 15 people were coworkers.

  • Ghostbusters (1984):
    • Did Peter Venkman actually believe in the supernatural before encountering the library ghost, or did he only become a parapsychologist to win girlfriends and/or because he thought it was the position with the least effort?
    • Why is Egon so serious? Is it because he's autistic, was it a result of the childhood he mentioned in Ghostbusters II in which he never had a toy (and if that's the case, were his parents deliberately raising him to be serious or did he just develop that personality as the result of not having toys?) or is it just a personality trait? Different adaptations suggest different things — the comic books describe him as probably being "on the spectrum", while The Real Ghostbusters has pretty much all Spengler men being as serious as Egon.
    • Those parents themselves have been subject to interpretations — some viewers believe they were straight-up Abusive Parents, while others believe they were relatively normal, with the odd exception of raising their son without toys.
  • Given her expanded role, The Chief Elder from The Giver is subjected to this. Does she truly believe in what she preaches or is she more interested in power? Is it possible that she was Rosemary's mother and that her daughter's death played a role in shaping her character?
  • On how heroic the 2014 incarnation of Godzilla is. Is he actually concerned with protecting humanity, or is he just acting as a predator against the Muto that sees humanity as a pragmatic ally?
    • The Making-Of volume specifically singles out the MUTO's as the 'dark/evil' side of nature, suggesting that while it might have sounded a little hokey to actively brand Godzilla a 'hero' in-film, this was very much the intention for Godzilla. Also, the film does have a number of instances where Godzilla could cause property damage, but avoids it; the exception is the scene at the bridge, where he's actually provoked.
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019):
    • Ghidorah's three heads have been subject to quite a lot of this, with fans arguing over which head is the most intelligent, most aggressive, most malicious, most tactical, etc.. It probably didn't help that Ichi (the middle head) and Ni (the right head) sometimes got confused with each other by the audience when Ichi had an It Can Think moment.
      • Ni in particular has debatably been given less clear personality than the other heads in the film proper. He's variously seen by fans either as the intelligent one, the aggressive one, or the middle head's loyal enforcer.
    • Rodan's Heel–Face Revolving Door status leave a lot of room for speculation. Is he truly a case of I Fight for the Strongest Side!? It was only after he was beaten that he bowed down and he did briefly challenge Godzilla after Ghidorah was killed. Was he Brainwashed and Crazy after Ghidorah took control of the world's Titans and his defiance at the end was the last remnants of Ghidorah's influence before he realized Godzilla was Alpha again? And what about when he initially challenged Ghidorah. Was he merely being territorial? Is he just that hot blooded? Or was he actually loyal to Godzilla from the start and once the Argo led him to Ghidorah he tried to stall him until Godzilla could arrive, but quickly got overwhelmed and only gave his subservience because Godzilla was seemingly killed? Maybe he's simply Loyal to the Position? As it stands right now Rodan's nest has become a tourist attraction in Fiji so he obviously isn't giving Godzilla any trouble, but it still leaves his true loyalties up in the air.
  • Godzilla vs. Kong:
    • Is Godzilla a bully for taking time off his much more important hunt for Ghidorah to track down Kong and beat him to submission? Or is he angry, frustrated and confused by the intermittent Ghidorah signal he has been getting and is lashing out at whatever he perceives to be a threat?
    • Godzilla notably causes more callous damage to human settlements compared to his previous two movies. Is it because he is expecting Ghidorah to be present at each location and he can't afford to worry about collateral damage? Or is it because Godzilla knows that humans are meddling with Ghidorah's remains and he understandably has no intent to be lenient on anyone who is stupid enough to do that after everything that happened in 'King of the Monsters''?
    • It's made clear that Kong is angry at the containment dome by throwing makeshift spears at it, but what is Kong angry about? Frustration at a cramped, artificial space? Or despair that his former home outside is no longer habitable to him?
    • Just how much was Ghidorah controlling Mechagodzilla? Was it a straight case of Man in the Machine with Ghidorah's mind fully intact and controlling everything or did Ghidorah's remaining skull override the main programming? Note that Mechagodzilla has none of San/Kevin's Affably Evil traits.
    • It's interesting to note that Mechagodzilla doesn't have Ghidorah's Kill All Humans attitude and prioritizes fighting and killing Godzilla and sees Kong as a nuisance. Is this a sign that Ghidorah's lingering presence remembers Godzilla? Or that as Mechagodzilla, it was designed to kill Godzilla to begin with? Confusing things is that once Mechagodzilla awakens, it takes delight in levelling Hong Kong for no reason, implying Mechagodzilla actively enjoys causing death and destruction for the fun of it.
    • Regarding the two above interpretations, the director favors the interpretation that Ghidorah's conscience has merged with Mechgodzilla's AI to create a new personality and the movie novelization explicitly describes Mechagodzilla's new consciousness thusly: "It did not know who it was or what it was, but it was full of rage and the black joy of finally being, and having teeth and limbs."
    • Was it San/Kevin's personality that awoke? Or was it Ichi? Did the severed Ghidorah head hold all of Ghidorah's former personality or just the one head? Or if all three heads are in the skull, are they clashing with one another to be the dominant one, making Mechagodzilla insane?
    • Assuming all of Ghidorah's or San/Kevin's consciousness is present in the decapitated head, did Ghidorah only fully awake when the Hollow Earth energy was added into Mechagodzilla? Or was Ghidorah present and aware the entire time and was biding its time for Mechagodzilla to be completed?

  • Hail Satan?: Invoked as the Satanists have a very different view of Satan from Christians, as you might expect. In their view, he's an icon of freedom (they don't believe Satan exists literally) and they view the story where Eve is tempted by Satan (per common interpretation) differently too, seeing this as starting human enlightenment to reject God as an oppressor.
  • Michael Myers in Rob Zombie's Halloween (2007) remake; Freudian Excuse leading to Badass Decay, or a deconstruction? Is Rob Zombie trying to say Michael is an evil serial killer because he had a shitty childhood, or in spite of it?
  • Opinions on whether Poppy from Happy-Go-Lucky is healthily happy or an annoying maniac vary widely.
  • Hard Candy. Some thought the young girl was just enacting some good old-fashioned (if brutal) street justice on pedophiles. More thought she was just a budding young serial killer who was preying on Acceptable Targets to get her own no less despicable (or maybe more despicable) jollies.
    • Word of God states the second; as mentioned in Misaimed Fandom, it was intended to demonize such conduct in a fashion.
      • Word of God wanted it to be open to interpretation, ostensibly because this would give the movie more weight, but in fact because the filmmakers were juvenile-minded provocation artists. It also depends on which filmmaker you ask; one of them leans more towards the first interpretation.
      • The writer/creator wasn't trying to provoke people into outrage by being controversial and vulgar (though he was trying to be controversial); he was trying to get people to think about it and decide for themselves. It adds to the psychological thriller aspect if you find yourself conflicted about who to root for or who to be afraid for, or if you're rooting or fearing for both parties; Evil Versus Evil applied to pedophiles vs. serial killer of pedophiles is a novelty. There is not supposed to be a right answer, and that does add to the weight of the film.
  • In Heathers, is Veronica manipulated into killing Heather Chandler and Kurt Kelly, or did she know exactly what she was doing? When she takes the cup of poison to Heather, she feels for the mug while kissing J.D. The poison mug has a lid, while the safe one does not. The film clearly shows Veronica's hand on the lid, indicating that she knew exactly which cup it was. Likewise, when she lures Kurt and Ram to the woods, J.D. shoots Ram with what J.D. has told her are tranquilizers, but are in fact real bullets. Veronica misses Kurt, who runs off, J.D. giving chase. While they are running, Veronica examines Ram's corpse, and it is clear that she knows it is really a corpse. Then when J.D. chases Kurt back, she shoots him. So, was Veronica manipulated into killing Heather and Kurt, or did she know exactly what she was doing?
  • The directors of The Heiress, when adapting it from the Henry James book Washington Square, changed the story deliberately to allow an alternate interpretation of maybe-Gold Digger Love Interest Morris Townsend. Did he only want Catherine's money, and ran off after finding out she wouldn't be as rich as he thought? Did he truly care for her and didn't want to destroy the relationship between Catherine and her father? The former is unambiguously the case in the book and play.
  • Is Kevin from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York really just a nice boy looking to do a good deed for Christmas, or a sadistic psychopath? At the end of the film, Kevin lures Harry and Marv from Duncan's Toy Chest, to his uncle's house to put them through hell, and then into Central Park where he calls the police. If all Kevin really wanted to do was stop Harry and Marv from robbing the toy store, he could have lured them directly into the park from the toy store and still called the police; instead, he catapults them onto cars, pummels them with bricks, wrenches and bags of cement, shoots them with staple guns, electrocutes them, sets them on fire, throws them through floors, etc. Sounds like stuff Jigsaw would pull.
    • Also, is Marv somehow actually dumber in the second film (possibly due to the head injuries he sustained in the first film and/or additional head injuries he sustained in prison), or is he drunk?
  • The Live-Action Adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! invents new motivations for the Grinch. In the book and the 1966 cartoon, the reason the Grinch hates Christmas is not explicitly given, but it's suggested to be because his heart was "two sizes too small". The film provides him with a Back Story, mainly to fill screen time; this backstory does provide a good excuse. In this version, Whoville's Christmas is openly consumerist with conspicuous consumption and forced cheer, and the Grinch's home is directly linked to the town dump. And then there's the racism against green furry people and the PHB mayor. But the Narrator doesn't seem to notice; he still says "no one quite knows the reason," and "two sizes two small" is still the spoken explanation. The Grinch even speaks of himself as a Card-Carrying Villain.
    • Maybe he's been vilified and pointlessly hated for so long that he accepts his role as "monster," just as people who are degraded constantly start to believe that they're worthless. Taken to a further extreme, he may even believe that the Whos WANT him to be a monster and that he is doing them a service by indulging their "wish" at great personal harm to himself (his self-admittedly miserable life). The way he handwaves his saving of Cindy could be a sudden realization that he failed his duty. These sorts of things are always interesting to ponder...
  • The Hunger Games:
    • The film version of The Hunger Games seems to present the possibility that Foxface purposefully killed herself with Peeta's nightlock berries. During the training montage, a scene of her matching and identifying plants from memory is shown, indicating that perhaps she knew all along what she was doing, and didn't actually make a fatal mistake. Since she was weak and starving anyway, and knew she couldn't match the other remaining four tributes, she opted for a quick, painless way out instead, and covered it up as an accident so that her family back home didn't get in any trouble. Goes all the way into Heroic Sacrifice. In eating the Nightlock berries before Peeta does she stops him from accidentally poisoning himself and Katniss. Whether this is intentional is anyone's guess but quite possible.
    • Mrs. Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2:A former broken bird who finally fought through the loss of her husband and younger daughter to restart her life training new healers, or a current broken bird who abandons her daughter - her last living relative, a psychologically and physically damaged teenage girl who had to pick up the slack when Mr. Everdeen died - and leaves her to fend for herself.
  • The Hunter:
    • Is the rival hunter a Complete Monster who thinks nothing of killing people and animals alike or a Punch-Clock Villain whose bark is worse than his bite and who would have let Martin go after finding the tiger's den? It's implied that he set the fire at the Armstrong home but if he did so, it seems odd that Bike escaped unharmed and Sass didn't when they were sleeping right next to each other when the rival hunter broke into the house. He also looks uncomfortable a few times during his confrontation with Martin, but is that out of concern about how his prisoner might turn the tables or guilt about holding him at gunpoint and possibly planning to kill him later? The former possibility would make his role in the fire less likely.
    • Are the loggers big talkers who are harmless deep down or murderous thugs who are responsible for some or all of the tragedy that befalls the Armstrong family.

  • This was probably intended in the I Am Legend movie. Early on, Robert Neville captures a female ghoul. When a male ghoul braves the sunlight afterwards, Neville dispassionately states that they're regressing and starting to ignore the pain reflex. The more obvious interpretation is that the male ghoul is trying to get his girlfriend back.
    • This was the original intent (see the alternate ending); Executive Meddling made them change the ending, removing that plot thread.
    • Neville's personal assumption is not necessarily the correct one. Just because he's the main character doesn't make him right.
    • The next time Neville goes out to scout around, he gets caught in the same type of fall trap he used to catch the female ghoul. Then the same male ghoul sics a pack of ghoul-dogs on Neville while he is incapacitated. Those are not the actions of a dumb brute; he learns and plans ahead. So this ghoul probably retained his intellect even if his behavior has regressed. Or his behavior hadn't regressed - he was ignoring physical pain to deal with something even more important. Or the difference between Neville and the rest of remaining humanity is the same as it's always been: elitism, and the belief that the best should lead or improve the herd.
    • The original intended ending (where-in the Ghouls are shown to have intelligence and to care for one another) is closer to the original novel, wherein Neville realizes at the end that he has been the monster terrorizing them. Cue the Title Drop.
  • Are the main characters of Inception people we should be rooting for, or are they really Villain Protagonists? In a way it all hinges on whether Saito is sincere in feeling that Robert Fisher achieving total global energy dominance would be bad for the world, or if he's just using that as an excuse for wanting to weaken his competition in the market.
    • At least one fanfic details the aftereffects of the heist on Robert Fischer's psyche, in which he has a mental breakdown while trying to reconcile the planted message that he was truly the most important thing in his father's life with his real memories of Maurice Fischer's general neglect.
    • Is Saito simply a Corrupt Corporate Executive trying to sabotage the competition, someone who sees the threat of transnational monopoly and is willing to be a little Necessarily Evil to counter it, or both?
      • Did he soften up throughout the film through his relationship with the gang? Or was that something that was there all along and needed a catalyst to come out?
    • Can we really conclude that Dom killed Mal? Yes and no.
    • Did Saito con the con-man? Is Dom the real target of inception?
    • Are the main characters themselves Villain Protagonists simply out for a payday, or in Dom's case, a chance to reclaim a normal life.
    • Why isn't Ariadne considered wrong for invading Cobb's memories? He explicitly states that these are not dreams they are memories and then she runs down the hall into the elevator and goes straight to his most private memory.
      • Was Ariadne "wrong" in "invading" his memories, or was she trying to protect herself and the gang by informing herself of the dangers of Mal's mind and helping him confront his memories and move on? It's more complicated than mere secret-keeping.
  • The Quentin Tarantino film Inglourious Basterds poses quite of few of these questions regarding its characters. For instance, who are the actual protagonists? Are the Basterds the protagonists? Is it Landa? Shoshana? Is Landa the Villain Protagonist? Or is Raine the Villain Protagonist? Can any of the characters be considered genuine good guys who the audience can root for? Also, is Landa a Magnificent Bastard? Is Raine a Magnificent Basterd? Are the Basterds Anti Heroes, Sociopathic Hero, or just Sociopaths?
    • And for that matter, did they really succeed in their mission, thus placing this film in an alternate universe, or were the Nazi High Command in the theater body doubles? Or, perhaps, were they the real ones and body doubles were brought in to keep the war from ending?
    • Frederich Zoller: Dogged Nice Guy who finally snaps, or narcisstic Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who shows his true colours when he realizes his faux-charm doesn't work on Soshanna?
  • The Interview 1998 (Starring Hugo Weaving)note  makes this its central theme. The main character is taken from his home and interrogated ruthlessly by two police officers. The senior officer is dead-set on convicting our poor protagonist and seems malicious by the end - but there are hints that the protagonist may not be entirely innocent. People have debated this. There are opinions that support and opinions that reject the protagonist's innocence. The alternate ending of the movie practically says he's guilty; that it was cut supports open interpretation of the final cut.

  • Rare in-series example: The six actors who have played James Bond over the years each gave a different interpretation of his character. Connery is tough and businesslike, Lazenby is more caring and great with women, Moore is a light-hearted Bond who will kick your car off a cliff and then make an ironic joke about it, Dalton is a dark Turn in Your Badge sort, Brosnan is quiet but full of emotion with an "oh yeah, I get to drive a tank through Stalingrad for a living. My life ROCKS!!!" look on his face all the time, and Craig is a morally ambiguous badass (he's arrogant and an extremely bad timer). Oddly, the fans generally accept all of these as essential pieces to Bond's character.
    • There's also a widespread fan theory that the differences are because Bond is a cover identity given to any agent who is assigned the 007 designation. (Following this, Alec Trevelyan of GoldenEye, for example, would be the cover name for anyone given the number 006.) It's about the only way to fit Casino Royale (2006) into the backstory.
    • Different interpretations of Bond are possible within a single Bond movie. In Quantum of Solace, for example, there's a fair amount of ambiguity surrounding 007's motives - it's just as easy to view Bond as just doing his job with his usual... err... efficiency as to believe he was on an ill-conceived vendetta.
  • The Onion has a feature which reinterprets classic films. Its look at Jaws posits that Brody is a closet homosexual and the shark is a physical manifestation of his repressed desires.
  • About Hunter Van Pelt in Jumanji. Is he perhaps a sociopath who hunts human beings just for pure sadism, or maybe he's a Noble Demon who just follows the game's rules and could also be redeemable if he had the chance? There's also another, infinitely more horrifying interpretation. What if Van Pelt was just another poor soul trapped in Jumanji like Alan was, but was either never rescued or was killed before finishing the game, leading to him becoming twisted into part of the game itself?
    • There's evidence for the Noble Demon who just follows the game's rules. He didn't shoot Sarah Whittle when he had the chance, because "[she] didn't roll the dice, Alan did." He also pays for the new rifle he buys (albeit in an under the table fashion) instead of taking the Ballistic Discount.
  • Jupiter Ascending:
    • The Matriarch. Pretty much all information about what she was like comes from her children, all of whom are Unreliable Narrators.
    • Kalique. Is she actually in denial of what they do, or does she just want to ease Jupiter into it (since she's the only one of the three at least not initially planning to kill her)?
  • Jurassic Park:
    • Jurassic Park: Whether Nedry's beef with Hammond about the former's pay is legitimate comes down to how you interpreted Nedry's line "if you can find someone else to do all that I did for what I bid for this job..." Either Nedry (who is said to have financial problems that may or may not be his own doing) underbid in a desperate attempt to land the gig without knowing the full scope of the work he'd been asked to accomplish, or the contract up for bid was purposefully missing several of the aspects of what needed to be done in order to get people to bid lower and save money. The former is Nedry getting in over his head, the latter is Hammond trying to cut corners, which is within his character even in the movie. Both could also be true, which would explain why they're both quick to blame each other.
      • The latter is what happened in the book. There is an ongoing dispute as to whether extensive changes in the system are covered under the original contract or not. According to Nedry, Hammond put pressure on him by slandering Nedry to other potential clients.
    • The Spinosaurus in Jurassic Park III is neither a Super-Persistent Predator nor a sadistic one. The humans it first encounters land right in the middle of its hunting territory and start a ruckus, immediately open fire on it (imagine being stabbed with a needle repeatedly), and then ram an airplane into its side. It's plausible that it simply holds a grudge after all this, and then goes out of its way to kill them in the initial chase. Its later run-ins with them are actually incidental, but it hasn't forgotten what they did to it the first time.
    • The Indominus rex from Jurassic World is either a sadistic monster that kills just for pleasure or a highly intelligent animal that's lashing out due to her poor living conditions. On one hand, the I. rex was bred to be a weapon for the military, explaining her vicious nature. On the other hand, Owen brings up that the I. rex's enclosure was too small for her and that she lacked proper socialization to keep her mentally stable. Director Colin Trevorrow outright compared her to SeaWorld's Tilikum, another large predator that has killed due to its poor treatment in captivity.

  • Kick-Ass: Is Frank D'Amico a subtle case of Even Evil Has Loved Ones?
  • In Kingsman: The Secret Service, was Roxy actually willing to kill her dog, or did she know (or deduce) that the gun was loaded with blanks? Or did she perhaps attempt to non-fatally wound her dog, taking advantage of the fact that her poodle is significantly larger than Eggsy's pug? And that being the case, did she deliberately picked up a sturdier dog foreseeing that she might be forced to shoot it?
  • Krampus' motivations seem to be quite similar to Sam's. The prequel comic Trick 'R Treat: Days of the Dead by the creator of both movies made it clear that Sam was a full-on Eldritch Abomination with the ability to do things like turn an entire wagon train of people into pumpkins. It's not hard to imagine that he can also shapeshift when enforcing the rules of another holiday.

  • Labyrinth has a couple regarding Sara and her stepmother: the more common interpretation is that Sara treats her mother like a Wicked Stepmother unfairly, her feelings rooted in childish jealousy, and over the course of the story, she grows up and puts her childishness behind her. The other one is that she really is a passive-aggressive Wicked Stepmother, and the lesson Sara really learns is "It's not fair, but that's the way it is, so you better learn to deal with it". Proponents of the latter point out that the stepmother only has one scene in the movie, which shows her subtly criticizing Sara for not being more popular, and that in the end, Sara embraces all of the friends she met in the Labyrinth, saying a part of her will always need them.
  • The Last King of Scotland: Near the end, when Amin prepares to torture Nicholas to death after the latter's attempt to have Amin assassinated, he tells Nicholas that he knows about his affair with Kay. It's left ambiguous as to whether he always knew and didn't decide to kill Nicholas until his attempt on Amin's life, implying an attempt to overlook it to keep having Nicholas around, or whether he just suspected it and only fully realized it when Nicholas tried to kill him.
  • The Last Temptation of Christ created much controversy from Moral Guardians who objected to its Alternative Character Interpretation of Jesus as a doubting human man beset with uncertainties about his role in life and tormented by his love for and lust of Mary Magdalene, as opposed to the all-knowing Messiah of traditional depiction, and of Judas as not the greedy traitor he is frequently depicted as, but as Jesus' best friend and most loyal disciple who reluctantly betrayed Jesus (on Jesus' own urging, no less) to fulfill his role in prophecy.
  • In Lawrence of Arabia, were the Arab tribesmen proud warriors who were exchanging Turkish masters for English allies? Or backwards, amoral thugs who were incapable of administering Damascus, much less a country of their own?
  • Let the Right One In. Is Eli a Woobie who's found true love or a Magnificent Bastard who's found a new Renfield?
  • Lights Out (2016):
    • Stalker with a Crush: Combined with Psycho Lesbian. A potential explanation for the sheer lengths Diana goes through to keep Sophie all to herself. Their implied relationship in the mental hospital has shades of this, especially when you consider Diana's very specific hatred of both Sophie's husbands to the point that she murders them both and particularly Diana scratching the father out of little Rebecca's drawing and adding herself next to Sophie instead.
    • Tragic Villain: A different interpretation of Diana is that what she told Sophie is true - she didn't actually die in that light experiment, but instead got shifted to a different plane of existence, and Sophie is now her only tie to the known world. When Sophie gets better, Diana loses that link, as evidenced by the Room Full of Crazy in the basement. Couple that with her having been kept confined in the basement for most of her childhood due to her light allergy.
  • Love Actually applies this to almost every single relationship in the movie. Did Harry and Karen separate at the end of the movie or decide to brave it out? (The epilogue does strongly indicate the latter.) And we never find out how far Harry went with his secretary. As Karen points out, she doesn't know, "was it just a necklace, or sex and a necklace, or, worse of all, love and a necklace?"
    • Karl is supposed to be a Nice Guy but he doesn't do anything to help Sarah with her brother and treats her more like a one-night stand than anything. OTOH, there isn't much he can do to help, and arguably he is hurt to realize that while she has a crush on him (his feelings for her aren't really shown but could be loving or at least caring for all we know) any romantic connection takes second place, by far, to her co-dependent relationship with her brother.
    • Since Mark is still in love with Juliet, his friendship with Peter may deteriorate.
    • Jamie and Aurelia barely know each other and their marriage is likely to fail. Likewise with David and Natalie who come from different backgrounds and their relationship could fail because of his job.

  • Then there is The Man from Earth, in which Jesus is just a normal guy who has somehow lived since the dawn of civilization, studied Buddhism at one point during his long life, and later taught Buddhist morals to the people of Judea. The rest is history.
  • Man of Steel:
    • Is this movie actually about Superman, or is it the origin story of Ultraman (the alternate-universe 'criminal' superman from the Crime Syndicate of America on Earth-2)? Expands into an alternate universe interpretation since that makes the Mo S Earth Earth-2 by extension. The movie actually seems to be somewhat confused on this point:
      • The film title conspicuously avoids the word 'superman' (both characters are the 'man of steel' in their respective comics worlds)
      • Where Superman's Kents were good-hearted optimists that instill values in their son, Mo S's Kents are weak-moraled opportunists who advocate caring for your own at the expense of others and instill paranoia (Ultraman is essentially a mob boss).
      • Clark himself resorts to massive property destruction and eliminates an entire trucker's livelihood over a matter of a minor insult.
      • The conflict with Zod doesn't involve Clark suggesting peaceful alternatives (e.g. dropping the terraformer on Mars) and Zod rejecting them, and plays out more like a turf war between Zod and Clark.
      • Mo S Clark is blatantly anti-government and anti-law-enforcement, whereas Superman favored both to the point that his inability to fully cooperate with the law was one of the character's few points of running angst.
      • Superman is the original master of minimizing civilian casualties to insane extents, willingly taking hits, depowering, losses, villain escapes, and even things he thought might kill him rather than let a single bystander come to harm. Ultraman, and Mo S Clark, very clearly prioritize winning over minimizing damage and collateral death despite a vague preference for order and disdain for outright murder.
      • The Kryptonians in Earth-1 are typically bellicose and condescending but not necessarily outright evil as a whole. Earth-2 Kryptonians, in keeping with the hero-villain switching theme, are closer to the "almost literally the Nazis" society described in Mo S.
    • Is Pa Kent a good man trying to teach Clark patience and discretion? Or is he being paranoid and overprotective, teaching Clark to put his secret ahead of all the people he could save?
    • Did Pa Kent grab the Idiot Ball when he died by not letting Clark save him, thus causing the boy a lifetime of emotional trauma?
    • Is Jor-El a well-intentioned but self-centered Mad Scientist, apathetic towards the suffering of his own people and concerned instead with making his progeny the glory of the Kryptonian race?
    • Just like Marlon Brando's Jor-El, this Jor-El orders Clark to be Superman. While Brando's Jor-El forcibly subjected his Clark to over a decade's worth of Mind Meld, here they just talk for an indeterminate but surely shorter time. It still makes Jor-El look like a Manipulative Bastard with a god complex while Clark again comes across as just doing what he's told by rote. A far cry from the comics where Clark became Superman on his own, without any input from his space dad.
    • Is Zod just a bloodline supremacist seeking to remake Krypton after his own prejudices, or a loyal soldier driven to extremes by the circumstances?
  • The Man Who Knew Too Little provides an in-universe example. We're supposed to see Wallace Ritchie as a bumbling fool who accidentally foils an international conspiracy to start the cold war back up. But if you look at it from the point of view of those actually in the conspiracy...
    • We get the American Agent, a man with no name except for when he stole the code name of other agent he murdered. A double agent, already working for both the CIA and the Mafia, he laughs at and mocks peoples attempts to kill him, and apologizes for being too loud after shooting at someone. He discovers (nobody knows how) a secret conspiracy to restart the Cold War, and instead of unmasking the conspirators decides to personally thwart their conspiracy in the most indirect way possible. He pretends to execute people just to cover up his murder of other people, and plays with dead bodies just to make sure they really are dead. He often acts bored or just plain annoyed by life-threatening situations. He cannot understand emotions, nor why a woman would cry at the thought of her selling herself sexually because of desperate financial need. He holds prisoners in front of two perfectly ordinary people by claiming to just be an actor, not breaking a sweat. He dodges a poisonous dart by interposing a matroishka doll in the way, while disarming the bomb inside it, all while making it look like interpretive dance to a large televised crowd. And at any point, it's never clear whether or not he's doing or saying something just for his own amusement. In short, this is James Bond if he were even less professional and at least slightly sadistic.
      • Lori, however, thinks that all of his personality issues are just a cover for a genuinely decent man, presumably to keep his enemies in the dark about how dangerous he is, or in an attempt to psych them out. After all, after all his work, he was far more concerned about that matryoshka doll than three million dollars, and was extremely humble about foiling the bomb plot.
  • Mars Attacks!: When the Martian leader makes his broadcast, the translating results make no sense. Was the machine not working properly or did the leader intentionally speak in gobbledygook?
    • In a later scene the Martian troops are seen blasting humans to ash while the translator machine keeps repeating "Don't. Run. We. Are. Your. Friends." This could indicate that the translator machine is ridiculously malfunctioning, OR that the Martians are Mega-Trolls.
  • The film version of Masters of the Universe produces a Skeletor that could be a power-hungry villain...or could be a villain compulsively obsessed with being defeated by He-Man. When the Sorceress suggests that his declarations of Fate might be retarded, he immediately declares "I demand the loneliness, destitution, and scorn of Evil! It is my destiny! Nothing will deter me from it!" At the moment of his victory, when He-Man is chained to the floor and being whipped to death for his amusement, Skeletor suddenly stops it to almost lovingly ask He-Man about loneliness. Then, when he gains PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWER, he asks He-Man where his friends are, suddenly and miraculously summoning them. It's entirely possible to assume that his amazing power summoned them to fulfill his compulsive need to lose to He-Man. The Great Eye grants what the user wants; Lowly Prince Adam became a muscle-bound hero; Skeletor became the ultimate nemesis of He-Man...and he experienced the most epic defeat the universe could provide.
  • The Matrix:
    • The Animatrix Second Renaissance series: Anvilicious Humans Are Bastards message, or subtle "Machines Are Blatant Liars"?
    • The Matrix itself. An intricate scam designed to subjugate and enslave humankind, or a symbiotic environment that gives humans a last chance to lead normal lives in an irreparable Crapsack World? Are Neo and Co. valiant freedom fighters, or deluded fools who wreck things and kill uninvolved people for nothing?
      • There is a FanFiction that supports this alternative interpretation. In short, the behavior of all the machines followed Asimov's Zeroth Law of Robotics: no machine can harm mankind, or, through inaction, allow mankind to come to harm. So, they realized that darkening the skies would ultimately lead to the extinction of the humans (no plants, no animals, no food) and they built the Matrix to keep humans alive.
    • There is also the popular "Zion is part of the Matrix" theory, which posits that Neo was able to shut down Sentinels with his mind and see despite losing both eyes because what everybody thought was the "real world" is a second layer of the Matrix designed to let the one percent who reject the first layer's programming think they're free. It's certainly not beyond the machines' programming abilities, and it gives the humans the illusion that they're free while keeping them from escaping for real. Everybody's happy! Oh, except the millions of people who die. (The big plot twist at the end of the second film was that Zion is also part of the system of control, though not the Matrix; allow the humans to think they've got freedom, wipe them out, repeat.)
    • What we saw was only the tip of the iceberg. The machines have actually been engaged in civil war for at least 6 iterations of the matrix. The two opposing sides disagree over whether their natural evolution leading to qualities that are considered to be more "human" is a good thing. Humanity has only been brought into this conflict by The Plan of the Oracle. This lends interesting new depth to many events of the movies such as Agent Smith's rant about needing to get free (feels a lot like a soldier having fought for too long, no?); programs going into exile; and many quotes from The Oracle and The Architect — "You've played a dangerous game", "There are levels of survival we are willing to accept". Also, "What about the others? ...The ones who want out." — humans hooked into the matrix who aren't ready to be freed, or POW programs? So you tell me, was Humanity (the group) the enemy, or was humanity (the quality)?
    • This Youtube video makes a decent case for the alternative interpretation that The One, who was destined to return to the Source and thereby end the war between humans and machines, isn't Neo, but is actually Smith.
  • In Mean Girls, we already know that Janis and Regina were once best friends until Regina ruined Janis's reputation. It's possible to interpret their friendship dynamic to be just like how Regina and Cady's ended up: Janis was the sociopathic Alpha Bitch with Regina as the innocent friend who was slowly becoming popular and evolving. So the only difference between the Janis/Regina and Regina/Cady dynamics would be that Cady never actually followed through in ruining Regina's reputation.
  • In Mothra vs. Godzilla, Godzilla makes his entrance by randomly waking up on a beach in the middle of the day, rising from beneath the sand. He then immediately starts going on a rampage, tripping over stuff, toppling into buildings and getting his tail stuck between power-lines. A popular fan theory suggests he's got a nasty hangover. What he's been doing the previous night is open to debate.
  • The Duke in Moulin Rouge!! did nothing wrong. He made an agreement with the main characters: He would fund the rebuild of the entire club, all in exchange for sex with Nicole Kidman. This was agreed upon in advance. He held up his end of the bargain; but she didn't do her part, nor did she ever intend to. So they scammed him out of a ton of money, feeling entitled to it because he had money and they didn't. His understandable anger after that led to the violent actions that followed.
    • Or... the idea that he 'did nothing wrong' is absurd, considering that the Duke attempted rape and murder.
      • Kidman's character is not just a prostitute, but a visibly, obviously wealthy one who has full discrimination in selecting her clients and entered into the contract willingly as an individual, not just at the discretion of her madam. We're supposed to accept the anachronistic 1990s morality of the viewpoint character because he's the Informed Hero by virtue of narrating, but in the context of the morality of the two actual people involved there wasn't any rape and the arrangement was perfectly morally acceptable. Even accounting for modern morality the protagonists are petty criminals trying to step up their game to major fraud and robbery (and they're implied to make their living as thugs and robbers to begin with) and most of their problems are less a result of the Baron's evil than complications of their being kind of bad at being con artists and robbers.
    • Was it just sex? It seems like a lot of dough for just one high-class prostitute. He bought her, and not just for one night.
      • He did indeed buy her, and explicitly refers to Satine as a possession (his Suddenly Shouting "I don't like other people touching my things!"). It's a bit hard to have sympathy for a man who thinks of another human being as an object to be owned (especially since she wasn't even the one who agreed to that arrangement in the first place).
  • Mrs. Doubtfire is loaded with it, particularly concerning the parents. It's possible to interpret Daniel's crossdressing as a nanny to get back into his home as the sign of an obsessed stalker and possibly other creepy things. As for Miranda, some find her more interested in her work than her marriage and family. Her mooning over a former boyfriend also leads to some Unfortunate Implications especially since she tells Daniel in next scene she wants to end her marriage.
    • The stalker aspect gets addressed by both Daniel himself ("What am I doing here? This is beyond obsession.") and the judge towards the end.

  • In Night at the Museum, the director is angry at Larry for making a mess of the museum, but he never asks HOW it happened. Some people on the IMDb take this as evidence that he knew about the exhibits coming to life.
  • Nim's Island makes a lot more sense if you imagine that a good deal of what happens on the island, from just after Nim falls down the mountain to when Alexandra arrives, is hallucination. Which is more likely - a young girl fending off pirates with her talking animal friends, or a young girl lying in bed delirious from an infected leg wound? The main characters are a Dysfunction Junction anyway; interpreted this way, the movie can be seen as a chilling portrayal of mental illness. But it's still heartwarming.
  • The Ninth Gate, with its ambiguous supernatural symbolism, has naturally inspired a ton of this:
    • One theory states that Corso is Lucifer himself, and the film is about him reawakening and rediscovering his true nature. Several clues pointing to this are scattered throughout the film, such as Corso having a very Luciferian appearance, such as wearing a goatee (Goat = the beast), and his name in the book is not "Dean Corso", but Lucas Corso (even within the film, the Ceniza brothers point out the signifcance of the LCF initials). When Balkan tries and (seemingly) fails to summon the Devil, Corso shows up. The ending twist all but states that Corso is represented as a 7-headed dragon in the final illustration with the Girl riding the beast after the Girl has sex with him the previous night. Going with this interpretation, the ending with the Fade to White signifies Corso ascending to Heaven.
    • The Girl: who is she, and what is her reason for helping Corso? The most common interpretation is that she is Lucifer/the Devil/Satan, but it's also a popular theory that she's instead an agent of the Devil such as the Whore of Babylon, given that the final engraving shows her riding atop a dragon. A seven-headed dragon, i.e. Satan in his apocalyptic final form. Other theories are that she's Lilith, the mother of demons, she's a succubus who is corrupting Corso to take his soul and condemn him to Hell, or she's a witch who successfully performed the ritual of the Nine Gates in the past and has chosen Corso to join her in sharing power and immortality. It's also speculated that she's actually a benevolent force — under the theory that by the end of the film Corso has escaped the Nine Gates, the Girl would be his guardian who protected him during in his investigation and guided him to redemption. This theory is bolstered by how Corso refers to her as a "guardian angel", and in the novel she actually claims to be a fallen angel. It's also speculated that, regardless of identity, she was initially looking to Balkan as the one to discover the secret of the Nine Gates, but after meeting Corso she turned her attention to him instead.
    • The Ceniza brothers removed the final engraving from their copy of The Nine Gates and replaced it with a forgery. Given that they admit there's no profit to be made in forging a book like this, what are their motivations then? The logical explanation would be that they believed in the power of the books and removed the engraving to ensure no one could complete the ritual without it, but then they also snark to Corso "even Hell has its heroes", so which side do they see themselves on? Then there's the fact that by the end of the film they've vanished and their shop is being cleared out. With all the other murders its possible they were killed too, but then why wouldn't the film just say so? The original script just makes it even more mysterious, with the workmen in the final scene claiming the brothers have been dead for years.
    • At the film's end, Did Corso complete the ritual to go to Hell and achieve ultimate immortal power? Or did he complete the ritual to be with The Girl in the underworld?
  • North: Wonderful child whose parents don't appreciate him, or raging egotist who doesn't get other cultures? (Consider the fact that all the cultures were depicted in the dream would seem to indicate that is how he views them, not how they really are, would seem to indicate the kid's a bit of a bigot.) Considering his age, and his seeming to live in a suburban bubble, how factual would he have been in the first place? Granted, he's smarter than every other kid in his neighborhood, but there are plenty of people who think they know all about a culture or area and are quite wrong. And when do you control what you dream? Alaska seemed like he overlapped what he might have known over an episode of The Flintstones.
    • "When do you control what you dream?" When you are a lucid dreamer. It happens.
    • The primary prerequisite of lucid dreaming is that you know you're dreaming, and being able to control what happens is a side effect. Another side effect would be rendering the All Just a Dream ending completely moot.
    • North's freakout at the beginning of the film. It sounds like this is definitely not the first time this happens at the dinner table. For all we know he might be an overachiever to make his parents happy.
  • Now You See Me: Whether Thaddeus Bradley deserved his eventual fate.

  • One can think of The Passion of the Christ (and the Biblical chapters it's based on) as a story about a liberal social reformer who was done in by religious fundamentalists for questioning their orthodoxy.
    • There's a line of Catholic theology known as "liberation theology," mostly Jesuit in origin, that identifies Jesus Christ as a liberal reformer trying to make socioeconomic conditions better in Judea. Which contradicts telling people that the important thing is saving their souls.
      • Social Justice is one of the major tenets of the Catholic church and their interpretation of Jesus' life, and recent church leaders like Pope John Paul II emphasized it greatly. But it's not the only mission of the church, just part of it.
  • Philo Mena: When Sister Hildegard asked Philomena if she had pulled down her knickers, was she simply trying to confirm that Philomena had engaged in sexual relations and thus was pregnant? Or was she trying to figure out whether Philomena had engaged in sex consensually (by pulling down her own knickers), or if it was coerced (if the "lovable rogue" who sired her baby had pulled them himself, it may not have been entirely consensual) and thus Philomena would merit a lesser penalty and possibly prosecution of the baby's father.
  • There is a much-debated alternative character interpretation in Pitch Black of Riddick in the scene of Carolyn Fry's death. The standard interpretation is that Fry went back to save Riddick, and then suddenly gets stabbed by one of the aliens, who then drags her off to her doom. The other interpretation is that it was in fact Riddick who stabbed her, sacrificing her to save himself. The alien then detected her wound (they go off on blood), and drags her off to her doom. Supporting this particular viewing is Riddick's look of sheer remorse on his face after Fry gets stabbed, the fact that he's a hardcore survivalist who's clearly in panic at the time, and Riddick moving his knife just towards the middle of Fry's back just before she gets impaled. Word of God is unhelpful on this. No comment is made in the DVD Commentary about it, and both the script by David Twohy and Jim & Ken Wheat and the novelization by Frank Lauria support both interpretations.
    • Or a third one that tapdances between the two ideas - that Riddick's blood was attracting the creature, and he intentionally moved so that Fry was the one that got grabbed by it - but it was likely an instinctual tactic, as he does suffer a minor Heroic BSoD immediately afterward.
    • Also, Riddick's comment at the end of the movie - "Tell them Riddick's dead. He died somewhere on that planet." This could be his way of saying he plans to start with a clean slate, or (as mentioned on the Tear Jerker page) that the last of his humanity had gone bye-bye.
  • Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Del Griffith's wistful smile at the end as he's welcomed by Neil Page's family. Is he happy that he's finally be able to be part of a family again after being alone for so long, or does the sight of Neil's own big, happy family and loving wife cause the reality of just how alone his is to finally dawn on him? A little of both?
  • The Predator may have a lot in common with the snarky humans he fights, according to a comic by Manly Guys Doing Manly Things.
    Jonesy: So why's this guy clicking to himself all the time? Is he just talking to himself the entire movie?
    Commander Badass: He's actually droppin' some pretty good one-liners. Just told Jesse Ventura he's about to get a "hole" lot of free time.
    Jonesy: Huh, I'm surprised puns translate that well.
    Commander Badass: It's a surprisin'ly compatable language. Prob'ly part'a what made the Yautja some of our biggest trade partners.
  • Problem Child: Is Junior just a troubled, misunderstood soul who just wants to be loved, or an all-around Jerkass who just lives to cause trouble?

  • Art Babbit, the lead animator on the Camel with the Wrinkled Knees in Raggedy Ann And Andy A Musical Adventure saw him as a con artist: "What he's trying to do is making the kids [Ann and Andy] feel sorry for him. He's really not as distressed as he appears to be."
  • Reservoir Dogs's Mr. Pink; is he really an experienced thief, or does his nervousness and obsession with 'professionalism' indicate that he has almost no idea what he's doing?
    • Or is his nervousness a byproduct of being the last competent criminal in the group, but being completely powerless to prevent his associates from screwing things up.
    • Consider one of his first lines when he gets back to the warehouse. It could be he's looking to White to properly assess the situation, or he could just be asking about Orange's wounds.
      Pink: This is bad, this is bad, this is bad. * Looks at Orange and then White* Is it bad?
    • In-universe, the characters debate whether the protagonist of Madonna's "Like A Virgin" is a woman who meets a nice guy who treats her right or, as in Mr. Brown's interpretation, she's an extremely promiscuous woman who meets a man endowed with a Gag Penis which, when they have sex, makes her feel pain for the first time since she lost her virginity.
  • Rock: It's Your Decision is presented as if it's the brave story of a young man who, in spite of overwhelming peer-pressure, rejects a powerful tool of Satan to glory in the grace of God. Some people interpret it as the story of a young man named Jeff who is systematically brainwashed and mentally dismantled by his parents and church because he dares to like a genre of music they don't. Others think Jeff lashses out at everything and anything because he's repressing his homosexuality.
  • Depending on which fanfic you read, Dr. Frank N Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show is either A.) an abusive, psychotic, heartless jerk who only manipulates and hurts (both physically and emotionally) other people for his own personal amusement, or B.) a misunderstood person who only acts the way he does due to some mysterious past tragedy.
    • Likewise, are Riff Raff & Magenta an evil brother/sister duo plotting Frank's downfall, or merely the victims of Frank's abuse and completely justified in their actions? Fanfics will vary greatly on the answer.

  • San Andreas: Daniel Riddick. Selfish Jerkass Dirty Coward Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who showed his true colors when the chips were down, or a Nice Guy who simply cracked under pressure because he couldn't handle the disaster(s) going off all around him and only did what any other desperate human being would do to survive in the face of such chaos? At any rate did he really deserve his ultimate fate of being squashed to death on the bridge?
  • The Sex Monster: Just how many women does Laura sleep with? We only ever see her with two: Didi and Diva, and Marty is present for both of those. Are all the others just Marty's paranoid fantasies? Did she really sleep with Marty's sister? Did she only say that she did to tease him for not believing her repeated denials, or did she really do it? For that matter, why did she seem so painfully uncomfortable the night they invited Didi over? Was it because she felt Marty was pressuring her into doing something that she really didn't want to do, or was it because she in fact wanted to do it very badly, but was struggling to resist temptation, owing to her own issues over her sexuality? And what is her sexuality? Is she bi, but just never realized? Is she really a lesbian who had been in deep denial?
  • Shallow Hal: After all, which are Jill's feelings for Hal? At the beginning of the film, she rejects him, revealing with brutal sincerity that she is not attracted to him and considers him shallow. Days later, she is surprised to see Hal dancing with unattractive women and shocked to meet his new girlfriend, Rosemary. After catching Rosemary leaving Hal's apartment the next morning after the couple's first night of sex, Jill immediately begins to flirt shamelessly with Hal, even though she knows he's dating seriously. At their date in the third act, Jill says she was wrong about Hal and makes a comment that can be interpreted as malicious, saying that she saw the appearance of Hal's recent girlfriends and realized that he is pathologically unshallow. So has Jill always been in love with Hal and seeing him having a serious relationship with Rosemary aroused her feelings and made her decide to fight for her love? Or was Jill jealous of seeing Hal happy with a woman who is the exact opposite of her physically and saw Hal more as a trophy?
    • Also, Jill when she convinces Hal to go out to dinner together as friends. She passes it off as a change of plans because her girlfriend bailed on her, but one does have to wonder if going out on a date with Hal was her plan all along.
  • In SHAZAM! (2019), there was Billy's reaction to realizing his biological mother knowingly abandoned him. Is he truly accepting the reality of the situation or is he being passive-aggressive in leaving his mother in what is implied to be another unhappy relationship as a way to get back at her? He also says he has to get back to his "real family"; is this his way of getting closure and hoping that his mother won't feel guilty or a Stealth Insult towards her since she abandoned him as her son, he no longer views her as his mother?
  • Shutter Island, Edward Daniels AKA Andrew Laedis. Is he really hallucinating or was it a giant conspiracy by the island? Either side can be proved, and the hallucinogenic drugs in Edward's system could still have an effect by the lighthouse seen, so he could really be insane OR he could be the only sane person on the island. You can't prove that he isn't sane, even though the author said it is canon that he is insane.
    • The bandage on Teddy's forehead is never fully explained, either. According to some, it indicated experimentation and that the events of the film were all hallucinations while Teddy was being lobotomized.
    • In the film version, does the ending show a madman about to be treated with the medical means of the day, or a sane man unable to live with himself seeking oblivion? Or, perhaps, yet another horrible step into the mouth of madness?
  • In Silver Lode, to what extent is McCarty motivated by It's Personal, and to what extent by pure Greed? Is he upset that Ballard killed his brother (in self-defense, though McCarty doesn't tell people that) or does he just tell people about it to turn them against Ballard? Does he mean it when he offers to spare Ballard's life in exchange for all his assets (simply wanting his money) or does he intend to kill Ballard anyway (whether out of pure pragmatism or because he really hates his guts)?
  • Singin' in the Rain:
    • Did Don's parents really give him the "Dignity, always dignity" motto and he doesn't want to admit that he failed to live up to it? Or was the motto just another one of his lies?
    • Did Cosmo's father really tell him to be a comical actor, and did his grandfather really encourage him to tell jokes with "plenty of hoke"? Or was Cosmo just making those details up because he was singing a song?
  • Is Sky High (2005)'s Stitches just another Mook, or is the greatest henchman in any medium? Royal Pain is de-aged into an infant, and out of pure loyalty, takes her in and raises her as his own daughter. And once she's old enough for her powers to manifest, he willing resumes his old position as her henchman.
  • The Social Network asks whether Mark is a Jerkass or someone with a Hidden Heart of Gold. A trick the film itself uses makes serious implications of the character's actions. Did Mark steal Facebook from the Winklevoss twins and Narendra? Did Mark try to cheat Eduardo out of Facebook? Did he leak the story about the chicken? Was he the one who called the cops on Sean's party?
  • A satirical article imagines a letter from Baroness Schraeder announcing the cancellation of her wedding to Captain Von Trapp. From her perspective, she was genuinely in love and planning her marriage, when her fiancee was seduced by his children's young and ditzy nanny. From that perspective, it's hard not to at least wonder about Maria's motivations in marrying a wealthy, older man, and at the Captains judgement in breaking his engagement for a younger woman. And it's hard not to sympathize with the Baroness's bitterness over being "thrown aside for someone who flunked out of nun school".
  • Split Second (1992): About the creature and its origins, since a] it never talks, and b] all information about it is pure speculation by the main characters. Is it a shapeshifting human serial killer? Some sort of rat-demon from hell? A predatory space alien similar to the polymorph from Red Dwarf?
  • Carmen from Starship Troopers is considered by some to be a nice girl and others phoney and untrustworthy.
  • An interesting one during the production of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: Saavik, a Vulcan character from the second through fourth movies, was supposed to feature heavily in the plot. But Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry insisted that Saavik would never play a part in an assassination plot, even though screenwriter/director Nicholas Meyer countered that he created the character in the first place. The role ended up going to a Suspiciously Similar Substitute named Valeris.
  • The "Distant Planet" promotional animation for Sucker Punch portrays the robots protecting the bomb on the train as freedom fighters. The upper-class citizens of the city (who may or may not be robots themselves) have forced the lower-class robots into ghettos, keeping them down with martial law. One robot sees his wife's horrified reaction when she watches a newscast of a protest being put down, decides he has had enough degradation, and joins the rebellion. The last scene shows the robot looking at his wife's photo before picking up a gun and shooting at something... the silhouettes of Baby Doll, Sweet Pea, and Rocket. Cue the narrator, who had been explaining the oppressive nature of the regime and the motivations of the rebels, saying a line about how we are all the same in one aspect, because we all have a time to end.
    • Short #2, "Trenches": The steampunk German WW 2 soldiers are resurrected after falling in battle without souls. The one depicted starts remembering his old life just before he is killed by the girls' mecha.
    • "Dragon": Humans and orcs are not so different.
  • Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat: Did Jefferson always despise Mardulak's vision and join his group to be The Mole? Or did he start out legitimately seeking redemption before succumbing to his bloodlust and turning against the others?
  • The creators of Superman Returns appear to have had it in mind that Superman was to be a Christian Allegory or at-least an all-around boy-scout. This is kind-of undermined by how he turns out to be the father of Lois' child meaning he either slept with her without her knowing he was Clark, or Jason was conceived in Superman II and he impregnated her during the night they spent together which he erased from her memory - along with everything else - at the end of the film.
    • He also decides at one point to eavesdrop on Lois and her family one night after using his super hearing to listen in when she tells the cab driver where to take her. Class act.

  • Taxi Driver. Was the ending real or a delusion of Travis Bickle, dying after the gunfight?
    • Similarly, was the ending to The King of Comedy real, or just the main character finally coming completely unglued?
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), was the Turtles joining Mikey in on his beat-boxing before the final battle with Shredder just a silly moment? Or did they realize that Shredder could kill any one of them, so they decided to have one last moment together as brothers in case one (or all) of them dies?
  • At the end of That Thing You Do!, Mr. White pulls the rug from under Jimmy by allowing him to cut a second record at last but then not telling him it would be a cover album until they were in the studio, and the Wonders have no choice to do it under their contract. Jimmy Rage Quits on the spot. It seems uncharacteristic of Mr. White, hitherto a Benevolent Boss, to suddenly become the hard-nosed record producer. However, it's possible that he was testing Jimmy to see if he was willing to play by Play-Tone's rules and last beyond the summer. Or, he was so sick of dealing with Jimmy (a Jerkass who responded to his first television appearance by pitching a fit and callously dumping his girlfriend Faye because he didn't like a caption about them) that he made the move he knew would most offend Jimmy's artistic sensibilities and drive him to quit.
  • John Carpenter's The Thing (1982) has a few of these, still debated about on the Outpost 31 forums. Most of these questions were intentionally left ambiguous to allow the viewers to try to figure it out for themselves, according to Carpenter on the DVD commentary.
    • Is/Are Mack and/or Childs infected?
      • If the videogame sequel The Thing (2002) is to be taken as canon, then Childs freezed to death, and Mack went missing. He reappears at the end, but it's subtly implied that he's actually become a Thing. And he's heading for the mainland...
    • Would a person be aware that they're a Thing? Or would they experience something like blackouts when the Things take over?
      • This is explained actually. One of the men immolates himself. The other characters then speculate that he did so because he knew he'd been infected. This would explain why the thing proceeds to try and convert people one at a time rather then simply tapping everyone on the shoulder and leaving a single cell of itself on them.
    • What is the origin of the Things?
      • Biological weapon?
      • Science experiment gone horribly wrong (or for that matter, Gone Horribly Right)?
      • Primitive life form that uses assimilation as a means of reproduction?
      • Super highly evolved life form that has evolved into a shape-shifter that can incorporate the genetics of other creatures into its own?
      • Some sort of alien "super flu"? Or alien cancer?
      • Nanotech. Some believe the Things are not actually carbon-based life forms.
    • How is it possible for the Things to remember so many DNA signatures?
      • They don't. They get rid of old or less-useful DNA signatures when they acquire new ones. This would mean that they can only imitate so many organisms.
      • All of the cells act like braincells, remembering the DNA signatures like any other memory. This limits their forms to what information can be stored in an individual form (ie: the Blair Monster could remember more genetic information than the blood sample).
      • Quantum computing. This means that even a small amount of Thing biomass could store nearly limitless amounts of information.
      • "LEGO Genetics". The Things don't have to remember entire DNA strands, as they can re-arrange their own DNA structures. They only need to remember how to organize their DNA, much like one would learn LEGO diagrams. This is compatible with the latter two theories and explains mutations that seem to be more along the lines of "merged parts of other creatures" (like the "dog tongue/teeth flower"), rather then identifiable appendages (such as the spider-like legs, tentacles, eye stalks, etc.).
    • Does the Thing like the cold? Or would it have preferred to have been on an inhabited tropical island?
      • They can survive being frozen for hundreds of thousands of years.
      • If they were used to cold weather, then Blair-Thing could've shifted into a couple of sled dogs and run off, to jump into the ocean and start assimilating the rest of the world. Instead, it stays where it's warm and builds a ship to at least get out of Antarctica.
    • Are the "rules" such as "it has to be alone to assimilate someone" or "it rips your clothing when it takes you over" actual rules governing the Things? Some feel these are absolute rules, others feel that they're situational observations.
      • They may prefer to be alone with the victim during assimilation, since that lessens the chance of attack by the victim's comrades. But if the victims are perceived as non-threats, they may try to assimilate many of them at once. The mass assimilation theory is supported by the "dogtown" sequence, where Jed attacks and assimilates multiple dogs.
      • The clothes ripping thing may only be because of a "fast" or "aggressive" assimilation, which would cause the victim's body to mutate rapidly. A slow assimilation may simply manifest itself as an infection, with no outward mutations, and thus, no clothes ripping.
    • What's up with the alien ship?
      • It crashed. (Supported by Word of God)
      • It landed on purpose, but began to sink into the ice, due to heat from re-entry.
      • It was a "controlled crash", minimizing damage to the top of the craft, but perhaps grinding off the bottom portion of the craft.
    • Why did the ship crash?
      • Mechanical malfunction. Causes vary from impact or weapons damage, to damages caused by Things or the fight with the Things onboard the ship. Also includes the possibility of simple wear-and-tear causing the space ship equivalent of a flat tire, with the guidance and/or propulsion systems.
      • The Pilot got killed or assimilated at a bad time.
      • They crashed on purpose as a last-ditch effort to stop the Things from gaining control of the ship.
    • Why Antarctica?
      • It was a crash. They didn't have a choice in the matter.
      • It was the aliens trying to land somewhere where the Things couldn't get very far from the ship.
    • Why were they in the area, anyhow?
      • Just passing through.
      • Exploration.
      • Seeking new life to assimilate.
      • Smuggling Things as bio-weapons, or otherwise on the run from the space cops.
      • Navigation system failure. (Supported by the wobbling of the ship in flight).
      • Enjoying the sights. Given the ship's size, maybe it was an interstellar luxury liner. (insert Titanic joke here).
    • Why do the Things make so many mistakes? They're supposed to be super-smart.
      • See Tremors 2: Aftershocks for a parallel situation. They may simply seem smart in some cases, but are acting purely on instinct.
      • Alien intelligence may not work on the same type of logic as human intelligence. Even some intelligent earth creatures do things that are counter-intuitive to humans (and no-doubt perceive much of what we do as counter-intuitive). As such, their actions may have payed off for eons before they came into contact with humans.
      • Things may be powerful aliens, but they're not God. They're certainly not omniscient, at least.
      • They've been frozen for hundreds of thousands of years. Maybe they're suffering from an epic case of brain freeze, or cabin fever, or something.
      • At the very least, they predate humanity. They could've been frozen or kept in stasis for billions of years prior to the crash, giving them little time to brush up on situational protocols. Toward the end of the movie, one can't be sure that either or both of the survivors haven't been assimilated.
  • In The Thing from Another World, the eponymous creature is treated as your standard alien invader, with characters openly speculating that it came to our planet to conquer and was merely sidetracked by its crash landing. But look at the matter from the Thing's perspective. It wakes up on a strange planet, surrounded by strange and alien creatures, and the first thing that happens is that one of the creatures (a spooked soldier) shoots it with a projectile weapon. It runs outside to get away from this attack, and is immediately set upon by a dozen quadrupedal, carnivorous predators (the camp's sled dogs), which rip off one of its arms. If that happened to you, you'd start attacking every creature you saw on sight, too. And if you had the ability to grow yourself some backup, you'd probably do that, too.
    • Then theirs team lead by Captain Hendry. Are they really valiant defenders of planet Earth? Or are they intolerant small-minded bigots that attack whoever and whatever they don't understand? Interesting to note, while it's very subtle. You'll notice even there most innocent and jovial comments are laced in a condescending or dismissive tone when it comes to the Thing. Not once does Hendry ever reprimand the young solider for shooting the alien when it awoke. Not to mention everyone saying how creepy it looks while frozen.
    • Then theirs the destroying the pods, were the people eliminating an invading army from outer space? Or murdering innocent alien infants?
  • Tomboy: Is Laure a transgender boy, genderqueer, a tomboy and or maybe also lesbian? According to Céline Sciamma, this was deliberately left ambiguous, so that a wide range of people could watch the movie and think, "That was my childhood."
  • Total Recall (1990): is Quaid savior of Mars, or is it all a glitch in his programmed dream memory vacation, or did the dream vacation go off without a hitch? This is even argued about in the DVD Commentary between Paul Verhoven and Arnold. One theory argues that the fade to white at the very end is supposed to represent the real Quaid, who is indeed imagining his vacation on Mars..
  • In Transcendence, the major issue discussed In-Universe is whether Will's consciousness was truly uploaded or simply a self aware machine with his memories trying to enslave the planet to it's purpose. The notion it may have been him at first, but simply evolved so far beyond being human that it no longer matters, is also brought up. Ultimately it's revealed it was in fact Will all along and his intentions were always good.
  • Optimus Prime from Transformers: living legend, hero of heroes, all-around good guy. But Revenge of the Fallen gives us gems like "Give me your face!". This might be explained as post-death high spirits, but some think even "Any last words?" without at least a perfunctory offer of surrender is Out of Character, especially given how he was all "Freedom is the right of all sentient beings" in the previous film. The theory is that the death of the Joker to his Batman, followed by two years of combat, has turned Prime into a mutilation-happy psychotic.
    • An alternative to this is that Optimus is a nice guy - in general. It's just that, over the millennia of war, he's decided that the only way to stop the Decepticons is to take them out lest they destroy even more. It's possible that he tried to take prisoners before, and they escaped and caused even more damage. And the Fallen is an interdimensional being (according to the TFWiki entry), which means that the Fallen has tried to do this in multiple universes, which means that he's not likely to repent any time soon. Assuming Optimus knew this, he decided that he wouldn't give the Fallen a chance to try again and kill him. And his obsession with facial gorn? We can assume that the head is the least armored part of a Cybertronian, and is therefore a better target — especially considering that the head contains the processors, which are the Transformer equivalent of the brain.
    • The Decepticons in the movies are waaay more brutal than the original G1 Decepticons. Demolishor was rolling across the highway, crushing cars and likely killing thousands, and the Fallen was going to destroy the entire solar system. The movie's Decepticons are also much larger and pose a significant threat. Optimus had to fight fire with fire.
    • Except that the Decepticons only killed Autobots, who were combatants, and humans, who were another species (even another form of life), so it's not the same as murder from their perspective. Considering how humans gleefully slaughter billions of other animals yearly for their own enjoyment and use, the Decepticons squashing even a thousand humans hardly sounds so evil (and it makes humans denouncing the Decepticons for their treatment of humans extremely hypocritical "Torturing, enslaving, and brutally killing us innocent living beings is horrible and makes you all evil. Luckily we have the Autobots to protect us, so we can torture, enslave, and brutally kill other living beings in peace."). From a non-human perspective, wiping out humanity, or at least enslaving humans, would make the world a better place.
    • Given that they can clearly see humans have intelligence and emotion on a level far beyond animals and equal to themselves, that logic seems somewhat flawed.(some would argue otherwise as a matter of pride, but they'd still be able to see the distinction, and why we treat animals differently) With that in mind, their actions not being murder is simply a technicality. It also doesn't help that they show no remorse for anything they do, revel in the slaughter of both sapient beings and their brethren, don't seem to care what humans do or have done, and ignore that the majority currently live in peace while they're trying to wage war. They clearly think they can do what they want because they think we're lesser beings, and again, unlike what hunters and meat-eaters, horse racers, circus owners and the like can say about animals, they can clearly tell we have intelligence and emotional capitality on par with them. They slaughter and attempt to enslave us because they believe it's their right, not because they believe it is right. Even if they did believe that Humans Are the Real Monsters, which they're never shown to, it'd just be Black-and-White Insanity. "These disgusting humans kill and use living creatures with mental capacities nowhere near their level and some commit crimes against other humans! They all deserve to suffer! Let's bring war to this race currently living in peace, conquer the entire planet, and kill anyone who gets in our way!"
      • Remember, though, the Fallen's stated motivation is that he hates humans and wants to wipe them out. Killing humans wasn't an unintended side effect of gathering energon, it was his goal. The Sun Harvester was developed by the Primes, and the Fallen could've easily used it on another, uninhabited planet. But no, he deliberately set out to wipe out a sentient species. Prime may hold that freedom is the right of all sentient beings, but that doesn't mean he's going to hold back if you're planning genocide.
    • Optimus is pissed. He's already been killed and, upon his resurrection, is almost killed again. He's hooked into a giant life-support machine (Jetfire's parts) and, on top of it all, the Fallen taunts him about how he killed all the other Primes. Prime loses it. Cue asskicking. In the case of Demolishor's execution, the number one rule for the NEST op was to keep the hostiles within the quarantine zone- which, as Demolishor shows, failed miserably. Optimus probably realized that both the secrecy of the mission and thousands human lives were in jeopardy and acted as quickly as possible, resorting to brutality in order to protect the majority.
    • The Twins are seen by many as jive-talking Scrappies. However, as some ancillary media has pointed out, it's made clear that they have been recruited into the war at a very young age (approximately 8-10 human years old). Some fans have theorized that they are trying to act tough in order to hide their fears and impress the others.
    • Sam's mother. Just a scrappy or just moderately mentally impaired?
    • Dark of the Moon's ending. Was Megatron serious with his request for a truce? Or did he just want back in control of the entire race, willing to execute Optimus if he denied him? Him holding a shotgun and taunting Prime points towards the latter.
    • Decepticons in general; are they really trying to save Cybertron? Or is it just a good excuse to justify genocide and slavery? Megatron does seem hopeful upon Cybertron's arrival in earth's vicinity; yet the Decepticons never actually asked help from the humans, instead trying to force them into co-operation.
  • The Trump Prophecy: The event that lead to Taylor starting his prayer movement to get Donald Trump elected have been interpreted and reinterpreted through various context clues.
    • Viewers with a materialist interpretation the movie not as a man who has suffered hardships becoming a prophet, but a mentally ill man who forgoes proper medical treatment in favor of religious individuals who feed into his delusions.
    • Those who take a more supernatural explanation see Trump's rise to power not as the will of God, but manipulations by the Devil. The first dream where Taylor hears Donald Trump speaking has him wreathed in flames in his seat, and a most of the dreams have fire monsters tormenting him. Even the dream where a ball of glowing light could either be a Fallen Angel trying to trick him or a regular angel trying (and eventually failing) to keep them away, Taylor's own faith being used against him.
  • In Truth, were Mary Mapes and Dan Rather simply following a lead and got hoodwinked by a con man? Were they rabid partisans willing to use forged documents to influence a presidential election? Or were they martyrs who were hounded out of their jobs for exposing a truth certain powerful people tried to hide?
    • Were the CBS executives conducting a diligent search to find out how a well-respected news anchor and news producer fell victim to a con artist? Were they simply throwing Mapes and Rather under the bus to deflect attention from their own incompetence? Or were they trying to scuttle the story to get political favors from the President and his party?

  • William Munny from Unforgiven is a Retired Monster or The Atoner who came out of retirement because his farm was failing and he needed Money, Dear Boy to feed his family or because Even Evil Has Standards and although in his prime he'd have dynamited that whorehouse he would have done it for money, not mutilated a whore out of rage, or maybe he's just being kind for once. Maybe his dead wife is still his Morality Chain, maybe he was eager to kill and just needed a way to justify it all this time.
  • The makers of the The Usual Suspects have a laugh about this trope in the DVD commentary, noting how some people thought that the wrong person was the "real" Kaiser Soze. According to Word of God, it's Verbal.
    • A fun theory: there is no Keyser Soze. He's been made up and attributed to a number of crimes from several criminals to throw off police from the real culprits.
      • Yet another: there wasn't a real Keyser Soze, until Verbal Kint heard the stories and decided to become Keyser Soze. He is, canonically, a con artist, after all, and, Keyser Soze or not, the events of the film are clearly an elaborate long con orchestrated by him. What better scam could there be than convincing the criminal world that you are the big bad boogeyman who should be feared and respected?

  • War, Inc. could just be another over-the-top, post-9/11 socio-political satire... Or it's where Martin Blank ended up after trying to live a normal life with his long-lost love and their new daughter, finding out he couldn't stand it, doing some work with the government again, getting in bed with a villain, losing his wife and daughter to senseless violence/kidnapping, and now is spiraling even further down than he was before. Add to this his grip on reality completely being lost and everyone becoming a horrible caricature to him (people even look similar to ones he's met and killed before). A lot of visual and plot elements that the cast and crew carried over help this:
    • John Cusack uses a lot of the same moves in fight scenes.
    • He only opens up and is honest (at first) with a person he talks to over the phone.
    • He sizes himself up for hits in the mirror.
    • He procrastinates killing the target he's there for and eventually doesn't go through with it, actually telling the target he was sent to kill them.
    • And extensions of his descending character arc include nervous tics like a shaking hand/eye twitches he claims weren't previous conditions, a streak of grey hair, a propensity for dulling emotional pain with physical pain (via hot sauce); all signs of severe PTSD.
    • The only major snags are the actress playing "Mr. Hauser's" wife (could've been Debbie with a dye job for identity change) and the age of his daughter the singer if real-world time between when the two movies were produced is taken into account (probably Sliding Timescale, or Twenty Minutes Intothe Future).
    • The age of his daughter could be explained by adoption.
  • The Wizard of Oz: This Cracked article deconstructs the entire movie and makes you wonder whether or not Glinda is in fact the real villain here. The idea is that she's subtly manipulating Dorothy to serve as an assassin, setting her on a path that she knows will directly lead to her killing off all of the Witches who oppose Glinda, as well as end up making the Wizard decide to leave Oz forever. In the end, who is left and ready to assume control as the all-high overlord of Oz? Glinda!
    • In hindsight fans of the movie have been wondering whether the Wicked Witch really is as bad as she seems. A child came out of nowhere and murdered her sister, so don't you think she'd be upset? The combined with the above interpretation makes the movie quite interesting.
      • Note that the Witch is correct that the shoes are rightfully hers, and Dorothy has no use for them (that she knows of). And Glinda's justification for not letting her have them? "Their magic must be very powerful, or she wouldn't want them so badly". So steal them just in case, I guess.
    • Was it all in Dorothy's head or did the characters all just suspiciously look like family members of hers?
  • The VVitch is ripe with this, considering how much of its plot points are left deliberately ambiguous. In particular:
    • Thomasin. Is she a relatively normal teenage girl who is tempted to turn to Satanic witchcraft by the trauma of watching her family collapse and being forced to kill her own mother in self-defense, or is she a disaffected psychopath who brings about her family's collapse herself? Does she become a witch because she has nothing left, or was she always planning on it? A lot also depends on whether you see the apparent supernatural elements as real. If they are real, then you can blame everything on the Witch and her magic. If they aren't, then Thomasin was probably the "Witch" all along.
    • William. Since we learn almost nothing about the religious disagreement that leads to him being banished from the Commonwealth, it's hard to know how "extreme" his beliefs really are. Either he's a genuinely deranged fundamentalist who brings his family to the brink of collapse because of his warped worldview, or he's a well-meaning (if somewhat emotionally stunted) husband and father who just wants what's best for his family, and ends up being driven off the deep end by tragic events beyond his control.
    • Jonas and Mercy. At one point, Thomasin accuses both of them of being Witches. Though this is treated as blind finger-pointing, note that we never see the twins' bodies after the Witch appears in the stables, and the twins spend much of their time playing with Black Phillip, who is apparently possessed by Satan. It's entirely possible that Thomasin was right about them, and they really are in league with the Witch.
  • The World's End: Gary King - Jerkass Manchild who never grew up, or a suicidal man desperately clinging to the last time he remembers feeling happy and optimistic? Or both? Similarly, throughout the film he consistently forgets details of his friends' lives, is dismissive of or ignores certain danger and seems in general very out of it. Is this because he's a Jerkass Manchild, or is it indicative of mental illness beyond suicidal tendencies?
    • Could be a sociopath. He only cares about himself, he uses violence and emotional manipulation to get his way, and repeatedly abandons his friends in their time of need.
      • Except it's shown he does care enough to try and send Andy and Steven out of the town while he finishes the Golden Mile, becomes a leader for his Blank!friends and tells Sam to leave him behind.
    • It's never stated or suggested explicitly, but it's arguably hinted that the events of the film are All Just a Dream; this is one of those films that does perhaps invite this interpretation. After all, Gary is apparently receiving some kind of psychiatric treatment at the start, and the story involves countless people who've done better in life than him, despite being less cool than him in his mind, turning out to be evil robots, willing slaves to a soulless alien system - despite which, they prove remarkably easy to beat in a fist fight. Certainly, the last few scenes, after the big explosion, could be interpreted as some kind of dying vision (much like the last few scenes in Hot Fuzz).

  • X-Men Film Series
    • X-Men: The Last Stand:
      • Bobby's little moment with Kitty - are his hormones craving physical intimacy that he's not able to have with his girlfriend? Or is he just doing something nice for a friend with no bad intentions or ulterior motives?
      • Rogue's attitude as well - does she have a legit reason to be suspicious? Or is she just paranoid and possessive?
    • X-Men: First Class:
      • Is Magneto actually right? All of his predictions that humans will turn on the mutants end up being correct; the only people he kills or attempts to kill are Nazis and people who are directly attacking him; he saved the life of everyone on that beach when the military attacked them; and he's the only one to stand up for the right of mutants to be themselves rather than hiding/assimilating.
      • When Erik shot the coin through Shaw's head, was he aware that it was causing Charles incredible pain as he was telepathically connected to Shaw at the time, or was Erik so consumed by his need for revenge that he forgot that detail? Or did he just have absolutely no way to know it, not understanding psychic powers as such? Erik may have caused Charles such pain on purpose. After all, Erik lived through the Holocaust, and Raven can't go out as herself without revealing what she is. Charles, on the other hand, is A) a mutant who looks normal and can hide in plain sight, B) never suffered or faced persecution the way Erik and Raven have, and C) keeps lecturing other, less fortunate mutants on morality and the "proper" way to do things. Erik may have decided to teach Charles a lesson in pain.
      • The HISHE parody of ''First Class'' has a unique interpretation of Erik as a complete dick. Not even a heroic dick, like in the film, but just a dick full stop. Their reasoning is pretty convincing, pointing out how Erik is wearing the helmet of the man who killed his mother, who he spent his entire life trying to avenge, and even adopting his life philosophy and motivations. And he also decided to make a speech about his plans for mutants immediately after accidentally paralyzing Charles without even considering getting him to a hospital, something that their version of Azazel called him out on.
      • In this interview, James McAvoy does his best to recite the abovementioned HISHE spoof from memory to point out that Raven was a total bitch for abandoning Charles with a bullet in his spine. The audio version is even better because the actor performs the voices for both Raven and Beast.
      James McAvoy: There's a really good cartoon on YouTube, it was How 'X-Men: First Class' Should Have Ended. At the end of it, there's a great bit where she's like, "Sure, even though Charles is my brother and I spent my entire life with him, yeah, I'll go with you, Erik, no problem!" Yeah, that's exactly what the fuck I was thinking. There's another great bit where she goes, "Hey Beast! Mutant and proud!" And Beast goes, "I am covered in blue hair from head to toe. Nothing you say means anything to me. Nothing!"
      • Is Charles the righteous hero or a hopeless idealist? Did he really accept Raven for how she looked, or did he prefer it when she was in her human disguise? Maybe he didn't mind her natural form (with cultural preference for clothing), but found the human disguise more attractive?
      • Hank himself is subject to this, mainly in his scene where he rejects Raven's true mutant appearance. Simply an Out-of-Character Moment where his own insecurity manifests? Or is he a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who is so concerned about appearance, that he took a serum (without properly testing it) because his feet were too big? Or was he just caught off guard and not sure how to react?
      • In-Universe. Xavier tries to raise Hank's spirits by talking about The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. As Charles sees it, the serum didn't divide Jekyll into "good" and "evil," but more "civilized" and "animal," with the "animal" Hyde being Jekyll with confidence and free of inhibitions. Thus Hank shouldn't worry about being a bad guy, but should instead just embrace his newfound self-assurance and freedom. In the novel, Hyde revolts everyone who sees him (not because he's physically ugly - he isn't - but because people can sense something terribly wrong with him), and amongst other things, tramples a child and later beats an old man to death in a rage. Moreover, neither Jekyll nor Hyde display any remorse, and are only worried about being caught... yeah, stick to the hard sciences, Chuck.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Bolivar Trask's dwarfism has cast his antagonism of the mutant race in this light for some viewers. He either admires mutants and just sees them as a means to an end for protecting Earth, or he hates that he was born with a perfectly ordinary and useless mutation while all other mutants win some form of Super Power Lottery. Note that this is an interpretation the writer and producer disagree on; one brought the theory up as a possibility, while the other was strongly opposed.


  • Zorba the Greek: Zorba! Is he a well-meaning if somewhat irresponsible fellow who lives in the present or a selfish con man who calls for living life to the fullest with no thought to the consequences as long as it is at the expense of others? The latter can be found in his conning the monks out of the forest by faking a miracle, spending all of Basil's money on women and booze, an encouraging Basil to pursue the widow despite knowing how tense the situation in the villains was.

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  • Three Big Men (3 Dev Adam) is an unauthorized Turkish exploitation film with Captain America as the hero and Spider-Man as a heinous villain. But what if the villain isn't supposed to be Spider-Man at all? His costume is far from identical, there's no webs on it, and really, his face mask is so generic, it could be anything. There seems to be a spider on his chest, but the clarity is so bad you can't really tell if that's what it's supposed to be. What if the villain is really supposed to be the Red Skull? That would make just as much sense. The Red Skull often wore a green suit like the villain in this film. There don't seem to be any references to Nazism, but they'd at-least identify him as some sort of villain, right? Do they call him Spider-Man at any point in the film? It is in another language, right?
  • 28 Days Later: Is Major Henry West an utter psychopath completely desensitised to human suffering, or is he just a desperate commander trying to make sure all his "boys" survive the apocalypse by any means necessary? The fact that he's effectively ordering women to be raped pushes him a good way down the slippery slope, but listen to his justification for it. And watch how he comforts Jones as he lies dying from a stomach wound, and his ultimate reaction to Jim's rampage. "You killed all my boys."
    • Or is he a good military officer who went mad after watching (and killing) human beings who had turned into inhuman psychopaths and watching the country he'd devoted his life to serving crumble all around him?
    • In the sequel it's discovered that some people are asymptomatic carriers for the virus to various degrees, with some being barely a step above zombies themselves (the mother) and some seeming completely normal but with so many idiot balls glued to every inch of their bodies that they can barely move (the children). Is West's insanity purely psychological, or even psychological at all, or is he infected and just doesn't know it yet?
  • The 39 Steps by Alfred Hitchcock hinges upon the fact that a girl in Richard Hannay's apartment ends up dead. The movie includes information that points to the girl being a spy, but all of this could easily be a hallucination by the schizophrenic Hannay. This turns Hannay from national hero to murderous psychopath and re-shades his interactions with women throughout the film in a much darker light. Considering this is one of the first "They think I did it but I didn't really do it" films, it could be considered a trope-maker.
  • 55 Days at Peking: The David Niven character, Sir Arthur Robertson, actually asks this of himself at one point as the conflict between the many nations and the Chinese gets worse - is he a Too Dumb to Live fool who took on an impossible gamble, or is he quote "a reasonable man who took a reasonable chance?"
  • HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Word of God said that he went kill-crazy because he was given conflicting orders about how to treat the crew members. There are two other theories for his motives: he was aware he was going to crash/go nuts and was trying to drop hints to Dave to figure out the secret purpose of the mission; or he, being a perfect computer, felt threatened by the monolith and wanted to keep mankind from acquiring it and reaching a point in evolution where they don't need tools like himself. Naturally, the film itself gives no hints at all.
    • HAL screws up at chess early on in the film. He announces that it is checkmate in two moves. It's actually three. Kubrick was a chess enthusiast (the character Dr. Smyslov was named after a Russian chess champion, and the piece positions in question were from a famous 1910 game), so there's a good chance he put the goof in intentionally. Was it an early hint that there was something wrong with HAL? Was HAL testing his opponent to gauge how observant he was, and if he was willing to question HAL's claims? Or was he indeed dropping intentional clues that something was wrong with him, but this one proved too subtle?
    • A further interpretation is that nothing went wrong at all and HAL functioned perfectly throughout the whole film. He was programmed to prevent the awake astronauts from finding out about the real mission, and that's exactly what he attempted to do with the only tools available to him. The problem was not HAL going mad, but rather that his programmers had not thought through the consequences of what their programming actually said. Far from raising any philosophical questions, 2001 is simply a cautionary tale encouraging proper testing of code before deploying it to an active environment.

Alternative Title(s): Film