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Establishing Character Moment / Live-Action Films
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  • In the opening scene of Leap of Faith, Jonas gets pulled over for speeding, without insurance or a valid registration. He immediately cold-reads the cop, taunts him about his failed marriage and unhappy life and ends up getting arrested. While handcuffed, in the back of the police car, he gets the cop to open up, convinces him to reconcile with his estranged daughter, and walks away without so much as a ticket. Not only does this display his brilliant manipulation and penchant for risk-taking, it also shows his softer side. Even when manipulating things for his own good, he still does it in a way that helps others.
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  • Morning for the Osone Family, a Japanese drama set During the War, opens with the Osone family singing "Silent Night" (with Japanese lyrics) at Christmas 1943. They are immediately established as less traditional and more Westernized than other Japanese.
  • The Usual Suspects getting arrested one at a time.
  • Our first introduction to the title character in Saving Grace is her in her greenhouse nurturing an orchid. Grace's prowess as a gardener is what drives the entire plot.
  • Kelly LeBrock's character immortal intro from Weird Science.
    Lisa: So, what do you maniacs want to do next?
  • The first half-hour of Back to the Future is all about this. The opening scene tells us about a mad scientist with his Rube Goldberg machines, a dog, stolen plutonium, Libyan terrorists and a fascination with clocks. Then we see a young friend with his skateboard who plays guitar, has a girlfriend, and is regularly late for school. Then the young friend skateboards through town, shows a desire to be a rock star, and has a miserable home life. Then we see how George is bullied by Biff, Lorraine takes comfort in alcohol, Dave and Linda live lives of quiet desperation, and Uncle Joey has no hope of parole. Eventually we meet Doc, who deals with terrorists and can tell us we're going to see some serious shit, and the plot of the movie is finally started.
  • 10 Things I Hate About You:
    • The movie opens with perky pop song playing over fun, bouncing credits, as four perky pretty girls roll up to a stop sign in a brightly-coloured sports car... then the pop music is rapidly drowned out by Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation", as a lone, sour-faced young woman rolls up next to them in a beat-up Ford, glaring. Six minutes before we learn her name, five minutes before she ever speaks, and we already know Kat's basic character.
    • Also captured in that wonderful exchange with Miss Perky:
      Ms. Perky: People perceive you as somewhat...
      Kat: Tempestuous?
      Ms. Perky: "Heinous bitch" is the term used most often.
  • West Side Story: No scene identifies the Jets better than the first few minutes where they tersely walk across the playground, snapping in rhythm, but walk around a small girl making a chalk drawing on the asphalt... taking care not to step on her art! Unity! Toughness! Tension! Anger! All revealed in seconds... as well as a core sense of propriety and human decency.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy:
    • After the very first scene in Batman Begins which has young Bruce Wayne falling into a cave and being swarmed by bats (which as a kid, he was terrified of), we're treated to a prison scene which establishes the older Bruce Wayne as a badass, which has him taking down both a huge Chinese prisoner and every other prisoner who joins the fight. And then the guards have him dragged away, not to protect Bruce from them, but to protect them from him.
      Bruce: You're not the Devil. You're practice.
    • The Joker in The Dark Knight has two of these, the first being the bank robbery when he shows himself ready and willing to betray his teammates for his own ends, and later his "magic trick" involving a pencil and plenty of Eye Scream, which shows his mental instability and viciousness, but also his sense of humour.
    • In The Dark Knight Rises, a maid has wandered into the quarters of Bruce Wayne, unseen in public for eight years. He startles her when he appears, and the flustered woman apologizes and insists that she'll be leaving. Then Bruce points out that somebody has cracked his supposedly uncrackable safe and stolen his mothers pearls... which look a lot like the ones on the maid's neck. The maid's demeanour instantly cools. "Oops. Nobody told me it was uncrackable". She then kicks Bruce's cane out from under him and backflips out the window. Meet Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman.
      • From the same film, in the opening scene: When the unnamed CIA Agent threatens a group of blindfolded and restrained criminals on board a plane, pretending to shoot one, one of them asks: "Perhaps he's wondering why you would shoot a man, before throwing him out of a plane." The CIA guy takes the hood off, Bane is revealed for the first time, and everyone shits themselves simultaneously. Then his group of highly-trained zealots hijack the plane midflight, demonstrating very fast that Bane is both incredibly brutal and much smarter than the simple brainless muscleman audiences might expect.
  • Man of Steel:
    • Zod is treated by some critics of the film as a tragic villain, or even having more noble goals than Superman, which is altogether surprising since his very first scene is shooting an old woman in the face after declaring himself the new leader of Krypton, showing not only his unnecessary ruthlessness but also his fascism, in that he believed that he and only he knew what was best for his planet while saying it was for the good of everyone. He has another establishing moment when he and Jor-El are arguing about the genocide of humans. Jor-El tries to appeal to his empathy, and tries to get him to realize how horrible his actions are, while Zod flat out acknowledges this, and consciously chooses to ignore it.
    • Clark Kent's establishing moment is when he saves a school bus of his classmates, even though they thought he was a freak and a few of them bullied him. It echoes the biggest conflict of the plot, saving the Earth despite not knowing if they fully trusted him or even liked him. The one time he chooses not to intervene because of the possible consequences, that person dies. That scene was criticized, but it also showed just what happens when Clark doesn't use his powers. It was his father, the one person who always told him to keep his powers a secret.
  • The Flintstones: Fred is revealed to have given his and Wilma's savings to the Rubbles so they can qualify to adopt a baby. Barney is so filled with gratitude that he vows to repay him one day, and switches tests with him after seeing him struggle on a company exam. However, this results in Fred getting promoted to an executive position, and the resulting wealth unfortunately goes to his head.
  • Star Wars:
    • A New Hope:
      • Han shooting first when threatened by Greedo. This is why the change to that scene evoked such a strong response.
      • Luke's Binary Sunset scene; gazing wistfully into the distance like he was looking at the future.
      • Vader walking emotionlessly past his dead troops and then strangling Captain Antilles to death while interrogating him. He also provides the first introduction of what the Force is capable of; an Imperial officer starts mouthing off about how his "sorcerous ways" are nothing compared to the Death Star, to which Vader casually lifts a hand and chokes the guy from across the room.
        Vader: I find your lack of faith disturbing.
      • Leia's first appearance is being caught in a firefight by Stormtroopers, shooting at the Stormtroopers while trying to get a message off the ship. Her first speaking scene is cool defiance in the face of Darth Vader (who, as mentioned, just strangled her captain), and her second is being brought to the deck of an Imperial vessel, just after being put through an enhanced interrogation session, and happily taking the time to insult the commander to his face. She then attempts to guilt Darth freakin' Vader, and lies about the location of the Rebel base to throw off the Empire and save her planet from destruction. The lie fails, miserably, but this woman is Silk Hiding Steel all the way.
    • We know Boba Fett is a rough customer when Vader of all people has to tell him to chill out with hunting the rebels ("No disintegrations!") and he responds with "As you wish" in a tone of what sounds like either 1) anger or 2) barely repressed sarcasm. Later, him almost sassing Vader about putting Han Solo in carbonite ("What if he doesn't survive? He's no good to me dead.") cemented him forever in the fandom's eyes as an utterly fearless badass who cares about nothing and nobody except his quarry.
    • The Emperor gets one at the beginning of Return of the Jedi, when Darth Vader, Trope Namer of You Have Failed Me, describes him as "Not as forgiving as I am."
    • The opening of The Phantom Menace is this for Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, and, by extension, the entire Jedi Order. ("Have you ever encountered a Jedi Knight before, sir?")
    • The Force Awakens:
      • Finn's reaction to his fallen Stormtrooper comrade leaving a Bloody Handprint on his helmet. He directly disobeys Kylo Ren's orders to gun down innocent villagers. This is the first time we see a Stormtrooper express genuine inner conflict—Finn is just a terrified young man who sees that what he is being asked to do is wrong.
      • Rey's introductory sequence features no dialogue until the very end. Without hearing her voice, we learn that she is a lonely scavenger whose survival depends on selling whatever she can get her hands on for rations. This makes the scene in which she refuses to hand over BB-8, despite being offered a staggering amount of rations in exchange, all the more noble.
        Rey: Actually, the droid's not for sale.
      • The very first words she speaks in the movie are (translated) yelling at Teedo the scavenger to let BB-8 go, rescuing the droid (a complete stranger who most people view more like an appliance than a person) and then allowing him to stay with her, showing that she's both tough and deeply compassionate.
      • Kylo Ren's doesn't truly come until halfway through the feature, when he is shown confessing his anxiety over Snoke sensing his lingering desire to embrace the Light side from which he was born. What is he confessing to? The melted helmet of his dead grandfather, Darth Vader. This scene firmly places Kylo Ren in the realm of Tragic Villain.
        Kylo Ren: I feel it again... the pull to the light...
      • Kylo Ren actually gets a good one earlier, when Poe fires at him and he freezes the blaster bolt midair. This is an even better one for Poe, when Kylo Ren tries to intimidate him immediately afterwards, Poe remarks that he can't understand him through the evil helmet.
    • Rogue One deserves its own section here:
      • Director Krennic has his old friend Galen Erso kidnapped and Galen's wife killed before the title of the movie appears.
      • When Jyn attempts to escape from an Imperial troop transport, the first we see of K2-SO is him grabbing her by the neck and slamming her down onto the ground, while calmly informing her "You are being rescued."
      • Cassian Andor meets with an informant of his, but the two of them are accosted by stormtroopers. Cassian kills both the stormtroopers and, when realizing his friend is injured and unable to escape, kills him too, very clearly demonstrating that he is a very different kind of Rebel hero than we've seen thus far.
      • Chirrut calls Jyn over in Jedha City through a busy crowd and gives her a cryptic blessing about the necklace she wears. About five minutes later, he saves her and Cassian by trouncing an entire squad of Stormtroopers with nothing but a wooden staff. And he's blind?
      • Baze Malbus also appears in Chirrut's first scene, silently watching over his friend while leaning against the alley wall behind him. After Chirrut beats up said squad of stormtroopers, another rushes in, points their guns at him, and are instantly gunned down in seconds by a barrage of fire from Baze's BFG that hits every single trooper while missing Chirrut by inches. When Chirrut complains that Baze almost shot him, Baze's response is to reply "You're welcome", then walk over to a downed stormtrooper who's struggling to his feet and shoots him in the head at point-blank range.
    • The Last Jedi:
      • Rose's first scene features her 1) crying over the death of her beloved sister, 2) adorably gushing over her adoration of Finn, and 3) immediately shocking Finn into unconsciousness with a taser-like device when she realizes he's trying to desert the Resistance, cleanly establishing her loneliness, goofiness, and professionalism within the space of five minutes.
      • Although it's obviously not the first we've seen of him, Luke Skywalker's first action is to take his father's lightsaber and angrily toss it over his shoulder, off a cliff, showing that something is very wrong with the Luke Skywalker we know and love.
    • Solo:
      • Just in case the audience wasn't sure what Han Solo was like when he was younger, the first things Han does in the movie are 1) steal a landspeeder, 2) make out with his hot girlfriend after giving her an incredibly rare and valuable gift he stole from their merciless gangster boss Lady Proxima, 3) get chewed out by Lady Proxima, 4) beat up one of her hired guards with his own stick when the thug tries to discipline him, 4) threaten Lady Proxima with a rock that he claims is a thermal detonator, and 5) cause a distraction that lets him and Qi'ra escape in the landspeeder he stole early while driving like a maniac to escape their pursuers. All in the first ten minutes of the movie.
      • Tobias Beckett appears on a chaotic Imperial battlefield, gunning down enemies left and right with his dual pistols while everyone else is running around in screaming terror. The moment Han catches up to him and points out that Beckett is wearing a stolen Imperial uniform and is clearly not an actual officer, Beckett doesn't hesitate to use his "officer" credentials to have Han arrested as a deserter and thrown into a pit to be Fed to the Beast.
      • The first thing we see of Dryden Vos is one of his subordinates mentioning that he's "done negotiating" with an Imperial regional governor. And by "negotiating", we mean, ripping his vibro-blades out of the poor bastard's chest.
  • Seven Samurai:
    • Kambei's Batman Cold Open, in which he shaves off his topknot, a symbol of honor for a samurai, in order to trick a kidnapper and rescue a child. Roger Ebert wonders in his review if it's the origin of the practice, now common in action movies, of introducing the main hero with an undertaking unrelated to the main plot.
    • Good-natured Heihachi is found cutting wood in order to get by. Rather than complain about doing such lowly labor, he accepts it with good cheer and a quip about being from the "Woodcut School."
    • Kyuzo, the expert swordsman, is first seen engaged in a duel. His opponent refuses to be convinced that he truly lost their non-lethal exchange and insists on repeating it in earnest, whereupon Kyuzo immediately kills him.
    • Kikuchiyo is first seen front and center while carrying a really long sword.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Judge Doom melts a toon shoe with his "dip" chemical. Also doubles as a major Kick the Dog moment.
    • Eddie Valiant is firmly established as a Toon-hater and The Alcoholic when the first things we see him do are derisively say "Toons" like an ethnic slur and take a swig from a bottle.
  • Jurassic Park: Alan Grant scaring the piss out of an obnoxious loudmouthed kid with an eloquent monologue about the hunting tactics of velociraptors.
  • In Big Game, first two things Herbert does upon his arrival are: (1) calmly eating a sandwitch as he's briefed on the situation and (2) performing a correct Sherlock Scan on the terrorists.
  • The Magnificent Seven (1960), a Setting Update of Seven Samurai, features alternate establishing character moments for its versions of the characters. Vin and Chris volunteer to drive a hearse containing an Indian up to Boot Hill despite the protests of the townspeople, which mirror's Kambei's socially dishonorable and morally correct actions. Britt is introduced with a duel, as with Kyuzo in Seven Samurai: he demonstrates non-lethally his ability to win a pistol duel with a knife, and displays complete indifference to being called a liar and a coward, only agreeing to repeat the duel in earnest when his opponent threatens to shoot him where he sits otherwise.
  • Troy: Achilles wakes up from a threesome, several hours late for a battle and after being called up to fight some gigantic champion in a duel. He runs up and just casually stabs him in the neck.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Iron Man:
      • Tony Stark seems to get two moments several scenes apart. In the very first scene, he's drinking, flirting with a female soldier, downplaying yet at the same time bragging about his abilities to nail beautiful women, carousing with a soldier, and making morbid yet situation-appropriate jokes. Then, despite being a businessman who's never seen a real fight, he shows something approximating a cool head by asking for a gun (and, in a deleted scene, actually using one for a few moments), running when there's no other option, calling for help on his phone, and revealing himself to have been wearing a flak jacket. At the same time, his interactions with the lower enlisted personnel show that even the lowest ranking airmen are still worthy of his attention and charm.
      • Pepper Potts's first appearance when she speaks with Christine Everheart, the reporter who Tony sleeps with and then subsequently dumps.
        Christine: After all these years, Tony still has you picking up the dry cleaning?
        Pepper: I do anything and everything Mr. Stark requires. Including, occasionally, taking out the trash.
    • Iron Man 2
      • While Phil Coulson had a very small part in the first Iron Man film, the establishing bit here was where he very casually informs Tony Stark that if he tries to run away or do anything to cross him, he'll taze Stark and watch Supernanny while Stark "drools into the carpet." It establishes that Coulson is completely unflappable, not even the slightest bit intimidated by Iron Man, and that he is indeed the kind of dork who will put on Supernanny of all things to pass the time while having run of the Stark mansion. In hindsight, his choice of TV also factors into his Team Dad role on his spinoff series.
    • Captain America: The First Avenger:
      • Steve Rogers has quite a few. All these moments occur before his transformation into Captain America. One is when he dives for a grenade and cradles it despite not knowing it's a dud. Also the scene when the sergeant tells the recruits to get a flag off a pole. Everyone fails to climb it but Steve casually takes the screws off the pole, causing the pole to fall and retrieved the flag that way. And this line:
        Steve Rogers: I don't want to kill anyone; I don't like bullies. I don't care where they're from.
      • Earlier than that, you find out he's tried to enlist in the army multiple times, he calls out a guy for being rude in a movie theater, and later fights said guy even when it's obvious who has the upper hand and doesn't run away no matter how much he gets beaten.
        Steve: *still staggering from the blows he took and has his fists up* I can do this all day.
      • Heck, one of these moments occurred during his transformation. Further into the procedure, it becomes a lot more intense and he starts screaming in pain. This causes everybody to panic and Abraham Erskine and Howard Stark hastily try to shut down the machine—but are stopped by Steve:
        Steve: [still obviously in agony] NO! DON'T! I CAN DO THIS!
      • Peggy Carter's first scene is dealing with someone who was mocking her for being English and making several rude and sexist comments towards her. She knocks him down with one punch.
      • The first thing we see Bucky Barnes do is step into the aforementioned back-alley fight and beat the guy up for hurting Steve.
      • Heck, Steve's very first line is one. A guy next to him in the recruiting office says, "Lotta guys getting killed over there. Kinda makes you think twice about joining, huh?" Steve's reply: "Nope."
      • The Red Skull shows up, does not rebuke his soldiers for failing to do a job they clearly tried their hardest at, delivers dialogue showing he's cultured and intelligent, identifies a decoy of the artifact he's looking for, effortlessly profiles and outwits the artifact's guardian, and threatens the town outside if the guy doesn't turn it over. Then he gets the artifact and kills the town and the guardian anyway, presumably to keep the secret.
    • In The Avengers, virtually all the major characters get defining moments:
      • Agent Maria Hill is first shown walking quickly alongside Nick Fury, questioning one of his orders despite the ongoing emergency. Later, she hops into an armored vehicle in solo pursuit of Loki and his minions, showing that she's focused, strong-willed, and highly trained.
      • Loki appears out of the Tesseract in a crackle of blue energy, with a fancy new spear and a really creepy grin on his face, attacks before speaking a word, and when told by Fury that Earth has no quarrel with him, he replies that "An ant has no quarrel with a boot." He's changed since we last saw him in Thor.
      • We first see Black Widow being interrogated by Russians and seemingly under duress, until she drops the Wounded Gazelle Gambit with a "Hold please," and takes them all out without effort. This shows that she's calculating, multi-layered, and extremely badass.
      • Bruce Banner gets a quieter one—the very first thing we see of him is his inability to refuse a vulnerable child begging for his help, even when Banner (correctly) suspects he's being baited into a trap. In other words, his basic humanity is the first thing established, which sets up a tragic juxtaposition with how most of the other characters tiptoe around him as a monster. He also outwits and terrifies Black Widow, and acts remarkably nonchalant for a man with a gun pointed at his head.
      • Hawkeye is the only character to suspect that other people could manipulate the Tesseract from a distance, showing his incredible powers of observation and perceptiveness.
      • Nick Fury tries to escape with the Tesseract, and when that doesn't work he attempts to stall Loki long enough that the building collapses, showing that he's willing to do whatever it takes to protect the earth.
      • Steve Rogers is working off his frustration in a faded old gym, showing how he feels he has no place in this new world. When he smashes a hole in the punching bag, he simply reaches over and hangs up a new one from the pile he brought with him.

        Even more so in a deleted scene (which would have extended his introduction): he is shown watching old footage of him and him comrades in the war, he looks through some files finding out that all of his friends have died of old age—except for Peggy, who is retired in the UK, as he ponders whether to call her or not. He then wanders through the streets of New York, surrounded by all this new technology, and ends up at a café, drawing a detailed sketch of the skyline on a napkin. This exchange follows between him and a waitress (before Stan Lee tells him to ask for her number):
        Waitress: Also, we have free wireless.
        Steve: Radio?
      • Tony Stark is enjoying a moment with Pepper, showing how far he's progressed from his devil-may-care playboy personality. He then "shares" 12% of "his" recent success with her, informing us that no, for all his character development, his ego is still very much intact.
      • Agent Coulson interrupts and barks down a Russian mafia boss: "You're at 114 Solinski Plaza, third floor. We have an F-22 exactly eight miles out. Put the woman on the phone or I will blow up the block before you can make the lobby."
    • Guardians of the Galaxy:
      • The film packs a whole bunch into the first few minutes after the flashback. We have Ronan ranting about how he will "rain Kree justice" upon his enemies, showing his zealotry, followed by crushing the skull of a captured Nova Corpsman with his hammer. Shortly afterward, we have Rocket snarking at the people of Xandar and their stupid haircuts, showing off his antisocial attitude, then he berates Groot for drinking fountain water, showing his care for Groot and Groot's own Gentle Giant nature. Of course, this all pales in comparison to Star-Lord, who gets two. First, we learn he cares so deeply that he'd tries to stop other boys from torturing a frog, and can't bring himself to accept that his mother is dying, running away. When he's grown up, after a lengthy Power Walk through rainy, deserted ruins, finally gets indoors; takes off his helmet, puts on a Walkman, and starts dancing to "Come and Get Your Love", as well as kicking and throwing small animals around, firmly establishing him as a Bunny-Ears Lawyer and rather crueler than the boy we were told about before—showing what his life as a galactic outlaw has done to the sweet kid. This is also qualifies as an establishing moment for the series itself.
      • Drax the Destroyer's establishing moment can be found right here, albeit without the part where he explains his quest to avenge the murder of his wife and daughter by slaying Ronan.
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron:
      • The Vision gets his by casually picking up Mjolnir and handing it to Thor. Before that, after being born from his creation chamber while the Avengers were ready to come to blows to stop him from being born, he ignores their squabbling and flies to the window of Tony's penthouse, calmly and serenely observing the beauty of the city below.
      • Ulysses Klaue gets his by telling a customer on the phone "The next missile I send you will come much faster" before snarking at Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and Ultron, and when the former tells him she can make his worst nightmare come to life, mocks her by mentioning a nature documentary about cuttlefish that he found quite terrifying and offering her and Quicksilver candy from a bowl in his office like they're small children at the doctor's.
    • For a non-superhero character, Scott Lang's mile-a-minute best friend Luis has his entire personality firmly established in one of their very first exchanges in Ant-Man when he picks Scott up after the latter gets out of prison:
      Scott: Hey, how's your girl, man?
      Luis: Oh, she left me.
      Scott: Oh.
      Luis: Yeah, my mom died too.
    • Captain America: Civil War:
      • Tony's first scene is an apparent flashback to the night his parents died, only for him to reveal it's a super high tech brain scan therapy session that cost six hundred and thirteen million dollars. He's doing this as a presentation for MIT, and admits that no one in their right mind would have ever funded it... which is why he is donating enough money to fund every single student project in the school, no questions asked. As if his dealing with his trauma and guilt in a performative way wasn't enough, behind the stage he's still unhappy, and the reason why is soon underlined when a woman confronts him over losing her son due to Tony's actions in Sokovia.
      • Prince T'Challa and King T'Chaka both get theirs in the same scene, when T'Challa is talking to Natasha about his annoyances with a diplomatic meeting of a hundred and thirteen countries.
        T'Challa: Two people alone in a room can get more done than a hundred.
        T'Chaka: [walking up] Unless they need to move a piano.
      • Peter Parker gets a whole scene to establish that he's going through financial troubles, is a genius who makes his own suit and webbing, and his philosophy of responsibility, all in such a way that it avoids being redundant to those already familiar with the character's mythology.
    • Spider-Man: Homecoming:
      • The film opens by introducing Adrien Toomes; practical, humble, working-class Joe who cares about his employees and is by no means an evil person...but also perfectly willing to jump straight to violence when his livelihood or dignity is threatened.
    • Black Panther (2018):
      • Killmonger's first scene has him visiting a museum of African artifacts and asking a tour guide about their history. When she tells him where some of the artifacts are from, Killmonger corrects her, announces that he's going to take those artifacts off her hands, and when she protests by saying they're not for sale, asks her if the white colonizers who acquired them from Africa cared whether the artifacts they wanted were for sale. When she starts feeling sick moments later and succumbs to the poison in her coffee, Killmonger mocks her as she's falling down, calls over security to get help, watches impassively as Ulysses Klaue and his henchman (disguised as EMTs) kill everyone in the room, and then grabs one of the masks not because it's contains valuable vibranium, but just because he thinks that it looks cool. That's Killmonger in a nutshell: brash, charismatic, intelligent, arrogant and capable of raising some excellent points about the treatment of black people throughout history, but also one with zero empathy or respect for anyone he deems inferior to him. It also highlights that while Killmonger has some very legitimate grievances with the way the world has treated him and others like him, he also has a bad habit of trying to seek "revenge" on people who have done nothing to personally harm him, and doesn't hold himself to the same standards he holds others to.
    • Avengers: Infinity War:
      • Thanos starts off the film by easily beating up the Hulk. He then kills both Heimdall and Loki in quick succession. The lesson is simple: Thanos does not abide by the narrative rules of Marvel. Or, perhaps, he does...if one assumes he is the hero of the film, and not the villain, and this is his Batman Cold Open.
    • Captain Marvel (2019): A young Nick Fury and Coulson get theirs by walking up to Carol Danvers when she's trying to call Yon-Rogg and Fury calling her Kree military uniform a "laser tag costume". The moment a Skrull sniper fires at them with a weapon that is clearly far beyond the destructive capacity of any known human technology, Coulson and Fury don't hesitate to hop in their cruiser and pursue the enemy despite being obviously outclassed in terms of firepower.
  • Indiana Jones:
  • James Bond has a few in Dr. No. One is the ever famous gun barrel, and the other is killing a would-be assassin in cold blood.
    Bond: That's a Smith and Wesson... and you've had your six.
    • Which is subverted if you know that the assassin is actually holding a Colt 1911, which holds seven rounds.
    • Or that he knew it was a Colt 1911 and he was tricking the assassin into thinking he had lowered his guard, displaying his cunning.
    • More iconically, when we first meet Bond at a casino, winning a card game.
      Bond: I admire your courage, Miss...
      Sylvia Trench: [writing a check] Trench, Sylvia Trench. I admire your luck, Mister...
      Bond: [lighting a cigarette] Bond, James Bond.
  • Manos: The Hands of Fate: "I aM ToRgO. I taKe cAre oF tHe PlaCe wHiLe thE MasTer iS awaY."
  • The Proposition is really clever about this. The first character we see is Mikey Burns, who is, appropriately enough, confused, hiding, and entirely reliant on the protection of his older brother Charlie. Charlie establishes his character by saying, quietly and calmly, "Touch me brother again, and I'll kill you." Arthur Burns is established through Stanley's recounting of Arthur's Moral Event Horizon, and then introduced as a caring older brother with a poetic soul. Stanley's introduced when he pistol-whips a mentally impaired man, and then turns out to actually be a decent fellow. And then there's Eden Fletcher, who spends most of his first scene looking at a badly wounded Mikey and repeatedly commenting "What a little piece of filth."
  • The first quarter-hour of Cloverfield establishes the character who will be holding the camera for most of the movie as the kind of person who's just enough of an obsessive nerd to do that. This doubles as justification, since the first question anyone asks is "Who would actually keep the camera running at a time like this?"
  • The Godfather:
    • The wedding sequence, in which Vito conducts nefarious business in a darkened office alongside the bright festivities of his family.
    • Also Vito casually playing with a cat on his lap while discussing whether or not to accept a man's request to murder someone. This was a Throw It In! moment thanks to Francis Ford Coppola meeting a stray cat in the parking lot, and giving it to Marlon Brando (who happened to be a cat person) just before filming the scene.
    • Santino smashing a photographer's camera. Also a Throw It In! moment.
    • Michael, in his military uniform, assuring Kay he is different from his family—right after delivering a hair-raising account of how his father got a bandleader to release his godson, Johnny Fontane, from his contract, foreshadowing his later following in his father's footsteps.
    • Fredo gets one some way in when Vito gets shot; he reacts too slowly to the gunshots, then drops his gun while the hitmen make their getaway and then he just sits down and cries pathetically rather than try to help.
  • The first time we see Nick Charles in The Thin Man, he's telling a bunch of professional bartenders how to mix classic cocktails. ("The important thing is the rhythm. Always have rhythm in your shaking. Now a Manhattan, you shake to fox-trot time, a Bronx to two-step time... And a dry martini, you always shake to waltz time.") Despite him basically telling them how to do their own jobs, they're all obviously charmed and quite attentive. This shows that Nick knows his cocktails better than anyone on Earth, and that he's a charismatic, fast talker.
  • Aliens: The iconic scene where Bishop reluctantly "does the thing with the knife" after being persuaded by the marines, quickly establishes three things: 1) That Bishop's a robot, 2) He has Nerves of Steel, and 3) he's an incredibly modest Nice Guy who wants nothing more than to help out in any way he can.
  • Dog Soldiers: Pvt. Cooper fails his SAS training for his refusal to kill a trained dog, while in contrast, his rival and temporary superior (during the selection process, until he's returned to his squad), Cpt. Ryan, demonstrates his ruthlessness by callously executing said dog with a pistol without batting an eye.
  • Apocalypse Now:
    • Col. Kurtz gets one via audio only via a recording of his descent into insanity being played for Willard as his "termination" mission is assigned to him.
      Col. Kurtz: I have seen... a snail... crawl along the edge... of a straight razor. I have seen... a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor... and survive. That's my dream. That's my nightmare.
    • Willard going crazy in his hotel room shows the inner turmoil he tries to suppress for the rest of the film. As with The Godfather above, this was pretty much a Throw It In! moment: Martin Sheen was legitimately drunk, and Francis Ford Coppola was taunting him from off-screen about what a total failure he was as an actor and a human being. Breaking the mirror, and his hands bleeding, wasn't special effects.
  • In The Elephant Man:
    • John's moment is the revelation that he can read, and is, therefore, intelligent. "The 23rd Psalm is beautiful. It's my favorite."
    • Carr Gomm doesn't get one of these for quite a while, not until just after John's. "Can you imagine the life he must have had?"
    • Mr. Bytes is introduced as a scummy, exploitative man ("My treasure.") and just goes downhill from there.
    • The Night Porter establishes his character in his first scene. "I got friends who'd love to meet you. And they will, mate. Believe me. They will."
    • Mrs. Kendall is established by her line "I should very much like to meet this Mr. Merrick." Not "elephant man", but "Mr. Merrick".
    • Mothershead's moment would probably be the fear that John is just being stared at all over again. This is quite appropriate, as the characters have seen little of her personality up to now, either.
    • And Frederick Treves doesn't get one at all. This keeps his fears of being Not So Different from Bytes all the more effective.
  • Road to Perdition: Creepy mob goon and crime scene photographer Harlan Maguire is introduced dispassionately taking a photo of some poor schmuck with a knife in his chest. Then it turns out the victim isn't actually dead yet, so Maguire casually finishes him off by holding his handkerchief over the guy's mouth until he asphyxiates, while Maguire has only a bored expression on his face.
  • Tombstone
    • Doc Holliday's first appearance, where he flirts with his prostitute girlfriend Kate, wins a hand of poker with two sour card players, stabs the meaner one when he tries to make a move, and then calmly exits the tavern with his winnings. All while blasted drunk.
    • Johnny Ringo matching wits and gunplay with Doc establishes them as rivals.
    • Before that, there's also the opening scene, where, upon invading and pillaging a Mexican wedding, all the other Cowboys leave the priest alone. When the priest approaches them, swearing at them in Spanish and telling them about the four horsemen coming for their souls, the other Cowboys just laugh him off and try to ignore the priest, not wanting to harm a holy man, but Johnny pulls out his revolver and guns the priest down, then translates for the others what the priest was saying in Spanish, showing that he's both educated and a complete psychopath.
    • Upon arriving in the titular town, Wyatt Earp sees a man abusing an unruly horse with a whip, something he takes exception to. Earp snatches the whip out of the guy's hand and gives him a couple thwacks, saying "Hurts, doesn't it?", establishing him as someone who will protect the innocent at all costs, and be utterly ruthless in doing so.
  • Darryl Revok, the Big Bad of Scanners, shows us all what a Crazy Awesome guy he is by strolling into a seminar, tricking the audience into thinking he's just an extra, and then assassinating his target in the coolest possible way.
  • The first scene in Swordfish is John Travolta's character Deconstructing Hollywood's traditional portrayal of bank robberies. By itself, it tells a lot about the mindset of his character, but what really makes it an Establishing Character Moment is what happens afterward. He walks out of the café, convince the heavily armed SWAT team to move out of his way by bringing up a detonator and cross the street to where he has a bank robbery in progress, revealing that the people he has been talking to are hostage negotiators.
  • In The Night of the Hunter, Sinister Minister Harry Powell introduces himself by driving his car, talking loudly and colloquially to God, about his own sick, misogynistic views. It's strongly hinted (and confirmed, later) that Harry is a Serial Killer.
  • The first scene of Reservoir Dogs is one huge Seinfeldian Conversation and is seemingly irrelevant to the plot, but gives most characters their establishing moments. Some of these are quite adequate (White is shown as levelheaded and experienced, and his friendship with Mr Orange is evident if you watch close enough; Mr Pink gives the impression of a whiny powerhouse of logic; Mr Brown is talkative and not serious-minded), some are misleading (Psycho for Hire Mr Blond as a jolly Elvis lookalike? Puh-lease!), and there is even a bit of clever Foreshadowing concerning The Mole.
  • Blue Velvet's villain, Frank Booth, introduces himself in horrifying fashion by brutalizing and raping Dorothy, including such sexual perversions as erotic asphyxiation, fisting, dry humping, and sadomasochism, and then taunting her about her mutilated (by him no less) husband. It should be pretty obvious to the audience just what kind of character he is by that point.
  • In the movie version of Ripley's Game, Ripley starts out by calmly beating a thug to death with a fireplace poker and tricking a couple fellow criminals out of several million dollars worth of forged paintings. That sums up his character.
  • Se7en
    • Detective Mills' establishing moment arguably comes not long after the research montage: after spending most of the night working on the case, he's then sent a package of library books on the Seven Deadly Sins by his partner... whereupon Mills loses his temper, refers to Dante as a "poetry-writing faggot piece of shit," and starts throwing books around the inside of his car. Then, upon being given the cliff-notes versions of the same books, he profusely thanks the officer who delivered them. All of this establishes him as a nice if somewhat uncultured guy who has difficulty controlling his temper when under pressure (which becomes much more relevant later on).
    • Detective Somerset's establishing moment arrives right at the beginning of the film, in which he goes about his morning routine in a very careful, methodical manner, goes to work and asks questions about a particular crime that none of the other detectives are interested in answering, makes sarcastic comments about the "crime of passion," wonders why his new partner (Detective Mills) would actually want a transfer to this city, before going home and lulling himself to sleep with a metronome. All of this sums him up as both intelligent and remarkably cynical.
  • Barton Keyes' first scene in Double Indemnity, in which he tears apart a guy trying to claim insurance on his truck by revealing that the man had set fire to it himself. The scene is completely irrelevant to the plot, but it serves to thoroughly introduce Keyes, his methods, his quirks, and his relationship to Neff.
  • Stargate:
    • Daniel Jackson gives a lecture on the Pyramids where his (correct) conclusions on their age are mocked and everyone abandons the talk before he's done, showing that he's a brilliant, unorthodox, and unappreciated scientist.
    • Jack O'Neil is introduced looking moodily at a gun while sitting on his recently dead son's bed. This establishes the pain beneath his gruff exterior and explains why he would take a suicide mission to begin with. Both moments also show that neither man has a lot going for him on Earth.
  • In Daredevil, Bullseye is first seen landing a series of bulls-eyes into a dartboard without looking and while downing a beer, establishing his superhuman accuracy. He then murders a man in front of a bar full of witnesses over a muttered insult, with a paperclip, establishing that he is Ax-Crazy.
  • In A Clockwork Orange, the very first shot is Alex leering into the camera while a synthetic funeral march blares on the soundtrack, establishing Alex's strong, hypnotic and thoroughly evil personality before the voice-over even mentions "the old ultraviolence."
  • The first appearance of the Operative in Serenity, in which he casually kills the head doctor of the Academy and praises him for his good work even as the doctor dies, impaled on the Operative's sword. This establishes him as intelligent, honorable, and completely ruthless. He also mentions how everything he and the Alliance are doing is to create a better world.
  • In the Loop opens with Malcolm Tucker sweeping into Number 10 in his long flowing black coat, before a colleague engages him in some friendly banter:
    Malcolm Tucker: How'd your team do at the weekend?
    Number 10 staffer: Alright, we won!
    Malcolm Tucker: Yeah? Hehehehe...wanker.
  • The very first thing you see Felicia doing in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is singing this song:
    A desert holiday
    Let's pack the drag away
    You pack the lunch and tea
    I'll pack the ecstasy
    Fuck off you silly queer
    I'm getting out of here
    A desert holiday
    Hip hip hip hip hooray.
  • It isn't long into the first appearance of the Twister from Ip Man 2 before he calls Master Hung a "yellow piece of fat", and he only gets worse from there.
  • In A Hard Day's Night, the ECM for John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr has them running for their lives from the fans. They are further established, along with Paul's grandfather, in the first train scenes.
  • In Give My Regards to Broad Street, we first see Paul McCartney in the back seat of a limo that's stuck in traffic in the rain, dividing his time between writing lyrics and listening to the radio with an air of silent resignation. Even though this is one level of reality up from most of the film, it foreshadows his role in the film surprisingly well.
  • In Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory we finally see the titular character, leaning on a cane and slowly limping toward the crowd, then he stiffens and falls... only to gracefully roll into a somersault and stand up triumphantly. Gene Wilder not only conceived this scene, but insisted on it as a condition of taking the role. He wanted to show the audience, from the very beginning, that we never know whether Wonka is telling the truth or not.
  • Ruby Rose's character in Xx X Return Of Xander Cage is first shown on the African savannah, looking through the scope of a sniper rifle at a lion. She calmly takes aim...and then shoots the poachers who were preparing to kill the lion, making sure to give them wounding shots so the lion can enjoy some live prey when it finds them.
  • The Fifth Element: Korben Dallas responds to a mugger with an enormous gun at his front door by tricking him into disabling his weapon, disarming him and dumping it in a rack he has filled with half-a-dozen similar weapons, and then contemplating the quivering mugger on the Nice Hat he's wearing. Immediately we know that he's intelligent but not afraid to get his hands dirty, world-weary but not rude, and badass but not a jerk about it.
  • Predator 2 opens with Lt. Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover) pulling off a move that's completely over-the-top awesome (even for the '80s) to save two police officers pinned down. He stuffs bullet-proof vests in the windows of one side of the car, smashes the driver's-side door off, and drives in while leaning out of the car, shooting at the gang members. He then picks up his shotgun (having dismissed the pistols as "too small"), flanks the gang members, and kills them. This immediately gives us the idea that if anyone can take on an alien hunter with superior technology through creativity and daring, it's this man.
  • In one of the first scenes of The Thing (1982), MacReady is playing chess with a computer. When he loses, he pours his scotch into the CPU and calls the program a cheating bitch. In the long run, the outburst tells a lot about his character; in the end, he'd rather burn down the whole facility than let the Thing win, just as he'd rather fry the computer than admit defeat to it.
  • Jack Napier in Batman (1989). In his introduction scene, he establishes that he's part of the criminal element plaguing Gotham City by his first line (in response to Harvey Dent's speech about making the city safe for decent people), "Decent people shouldn't live here. They'd be happier someplace else." His next line, "If this clown could touch Grissom, I'd have handed him his lungs by now," establishes that he is a psycho. Next, he comments on how his boss is a "tired old man" and how he "can't run the city without me," suggesting that he wants to run the show himself someday (which is expanded upon later in the "think about the future" scene with Eckhardt). He then admires himself in the mirror, and when the attractive woman he's been talking to (his girlfriend, who is also his boss's mistress) approaches him and compliments his looks ("You look fine"), he is insulting ("I didn't ask"), revealing that he is an arrogant jerk with a focus on his looks, which foreshadows his later transformation and the psychological effect it will have on him.
  • The Batman films used different techniques to introduce Bruce Wayne.
    • Batman (1989): He is fumbling about during a party showing his eccentricity. The fact that he also pretends not to know who Bruce Wayne is to Vicki Vale, only to introduce himself to her and Alexander Knox in a more low-key fashion, also indicates his willingness to and ease at keeping a low profile and slipping into the background when it suits him.
    • Batman Forever: He is on the cover of TIME magazine in Ed Nygma's cubicle, showing him as The Ace. That's not entirely true.
    • Batman & Robin: He responds to Robin's quip with a wry "This is why Superman works alone," indicating the Lighter and Softer direction of the movie.
  • Jigsaw's pre-disfigurement establishing scene in Punisher: War Zone has him look at himself in a mirror and makes an arrogant rebuff when his woman compliments him.
  • In The Big Lebowski, the first thing we see The Dude doing is shopping for half-and-half in his robe, tasting it in the store, then paying for it by writing a post-dated check for 69 cents. If that's not The Slacker, then nothing is.
  • Avatar: Sigourney Weaver's character barks, "Where's my goddamn cigarette?" showing that she's tough even though she's a scientist.
    • The extended version has a great scene (sadly deleted from the theatrical cut) added to the opening monologue that really fleshes out Jake Sully's character, in addition to showing quite clearly what a shithole Earth has become. We see Jake intently watching a program on TV about cloned tigers in a cramped apartment, establishing the love of nature that will come to define his character. When he sees a big dude in a bar smacking his girlfriend around, Jake's the only person who seems upset by this, and even though he can't even stand on his own legs, yanks the guy's stool out from under him and then attacks him. Jake Sully: Cripple, yes, pushover, Hell no.
  • In Trainspotting, the scene at the beginning of the film introduces the five leads acting out their Establishing Character Moments as part of a football game: Sick Boy fouls, and shouts "What?" as if trying to look innocent; Begbie dropkicks one of the opposing team-members, wearing a delighted grin as he gets up; Spud acts as goalie, completely misses an incoming ball and gets yelled at by his own team; Tommy gets caught in a corner and tries valiantly to escape without performing a foul; finally, Renton gets hit in the head with the ball and collapses- all the while narrating sarcastically.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: Captain Jack Sparrow has three Establishing Character Moments within his first few minutes. He is introduced to the series standing proudly atop the mast of his ship staring straight ahead... before the "ship" is revealed to be nothing more than a small, flooded dinghy, that he has to bail water out of before resuming his proud staring. All this shows that Jack never loses his pride. Immediately after, he casually steps off the rapidly sinking boat just moments before it completely goes under, and then promptly confuses the hell out of a few officers by babbling non-stop. All of this accurately shows the kind of nonsensical character that he has become known for being. A few minutes later though, he gets another Establishing Character Moment when he jumps in to save Elizabeth from drowning without a second thought, despite not knowing her at all and the fact that doing it doesn't benefit him in the slightest (it in fact hinders his plans), showing that despite being a morally grey pirate, he is deep down a fundamentally good person.
    • Will Turner's first scene after the flashback has him hiding a piece of a wall sconce he accidentally broke off, demonstrates both knowledge of smithing and skill with a sword, doesn't correct Governor Swann about who made the blade, and calls Elizabeth "Miss Swann" despite her insistence on him using her first name until no one is around. This establishes him as humble, skilled, naive, and unwillingly bound by the customs of society.
  • Ghostbusters (1984). Venkman is first shown giving an ESP test to two students in which a wrong answer is followed by an electric shock. Because one of his test subjects is an attractive female student, Venkman keeps zapping the other (male) subject regardless of who gets the right answer. This reveals Venkman as a Jerkass, a scientific fraud, and a man who thinks with his groin.
  • The opening scene of Top Gun. Maverick and another Navy fighter encounters enemy MiGs. Maverick manages to fly right above and upside down one MiG so close his RIO (Radio Intercept Officer), Goose, takes a Polaroid of the surprised pilot. This establishes Maverick as a skilled flyer and he and Goose as best friends who like to clown around. When the encounter causes his fellow pilot has a Heroic BSoD in mid-air, Maverick defies orders to stay with him to help guide him back to their aircraft carrier safely. This establishes Maverick as a rebel and heroic.
  • The opening scene of Patton does a very good job of establishing the title character, with all his medals, and pearl handled revolvers giving a Rousing Speech to his army offscreen in front of a giant American Flag.
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly has one for each of the title characters.
    • Tuco: Is eating in a bar. A group of gunmen come in to kill him and he shoots them all before crashing out of a window, still eating his dinner. "The Ugly."
    • Angel Eyes: Has been hired to get information from a man. He enters his house, talks with him, refuses the man's counteroffer of more money if Angel Eyes leaves him alone and instead kills his boss, then shoots the man dead. His son comes downstairs with a gun and Angel Eyes kills him too. He then goes back to his boss, giving him the information, and then kills him—he took the first victim's money, and he always finishes the job once he's been paid. "The Bad."
    • Blondie: Tracks down Tuco, kills several rival bounty hunters, and turns him in for a reward, then frees him so they can repeat the process several more times. When the jig is up he abandons Tuco in the desert and rides off with the money. "The Good."
  • The eponymous Mystery Team has two: the harassment of Old Man McGinty for absolutely no reason, and the investigation and interrogation of Eric; these two scenes set up their childlike attitude, Jason's paper thin disguises and their tendency to overreact to the smallest thing.
  • Superman establishes the famed Man of Steel three separate times; each time is awesome.
    • The first time is when the baby Kal-El reaches Earth. The baby crawls up out of the wrecked spacecraft and raises his arms to the stunned Ma and Pa Kent (whose characters are established here as well). Moments later as Pa Kent is changing the tires the jack goes loose and the truck nearly crushes him. But it doesn't—because the little baby caught the thing and is holding it over his head, smiling sweetly at the awed humans. The kid can't read a nursery rhyme, and already he's starting his superhero career.
    • Ma Kent gushes about how she's begged and begged all her life for the Good Lord to give them a child as she looks at the infant from Krypton. As if on cue, the baby, who's never seen her a day in his life, spins around and hugs Ma Kent. Establishing Family Moment?
    • We flash to a teenage Clark Kent, whose acting as a waterboy for the football team. He's painfully shy around Lana Lang, his crush and can't even talk to her unless she talks to him. And rather than beat the snot out of her smug jerkass boyfriend, he grudgingly gets back to work. In a fit of rage he kicks the football when no one's looking, seemingly into orbit. Already Clark is learning how to hide his true nature, how to control the urge to simply overpower his foes, and we see his famous awkwardness around women.
    • Lastly, the Fortress of Solitude scene climaxes his training and his lessons from Jor-El with the first appearance of the adult Clark Kent/Kal-El, dressed in the classic blue suit and flowing red cape. As the Rousing Music blasts away in the background, he flies away from the Fortress of Solitude, the first demonstration of his greatest known ability. (This leads directly to the first appearance of adult Clark Kent in alter-ego form as he arrives for his first day of work at the Daily Planet. This establishes the classic Kent bumbling and aloof disguise.)
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • The original film has one that also serves as an Establishing Series Moment. It opens with young Erik Lehnsherr arriving in a concentration camp. He's torn from his parents by the guards and in the traumatic attempt to fight his way back to them, his mutant power activates. In one scene you learn all you need to know about Magneto's motivations and drives. It also underscores the theme that would drive the whole franchise
    • X-Men: First Class:
      • When we first see Xavier as a kid, the framed photos on his night table are of Charles Darwin, Hedy Lamarr (who was both a Hollywood sex symbol and the co-inventor of a radio-guided torpedo system) and Albert Einstein. He would later grow up to be a scientist with an appreciation for both brains and beauty.
      • Charles is very brave even as a child because when he suspects that a burglar has broken into his home, instead of alerting his parents or a servant, he grabs a baseball bat and approaches the intruder by himself.
      • The first meeting between a young Charles Xavier and Raven Darkholme. It established her isolation due to her appearance, and the fact that she is willing to latch on to anyone who accepts her, and it showed his kindness and delight at finding other people who were different.
      • The Nazi scientist, Dr. Klaus Schmidt, tries to get the young Erik to use his powers to move a coin, first by using a chocolate bar and when that doesn't work... he then shoots Erik's mother in the face. And when the kid has a BSOD and tears the place up with his metal powers, the guy laughs with satisfaction. The funny thing is, the Nazi scientist persona was a cover for his true identity, but that moment told you precisely the kind of a son of a bitch from hell you were dealing with.
      • Schmidt actually gets a really superb visual example of this trope, the first shot of him shows him dressed in very professorial clothing and sitting at an elegant desk with books and fine furniture, before the next camera angle shows us that the left-hand wall of his room is a glass door leading into a prison cell with a wall covered in torture tools.
      • The following scene shows an adult Erik sitting silently in a hotel room, fiddling with the same coin using his powers. He stares at a wall papered with pictures of notable Nazis, including a hand drawing of Dr. Schmidt. He looks at it for a moment before spearing the picture of Schmidt with the coin. Everything we need to know about how this man becomes Magneto is right in that scene.
    • The Wolverine: Yukio walks in a bar, quips on the idiocy of Wolverine's foes (and that they'll be dead soon, as per her seer powers), then proceeds to effortlessly puts them on their place. Yukio then walks away unfazed as if she does that on a daily basis.
  • First Knight
    • Lancelot teaching swordsmanship establishes him as a man of action.
    • Guinevere playing soccer shows she's a Royals Who Actually Do Something.
    • Arthur standing up to Malagant shows he's not to be trifled with even in his old age.
  • Dirty Harry: "You gotta ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well do you, punk?"
  • Die Hard:
    • The Big Bad Hans Gruber shows his refined taste when he compliments Takagi's suit.
    • Gruber establishes the Magnificent Bastard, Smug Snake type of criminal he is when he's directing his goons to prep before taking the Nakatomi Christmas Party hostage. And then, after they burst in and spray the place with bullets, he gently chides the screaming, terrified, hostages to please, please be quiet and allow him to speak.
    • Gruber actually gets a few in quick succession. After his moment with the hostages at the party and complimenting Tagaki's suit in the elevator, he sees a scale model of Nakatomi Plaza and quotes that when "Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer" (showing his ego), before nerding out over another model and commenting that he loved model as a boy for "the exactness, attention to every conceivable detail" (showing that he's a meticulous planner).
    • Detective McClane's Anti-Hero tendencies start to peek through as he's talking to the doctor on the flight to LA.
  • The coffee shop meeting of Detective Alonzo Harris and Officer Jake Hoyt in Training Day.
  • Blade Runner 2049 has several:
    • We first find Officer K tracking down a fugitive Replicant, enters the man's house and calmly waits for him to come inside. He expresses his respect for the Replicant's military service, apologizes for having to take him in and repeatedly states that he'd prefer to bring him in quietly, without violence. When the man refuses and attacks K, K shrugs off his attacks and quickly beats him into submission despite being repeatedly slammed into the walls and floor by his much bigger and more muscular opponent. It's also here where we learn that K is also a Replicant, and feels heavily conflicted about his job.
    • When K returns home with an expensive emitter, Joi is shown watching the raindrops falling on her "skin" and laughing in childlike wonder. When she tells K how happy he makes her, and he responds, slightly unnerved, that she doesn't have to say that to him, she smiles and tells him "I know."
    • Luv first appears to be just Wallace's Sexy Secretary, making idle chitchat and flirting with him, until she comes to a massive jammed metal door in the vaults and shoves it open on her own.
    • Niander Wallace gives an incredibly ominous monologue about how human beings should "own all the stars", then inspects one of his "newborn" Replicants. Wallace talks quietly to the "newborn", kissing her and stroking the clay from her body before slicing her belly open and leaving her there to bleed to death just to make a point to Luv about the flaws in Replicant design.
    • After two hours of the movie has already gone by, Rick Deckard makes his return to the cinema screen after 35 years by quoting Treasure Island while holding K at gunpoint. After punching the crap out of K in the showroom to no effect, Deckard tells him they could either keep fighting, or they could go get drinks, showing us that Deckard is older and wiser but if anything more badass than he was in the first film.
  • The opening voiceover of his letter to his mother establishes the mindset and character of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw in Glory.
  • The Matrix:
    • Trinity and the Agents have their establishing moments one after the other. After Trinity establishes her badassitude by effortlessly defeating an entire squad of police officers, she encounters an Agent. She immediately turns and runs.
    • Morpheus's first phone call to Neo is his. Apparently all-knowing, a disembodied voice of wisdom, and bad things happen when his orders aren't followed—but also completely dogmatic, trying to steer Neo's every action.
    • Neo's comes between his introductory scene and his interrogation with Smith. In the first he's a loner, living in an empty apartment surrounded by computers, looking for answers to mysterious, elusive questions. In the interrogation he demands the rights he is entitled to, shows disrespect for authority, and by all accounts he helps his landlady carry out her garbage.
  • The scenes of the young James T. Kirk and young Spock near the beginning of Star Trek (2009).
  • Sarah Connor doing pull ups in Terminator 2: Judgment Day showed she Took a Level in Badass at the cost of her sanity. Said pull ups are being done on the leg of a bed she has flipped over, her options being somewhat limited as she's currently a mental patient.
  • Men in Black contrasts Jay and Kay's ways of catching aliens. Kay tricks a disguised alien into exposing himself by calmly chatting with him in Spanish (which the alien pretends to speak), and Jay, through cunning, athleticism, and knowing the terrain, chases another disguised alien (physically superhuman) through a busy Manhattan street, ultimately getting the drop on him by jumping onto a moving bus from a bridge.
  • The Professional:
    • The first scenes show Leon as a badass hitman with almost supernatural skills due to years of training. He spends the rest of his day as mundanely as possible—going to the store, watering his plants and cleaning his guns.
    • Norman Stansfield gets two establishing moments: he's introduced standing in the background, listening to classical music on his headphones and completely disconnected from the rest of the world. Then, when his second-in-command informs him of a problem (a drug holder apparently cut some of the dope he was supposed to be keeping safe), he removes the headphones, and sniffs the holder for a few seconds, before declaring him innocent. Stansfield's next scene shows him leading a gang of thugs towards the holder's apartment: he takes a moment to down a pill and muse on how much he likes "these calm little moments before the storm," before charging into the apartment with a shotgun, killing the holder's wife, the holder's teenage daughter, then finally cornering the holder himself... so he can chat about classical music while the rest of his gang search the apartment for drugs.
  • In Audition, The Protagonist, a grieving widower has met a beautiful woman named Asami through the ruse of a movie audition. Over the objections of his friend, he calls her back, and we see her sitting on the floor in a largely unfurnished apartment, near the only two other things there: the ringing phone, and a lump burlap sack whose contents lurch over with an incoherent groan. And she's staring at the phone.
  • Last of the Mohicans:
    • Hawkeye is first seen hunting a stag (while shirtless), establishing him as a frontier badass.
    • Duncan asking Gen. Webb why he is negotiating with colonials shows he's an arrogant imperialist.
    • Magua insulting Duncan in Huron about being subordinate to women.
    • Alice saying how exciting the trip to Fort William Henry will be shows she's woefully unprepared for the reality of frontier life.
  • Con Air:
    • Larkin mocking one of his superiors behind his back.
    • Cyrus speaking to Johnny-23 in Spanish.
    • Malloy parking his car in a handicap space.
    • Garland Greene's entrance offset by his gentle manner of speaking.
  • Face/Off:
    • Sean Archer venting his frustrations on his subordinates.
    • Castor Troy plants a bomb that will blow you AWAY!!, then dances away and swaggers to a choir singing "Hallelujah," and takes the time to grope a blonde choir girl.
  • Maj. Jackson in Django shoots a bunch of Mexicans for sport.
  • The Hangover
    • Doug being a Nice Guy to Alan.
    • Alan letting a dog kiss him.
    • Phil stealing the money meant for a class trip.
    • Stu getting bitched out by his girlfriend.
  • The first hint that Einon from Dragonheart isn't the good prince Bowen believes him to be is the moment he callously takes his dying father's crown while his father tries to hold onto it.
  • The Departed had the one where Dignam congratulates Colin's passing the detective test with "Woop de fucking doo"
  • In Green Lantern, Hal Jordan is first seen late to work, jumping out of bed with a woman in it, rushing to a test flight against two AI fighters and while outmatched in almost every way he manages to outwit the drones by doing a stunt that almost got him killed. As he learns how to control the ring, Hal demonstrates the tendency to act intuitively (the Racetrack) and thinking outside of the box.
  • In The Prestige, Nikola Tesla walks casually out of a cloud of plasma arcs and shows Angier how to power a light bulb with the electrical currents in the human body, demonstrating one thing: Tesla is a goddamned wizard.
  • The opening scenes from Payback show that Porter is a major Villain Protagonist. Among other things, he jumps turnstiles, robs a beggar, steals the wallet of an Innocent Bystander, (and subsequently runs up the guy's credit cards) ducks out on bills, and he doesn't tip his server.
  • Jumper: Roland is introduced telling a Jumper at his mercy that only God should have this power, then shanking the man in the gutnote , establishing his religious extremism and viciousness.
  • Airplane!:
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • Sam telling Frodo about the promise he made to Gandalf ("Don't you lose him, Samwise Gamgee!").
    • Merry & Pippin's mischief at Bilbo's birthday.
    • Saruman chastising Gandalf for consorting with Hobbits.
    • Legolas immediately standing up for Aragorn when Boromir insults him.
    • Gimli impulsively attempts to break the ring with his axe.
  • In The Social Network most of the main characters get one of these:
    • Mark has a conversation with his girlfriend where it's established that he's very intelligent but almost completely anti-social; he's arrogant, condescending and overly sensitive, which results in him getting dumped at the end of the conversation.
    • Eduardo shows up in Mark's apartment after reading his blog, ready to give Mark emotional support, but all Mark wants is a formula he invented. Combined with the dialogue about Eduardo in the opening conversation, it's established that Eduardo is also very intelligent but much more personable about it. Eduardo also tries to ground Mark while he creates Facemash, which foreshadows his role in Facebook later.
    • The Winklevoss twins get a very streamlined ECM—we see them effortlessly winning a boat race, while talking about the lack of opposition and making reference to the laws of motion. This shows them as very good sportsmen and intelligent, but arrogant and completely unaccustomed to losing.
    • Sean makes witty banter with a college girl he's just slept with.
  • While his siblings are suckling on a milking machine, Babe is the only one who shows sadness that his mother was taken away.
  • 300: Xerxes meets Leonidas while he rides on a mobile throne pulled by dozens of slaves.
  • Alaska: Sean refusing a compass as a gift from his father and proclaiming to his face that wishes that he had died instead of his mother firmly cements Sean as an unsympathetic jerkass.
  • Labyrinth: Jareth's first scene can be boiled down to his response when Sarah rejects his offer of a dream-viewing crystal if she'll forget about the baby brother she's just wished away: He turns the crystal into a snake and tosses it at her. The snake just as quickly turns into a harmless scarf, and then into a goblin when she drops it. "You're no match for me, Sarah" indeed! (His Circling Monologue in the climax adds a wrinkle to this when he suggests that his intimidation of her is born what she expects someone like him will act like, so he's been acting accordingly.)
  • Act of Valor: Shabal's willingness to let children be collateral damage in his assassination of the US ambassador firmly shows that he's a nasty piece of work, while Christo's Psychotic Smirk when he hears Morales get punched by the torturer earns him no sympathy either.
  • Saturday Night Fever: Tony Manero strutting down the street and stopping to admire new shoes and a possible new shirt, showed him as a poor kid who has big plans for his future even though he doesn't know it yet.
  • Professor Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. He confronts Irene Adler at her favorite restaurant, then just as she thinks she's safe in public, he empties the restaurant with a tap of a spoon on a teacup. And then, kills her by letting her drink a cup of tea laced with an untraceable poison. The man used his substantial resources to demonstrate to Ms. Adler that at no point was she untouchable, moments before killing her anyway. Why? Because.
  • The Naked Gun began with Frank Drebin beating the tar out of the world's most evil men then falling out of a window.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man:
    • Peter Parker's first scene after a flashback to his childhood shows him as a loner at his school. The real establishing moment comes when he stands up to Flash when he's bullying another student and refusing to take part even when getting beaten up.
    • Speaking of Flash, one of the scenes following the death of Uncle Ben shows him trying to talk to Peter and when he slams him against the locker Flash expresses his sympathies, showing he isn't a completely heartless bully like we initially believed.
  • Buddy cop films often begin with a comparison between the by the book cop and the Cowboy Cop.
  • The Red Baron establishes the main characters as Officers and Gentlemen by them flying into the enemy territory only to drop a funeral wreath on the coffin of their Worthy Opponent.
  • The first time we see the titular monster in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, he bursts out of a meteor that has crashed onto earth in a blazing inferno before letting out his three-pitched shriek and attacking Japan.
  • After The Pink Panther (1963) establishes the jewel thieves' methods and wiliness, the scene switches to a police office. The very serious man seated at the desk gets up, dramatically spins a large standing globe, and declares to an associate "We must find that woman!" He makes to rest his hand on the framework holding the globe, but lands it on the still-spinning globe instead, sending him tumbling to the floor. He gets up and acts as if nothing happened, and so the world is introduced to Inspector Jacques Clouseau, the movie's Breakout Character.
  • The Hobbit:
    • When Thorin first enters Bilbo's house, he doesn't introduce himself, bow or offer his services to Bilbo, unlike the other dwarves, showing how proud and dignified he is.
    • Dwalin is surly and rudely takes Bilbo's supper without a word. Balin is more friendly and guides the other dwarves in organizing the table. Fíli and Kíli, the youngest dwarves and the most insecure, noticeably panic when Bilbo denies the existence of a meeting.
  • The Sword of Doom's very first scene has Ryunosuke quietly show up behind a Buddhist pilgrim praying for death, walk up to him, and kill him with a single blow, wearing a blank, intense stare all the while.
  • Rear Window introduces LB Jeffries through one long, silent pan through his apartment. It shows, among other things, Jeff sleeping in a wheelchair with his leg in a cast, his shattered camera sitting on a table, a first-person view of a car crash captured in a photograph displayed near it, and photos Jeff took while visiting several other far-off places hanging on his walls.
    • Lisa Fremont makes her first appearance when she awakens Jeff from another nap that night, gets a few dreamy close-ups from Jeff's POV, and kisses him in slow-motion. The movie proceeds to highlight the differences between her lifestyle and Jeff's when she shows him her newest Pimped-Out Dress, then brings in a waiter from The 21 Club to prepare them dinner.
  • Mary Poppins gets at least two. The first shows her sitting on a cloud, applying her makeup, and calmly keeping her carpetbag and parrot-handled umbrella from falling out. Later, after the wind blows away the other candidates for the Banks family's nanny, Mary Poppins descends on said umbrella. When getting interviewed by Mr. Banks, she reveals to him that she got ahold of the want ad the children wrote. He becomes so confused as to how she found the ad after he tore it up, he doesn't object to her confirming that she meets each qualification listed.
  • The first shot we see of Corrine in Flowers in the Attic involves her looking at herself in the mirror, instead of her daughter who is right next to her.
  • Each of the 4 Horsemen get a scene at the beginning of Now You See Me showing their solo acts:
    • Daniel does a simple card trick on a large scale with a lot of planning ahead.
    • Henley does an underwater escape routine and dies... only to emerge from the crowd a few seconds later.
    • Merritt does a hypnotist act on a couple and uses his mentalist skills to extort some money from the husband.
    • Jack offers $100 to anyone who can see how he does his spoon trick, pays up... then makes off with the guy's wallet.
  • In Pacific Rim, one of the first things we see of Stacker is him ordering Gipsy Danger to guard Anchorage and ignore a fishing boat in the Kaiju's path. When the Becketts go to save the boat anyway, and he realizes the crap's about to hit the fan, he tells them to take the boat and leave. He's ostensibly concerned with the bigger picture, but clearly doesn't like anyone being sacrificed or hurt if he can help it.
    • Striker Eureka finishes off a Kaiju in less than a minute, to show just how powerful this Jaeger is.
    • Chuck Hansen is seen talking about how Striker Eureka broke the new record with 10 Kaiju kills, establishing himself as a cocky hotshot.
  • Legally Blonde has Elle, supposedly a Dumb Blonde, easily seeing through a salewoman's attempt to cheat Elle of her money and rattling off reasons why the price would have been unreasonable. See also Ivy League for Everyone and Subverted Trope on the film's page.
    Elle: It's impossible to use a half-loop top stitching on a low-viscosity rayon. It would snag the fabric. And you didn't just get it in. I saw it in Teen Vogue a year ago. So if you are trying to sell it to me for full price, you've picked the wrong girl.
  • The Way, Way Back starts off with the much-quoted-by-reviewers scene where Steve Carell's character asks the 14-year-old protagonist how he rates himself on a scale of 1 to 10; upon hearing a 6, he tells the kid he's a 3.
  • Elysium:
    • Delacourt's first action in the film is to order the destruction of passenger ships full of people in need of medical attention.
    • President Patel also has one, as he immediately calls Delacourt in for a review of her actions.
    • This leads to Kruger's moment, in which Patel lists, as evidence of Delacourt's extremism, the dozens of crimes that he has committed, including multiple rapes and torture.
    • Kruger's first appearance has him coldly shooting down the ship in question. He looks like a cool, assassin type character. When he's told he's fired, he's barbecuing on his roof in his boxers and throwing rocks at the neighbours. Just like your usual crazy neighbour, except he's using his katana for a barbecue fork. When he gets the news, he tips over the BBQ and starts swearing at Elysium.
  • Django Unchained
    • Schultz speaking very politely in his first scene, treating the slaves with respect, and demonstrating his deadly marksmanship, and only after it's (somewhat) legal for him to do so.
    • Candie having lots of fun watching slaves fight to the death, and brashly asking Schultz questions before making introductions.
    • Stephen stamping checks with Candie's name is the first shot we see of him. Shortly afterwards, he complains more loudly about Django being treated with dignity than anyone else in Candieland.
  • Rock 'n' Roll High School introduces us to Riff Randall by having her steal a record player and using it to play The Ramones out in the school hall.
  • In La Ley De Herodes, a Mexican film, at the beginning when the protagonist is taken to his empty boss' office, the first thing he does is sitting in his boss' desk and imagining himself in his position, showing how despite his incompetence he is very ambitious.
  • Kung Pow! Enter the Fist: Oh, we all know Master Pain/Master Betty is the Big Bad, but what makes him stand out? The moment where he's struck with staves, including one directed at his balls repeatedly and he shrugs it off!
  • Into the Storm (2009): Neville Chamberlain is announcing his reisgnation to Churchill and Halifax. Churchill simply glares in the horizon without saying a word and ignoring Chamberlain like a stubborn ox until Chamberlain and Halifax catch the drift of what he means, signaling perfectly what Churchill is.
  • During the dildo creation scheme in Neighbors, Pete uses a scanner from one of his architecture classes to expedite the process. He mentions casually off hand that the others should go to class since the school has great resources.
  • Missy of Bring It On is introduced as basically a Expy of Faith replete with tattoo, athletic prowess, attitude and actress.
  • Will building a Faraday cage as a "private place" in his and Evelyn's garden in Transcendence. She said they needed a "place to be alone together", and he made sure that no-one could disturb them there. Ergo, he is Proud to Be a Geek and they are Happily Married—but he is so bashful and awkward he can only really say it with odd gestures like this. Once he is uploaded, he has godlike power and is able to do far, far more for her—so much more that she has difficulty comparing those godlike actions with his previous gestures.
  • Hocus Pocus: Sarah's first appearance after being resurrected:
    Sarah: My lucky rat tail! Just where I left it!
  • Fracture: The very first scene shows Crawford (the movie's villain played by Anthony Hopkins) briefly examining an x-ray of a failed aircraft part, circling a particular point and telling his colleagues that was the point of failure. When asked if he wants to wait to see if he was right, he casually says "nope" and drives off. Both his hubristic confidence and his ability to quickly identify weaknesses are key parts of his character.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service:
    • The original Lancelot provides one for the Kingsman organization as a whole. He greets the bad guys with a gentlemanly joke, fights them all off with grace and style, then catches a glass before it falls, identifies the contents with a single sniff, and declares that spilling even a single drop would be a sin.
    • Eggsy has a couple of these near the start of the film. One of his first on screen acts is to comfort his crying (half) sister. He also enables his two friends to escape from the stolen car they've just crashed (after he swerved to avoid killing a fox) by ramming the police car pursuing them so only he can be arrested and refuses to give their names to the police while being questioned.
    • Galahad/Harry Hart goes to comfort Lee Unwin's widow and child and gives them a medal they can use to get in contact with him if they need help in the future. In the present day, he defends his choice of a candidate and rebukes Arthur's comment about said candidate "not being their kind" by suggesting that the organization needs a breath of fresh air.
    • Likewise, Arthur's above comment says a lot about him.
    • The first things you learn about Richmond Valentine are before he even enters the room when you find out 1) Professor Arnold's kidnappers were given strict instructions to not harm him and 2) Gazelle covers up all the corpses so Valentine won't get sick at the sight.
  • Poppy Adams, the Big Bad of Kingsman: The Golden Circle, at first seems like quite a quirky villain (which, to be fair, she is) in her first monologue. It soon becomes clear what kind of person she is, though, when she tests her new recruit's loyalty by saying that the guy who brought him there screwed up, 'that's all you need to know', and tells the new guy to throw his friend into the mincer. They all laugh about it... and then she turns the mincer on and stands there smiling.
  • Red:
    • Moses wakes up six in the morning before his alarm and does a cardiac routine even though he's retired.
    • Sarah works at a boring job where she has postcards of all the places she would love to travel to.
    • Cooper is on the phone with his wife about his children while casually moving around a room, planting evidence before hanging a guy.
    • Boggs has a ghille suit in his own front yard and rambles on about conspiracies.
    • Victoria elegantly arranges flowers while hiding a machine gun underneath the flowers as Frank meets her.
    • Han in the sequel is literally stripped of all his clothing and equipment and manages to assassinate his target with a folded picture (that the target had given him!) and leaves the building without anyone realizing it.
  • Jurassic World:
    • Zach doesn't show much interest in his little brother Gray and eyes several girls despite already having a girlfriend.
    • Gray is excited about dinosaurs and is fascinated by everything at the park.
    • Claire doesn't greet her nephews at the airport and instead sends her assistant to get them. Even when she does meet up with them, she is completely booked off with meetings until late evening despite having promised to spend time with them and she has a hard time remembering what they look like. Also, while everyone tries to walk around the dinosaur holograms, she walks right through them, showing her disregard for the creatures.
    • Owen is shown trying to control the raptors and later rescues a coworker who had fallen into the raptor den. He is not happy when Hoskins wants to attempt to weaponize the raptors.
    • Hoskins starts talking about how war is the natural state of the world and that Velociraptors could be the perfect field weapon in modern warfare, in contrast to Owen and Barry who genuinely care for the raptors' wellbeing.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road was highly praised for its use of visual characterization:
    • Max gives us an ominous opening monologue about his own fraying sanity while scanning the horizon next to his iconic Pursuit Special, before crushing a two-headed poisonous lizard - without even looking at it - and eating it. After being in a horrific car crash, captured by the War Boys and dragged for who knows how many miles to the Citadel, when one of them tries to brand him with Joe's sigil he immediately flips out, breaks free and almost manages to escape the Citadel, and it takes almost twenty or so War Boys to finally capture him again.
    • We first see Immortan Joe as a gaggle of War Pups attend to his ruined body, putting on his breathing mask as well as armor with sculpted muscles that gives the illusion of physical strength. Shortly afterwards, he gives a dramatic speech to the people of the Citadel about he alone can save them, before turning on massive water pipes that give them enough water to fight over, but not enough to survive on.
    • Furiosa is first seen in a close-up of Joe's brand on the back of her neck as she passes a group of War Boys who reverently salute her. Notably, it's not until she gets into the War Rig that we see she's both female and one-armed. Secondly, when the War Rig is en route to Gas Town, she pulls a sudden detour and the rest of the War Boys in the convoy all immediately turn and follow her without hesitation.
    • When we learn that Furiosa has gone rogue, Nux doesn't hesitate to grab a steering wheel and prepare to follow her, even though he's panting so bad that he can barely speak while sitting down, and has to ask the other War Boys what's going on because he's too weak to watch Joe's speech himself. When Slit argues that it's his turn to drive and mocks Nux for his ailing state, Nux knocks him down with a headbutt and declares the line that will define the whole film:
    Nux: If I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die historic on the Fury Road!
  • Michiel de Ruyter: when Admiral Tromp's ship is in trouble, Michiel de Ruyter doesn't hesitate to rush to his side with his own ship, despite advice to the contrary.
  • ONI Agent Jameson Locke gets his in Halo: Nightfall when, armed with nothing but light armor and a pistol, he fearlessly tracks, attacks, and disarms a Sangheili, an alien that is physically about as strong as a Spartan-II in full Powered Armor.
  • The Sucide Theory: In Steve's opening scene, he is talking with a convenience store owner about his (Steve's) pregnant wife when another customer interrupts him to buy cigarettes. Steve catches up with him down the street and beats him to death with the pint of ice cream he just bought, showing that while he loves his wife, he is also a stone-cold killer.
  • The Silence of the Lambs: As Clarice walks down the hall of the prison, she walks past a convict brooding in his cell and an obviously insane convict who yells "I can smell your cunt" at her, then comes to the cell of Hannibal Lecter, who is just standing there, in the exact center of the cell, with an expressionless face. It perfectly establishes Hannibal as the master of Dissonant Serenitynote .
  • Once Upon a Time in the West: Sergio Leone sold his reluctant star by describing his first appearance: "Picture this: the camera shows a gunman from the waist down pulling his gun and shooting a running child. The camera tilts up to the gunman's face, and it's Henry Fonda." The scene doesn't quite play out that way, but it still counts.
  • In Jupiter Ascending, the three Abrasax siblings are introduced overlooking a Harvested planet with zero remorse and arguing (subtly) over their mother and the inheritance she left them. Jupiter has a montage of cleaning other people's houses and admiring their beautiful and expensive things. And Caine's introduced with all the bounty hunters speaking in awe of him: cue fight scene.
  • One of the opening scenes in The Shining has Wendy describing an incident in which Jack came home drunk and dislocated their son's arm, but very carefully trying to minimize the event and Jack's culpability in it, then quickly pointing out that he's stopped drinking since then. This one scene establishes Jack's alcohol problems and abusive nature, Wendy's weak will and enabling tendencies, and their son's trauma and fear, even though only one of them even appears in the scene.
  • xXx has an interesting example in the form of a deleted scene. A quick cut of Xander Cage on a flight to the Czech Republic was originally part of a longer sequence in which he discusses his mission (in the guise of it being a video game) with a young boy who had wandered back to his seat. In the accompanying commentary, the director reveals it was cut because it was an Establishing Character Moment, and would have pegged Xander as clearly one of the good guys too early in the film.
  • The Hunger Games: Katniss receives a slightly different Establishing Character Moment than her book counterpart: She is first seen comforting Prim after the latter has a nightmare, then she immediately gets dressed, hops the border fence, and spends several hours tracking a deer, expressing rage when Gale scares it away. She then shoots down a bird with little effort. This establishes that not only is she a doting older sister, she's also driven, intelligent, and a highly skilled survivalist and hunter.
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire gives us two glorious ones for Johanna Mason, previous District 7 victor. We see her in the elevator after the chariot ride, and she spends the entire time bitching about her wood-themed dress, while stripping out of said dress in front of Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch, and is perfectly content to stand in front of them, completely naked. During the interview, when she is supposed to show herself in a positive light to attract sponsors, she completely derails her interview by venting about being forced to compete again despite winning already, and basically tells the Capital to go f*** themselves. She is brash, outspoken, and doesn't care who she offends.
  • In New Jack City, the first scene at the beginning of the film, has Nino Brown's muscle throwing a corrupt business man over a bridge feet first for failing to deliver what he promised. This shows Nino's ruthlessness and his beginning rise to power. The next scene, shows the protagonist, Scottie Appleton, going out of his way to chase down drug dealer, Pookie, after he sucker-punched and stole a bag full of money he was using to make a buy while being undercover - showing his dedication to the job.
  • Menace II Society has the infamous character moment of both O-Dog and Caine. When O-Dog's Hair-Trigger Temper causes him to kill a Korean couple running a neighborhood store and robbing them, because one of them insulted his mother, showing his Ax-Crazy nature. Caine's reaction previews the tragic reality of how he is an average young man stuck around bad influences and a bad environment.
  • Several of the 7 in The Magnificent Seven (2016) gets one to establish if there is a group of people able to take on Bogue's army, it's them.
    • Sam Chisolm silently rides into town and walks in a bar, ordering a drink, while everyone is glaring daggers at him and verbally insulting him. When he finds the man he is looking for, he proceeds to taunt said man and Quick Draw fast enough to not only gun the man down but also four separate people in four corners of the room.
    • Josh Faraday is a jokester, showing his would-be assassins a card trick to entertain them before suddenly pulling out his back-up revolver and killing one and crippling the other.
    • Billy Rocks is participating in a Quick Draw duel with a man and wins, but the other man is a Sore Loser and taunts Billy about his race and demands a rematch to the death. Billy casually removes his belt and knives and Quick Draw a hairpin faster than the man who pull out his revolver and kill him with deadly precision.
    • Red Harvest approaches the Seven one morning, having quietly tracking them for some time. All of them, many having established them as badass, are noticeably alarmed to find out a Badass Native was following them. He then agrees to join them on their quest out of the goodness of his heart.
  • In The Jungle Book (2016), Shere Khan arrived at the Peace Rock with every animal nearby immediately backing away from him. He expressed contempt for the wolves for harboring Mowgli, calling Mowgli "it", and soon he started threatening the wolves that once the rain returned, he would go after Mowgli and anyone else standing between him.
  • On Dangerous Ground begins with vignettes showing the violent nature of cop, Jim Wilson.
  • The Cabin in the Woods both sets up the character archetypes and subverts them: Dana (the virgin) is shown packing in her underwear and pining over a professor she had a relationship with while Jules shows concern over the relationship while pushing for Dana to let loose and have fun. Kurt demonstrates physical prowess (as does Holden) and jokes with Jules while suggesting that Dana bring a different book to impress Holden with her intellect. Finally, Marty drives in while smoking a bong, brushes off concerns about the cops, and folds up the bong into a coffee mug.
  • Mulholland Falls: The very first scene establishes Hoover and his fellow detectives as a no-nonsense group of hardasses who will resort to any means to bring criminals to justice, often violently.
  • In the first BloodRayne film, Vladimir and Sebastian walk into a bar and approach the counter. A drunk-looking man also approaches. Sebastian pulls up a small mirror standing on the counter and notices that the man next to him has no reflection. Without a word, he pulls out a stake and plunges it into the man's heart. The other guy turns into ash. The bartender just shrugs and tells the two guys that he's happy that at least Brimstone agents don't leave much to clean up.
  • Bad Genius's four main characters.
    • Lynn's is rattling off the total expenses her father will end up paying the school if she moves there, showing her analytical mind and intelligence, as well as her pride in her abilities.
    Vit: Gold medal in maths.
    • Grace's is smoothing back Lynn's hair at her ID shoot, indicating that she's friendly and cares about keeping up appearances.
    • Pat's is carelessly jumping into a pool owned by his family and complaining about the water that gets in his ears, establishing that he's rich, careless, and doesn't think too much about the consequences.
    • Bank gets two: the first is rattling off digits of pi on a game show (showing that he's intelligent like Lynn) and refusing a classmate's offer to pay him for his exam scores, showing he's the most morally upright of the four.
  • Tragedy Girls begins with Sadie and McKayla setting up their classmate to die, using him to capture a Serial Killer. Rather than express a whit of remorse or horror about their classmate's death or the killer's actions, they gloat about their victory, complain about the shoddy tasers they bought of Amazon, and then knock him out together.
  • In his first appearance in The Thief of Bagdad (1924), the thief appears to be sleeping on top of a stone platform above a water fountain. When a traveler stops to drink, the thief steals his purse.
  • Deewaar: Vijay, shining shoes as a little boy, refuses to pick up money from the ground and demands that Daavar's subordinate put the money in his hand. Daavar is impressed by Vijay's Pride and tells his man to oblige.
  • Rosita:
    • The king is first seen surrounded by women and flirting with them.
    • Rosita's first scene has her singing a satirical song about the king, showing off her allure and outspoken personality.
  • The start of the first film adaptation of the Don Camillo short stories serves as an establishing moment for both the titular priest and his old Communist frenemy, Peppone. Peppone has just been elected mayor and is holding a meeting on the main square with some Party big cheese; meanwhile, Don Camillo is fuming in his church. So the big cheese talks, and Don Camillo gets so incensed that he starts ringing the bells every time the guy says something too outrageous, making the crowd mutter ominously. Then someone runs up to Peppone to tell him something, and Peppone drops everything and runs off; soon the whole crowd is turning away from the square and running in the direction of the church. Don Camillo lets go of the bell ropes and grabs his rifle... But they all stop in front of Peppone's house, and Peppone gets out on the balcony with his newborn baby in his arms, proud and happy fit to burst. And Don Camillo rings the carillon to celebrate the good news with a huge smile on his face.
  • In the film version of Crazy Rich Asians:
    • The prologue demonstrates just how "crazy rich" Nick's family is. A racist hotel manager refuses to accommodate Eleanor and her family. One phone call later, her family now owns the hotel.
    • Alistair is introduced directing his (bad) actress girlfriend Kitty in a movie before pausing the filming in order to passionately (and inappropriately) make out with her.
    • Eddie and his family are posing for Vogue. Once it ends, he berates his wife for her outfit and ignores his children.
    • Astrid stylishly walks through a posh establishment, pauses to be kind to a young girl and nonchalantly purchases a pair of earrings for 1.2 million dollars.
  • The very first thing you see of the titular Deadpool is the outline of the man's family jewels through his tights as he's tea-bagging a Mook in a paused action scene to the tune of Angel In The Morning. If this doesn't tell you everything you need to know about this particular super "hero's" personality or fighting style nothing will, but don't worry because Deadpool soon pauses and rewinds the film to tell you all the details himself.
  • When we first see Dr. Fujisaki in The Quiet Duel, his sitting in the doctor's office. He's sound asleep, but his hands are positioned to show that despite the fact that he's exhausted, he's ready for the next surgery.
  • Beyond the Lights:
    • It begins with ten-year-old Noni proudly winning second place in a talent competition...only for her mother to drag her off the stage and force her to throw out her trophy because she thinks Second Place Is for Losers. Certainly says A LOT about Macy Jean- not to mention the troubled mother/daughter relationship between her and Noni.
    • When we first see the adult Noni, she does not speak a word until she returns to her hotel after the Billboard Awards, at which point she instructs Kaz not to let anyone follow her into her room- showing how she essentially has lost her voice and become a puppet to her mother and record label.
    • When Kaz finally gets to go home after rescuing Noni, the camera pans around to show inspirational quotes tacked up all over the place and TONS of books, most of which are justice-themed and/or about/by powerful black figures such as President Obama, among other things.
  • Night Train to Lisbon: Our first introduction to Raimund is him playing chess alone.
  • Paddington introduces the Brown family disembarking from a train after a family outing, and instantly introduces us to their main characteristics:
    • Mr. Brown enthuses about the joys of visiting the Victorian Wool Museum, chides his son for recklessly jumping on a nearby bench, tries to quash his dream of becoming an astronaut, instinctively draws his children close after seeing Paddington, and politely but firmly rebuffs Paddington's attempt at introducing himself. He's boring, a bit pompous and over-protective, but loves his children. He's also polite enough to actually acknowledge Paddington's existence (unlike everyone else in London so far), thus hinting at his Hidden Heart of Gold.
    • Mrs. Brown enthuses about bathing in a Victorian bathing pond sans costume, much to the irritation of her daughter, tries to encourage her son's astronaut dreams after Mr. Brown tries to stomp them down, fails to notice Paddington initially but immediately takes pity on him and is the first person to actually approach him. She's a kind-hearted and loving but Amazingly Embarrassing Parent who lives in the clouds a little bit.
    • Jonathan recklessly jumps around on the platform seating, wants to become an astronaut, and becomes the second person after Mrs. Brown to approach Paddington. He's reckless and thrill-seeking, but friendly and good-hearted.
    • Judy strides ahead of her entire family rather sullenly, never removes her headphones, chides her mother both for her behavior at the museum and for approaching Paddington, and like her father is reluctant to actually approach Paddington. She's your typically moody, introverted and easily embarrassed slightly Bratty Teenage Daughter.
    • Paddington himself is introduced in the jungles of Peru eagerly celebrating Marmalade Day, but his enthusiastic attempts to begin the process end with a tumble, an orange spill, and a substantial quantity of marmalade in Uncle Pastuzo's hat. This bear is enthusiastic, friendly but clumsy, and really really likes marmalade.
  • Murdoch in Dark City, as one of his first actions, saves a goldfish he accidentally drops on the floor, making it clear that he isn't the kind of person to be a Serial Killer.
  • The first scene of Bart in Blazing Saddles has him start out in a subordinate position to racist thug Lyle, but run rings around him with cunning and anachronistic references, getting his Guile Hero credentials set up bright and early.
  • Vamps: Cisserus calling over Goody and Stacy from across town to model dresses she brought because since she can't take a picture of herself or look in a mirror, she wants to see them wearing those clothes so she can imagine how much better she'd look in them (later dialogue reveals she's been doing this for a long time and only kept Stacy alive instead of draining her to be a second model), and then summons a pizza boy who she feeds on offscreen, quickly establishing her as vain, demanding and uncaring towards human life.
  • Furie: Hai Phuong's first appearance has her beating the stuffing out of a poor begging man when he can't pay for his debts, immediately establishing her combat ability, career as a debt collector, and her ruthlessness.

Alternative Title(s): Film


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