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Film / Sucker Punch

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"Reality is a prison.
Your mind can set you free."

Sucker Punch is a 2011 American psychological action fantasy movie released by Warner Bros. and directed, written and co-produced by Zack Snyder (his first film not to be an adaptation of any kind). The cast includes Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino, Oscar Isaac, Jon Hamm, and Scott Glenn.

It's the story of a young woman called Babydoll (Browning) and her Fire-Forged Friends, who together plan escape from the insane asylum where they're all being held against their will. Unable to cope with the trauma of being trapped there, Babydoll imagines the asylum as a vivid fantasy world instead. But she soon discovers she can't quite cope with her fantasy world, either... which is when things get complicated.

Not to be confused with the video game company of the same name. For an actual sucker punch, you'll have to Talk to the Fist.

This film contains examples of the following tropes:

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  • The '50s: Anachronism Stew aside, the movie seems to take place in that era, which adds a sense of nostalgia and more sex appeal to their already sexy outfits.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Most notably Babydoll's katana.
  • Abusive Parents: The evil step-father. Implied to possibly Rocket's father too, to her.
  • Ace Pilot: Amber, who pilots everything from Mini-Mecha to a B-25 Bomber during the course of the movie.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The robots in the "Distant Planet" world.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Most of the men are depicted as sexual predators who want to have their way with teenage girls. With the exception of the Wiseman/Bus Driver and arguably the Lobotomist/High Roller in the extended cut. It's subverted towards the end though as the rest of Blue's croneys are disgusted at what he keeps doing to the girls, especially when he wants to rape a lobotomised Babydoll.
  • All There in the Manual: Four animated promotional shorts were released which gives some back-story to each of the four worlds Babydoll's action fantasies take place in, such as the three samurai golems being in service to a lord that travels the world, slaughtering civilizations and absorbing magical artifacts to gain power. The castle that is under siege is home to an orc dragon cult, the robots in the train blow up the city to free themselves from its oppression. They also explain the concept about treating humans as humans, in various ways, mostly the army story.
  • Alien Sky: On the "Distant Planet" world.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: invoked
    • Babydoll views the High Roller—the lobotomy specialist—as an evil, slimy, threatening man, but in reality he's extremely reluctant about his job, viewing lobotomy as flawed and inefficient, especially since his latest patient wasn't in need of a lobotomy at all. The rest of the orderlies are much the same—they're depicted as passively malicious and threatening from what we see of them in the hallucinations, but after the lobotomy, they've had enough of Blue and stop him from raping Babydoll.
    • In addition, the asylum's psychologist, Dr. Gorski, notes that she tried to reach out to Babydoll in reality but Babydoll didn't respond, whereas in the hallucinations, Babydoll takes her lessons to heart. Gorski is intimidating when introduced in the fantasy world, but isn't anything like that in reality. Her role is interpreted as the person trying to reach out and help her in both universes - in the asylum universe she perceives Babydoll's actions incorrectly and she cannot offer the aid she needs, while in the brothel universe Babydoll takes the role Gorski represents and her intentions and brings them to fruition. In the brothel reality Babydoll reframes her limitations as someone actively working against her kindness.
  • Amazon Brigade: Babydoll imagines her friends as such in her (second!) fantasy world. They're each a One-Woman Army (except for Amber, who's an Ace Pilot) who can wipe out hundreds of enemies.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Whose story were we told? What was real? What was an interpretation of the events? What is from Blue's perspective? What is from Babydoll's perspective? What was Sweet Pea's visualizations?
  • Anachronism Stew
    • When half the movie is hallucinations, this doesn't come as a surprise. These scenes may not take place in the same world. In one scene the girls are fighting Orcs and armored knights using modern firearms, bombs made out of propane tanks and a B-25 Mitchell bomber with 50. cal mounted machine guns. In another scene, they use their shotguns, M4 carbines, Colt 1911 and katana against robotic future cyber-guards, or said modern firearms and a Humongous Mecha in a World War 1 setting against steam- and Clock Punk zombie Imperial German soldiers. Although the referenced action genres did exist in the '50s in one form or another, most of their tropes hadn't completely crystallized. The visual style of the action scenes wouldn't have developed until at least 40 years later. The B-25 itself is a meta example, having a jet engine in place of one of its props. The Expanded Universe focuses on several of the enemies. The samurai crossed the multiverse to get at Baby Doll (at one point winding up in Gulf War II-era Iraq) and the Imperial Germany zombies are made from steam and machinery.
    • The music in the brothel setting; "Love Is the Drug" (used in a cut scene) came out in 1975, not the 1950s, and that's about the earliest-released song in the movie though the brothel sequence was a hallucination.
    • Babydoll and Sweet Pea are able to sneak past the guard at the front door because he's wearing earphones — either white iPod earphones, or just as likely period-appropriate earphones.
  • An Aesop: There are a variety of messages littered throughout the movie.
    • Most notably, "You are your own hero" inferred by the opening and closing lines: "Everyone has an angel, a guardian to watch over us, we can't know what form they'll take... It's you, you have all the weapons you need. Now fight."
    • Sweet Pea as the Author Avatar for Zack Snyder says something about objectification of girls.
      Sweet Pea: I get the sexy schoolgirl. I even get the helpless mental patient, right, that can be hot. But what's this? Lobotomized vegetable?!
    • "You make your own world." (Babydoll)
    • "Appearances can be deceiving." (Babydoll)
    • "Simple plans can work." (Babydoll)
    • "Escapism can inspire as well as be an escape."
    • "Girls should work together to fix their problems".
  • And Starring: With Jon Hamm and Scott Glenn in the CBB.
  • Anime Hair: You get a good look at Rocket when she's in butt-kicking mode. It's a nice rendition of Animesque hair spikes in a live action production.
  • Animesque: The overall style tends towards this. The first action sequence is a pastiche of Japanese-based stuff, and the first fantasy sequence boils down to "let's see how much anime we can squeeze into live action" and is highly reminiscent of Grenadier. It went to the point that before its release, some people thought it was a live-action Sailor Moon.
  • Arc Number: 5. There are five heroines and five items to find; the number 5 is painted on all vehicles Amber steers.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Paradise."
    • Also, the moral of the film: "You have all the weapons you need. Now fight." (Said by three different characters at three different times, including over the Fade to Black before the credits to the audience.)
  • Attempted Rape: Blue almost rapes Babydoll twice. Both times she defends herself. The Chef tries to rape Rocket after he catches her stealing food, but is stopped in time by Babydoll.
  • Author Avatar: Several of Sweet Pea's lines reflect Zack Snyder's view on the film.
    Zack Snyder: [Sweet Pea] says, "The dance should be more than just titillation; mine's personal," and that's exactly a comment on the movie itself. I think 90% are missing it or they just don't care. [...] The other line that I think is important is, as soon as the fantasy starts, there's that whole sequence where Sweet Pea breaks it down and says, "This is a joke, right? I get the sexy school girl and nurse thing, but what's this? A lobotomized vegetable? How about something more commercial?" That is basically my comment on the film as well. She's saying, "Why are you making this movie? You need to make a movie more commercial. It shouldn't be so dark and weird."
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: No matter how rough the combat, even getting tagged in the face by a robot, the girls never show cuts, bruises or anything. Of course, none of that was real.
  • Bedlam House: Lennox House. Mostly due to Blue. Madame Gorski wants to help as much as possible, though.
  • Belly Dancer: Blondie wears a belly dancer outfit during the cabaret performance night.
  • Between My Legs: The Mayor is framed by Amber's legs, and the Chef is framed by Babydoll's in the cyberpunk sequence.
  • BFG: The second Samurai's giant SMAW and Minigun. Amber's mini-mech has two autocannons.
  • Big Brother Instinct:
    • Sweet Pea towards Rocket, even arguing against their only means of escape due to a possibility of Rocket getting hurt.
    • Babydoll and her sister have this relationship too.
  • The Big Guy: Blondie, who, in the dream-world, is the most ruthless and ferocious, and carries the biggest weapons, and who presents a street-smart, tough personality in the brothel-world (ie: cheering on a fight between two other patients in her first scene, teaching Amber how to seduce people). Vanessa Hudgens has described her as "The Tough One". Also notable in the WWI fantasy - she uses a lot of hand-to-hand combat while the others rely on gunfire. In the castle fantasy Blondie is also in charge of the bigger guns on the plane.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Babydoll gets lobotomized and the rest of the crew is possibly dead, but Blue and likely Babydoll's step-father get punished, and Sweet Pea can start a new life outside the Lennox House.
    • Slightly sweeter in the Extended Cut, where the final scene before Babydoll is lobotomized has her meet the High Roller, only to have him turn out to be a warm, charming man. He tells her he doesn't want to "take" her and instead wants to know her, wants honesty and the person that she is and he'll give her all the freedom she could possibly have; the subtext is that Babydoll's Heroic Sacrifice is actually more rewarding, as she has finally escaped Lennox House in her own mind.
    • Also not as bittersweet if one accepts that none of the girls died in reality. Yes, they're still insane and in the Lennox House, but with Blue arrested, their tormentor is gone and they're left under the supervision of Dr. Gorski, who only wants to help them recover.
  • Black-and-White Morality: Babydoll's fantasy worlds have this. The girls themselves are good and everyone else is either allied with Blue or submissive to him. In the reality, things aren't as narrow.
  • The Blank: The robots guarding the bomb on the train.
  • Bloodless Carnage:
    • The blood in the movie is very sparse. Even when two orcs are thrown into a propeller.
    • Each type of mook has its own special blood substitute to spray out of their wounds: light, escaping steam, weird dust stuff - even the robots give off sparks.
    • Babydoll cradling her sister in the beginning of the film, and coming away with blood on her fingers.
    • Another: Immediately after the lobotomy, the lobotomist/High Roller drops the spike used into a dish of water; the camera cuts to a close-up and we see the blood swirling around and up. The shortage of blood up to that point makes it all the more chilling.
  • Bookends: The ending lines mirror the opening lines.
  • Boastful Rap: "I Want It All/We Will Rock You" mash-up features some of this sort of rap by Armageddon.
  • Boyish Short Hair: Inverted. Rocket is the only girl with short hair but she is The Heart and falls into Damsel in Distress status more than once.
  • Brought Down to Normal: The girls, whenever one of the "dance" segments ends. Most of the genuine conflict in the movie occurs in the brothel and the asylum. Despite the gratuitous action scenes, the audience only sees blood in the asylum.
  • But You Were There, and You, and You: Everyone in the brothel fantasy is someone who Babydoll knows in the asylum. The other patients are the whores, Blue and his fellow orderlies are the pimp and his crew, Dr Gorski is the madam, the security guard is the mayor and the lobotomy surgeon is the High Roller. On a more Mind Screw level, Wiseman turns out to be a friendly bus driver, while the boy in the WWI fantasy that Sweet Pea looks at is a fellow passenger.
  • The Caligula: Blue. He works in a Bedlam House, but is maybe the least sane guy. He shows signs of schizophrenia, delusions of grandeur, and violent mood swings.
  • Call-Back: The whole movie calls back and forward to itself, starting from "Everyone has an angel. A guardian who watches over us. We can't know what form they'll take. One day, old man. Next day, little girl" and ending with "Who chains us? And who holds the key to set us free? It's you. You have all the weapons you need. Now fight!"
  • Catchphrase: Wiseman has "Oh, yeah. One more thing ... "
  • Chekhov's Armoury: While she is brought into Lennox House, Babydoll catches sight of the four items that she needs to escape.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Blue arranges Babydoll's lobotomy and forges the paperwork in exchange for money from Babydoll's stepfather. Dr. Gorski never agreed to the operation and realizes her signature had been forged, and the police stop Blue from raping Babydoll post-lobotomy.
    • "Paradise" is mentioned throughout the film, usually as a place of escape. It happens to be the name of a nearby diner/bus station.
    • The gun briefly shown in Babydoll's stepfather's desk is the same gun she uses in her attempt to kill him — and also appears to be the same one that is her firearm of choice throughout the combat sequences.
    • Babydoll's sister has a pink stuffed rabbit. Amber's mecha has a pink rabbit drawn on it.
    • The spilt water was emphasized a couple of times before the radio shorts out from its wire getting wet when Babydoll is performing for the chef.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The High Roller is the doctor that performs Babydoll's lobotomy. Wiseman turns out to a be a sympathetic bus driver who provides Sweet Pea with an alibi to evade the police. The young British soldier that catches Sweet Pea's attention is one of the passengers of the bus she boards at the end the film.
  • Clueless Aesop / Lost Aesop: The argument about the perspectives and validity of these is quite contentious.
    • Feminism means acting like a whore.
    • Women die when they try to do manly things.
    • Baby is a doll and a babe and being turned on by her innocence is the director's fault, not the viewer's.
    • Boobies all over the place and all of the Fanservice means Sucker Punch is a comic book film.
    • Trying to escape is bad.
    • There is no such thing as sacrifice for a bigger cause.
    • Blue gets away with everything that he did.
    • Some more perspectives.
    • It's okay to blame a director for being turned on by a movie about women being borderline raped most of the time in a way which is never shown on screen.
    • It's okay to exploit women if you say that isn't your intention.
  • Color Wash: The opening sequence and all asylum scenes are supersaturated with shades of gray and light blue, creating a depressing atmosphere. The bordello fantasy is intentionally bright, even garish, and the action sequences features a rich palette of impossible, unnatural colors.
  • Combat Parkour: The main character, nicknamed Babydoll, uses this technique mainly to dodge the knives and swords of her imaginary opponents.
  • Cool Big Sis:
    • Sweet Pea, who looks out for and protects her sister Rocket and the rest of the group, even though she hates all their plans.
    • Babydoll is clearly this to her sister too.
  • Cool Old Guy: The Wiseman in all incarnations.
  • Cool Plane: The B-25, which has the stock propeller on one wing and a turbojet hanging on the other.
  • Cool Train: In the sci-fi sequence, which is basically a Locomotive Level. It's also got a giant bomb cooking in the front car.
  • Cool Versus Awesome:
  • Creative Closing Credits: For end-credits we get a glitzy and colorful nightclub duet between Blue and Dr. Gorski.
  • Curse Cut Short: Twice.
    Amber: Son of a- [gunshots]!
    Blondie: Eat that, you ugly mother- [gunshots]!
  • Cutlery Escape Aid: One of the things Babydoll and her friends steal when planning their escape is a kitchen knife from the chef. Though Rocket gets stabbed to death in the attempt, or maybe she's still alive in the asylum, it's ambiguous.
  • Cyberpunk: The train sequence.

  • Damsel in Distress: Rocket at several points where she needs saving by Babydoll or Sweet Pea.
  • Deconstruction: Of many Action Girl and any Male Gaze tropes. It's written more for a female's perspective, exploring how woman lose themselves in these Action Girl characters and the audience reacts in a male gaze sense.
  • Decoy Protagonist: It turns out that Sweet Pea is the true protagonist of the story, while Babydoll is only the means to help her escape the asylum. Sweet Pea's first lines are a plea to Madame Gorski in the brothel: "You gotta help me. I'm the star of the show, remember?" However, due to the way the story is set up, Sweet Pea is really only the "true" protagonist if you, the viewer, want her to be.
  • Dedication: To Marsha Snyder, the director's mother.
  • Diegetic Switch: Whenever they turn on a radio or a tape player for Babydoll to have music to dance to, it always does this with the shift into the fantasy sequences. Also inverted a few times.
  • Dodge the Bullet: As Babydoll is closing in on the German courier, she uses her katana to parry the bullets he fires at her.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Surprisingly enough, Blue claims to not like guns...Right after murdering Blondie and Amber with one.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Emily Browning contributed three songs in the soundtrack, while Oscar Isaac and Carla Gugino performed a duet.
  • Doom Troops: The German zombie troops in gas masks in the trench warfare sequence.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Three or four ways the title can be seen:
    • A cynical look at Male Gaze (a sucker punch to the audience) and its effects on women in real life.
    • The sucker punch which comes to Baby Doll as the catalyst and finale of the movie.
    • The sucker punch Baby Doll applies to the asylum.
    • In the director's cut, the sucker punch is that the High Roller is quite careful and does care about these women's welfare.
  • Doublethink:
    • The entire story run on this, as the character(s) live simultaneously in two or sometimes even three different levels of realities, requiring quite a bit of multitasking from the audience if they are to have any real clue as to what's going on.
    • Babydoll did help Sweet Pea to escape in the real world. This means that she must have been active in all three realities simultaneously, and accomplishing real deeds while trapped within a dream within a show within a hallucination.
  • Dream Within a Dream: The most accurate way to succinctly describe this movie. A Fantasy (Blue's) featuring Dreams/Visions (Baby Doll's) of a story. Sweet Pea is telling it to us.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Amber and Blondie are suddenly shot by Blue with no warning, and the movie rather quickly moves on to Babydoll stealing the key and the beginning of the escape.
  • Dude, She's Like in a Coma: Blue's plan for Babydoll after the High Roller deals with her. Subverted in that he's put off by the creepy vibes Babydoll gives off post-lobotomy.
  • Dull Surprise: Justified, considering the immense pain and confusion Babydoll goes through in the movie. Babydoll's expression never really seems to change. It's like she's perpetually scared, in shock and horrified, even in the midst of her badassery. In the extended cut, she does show emotion in the scene with the High Roller. She does show some great "Fuck You/Don't you Dare" faces at Blue whenever he tries anything with her too. She also smiles while "killing" the robots.
  • Dwindling Party: We have five girls but ultimately. Blondie is technically the first to go, not taking part in the fourth mission. Then Rocket gets stabbed by the cook. Amber and Blondie are shot by Blue. Babydoll then sacrifices herself to allow Sweet Pea to escape.
  • Escapism: The nested fantasy worlds. Invoked with the entire film, according to Snyder.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Blue's cohorts in the asylum world protest over Blue's plans to rape post-lobotomy Babydoll, saying that they're "done hurting these girls."
  • Every Helicopter Is a Huey: In the fantasy world where the girls try to defuse a bomb on a speeding train, they do it from a Huey.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Only Blue and Gorski live by their real names, everybody else has nick names, code names, and otherwise.
  • Everything's Better with Samurai: In a Shout-Out to Terry Gilliam's Brazil (in which the main character also has escapist dreams), Baby Doll duels a 10 feet tall samurai, then two more appear to fight her.
  • Eye Scream: The lobotomy. Hell, just that damned poster on the wall.
  • Faceless Goons: German zombies in gas masks, fantasy knights in face-covering helmets, and mirror-faced robots. The samurai tengu/oni things have no faces to speak of, but their masks give them distinct appearances. Averted with the orcs, but aside from several shots, the camera doesn't focus on them long enough to get a real good look at their faces most of the time.
  • Fading into the Next Song: Used on the soundtrack between "Tomorrow Never Knows"-"Where Is My Mind?"-"Asleep".
  • Fanservice:
    • Zig-zagged, Zack's had something to say on its usage:
      Zack Snyder: Do you not get the metaphor there? The girls are in a brothel performing for men in the dark. In the fantasy sequences, the men in the dark are us. The men in the dark are basically me; dorky sci-fi kids.
    • One interpretation: those seeking fanservice will find fanservice, and those open to deconstruction will see that as well.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: The action hallucinations seem to take place in one of these as beings ranging from orcs to zombies exist there. As they're entirely within someone else's mind...well there are no rules.
  • Fat Bastard:
    • The Chef. Rapist, slimebag, accidental murderer.
    • Babydoll's stepfather. Rapist, Gold Digger and total scum.
  • Feminist Fantasy: There is a bucketload of fantasy/alternative universes in this movie and it does have an inner empowering to women theme: "You have all the weapons you need. Now fight."
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Before this whole thing, they never even knew each other, then they fight for the right to be treated humanely.
  • First-Person Peripheral Narrator: By all means, Babydoll is the one driving the plot. But as discussed on Decoy Protagonist, she decides Sweet Pea is the main character and lets her be the one who escapes the asylum.
  • Fix Fic: Many fanfics have Babydoll surviving the lobotomy with memories, or avoiding it altogether. There are also a few with Rocket surviving being stabbed (which is understandable since it was never shown where she was stabbed and may not have been a fatal injury, and Word of God actually states that none of the girls died in reality).
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The words Wiseman gives are full of it, the most obvious example being the "One more thing" he tells the girls to do/remember before each mission. They always fail to follow his advice and it always causes them to come close to failure.
    • When in the real world, Blue calls Babydoll's stepfather "Father"; once we transition to the brothel, he is a priest.
    • The opening lines:
      Narrator: Everyone has an angel, a guardian who watches over us. We can't know what form they'll take. One day, old man. Next day, a little girl. But don't let appearances fool you. They can be fierce as any dragon, yet they're not here to fight our battles, but to whisper from our heart, reminding that it's us. It's every one of us who holds the power over the worlds we create. We can deny our angels exist, convince ourselves they can't be real. But they show up anyway in strange places and at strange times. They can speak through any character we can imagine. They'll shout through demons if they have to, daring us, challenging us to fight.
    • When Babydoll is admitted, she sees the four objects needed in the fantasy.
    • The first "dance" acted out by Sweet Pea is Babydoll's lobotomy, which she stops because she doesn't think it is sexy. She removed her Babydoll wig to reveal that she is sitting in the lobotomy chair, suggesting that she is the protagonist. Also, her line about a lobotomized vegetable not being sexy comes back in the end, when post-lobotomy, Blue is too freaked out by creepy Babydoll to find her sexy. invoked
    • The titles of the songs give away a number of details, starting with "Sweet Dreams" and finishing with "Where is My Mind?".
    • The first fantasy begins with Bjrk's "Army of Me."
    • The simple way the therapy/social room in the mental asylum is simply called a "theater", alluding to what the girls end up doing in the brothel.
    • There is a painted dragon on the wall in one of the bordello rooms opposite the one Rocket takes Babydoll to.
    • Blue says "it's quite a show" when Dr. Gorski works her magic with the patients in the institution.
    • The knife Babydoll steals from the Chef and later uses to stab Blue conspicuously lands at Amber's feet when the dance ends, and then vanishes when Blue and the others arrive moments later.
    • Babydoll's katana is engraved with a symbolic retelling of the whole movie, with images such as bullets, straitjackets, airplanes and a skull being lobotomized.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Sweet Pea is the older, responsible one and Rocket is the irresponsible one, in Babydoll's imagined fantasy. To the point that Rocket ran away from home even though their situation wasn't a very bad one and Sweet Pea followed her to make sure she'd be okay, which lands them in a brothel.
  • Four Is Death: When the five girls are reduced to four bad things starts to happen on succession. Ultimately, only one of the girls made it out of the Bedlam House.
  • French Maid: Amber wears a French maid outfit during the cabaret performance night.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: The German soldiers in the trenches and zombies sequence.
  • Genre-Busting: The movie is a complete Mind Screw that folds together Bedlam House escape drama and over-the-top sequences from the following genres:
  • Genre Roulette: Soundtrack, movie itself, characters roles in aforementioned movie and everything else is ever evolving to what we finally realize is an extensive story with multiple take aways.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Babydoll, rockin' them at age 20.
  • Glasses Pull: Both Blue and Doctor Gorski put on reading glasses to take a closer look at some important detail, just before discovering something very important.
  • Gorn: Surprisingly averted. Aside from Legend Of The Guardians The Owls Of Ga Hoole, most Snyder films kick the gibs-level into high gear. Here, all you have are chopping up robots and shooting steam powered WWI era German soldier zombies. Instead of blood, when they're shot they release the steam that allows them to move. Even in the Castle Storming sequence (when two Orcs are tossed into a propeller, and a dragon's throat is slit) bloodshed is minimal.
  • Great Escape: The story happening behind the fantasy sequences is the girls assembling everything they need to escape from the hospital.
  • Grimmification: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in the form of a PG-13-rated action movie? Yeah, sounds about right.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Babydoll is a sweet, innocent and self-sacrificing blonde, if a bit insane.
  • Hair-Raising Hare: That creepy rose bunny face on the mecha.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: Used for dramatic purposes in their extended version of "Sweet Dreams" within the soundtrack and therefore the movie.
  • The Heart: Rocket, who exhibits an emotional personality-type and is determined to hold the girls together.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: "The fifth thing is a mystery ... Only you can find it."
  • Hermit Guru: The Wiseman's first incarnation.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Rocket does it for Sweet Pea, shown both in the hallucination fantasy and in the "real" world fantasy—she makes Sweet Pea leave and stays on the train when the bomb explodes, and she takes the knife for Sweet Pea when the Chef tries to stab her.
    • The fifth item to escape the asylum is a mystery that will require "great sacrifice" but will provide "perfect victory." It turns out that Babydoll is the sacrifice in order to allow Sweet Pea to escape.
  • Hospital Hottie: Jon Hamm and Carla Gugino provide cross-gender appeal.
  • Human Cannonball: Two orcs attack the girls' plane by launching themselves from a catapult.
  • Humongous Mecha: There's one with a giant bunny rabbit face painted on the front and piloted by Amber.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Blue saying that he Does Not Like Guns after shooting two girls in the head.
  • I Just Want to Be Free: Babydoll and the rest of the girls want to escape the asylum and regain their freedom. Ironically, the one thing Babydoll was running from — her lobotomy — is revealed to be her "freedom" in the end.
  • Imaginary Friend: In some interpretations. The girls are confirmed to be real, but how real their friendship was is open to interpretation.
  • Imagine Spot: All the action sequences. The cabaret as well... possibly.
  • Informed Ability: Because all of Babydoll's dance scenes segue into her crazy action imaginations, we have only other characters' reactions to support the conclusion that she could dance the pants off the High Roller. This could be a metaphor for what was really happening or alternatively giving up the dancing to give way to a more empowering vision. The effect that the dances have on the watchers is represented by the gratuitous action sequences.
  • The Ingenue: Subverted with Babydoll. Asylum inmates deem her at first to be very docile, naive, and immature. However, Babydoll has much more spunk and intelligence than most ingenue heroines, and it eventually shows. See Seemingly-Wholesome '50s Girl below. Blondie is also convinced Babydoll's not a virgin.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: The fantasy action sequences are a metaphor for working in a brothel; Babydoll's impending deflowerment in the brothel is a metaphor for the violence of the lobotomy that will be inflicted upon her in the asylum.
  • Ironic Echo: "You have all the weapons you need. Now fight." This is last said is only seconds after it has been revealed that Babydoll could have saved herself from the lobotomy at any time simply by informing the doctor that Blue intended to forge her signature. She knew this, but in her delusion she believed that Blue was running the place and that the doctor was powerless against him, or that she actually wanted it.
  • Ironic Nickname:
    • Blondie is a brunette.
    • Rocket's jetpack doesn't work.
    • Babydoll, age 20, is one of the more mature girls.
    • Sweet Pea is very cold towards the others.
    • Amber's name (in Gaelic) means "fierce". She's quite docile and submissive.
  • It Was with You All Along: The fifth item they need, but Baby doll doesn't tell them they need was in the team all along.

  • Katanas Are Just Better: Babydoll's signature weapon seems to be an impossibly sharp katana, which she uses as much as her gun...even against armed robots.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Blue. Ultimately subverted; Blue gets caught and Baby Daddy will likely get his comeuppance for his crimes against his stepdaughter, as Blue is heard swearing to the police that it's the stepfather at fault and that he'll tell them all about him and the money as he's dragged off.
    • Possibly played straight with the Chef. Aside from Blue screaming and beating him after he fatally stabs Rocket. Word of God says that none of the girls died in reality, but the movie leaves it open. invoked
  • The Lancer: Sweet Pea, the voice of caution and dissent.
  • Large Ham: Oscar Isaac as Blue, the head orderly and mafioso pimp.
  • The Leader: Babydoll, the leader and protagonist.
  • Lighter and Softer: At least as far as Zack Snyder's prior work with live action cinema, very little outright gore and is more internal/metaphorical than outright pushing the audience to their very limits, with disgust and outrage, if anything it's lighter and softer with its point than his prior live action movies.
  • Lobotomy: Babydoll is sent to a corrupt asylum and is scheduled to be lobotomized, which is what motivates her to make an escape plan. At the end she gives up her chance at freedom to let another girl escape, and ends up getting lobotomized.
  • Long Hair Is Feminine: Inverted. Blondie has the longest hair of the girls and she is the most tomboyish and fiery one.
  • Lovecraft Country: The asylum is located in Brattleboro, Vermont. Incidentally, Brattleboro is home to a famous mental hospital in Real Life as well, although its reputation is the exact opposite of the Bedlam House that Lennox House seems to be.
  • Made of Iron: Especially in Babydoll's first fight against the samurai, where she is smashed, dragged, and slammed several times by hulking Samurai — and still manages to decapitate them all. It is her fantasy though, so it isn't that unbelievable.
    • The German field commander shrugs off an entire bunker falling in on his head. He's implied to have undergone the same "treatment" as the soldiers, though.
    • The German courier shrugs off falling out of the sky and landing on his face against a trench wall.
  • Male Gaze:
    • Played with. Some parts like in the brothel occasionally it's all up there, but in the asylum and most of the "Dance" sequences it's kept to a minimum. The audience is meant to see it, so a subversion, except when you see it from "Blue's" point of view. May also be seen to zig-zag itself.
    • Also lampshaded as they are working an a strip club/brothel/burlesque club, but instead of it being just the accepted thing that the girls get stared at, the audience, if empathetic/sympathetic enough will be able to feel the women's uncomfortableness with the constant male gazes upon them.
  • Mama Bear: The mama dragon is not amused when the girls kill her child.
  • Mandatory Twist Ending: Zig-Zagged. Yes, it's all in Babydoll's head ... until it turns out she actually did everything for Sweet Pea to escape. And then it's heavily implied those weren't hallucinations when Sweet Pea comes across two people that only existed in Babydoll's hallucinations. They may have really been in Sweet Pea's imagination all along.
  • Market-Based Title: Was renamed to Angel Wars in Japan, perhaps because Babydoll is the "angel" who engages in battles.
  • Meaningful Background Event: You can see the demon samurai steadily approaching as the Wiseman first instructs Babydoll of her mission.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Babydoll's nickname seems more fitting after her lobotomy.
    • The name of the film itself: Sucker Punch! The one who would be saved by the plan isn't Babydoll! Anyone who came for the Fanservice is no different from the villains!
  • Mental Story: Is it all in someone's head, and if so, then whose?
  • Mind Screw: Very much so, and intentional given the nature of the film and its themes of inner heroism becoming outer strength. But when you have an Imagine Spot nested within another Imagine Spot...
  • Miss Kitty: Dr Gorski's brothel counterpart is imagined as this.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: At first, Dr. Gorski seems intimidating and wicked, but it turns out she's actively encouraging and helpful. In reality, she's been helpful from the start and calls the cops on Blue when she realizes he forged her signature to allow Babydoll's lobotomy.
  • Mixed Metaphor: Blue provides a doozy.
    Blue: A few bad eggs — led by one little egg in particular — have spit in the face of that generosity.
  • Molotov Cocktail: Baby Doll and Sweet Pea use one to start a fire so they can escape.
  • Mood Whiplash: All over the place, and especailly in the Director's Cut, where Babydoll meets the High Roller, and he is a charming gentleman, who she willingly begins to have sex with after he offers her the idea of the freedom within her own mind, only for a very lovely scene to be hard cut with the hammering of the spike as Babydoll is lobotomized. Earlier on there's the "Love Is A Drug" number showing the frivolity in the brothel, which abruptly cuts to the girls in bed looking troubled as they hear Baby Doll crying in the bathroom.
  • Mook Horror Show: Babydoll versus the last demon samurai, and later versus some German soldiers.
  • Mordor: The fantasy sequence takes place in a devastated volcano land with red burning skies. It's also full of Shout Outs to The Lord of the Rings, complete with fire-breathing dragons, orcs, and knights.
  • Motherly Scientist: Psychologist Dr. Gorski.
  • Mr. Exposition: Wiseman will always lay out the rules of each fantasy sequence (such as they exist), giving objectives as well as obstacles and limitations to Babydoll's basically limitless imagination.
  • Ms. Fanservice: A whole cast of them.
  • The Musketeer: All the girls except Amber, and to an extent Babydoll.
  • Naginatas Are Feminine: Inverted as the giant samurai uses the naginata and Babydoll is the Master Swordsman.
  • Naughty Nurse Outfit: Rocket's outfit includes a black nurse's cap, and her dance performance also has her and the backup dancers in nurse outfits. Blondie is also wearing nurse outfits alongside Rocket when we first meet them in the brothel.
  • Necessary Drawback:
  • Narrator All Along: Sweet Pea Who we open up with is not who we end with.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Despite the empowerment messages of the film, the trailers and TV spots generally focused on the "hot chicks in skimpy outfits" aspect. The marketing may have been a factor in the film's poor box office take and reception. They also played up all the Cyberpunk Actions scenes being the main focus of the movie. They most certainly weren't.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Babydoll's first action sequence features one of the gigantic samurai wielding a minigun, while the second pits the girls against Steampunk Gas Mask Mook zombies. The only enemies 'normal' in the sense of not being a combination that they fight would be the Knights and/or Orcs.
  • No Name Given: Almost none of the characters' real names are given, only nicknames.
  • Not Quite Dead: Apparently, none of the girls who died in the Cabaret world died in reality.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: The girls' enemies are never called samurai, zombies, or orcs — even if they totally are.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: All the girls wear a corset at least once.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: Sweet Pea's sword is made by CAS Iberia.
  • One-Woman Wail: Heard in the trailer. Featured in the soundtrack, except it's a sighing.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Almost none of the characters' real names are given, only nicknames.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: Particularly with the dragon fire.
  • Orderlies are Creeps: Blue, especially. The rest of the orderlies are simply ominous, and this gets hammered home in the real world — Blue tries to rape a brain dead Babydoll.
  • Playboy Bunny: A few of the background girls, particularly during the Mayor's scene.
  • Plot Armor: The Amazon Brigade appears to have this during the first three "dance" sequences. Justified in that the fantasy sequences metaphorically represent the successful execution of their plans. The Plot Armor appropriately drops in the fantasy for Rocket when she gets killed in the bordello reality, but not in the asylum according to Word of God.
  • Plot Coupons: The objects Babydoll needs to escape the asylum.
  • Poe's Law: This film suffered pretty hard from it. It was made as a dramatic satire of female exploitation and the male gaze in modern media, but was mistaken by many as an extreme example of female exploitation and male gaze.
  • The Power of Trust: The only way their plan can work is if they all trust each other while putting themselves at risk. Lampshaded by Wiseman who, during their first mission as a team, asks them to try and work together. Indeed, they fail to stick together (Rocket and Sweet Pea get separated, Babydoll and Blondie go for the map without the others, and Amber takes off on her own to take on the triplanes) and it almost ends badly for all of them. The one mission that they fail on? Blondie isn't with them, having confessed to Gorski and Blue about what was going on. Things rapidly deteriorate from there.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Blue has some hints of this, especially when he describes his job to Babydoll as being like a boy in a sandbox while everyone else gets to play with his "toys" shortly before he tries to rape her.
  • The Quiet One: Babydoll, who didn't say a single word until she rescued Rocket from the Chef and only speaks her mind as she gradually opens up to the rest of the girls and grows determined to escape the asylum. Babydoll goes the first twenty minutes of the film without speaking.

  • Rape and Revenge: In interpretations it could be seen as the "Stepfather" raping her and Blue trying to rape her allowed her to take revenge on the other males in the movie, except "Wiseman".
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: This is indicated in the Director's Cut with the reveal of the High Roller's intent. Likewise Blue's cronies try to stop him from raping Babydoll once she's been lobotomized.
  • Rated M for Manly: Deconstructed in that you have Girls with Guns in skimpy outfits battling in a High Fantasy/Steampunk/Cyberpunk setting, but the message is meant to be All Men Are Perverts.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Dr. Gorski, in both the real world and as the dance instructor-cum-madam. She seems to genuinely care for her charges' well-being in both incarnations.
    • The Wiseman in his bus driver incarnation.
  • Recurring Riff: There's a sighing woman who makes up most of the soundtrack, featured in "Sweet Dreams", "Where Is My Mind?", and "White Rabbit". This is Emily Browning's voice, taken from "Where is My Mind?" and mixed into the other songs.
  • Recut: An additional "Director's Cut" which makes certain intents of this movie more true.
  • Recycled In Space: According to Zack, it's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland WITH MACHINE GUNS! AND MECHA!
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The giant samurai's and gas-masked zombies' eyes glow red.
  • Red Herring:
    • Sweet Pea carries a longsword in a back sheath in all of the action scenes (not to mention her poster), but is only seen using it in the Director's Cut.
    • Babydoll being the protagonist of the story. It's really Sweet Pea.
  • Refusal of the Call: When Babydoll proposes that they try and escape, Sweet Pea is the only girl in the group who openly opposes the plan, mostly because she fears for Rocket's safety.
  • The Reveal: The High Roller's scene in the director's cut explains the movie in full detail and drives the point home.
  • Revised Ending: This Director's Cut features the High Roller scene which drastically alters the interpretation of the movie.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Blondie snitches on the girls and is killed by Blue because he doesn't like snitches, even saying a variant of the common phrase "snitches get stitches."
  • Rule of Cool: Hotties with guns, badass samurai, firebreathing dragons, potentially epic action scenes. Pretty standard formula.
  • Rule of Sexy: Invoked with all the girls' outfits. They are ridiculously impractical for all the fighting they do, but damn if they don't look good in them.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Guys with red eyes who get them shot out, in a mental asylum which could be as bad as any brothel, weapons/fighting for your right to live and be free, literally and figuratively, every foreshadowing moment listed above, "creatures in the dark" trying to dehumanize the girls, who in turn destroy them ... And that's is just the very, very beginning.
  • The Runaway: Rocket's back story. Sweet Pea voluntarily went after her.
  • Runaway Train: One of the sequences has the girls attempting to steal a nuclear bomb guarded by robots off a runaway train.
  • Sailor Fuku: Babydoll wears the characteristic sailor schoolgirl uniform worn in Japan.
  • Say My Name: Rocket and Sweet Pea, when they're separated by the mooks in the WWI trenches; Rocket screams for Sweet Pea while barely fending off overwhelming numbers and Sweet Pea is yelling Rocket's name trying to get to her.
  • Schizo Tech: One sequence features WWI Tommies with their Lee-Enfields, bayonets, and Lewis guns fighting steam-powered zombie Germans with Mausers and Maxims, while bi/triplanes duel around giant zeppelins overhead. Into this, drop our protagonists, using, among other things, an M4 carbine, an MP5 SMG, and an M249 LMGnote , all with modern accessories, and a Mini-Mecha with a computerized display. Oh, plus Rocket's flintlocks. The sequence afterward features the girls using a B-25 against a castle being besieged by knights, and the sequence after that has them using a Huey on a distant planet against a rocket train with robots with laser weaponry.
  • Seemingly-Wholesome '50s Girl: All of the girls actually.
  • Shown Their Work: In this fantasy movie you will see better, more tactical use of firearms than in any Syfy Channel original movie about or including the military. The girls keep their rifles on their shoulders, roll in their steps rather than bouncing, and never cross lines of fire when clearing a room (and clearing the room they went from cover to cover, interlocking fields of fire). The firearms savvy troper will recognize EoTech holographic sites, historically accurate firearms (even the Samurai's 20mm version minigun), and a suppressed M4. Even handling a semi-automatic firearm, Baby Doll only crosses her thumbs in back once, but with hands that tiny it's believable she didn't catch the Colt Hammer Bite (when the slide comes back in the cycling of the action and cleaves any flesh in its way). Also, after they clear the first room in the castle, Rocket signals to Sweet Pea (who is covering the stairs leading away from the room and thus not looking back at the others behind her) that they're ready to move on by giving her a pat. Of course, in real life, one pats the shoulder, not the ass.
  • The Smart Guy: Amber, who's in charge of transport in the dream-world, and who's shy, timid demeanor in the brothel-world (ie: nervousness about seducing the mayor) is common for this role.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: It shares a lot in common and directly conflicts with Fight Club as such.note 
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • It's virtually impossible to talk about this film without bringing up Inception, with its use of multiple dream layers to screw with audience's perceptions.
    • There are some similarities to Bridge to Terabithia which also featured characters creating a fantasy world as escapism from their tormentors in the real world. Amusingly enough both movies suffered from Misaimed Marketing, where the fantasy aspects were played up and trailers mistakenly advertised them as straight up adventures.
  • Stealth Parody:
  • Stock Scream: In the dragon dream, the dragon crashes into the stone bridge after Amber pulled off a daredevil maneuver to have the bomber pass between the bridge's pillars. The dragon then starts roasting soldiers on the bridge, and someone lets a Wilhelm Scream out.
  • Stocking Filler: Rocket is shown wearing black garters.
  • Stripperiffic: Played with. The skimpiest outfits only appear in the action sequences. They're sexy but not as extreme as most examples, and being able to move about in them is justified by it being Babydoll's fantasy. The brothel costumes are similarly skimpy because...well, it's a brothel. When not performing and in the mental hospital, the girls' outfits are more modest.
  • Sword and Gun: Babydoll's choice of weapons are a katana and an M1911.
  • Sword Drag: The first Tengu in the Japan hallucination, with its Naginata.
  • Tagline: "You will be unprepared" and "Reality is a prison".
  • Take That, Audience!: Zack Snyder intended to punish the audience for sexualizing the characters.
  • Taking the Bullet: Rocket took the knife so Sweet Pea could live.
  • Three-Point Landing: In the action scenes, the girls use it often, for example when they land in the courtyard of the orc castle.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Somebody is mad, but who?
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Played straight several times, but averted twice. Once with Babydoll doing the throwing (but it distracts the Oni long enough to get shot in the face) and then in the Steampunk World War I sequence the German commander throws his at her and she jumps over it.
  • Train Job: The last "dance".
  • Trapped in Another World: Played with. The place that they are trapped in is in the real world. However, if the asylum itself is viewed as "another world," then it's played straight. They travel to alternate universes, battling fantastic creatures, in order to get the magic key and finally go home.
  • True Blue Femininity: The Lennox hospital dress for its all-female population is colored blue.
  • Trope Trigger: Each sequence of But You Were There, and You, and You is triggered by playing music so Babydoll can dance.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Who is the narrator, what is symbolism, what is metaphor, what is dream, and who's perspective is the camera taking visual wise also falls into "Switching P.O.V." to a degree?
  • The Unreveal: Whose story is it?
  • Villainous Crush: Blue for Babydoll.
  • Walking Armory: All of the girls except for Babydoll carry at least two firearms and a melee weapon of varying size, which wouldn't be out of the ordinary if those firearms weren't two long guns instead of a rifle and a handgun. Sweet Pea for instance wields an M4 carbine as her primary and has a pump gun and a longsword sheathed across her back. Blondie opts for a (comparatively) huge M249 light machine gun, an MP5K as backup and a hatchet for melee combat.
  • Who Writes This Crap?!: Sweet Pea's meta takedown of the film's plot, as noted in Foreshadowing and Author Avatar:
    Sweet Pea: This is a joke, right? I get the sexy little schoolgirl. I even get the helpless mental patient, right? That can be hot. But what is this? Lobotomized vegetable? How about something a little more commercial, for God's sakes?
  • World of Action Girls: All of the women are asskickers, except the psychologist.
  • Wrongfully Committed: Baby Doll is institutionalized by her abusive stepfather; he intends to have her lobotomized so she cannot tell the authorities about his involvement in her sister's death.
  • Yandere: Blue is this in spades to do with his The Caligula persona.
  • You Bastard!: Zack Snyder says he intended for the movie to highlight certain perverts' nature, show that they can be changed, and demonstrate that women are more than bodies. Sweet Pea expresses this as the Author Avatar, which is further shown by the High Roller.
  • You Cannot Kill An Idea: The plan, despite the sacrifices of the girls, works out.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: All but said by Blue in regards to one of the girls.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Outright stated a couple of times.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: The girls ALMOST get everything they need, but one thing is missing...
    • In the temple fantasy, Babydoll gets the information she needs but then has to defend herself against giant samurai monsters.
    • In the WWI fantasy, they have the man with the map cornered...but he escapes with the map into a Zeppelin.
    • In the castle fantasy, they have the stones to make fire...until the dragon's mother shows up.
    • In the train fantasy, the bomb is defused...but gets reactivated by a robot they missed.

"You have all the weapons you need. fight."


Video Example(s):


Sucker Punch - three point landing

The girls jumping out of a plane onto the battle field where they all land with an awesome three-point land.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / ThreePointLanding

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