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Film / Victor Frankenstein

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"You know this story. The crack of lightning. A mad genius. An unholy creation. The world, of course, remembers the monster, not the man. But sometimes, when you look closely, there's more to a tale. Sometimes the monster is the man."
Igor Straussman

Victor Frankenstein is a 2015 drama-horror-period film starring Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy, directed by Paul McGuigan and written by Max Landis. It is very loosely based on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein novel.

It is the early 1860s in Victorian London. Igor Straussman is a hunchback who is rescued by Victor Frankenstein, and Igor becomes Victor's protégé. Together, they engage in scientific research to discover the secret to immortality, but as Victor descends further and further into madness, their experiments lead to terrible and terrifying consequences.

You can watch the more light-hearted USA trailer here and the darker, more serious UK trailer here.

This film provides examples of:

  • Abled in the Adaptation: An invoked and justified example; Igor in the movie isn't a conventional hunchback, it's just that an extremely developed abscess on his back forces him to constantly bend over until it was his primary pose. Victor drains it and gives him a brace so that his figure can return to a more conventional one.
  • Adaptational Nationality:
    • In the novel, Victor is Swiss, but James McAvoy's character is an Englishman. This is par for the course with most Frankenstein adaptations.
    • Ditto for Victor's father as portrayed by Charles Dance, an actor who excels at British Stuffiness.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In most adaptations of the work, the Monster is generally given a good degree of sympathy and tragedy, making him a sort of tragic antagonist who becomes bitter and murderous after being shunned by his creator and humanity in general. Not so with "Prometheus" in the film, who is shown to be nothing more than a mindless killing machine devoid of sentience and is quickly destroyed by its creators.
  • Adapted Out: Elizabeth is nowhere to be seen, along with the rest of the Frankenstein family (save for Victor's father, who appears briefly). Instead, Igor is given the Love Interest in the form of Lorelei. Also, given the nature of the narrative, De Lacey and everyone else the Creature interacted with is cut.
  • Addled Addict: The real Igor Strausman is a morphine addict who dies from an overdose.
  • Age Lift: While this movie's Victor is a medical student, he's older than his book counterpart—the latter is in his 20s, but James McAvoy was 34-35 years old during principal photography. While the actor is Older Than They Look when clean-shaven, he always grows a beard for roles which require him to diminish his boyish appearance, so it indicates that his character is meant to be in his early 30s.
  • All There in the Script: Finnegan's engineer is named Dettweiler, but you wouldn't know that from watching the movie. Heck, most viewers didn't even notice that Finnegan had an engineer in his employ—presumably, Mark Gatiss' important scenes were removed from the theatrical release.
  • Ambition Is Evil:
    • Victor is corrupted by his desire to become the first scientist who can turn death into a temporary condition.
    • Finnegan (who at one point even says, "I like this ambition") wishes for his family to be in control of the new and powerful technology that Victor is working on.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Inspector Turpin loses a hand when Frankenstein shoves it into a generator. We see later that it has been replaced by a wooden one.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Victor's "Lazarus Fork" device, which is made out of a secret alloy that turns electricity into Life Energy, and the electrified preservative gel that keeps tissue reasonably fresh and aids the Fork's energy.
  • Artificial Human: Victor proclaims to Igor that they will create a man after their own image. The process involves stitching together dead body parts and reanimating the corpse with lightning.
  • Artificial Zombie: Well it is a Frankenstein movie. In any case, the creatures Victor's machine revives are invariably berserk killers.
  • As You Know: Finnegan uses "As you're aware" when he reminds Frankenstein that he's from the third-richest family in England.
  • Badass Bookworm: As demonstrated by Victor's confrontations with the attackers at the circus and with Inspector Turpin (who is habituated to dealing with hardened criminals), Frankenstein can defend himself in a pinch even though he's a scientist, not a combatant.
  • Balancing Death's Books: Victor's motivation for creating life. He and his brother got caught in a blizzard one night, and Henry died. He seems to think the monster at the climax is him.
  • The Beard: Lorelei becomes this to her benefactor, Baron Bomine. She explains to Igor that she is the man's consort in public, which clearly upsets Igor, until she assures him that the fellow prefers the company of men.
  • Blatant Lies: After Inspector Turpin turns up at Frankenstein's asking questions about the "chimpanzee" incident at the hospital, Frankenstein starts making up an off-the-wall story about his and Igor's research, which involves cultivating primitive belief systems in chimps through behavioural cues. Needless to say, Turpin doesn't remotely believe him.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Finnegan not only tries to kill Igor in a needlessly complicated and ineffective way, but helpfully explains his further plans and motivations while doing so.
  • Brainy Brunet: Applies to both Victor (who has undergone formal education) and Igor (who is self-taught); they are both well-versed in human anatomy.
  • British Stuffiness: Roderick Turpin and Victor's father are stern Englishmen.
  • Byronic Hero: Victor possesses many classic traits of this trope: he's very intelligent, handsome, self-absorbed, emotionally volatile, tormented by his past, his beliefs (which he considers to be morally superior) clash with society's, and he's extremely stubborn. The single-minded pursuit of his goals becomes detrimental to both his mental health and his friendship with Igor.
  • The Cameo:
    • Charles Dance has a short scene as Victor's father.
    • Mark Gatiss is barely noticeable as Finnegan's engineer. If an earlier version of the script is anything to go by, his character's scenes were left on the cutting room floor.
  • Canon Foreigner:
  • Captain Obvious: After Victor fixes his back, Igor says that he's not at the circus anymore and that he's standing up at least twice. Frankenstein seems confused and faintly annoyed by Igor saying such obvious things, but Igor is simply so shell-shocked at the sudden changes in his life that he can't keep from repeating them.
  • Cassandra Truth: Pretty much everything Turpin figures out about Frankenstein and Igor is completely true, especially after the unsanctioned break-in at their home. Unfortunately for him, it's right about that point that the Chief Inspector decides Turpin's going crazy.
  • Character Title: For several months, this film was listed as Igor on IMDb, but the studio changed it to Victor Frankenstein in Dec. 2014.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Igor never bothers to ask Frankenstein where he got the eyeballs he was experimenting with. It later becomes apparent that it might have been a good question to ask.
    • The pocketwatch that Victor is reluctant to lend Igor at the circus later turns out to be a very important factor in Victor's Backstory and Character Arc.
  • Circus Brat: Igor has never known life outside of the circus until Victor frees him from servitude.
  • Circus of Fear: The circus where Igor lived is frightening: Igor was beaten by his colleagues and the ringmaster considers him as a slave. When Igor tries to escape with the help of Frankenstein, the whole staff tries to catch them at all costs.
  • The Confidant: Lorelei is this for Igor, as she's the only person with whom he can candidly share his concerns regarding Victor's experiments. Subverted in the case of Igor to Victor however, as although they become close and Victor is thrilled to have someone to share his research with, he's careful just how much of said research he shares and doesn't hesitate to hide things until he feels it's appropriate to reveal them. Victor also plays personal business very close to his flowery waistcoat, leaving Igor to figure out that his brother is dead.
  • Creating Life Is Bad: Lorelei has her reservations about what Victor and Igor are trying to accomplish, and she tells the latter, "There is a difference between using a machine to restore life wrongly lost, and to create something that was never supposed to exist." Later on, Igor complains about being chased by the monsters that he and Victor have brought back to life.
  • Curse Cut Short: Not actually profanity, but the audio shifts discreetly when Frankenstein gets a bit too detailed in his explanation of artificial insemination.
    Victor: And then we take the tube and shove it up your (audio fades to give focus to Igor's introspection).
  • The Dandy: Finnegan's family is the third-richest in England, so his wardrobe is noticeably fancier in a Simple, yet Opulent way and more expensive than the rest of the cast's.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: In an unusual variation, this is done accidentally. When Igor impersonates Igor Strausman, he has no idea that the latter is dead. Of course, Victor knew that his flatmate had overdosed on morphine...
  • Disappointed in You: Victor's well-respected father is ashamed of his son for numerous reasons, the latest one being Victor's expulsion from the Royal College of Medicine because he had been neglecting schoolwork for his own experiments with creating life.
  • Disapproving Look: This is Victor's father permanent expression while he admonishes his wayward son.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The abscess-draining scene is more than a little suggestive.
    Victor: This is going to hurt just a little bit.
  • Dr. Frankenstein: The titular character is the protagonist, rescuing Igor from his former job at the circus and having him become his Number Two. With the latter's help and expertise in anatomy and physiology, they begin coming up with the ideas and methods to ressurrect the dead, ultimately culminating in Frankenstein's Monster.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • When Lorelei falls from the trapeze early in the film, Igor rushes to her side. Victor isn't far behind, but gives a very blunt prognosis of her chances for survival given his lack of instruments, while Igor quickly figures out a workaround. Thus we know that Victor, while not opposed to helping others, is rather callous, and Igor is very inspired when it comes to medical solutions.
    • Turpin, having heard the Circus performers' (biased) account of a hunchback and an accomplice having robbed the circus and murdered a performer during their escape, quickly figures out the story is bunk and reconstructs what actually happened, showing that he's very, very good at police work. It is only later in the film that we discover his Fatal Flaw.
  • Evil Brit: Finnegan has sinister motives when he agrees to fund Victor's research.
  • Eye Scream: Downplayed and played straight. Inspector Turpin has his eye damaged by sparks, but the damage is relatively minor, appearing as only a small cloudy spot in his right eye. He wears an eye patch a couple of times after, but removes it later. However, the eyeless sockets of Strausman's corpse after Victor gauged its eyes out for experimentation are a lot more horrifying.
  • Fatal Flaw:
    • For Victor, it's Pride and Ambition, disregarding the concerns of others due to his overconfidence that he knows better (despite not having finished medical school).
    • For Turpin, it's his obsession with how Victor's work violates the natural order of things, and his inability to take a step back and let go of the case (which he lacks the legal grounds to pursue).
  • Foregone Conclusion: Lampshaded by Igor's narration right before everything goes sideways in the climax.
    Igor: You already know this story.
  • Foreshadowing: Victor mentions to Igor, "I had a... have a flatmate..." Said flatmate turns up dead in his basement much later.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: This is the first adaptation where the Creature only has a small role in the story.
  • The Freakshow: Victor rescues Igor from a life of humiliation as a circus clown and freak.
  • Freudian Excuse: This film gives Frankenstein the excuse of accidentally having been the cause of his brother Henry's death as his driving motivation to create life at any cost.
  • Friend-or-Idol Decision: During the debacle at the hospital, Igor ends up hanging desperately off of the side of the great circular staircase, with a long drop beneath him and Gordon clinging to his back and clawing at him. When Frankenstein arrives, he is far more interested in Gordon, and grabs hold of him first, while a frightened Igor snaps at Frankenstein to help him instead. Victor doesn't.
  • Gilligan Cut/Smash Cut: When Igor expresses apprehension about his ability to fit in at a high-society club, Victor says that all Igor needs to do is keep his back straight, his words clean, and to try not to embarrass him. The very next shot?
    Drunk!Victor: BABIES GROWN IN VATS! (slams the table)
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: The costume designer should be commended because virtually every Victorian-era outfit is beautiful.
  • Grave Robbing: Detective Inspector Turpin suspects Victor and Igor have stolen body parts.
  • Haunted Castle: A Frankenstein movie wouldn't be complete without one; the Scottish castle which belongs to Finnegan's family is located on the edge of a seaside cliff, and it looks rather grim and spooky during a nighttime lightning storm. It also happens to be the site where a Mad Scientist brings to life Frankenstein's Monster.
  • He Knows Too Much: Why Finnegan decides to off Igor.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Igor and Victor are close, but their friendship is an unhealthy one, and it's especially harmful for Igor. As James McAvoy puts it:
    McAvoy: These two guys [...] have such a good time together, and as an audience, I think you want them to be together. It's exciting, they have all these adventures [...], that's half the time. The other half the time, [...] if you ever wanted to see Daniel Radcliffe utterly abused, and beaten up, and hurt, and embarrassed, and just manipulated by me, then that's your movie. So half the time the audience is like, "Aww, these guys are great together," and the other half the time, they go, "Please Dan, run away now!"
  • Hollywood Atheist: Victor is contemptuous of religion, and he sees it as an obstacle to scientific progress.
    Victor: By God, you say. Inspector, I have to inform you that you're currently in the home of rational, free-thinking men. To violate it or my research would require a proper, legal warrant, and God has no authority here.
    Turpin: Tread lightly, sir. You may insult me, but you impune our Lord at your peril. I should remind you that life is a sacred creation.
    Victor: Are you a police officer, or are you a theologian? Let me tell you something for nothing. Life, I'll say this very slowly, is merely the application and outcome of applied chemistry. [...] this experiment, which you imagine took place, may very well discredit your own primitive belief system! Yes, uncover what you will about me, Inspector. Men like you have always stood in the way of progress, and they have invariably been left forgotten in its wake!
    • He also denies the existence of God explicitly.
      Victor: There is no Satan, no God, only humanity. ONLY ME!
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Paul McGuigan described Igor's and Victor's relationship as a love story at the SDCC panel.
  • Hypocrite: Victor Frankenstein has no respect or love for any men with positions of authority over him, due primarily to the death of his respected and beloved older brother. That event is implied to have soured his opinion of his distant father, and anybody who might remind him of his father (like, say, the professors of his university, or the Abrahamic God). He goes to great lengths to denounce all of these men, proclaiming that he is what he is, and not what they have made him to be. And yet, when he is in a position to exercise the same sort of authority over Igor and the Monster, he abuses them in exactly the same way he had been abused. It's only when he looks into the Monster's eyes and sees nothing that Victor realizes the depth of this error, and even then he's still trying to tell himself that he just got the science wrong.
  • The Igor: Played with; Igor starts off the film with a physical deformity and he does become Victor's assistant, but his personality is very different than what this trope is normally associated with. Igor is Victor's equal in terms of his intelligence, so their master-servant dynamic is downplayed—the movie instead presents them as mentor and protégé. Moreover, after Victor corrects Igor's crooked back, the latter looks completely normal.
  • Improvised Weapon: Frankenstein knows how to grab whatever's handy to kick ass. He grabs a torch during the circus escape and tosses it onto spilt alcohol to light the tent on fire, makes use of one of the dynamos in his basement to lop Turpin's hand off and grabs a long metal shaft in the climax to impale the Creature.
  • Insufferable Genius: Only Igor is willing to support and tolerate Victor's radical ideas and eccentricities. Almost everyone else views the latter as an embarrassing nuisance at best, or at worst, a lunatic who will bring ruin to the natural order.
  • I Owe You My Life: Most of why Igor is so willing to follow Victor around and do as he's told even when he's unhappy about it stems from the fact that Victor brought him from Rags to Riches in one night.
    I never thought I'd leave the circus. I thought I'd be there 'til I died. And Victor... has given me all this—and all he asked is that I believe in him.
    • Igor even mentions this to Lorelei as the main reason why he has to go and help Victor in the finale.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: The circus-master taunts Igor by claiming that Lorelei will probably die, given the dirty hospitals of the time. However, when Igor later goes to visit Lorelei in the hospital, she has indeed caught a fever, and likely from the less than perfectly sanitary conditions.
  • Large Ham:
    • Victor has several over-the-top lines, like "NOT BLOODY LIKELY!" and "ONLY ME!"
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: At the SDCC panel, a clip was shown where Victor and Igor are wheeling a gurney down a hallway, and Victor repeatedly yells, "Big presentation in Hall H!" The SDCC panel took place in Hall H, and many of the attendees laughed and cheered at the line.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: It is a Frankenstein movie, after all. Apparently, with the right amount of electricity, filtered through the proper alloy and channeled into the correct places of the body, one can resurrect a corpse.
  • Looks Like Cesare: Igor in his circus costume before the rescue.
  • Lost Aesop: So, Victor trying to create life is a bad idea, and ends pretty horribly, but then Victor ends the film alive and hopeful for his next experiment, continuing the research, and nobody seems particularly worried about this. Perhaps the real aesop of the movie is to stand up for yourself and your friends and pursue your dreams, but don't go crazy in the process?
  • Love Interests: Lorelei is this to a smitten Igor.
  • Mad Scientist: Victor experiences Sanity Slippage as he becomes increasingly obsessed with his research.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: Victor uses the basement of his flat as a secret laboratory for his controversial experiments. After it is ransacked by the police, Finnegan offers him his family's secluded Scottish castle as a safe place for Frankenstein to continue his research.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Victor plainly manipulates Igor to keep him on board with their research whenever Igor shows signs of recalcitrance. One memorable instance is when Igor starts having reservations about Gordon... and Victor quickly turns the conversation around by telling Igor that he is no longer Victor's assistant, but his partner. This pleases Igor so much that he stops arguing.
  • Manly Tears: Both Victor and Igor cry unashamedly at various points in the film.
  • Maniac Monkeys: Victor's first creation Gordon, an undead chimpanzee with various mechanical and other animal parts.
  • The Medic: Igor plays this role for the circus crew before Frankenstein gets him out. Presumably no one else there knew anything about medicine.
    Victor: You're a physician, you just performed a dry surgery with less than a minute to prepare.
    Igor: I'm a clown physician.
  • Mentor Archetype: Victor is Igor's mentor.
  • Mooching Master: Igor feels indebted to Victor for saving him from his miserable existence at the circus, removing the abnormal curvature in his back, and offering him an environment where he can further his interest in science. Victor takes advantage of his saviour role, and is sometimes manipulative and abusive towards Igor even though Victor becomes increasingly fond of his protégé.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: The first creation, dubbed "Gordon", has the hindquarters of a dog, the head of a chimpanzee, and a torso comprised of various mechanical and unidentifiable decomposing animal parts.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Victor has this reaction when he finally sees the Creature and realises that it's all wrong.
    Victor: This isn't life!
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Igor struggles with how much loyalty he "owes" to Victor; he is extremely grateful for the second chance in life that Victor has single-handedly given to him, but his mentor's increasingly unstable behaviour disturbs Igor. Daniel Radcliffe says in this SFX article from Apr. 2015:
    "The film becomes about at what point do you have to step out from the shadows of the person that created you and go, 'I am my own person?' Or, do you forever defer to the person that is responsible for your life?"
  • Mythology Gag: To both Shelley's novel and the pop-culture image of Frankenstein as a whole.
    • To the original novel:
      • Victor starts off as a college student bored with his studies and colleagues.
      • His father appears (although here a doctor rather than a magistrate) and is bothered by Victor's lack of focus on his schooling.
    • To the Universal Horror films:
      • Victor's brother is named Henry; in the films, Victor got an Adaptational Name Change to Henry Frankenstein.
      • Igor says the words "Yes master" during the College presentation.
      • This film's Igor, being a Composite Character of the first film's Fritz and the later, non-hunchbacked Ygor, isn't actually a hunchback. Rather, he has an untreated infection that makes him appear to be hunchbacked.
      • Victor, an early 19th-century Swiss character in the book, is a Victorian-era Englishman, as he is in the films and almost every adaptation.
      • Victor insists on giving the creature a flat-top skull. When asked why, he says, "Because I like it."
    • The scene of disembodied eyes in a tank following a lit match is taken right from the Hammer Horror movie "The Revenge of Frankenstein".
    • To the common popular confusion between Frankenstein and Frankenstein's Monster. Igor warns Victor that if he continues his plan, nobody will remember him, only the monster.
  • Never Given a Name: Before he adopts the identity of Igor Strausman, the main protagonist didn't have a name, and the circus simply referred to him as "The Hunchback."
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: If Finnegan had simply left Igor alone after Igor refused to continue their work and Victor left him behind, Igor probably would have just wandered back to Lorelei and done nothing to interfere with Finnegan's plans. Instead, Finnegan tries to kill him, which makes Igor worry about Victor's safety, and decide to go help his friend. This ultimately results in Finnegan's castle being torched, which leads to the young aristocrat's death, along with his engineer and probably a bunch of his minions.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Finnegan's mooks do all the dirty work, so unlike Victor, he doesn't have any fighting skills.
  • No Social Skills: Finnegan observes that Victor's "flaws, though they're glaring, massive, are merely social, not intellectual."
  • Nouveau Riche: Finnegan, an aristocrat, dismisses the real Igor Strausman as this.
  • Old Money: This is Finnegan's background, and it's why his British accent is the most posh-sounding of all the characters in the movie.
  • Only Friend: Igor becomes this to Victor, whose erratic demeanour and contentious opinions irritates and/or offends everyone else.
  • Organ Autonomy: Victor's disembodied eyes still follow a lit match despite not being connected to a brain.
  • Period Piece: As with changing Victor's age and nationality, the film updates the book's setting from 1810s Switzerlandnote  to Victorian Britain. The date listed at the bottom left-hand corner of this "Wanted" poster for Igor and Victor is 8th December, 1860.
  • Police Are Useless: Averted. Inspector Turpin works out what really happened at the circus with ease, despite the circus folk giving a biased version of the story. He quickly connects the circus case to whoever's been stealing animal parts, and from there pinpoints Frankenstein in a matter of weeks. He also recognises Igor despite having previously only seen a sketch of him in clown make up (which Frankenstein didn't seem to think the police could do), and when Frankenstein and Igor flee their London home, Turpin recognizes the family crest painted on the getaway coach as Finnegan's, allowing him to be in place in time for the finale.
  • Pretty Boy: Finnegan's dainty facial features are an extension of his vanity (he's always dressed to the nines and is impeccably groomed) and his privileged position in society (he likes to mock people who are poorer than him). Being born with a silver spoon in his mouth allows him the luxury to preen and to be puerile—you only have to glance at him to know that he's a Spoiled Brat.
  • Psychopathic Man Child: It's not obvious at first that Finnegan is a psychopath, but his immaturity is in full display when he taunts Victor during the latter's presentation. We later learn that Finnegan has no qualms murdering people.
  • Pygmalion Plot: A figurative and not explicitly romantic variation. After Victor rescues Igor from the circus, he essentially "transforms" the latter into a younger version of himself. Victor fixes the hunchback's deformity so that Igor is no longer a cripple, Victor gives Igor fashionable clothing which is very similar (if a little less ostentatious) to his own, and encourages Igor's scientific talent by having him work as his lab assistant. Victor gradually grows to care for Igor and ends up needing Igor more than Igor needs him.
  • Rags to Riches: Both Igor's and Lorelei's lives improve dramatically upon receiving financial backing after they leave the circus. Lorelei caught the eye of a closeted gay socialite who needed a beard. Igor, however, went from circus freak to scholarly socialite in one night due to a lanced abscess and a back brace, courtesy of Victor Frankenstein. Lorelei should probably consider her ascension a side effect; Igor visiting her at the hospital and bribing a nurse with a bit of Victor's money to give Lorelei a treatment plan he came up with himself.
  • Raising the Steaks: The first creature Victor ressurrects is a Mix-and-Match Critter made mostly of chimpanzee parts.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Victor has a few waistcoats with either a floral or paisley print, and at one point he wears a striking purple suit, which is very showy in comparison to the attire of the other male characters.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • The Chief Inspector at Scotland Yard, who acknowledges that Inspector Turpin is the best on the force and does what he can to help him, but points out that Turpin can't just break into somebody's home without a warrant and takes fair disciplinary action.
    • Also Inspector Turpin himself before he starts losing it. He realises that if the death at the circus is either Frankenstein or Igor's fault, it would have been in self-defence, since they were just trying to escape.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Victor is a man of unbridled passion while Igor is a man of moderation and reason.
  • Repulsive Ringmaster: The ringmaster of the circus where Igor lived is particularly brutish. He considers Igor as a slave and punching bag, and tries to have Victor killed when he tries to rescue Igor, earning a much deserved slug to the face for it.
  • Repurposed Pop Song: The UK trailer features a cover/remix version of The Doors' "Break on Through (to the Other Side)" by Josh Mobley Music.
  • Rescue Romance: Igor saves Lorelei's life at the circus, then later checks up on her at the hospital and makes sure she gets the right medicine. Although Lorelei is likely unaware of the latter, she is aware of the former and is quick to grow a romantic interest in Igor when they reacquaint. (Although the fact that he lost the hump and clown make-up to become much hotter probably didn't hurt.)
  • Rule of Sexy: Unlike the two characters Radcliffe's role is derived from (Fritz and the original Igor), this movie's Igor is fairly good-looking and his physical deformity is cured by Victor.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Victor dresses with a bit more flair than the other men (even in the case of Finnegan's dandyism, Victor's outfits are still more vivid colour-wise, plus the patterns on his vests are more elaborate and eye-catching). It represents him feeling out of place with the rest of society and wanting to challenge its oppressive rules. Moreover, Victor wears his emotions on his sleeves, so he doesn't adhere to the Stiff Upper Lip norms of British culture—his choice of clothing is as "expressive" as he is.
  • Sanity Slippage: As his strong religious beliefs are completely at odds with what Frankenstein is trying to achieve, it becomes clear over the course of the film that the investigation is eating at Turpin in a psychologically unhealthy way, so much so that the Chief Inspector takes him off the case and cites mental rest as one of the things he needs.
  • Say My Name: Igor yells Victor's name frequently throughout the movie, usually because he's worried that his friend is doing something morally questionable.
  • Science Is Bad: Turpin is very religious and strongly disapproves of Victor's research because he believes it goes against God.
  • Self-Serving Memory: The circus makes a vicious attempt to stop Victor freeing their abused performer, but only injure or kill themselves in the process. They give a report to Turpin claiming the two violently robbed them, murdered an innocent employee, and fled. Turpin very easily figures out its lies, but goes through with pursuing them anyway due to the greater scope involving Victor.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Igor's gentle and docile nature juxtaposes Victor's more brusque and domineering personality. Whenever they have a disagreement, Igor tends to cave in to Victor's demands, but it's part of the former's Character Development to eventually learn to stand up to his overbearing friend. Igor is shown to be very caring and romantic during his courtship of Lorelei, but Victor considers the couple's relationship to be a harmful distraction to their scientific work. When Inspector Turpin threatens Victor and Igor with a gun in Victor's basement, an unarmed Victor is able to fight back and even manages to cripple Turpin when the latter loses his hand. The non-violent Igor, meanwhile, keeps his distance as he shouts out Victor's name in order to stop his friend from going too far (injuring a police officer is bad enough, and Igor certainly doesn't want Victor to become a cop killer).
  • Setting Update: From the book's early 1800s Switzerland to 1860 England.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: After Igor's back is straightened, has a shower, gets a haircut, and is dressed in a suit, he becomes rather attractive. Lorelei is quite taken with Igor's new appearance when she meets him at a fancy party.
  • Shirtless Scene: Igor is bare-chested when Victor attempts to straighten the abnormal curvature in his back, and again in his brief love scene with Lorelei.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sissy Villain: Finnegan has shades of this due to him being a fop and a Pretty Boy, plus his voice is distinctively higher-pitched than the other male characters. Relatively speaking, he does come off as being slightly effeminatenote  in comparison to Victor.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Frankenstein survives the film and is granted a relatively happy ending, instead of wandering the Arctic and presumably dying thereafter.
  • Spoiled Brat: Finnegan's first scene is defined by his condescending rudeness towards Victor, and it leaves no doubt that the wealthy student is an entitled douchebag.
  • Steampunk: The advanced (by Victorian-era standards) gadgets and machines that ahead-of-his-time scientific genius Victor and engineer Dettweiler have designed and made.
  • Super Doc: Igor is able to perform surgery on a heart, a liver, and a pair of lungs (all external, however, with no concerns for the life of a patient) and can pop a broken bone back into place in under a minute with improvised materials. He is able to view a fevered patient and decide upon a medicinal regimen for them almost instantly. He also understands how the nerves controlling the eyes work, and can tell at a glance that Victor has wired them wrong. He managed to learn all of this from books and treating his co-performers at the circus.
  • Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Zig-zagged. Inspector Turpin is a calm, intelligent man who is sympathetic to Igor's plight and is just trying to do what he thinks is right (i.e. stop the creeper who's been running all over London stealing various body parts). Then he lets his passionate ideals get the better of his rational self and starts going slightly unhinged, to the point of breaking into Frankenstein's home without a warrant and pointing a gun in the man's face. By the end, however, he's still disgusted by Frankenstein, yet makes an attempt to reason with him, and even refuses to shoot through Frankenstein to hit the Creature, instead repeatedly telling him to get out of the way. And this is after Frankenstein whacked his hand off!
  • That Man Is Dead: When Igor is upset by the wanted posters, Victor confidently tells him that the police aren't looking for him—straight-backed, tidy Igor Strausman. They're looking for a nameless hunchback, and that man no longer exists. Igor perks up at the notion.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Igor was apparently also a medic at the circus, tending to injured performers. It didn't stop their horrific abuse towards him.
  • Uterine Replicator: Victor starts raving about these, as well as the concept of test-tube babies to some escorts at the nightclub.
  • Victorian London: The "Wanted" poster for Igor and Victor accuses them of committing murder at the London Circus. There is a shot of Finnegan's carriage approaching London with the Big Ben clock tower in the background; his goons then dump a tied-up Igor into the River Thames.
  • Waistcoat of Style: All of the major male characters sport vests because it was the fashion during the era, but Victor's tend to be more colourful and ornate.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: Igor anxiously notices the one for himself and Victor plastered all over the side of a large building.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Victor has a difficult relationship with his emotionally cold father, who blames Victor for his elder son Henry's death. It's notable that Victor's bravado completely crumbles in the presence of his authoritarian father.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Victor carries some very admirable ideals, and he genuinely wants to improve the lives of others ("I dream of a world where hope replaces fear, [...] where a crippled soldier, shrapnel in his spine, can be killed, healed, then brought back to life to walk again!" "What if we can give every life the chance that it deserves?"), but it's a Foregone Conclusion that he goes way too far in his quest to cheat death.
    • Turpin also just thinks that what Frankenstein is doing is wrong and dangerous (a belief that other characters grow to share throughout the film) and wants to stop him. However, he also goes rather far in his attempts.
  • We Need a Distraction: Lorelei goes to distract Finnegan's guards while Igor sneaks past them.
  • Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Victor's father mentions that it's too bad Victor couldn't have been like Henry. The true significance of the comment is later elaborated upon.
  • Wolverine Publicity: The story is told from Igor's perspective, yet James McAvoy has slightly more prominence than Daniel Radcliffe in the trailers, the theatrical posters (see the image at the top of the page for the American version) and the old-fashioned alternate poster created by professional artist Ciara McAvoy. Moreover, the film was known as Igor for a time, but the title was later switched to Victor Frankenstein. Radcliffe is more famous than McAvoy (e.g. the former's IMDb STARmeter is almost always consistenly higher than the latter's), so it's unusual that the marketing department chose to give more focus on the less well-known actor.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: After Igor refuses to keep helping Frankenstein make life and Frankenstein breaks their partnership, Finnegan decides that as the former is no longer contributing to The Plan and is dangerous to just leave hanging around, that assassination is in order. Later, Igor worries that this is what he has in store for Frankenstein as well.