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Foil / Live-Action Films

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Films with their own pages

  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The heart of much of the humor and drama in The Avengers is the similarities and differences of the leads.
      • Steve Rogers vs. Tony Stark: Both are tied to Howard Stark and motivated by a sense of American patriotism and to bring peace. But where Steve is idealistic, sweet-natured, well-mannered and uses his intelligence to defeat his enemies, Tony is cynical, snarkish, rude and rushes in to fight.
      • Bruce Banner vs. Tony Stark: Both are genius scientists with genuine respect for each other. They both have a dark side, but they have different personalities. Bruce is mild and cautious to control his id while Tony's flamboyance and irresponsibility are the tip of his self-destructive behavior.
      • Steve Rogers vs. Thor: Both are old-fashioned in ideals and aesthetics, initially unease on modern Earth and are driven with a sense of duty for their homeland.
      • Doctor Stephen Strange vs Tony Stark: Both start out as being self-centered, reckless men who care about pleasure and success until a life-changing accident brings them down a few pegs. The difference is Tony (as Iron Man) uses technology while Strange uses Magic. Additionally, Stark gets the chance to stroke his own ego for good by becoming a beloved superhero, while Strange learns humility by fighting battles kept away from the public eye.
      • Loki himself has traits that resonate or clash with each of the Avengers. He's from Asgard and of royalty (Thor). He's clever and loves theatrics (Tony). He manipulates emotions (Bruce). He blatantly disregards human life and freedom (Steve). He lacks empathy (Black Widow) and disregards free will (Hawkeye).
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    • In Guardians of the Galaxy, Yondu Udonta serves as a foil to Thanos on a personal level. Both have a fearsome reputation, and "adopt" alien children and raise them to serve their own agendas (Peter as a Ravager and Gamora/Nebula as Thanos's personal muscle) and eventually their adopted kids betray both of them. However, Yondu genuinely cares about Peter, while Thanos abuses Gamora and Nebula. Most importantly Yondu sacrifices himself to save Peter while Thanos sacrifices Gamora for his own gains.
    • In Ant-Man, Scott and Hank. Hank is a respected scientist, an experienced hero, and a widower with a poor relationship with his daughter. Scott is a rookie hero, has a criminal record, and is a divorced man but has an excellent relationship with his daughter.
    • In Captain America: Civil War, both Peter Parker and T'Challa are independent superheroes who side with Tony Stark in apprehending Steve and Bucky. However, Peter regularly makes quips, wears a red and blue costume, worships the Avengers, comes from a relatively poor background and joins Tony out of a desire for adventure. In contrast, T'Challa hardly expresses himself, wears a black and silver suit, distrusts the Avengers, was born into a wealthy royal family and joins Tony to avenge the death of his father.
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    • Black Panther (2018)
      • Nakia and Killmonger. Both make the argument that Wakanda should use its power and resources to improve the lives of black people everywhere. However, Nakia actually believes it, while Killmonger is the Big Bad because he's mostly using his stated agenda as an excuse to grab power and get some payback on the world that hurt him.
      • Nakia and Okoye. Both are Action Girls who accompany T'Challa and offer advice on Wakanda's role for the future. However, Nakia is a spy who wants to open up Wakanda to help oppressed black people around the world while Okoye is a bodyguard who believes Wakanda should look after its traditions and people first and foremost. They even have different fighting styles with Nakia using guns, ring blades, her high heels, and anything she can her hands on, while Okoye prefers using only the traditional Vibranium spear.
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  • In The Hobbit, Radagast the Brown provides a Foil to the kind of wizard Saruman would become in The Lord of the Rings. Radagast is a gentle and humble Druid-like fellow who lives alone in the woods in a ramshackle cabin which appears to have been torn down and rebuilt multiple times to accomodate the growing tree in the centre of it. Saruman meanwhile operates from his Evil Tower of Ominousness and only sees trees and nature as resources to be ruthlessly plundered for fuelling his industry, an approach that eventually bites him in the ass massively.
  • James Bond:
    • Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Bond's biggest Arch-Enemy, serves as an Evil Counterpart to both M and Bond.
      • Both Blofeld and M are the head of a secret organization and give orders directly to their subordinates, but do it in different ways. While M has the respect of those working for him, but Blofeld is a Bad Boss and and kills his mooks if they failed to please him.
      • And while both are equals in regards to wit, intelligence, and lethality, Blofeld contrasts Bond by being from a humble background and rising to a position of power in contrast to Bond. And while 007 may have True Companions, allies and friends such as M and Q who help him even in dire situations, Blofeld keeps his own Mooks in line via threats and outright violence for minor reasons.
    • The World is Not Enough: Elektra King and M are powerful women who have very different ways of exercising control within a patriarchal system. Elektra overuses her femininity to manipulate the men around her, whereas M suppresses her femininity to maintain her authority over her employees (especially male chauvinists like Bond); when handling Elektra's kidnapping, M even explicitly states that she went against her instincts as a mother.
    • Skyfall: Raoul Silva has elements that make him similar to Bond, Q and even M. He was an MI-6 agent who uses multiple gadgets like Bond. He's an expert hacker like Q. He makes very dark decisions and leads his organization like M.
  • Juice: Highlighted in an argument between Bishop and Q. While Bishop wants to gain respect through fear so that no one will mess with him, Q wants to earn respect legitimately (presumably through other passions like DJing).
  • In the Jurassic Park franchise, Owen Grady is basically a Good Counterpart to Robert Muldoon. Both are park employees hired to work with the raptors. The difference is Muldoon is a grim Kenyan Great White Hunter who views the Velociraptors as Worthy Opponents and wants them all exterminated, while Owen is a cheerful Fluffy Tamer who imprints on his Velociraptors and has a special relationship with them based on mutual respect.
  • In Pacific Rim, Mako and Chuck are both young and exceptionally talented pilots with varying issues with their fathers. Mako initially made a rude comment about Raleigh when she first meets him. Chuck was initially friendly with Raleigh (or as friendly Chuck could be) but when he found out Raleigh worked on the Kaiju Wall, he became rude and condescending to Raleigh. Whereas Mako immediately learned from her mistakes and treated Raleigh much nicer, it took Chuck a little longer to respect Raleigh.
  • The young, muscular, stupid and aggressive Daniel Lugo is hunted by the old, frail, cunning and even-tempered Ed Du Bois in Pain and Gain.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
  • Reservoir Dogs
  • Rocky uses Paulie and Rocky as foils to each other over the entire franchise, with Rocky certainly seeming like a better man when next to Paulie.
    • Rocky exemplifies Dumb Is Good. Additionally, he is physically fit, generally well-meaning, learns from every encounter, optimistic, idealistic, and forgiving (especially of Paulie). Rocky has no envy and is genuinely welcoming to everyone. He earns success despite his limitations through very hard work and grit. He also shows off good ol' salt-of-the-earth working-class values. He treats Adrian with affection and rarely speaks ill of anyone.
    • Paulie is a lower-class scumbag. He is overweight and aging, violent, frequently drunk, jealous of Rocky and others, judgmental, racially intolerant, and prone to falling for get-rich-quick schemes. Paulie never learns no matter how often he is proven to be wrong. He frequently feels entitled despite showing no real merit and never being shown to work hard for what he wants. He lashes out often at Rocky despite riding Rocky's coat-tails to a better life. He is terrible to Adrian. Paulie also has a hell of a mouth, often taunting professional boxers face-to-face. Paulie is so scuzzy he makes it easier to forget that in the first movie, Rocky was a leg-breaker for a loan shark or bookie, and Paulie's conflict with Rocky was that Paulie wanted to be a leg-breaker while Rocky wanted out.
  • Star Wars
    • Luke Skywalker and Han Solo in A New Hope. The former is a young naive hero who trusts the Force, while the other is the older, cynical, streetwise anti-hero who prefers to trust his gut and some cold hard steel.
    • Anakin Skywalker (a.k.a. Darth Vader) is also one to Luke. Both grew up on the same desolate desert planet before being taken away to train as Jedi Knights under Obi-Wan Kenobi. However, while Anakin came to desire power and succumbed to the Dark Side in an attempt to save his loved-ones, Luke had little interest in power beyond what he needed to protect his friends and family. Ultimately, Anakin's lingering love for his son wins out when he kills Emperor Palpatine.
    • Kylo Ren to Rey in The Force Awakens. Aside from being the Villain to her Hero, they contrast each other in many ways. Rey was abandoned by her family, and waited over a decade with the promise that they would return. Ren came from a Heroic Lineage, but his seduction to the Dark Side culminated with him betraying his family and slaughtering his fellow apprentices. Throughout the film, Rey comes to view Han Solo as a father figure, while Ren, Han's biological son, makes a desperate attempt to sever all ties to him by killing him. Furthermore, it is heavily implied that Rey will take the role of student to Luke Skywalker, Ren's former master and uncle.
    • Krennic in Rogue One wears a flashy white tunic and a cape, and is a intel administrator Non-Action Guy. Contrast with Vader, who is a frontline enforcer for the Emperor and wears practical black armor (with a cape). He fights alongside white-clad Stormtrooper grunts, while Krennic likes to hand things over to his elite black-clad Death Troopers (but isn't actually lacking in bravery himself). Vader is motivated by anger and self-loathing, while Krennic is motivated by pride, vanity, and ambition. Vader uses an old-fashioned lightsaber, Krennic uses an old-fashioned blaster. Krennic also has better people skills, and he's good at data analysis, while Vader is a good mechanic.
      • He's also a contrast to Thrawn, who also wears white. They share similar intelligence and skills at analysis, but Thrawn is coldly pragmatic, while Krennic is somewhat flashy and dramatic. Krennic is human, while Thrawn isn't. Thrawn would never execute subordinates just for failure, while Krennic murders some of his staff members out of sheer spite.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: First Class:
      • Shaw serves as one to Xavier. Both are doctors of genetics who are interested in maximizing Lehnsherr's potential, but whereas Sebastian uses torture to uncover his raw power, Charles utilizes emotional intimacy to give Erik greater control. Erik grows to love Charles as a brother, but vehemently opposes the latter's peaceful approach to human-mutant relations. Magneto wholly embraces Shaw's mutant supremacist views, but loathes the man for murdering his mother.
      • Charles and Erik are juxtaposed in their respective Oxford pub and Argentinian bar scenes. The inebriated Xavier is the life of a party when he and his fellow graduate students celebrate the successful defense of his PhD thesis, and he later tries to flirt with Agent MacTaggert. The sober Lehnsherr is all business when he's hunting down Nazis, and he murders three men (including the bartender) in cold blood after taunting his prey.
        Bryan Singer: Ultimately, they come from different places. Erik Lehnsherr is a victim of the Holocaust, he probably left the war with nothing, and is very much a solitary man, while Xavier had a life of privilege, became a professor at Oxford, was surrounded by peers, has an intimate relationship with Mystique since childhood, so he's quite loved, and therefore quite idealistic, less embittered, and just has a very different view from Lehnsherr.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past:
      • Both past and future Magneto contrast each other in the film. 1973 Magneto continues to move forward with mutant supremacy by attacking Xavier and his group, while 2023 Magneto is fighting to protect both mankind and mutants while lamenting his pointless struggles with Charles in their younger years. Past Erik is very much on his own, but his elderly counterpart is a valuable team member.
      • Past Magneto and Past Xavier were both inactive and isolated in between 1963 and 1973 (the former due to imprisonment, the latter due to depression). Erik shows signs of wanting to repair some of their previous friendship, but a bitter Charles isn't interested for the most part. Magneto tries to kill Mystique while Xavier tries to protect her. Hank remains unwaveringly devoted to Charles, but Erik loses Mystique's loyalty after the murder attempt. In X-Men: First Class, Erik personified "rage" while Charles embodied "serenity," but their roles are reversed in 1973. Xavier is now the one who is full of pain and anger, and therefore has great trouble wielding his telepathy, whereas Magneto is (relatively) calm and controlled, still possessing great mastery over his power despite being deprived of metal for a decade. (We even see Erik adopt a meditation pose in his prison cell, which makes him appear almost Zen-like.)
      • Wolverine and the younger Magneto are violent individuals who love Xavier, but whereas Jerk with a Heart of Gold Logan possesses Undying Loyalty towards Charles, Jerk with a Heart of Jerk Erik is quick to betray him.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: Has its own page.
    • Deadpool (2016):
      • Deadpool to Ajax, in terms of powers. Whereas Deadpool has a Healing Factor that is capable of regenerating severed hands, he is capable of feeling the pain of every blow he takes. Ajax, on the other hand, Feels No Pain, and can take as many hits as Deadpool, but these injuries heal at an average pace, and will eventually burn out his body.
      • Colossus to Deadpool. Chaste-mouthed, paragon-like, gentle giant, boy scout X-Man contrasted to Deadpool's foul-mouthed, sardonic, violent, psychotic freelancer.
        Colossus: We can't allow this, Deadpool. Please... come quietly.
        Deadpool: You big, chrome cock-gobbler!
        Colossus: ...That's not nice.
  • Trumbo: Dalton Trumbo (Happily Married, wealthy, healthy, eventually gets his reputation back) vs. Arlen (divorced, poor, dies of cancer; a composite character symbolizing all the blacklisted creators who weren't as lucky as Dalton); Dalton (committed Communist) vs. Edward G. Robinson ( betrays the others to save his career and lifestyle)
  • The Jungle Book (2016):
    • Bagheera to Shere Khan. They are both big and fiercely determined felines well-known in the jungle and tied to Mowgli's life. While Shere Khan is feared because of his savage nature and utter disregard of the laws of the jungle, Bagheera respects those laws to the point of near dogmatism and is respected as a result. They both have a certain amount of alienation towards humanity, but while Shere Khan is openly hostile towards the mankind and adamantly wants Mowgli dead, Bagheera would rather keep the jungle and the things related to the Man separated, resulting in him forbidding Mowgli from utilizing his human ability in making tools.
    • Bagheera to Baloo. Whereas Bagheera is rule-abiding, reserved and easily irritated, Baloo is easy-going, more charming and has little qualms (at the beginning at least) to use Mowgli - and previous to him other animals - to get honey for him. The bear also encourages Mowgli to use his tricks and be himself, while Bagheera forbids him the use of his tools and wants Mowgli to behave more like a wolf.
    • Baloo to King Louie. During Mowgli's journey to the Man-Village, both take an initial interests in Mowgli's abilities for selfish reasons: Baloo for a easier way to get access to food and Louie in hopes of learning the secret to create fire. They both put on an affable facade in order to win over Mowgli's trust. And they both also happen to be some of the largest animals in the jungle. The difference is that Baloo gets legitimately attached to Mowgli and even shows him the way to the Man-Village if he really wants to leave. Louie more-or-less holds Mowgli hostage, stating that he'll offer him protection in exchange for learning how to make fire.
    • Baloo to Shere Khan to a lesser extent. While Baloo often speaks against the Jungle Law, referring to it as "propaganda" and stating that it was made to be "bent and reinterpreted", he still follows it, and is the first to recite it in the climax. However, while Shere Khan speaks of the law, for example pointing out that man is forbidden in the jungle, he truly holds little regard for it and violates it whenever it suits him.
  • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, there's Batman and Superman, a dark Badass Normal vigilante who relies on fear and terror contrasted with a superpowered alien who tries to bring light and hope. There's as much foils as Bruce and Clark, a billionaire whose only family is a surrogate father figure in Alfred, contrasted with a reporter who lives in a fairly small apartment with his girlfriend, and whose family is his adoptive mother. Even there personas are foils - the "Bruce Wayne" that the world sees is false, he's really himself when he's Batman, whereas while the Superman persona isn't completely false, Clark is much more himself when he's just Clark, putting on a more authoriative and confident persona as Superman.
  • Unbreakable: Explored as a concept. David is nearly invulnerable, while Elijah is exceptionally weak. It turns out that this is because they're really each other's Arch-Enemy.
  • In Searching, David and Detective Vick are both parents who can and will become a Papa Wolf and Mama Bear to their children respectively while dealing with their own Adult Fear regarding their kids. David doesn't seem to know anything about Margot while Vick knows her son very well. Vick was willing to do anything to protect her son, even going as far as framing and killing someone. David was pretty close to doing so himself, accusing his brother of preying on Margot and assaulting a teenager for making a tasteless joke about Margot's disappearance, but ultimately learns from his mistakes.
  • Rachel and Michael in Crazy Rich Asians contrast how different she and he react as a lower-class person dating the richest of the rich. Where Michael lets it break them and makes them miserable, insecure and bitter, Rachel faces it head on and becomes stronger for it and proves their value to the Young-Leong family.
  • In Halloween (2018), Doctor Sartian is essentially this to Doctor Loomis, as both of them are clearly obsessed with Michael beyond what is expected or healthy for a doctor/patient relationship; however, while Loomis was obsessed with keeping Michael contained while adhering to the letter of the law, Sartian is so obsessed with understanding Michael's warped psychology that he not only may have contributed to Michael's escape, but later kills a police officer who was about to kill Michael so that he can try to understand how Michael might feel when he kills, followed by Sartian taking the unconscious Michael to Laurie's house so that he can see what happens when they face off again.
    • As well as this, the character of Vicky in this film can also be seen as a foil to Annie in the first film. Both are babysitters who initially appear as not being the least bit interested in their charges, instead aiming to use the empty house to host her boyfriend and friends to get high. However, unlike Annie, Vicky genuinely cares about her charge Julian, even telling him he's her favourite kid at one point, and stops making out with her boyfriend to make sure he's alright after she hears noises, in sharp contrast to Annie's self-interested attitude towards Lynsey. When said noises turn out to be Michael, she even tells Julian to run as Michael attacks her, essentially sacrificing herself to give the boy time to run down the stairs and out of the house.
  • Nightfall (1988): Sor and Aton have a number of similarities. Sor is a blind man leading a religion, while Aton is a visionary scientist who leads the city. Aton privately admits to "that woman" that when he was younger, he used to have poor vision and blackouts. He noticed that his eyesight improved as he studied astronomy by watching the stars. This is the inverse to Sor, who deliberately blinds the people who follow him so they won't see the Darkness during the upcoming nightfall. The two leaders give charismatic speeches to their followers and engage in debates multiple times throughout the film. Roa used to be married to Aton, but Sor has seduced her away and makes her his equal in their religion.
  • Bird Box: Malorie and Olympia, the two pregnant characters. Olympia mentions that Malorie is much tougher than she is, as she considers herself soft and spoiled. They even look very different; Malorie is thin and brunette, while Olympia is blonde and chubby.
  • SHAZAM! (2019):
    • Billy is an age-shifting Kid Hero who is Wise Beyond His Years. Sivana is a petty Psychopathic Man Child who refuses to move on from the slights he received as a child. Their personal trinkets also contrast each other, as both are objects associated with finding a desired outcome. Billy's compass keychain points you to the right direction. Sivana's Magic 8-Ball only tells you what you want to hear at best.
    • The Sivana family and the Vasquez family. Sivana's biological family are abusive and belittle him constantly, blaming him for things beyond his control. The Vasquez family are a supportive, loving family to Billy despite not being related.
    • There is also the contrast between the Vasquez couple and Billy's biological mother. Whereas Rosa and Victor actively wanted to be involved in Billy's life and showed him and each other unconditional love and kindness, Billy's mother doesn't want anything to do with Billy, even coldly rejecting an embrace from the latter, and is in an unhappy relationship.


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