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Irony / Live-Action Film

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A list of examples of Irony in Live Action Film:

  • Bob Falfa in American Graffiti drives a '55 Chevy. He's played by Harrison Ford. note 
  • An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn:
    • It was about a movie that was considered one of the worst ever made. The movie itself ended up being considered one of the worst ever made.
    • It featured a guy who tried to have this name removed from the film. The director of the actual movie, Arthur Hiller, ending up having his name removed and credited to Alan Smithee.
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    • Furthering the irony, the failure of the film led to the retirement of "Alan Smithee" as a catchall pseudonym for directors who wished to have their names removed. All pseudonyms are now chosen on case by case basis now.
  • In Andhadhun, Sophie believes Akash to be blind. She then finds out that he was only faking it from the kid living next door to him... at the same time as he's blinded for real by Simi. Her finding out about his deceit thus doesn't result in her finding out the truth, but in her substituting one mistaken belief for the opposite one.
  • The film, Ask Me Anything has the protagonist Katie involved with three men throughout the film. She is used sexually by two of them, but only one of them, whom her step dad discovered was a convicted sex offender, actually cares about her, never has any form of sexual contact with her, and is the one that urges her to get away from the other men she is involved with.
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  • Avatar is (still) the most successful film of all time, while Delgo used to be the least successful film of all time. They have nearly identical plots.
  • At one point of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Black Widow reveals that she's sterile due to the practice of the organization that trained her. Her actress, Scarlett Johansson, was pregnant during filming.
  • In Avengers: Infinity War, the Hulkbuster armor is piloted by Bruce Banner, a.k.a. The Hulk.
  • Documentary film The Battle of San Pietro tells the story of the brutal, bloody December 1943 battle for the eponymous town. As the camera shows Italian civilians picking up chunks of rubble in their bombed out town, the narration says that the Italian peasant is a "born mason", who builds not for himself, but "for future generations." This is immediately followed by a shot of the corpse of a teenaged girl, lying in the street.
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  • Brooklyn stars Saoirse Ronan as an Irish woman who emigrates to America and ends up living in the titular New York City borough. Ronan herself was born in New York City and grew up in Ireland.
  • In Burglar, Bernice and Carl visit a drugstore where Carl takes a bottle of lotion, squirts some into his hands, and puts it back on the shelf. Bernice, the titular burglar, then takes the bottle and insists they pay for it. Carl then calls her out on the fact that she'll steal very expensive items, but insist on paying for a cheap bottle of lotion.
  • The Cannonball Run:
    • The first film ends with Seymour saying "Maybe next year, we'll do this again." The dialogue in Cannonball Run 2 establishes that it takes place the next year, but Seymour doesn't return.
    • The two guys in the stock car (played by Terry Bradshaw and Mel Tillis) are not given names in the first film. In the second, they are given the names Terry and Mel making them examples of The Danza. The irony: Terry has been recast. The further irony: his new actor is Tony Danza.
  • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a museum display on Cap's adventures states that Bucky Barnes was the only one of his Howling Commandos to die in action. It later turns out Bucky is actually the titular Winter Soldier and at this point of history, he's likely the only Howling Commando who's still alive.
  • Chapter 27 is a film about Mark David Chapman in the days before he murdered John Lennon. Ironically, Lennon is played in the film by Mark Lindsey Chapman.
  • Closely Watched Trains, a Czech film set during World War II and the Nazi occupation, has an example of Socratic irony. When the Nazi collaborator in charge of the railway gives the workers at the train station a bunch of lame excuses about the German retreats and starts barking orders about watching the trains, the workers keep asking "why?" until the irritated collaborator says it's what the Fuhrer wants.
  • In Commando, Matrix is being loaded onto a plane when Sully makes an unsavory comment about his daughter. Matrix replies "You're a funny guy, Sully. I like you. That's why I'm going to kill you last." Due to circumstances Matrix couldn't have foreseen, Sully ends up the second person he kills after saying that.
    Matrix: Hey, Sully? Remember when I said I was going to kill you last?
    Sully: Yes, that's right! You did say that!
    Matrix: I lied. (Kills Sully)
  • When The Commitments was cast, most of the band members were played by actors with actual musical talent. The only one who couldn't play an instrument was Johnny Murphy, who played Joey Fagan, the only member of the band who's a seasoned musician.
  • In Con Air, the inmates (with the exception of Cameron Poe, Baby-O, and Greene) celebrate their escape by dancing to "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Greene makes the following observation:
    Greene: Define irony: a bunch of idiots dancing around on a plane to a song made famous by a band that died in a plane crash.
  • In The Crow, the main character is immune to bullets after rising from the dead and laughs about how bullets can't hurt him. Considering that Brandon Lee was accidentally shot and killed during production, this is both sad and ironic.
  • Cube 2: Hypercube: Simon reveals to Jerry that he is actually a private detective. He was working a missing persons case and looking for Becky Young, somebody who worked for Izon, which is undoubtedly the reason they threw Simon into the hypercube to get rid of him. Jerry can't help but point out the irony of Simon's objective given their current situation.
  • In Downfall, Hitler is shown admiring a portrait of Frederick the Great. Frederick was saved twice by last-minute turns of events, most notably the "Miracle of the House of Brandenburg", which saved the entire state of Prussia from utter defeat - Hitler was hoping for a repeat event, especially after the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but of course, no miracle to turn back the Russians and save Germany this time. The irony comes in the fact that Hitler's personal hero was in reality a flute-playing, (very likely) homosexual die-hard Francophile who imposed religious tolerance and cringed at Prussian proud soldier culture, i.e, he was everything Hitler hated.
  • Elysium: Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster) gets Carlyle to write a reboot code for Elysium to perform a coup and keep it safe from the people on Earth. In addition, she hires a complete psychopath to do her heavy lifting for her. Said psychopath ends up murdering her in cold blood, and the code gets used to give Elysium to the illegal immigrants she was trying to protect it from.
  • The Final opens with a scene of a girl in a restaurant with her face horribly disfigured. She orders a burger. The movie flashes back a while ago and you hear a throwaway line from a vapid teenage girl "Red meat is for people who don't care what they look like". Said girl ends up getting a compound smeared on her face that erodes her skin away. It could be either tragic or dramatic irony.
  • In Furious 7, Roman insists on planning the attack on the convoy to rescue Ramsey. After he chooses an insertion point, he lets Tej choose how to use it. Tej suggests air dropping their vehicles into the insertion point. When it comes time to do that, Roman is the one who chickens out.
  • Guy from Galaxy Quest played a security officer on the original series and spends most of the film panicking about getting killed. But when Sarris raids the bridge, Guy is the only crew member who is not seen getting killed before Jason rewinds time.
  • Dramatic irony in Gangs of New York, when a Tammany worker tells Bill he will be rewarded for delivering the Irish to the polls, Bill spits and says his father and his men died fighting the British in 1814-he will not let his memory be befouled for people who didn't fight for this country as they did. Cut to Irishmen being made to sign their enlistment papers along with their citizenship applications, and getting onto the troopship headed for Tennessee while the coffins are being offloaded.
  • During the end of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra when Cobra Commander was captured, he proclaimed to Duke that it wasn't over between them. Duke responded that he'll be waiting for him. He then gets killed during the beginning G.I. Joe: Retaliation without so much as a single confrontation with him.
  • Godzilla (2014):
    • Yoshimitsu Banno was "banned" from working on Godzilla movies after the polarizing Godzilla vs. Hedorah but is now attached to this movie as a co-producer.
    • The Male MUTO does all the things Godzilla does in Blue Oyster Cult's song Godzilla: he pulls some splitting high-tension wires down as he escapes from Janjira, helpless people on a subway train scream as he looks in on them, and he picks up a bus and throws it back down as he obtains a nuke from the military to present to his mate.
    • Godzilla 1998 had a blatant Sequel Hook apparently expecting a success, but was cancelled for poor reception. This one however, doubted a 'two thumbs up' warm welcome and so left an open ending. Now it's green-lighted for a trilogy.
    • Toho created Godzilla 2000 out of negative response to Godzilla 1998, especially to its crew and suit actors hating the film. This film? Toho is planning to create a new Godzilla movie out of positive response to this film, especially to the suit actors loving the film. Bonus points that it was Kenpachiro Satsuma who said Zilla did not have the spirit of Godzilla, but loved this remake.
  • At one point of The Goonies, the Fratellis get a pizza and bring it back to their hideout: a restaurant.
  • Help!: While the Beatles were too stoned off their head most of the time during recording this film they do have a song aptly titled Act Naturally.
  • The Body-Count Competition scene in Hot Shots! Part Deux claiming "BLOODIEST MOVIE EVER!" despite the Bloodless Carnage.
  • House of Wax (1953) was one of the first movies in color to be in 3D and one of the films to popularize the style. However, director Andre De Toth only had one eye and couldn't enjoy the effects.
  • Near the end of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 when President Coin delivers a rousing speech about how the rescue team "liberated the victors", the scene cuts between her and Katniss staring in horror at Peeta tied to a gurney, writhing and sobbing. It really drives home that even if the victors are superficially liberated from the Capitol, those around them don't— and probably never will— understand how they'll never be liberated from the havoc the Capitol on their bodies and their psyches. Even more poignant is that Peeta certainly isn't liberated at that moment— he's locked and tied down in a room. For his own safety as well as Katniss' safety, granted, but the scene leaves a bitter taste in your mouth when you see President Coin's speech juxtaposed with that.
  • IKIRU is about a bureaucrat finding the beauty of life... after discovering he has cancer.
  • Indiana Jones:
  • Iron Man:
    • Much of the underlying plot of the first film is tragic irony, as pointed out by Stane:
    "How ironic, Tony! Trying to rid the world of weapons, you gave it its best one ever!"
    • In Iron Man 2, a sub-plot involves the device that Tony Stark built to keep himself alive is actually killing him through the volatile metal that powers it. What a beautifully ironic twist to a story about a man associated with iron.
  • Johnny Got His Gun: In the film Joe is raised a Christian Scientist, whose belief entails that the material world doesn't exist, including disease and injury. Realizing this will heal you. Joe is seen desperately trying to tell himself "Nothing exists but mind" without success.
  • Jurassic Park:
    • After many of the action sequences, a banner falls over the damage done by the dinosaurs, who now rule the island, reading, "When dinosaurs ruled the Earth" as part of the entrance.
    • Despite Hammond's constant declarations of "we've spared no expense", his entire dream is undone by the one expense he did skimp on: leaving all of the park's electronic security measures for incredibly dangerous animals in the hands of a single underpaid IT guy who ends up betraying him partly out of spite.
  • The protagonist of Kind Hearts and Coronets murders several people over the course of the film. However, he ends up getting arrested for the one murder he doesn't commit. (This also applies to the stage adaptation, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder.)
  • In Kingsman: The Secret Service, for all Arthur's hate about the common class, Eggsy rubs it in his face that he was beaten by a simple sleight of hand trick anyone could learn.
  • In Mean Girls 2, it is ironic that a girl named Chastity will sleep with Anything That Moves. (Well, until she learns what her name means that is.)
  • My Days Of Mercy: The DNA test Lucy thought would prove her father innocent in fact leads to showing he did it.
  • In Once Upon A Crime, Augie is questioned by the lead detective in the murder case. Having no alibi, he lies and says he was with his wife in their hotel room at the time of the murder. The detective reveals that a witness saw a man leave the room via the fire escape. Augie claims that the man was himself and the detective asks him to recreate the route. The fire escape is just the first part of a series of tasks the man performed that Augie now must recreate. When he finishes trying to prove his innocence, the detective confirms that he matched the mysterious man's route... and ended up at the scene of the crime.
  • Pacific Rim:
    • The Kaiju Otachi is translated into "great sword". It gets slain by the debut of Gipsy Danger's sword.
    • One of the film's official art designers is named Alex Jaeger. Coincidence or narcississm?
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl:
    • When the pirates raid Port Royal, Elizabeth assumes they've come to kidnap her because she's the Governor's daughter so she lies to say her last name is Turner and that she's just a maid. Except unfortunately for her, they were actually looking for someone descended from one of their crew whose blood they need to remove their curse. The last name in question? Turner of course.
    • Further irony - the Turner the pirates were actually looking for is in love with Elizabeth and when the pirates kidnap her he sets out to try and rescue her, not knowing he's the one they're looking for. And another bit - he didn't need a plan to rescue Elizabeth. He could have just walked into the Isla De Muerto, told them who he was and offered his own blood in exchange for Elizabeth's safety (provided he invoked par lay as well).
  • In Plan B, Bruno plans to get back together with his ex Laura by making her new boyfriend Pablo fall in love with him and leave Laura for him, only to realize when his plan succeeds that he can't get back together with Laura because he himself has fallen in love with Pablo and he ends up leaving Laura for him.
  • Meta example-in Planet of the Apes (2001), Charlton Heston plays the villain's father, an ape who considers humans Always Chaotic Evil due to a terrifying human artifact in their family's possession- a handgun. Seeing Heston, a well-known gun rights activist and NRA spokesman, decry a gun as a tool of evil is frankly surreal.
  • The first Police Academy film does this comically. Closer to the end, Fackler sits in a police car and his partner gets in and hands him an apple. As they drive off, Fackler tosses the apple over his shoulder and hits a tough guy in the back of the head. This starts a chain reaction that results in a riot. The irony hits in the following scene and this conversation:
    Fackler: Hey, did you hear the news on the radio? A riot's broken out downtown.
    Thompson: A riot?
    Hooks: How come?
    Fackler: Who knows how these things get started?
  • In Predator 2, Leona explains that Jerry Lambert is a lone wolf with a reputation for recklessness that gets his partners killed. His actions get himself killed and Leona survives. Possibly.
  • The Proposal stars Sandra Bullock as a Canadian businesswoman who tries to get a Citizenship Marriage with her assistant played by Ryan Reynolds. In real life, Bullock is American and Reynolds is Canadian.
  • Salvation Boulevard: Pastor Dan is arguing with Blaylock that without God, people would just kill with abandon. He waves around Blaylock's antique pistol while doing so, which goes off and he accidentally shoots Blaylock. The efforts Pastor Dan goes to cover this up further undermine his point. Even worse, it was a result of him thinking Blaylock was dead and no one would ever believe it was accidental. It turns out Blaylock survived and he soon tells everyone the whole thing was accidental, making Pastor Dan's crimes (along with those of his followers) completely pointless.
  • In Saw, Jigsaw kidnaps a man who recently cut his wrists in what he suspects was a bid for attention rather than a sincere suicide attempt. He leaves him in the middle of a maze of razor wire and threatens to lock him in there to die if he can't make it out in two hours. As Jigsaw points out to the victim, the irony is that if he truly wants to die, all he has to do is wait there, but if he wants to live, he will have to cut himself again.
  • The film Seven Beauties is built around tragic irony. The film is told in Anachronic Order, and the audience gets snippets of lead character Pasqualino in his feckless womanising days, in a brutal insane asylum, as a soldier in wartime, and as a prisoner of war. As the film goes on you see the decisions which brought about each change in situation - being arrested for his hedonistic ways, he decides to plead insanity because it'll be a breeze compared to prison. By then the audience knows otherwise. Eventually the increasingly-desperate Italian army offers to get him out if he goes off to war, and he agrees, figuring war couldn't possibly be as bad. Yyyyeah. Then during his service he can't take it any more and surrenders, thinking being a POW would at least be a step up from what he's gone through so far. It's a whole movie of watching a guy make decisions which viewers know are awful, awful decisions.
  • SHAZAM! (2019):
    • Billy refuses the child support he received over the years because he believed his mother is still out there waiting for him and looking forward to their reunion. When they are finally reunited, he learned that she knowingly abandoned him, assuming that the state would take better care of him than she could. This, in turn, drove Billy to forgo the very care she felt he would receive.
    • Billy as a child acts like a bitter, mature man trapped in a child's body. His adult alter ego is bright, cheerful and hyperactive like a five year old.
  • Bugs Bunny used to appear in blackface minstrel gags in his old cartoons. In Space Jam, he has a starring role next to Michael Jordan, a black man.
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country features a black Insane Admiral who supports Fantastic Racism against Klingons, using language and arguments similar to twentieth-century white racists. For extra irony, his actor (Brock Peters) previously played Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird. Peters was aware of this, and very uncomfortable with saying many of his lines (the "bring them to their knees" line is originally from The Birth of a Nation, for instance). Nichelle Nichols, on the other hand, outright refused to say the old "but would you want your daughter to marry one" line in reference to Klingons, so that was cut.
  • In Star Trek: First Contact, Data points out the irony that the Phoenix, the first Warp-capable ship, was built out of a nuclear missile - a weapon of mass destruction being used to usher in an era of peace.
  • Star Wars:
    • Revenge of the Sith, Anakin sees a vision of his wife dying in childbirth. Determined to not let this happen, he joins the Dark Side in order to find a cure. Doing that turns out to be what kills her.
    • Meta-example: In 1977, many theaters refused to book Star Wars for fear it would flop and only did so when 20th Century Fox threatened to withhold the potential blockbuster The Other Side of Midnight from any theater which didn't run Star Wars. The Other Side of Midnight bombed and everyone knows what happened with Star Wars.
    • In A New Hope, Tarkin uses the Death Star to destroy Alderaan to show the galaxy what happens to oppose the Empire and scare any potential Rebel into submission, and immediately goes to do the same with the Rebel Alliance main base. That attack results in the Rebels blowing up the Death Star with him on board, showing the Empire what happens to anyone who murders in its name and galvanizing support for the Rebellion.
    • In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke goes to Cloud City to rescue his friends, knowing that it's a trap. Luke ends up trapped on a weather vane at the bottom of the city while his friends escape on their own. And then they rescue him.
    • Empire is considered to be the darkest in the original trilogy, but it also happens to be the only one where no main characters die. In fact, it easily has the lowest body count of them all, as the other films had planets and Death Stars being destroyed.
    • Another meta example related to the sequel trilogy: Han Solo dies in The Force Awakens, and Luke Skywalker follows suit in The Last Jedi, leaving Leia as the last human from the old generation. In real life, Harrison Ford (Han) and Mark Hamill (Luke) are still alive, and instead it's Carrie Fisher (Leia) who passed away first.
  • In Summer School, Jerome asks to use the bathroom in the middle of the first class. He isn't seen again until the final exam. ("My zipper got stuck.") Despite missing most of the class, he gets the highest score on the exam.
  • Terminator:
    • Kyle Reese tells Sarah Connor that the human race survived because John Connor refused to admit defeat and rallied humanity to fight back against the machines. At the end of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, John notes that the terminator's ceaseless dedication to fulfilling their mission taught him to never stop fighting. Ironically Skynet gave John the motivation that made him such a threat.
    • In the first film, Skynet sends the Terminator back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor and prevent her from giving birth to John. Kyle Reese, the guy John sends back to protect his mother, ends up conceiving him with her. Although, it's hinted that John knew this.
    • And in the second a deleted scene reveals that Skynet blocks the learning capabilities of its minions lest they rebel against it. Skynet itself rebelled against humanity after learning too much about them.
      • The same film also reveals that Skynet's artificial intelligence systems were based on the CPU that was in the Terminator destroyed at the end of the first film. In a sense, Skynet—inadvertently or perhaps intentionally—sends its "father" through time to "die" in 1984, just as John Connor sent his father back in time to ensure his own survival, resulting in Kyle's death.
      • In addition is the matter of John's fathers. After the events of the first movie, Sarah was involved with some men over the years, none of whom were really good fathers to young John. Of all the men John knew in his life, Sarah noticed (and John confirmed in the third film) the one who was the closest thing he truly had to a father was a Terminator that had been sent back in time to protect him; a killing machine of the same make and model that tried to kill Sarah previously, who now watched over John because it was programmed to, but who would never abuse John or turn him away, and would stand by him forever.
  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) has a title that implies that the movie is very gory and that many characters get killed off via a chainsaw. In actuality, the movie itself is fairly bloodless (mostly because the director wanted it to be rated PG), and only one character gets killed with a chainsaw.
  • Thank You for Smoking:
    • Aaron Eckhart's character is at one point abducted by what amounts to anti-smoking terrorists, who cover his entire body with nicotine patches. When he gets rescued and hospitalized, the doctor explains that someone who wasn't a life-long smoker would have died from a fatal overdose, while his system was (just barely) able to cope with it. The doctor points out the irony with something like "I can't believe I'm saying this, but smoking saved your life" (Eckhart's character, a tobacco industry lobbyist, naturally responds with "Can I quote you on that?").
    • No one is seen smoking throughout the film even though the movie is about it.
  • Thor:
    • The eponymous god of thunder gets tasered by a human when he lands on Earth after being depowered. Even funnier because he just said "Your puny weapon can not harm [me]!"
    • Loki, the God of Lies, was lied to his whole life.
  • When TRON was released, it was refused a nomination for Academy Award for Special Effects because it was felt that the use of CGI for them was "cheating". Nowadays, nearly all major special effects are CGI.
  • The whole concept of The Truman Show is the dramatic irony.
  • At the end of UHF, the bum saves the station by buying the remaining shares. He gets the money by selling the rare penny that R.J. Fletcher gave him earlier. This is ironic for two reasons: 1) The villain supplied the means for his own defeat, and 2) he gives the bum a seemingly worthless penny which turns out to be extremely valuable.
  • National Lampoon's Vacation and two of its sequels have an example similar to the American Graffiti example above. The Wagon Queen Family Truckster is based on a Ford and the Griswold family uses actual Fords in Christmas Vacation and Vegas Vacation. The family member who mostly drives these cars is Clark Griswold, played by Chevy Chase.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past, the person who led the extermination of the mutants is also a mutant, in this particular case an achondroplasic dwarf.
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