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Spiritual Antithesis / Live-Action Films

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  • Werner Herzog's Aguirre, the Wrath of God is a cynical story starring Klaus Kinski, about white men heading into the Amazon to civilize it and return rich and powerful, but end up dying pointlessly. 10 years later he made Fitzcarraldo — a story starring Klaus Kinski, about white men heading into the Amazon to civilize it and return rich and powerful, and actually learning respect for their own limitations and others.
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  • Black Robe is this toward the Noble Savage romanticism of Dances with Wolves. It subverts or averts all possible cliches and stock characters that populate this kind of stories, instead paying great deal of attention to historical details and cultural context. The film goes an extra mile to portray both the unglamorous parts of natives' day-to-day life and the "good" bits, giving each the exact same amount of attention and routinely discuss or lampshade this. And rather than picking either, it endorses both inevitability of (severe) Culture Clash and how various people can be Not So Different.
  • The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Intolerance (1916). Both are films by D. W. Griffith. The former is a racist nationalist militaristic propaganda film; the latter is a tragic story of prejudice and injustice, and is considered by some film historians to be an apology for the racism in The Birth of a Nation.
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  • The Birth of a Nation (1915) by D.W. Griffith and The Birth of a Nation (2016) by Nate Parker. The clash of values is similar to the above example with Intolerance, but even more explicit considering the black slave motif and the title reference.
  • Black Swan manages to serve as both a Spiritual Sequel and Spiritual Antithesis to The Wrestler. Darren Aronofsky described them as "two halves of the same film": both involve artist protagonists whose careers wreak havoc in their personal life but The Wrestler revolves around the beauty found in the "lower art" of wrestling while Black Swan revolves around the horror found in the "higher art" of ballet. They were originally going to be the one movie — with a wrestler falling in love with a ballerina. Aronofsky realised that might be a bit much and split them into two.
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  • Brazil's idea of a dystopian authoritarian nightmare where dissidents are dragged off, never to be seen again is similar to Nineteen Eighty-Four's dystopian authoritarian nightmare where dissidents are dragged off, never to be seen again, but one major different is how the state is portrayed. In 1984 the state is infallible, never (officially) makes mistakes, and every one is constantly watched at all times in one of the worst kind of surveillance states imaginable. Even La Résistance is secretly a sting operation by Big Brother to trap wannabe dissidents. In Brazil, the state is anything but infallible; a bureaucratic disaster where mistakes are not only frequent, but sometimes outright deadly, as demonstrated at the start where a man is dragged off to be tortured and killed because of a clerical error falsely labeling him as a terrorist. And while La Résistance is real, they cause collateral damage and civilian casualties in their efforts.
  • Godzilla (2014) and Shin Godzilla. Both are reboots of the iconic kaiju franchise in question, but they portray the titular creature in vastly different ways. The 2014 version of Godzilla is a Non-Malicious Monster, going out of his way to not directly harm anyone who doesn't provoke him, and he ultimately saves the day by defeating other monsters who aren't as peaceful. The Shin version of Godzilla, on the other hand, is just as malevolent and wrathful as the original King of Monsters and has no other kaiju to deal with, making him the sole antagonist of the film.
  • Hail, Caesar! to Trumbo. Both films are period pieces about 1950's Hollywood, revolving around dramatized versions of Historical Domain Characters (Eddie Mannix and Dalton Trumbo, respectively) who end up dealing with the Red Scare as it hits Hollywood. But while Trumbo is a serious drama about a screenwriter wrongly persecuted for his Communist leanings, Hail, Caesar! is a wacky Black Comedy where the bad guys turn out to be actual Communist screenwriters. Amusingly both films are also nostalgic throwbacks to post-war cinema, featuring multiple sequences taking place on movie sets while in-universe Films Within a Film play out. Hail, Caesar! also features many No Celebrities Were Harmed versions of the historical figures who actually appear in Trumbo, but it portrays them completely differently: Trumbo has Hedda Hopper as the main villain, while Hail, Caesar! has her Fictional Counterpart(s) Thora and Thessaly Thatcher as a comedic nuisance; Trumbo features John Wayne as a villainous bully, while Hail, Caesar! has the fictional cowboy actor Hobie Doyle (a loose parody of Roy Rogers) as a good-hearted ditz; Trumbo has Kirk Douglas as a heroic idealist, while Hail, Caesar! has his Fictional Counterpart Baird Whitlock as a bumbling prima donna.
  • It's a Wonderful Life is this to The Mysterious Stranger. Both feature an "angel" that serves as a guardian to a protagonist. However, the former champions the message that every life matters and that even removing just one person from existence would have drastic consequences, while the latter basically says that nothing matters and that the universe itself is probably just a pointless figment of the narrator's imagination.
  • The anti-semitic Nazi propaganda film Jud Suss is a case of this to a little known British film Jew Suss, which adapted a novel of the same name by German-Jewish author Lion Feuchtwanger. The earlier novel/film is based upon a historical person and a miscarriage of justice that lead to his execution, which the Nazi film turns into karma for a Greedy Jew. This also makes the Nazi film a combination of Adaptational Villainy and Historical Villain Upgrade.
  • Kimmy vs. The Reverend is the antithesis to Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.
    • Both are interactive films produced by Netflix with their Choose Your Own Adventure-esque Branch Manager technology as entries in two of their live-action TV properties, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Black Mirror. However, the tonal differences in the two shows reflect in these films: Kimmy is a wacky, colorful comedy, while Bandersnatch is a grim existential horror. Kimmy creator Tina Fey deliberately went in a different direction from Bandersnatch with the Branch Manager choices with deliberate pushes towards 'good' or 'proper' endings instead of a Mind Screw approach.
    • Even lampshaded — in one bad ending, Mikey comments that the film just took a dark turn, "like that show Spooky Mirror."
  • Let the Right One In and The Film of the Book of Twilight. The latter is fairly well known for its Lighter and Softer take on vampire mythos and there's never any doubt that Edward wouldn't truly physically hurt Bella. The former is a full-on Deconstruction of the Friendly Neighborhood Vampire while Eli is a merciless predator, regardless of how nice she is to Oskar.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The DC Extended Universe vs. the MCU:
      • The MCU is a centralized production studio where every film is ready for development and they bring in a director to work out the vision of the studio. This has resulted in fairly consistent quality control, tone and a running story spanning between all the films. On the other hand some have criticized the system for diminishing the control the director has on the individual film, putting too much focus on the larger picture at the expense of what the movie could be as a standalone. Initially, the DCEU very deliberately set itself up as placing the Justice League movies at the center of the franchise and emphasizing individual directors's freedom so long as they provide the foundation for the Justice League Crisis Crossover. In fact, rather than starting with a bunch of origin stories and progressing to the crossover like the MCU did, Justice League will provide introductions to a lot of heroes who will eventually get their solo film.
      • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War. At face value, they have similar premises: A working-class hero going up against a wealthy hero over ideological differences. However, look at their subtitles: whereas Dawn of Justice is about former enemies who help found the Shared Universe's Super Team, Civil War is about former allies who break-up the Super Team.
      • Justice League (2017) and The Avengers (2012). Several of the core members of the Justice League can be considered foils or Shadow Archetypes to similar members of the Avengers, taking the same basic character archetypes and turning them on their heads.
      • Superman and Thor are both superpowered Human Aliens in red capes who see Earth as their adopted home, and end up clashing with rogue members of their species. But while Thor is a jovial Proud Warrior Race Guy with a family back on his home planet, Superman is a quiet stoic who never got a chance to know his biological family, and has to deal with feeling like an outcast among the people of Earth. Similarly, Thor does battle with Loki, his weaselly and irreverent adopted brother who becomes a Tragic Villain, and is ultimately loyal only to himself; Superman battles General Zod, a hyper-disciplined soldier and an unrepentant fascist who sees himself as serving the best interests of the Kryptonian people.
      • Wonder Woman and Captain America are both veteran soldiers dressed in patriotic colors who are much older than they appear, and were fighting America's wars long before they joined their respective super-teams. But while Captain America was the scrawny son of poor immigrants who volunteered to become the ultimate soldier to save his country, Wonder Woman is the daughter of the Queen of the Amazons and Zeus who inherited her destiny as a warrior who goes to fight against the concept of war itself, and she's forced to spend a whole century waiting for the founding of the Justice League, while Captain America is awakened after sleeping for seven decades. Also: Steve Rogers fights in World War II, a conflict that is usually remembered as history's last truly glorious battle between Good and Evil; Diana fights in World War I, a conflict that is usually remembered as a tragic and pointless waste of human life which (of course) just paved the way for another world war.
      • Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel are both noble warrior heroines who have godly powers and were active long before joining their respective super-teams. But while Wonder Woman is an Amazon who was born with divine powers and her backstory is grounded in magic and classical mythology, Captain Marvel is a highly decorated human pilot who is empowered by alien tech and her backstory is based on the science fiction and the cosmic realm. Wonder Woman is considered a Girly Girl who wears elegant dresses, works as an art museum curator, and fights with the grace of a Lady of War. In contrast, Captain Marvel is a Tomboy who eschews feminine outfits, pursues a more traditionally male-orientated military career, and fights with the brute force of a rough-and-tumble brawler.
      • Iron Man and Batman are both wealthy industrialists and corporate CEOs who live in secluded mansions and fight crime with technology, despite lacking superpowers. But while Iron Man was a reckless Manchild playboy who abused his power and wealth until a brush with death convinced him to become a superhero to atone for his past misdeeds, Batman was inspired to become a superhero after witnessing the deaths of his parents as a child, and he has seemingly never had much of a life outside crime-fighting.
      • Aquaman and Black Panther are both benevolent kings of technologically advanced hidden kingdom who wish to stop their kingdom from going to war with the outside world. But while Black Panther is a quiet stoic who was born in his native homeland and accepted by his people as a respected member of the royal family, Aquaman is a Boisterous Bruiser of mixed-ancestry who grew up in America as an outcast before returning to his ancestral home to become king. Amusingly, Aquaman's backstory would also make him a heroic version of Erik Killmonger, the Big Bad of Black Panther's movie.
      • Suicide Squad (2016) to Guardians of the Galaxy. Both are films where the main characters are criminals who are brought together to defeat a greater evil while the primary heroes of the respective universes (the Justice League and the Avengers) aren't involved. Although the Guardians weren't as corrupt, and willingly opposed Ronan, the Squad were criminals who were promised freedom if they helped defeat the Enchantress. For their lead females, Gamora couldn't agree to Thanos destroying worlds, but Harley was still loyal to The Joker. Also, the Guardians get their criminal records expunged, while the Squad do not get their promised freedom, though Deadshot does get to spend time with his daughter. Incidentally, Guardians of the Galaxy and Suicide Squad's sequel are both directed and written by James Gunn.
      • Captain Marvel and Shazam. Both are humans struggling to master amazing energy abilities with the help of a new family of allies. However, while Carol Danvers is an adult soldier empowered by alien technology due to an accident involving her long-time mentor, Billy Batson is a teenager whose powers are bestowed upon him by a wizard he only just met. Carol is generally serious and devoted with moments of snark whereas Billy generally doesn't take himself or his situation seriously. While Carol learns that people who took her in were manipulating her and separating her from her real family, Billy learns that his adoptive family cares more for him than his blood relatives. The films also end with heroes in different places. Carol leaves Earth again to fight amongst the stars, while Billy settles back in with his adoptive family.
      • After the extensively covered Troubled Production and mixed critical reception of all their film bar Wonder Woman, in 2018, WB appointed central figures like Walter Hamada and Geoff Johns to oversee their universe. In contrast, with his Auteur License granted by Disney, Kevin Feige was able to do away with the Creative commitee thus allow their directors and film maker more freedom.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy to The Avengers. On a superficial level, they're almost exactly the same story: a mismatched group of heroes must overcome personal differences to come together for an epic team-up in order to stop a mad alien conqueror who wants to use a mysterious Macguffin to Take Over the World. But while the Avengers are a team of individually respected heroes who have already proven themselves through previous solo adventures, the Guardians are a team of full-on Unlikely Heroes who are initially Only in It for the Money (or for personal revenge), and are regarded as trash by most authority figures before they ultimately save the day.
    • Doctor Strange (2016) to Thor. Both are Magic-themed characters who, after a blow to their pride, travel to other dimensions and find a true calling as superheroes defending Earth from mythical/mystical threats. However, the difference is the path they take. Thor - a Norse Physical God - starts off as being steeped into Norse Mythology and lives to uphold his Proud Warrior Race culture, which leads him to be banished to Earth. As a result, he learns to appreciate the mundanity of human culture. Doctor Strange, however, is an ordinary mortal man who starts off as discounting the existence of magic before traveling to the Ancient One's monastery and other dimensions to learn that magic does indeed exist in the MCU. In addition, the magic of Thor is portrayed as Sufficiently Advanced Technology that follow Clarke's Third Law, while the magic of Doctor Strange cannot be explained by Earth science.
    • Thor: Ragnarok to Captain America: Civil War. At the barest level, the two films do have a vaguely similar premise: Captain America and The Mighty Thor are faced with a situation that they cannot handle on their own, so they form alliances with heroes outside their solo franchises in a manner similar to The Avengers films. However, that is the only similarity the two films have. Captain America: Civil War is a gritty, Earth-based political thriller that emphasizes the collateral damage of superhero battles and how traumatized the heroes themselves are, and depicts Captain America and Iron Man fighting due to the machinations of Helmut Zemo, a non-powered, non-costumed villain effectively ending the Avengers as we know them. Thor: Ragnarok, by contrast, is a giddy Space Opera and Buddy Picture that embraces the cosmic aesthetic of Jack Kirby, and involves Thor assembling a team of fellow former Avengers and warriors of Asgard such as the Incredible Hulk, Valkyrie, (and his former enemy Loki) against Hela, a superpowered, scenery-chewing Goddess of Death. Also, while Civil War was largely set up by the events of second Avengers movie Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ragnarok plays an important role in setting up the third Avengers movie, Avengers: Infinity War.
    • Black Panther to Thor: Ragnarok. They both tell a story where the protagonist must lead his people after his father's death and fight against an attack lead by a family member he didn't know about and the revelations about wrongs done by his father that come with it. But where Ragnarok is strong on the humor even when compared to previous movies, Black Panther tones it down when compared to other MCU productions.
      • Ragnarok is about conquest and colonialism (supposedly to benefit the conquered lands), Black Panther is about isolationism and xenophobia (explicitly to protect Wakanda and maintain their increasingly narrow advantage over the world).
      • The villain of Ragnarok represents the tradition of Asgard as nation built on conquest, while the hero represents a progressive desire to move away from it and at the end of the movie Thor and the Asgardians become nomadic, breaking away from their old ways completely. The villain of Black Panther wants to drag Wakanda kicking and screaming into a position he believes it should take on an international scene, while the hero represents the respect for the country's traditions but in the end T'Challa realizes Killmonger had a point, even if his methods were wrong, and sets Wakanda to a less extreme path to break away from its old isolationism.
      • Both kingdoms have a Dark Secret, but Asgard's is very large-scale and hidden out of personal shame, and Wakanda's is very, very personal and hidden for political stability.
      • Oh, and Hela's biggest flaw is her inability to change. She kills shedloads of Asgardians and would kill anyone for what she sees as the good of Asgard and the universe. Killmonger is a somewhat inconsistent hypocritenote  whose noble-sounding rhetoric is just an excuse for him to lash out at the world over his childhood trauma for revenge.
    • Ant-Man and the Wasp to Spider-Man: Homecoming. The former is the anti-registration perspective in the wake of the events of Captain America: Civil War compared to Spidey's pro-registration point of view. Much like the earlier film, Ant-Man and the Wasp features The Everyman Animal Themed Super Being (both creepy-crawlie variants, to be exact) hero as its protagonist struggling to figure out where they belong in a post-Sokovia Accords world. Unlike Peter Parker though, Scott Lang is forced to evade the law and use out-of-date or untested tech when the former was being supplied state-of-the-art gear by Sokovia Accords poster boy Tony Stark. Additionally, whereas Spider-Man: Homecoming focused on a Kid Hero who was just starting out while dealing with school problems, Ant-Man and the Wasp is told from the adult perspective while dealing with adult issues such as parenthood. Both films end with the hero suiting up in their original gear for the final battle, but Peter is stuck battling the Big Bad Vulture with no backup in the sky while Scott has the assistance of Hope and Luis in a race to protect the shrunken Pym Technologies from the Big Bad Ensemble of Ghost and Sonny Burch. Even the villains are strikingly similar with a key difference. Both Adrian Toomes and Ava Starr are extremely sympathetic villains who turn to crime in desperate times, but the Vulture is a normal human who uses a suit to give him superpowers while Ghost is an enhanced who uses a suit to limit her debilitating abilities. Both films end with the villains having begrudging respect for the hero after they show them mercy in the final battle. Amusingly enough, both movies feature an actor named Michael Douglas playing the father of the hero's love interest. Likewise, each movie has one of the leads of Batman Returns, but with reversed morals from their roles in that movie: In Homecoming, Keaton (Batman) played the villain Adrian Toomes, but in Ant-Man and the Wasp, Michelle Pfeiffer (Catwoman) played one of the heroes, the elder Wasp.
  • SHAZAM! (2019)
    • The film contrasts with Brightburn. Both involve young boys having Superman-like powers and discovering what they're capable of, but while BrightBurn 's protagonist decides to show how dangerous he can be with that kind of power, SHAZAM! 's hero is simply acting like any other kid would with that power and learns how to become a real superhero.
    • The film also functions as a reconstruction of the Superman archetype, and is also a rebuttal of the previous DCEU movies starring Superman. Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice shows a Superman who is plagued by self-doubt, is distrusted by the people of Earth and causes collateral damage in his heroic actions. In contrast, while Billy Batson starts out with several of Clark Kent's glum attitude and accidentally destructive tendencies, he gradually lightens up and through trial and error becomes an all-loving, inspirational hero who is beloved by his hometown.
  • Pacific Rim:
  • Steven Spielberg
    • Spielberg produced Poltergeist (directed by Tobe Hooper) at the same time as he was making E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to contrast each other. He described ET as the Suburban Dream... and Poltergeist as the Suburban Nightmare.
    • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial can be considered a spiritual antithesis to Spielberg's earlier film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. They're both science fiction films about suburban everymen encountering aliens and tangling with government agents, but Close Encounters is a thriller about a suburban man embracing his inner child as he tries to understand the boundless mysteries of space, while E.T. is a light-hearted Coming-of-Age Story about a suburban boy bonding with an all-too-human alien—who spends most of the movie trying to understand the mysteries of Earth.
    • Spielberg later said War of the Worlds served as an antithesis both E.T. and Close Encounters, having an everyman discovering evil aliens instead of benevolent ones.
  • Despite being an official prequel to the Alien franchise, Prometheus is actually a Spiritual Antithesis of Aliens in many ways. While Aliens is told from the perspective of a platoon of working-class soldiers, and it largely uses the Xenomorphs as a metaphor for the insecurities of childbirth and parenthood (subtly highlighted by Ripley's relationship with Newt), Prometheus is told from the perspective of a group of well-paid academics, and it largely uses the Engineers as a metaphor for overbearing parents (subtly highlighted by Meredith Vickers' relationship with her father, Peter Weyland).
  • The Report to Zero Dark Thirty. Both fact-based Government Procedural films related to the War on Terror, but while the latter was controversial for how it portrayed torture as part of the process used to stop terrorism, the former deconstructs and refutes the idea that torture is in any way effective or necessary.
  • The film adaptation of Starship Troopers is this to its own source material. Paul Verhoeven was already working on a script that deconstructed the "War Is Glorious" trope, and after he read Heinlein's novel he kicked everything into high gear. The resulting rewrite is one giant, deliberate Take That! to the novel and what Verhoeven saw as a militaristic, borderline-fascist message, turning the novel on its head into a satire of militarism and propaganda.
  • Paul Verhoeven did this to himself once, too. One of the first films he directed back in the 70s was a Dutch Epic War Film called Soldier of Orange (by now the quintessential Dutch epic film). It involved the Dutch resistance bravely playing cat and mouse with the unscrupulous Nazi occupiers to achieve freedom. Then, after having spent decades in Hollywood, Verhoeven returned in 2006 to direct his last film - Zwartboek. The premise and plot are uncannily similar, except that the idealism levels are exactly nil. The Nazis are even more brutal, the Resistance are deeply corrupt and bigoted themselves, everyone turns on each other, 'Kill 'Em All' is in full effect, and even the end of the war doesn't hamper the conflict. It's a very bitter foil to Soldier's freedom-fighting heroism.
  • The Thin Red Line and Saving Private Ryan have been seen as this ever since they came out, largely because they were Dueling Movies. Both films are big-budget World War II epics that explore the War Is Hell theme in great depth, but they take completely different approaches to their subject matter, and ultimately come to very different conclusions about the nature of war. Saving Private Ryan tells a linear, character-driven story about sacrifice that ultimately comes to the conclusion that soldiers can redeem themselves for the atrocities of war through noble acts. By contrast, The Thin Red Line is a much more philosophical, open-ended story that seriously examines the idea that war is an inherently unnatural act, and seems to suggest that humans often fight wars without truly understanding why. The different settings also help (one is in the European Western Front, the other in the Pacific War).
  • The Thing can also come across as the antithesis to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Both films came out around the same time, but deal with first contact with aliens in very different ways: E.T. lands in the American heartland and befriends the protagonist, with the main goal being to help him return home, while the Thing turns up in the Antartic wastes, destroys everything it encounters, and must be kept from escaping at all costs.
  • The Third Man for Casablanca. Seriously, watch them back to back. It's amazing. And depressing.
  • The 2005 documentary Without My Daughter was a direct answer to the notorious 1991 drama Not Without My Daughter. In the documentary, Dr. Mahmoody argues that his ex-wife exploited anti-Iranian sentiment to make money and screw him out of custody of their daughter.
  • The Order is the spiritual antithesis to A Knight's Tale. It reunites the writer/director and three stars of the latter for a film that couldn't be more different in tone and content — bleak and humorless, with a Downer Ending thrown in for good measure. Whereas A Knight's Tale escaped the potential ire of many critics by presenting itself as nothing more than escapist fluff, The Order was roundly panned for taking itself deadly seriously in addition to simply being dull and poorly written.
  • Rio Bravo was this to High Noon. Director Howard Hawks and star John Wayne loathed High Noon's message and politics (its writer, the blacklisted Carl Foreman, having written it as a critique of McCarthyism), with Wayne calling it "the most un-American thing I've ever seen in my whole life" and Hawks referring to its protagonist as a man who "run[s] around town like a chicken with his head cut off asking everyone to help, and finally his Quaker wife had to save him." As such, they sought to make a Western with a story similar to High Noon (a town is about to be attacked by a gang of outlaws and the sheriff must gather allies to stop them), but instead of having the sheriff protagonist be somebody who barely defeats the bad guys and grows disillusioned with his job due to the townsfolk's cowardice, he is instead a morally upright man who believes in doing what's right, is surrounded by people who do the same, and is ultimately successful through his own effort and righteousness.
  • Pump Up the Volume is the Spiritual Antithesis to Heathers. In many ways, the later film is the sort of earnest, teen-issue-centred angsty melodrama the earlier film both deconstructed and parodied.
  • Madonna's film W.E. is one to The King's Speech. The latter is a loving tribute to George VI and his wife, and vilifies Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson; the former does exactly the opposite.
  • Labyrinth for The Wizard of Oz. Both films are modern musical fairy tales about innocent, virginal teenage girls being whisked away to magical lands that may or may not be imaginary, and both feature the protagonist going on a quest with a trio of non-human companions in order to get home, while being dogged by an malevolent magic-using Big Bad. However, one is a classic Hollywood musical about an incorruptibly pure farm girl who initially wants a better life, but learns to love her home and family along the way; the other is a Rock & Roll musical about a flawed, selfish, antiheroic suburban girl who undergoes her quest to save an innocent child from a gruesome fate that she herself condemned him to—and it ends with the strong implication that her magical companions followed her home. Interestingly, David Bowie's Jareth the Goblin King is practically a mirror image of Margaret Hamilton's Wicked Witch of the West: one is a hot-tempered, emotionally volatile, grotesquely ugly sorceress who revels in her Card-Carrying Villain status, while the other is a cool-headed, handsome, charismatic sorcerer who seems to consider himself a genuinely decent person.
  • A character example rather than a story one, but it still fits the trope; My Name Is Emily has Emily Egan as the Spiritual Antithesis of Harry Potter's Luna Lovegood. Both girls have Missing Moms who died in accidents when they were children. Both have a Cloud Cuckoo Lander writer for a father and both are bullied at school for their oddness. Luna is The Pollyanna about her situation, has a close-knit relationship with her father and her quirky attitude causes Character Development for others — not to mention that she is portrayed as lovably odd. Emily meanwhile is bitter and depressed, is estranged from her father, is nearly Driven to Suicide over her situation and undergoes Character Development herself through friendships — and her oddness is used to show how detached she is from reality. The kicker? Both are played by Evanna Lynch.
  • Star Wars:
    • Rogue One is this to the larger Star Wars universe. Many of the Star Wars movies (especially the Original Trilogy) portray the universe with truly Black-and-White Morality; the rebellion and the Jedi are unequivocally good, and the Empire and the Sith are equally evil. While the prequels attempted to flip this on its head (the Jedi, for example, were Lawful Neutral monks fighting for a large, corrupt republic, and the Separatists — those fighting for freedom against an oppressive government - were portrayed as evil), Rogue One took this a step further. The rebellion, which had previously been portrayed as united and pure, was now divided by infighting and filled with a sense of hopelessness. The characters, too, were deconstructions of the OT's cast: many of the rebels had committed murder and worse for the cause of rebellion — as demonstrated in the first minute that Han Solo Expy Cassian is on the screen — and, unlike Luke, Jyn wanted nothing to do with the rebellion and simply kept her head down and did her best to ignore the oppressive actions of the Empire.
    • The Last Jedi, meanwhile, can be seen as this to The Force Awakens, especially on a metatextual level. The Force Awakens was the franchise's return to the big screen after over a decade of dormancy following the end of the prequel trilogy, and as such, it leaned heavily on nostalgia for the older films. The plot largely followed the contours of A New Hope, and many characters are heavily, consciously based on their counterparts in the original trilogy (Rey = Luke Skywalker, Poe Dameron = Han Solo, Kylo Ren = Darth Vader). The Last Jedi, while following the general outline of The Empire Strikes Back, tries to reject such nostalgia and plays as an Internal Deconstruction of many classic Star Wars tropes, with its main themes concerning how the aforementioned characters — and by extension, the franchise as a whole — have to get past trying to copy the legacy of their inspirations and become their own people. It is perhaps best reflected in the most common criticisms of each film: while The Force Awakens was criticized for being too similar to the originals, to the point of inspiring the "member berries" arc on South Park, The Last Jedi was criticized for being too different from them.
    • A case can be made that Solo is this to Rogue One. Both films substitutes Black and Grey Morality in place of the franchise's usual black and white morality, featuring more morally ambiguous main characters doing morally ambiguous things. However, Rogue One is a war movie and it's leads are members of the Rebellion who are often forced to do shady things in their war against the Empire. Solo, on the other hand, is a heist movie. It's leads are ruthless criminals who are only looking out for themselves and have no interest in the budding conflict between the Empire and the nascent Rebellion. With the exception of Enfys Nest and her Cloud Riders.
  • Deadpool and Logan. Both are graphically violent R-rated spin-offs from the existing X-Men cinematic universe. However, Deadpool is a Bloody Hilarious, cheerfully amoral black comedy with a fourth-wall-breaking First-Person Smartass, while Logan is an elegiac modern western that is mostly about two beloved characters from the earlier films getting old and dying.
  • They Live and Ghostbusters (1984), specifically in terms of their political leanings. Both are sci-fi action films with a comedic/satirical undercurrent, but while Ghostbusters is a very pro-capitalist and pro-business film, with the heroes being men who use their technology to go into private enterprise and have to contend with an Obstructive Bureaucrat trying to shut them down (with disastrous results), They Live is a vicious satire of consumer capitalism, presented as an instrument for an alien ruling class to Take Over the World.
  • It (2017) and the TV show Stranger Things. Both are horror stories set in The '80s and featuring casts composed predominantly of children that draw heavily on the audience's nostalgia for that time period and its pop culture, particularly the works of Stephen King (It is an adaptation of one of his novels) and kids' adventure films like The Goonies, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and The Monster Squad. However, while Stranger Things leans fully into nostalgia, with many of the more unpalatable elements of the time either removed from the picture or given to the bad guys, It is more deconstructionist in its approach, combining the classic pop iconography of the '80s with the bullying, bigotry, and fear of crime that also permeated the culture.
  • The Coen Brothers are known for being fond of this trope. Many of their films are essentially back-to-back antitheses of one another, portraying similar ideas, themes and stories in completely opposite ways.
    • Fargo and The Big Lebowski are both stories set 20 Minutes into the Past about unsympathetic men who try to exploit their wives' kidnappings to get rich, and about the Unlikely Heroes who set out to solve their kidnappings and save the day. But Fargo is a tense drama set in the frigidly cold rural Midwest and told in a deliberately realistic and naturalistic style (to the point that it claims to be Based on a True Story note ), while The Big Lebowski is a raucous comedy set in urban Los Angeles and told in a deliberately stylized and surreal style (to the point that it includes several lengthy dream sequences). Marge Gunderson of Fargo is also a driven and hyper-competent police officer who successfully manages to bring Jerry Lundegaard to justice, but fails to save his wife Jean. By contrast, "The Dude" is a lazy, slovenly hippie who fails to solve anything, and Jeffrey Lebowski ends the movie as a Karma Houdini — though with the silver lining that his wife Bunny is perfectly safe, since she was never kidnapped in the first place.
    • No Country for Old Men and True Grit are both latter-day Western throwbacks based on novels, though they sit on completely opposite ends of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism. No Country for Old Men is a relentlessly grim and cynical Genre Deconstruction of Westerns set in the modern American Southwest about an aging sheriff who sets out to apprehend a remorseless hit-man, ending with the hit-man killing the supposed protagonist and escaping with zero consequences. True Grit, meanwhile, is a completely earnest Reconstruction of Westerns set on the actual 19th century Western frontier (to the point of being a remake of a John Wayne classic) about a young girl who sets out to avenge her parents' murder by bandits, and actually gets the justice she seeks.
    • Inside Llewyn Davis and Hail, Caesar! are both post-war period pieces about artists trying to make a living in the entertainment industry. But Inside Llewyn Davis is a downbeat drama about a struggling musician in 1960s New York, while Hail, Caesar! is a colorful comedy about a successful movie star in 1950s Hollywood. Further, the titular character of Inside Llewyn Davis is portrayed as an acerbic and antisocial man who struggles to make ends meet because he values his artistic integrity more than making money, and is probably too smart for his own good. By contrast, Baird Whitlock of Hail, Caesar! is a lovable, charming dimwit who has absolutely no problems with being a sellout, but is shown to be extremely gullible and manipulatable in spite of his great success.
  • Cloverfield and Snakes on a Plane.
    • On one hand, they can be seen as this on a meta level, as explored in this video by Ryan Hollinger. Both were monster/killer animal movies from the mid-late '00s that relied on internet-based Viral Marketing campaigns to build their buzz, being among the first major Hollywood films to really capitalize on the nascent social media of the time. Snakes on a Plane, however, focused on using its self-explanatory, high-concept title to turn itself into an internet meme, which ultimately backfired when the meme became old hat in the year between the film's announcement and its release. Cloverfield, meanwhile, used its early ads to build a mystery around itself through an Alternate Reality Game, and took only six months to do so, meaning that the film came out as hype for it was peaking instead of long after it had faded and turned to backlash. More importantly, while the marketing team for Snakes on a Plane let the broader internet culture do their job for them, meaning that the marketing for it fell victim to the vagaries of such, the marketing team for Cloverfield kept tight control over the buzz surrounding their film. The result was that, while Snakes on a Plane was a Box Office Bomb, Cloverfield was a smash hit that spawned a Modular Franchise of films that used similar Viral Marketing conceits.
    • The differences in the films' marketing are also reflected in their respective tones. Snakes on a Plane, the film that relied on internet memes to put itself into the pop culture conversation, was a goofy horror-comedy that proudly boasted a Syfy Channel Original Movie premise, its action taking place entirely within the narrow confines of a commercial airliner. Cloverfield, the film that employed a cerebral, multi-layered ARG to get people talking, was a kaiju Disaster Movie set in a massive city, one that played its premise very much for horror. Notably, while Snakes on a Plane is Exactly What It Says on the Tin and is very up-front about being such, Cloverfield relies heavily on the viewer not knowing what the hell is going on and being just as panicked as the main characters.
  • The Godfather and Goodfellas. They're generally cited as the definitive American films about the Mafia, they're both epic sagas that unfold over the course of years, and they were directed by two of the defining filmmakers of the New Hollywood era.note  But in spite of all their parallels, their portrayals of the Mafia are complete opposites in every way. The Godfather is a lavishly produced crime drama based on a bestselling novel, and it's well-known for its highly romanticized portrayal of the gangster life, portraying the central Corleone family as a clan of Noble Demons who take their family, their culture and their personal honor very seriously. By contrast, Goodfellas is a gritty and unglamorous portrayal of gangster life based on the actual life story of reformed mobster Henry Hill, portraying the (real) Lucchese family as a gang of sociopathic thugs and murderers who were Only in It for the Money, and deserved every bit of their inevitable comeuppance.
  • The Celebration and The Hunt (2012) by Thomas Vinterberg. The latter was directly presented by Vinterberg as the former's antithesis. They're both movies that deal with child abuse and rape, but take the concept in two wildly different directions: One is about a rape victim exposing his predatory father at a family dinner, and the other is about a man wrongfully accused of molesting children. Vinterberg himself put it bluntly:
Thomas Vinterberg: Things have become colder and more fearful, obviously. We've lost the innocence, and for good reasons. [...] I was here to tell that in [The Celebration]. Now I'm here to tell the antithesis, and I'm afraid the sad truth is somewhere in between these movies.
  • The LEGO Movie and Ready Player One (2018). Both are The Hero's Journey narratives about the power of imagination, both feature a Framing Device involving a young everyman playing make-believe in an imaginary world, and both are notable for their huge volume of cameos from licensed pop culture characters. But Ready Player One is a celebration of 21st century new media (the internet and video games, in particular), it plays its central Quest narrative more-or-less straight, and its framing device is an epic science-fiction tale involving sinister megacorporations in a dystopian future. Conversely, The LEGO Movie celebrates more old-fashioned forms of entertainment, it's an affectionate send-up of quest stories where The Hero turns out to be just as ordinary as he appears, and its framing device turns out to be a simple family drama about a little boy with an overworked father.
  • John Wick and Keanu are both films about men who lose their beloved pets to despicable criminals, which both happen to feature Keanu Reeves quite prominently—but they're complete opposites in every other conceivable way. John Wick is a dark, action-packed crime thriller about a notoriously feared hitman who gets a dog from his beloved wife shortly before her death, and sets out to dismantle a massive criminal empire by force to get revenge on the father of the weaselly mobster who kills his dog. By contrast, Keanu is a raucous comedy about a perfectly ordinary African-American suburbanite who adopts a stray cat after being dumped by his girlfriend, and sets out to get his cat back through bluffs and improvisation after it's kidnapped by a lowly street gang. The kicker? John Wick features Keanu Reeves in a starring role as the titular hitman, while he's the namesake of the titular cat in Keanu—and he has a cameo as the voice of the cat in a dream sequence.
  • At first glance, Godzilla and Astro Boy don't have much in common outside of being two of the most iconic and prolific characters to come from Japan, until one realizes that both are powered by nuclear energy, and were created not too long after the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Godzilla (or more accurately, Gojira) is a horrific reptilian monster inadvertently born from nuclear fallout, his rampage being a metaphor for the devastation of the bombings and the folly of mankind's hubris. Astro Boy, however, is a heroic, friendly Robot Kid built with an atomic power cell who embodies that even the most dangerous things can be used for good if used wisely. (Although some of Astro's stories certainly did not shy away from the dangers it possessed.)
    Another way the two mirror each other is their relationship with American media. For Astro Boy, it played a role in his creation, via the influx of American media post-World War II, particularly that of Disney, being some of Osamu Tezuka's greatest inspirations. For Godzilla, it played a role his evolution, with the American cut distancing Godzilla from the Nuclear Weapons Taboo of his inception and laying the groundwork for the Big G to grow into an Anti-Hero and, ironically enough, an ambassador of Japanese tourism.
  • In an interview, filmmaker, Zack Snyder said that he was "surprised" by the success of The Avengers, and considered his own superhero team movie, Watchmen, as a kind of "Anti-Avengers".
  • The Purge films and Get Out are both "social horror" movies from the 2010s produced by Blumhouse Productions, using horror movie tropes to tackle themes of race and class in America. However, while both movies are condemning and satirizing racism and inequality, the manner in which they operate and deliver those messages could not be more different. The Purge, and especially its sequels, are gritty action-horror movies set in dark, creepy nighttime streets in which the titular holiday is used as an excuse to Kill the Poor, with the New Founding Fathers and their supporters depicted as thuggish WASP elitists who openly scorn the lower classes and the non-white (neo-Nazis and Klansmen are shown to be enthusiastic participants). Get Out, on the other hand, is a slow-burn Psychological Horror film set in a lush Stepford Suburbia (that trope's namer having been a major influence on the film) in which the villains wear a mask of Bourgeois Bohemian liberalism, with their racism being less rooted in open hatred and bigotry than it is in condescension and appropriation of black lives.
  • Tropic Thunder is this and a Spiritual Successor to ¡Three Amigos! and Galaxy Quest. They're all about actors who are mistaken for the heroes they play, but while Three Amigos and Galaxy Quest are Affectionate Parodies of classic westerns and sci-fi (specifically Star Trek), respectively, Tropic Thunder is a very caustic Deconstructive Parody of war movies, specifically Apocalypse Now.
  • Clueless and Kids are a pair of teen movies from 1995 about the problems of growing up, but both approach it from two completely different angles. Clueless is a PG-13-rated comedy about a privileged Valley Girl from bright and sunny Beverly Hills, its plot being about The Power of Friendship in bringing people together, while Kids is an NC-17-rated cautionary tale about juvenile delinquents in grungy New York whose relationships are mutually destructive and wind up giving them HIV, drug addictions, and lasting scars. Tom Doher, writing for Cineaste magazine, described the two films' opposite worldviews thusly:
    "No wonder the polar rift in directorial sensibilities ([Amy] Heckerling and [Larry] Clark represent two diametrically opposed attitudes to filmmaking no less than towards adolescence) was seized upon as emblematic of American culture's own ambivalences towards the permanent subcultures in its midst. Are the kids alright or all screwed up, budding citizens heading into a better tomorrow or pretty vacant punks with no future?"
  • The Full Monty and Calendar Girls. Both are British comedy-drama films about aging Yorkshire natives who hatch unlikely plans to make money by getting naked. But one is about a group of impoverished working-class men in urban Sheffield who decide to stage a strip act after they're laid off from their blue-collar jobs, and because one of them is really desperate to make his child support payments so that he can see his son. The other is about a group of middle-class women in the Yorkshire countryside who decide to pose nude for a calendar to raise money for a volunteer organization, starting when one of them loses her husband to leukemia. Amusingly, both of them also have stage and musical adaptations.
  • The titular villains of the Alien and Predator series are both alien creatures who like to violently kill humans and are presented as some of the most fearsome hunters in the world, but that's where the similarities end. The xenomorphs from the Alien films are pure animals, mindless killing machines whose sole purpose in life is to eat and reproduce with no capacity for reason. Outside of the second film, its victims are usually people who were caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, be they Space Truckers in the first film, convicts in the third, or scientists in the films after that. The Yautja from the Predator films, on the other hand, are a Proud Warrior Race of Egomaniac Hunters who believe in fighting their prey honorably rather than simply slaughtering them, sparing the lives of unarmed combatants who pose no threat to them, and giving themselves a challenge to make things more interesting and fair, specifically targeting elite killers from alien societies (the Special Forces team in the first film, the Gang Bangers and cops in the second, the motley crew of soldiers and hardened criminals in Predators) and even dropping some of their weapons in order to even the odds. Ironically, these stark differences wound up making for great crossover fodder. In the Alien vs. Predator franchise, the Yautja treat the xenomorphs as the ultimate big-game prey, going so far as to breed them for hunting purposes.
  • The 2018 remake of Suspiria (1977) is a case study in how two directors can approach the exact same story and produce two radically different takes on it. The 1977 original, directed by Dario Argento, is famous for its bright visual palate and use of color to convey emotion and theme, while for the 2018 version, Luca Guadagnino used mostly washed-out colors for a bleak visual design and instead employed dance as the film's major stylistic flair. Furthermore, while both films are set in West Germany in 1977, Argento's version is a dark fairy tale set in what was then the present day that's not interested in the world outside of the dance academy and the people within it, while Guadagnino's version is a grounded Period Piece deeply rooted in the setting and the political strife of the time period, using its story as a metaphor for Germany's grappling with its postwar national guilt.
  • Jesus, Bro! and Let There Be Light (2017) are both about an atheist converting to Christianity after a near-death experience involving alcohol, but are complete opposite in terms of tone. Jesus, Bro!, directed by the agnostic Brad Jones is a parody of Christian films like God's Not Dead, while Let There Be Light, directed by the Christian, Kevin Sorbo, is exactly that kind of movie. David Gobble's character from the former, Rick Whitehead, is an atheist Youtuber who initially gets sick at the mere sight of a man praying. He eventually converts after passing out from a night of drinking and meeting Santa Christ, but only because he thinks it will make his ex-girlfriend come back to him. Kevin Sorbo's character from the latter, Dr. Sol Harkens, is a Christian who turned atheist after his son David died from cancer, and tried to make others into atheists like him. He eventually rediscovers his faith after suffering a drunk driving accident and seeing visions of David. Rick proves to be just a bad as when he was an atheist, but Sol is portrayed as a much better person after his conversion. The main theme of Jesus, Bro! is that having a religion doesn't automatically make you a better person, the main theme of Let There Be Light is being a Christian totally make you a better person. The Cinema Snob, a video series hosted by Brad Jones, naturally lampshaded this during an episode about Let There Be Light, referring to the film as, "Jesus Bro!, but for real."
  • Die Hard is this to Escape from New York. Two of the most influential action films of The '80s, both are about a lone man in a tank top with a "cowboy" attitude fighting to escape from a Closed Circle full of bad guys trying to kill him, all with a darkly comedic streak to their heroics (both Bruce Willis and Kurt Russell had been comedy actors before they became action heroes). The ways in which they handle this basic story outline, however, are at near-complete odds, especially when it comes to the routes they take with their Genre Deconstruction.
    • The biggest difference comes in their respective protagonists, Snake Plissken and John McClane. Snake's backstory is that of an archetypal Rated M for Manly Hollywood Action Hero, a one-eyed ex-Special Forces operative turned bank robber who was on his way to prison before being recruited for his mission. Russell may not have the Heroic Build of someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but everything else about his performance tells the viewer that he can kick ass, take names, and get the job done. He goes into the Manhattan prison island on the orders of the good guys (well, as good as the pseudo-fascist American government of 1997 can be said to be) to rescue the President in exchange for having his sentence commuted, and the only reason he cares about his mission is because of the Explosive Leash they implanted in his neck. John McClane, on the other hand, is an ordinary police officer who was thrust into harm's way unprepared by the bad guys when they took over Nakatomi Plaza, and despite his genuinely badass feats, he winds up more an Action Survivor than anything, ending the film in terrible shape and grateful that it's over. His motivations for fighting them are personal: they're threatening his wife, who, marital problems aside, he still loves and cherishes. In short, while Snake is an Anti-Hero who happens to be the perfect man for the mission, McClane is a conventionally heroic figure (albeit a salty one) who was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and is out of his element.
    • They also occupy opposite points on the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism. Escape from New York, written shortly after Watergate, is a very cynical film, as was typical of John Carpenter's output, with Snake's handlers outside Manhattan, the United States Police Force, being a bunch of jackbooted thugs shown right from the start to not have his best interests in mind and arguably portrayed as more villainous than the Duke of New York. His feeling is mutual, such that he decides to screw them over at the end for it. It's set in a dystopian near-future, and Snake is very much a product of that Bad Future. (The sequel Escape from L.A. goes even further, portraying the far-right, theocratic US government in 2013 as outright evil and the Greater-Scope Villain, one that's just as bad as Cuervo Jones' communist Shining Path army.) Die Hard, on the other hand, is far more optimistic, firmly believing that Good Is Old-Fashioned in its framing of McClane as an old-school, blue-collar, all-American Joe who feels like a Fish out of Water when juxtaposed with both the Japanese-flavored corporate excess of Nakatomi Plaza and the suave European villainy of Hans Gruber. Sgt. Al Powell, McClane's police contact outside the building, is a genuinely good man who agonizes over the mistake he made that got a boy killed, and quickly becomes his most trustworthy ally. In many ways, Die Hard serves as a celebration of the Patriotic Fervor and cultural cheerleading of '80s America that Escape From New York offered a far more satirical take on.
  • People's Republic of Desire is one to Ralph Breaks the Internet due to former's much more cynical take on online content creation. While People's Republic of Desire is a documentary and Ralph Breaks The Internet is a family cartoon, they both follow characters entering the world of online content creation in order to make money to preserve their way of life. However, where Ralph stumbles into fame and succeeds in his original goal with the help of the platform and bows out when he's done. The streamers in People's Republic of Desire struggle against one another and are ultimately exploited by the platform they use with they're attempts to maintain their fame fail as they're replaced by other streamers.
  • Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery is an antithesis to one of its inspirations, Adam Adamant Lives!. Both are suave superspies who were frozen for several decades before going back to action. But, Adam Adamant is a Gentleman Adventurer from the Edwardian era, who's a Fish out of Water among the liberated '60s swingers, despite being adored by his free-love enthusiast sidekick. Austin Powers is a Tuxedo and Martini-style '60s spy who is thawed out in The '90s, when the excesses of the '60s were replaced by a more conservative lifestyle, while his sidekick's not an average Bond Girl but a feminist who considers him a pathetic and unattractive has-been. This aspect was abandoned in the sequels, where Austin is again considered the ultimate stud, making it a closer parody of the former show.
  • Early in his career, Jackie Chan was pressured into imitating the recently departed Bruce Lee, but he ended up finding success by deliberately doing the opposite, making comedic films that used kung fu for slapstick as opposed to the more serious, dramatic films Lee made.
    Jackie Chan: "Bruce Lee kick high, I kick low. Bruce pose after a punch, I go 'ow'."
  • John Wick can be seen as the "anti-Matrix", as outlined in this video by Mikey Neumann. Both are American action films starring Keanu Reeves that are filled with beautifully-shot fistfights, shootouts, and car chases inspired by Hong Kong Heroic Bloodshed and martial arts movies, but whereas the action in The Matrix is meant to be slick and elegant, the action in John Wick is brutal and utilitarian. Furthermore, while the 34-year-old Reeves in The Matrix was a young heartthrob best known for the Bill & Ted films and Point Break (1991), his character being eager to throw himself into the action and serving as an Audience Surrogate for the young men the film was aimed at, the 52-year-old Reeves in John Wick played a world-weary Retired Badass who wanted to keep it that way and not get back into that life.
  • Striptease and Showgirls. Both erotic films from the 1990s about hard-working strippers taking on powerful men and winning, though they're both much more famous for their dance sequences. But Showgirls (released in 1995) is an erotic drama about Nomi Malone, a blonde-haired young woman with a Dark and Troubled Past who eagerly sets out to seek a career as a showgirl, only to find that the world of professional dancing is a dangerously cutthroat world where most dancers are out to get each other; Striptease (released in 1996) is an erotic comedy about Erin Grant, a dark-haired divorcee and single mother who's forced to become a stripper to make ends meet after she loses her "respectable" secretary job, but finds that most strippers are fiercely loyal to each other. Nomi gets repeatedly shamed for her erotic dancing, and is often told that it amounts to prostitution; Erin is frequently assured that it's just a job, and strippers deserve just as much respect as everyone else. Their contrasting settings also help: one is set in Las Vegas in the West, and the other is set in Miami in the East.
  • La La Land to The Notebook, Ryan Gosling's other retro-flavored epic romance from the previous decade. Both feature Gosling's character in a relationship with a Fiery Redhead that slowly falls apart over time, but they take the premise to completely opposite conclusions. The Notebook is a classic "Star-Crossed Lovers" story about two teenagers in 1940s North Carolina who defy their families to court each other, only to be forced apart by circumstances beyond their control; the ending also features the female lead tragically succumbing to Alzheimer's and forgetting that their relationship ever happened. By contrast, La La Land is a love story set in modern Los Angeles between two adults who freely fall in love, but slowly have to face the fact that they aren't as perfectly compatible as they thought, ultimately choosing to let each other go in order to pursue their respective dreams; the ending also highlights the fact that they'll always remember each other, and that they changed each other's lives for the better—even if their relationship ultimately didn't work out. One could make a pretty good case for calling the film "The Notebook for grown-ups".
  • Independence Day and the 2005 adaptation of The War of the Worlds, as described in this video by Lindsay Ellis. Both are stories about an Alien Invasion destroying American society, with War of the Worlds recycling a lot of Independence Day's visual shorthand, but the two films go for very different tones that reflect their respective pre-9/11 and post-9/11 origins. In Independence Day, the heroes make quips about kicking alien ass, the focus of the carnage is on Monumental Damage that is framed to look cool and exciting, the invasion brings the world together as one to fight the aliens off, and the film overall has a very strong America Saves the Day feel. War of the Worlds, on the other hand, drew on the 9/11 attacks four years prior for inspiration; the characters' reactions to the invasion range from panic to a desire for revenge, focus is placed on loss of human life that is played for horror (the only real landmark that gets blown up is the Bayonne Bridge), the invasion causes society to break down, and the aliens are defeated by terrestrial microbes after the military struggles to stop them.
  • The Wicker Man (1973) was made in sharp contrast to the Hammer Horror films that had ruled British horror cinema for fifteen years by then, with director Robin Hardy and writer Anthony Shaffer setting out to make a horror film that treated seriously the pagan religious traditions that, by that point, had become cliches in Hammer's films. Christopher Lee's villain was also radically different from the Dracula that he was best known as — instead of an immortal, aristocratic vampire who lives in a castle, Lord Summerisle is a human, pagan religious leader who lives in tune with nature.
    Hardy: "We had been aficionados of the Hammer films. They used all the old clichés of the witchcraft thing, holding up crosses, garlic — things the Catholic Church invented as propaganda against the still-surviving old religion that they had replaced. We thought it would be quite good to create a society where the actual Celtic religion informed everybody. We went for all the religious and quasi-religious things which informed the mythology of various nations going back, back, back."
  • The Highwaymen is an anti-thesis to Bonnie and Clyde and other films that glamorized the Outlaw Couple pair by depicting them as free-spirited Loveable Rogues (a glamour that is mostly still lasting today). Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker are never shown up close until their death scene, only seen from afar as they're robbing civilians and graphically murdering police officers, as if all we're seeing is eyewitness testimonies of their worst crimes. Additionally, the actual main characters, Frank Hamer and Maney Gault, two seasoned Texas Rangers, are depicted as quite methodical and ruthless in their quest to hunt down the two without any attempt to whitewash their actions, and are even depicted as pretty boring everyday people. For them, it's just a job like any other and unlike Bonnie and Clyde, they're not in it for the glory.
  • Demolition Man and Idiocracy are dark comedies about a man from The Present Day who is cryogenically frozen and awakened in a dystopian future, where he uses his knowledge from the past to save the day and put the world back on track. However, both have completely different protagonists and predictions of the future they wake up to. Demolition Man is about a Cowboy Cop brought into an ultra-safe world in which all crime, violence, obscenity, and dissent have been eliminated through deliberate social engineering, one that is so sheltered and pampered that it cannot deal with a single dangerous criminal. Idiocracy, meanwhile, is about the most average soldier in the military awakening in a world so degraded by consumerism and Anti-Intellectualism that it cannot take care of even basic societal duties like waste management and agriculture, a change that is presented as a natural evolution of current trends.
  • Back to the Future and Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure are both 1980s films about rock'n'roll-loving teenagers who travel through time. However, Back to the Future deliberately averted the raunchy humor of other teen movies at the time (e.g. from Fast Times at Ridgemont High or Revenge of the Nerds), while Bill And Ted embraced it. The time machines between both films are also decidedly different. In Back to the Future, the time machine is a modified (then-)current-day car, while Bill And Ted's time machine is a modified phone booth (a la Doctor Who) from the future. And most notably, Marty in Back to the Future accidentally traveled back in time, whereas Bill and Ted intentionally travel through time.
  • In 2010, Alexandre Aja directed Piranha 3D, a horror movie about aquatic predators that played its campy premise to the hilt, and was filled with tons of Black Comedy and Bloody Hilarious gore. In 2019, he directed Crawl, another horror movie about aquatic predators that took itself far more seriously, the killer alligators Played for Horror as a genuine menace to the protagonists.
  • Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is both this and a Spiritual Successor to his previous film Inglourious Basterds. They're both historical films starring Brad Pitt that are billed as standard period pieces, but turn out to be alternate history films about infamous historical "monsters" getting the comeuppance that they didn't get in Real Life. But Inglourious Basterds features Pitt as a hardened military officer who commands a crack commando unit, while Hollywood features him as a burned-out aging Hollywood stuntman past his prime. As an epic war film about the Nazi occupation of France, Inglourious Basterds is ultimately about the evil of authoritarianism, while Hollywood (a true crime film about the Manson Family murders) touches on the dark side of anti-authoritarianism. And while Inglourious Basterds ends with Adolf Hitler getting shot to death in spectacular fashion, Hollywood ends with three members of the Manson Family getting spectacularly butchered—but also with Charles Manson himself alive and free.
  • Joker
    • To The Brave One. Both feature protagonists who are beaten savagely by society and want revenge on a system that wronged them. The films even have the main characters commit their first murders on a subway while being antagonized. The difference is that while Arthur Fleck of Joker blames society for the issues he faces, Erica of The Brave One seeks to make her city a safer place for the society that lives there. Ironically, the Joker is lifted up by the society he hates, while Erica remains hidden and her actions are never attributed to her. The Brave One is the optimistic version of Joker.
    • Also to the early DC Extended Universe films, especially Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Like Superman, Arthur is depicted as a troubled messianic figure who occasionally adopts the crucifix pose. Also like Batman, he was broken from decades of failure to the point of becoming a nihilist. The similarities end there, as Arthur descends into madness and evil while the aforementioned characters find Heroic Resolve and eventually overcome their existential crisis to become/revert back to becoming heroes. While the World's Finest heroes in the DCEU are shaped into the best versions of themselves by their families and friends, Arthur is corrupted by these same influences.
  • Ice Cube felt that many of the hood films of the early '90s (including some that he had starred in) were pointlessly grim, gave off a bad image of urban communities as Vice Cities, and missed the fun that a lot of people had growing up in places like South Central, so he wrote Friday as a Lighter and Softer version of that material. Its plot, about two guys having to pay back a psychotic drug dealer who they owe money to, could be taken from any number of contemporary urban crime dramas... except it's a Stoner Flick in which all of that is Played for Laughs, the inciting incident being one of the main characters smoking all the weed he was supposed to sell.
    "In the hood, they was doing movies like Boyz n the Hood, which I did, Menace II Society, South Central, and even Colors, going back that far. Everybody was looking at our neighborhood like it was hell on Earth, like the worst place you can grow up in America. And I’m like, why? I didn’t see it all that way. I mean, I knew it was crazy around where I grew up but we had fun in the hood. We used to trip off the neighborhood."
  • Joe Cornish created Attack the Block as a response to the British "hoodie horror" films of the 2000s like Harry Brown, Eden Lake, and Heartless, in which young, lower-class delinquents from the inner cities were portrayed as sadistic villains. In this film, the street toughs were instead the heroes battling an Alien Invasion.
    "This is certainly a reaction to [those] often brilliantly-made and well-crafted movies that I think take a slightly inhuman approach to an issue that, actually, involves very young kids. I think that's the easy option, to take something in the world that already is demonised and frightens people, and just make it even more scary and horrible. ... I don't think it's an incredibly radical premise to try and have sympathy for someone who has made a mistake. I think you'll find it in the Bible quite a lot, and in various faiths; for me it's quite a simple dramatic premise, and I'd be alarmed if contemporary society decided that it could only have absolutely clean-cut, morally pure characters in its narratives. If you went through the history of art and literature doing that, you'd lose most of it!"
  • Cassandra Cain in Birds of Prey (2020) is this to Billy Batson in SHAZAM! (2019). Both are Kid Heroes with Alliterative Names who have foster parents and get pulled into superheroics, but whereas Billy got a loving surrogate family and became a superhero in his own right and the leader of a team of such, Cass instead got a foster couple who are only heard offscreen yelling at each other in one scene, causing her to turn to a life of petty crime and later become the sidekick to Harley Quinn.
  • The Palme d'Or winners Shoplifters (2018) and Parasite (2019) almost feel like a situation where two filmmakers got the same writing prompt, but with slightly different instructions. The prompt would be something like "Put together a full-length film set in your East Asian country's largest city about a poor family living in squalid conditions, who turn to petty crime as a way to deal with their situation, with the question of whether Capitalism Is Bad as a running theme. The family must contain a shrewd father figure, a Mama Bear mother figure, a young male with Hidden Depths, and a young woman who is skilled at roleplaying. There must be a Halfway Plot Switch centered around a Reveal that turns the story on its ear. Also, there must be a scene toward the end with the young male in the hospital recovering from the wounds of a serious injury, and also a scene where a deceased older woman is buried in the yard of a house by the father figure." But Shoplifters director Hirokazu Kore Eda would've gotten the prompt with the added sentence "Do it as a colorful human drama in a manner reminiscent of Charles Dickens," while Parasite's Bong Joon-ho got the prompt with "Do it as a Black Comedy-laden Thriller, with Horror elements, in a manner reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock."
  • The Shawshank Redemption to Cool Hand Luke. Both stories centre around a Blithe Spirit who gets sent to a brutal prison, gradually earns the respect of their fellow convicts at the expense of becoming hated by the guards, and eventually starts trying to escape. However, Luke's attempts to escape are framed as a matter of Honor Before Reason, as he was only meant to serve a short sentence for a minor crime, and his escape attempts just keep making things worse until his eventual death. In Shawshank, on the other hand, the protagonist is serving a double life sentence for a murder he didn't commit, and after 19 years of hard work, he eventually flees to live a happy life in Mexico.
  • Marriage Story to Kramer vs. Kramer: Both are films set in the late 1970snote  and deal with a couple divorcing and its effects on their only son. While in Kramer most of the film deals on the father-son relationship and the ending hints to a reconciliation between the parents, Story squarely focuses on the couple's conflict, which leads to one of the bleakest endings ever made for a family drama.
  • The Good Son to Home Alone. Both are about an intelligent boy played by Macaulay Culkin with great ingenuity and a penchant for causing pain. But while Kevin McCallister from the latter is a Kid Hero defending his home from burglars, Henry Evans from the former is a sociopathic Enfant Terrible willing to murder his own family.
  • Oliver Stone's World Trade Center is this to his film JFK. At that point, the 9/11 attacks were already starting to displace the assassination of John F. Kennedy as the most notorious conspiracy theory subject matter in American society and popular culture, and given that the main dramatic thrust of JFK was to endorse the conspiracy theory around the assassination, critics expected the worst when they learned that Stone would be making a film about 9/11, namely that he would promote various crackpot ideas about who was really behind the attacks. Instead of a cynical Conspiracy Thriller, however, World Trade Center turned out to be a straightforward Based on a True Story Disaster Movie about a group of Port Authority police officers fighting for survival amidst the attacks, the focus placed on their heroism.
  • Harry Brown to Gran Torino. Both are thrillers about elderly veterans played by acclaimed, Academy Award-nominated actors (Michael Caine and Clint Eastwood, respectively) whose wives have passed away and whose lives have gone downhill since, and who now live alone in rough neighborhoods plagued by youth gangs that they fight back against. Gran Torino is a deconstruction of the vigilante film, one in which Walt Kowalski ultimately refuses to engage in a Cycle of Revenge that would just bring more bloodshed to a suffering community, even if it means dying. Harry Brown is the same plot played straight (and British), as the titular protagonist buys a gun and uses his military training to clean up the mean streets of his London housing estate.
  • Dead Ringers to The Fly (1986). Both are David Cronenberg films adapted from written works, coming one after the other in his filmography. Each is a Psychological Thriller Tragedy with only a few significant characters in which a man's jealous love for a woman inadvertently sends him into Sanity Slippage, culminating in a grisly finale. Both involve extensive special effects and a lead actor who was very seriously committed to their performance on physical and mental levels. But where The Fly is a science fiction film involving a transformation into both a Half-Human Hybrid and Mad Scientist with extreme amounts of onscreen Body Horror, Dead Ringers is a more realistic story of a gynecologist who becomes a Mad Doctor and the Body Horror is more suggested than shown. Where The Fly involves two entities (the scientist and a housefly) merging into one with the special effects creating that creature, Dead Ringers involves two entities trying to separate themselves — the doctor and his twin, who have shared the same life if not body, with the special effects allowing one actor to play both. The visuals, acting, and tone are icy and chic in Dead Ringers, whereas The Fly is warmer and dowdier. Interestingly, these two films are the most frequently cited candidates for the title of Cronenberg's Magnum Opus. The Dead Ringers trailer actually positioned it as this trope in its narration (and used Recycled Trailer Music from its precursor): "From David Cronenberg, who in The Fly made the fantastic real...Now, David Cronenberg makes reality the ultimate fantasy."
  • Director Panos Cosmatos stated in the interview that his first two films - Beyond the Black Rainbow and Mandy (2018) - are yin-yang to each other, as both of them were inspired from his real-life grief over the death of his parents. They both combine surreal and nightmarish imagery with very long takes and monochromatic light saturation, though as an action/revenge story, the latter has a tighter plot and more emphasis on action and gore.
  • Best Picture Oscar winner Moonlight is this to Richard Linklater's Boyhood. Both films are about a coming-of-age of a boy from his childhood to adulthood, but the two's setting and the production were a polar opposite. Boyhood took 12 years to shoot while Moonlight took a less than a month. The former used the same actor to play a straight middle-class caucasian, while the latter used three actors to play a gay lower-class black man at three stages in his life. The former took place in suburban Austin, Texas while the latter took place in a housing project area of Miami, Florida.


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