‘Edge of Tomorrow’ Writer On the Ending & Abandoned Plot Twist

Published 10 months ago by , Updated July 3rd, 2014 at 7:26 pm,

Beach Attack Sequence in Edge of Tomorrow Edge of Tomorrow Writer On the Ending & Abandoned Plot Twist

[SPOILERS AHEAD for Edge of Tomorrow!]

The conclusion to last month’s Tom Cruise-led sci-fi blockbuster Edge of Tomorrow has been pretty heavily scrutinized and examined by the collective film geek community; we even devoted an entire article to explaining the film’s ending and determining whether or not it does, in fact, violate the rules of time-travel established earlier on by the movie.

Co-screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie (who shall next direct Cruise in Mission: Impossible 5) has weighed in on the matter, explaining why Edge of Tomorrow ends the way it does – also revealing that the third act could’ve been even more complicated (or convoluted, depending on how you look at it) than it wound up being. Indeed, the scripted third act was, at one point, quite different than the version we eventually got – a topic that was broached on the related episode of the Screen Rant Underground Podcast (you can listen to the discussion here).

The short of it: there was an early Edge of Tomorrow script draft (possibly, multiple ones) that was more low-key and better paid off plot threads introduced earlier in the film. At the very least, it didn’t involve Bill Cage (Cruise), Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), and the members of J Squad killing the Omega – only for a seemingly dead Bill to absorb its blood, regain his “resetting” ability, and wake back up on his helicopter ride from the day before, now the only person who knows how the Mimics were defeated. Here is what McQuarrie told Film School Rejects, with regard to why Edge of Tomorrow ends that way:

“I was always arguing it has to end on the helicopter. You have to be thrown back to wondering, ‘Did the movie even happen? Did any of this really happen?’ To that end, there were a million things you had to do with the writing and visually, to serve that ending. That presented a lot of challenges and debate for us. We really struggled to deliver what the movie needed to be emotionally. I know the ending was somewhat controversial, with some people who didn’t like it. I think the only way to make those people happy would to end the movie in a way that wasn’t happy. We weren’t interested in doing that. It needed to end in a way that wasn’t harsh.”

The FSR article clarifies that McQuarrie wasn’t necessarily thinking of a “happy ending” for Edge of Tomorrow from the beginning; it was only after Cruise continually stressed the humorous elements of the story that McQuarrie decided the story ought to do what all domestic comedies narratives do in the end – restore the status quo. As such, the decision was thereafter made to bypass any version of the ending where Cage didn’t wind up… well, right back where he started, albeit having secretly been responsible for saving the day (and him becoming a changed man in the process).

Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow Reviews Edge of Tomorrow Writer On the Ending & Abandoned Plot Twist

Of course for many people, their problem with Edge of Tomorrow‘s ending doesn’t have so much to do with Cage avoiding a permanent death as it does with how he is able to survive – thus raising even more questions about how time-travel and the “resetting” reality actually works in this film’s universe. (Because the ending as presented introduces some major plot holes, is the argument in a nutshell). Well, it turns out that the movie’s third act could’ve been even more complex than it is, had the script included the plot twist that McQuarie describes below:

“When Tom loses the power, and they go to Paris, and Tom is preparing the team as they go into Paris where he’s telling them the rules of the movie, he tells the team everything the audience knows. Basically, he told them: ‘Kill as many Mimics as you want, but do not kill an Alpha. If you kill an alpha we’ll be right back here having this conversation, and we won’t even know it. The enemy will know we’re coming and they’ll kill us all.’ When they get to Paris there’s the classic horror movie scene where one of them gets separated from the group, and he gets attacked by an Alpha and kills it. As he kills it, you see the Omega reset the day and you see the point-of-view of the villain. We cut to the plane and hear the same speech all over again. This time when he gets to the line, ‘You can bet they’ll have a plan to kill us all,’ the ship gets hit. As the audience, you realize the enemy knows they’re coming. The problem was you were so exhausted by the time you got to that point.”

This particular twist was cut out to avoid bogging down the Edge of Tomorrow script in even more expositional dialogue – apparently, even Blunt and director Doug Liman had started to complain about the sheer amount of expository material in the screenplay, once production got underway.

Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow Reviews1 Edge of Tomorrow Writer On the Ending & Abandoned Plot Twist

Admittedly, the inclusion of the plot point described by McQuarrie probably wouldn’t have done much, as far as helping to clear up the movie’s final moments. At the same time, though, this may be a proper illustration of why the filmmakers decided to just skip on incorporating more time-twisting turns and/or explanatory plot material in the third act – instead deciding to bring the story full circle and leave it to the audience to figure out just how it got there.

Indeed, as McQuarrie has pointed out, Edge of Tomorrow ultimately does restore things to the way they were – which is precisely what a well-structured “comedy” is supposed to do, technically speaking. Still, be sure and let us know if you think the ending to Edge of Tomorrow is perfectly fine as is, if it left you confused by what happened and/or you would have preferred a completely different third act altogether.

Edge of Tomorrow is now playing in theaters.

Source: Film School Rejects

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  1. For me, it was the best movie of the year

    • Agreed- this movie was the first that I thought was at all cerebral this year, definitely the best movie of ’14 for me so far. Liked the ending a lot- at a certain point, a movie needs to serve the audience as well as the internal logic of the story. Personally I thought they got the balance right and left neither under-served.

      PS. If they saw X-Men DOFP then they’d know they’re on the lower end of the exposition scale lol

    • Yes, I agree, I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a movie this much in a very long time. Seen it 3 times already, twice for free in screenings, and paid to watch it a third, want to see it again already…

      I loved the ending. I’m so glad they decided to make a happy ending. Seeing Rita as the stubborn pain in the butt she always was brought a big smile to my face. Someone that awesome cannot just be dead. And it was really refreshing to see her the same as before in a happy ending after seeing her die so many times in the movie. 😀

    • Marvel movies had my full attention until Edge came along and blew me away and proving once again that Tom Cruise is still in Cruise control! This movie was da bomb!

    • Agree! I’ve just seen it with a couple of friends and we all wondered why we haven’t seen it before! Terrific movie!

  2. Agree this movie was excellent. I enjoyed it more than Godzilla and WAY more than the MESS that was transformers. It was clever and humorous. With a movie like this the end is going to be tough. I thought it was a good ending as is even though there were some plot issues.

    • I completely agree. Also, I appreciate the comments about wearing the audience out. Edge of Tomorrow was a brisk, entertaining ride because of the people in charge actually caring about the wants of the audience. In transformers, Michael Bay did not cut out ANYTHING and the film was almost 3 hours long. Even if the movie wasn’t complete crap, it still should not be that long.

      • Having watched all four Transformers movies — the last one I did not pay to see (so at least I can sleep well at night) — it is painfully clear that Michael Bay does not believe in the editing process, does not understand it, or genuinely believes that the throwaway dialogue and humor is too valuable not to be excluded.

        Regardless the number of times its been iterated, there is no reason, NO reason whatsoever, that Transformers: Age of Extinction should clock in at 165 minutes. There is at least five minutes of dialogue between Stanley Tucci’s character and his assistant that should have been scrapped in addition to another four minutes of dialogue between Kelsey Grammar’s character and the other CIA people. There is also eight minutes of dialogue between Wahlberg and his daughter that should have been cut as well as number of scenes when the autobots are just joking around. So that basically amounts to 20 minutes right there that should have been shaved off bringing it to 145 minutes, which is not as bloated as 165, but still ridiculous.

        Honestly, there could be a class titled “Movie Editing: Just watch Transformers and you’ll know what we’re talking about.”

  3. I still like to think your theories and some of the cool ones screenranters cane up with are pretty awesome.. Alot more than “we made it so because from the start we decided the movie would end on the chopper.. So as writers we boxed ourselves in and instead of surpassing expectations and evolving the story as we fleshed out themes etc.. we just forced the story to arrive at its preordained original/first draft end point”. I like the theories better.

    • Clearly you didn’t read McQuarrie’s statements…

  4. I said it before that this movie was the best of 2014 and one of better sci films in recent
    memory. The ending was excellent and nice way for him to end up with who he fell in love with.
    Not a confusing at all, simple and sweet ending.

  5. You know, as far as time travel films go, EoT doesn’t even need that much stretching to come up with something resembling a sensible explanation to the way the ending played out. Granted, it’s not a classic time travel story, but still…

  6. Yup, amazing and fun movie. Not going with that alternative ending and not doing another time reset was the right thing to do. There were plenty of those before and they went back to the high(er) stakes with no frills at exactly the right spot in the story.

  7. Incredible movie. Loved the ending. The movie is cerebral so if you didn’t bring your a game you would get lost. Tom Cruise was awesome along with the cast, writer and directors.

    It’s sad that America did not reward this movie the way it should have at the box office. Tom Cruise probably needs to start opening every movie he makes over seas now that are not called Mission Impossible.

    • Cerebral is not the right word to describe the movie. It’s clever up until the third act where it completely unravels. The production reports that came out after only confirmed what most of us suspected right after watching it. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a much more enjoyable flick than I was expecting going in, but it is what it is.

      • Completely disagree with your third act assessment. I loved it! And most people who paid attention got it. When you have 92% of people who watched it loving the movie and 90% of critics feeling the same way (Rotten tomatoes) you are in the minority if don’t agree, opinions are one things but facts are facts…

        • For starters, the meta score has absolutely nothing to do with facts. Furthermore, you can still enjoy the movie as plenty of critics and audience including myself did while still taking issue with the third act. The meta scores merely indicate how many people gave it a fresh vs rotten review.

          The FACT is that they started filming before the ending was finished, which is never a good sign. The entire production of this movie was riddled with issues concerning the third act. There were explosive arguments even on set. Anyone paying attention could see it for what it turned out to be, which is a studio third act. Warner wanted big set piece action with a happy ending, which is perfectly fine if done properly. Only problem is the ending is so painfully predictable, which is a letdown considering how clever the first two thirds of the movie is. Anyone who couldn’t see that ending coming from a mile away has clearly not watched a lot of movies. Heck, just watch The Usual Suspects if you want to see just how deft McQuarrie can be with endings that will throw even the most ardent moviegoers for a loop. The difference is truly night and day.

          • “For starters, the meta score has absolutely nothing to do with facts.” you are wrong! Regardless of reports during filming it has no relevance to the end result which is 92% of audiences liked the movie while 90% of critics agreed. You have your opinion and 8-10% of people that didn’t like it. Look at the responses on this article alone between people who loved this movie and those who didn’t. Its obvious across the board that you opinion is in the minority and that is a fact. You don’t have to like it, you don’t even have to accept it. You wouldn’t be the first person that did not accept truth. The ending was great and I’m glad they changed it, most people agree.

            And regarding your assumption about people knowing how things would turn out. You can say that about 99% of movies. Of course Tom Cruise is going to save the day. If I thought he wasn’t going to I never would have gone to watch it, but I bet you no one knew how he was going to win!

            Here I’ll save you some time about The Avengers and Batman V Superman, they are all going to save the day and work together, sorry for ruining that for you lol.
            most people watch movies for the how not the result.

            • I ENJOYED THE MOVIE! There’s plenty of people in those meta statistics of yours that marked it as fresh, but took issue with the third act and the ending in particular. I’m not sure if you realize this, but the ending is so controversial that the final writer^ (and other key players) felt the need to respond. When is the last time you can remember a critically successful movie still in the theaters when that’s happened? They’re outright in saying they did the best they could considering the constrictions. Honestly I wish you would just stop with the whole groupthink thing. You loved it and that’s all that should matter to YOU, but if you want to obsess over majority opinion as if it’s the be all end all, then that’s your prerogative.

              Again, it’s not about the whole happy ending or saved the day thing. The moment he lost his super blood power, I saw the entire ending fold out literally verbatim. Really I’m not even so against predictability, but when two thirds of the movie has been built around being clever, it seems like an egregious error not to have one last trick up your sleeve.

              I have nothing more to say on the matter.

              • I’m not obsessing but when two opinions collide the majority decides the consensus, that’s how this world works. And I highly doubt that you knew Tom Cruise would die sinking into the omegas blood and wake up in the helicopter.

                  • 2nd!

                  • Most critiques and people who watched it liked the ending. Do some research and read the reviews. You will see for yourself but there were a bunch of idiots who didn’t like it so you are not alone the world is full of them. The consensus is in favor of the way it ended. If you don’t like being in the minority that’s your problem. The ending in the graphic novel was not as good as the movie. That’s why they changed it.

                • Your entire consensus is based off the percentage of people that thought it was either fresh or rotten, not people who are of the opinion that it’s a flawless masterpiece such as yourself. I’m not sure how I can break down how RT’s meta score works any further for you. If you’re so concerned with other people’s opinions, then you should go through and actually read every review. I’m sure you’re not going to like what you find as plenty of the critics that gave it fresh either mentioned how disappointed they were with the ending or downright panned the end. The very last thing I can say is that opinion, majority or not, is still nothing more than opinion on a subjective matter. The fact is the film had major studio interference, consistent script issues regarding the third act, and wasn’t even finished when shooting started. Whether or not you think they pulled it off regardless is a different story altogether, albeit you’re certainly entitled to your opinion.

                  I knew he would valiantly sacrifice himself and in the process get covered in the Omega’s blood, then wake up for the get the girl moment. It really doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to see that coming. However I was hoping the end was at least even a modicum as clever as the first two thirds.

                  • I never called it a flawless master piece anywhere so now you are just lying… I just completely disagree with your feeling about the end like most people. Enjoy you’re subjective opinion and I’ll enjoy mine with the rest. When people start lying that’s when I’m done having a conversation, peace out!

                    • Are you dense or something?

                      “I just completely disagree with your feeling about the end like most people.”


                      Your assumption is that the meta score not only calculates how many people liked the film, but that every one of those people that liked the film ALSO liked the ending, which is incorrect. All the score means is that a large quantity of people liked the movie OVERALL. It doesn’t mean they loved every single bit of it though. You can like a movie and still have issues with parts of it.

                      So, of the 92% that enjoyed the film overall, there is probably at least 50% of that 92% that still had an issue with the end. But that isn’t specified on the site since it all comes down to “Fresh or Not Fresh” there is no “Fresh except for the third act” option to the site.

                      It’s clear that you lack an understanding of how internet movie review websites work, how subjectivity of opinions works and a have a complete lack of understanding about what are and are not facts.

                      Go away.

                    • When people are losing an argument that’s what happens bro, They make stuff up. If the end of the movie ended like the graphic novel there would have been some serious hate. The ending of the movie version is way better. You can’t please everybody like this humpy clown ^^^^^^^.

                    • You said 92% of the viewers thought the ending was fine. Where did you get that bit of information? Metacritic says 92% of the viewers thought it was a good movie. Are you saying people can’t like a movie AND have one or more issues with it? I liked the movie. I was disappointed with the way it ended.
                      Do you still not understand the error in your argument?

                  • Except For,

                    So how would you have ended it? I understand you disliked the “predictable” happy ending, so how would you have ended it youself?

                    I find more often than not production companies are so pressured to deliver twist endings that straight-forward endings like in Edge of Tomorrow are quite refreshing. Most movies feel they have to drop that last bombshell, and that last bombshell mostly ends up being absolutely ridiculous and destroys the movie.

                    Movies that end on a bad note or are more grounded in reality are rarely done right and mostly cheapen the experience. So I respectfully disagree with there being anything wrong with the ending based on the fact that generally throughout movie history…the movie is going to end happy, and happy endings are extremely predictable.

                    So once again, for curiosity’s sake…How would you have liked it to end?

      • You are completely correct sir!

  8. I must have seen a different movie than all these other ScreenRanters because for me the story was so convoluted and tiring that it literally gave me a screaming migraine for 36 hours afterwards. By the end of the movie I didn’t care who won the war, I just wanted it to be over. And I may not be so much in a minority as I think because the movie is not a big hit for the studio.

    • The ending of the book was admittedly WAY darker – he realizes Rita has taken on the role of the alpha so she has to die for the loop to end. But it did fit the internal logic of the story a lot better. Still, even if it wasn’t perfect, I liked the happy movie ending.

      • Yeah, I didn’t want the same ending. The movie did a good job of being a loose adaptation, but the book had better rules (and it followed them better).

        The ending of the book was sharp and high adrenaline, but the movie sort of just exhaled and ended.

    • The Movie got 92% on Rotten tomatoes While T4 got 17% and yet that crushed at the box office in America. EoT has done great overseas but the bottom line is that Americans have been turned off by Tom Cruise movies (Probably because of his religion) except for The Mission impossible series regardless of how well he performs as an actor.

      If you were to judge whether a movie is good or not by box office numbers by that logic T4 is the best movie of the year so far. Good luck getting people to agree to that…

      • Over the years I’ve learnt not to pay too much attention to 99% of reviews, unless its in Variety or NY Times. Of course I know the Rotten Tomatoes site, but how do they rate movies? Are they just asking people who saw the movie to rate it?

        And there’s lots of reasons why EoT didn’t do well, some of its backlash against Cruise not so much for Scientology as his personal behaviour during TV interviews (if you’re not American you won’t know what I’m talking about). But he just plays the same character over and over again. And I’ll never see a Transformer movie but it’s easy to see why it trounced ALL the competition. It’s got a built in fan base of people who played with the toys and saw the cartoons over the last 20 years.

        • Well both The NY Times and Variety gave it great reviews. RT is great because it gives you over 200 plus critics so you usually get a well balanced idea but it also gives movie goers the ability to vote and both parties graded it over 90% which is very hard to do.

          Cruises’ performance in this movie was nothing like Oblivion or Jack Reacher, his last two movies. In fact this is the first time he has played a coward. Regardless its Americas lost because instead of complaining about T4. They could have been watching an awesome movie!

          • Oblivion was pretty good, Jack Reacher, not so much. But Cruise’s character was pretty much interchangeable with the role he played in EoT. I don’t see any significant differences. He’s got about 3 facial expressions and that’s about it.

            • How ironic that you like (Oblivion) the movie that got a rotten grade on RT while the movie that you didn’t like (Jack Reacher) got a red tomato and is getting a sequel in 2016, lol.

              • Well, both Oblivion and Jack Reacher were great movies, despite their completely different grade on Rotten Tomatoes. I guess the real irony is that people still give a flying f**k about RT.

                • Uhhhhhh that’s not irony bud… Lol but I’m glad you liked both movies.

  9. All that exposition and still so much confusion.

  10. Did they announce a sequel called “Fall of Tomorow” or is that a rumour?

  11. Easily the best movie of the year. And, on my top 10 sci-fi of all time.

    • I’ll second that motion! \(^◇^)/

  12. This movie was fantastic and I had no problem with how it ended. One of the best sci-fi flicks to come out in years. Hopefully they don’t ruin it with some convoluted sequel.

  13. LOVED this movie. I really wish it had done better at the box office. Can’t wait to own it on bluray.

    • You’d pay $20 for EoT on Bluray, instead of $10 DVD version? Wow. In a few months, it’ll be in the discount bin.

      I’m going to wait a year till I find it in my local pawn shop for $2.

      • You clearly have no idea how much better a Blu-ray looks on a decently sized TV. Or how bad the tiny DVD resolution (720×480 Pixels) looks on a larger TV, for that matter. Most cell phones have a better image resolution these days.

  14. Terrific movie. I was resigned at the end that all had been sacrificed for the win so I was pleasantly surprised at the final resurrection-to-helicopter twist. The abandoned twist would have been more of the same and so it wouldn’t have stood out from the rest of the narrative. And watching Cage change and Cruise’s portrayal of it over the course of the film was a delight. My favourite film so far of 2014.

  15. They need to include the “All you need to know is kill” verison of ending in the Blue-Ray, that’s all

  16. It was great – and made perfect sense to me. I asked myself, well if killing an Alpha resets you back a day, IMAGINE what happens when you kill the mother ship? You don’t need the movie to paint that out for you – enough clues are there. It’s an alien race, you don’t need to be an expert in their physiology for this to be a very neat and well written movie. To me, this was the only way the movie COULD end. I don’t know the source material, but this as a produced ‘screenplay’ is very tight and well executed, and I commend it for getting around its exposition dialogue, I was never bothered by it. It was no Godzilla that’s for sure.

    • The reason he resets to the Helicopter after the Omega dies instead of the camp is because they go after him on the same day at night were in the movie everytime Prior to the last battle they always fought the next day hence the 24 hour reset sends him back to the helicopter and not the camp.

      alot of people didn’t catch that…

  17. I have yet to see it, but judging from the sheer amount of speculation on the internet, good ending or not, it’s AMAZING that the movie itself was able to make so many people care so much about it that there IS a controversy!

    I like how older film-makers like James Cameron and Ridley Scott realised that their highly-immersible mythologies in AVATAR and PROMETHEUS needed more than one movie to be done justice. Same with Guillermo del Toro’s PACIFIC RIM. EDGE OF TOMORROW seems to come from that ilk.

  18. I think it would have been better twist if when the Mimics sends him back in time for one last time they would be still alive, and make Tom Cruise start all over again.

    • That’s not a twist, that’s the premise of the entire film. He ALWAYS starts all over again.

      • I mean have him start over the day before, like in the actual ending but with the mimics still alive to make it seem never ending for him.

  19. cheep story line ,effects is not everything

    • Are we talking about T4

  20. I want to resist the urge to throw insults but if you’re a sci-fi/time travel fan and yet you still didn’t like this film, the only conclusion I can come up with is that you got lost and didn’t understand it. It’s really well made and fairly easy to follow so anyone saying it’s convoluted obviously cannot grasp what they’re watching. Perhaps Transformers is more your speed.

    • Exactly! Its like the friend that thinks they can sing and when everybody tells them they can’t, they are confused and don’t get it.

  21. So glad to hear the positive vibes I’m reading toward this film. I also really, really enjoyed it, but am disappointed that it seems to be underperforming at the box office. Reminded me — in some style points and in how comprehensively entertaining I found it to be — of Cruise’s also high-caliber “War of the Worlds”. Question and minor spoiler alert: When Cage opens his hand revealing the pins from several grenades did anyone else flash on a very similar scene very late in “War of the Worlds”? Really great movie.

  22. Hey Steven, you didn’t have to go nuclear and throw out the Transformers insult. Ouch. In my thinking, EoT appeals precisely to the Transformer’s fans with lots of “Sturm und Drang.” You’d be closer to being a Transformer fan than I would, because you fell for all the CGI while ignoring gaping plot holes. I just don’t think EoT was that interesting of a movie. Maybe you’re impressed with lots of flashy special effects but paper thin story-line, but I’m not. And as the plot was rather simple, there wasn’t much to NOT understand. I “got” the movie, I just got bored with it, and with the predictable ending and all.

  23. This film and X-Men: DOFP were the best mainstream films of recent history. Simple as that. In an industry that is becoming increasingly repetitive, cheap and mindless, I suppose this is also the best we have to look forward to for some time also….

    Until J World shows us what it’s made of next year… But don’t hold your breath.

    • You can’t be serious…

  24. I’m glad they made the ending what it was. By the middle it was already becoming Video Game Farming: The Movie (hilarious deaths of Cruise though XD)

  25. The ending is “nice”, but it doesn’t make sense in the context of the story. There is no reason for things to have been reset after the destruction of the Omega. Cruise, Blunt, and the Squad should have all died –sacrificing themselves for humanity.

    But that wasn’t possible, since people hate that kind of ending…

    Other than that, I thought the film was solid, and well acted. I especially enjoyed Bill Paxton’s character. There were more than a few, “Game Over Man, Game Over.” comments being whispered amongst my friends in the theater.

  26. The ending reminded me of a video game like say Duke Nuke Em. you finally kill the big bad and clear level 10. Then the game resets to level 11, with the same players, but new challenge ahead.