Back to the Future – Twin Pines Mall
The first Back to the Future ends with a bit of a twist, revealing that the life Marty McFly leaves behind in 1985 is not the same he returns to. His actions in the past have caused his entire family history to change for the better – but you don’t have to wait until the final sequence for that surprise. When Marty rushes to the parking lot of Twin Pines Mall to save Doc before he’s killed, it’s revealed to have changed its name to Lone Pine Mall, a result of Marty running over one of Farmer Peabody’s prized pines when he first arrived in 1955, and the first clue that he altered the timeline, instead of preserving it.
21 Jump Street – A Familiar Flavor
Undercover officers Schmidt and Jenko are given a simple mission: infiltrate and bring down a high school designer drug ring. Finding the dealer is simple enough, but finding his supplier and kingpin proves more challenging. But it didn’t have to be. After the two first take the drug while at school, Jenko notes that “it tastes like cool ranch”. Just a few moments later, Coach Walters appears snacking on – you guessed it – Cool Ranch Doritos. Walters is revealed to be the operation’s mastermind, explaining where that flavor came from. The officers may have spotted the clue, if they weren’t too distracted by their own tongues.
Reservoir Dogs – Big Tippers
After a jewel heist goes horribly wrong, Quentin Tarantino’s cast of thieves are convinced that there’s a rat in their midst, with the survivors left to find out which one of their team may be working with the police. A collection of bottles hints that Mr. Orange isn’t on the same side as Mr. White or Pink, but the undercover LAPD officer actually lets his secret slip in the very first scene. First, he changes his mind to fit in with his colleague. Then when the group is asked who didn’t tip for their breakfast, Orange immediately squeals, showing he doesn’t subscribe to the same code as his partners. If only they’d caught it, the movie’s ending might have been a lot less messy.
Fight Club – Flashes of Tyler
When the Narrator learns that he and Tyler Durden are actually the same person, it blows his mind – but eagle eyed viewers weren’t caught completely by surprise. In the film’s first act, the Narrator begins to see quick glimpses of Tyler as he battles his insomnia, suggesting he’s simply a figment of his imagination begging to be unleashed. If that wasn’t enough, Tyler later calls the Narrator on a pay phone that doesn’t accept incoming calls. Saving the big twist from eagle-eyed viewers was obviously not a priority for director David Fincher. “He is Jack’s Spoiler Alert.”
Shutter Island – A Glass Half Full
The movie’s story of a Federal Marshall pursuing a killer in a remote mental hospital is turned on its head in Shutter Island, when hero Teddy Daniels is revealed to be a patient acting out an elaborate fantasy. It’s a shocking twist, but viewers should have known that Teddy’s experience was less than reliable. When a patient requests a drink during her interview, the glass she drinks from is non-existent, returning only when it has been completely drained. Teddy’s fear of water may be actively censoring what he does, and doesn’t see, but regardless, it’s just one of the clues that show the investigation is not what it seems.
The Dark Knight Rises – The League’s Mark
The third of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films finds Bruce Wayne surprised and devastated, discovering his corporate ally and lover “Miranda Tate” is actually Talia al Ghul, daughter of Batman Begins villain Ra’s al Ghul. But her membership in the League of Shadows is foreshadowed long before she confesses it. Bruce makes a note of a triangular scar on her back which is never explained, but are similar to those covering Bane’s head, implying a link between the two. Some have argued that the scar resembles the brand of the League seen in Batman Begins, but whatever the case, having a villain covered in scars suggested there was more to “Miranda” than met the eye.