The best filmmakers don’t just tell good stories – they’re constantly aware of the smallest details, and use them wisely to leave a trail of breadcrumbs for their audience to subtly hint at what’s to come.
At first, these hints might appear to be minor and insignificant details. However, afterwards, the things that once seemed completely unimportant are now the details that, if looked at closely, give everything away.
As it turns out, some of the most famous movies known for their thrilling twists leave these sort of glaring spoilers right in the beginning of the stories. Many smart filmmakers take advantage of their movie’s first act to not only to set up the story, but also to foreshadow future events as well.
Sometimes the first part of the movie will tell you all you need to know, but oftentimes, viewers are so invested in the story being told, these key details go right over their heads and slip by unnoticed.
From superhero flicks to classic whodunits, films of all genres have taken advantage of this tricky move.
This list breaks down some of the smartest and slyest instances where filmmakers have placed spoilers right in front of their audiences’ faces. After reading, you’ll wonder how you ever missed them in the first place.
Here are the 15 Hidden Spoilers You Completely Missed At The Start Of Movies.
15 The Avengers
One of the funniest moments in Joss Whedon’s The Avengers is a fleeting line that also happens to be a bit of a spoiler.
Once all the Avengers are finally together for the first time on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, they set off on their mission to hunt down Loki. At this point in the film, the superheroes think finding Loki and retrieving the Tesseract is their only job.
However, just as they’re getting ready to set off on their mission, Tony Stark catches a S.H.I.E.L.D. employee playing the videogame Galaga on his work computer. At first this seems like just one of many of Tony Stark’s funny quips throughout the film, but upon closer inspection, this brief scene is a little bit more than that.
The player’s goal in Galaga is to protect to earth from an impending alien invasion, which just happens to be the Avengers’ big mission at the climax of the film. Maybe that S.H.I.E.L.D. employee was far smarter than he let on.
14 Back to the Future
One only needs to look to Back to the Future’s very opening to find out how the movie ends. The opening shot of the film is a pan over of Doc Brown’s many clocks. At first this just seems to be a playful jab at the fact that this is a time travel film, and the story will obviously be focused on time.
Next to the clocks, however, is a picture of Harold Lloyd dangling from a clock in a still from Safety Last. This picture is doubly important: not only does it refer to the film that served as a source of inspiration for the filmmakers, but it refers to Back to the Future’s very ending.
At the end of the film, Doc Brown is forced to climb the clock tower after a tree limb disconnects a power cable that’s needed for Marty to return to the present.
As he attempts to do this, he finds himself dangling precariously from the wires on the clock, mirroring the shot from Safety Last. Doc’s fate was shown right at the beginning, and neither he nor the viewer knew it.
The James Bond franchise is infamous for its films’ elaborate opening credit sequences. However, Sam Mendes’ Skyfall took it a step further and not only provided a trippy, CGI-laden opening sequence, but also revealed a major twist in the story.
About a minute into the credits, in which Daniel Craig’s James Bond takes a dream-like trip underwater, the camera pushes through a foggy graveyard. As the graves fill the frame, Judi Dench’s name appears on screen.
Her character M’s death at the hands of villain Raoul Silva, who was once her protégé, is a major plot point in the film and changes the course of Craig’s Bond films for good.
Skyfall’s title sequence is so engrossing that even this detail that seems so obvious during a second glance goes completely unnoticed.
Before Psycho transforms into a murder mystery/horror film, it first disguises itself as a standard thriller.
Marion Crane decides to take company money and skip town in the hopes of using the money to marry her boyfriend. While she drives, she stumbles across the Bates Motel and makes the fatal mistake of deciding to stay the night.
However, before the iconic shower murder occurs, Marion has a dinner with Norman Bates. Alfred Hitchcock takes the opportunity during this dinner to slip in a line that essentially gives away the film’s big twist.
When Marion and Norman are discussing his strained relationship with his mother, Marion suggests that Norman put her in a mental institution. Norman takes offense and replies, “But she’s harmless. She’s as harmless as one of those stuffed birds.”
This is first taken as a simple expression, but what Norman says ends up being quite literally true: Marion’s sister later discovers Norman’s mother, dead and preserved, just like Norman’s birds.
11 Shaun of the Dead
Over the years, Edgar Wright has established himself to be one of the sharpest comedic filmmakers working today. His recent film Baby Driver has met enormous critical acclaim, but it’s his Cornetto Trilogy that first launched him into the international spotlight.
The first film of the trilogy, Shaun of the Dead, is a wholly British, tongue-in-cheek take on George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Shaun of the Dead is an excellent example of Wright’s renowned writing skills, as the filmmaker tells his audience exactly what’s going to happen before any zombie hits the screen.
When Ed is attempting to cheer up Saun post breakup, he throws out a plan for what the two should do the next day to help Saun move on from his ex. As it just so happens, this plan is the plot of the rest of the film. User maybeiwasboredthisway breaks down the parallels between Ed’s plan and the actual events of the film with this post.
There are plenty of other instances of foreshadowing sprinkled throughout Shaun of the Dead, so it’s worth a re-watch to catch them all to really appreciate the smarts behind Wright’s script.
10 X-Men First Class
Arguably one of the most interesting aspects to X-Men First Class is its in-depth take on Magneto’s backstory, beginning when Magneto was simply a child named Erik Lehnsherr.
When he dramatically displays his powers, young Erik captures the attention of the Nazi Dr. Sebastian Shaw. When Shaw kills Erik’s mother after he fails a test, Erik dedicates himself to hunting down Shaw in the years after.
At one point, the film shows Erik all grown up in an apartment with an entire wall covered in plans to catch Shaw. Erik still has the Nazi coin that the doctor gave him after their time together, and in a fit of anger he flings the coin at Shaw’s drawing using his powers.
When the coin lands, wedged in the forehead of the drawing, the film is doing more than emphasizing Erik’s anger. Erik later kills Shaw by slowly passing the coin through his head in the moment that he “transforms” into Magneto.
Not only did the film reveal early on how Shaw would meet his demise, but it also suggests that Erik had been dreaming of the exact manner of Shaw’s death since the very beginning.
9 The Wizard of Oz
One of the most famous classic twist endings is in The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy wakes up and realizes that her adventures in Oz were just a dream, and that all of the characters she met on the way had real-life equivalents.
Before that, though, another big point in the film is when it’s revealed that the “Great and Powerful Oz” is a complete fake, made up of a normal man hiding behind a curtain of special effects.
However, all of this is suggested quite early on in The Wizard of Oz before the tornado even arrives.
When Dorothy decides to run away in order to save Toto’s life, she encounters the supposed fortune-teller Professor Marvel who quickly proves to be a total fraud – just like the Wizard of Oz is revealed to be later on.
Both characters are even played by the same actor, Frank Morgan. This early spoiler is fairly easy to catch if you pay close enough attention.
8 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
One of the biggest twists in the Harry Potter franchise comes with the fourth installment, The Goblet of Fire.
When Mad-Eye Moody’s real identity is unveiled to be Barty Crouch Jr. in disguise, it’s an enormous moment that throws all the previous events of the film into question. However, a hint towards this twist was given quite early on in the movie.
When Dumbledore is explaining to Hogwarts students that their school will be the host for the next Triwizard Tournament, he introduces the Head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation, Barty Crouch, to explain all the rules.
Just after this introduction is made, a quick cut is made to Mad-Eye Moody (then Barty Crouch Jr. in his Polyjuice Potion disguise), prompting viewers that a connection exists between the two.
Because the 2005 film was an adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s novel, the filmmakers took the chance to sneak in a quick visual cue that book readers with a sharp eye could no doubt catch, but is a spoiler for those who don’t know the story’s end.
7 Reservoir Dogs
Quentin Tarantino’s first film Reservoir Dogs still sticks out in his filmography as one of his strongest works. The film centers on a heist gone wrong due to the presence of a “rat” in the midst of the group of criminals.
Though viewers are given the key information as to who the rat is before the end of the film, the reveal itself is nevertheless huge. However, Tarantino makes some subtle moves to suggest to his viewers who the rat really is before he unveils the truth himself.
One of the most memorable moments of the film is when Mr. Pink refuses to tip a diner waitress, causing the group of criminals to launch into a debate over the philosophy of tipping.
Though fans of the film love this scene for its dialogue, it also holds something more. When the boss, Joe Cabot, returns to the diner table and finds their bill short on the tip, he asks who refused to pay. It’s Mr. Orange, the undercover cop, who rats out Mr. Pink to Cabot.
Tarantino uses dialogue to his advantage in order to reflect Mr. Orange's true character (and the film's big twist as a result) almost immediately.
6 Fight Club
If somebody was asked to list some of the top twist endings in movie history, Fight Club would have to rank pretty high. The fact that Tyler Durden doesn’t exist and is the imaginary alter ego of the otherwise plain protagonist is so surprising that it completely blindsides viewers.
This big reveal transforms the film, bringing a fresh, absurd twist to an already wild premise. However, this mind-blowing moment is basically given to viewers on a silver platter throughout Fight Club’s beginning.
During the opening, when the protagonist describes Tyler’s plan to blow up a row of buildings, he says, “I know this because Tyler knows this.” While at first this seems to suggest that the main character and Tyler are close, it’s really pointing to the fact that they are the same person.
Later, as the protagonist is recounting how he first “met” Tyler, he describes how he traveled by plane a lot, and muses, “If you wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?”
Just as the narrator says this, Tyler Durden slips into frame, pointing to the connection between the protagonist and Durden.
5 The Sixth Sense
The Sixth Sense’s twist is so engrained in pop culture (thanks to the often-quoted, “I see dead people” line), that sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate how crazy and original M. Night Shyamalan’s concept actually was.
However, Shyamalan’s creativity doesn’t just shine through in the script. The film’s ability to visually convey information is almost unmatched. The massive twist that Malcolm is actually a ghost lies right in front of the audience the entire time, but thanks to Shymalan's subtle approach, the hints are easy to miss.
The very first scene of the film is in fact Malcolm’s death, but the way in which Shymalan cut the film makes it seem like he survived. Soon after, when Malcolm first meets the ghost-seeing Cole, Cole rushes into a nearby church. After Malcolm and Cole talk in the church, Cole steals a small figure of The Virgin Mary on his way out.
At first this simply seems like one of Cole’s many quirks. However, in reality, Cole runs to the church and clutches to a religious figure in the hopes that it will protect him from Malcolm and other ghosts. Shymalan is able to show viewers the twist without saying a word.
Christopher Nolan’s second film Memento is also one of his most difficult movies to grasp. This is primarily due to the film’s jarring timeline. Protagonist Leonard has a rare form of memory loss where he has retained all of his past memories, but cannot make new ones.
His last memory is of his dead wife, who was murdered by the same robber who gave Leonard the head injury that resulted in his memory loss. The film centers on Leonard’s efforts to hunt down the robber and exact justice.
Sprinkled throughout the film are sequences of Leonard talking on the phone to some unknown person, telling them the story of Sammy, a man that had the same type of memory loss. Sammy mistakenly killed his wife and was committed into a mental institution.
At one point, when Lenny is telling the story and footage shows Sammy sitting in his mental institute, and Nolan slips in a shot where he has switched out Sammy for Lenny himself, pointing to the big twist that Lenny's wife survived the robbery and he is simply retelling his own story with Sammy.
It's a quick shot that nonetheless spoils the most important plot point of the film.
3 The Prestige
The Prestige is yet another film by Christopher Nolan that tricks its viewers into thinking that they have a full grasp on the story, only to yank the rug out from under them at the last moment.
When it’s discovered by Hugh Jackman’s Angier that Tesla’s machine doesn’t transport objects, but make copies, the audience thinks they’ve gotten to the bottom of the big secret.
Nolan even goes to far to place a spoiler for this plot point at his opening (the very first shot of the film is a pan over the hundreds of Angier’s hats in the forest), reinforcing the audience’s belief that this is the film’s big reveal.
However, he uses this shot to distract the audience from the true spoiler at the beginning: Michael Caine’s monologue that breaks down the parts of a magic trick, which outlines the film’s plot.
The pledge, a magician showing something normal, is Nolan setting up his characters. The turn, when the magician makes something extraordinary, is Tesla’s machine reveal. However, the most important part, the prestige, is Nolan’s final reveal of the existence of the Borden twins.
You really do have to watch closely with Nolan's The Prestige.
2 The Usual Suspects
One film that masters the power of the twist ending is Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects. When it’s revealed that Kevin Spacey’s Verbal Kint is really Keyser Soze, the audience feels as blown away as Agent Kujan. However, the answer to the film’s big question surrounding the identity of Soze was shown right in the beginning.
In the film’s dramatic opening sequence, Keaton is cornered by a man in the shadows -- Keyser Soze himself. Only his gold watch and lighter are shown in the light, but the audience is still trying to wrap their heads around what is really going on story-wise, so this detail often goes unnoticed.
Later, as Verbal Kint leaves Agent Kujan’s office free to go, his belongings – a gold watch and lighter – are given back into his possession. This is Bryan Singer’s subtle signal to his audience that, if they were watching closely, they know the big twist before it’s actually explained.
1 Get Out
Considered by many to be one of the best movies of the year, Jordan Peele’s Get Out sets a new standard for horror films of today. Though the movie has an overwhelmingly ominous tone, the innovative twist is entirely unexpected and makes Get Out one of the most memorable horror films in recent memory.
However, Jordan Peele makes sure to insert several instances of foreshadowing and subtle spoilers that give his film’s climactic reveal away.
The most notable instance occurs when Chris is given a tour of Rose’s family house by her father, who tells Chris that the kitchen was his mother’s favorite part of the house.
He then says they “keep a piece of her” in there. Just as this line is said, Georgina (whose mind has been replaced with Rose’s grandmother) is presented in frame, blatantly referencing the terrifying twist.
It's these smart and understated hints that Peele sprinkles throughout his film that elevates Get Out to its renowned status.
Do you have a favorite hidden spoiler moment that didn’t make the list? Let us know in the comments!
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