14 Great Moments Of Foreshadowing In Films

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Rogue Pictures
By  · Published on May 31st, 2012

We all know what it feels like when a film touches on events yet to come. Usually, it’s the best when it’s something that you could only pick up on after already watching the film once before – it’s like a little inside joke you get to have with the filmmakers, a reward for sitting through the movie more than once. At times it’s not even the fact that it foreshadows event in the films, but rather that it’s so subtle that it takes a few goes to even pick up on. Other times are less subtle, but just as fun.

This is probably going to have spoilers in it. Just to be clear.

14. The Security Guard That Knows Way Too Much – Wayne’s World

Leave it to Wayne’s World to utilize a plot device while they simultaneously mock it as well. The entire film, as well as its sequel has a blast doing just this. Watching Wayne and Garth talk directly to the camera as a jokey form of narrative, you forget that it’s actually working in their favor as just that. Same when the two of them are seen putting down product placement while plugging as many products as they possibly can to the camera – the joke makes you forget that they are, in fact, plugging actual products and being paid for it.

They hide in plain sight – just like how they use this wonderful Chris Farley cameo to lazily give us valuable plot information while pointing out just how lazily they did it.

13. Anakin “will bring balance to the force” – Star Wars – Episode I: The Phantom Menace

We’re all aware that these prequels left much to be desired, however they did utilize a healthy quantity of foreshadowing. When Obi-Wan tells Anakin that he’ll ‘be the death’ of him in Episode II we can all appreciate the humor in such a straightforward sign of things to come. Of course what has to be the most ominous of all the predictions in these films has to be that Anakin is the “chosen one” who will bring “balance to the force.”

What makes this great is that he ends up doing this twice. Not only does he leave us with 2 Jedi and 2 Sith lords by the end of Episode III – but he also fully meets the prophecy of vanquishing the Sith at the end of Episode VI, when he takes out Darth Sidious at the expense of his own life as well – thus fulfilling his destiny once and for all.

12. The Beginning Scenes – The Wizard Of Oz

The Wizard of Oz

It’s wicked easy to retrospectively pretend like the indicators where obvious – but really when you watch the beginning of this film it’s rather talented how nonchalantly they manage to slip in such direct foreshadowing. There’s the crystal clear such as the music which comes with Miss Gulch’s sinister passing’s on her bicycle as well as the references to her as a witch – but there are also the little lines, Zeke’s encouragement to Dorothy about bravery and Hickory’s insistence that someday they will ‘erect a statue of him’.

Again – it’s all so apparent with hindsight and yet it’s so natural within the scenes that anyone seeing the film with no knowledge of future events is going to miss it.

11. Nick Fury’s Cameo – Iron Man

“Mr. Stark, you’ve become part of a bigger universe…”

Freaking awesome. Long before The Avengers we got such an amazing taste of things to come – followed by what could be called one of the best advertising campaigns ever. When the preview for your film comes in the form of five full length movies over the course of four years you better believe you’re going to end up with a record-breaking film.

It was downright genius; create four completely separate fan bases for four completely separate characters and then have it all come together in one giant pile of film. Of course what made it all work was the fact that they actually put time and care into making The Avengers. It’s depressing to have to say this – but it was really nice to see that after spending all the time they did hyping the film they didn’t forget to actually make it good.

10. Beginning Credits – Final Destination

This series is all about the little morbid Easter eggs – all starting with these credits, which ominously show us just how each character is later going to die. We see a man hanging, a knife stuck in someone’s chest, and a guillotine to name a few. What’s great is that doing this totally keeps in line with the premise of the film, which is about a character being able to predict each event through various bad omens he sees.

A fun fact about this movie is that it was directed by James Wong, who at the time was most known for writing, producing, and directing episodes of The X-Files. You see, it’s no coincidence that the film has two FBI agents written into it; it was originally planned as an episode of the series. Watching the film and knowing this – it actually all makes a lot of sense. Even the plane crash sequence would clearly make a killer pre-credits grab.

9. “My First Fight With Tyler” – Fight Club

There’s no way you can write a twist ending to your film and not throw in little hints here and there like some kind of Batman villain taunting the police. One of the most obvious moments of this film is also the one you’d least suspect, when the narrator is beating himself up in front of his boss and the whole thing stops just so he can let out the seemingly non sequitur line: “For some reason I thought of my first fight… with Tyler.” In hindsight it’s stupid obvious why he would be thinking of his first fight with Tyler as he is beating himself up – but at the time you’re just way too distracted by the display he is putting on.

Of course there are some other great moments – such as when the narrator and Tyler get into a car accident and each men crawl out of the opposite sides of the car that they were sitting in, at the time indicating that either the film’s script supervisor wasn’t doing their job or the person driving the car isn’t who we think it was. Or the most blatant, the camera staying with an as-yet-unmet Tyler when Jack talks about waking up as someone else.

8. “…as harmless as one of those stuffed birds…” – Psycho

Hah! Yeah… gross. This scene not only very specifically foreshadows the condition that mother really is in – but also is a very clear sign that Norman doesn’t exactly have all his psychological ducks in a row.

From the dark familiarity he has with mental facilities to his emotional instability, you can’t really feel sorry for Marion when she ends up getting stabbed soon after this. After all, any sensible person would have promptly backed out of the room and drove speedily away from Mr. I-Like-To-Stuff-Things the moment he started talking about how ‘a boy’s best friend is his mother.’ Ladies – that’s a big red flag.

7. A Thousand Little Clues on Display – The Usual Suspects

As a film known for its ending – you bet your ass they stuck in as many indicators as they could throughout the film. Little things. Watch Verbal Kint’s interrogation scenes again and notice where all his sightlines are pointing to – you better believe he’s looking at various objects in the room, such as the bottom of a certain cup. There are even things you could never pick up on without seeing the ending – such as when all the characters are handed their films by Soze’s associate, and the importance of the order in which they are given those films.

Then you have the slightly more obvious indicators – one of the best being the gold lighter and watch that Soze has at the beginning, and who later is seen in possession of them. Then there is the fact that all the characters are seen at the beginning being arrested for the lineup except for one. This is probably one of the best films to re-watch, arguably better the second (or fifteenth) time around.

6. “He’s already got one!” – Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Considering how totally random this film is, combined with the fact that they completely changed their ending due to budget problems, it’s hard to even know if this was intentional. When King Arthur and friends first encounter the wonderful French Taunters in this film, asking them to tell their master about their quest for the grail – they fire back with a refusal to come along, stating that their master already has one. The main taunter then whispers this response to his fellow Frenchmen, eliciting laughs all around.

What at the time seems like just the taunters being the assholes that they are actually becomes foreshadowing at the end, when Arthur leads everybody to the final castle, which has been prophesied as containing the grail, only to once again be faced with the very same French Taunters.

That means that yes, they actually did already have one – the one that Arthur and the knights were looking for.

5. Alien Skull – Predator 2

So good. The idea, originally thought up by director Stephen Hopkins as a nod to the comics, was extremely easy to carry out considering that the company that owned the Alien franchise also owned the Predator one. Of course we all know the shit storm of excitement and waiting that followed until they were finally able to release the actual Alien vs. Predator films.

I think the main let down from those films came from the fact that they took fourteen years to make after Predator 2 so very subtly implied their future existence. They weren’t terrible films – they just couldn’t really compare to the two unbelievable franchises they spawned from.

4. Every Pixar Film

It’s hard to know where to start – but basically all you need to know is that the people over at Pixar clearly have some kind group attention deficit disorder; they can’t go a whole movie without not only knowing what their next film is going to be, but also meticulously referencing it in their current one.

Toy Story 2 has characters from A Bug’s Life on display in Al’s Toy Barn, Boo has a stuffed Nemo doll in Monsters Inc, a little boy is reading a Mr. Incredible comic in Finding Nemo, WALL-E is seen in Bob’s garage in The Incredibles… it just goes on and on. See for yourself the kind of serial killer diligence they put into hiding the shit in all their films – it’s scary!

3. A Fistful Of Dollars – Back To The Future 2

Like a lot of the older films on this list, this is one of those things that you really have to go back and try to appreciate the way someone who never saw these films before might. In the second BTTF movie, Marty confronts bizarro Biff about the sports almanac while Biff sits in a swanky hot tub and watches Clint Eastwood get down with his badass self in A Fistful Of Dollars, tricking the bad guys into shooting him in the chest where he has a concealed plate that saves his life. The movie appears to just be decoration until the third film, when Marty pulls this very same stunt.

It’s nice how much they decided to not only set up the third film in the one before it, but also managed to write these movies in a way that the first film even does this as well – despite the first film being written with no knowledge of a second or third. It makes the entire series seamless down every last detail, such as centering Marty’s arc on his refusal to back down from a challenge, contrasting his father’s refusal to stand up for himself. Frankly – with all the attention to detail, it’s downright weird how well written this series is considering that it revolves around a time traveling car.

2. Calling Card – Batman Begins

Remember the chills you felt when he turned over the card? Holy shit.

What made this so epic at the time was that we had just spent more than 2 hours watching the most amazing depiction of Batman we’d ever seen on film. It was dark, real, and beautifully shot with characters that were fleshed out and portrayed incredibly by talented actors who appeared to take it all way more seriously than you’d expect from a movie about a bat-themed ninja crime fighter. Nolan had pulled it off – and then right at the end you get the Joker card. Suddenly you picture everything that you just saw – this amazing film with amazing characters, and you imagine the freaking Joker in it.

Nothing compares to what you picture at that moment – or so you thought. Then of course The Dark Knight came along and we got exactly what we wanted, if not more. Now when you go back and watch Batman Begins you get those same chills, but for completely different reasons.

1. Ed’s Plan – Shaun Of The Dead

Shaun of the Dead

Edgar Wright is just one of those guys who gets off on this shit. The range is incredibly vast in both this film and his following as he gives the audience moments that they can pick up on right away, after the fact, and sometimes never. We all had a laugh when Ed and Shaun verbally fight with their roommate, who was bitten earlier on, and Ed exclaims afterward “Next time I see him, he’s dead…” It’s lovely because we all know exactly what that means even before it happens. Then there is later on when Shaun walks to the store on Z-day only to go through the exact same routine (and the exact same tracking shot) as he did earlier. It’s that kind of stuff we can only appreciate in hindsight.

And then there’s shit like the video above, where even if you’ve seen the movie four or five times you still might not pick up on it. In that scene Ed describes his drinking plan for the following day with Shaun – saying that they should have “A bloody Mary first thing, a bite at the King’s Head, couple at The Little Princess, stagger back here and bang… back at the bar for shots.” Which is exactly what they do in the film – killing a zombie with the nametag ‘Mary’ followed by going to Shaun’s stepfather’s place to see that he’s been bitten, followed by picking up Shaun’s love interest and her friends before pretending to be zombies while going back to the pub where they find themselves warding off zombies with a gun. He literally describes the entire plot in a sentence – how awesome is that?

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by David Christopher Bell

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