Quick. Do you know who John Proudstar is/was? Depending on what level of Geek you are – and I am a 33rd degree master in the order of Azaroth (just throwing that out there) – you may or may not recognize John Proudstar as being one of the all new all exciting international team of mutants that revitalized the X-Men in Giant Sized X-Men number 1 and X-Men 94. This is because he was killed off in X-Men 95. Reportedly, the writer John Byrne was given a choice of killing Wolverine or Proudstar (named Thunderbird) and chose to kill Thunderbird primarily because Logan and Byrne are both Canadian. So, a couple years back, you might have seen X-Men Origins: Thunderbird instead of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. That got me to thinking what other fictional characters got to live on in movies just because they were Canadian. It was a bit too narrow and South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut really kind of provided a lot of useful counter arguments. So I expanded focus and here are some characters that were supposed to die in movies but made it out alive and of course on to sequels!
JOHN RAMBO: There is a reason why they call it First Blood. At the end of the novel by Dave Morrell – John Rambo bleeds out in a pool of his own blood. That’s right. Before he ever got to the Vietnamese or the Soviets in Afghanistan or whoever that guy was that they underpaid in Thailand – the TEXANS got Rambo. You want to know what’s even weirder? Rambo did not actually stop dying there. In order to add a little dignity to the character and possibly stop Freedom Force, John McTiernan shot a scene in which Rambo swallows his own gun at the end of Rambo: First Blood Part 2. Why did Rambo live on? Because, you know Sylvester Stallone despite the way he may sound sometimes is no fool. Even if Dave Morrell did not see the possibilities (though he did cash checks for making novels out of First Blood Part 2 and Rambo III), Stallone did and iconic film character beats ironic ending every time.
DUKE: G. I. Joe The Movie was supposed to be a lot richer in subtext than it was. The 1987 animated film featured not only one of Burgess Meredith’s most nuanced performances as Golobulus (a half snake..half man..Emperor..you know…thing) but also shows Duke Hauser getting housed by a serpent arrow. They never animate him again in the film and say he’s in a ‘coma.’ At the end, they announce, ‘Hey Duke’s going to be OK.’ Actually, Duke was pretty dead through the movie and most of post-production. At the very last minute, Duke was saved … Optimus Prime? Yes, that is actually correct. Optimus Prime saved Duke from death. You see, the year before there was a pretty unexpected backlash to the death of Optimus Prime in Transformers: The Movie. Not to many people over twelve got it until the they saw the box office receipts for Transformers. Also, it killed a theatrical release for an animated G. I. Joe. Funny how twenty years later, the exact opposite would happen with live action. At any rate, killing Duke looked like it might be as stupid as killing Optimus so like Dave in the 1992 movie by the same name, Duke was given a coma that last slightly less time than Robert Deniro’s in Awakenings. Now, Optimus made kind of a habit of dying (which I pointed out in a previous article) but Duke was always safe thanks to his big red friend.
DEWEY RILEY: OK, lets review back to the first Scream movie. I thought Dewey died. You thought Dewey died. His own sister welcoming him into the after life said “Yep, he got you too.” The script thought Dewey died. DOGS KNEW DEWEY DIED. But Wes Craven hedged his bets a little. Dewey is able to get up and look at it all and say Black Knight-esque “Its only a flesh wound.” In reality, there were actually two versions of the scene shot. There was one where he died and one where its ‘Hey, Dewey’s come out of the coma…” or lines to that effect – I don’t have it in front of me. David Arquette for his part met Courtney Cox on the set of Scream. He got hot and heavy with her on the set of Scream 2. He was married to her by Scream 3 and they were separated by Scream 4. Depending on how many kitchen utensils and pots flew at him in the interim, he may or may not be glad that Dewey lived.
ELLEN RIPLEY: There is a bit of a dispute on this one. If you read me long enough, you’ll get a comprehensive list of my favorite movies. In Alien 3, we all know that Ellen Ripley does a half gainer with a twist into molten lead. Even though she only got a 4 from the Bulgarian judge, it is worth noting that the end seemed real…until..you know..the clone thingy. If you look on the imdb trivia section, you will find that there may or may not have been an alternate ending in which Ripley gets jacked by the Alien. Then the Alien mimics her voice and sends a message that everything is OK. This would have been the best line in film history by a historic non speaker until Silent Bob busted out years later. There is also the big Native American guy in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. At any rate, they felt it was all grisly and all too much. So Ripley gets sequels and gets to strap on … a gun. Where did you people think I was going with that? I guess in space, no one can here you say “Wow, that would have made no sense.”
MARTIN RIGGS: Shane Black apparently wanted to off Martin Riggs at the end of Lethal Weapon 2. Basically, after finally avenging his wife’s death – Riggs finds the peace that he could not find in life. A good ending for the character, but is it really what keeps the Hollywood machine going? No, not at all. Apparently, he also wanted to kill Bruce Willis’ character at the end of the Last Boy Scout. He even made fun of film death towards the end of Last Action Hero. The scary part of what may be Black’s wanton murderous trend of killing off action heroes is that this guy is actually the writer and director on the set of Iron Man 3. Samuel L. Jackson might want to revive an old chestnut in his role as Nick Fury that he first dusted off as Ray Arnold in Jurassic Park. “Hold on to your butts…”
JOHN HAMMOND: One day, teachers will assign children to read Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park just to watch them pull a Frankenstein on the test. They will be shocked at their “F”’s or whatever touchy feely grade they give out in school these days when they find out they answered wrong to a few questions. For instance, they will miss the one about Lexi (the girl geek who is hot for twelve, ridiculously wealthy, and can break down a computer system because like I saw it before or whatever) is not in there at all. They will be surprised that at the end of the day, you solve problems by nuking dinosaurs straight to hell. They will then be shocked that John Hammond (the kindly but somewhat misguided progenitor of bad ideas) goes down with the island. Of course, Ian Malcolm did originally too. Crichton himself had to back pedal off of that one when he wrote Lost World and you know Jeff Goldblum was the main star and all…
So if you are ever watching a movie and it seems pretty fantastic that they made it out alive? Just remember, the guy sitting next to you might be the screen writer who may well be just as shocked as you are.