Editorials,  Movies/Entertainment

Honestly, Does Anyone Really Live Happily Ever After??

(Note: This was written last year but since this post originally focused briefly on elements from theTransformers series, I thought I’d revisit it because the latest installment still kind of helps prove my earlier point.)

Here’s something I’ve wondered ever since I’ve started watching films. What happens to the characters after the credits?? It’s something most children ask their parents after they see (or hear) that all encompassing and cliche phrase at the end of a film…”And they lived Happily Ever After“. And since children are among the most inquisitive people on the planet, we should probably take a cue from them and not expect that just because the credits roll that the story is necessarily over.

So it probes me to ask (I guess it’s the kid in me), “What happens next??”. But, now let me set the tone for this post, I’m not looking for sequel material. No, the question I’m proposing is hypothetical and I’m simply wondering  how the events of the film will change or shape the lives of the people in the film after the film. Basically assume nothing else as extraordinary as the events of the film befall the characters as they all go back to real life. How will that play out??

At the end of most films, one universally accepted rule is that the hero gets the girl or saves the planet (or both) and they roll right on into a lifetime of happiness. But come on people, you can’t just expect to have the hero (as unlikely as he was) to get the girl, or save the planet (or both) and have a perfect life after that.

People are fickle creatures and, you can’t just assume that avoiding world catastrophe or just simply “getting the girl” doesn’t necessarily mean your life is now perfect or that you’ll “keep” the girl. If we looked at any film 3 to 6 months after the events of the film’s closing we might get a conversation like this…

Sure, I like you. We saved the planet together, and you saved me from being <insert life threatening situation here> or showed me that my boy/girl friend was a jerk but, I’ve given it some time and, well, this just isn’t working out. It’s not you, it’s me…

Something may just happen and there’s no guarantee that people will continue to lead the lives they seem to be moving toward before the credits roll. One film which brings to life my point is National Treasure 2. At the end of the first film Ben Gates, Abigail and even Wiley look to be completely happy with how their life is going (that finder’s fee from the historical “find of the century” helps a little) but at the beginning of the second film, Wiley has since filed for bankruptcy and Ben and Abigail have split-up.

That’s a fair to assume life hasn’t been all wine and roses for characters who were thrown into such a mad cap series of events inthe first film. It just shows tat you can’t guarantee a solid lifelong relationship or financial happiness based solely on the events that transpired in such a short time frame. Also, take Speed for instance; it’s doubtful to think Keanu and Sandra’s characters grew old together (especially since they made Speed 2 and Keanu was nowhere in sight).

I’m even going to shine the light on one of the most beloved “love em and leave em” characters but please take this with a grain of salt. In every 007 film, everyone knows that Bond gets a different woman (decent prize for saving the world I figure). But does anyone ask “What happened to all those women?” I know they’re not staying home cooking dinner waiting for James to come home from work. Maybe a bad example but right as the credits roll things seem to be on the up and up for James and his damme de jour.

Another Bond, another disposable girl…

Now, for more evidence, I’d like to use Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. In the very beginning Mikaela tries to break up with Sam. It’s possible after she got her hearing back and the adrenaline rush wore off she realized it wasn’t going to work. Even though she didn’t go through with it, I find it true to life (read: people are such fickle creatures) that even after the amazing events in the first film, it doesn’t mean they’re compatible individuals and their rushed relationship was not cast in stone. Further we saw in last week’s release of Transformers Dark of the Moon, despite everything they’ve endured, Mikaela did break up with Sam (although for the purpose of this post, we’re going to ignore the whole Spielberg firing mandate issue) proving that saving the planet does not a lengthy relationship make.

If it weren’t for giant autonomous robots would Sam even have had the slightest shot with Mikaela?

Now changing gears slightly I want to get back to the other part of my question; the idea of the characters and their return to normalcy. One element that was played up nicely in Revenge of the Fallen (and thus giving more evidence to this post) was how Sam’s mother and father had this brief side chat about how if they continue to” keep quiet“, the government will continue the Autobot cover-up and take care of them for life.

Look, if we stay quiet, they’re gonna take care of everything. Just consider this the official start of our remodel, okay?

Nice touch especially since they played into an inferred cover-up in the credits of the first one. But that’s what I’m talking about and would really like to see more of in any follow up film – how the events of the first films affect the normal lives of the characters thereafter. That one small sequence in the disaster that was Revenge of the Fallen was actually quite well done in my opinion.

In fact, it kind of makes me think of another good example in which the Ghostbusters took those funny odd-jobs after the first film. Just because you’re heroes and the world love you before the credits, things can still go to shit after the credits. Again it’s people going back to the real world after all the extraordinary events took place.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen…

Our poor heroes…taking abuse from “over privileged 9 year-olds

I guess where I’m going with this is just to pose some questions and ponder, considering what happened on screen, how will these characters live their lives after what just happened? Will they go back to their jobs and only be left with one hell of a fireside story to tell their friends? Will they (or won’t they) be with that one person they experienced it all with? Will they be an on-going news or tabloid story and deemed a world saving celebrity for the rest of their days? Or will they simply fall back to obscurity? So after all these questions, I’ll leave it to you. What do you think? Do people really live happily ever after??

P.S. For your amusement and trip down memory lane head over to a post done by Andy at Fandango Groovers. He has speculated which classic 80’s romances might still be together and which probably didn’t end so happily (read: they have split up). Good stuff!!


  • andy

    Great article. I HAD FORGOTTEN HOW Ghostbusters 2 starts, classic! It’s great how you look at sequels, I had to avoid movies with sequels for mine to work.

    Thanks for the plug, and look out for my follow-up soon, the 90’s version!

  • rtm

    Fun post, Marc. I guess the answer is NO then as most of these couples aren’t together again in the sequel (blame those producers!) LOVE how you include the kiss from Licence to Kill there… I thought it was a bit cheesy how they had Carey Lowell’s Pam got all jealous to see Bond with the sexy Lupe, but the gold digger kind of annoyed me anyway.

    • MarcC

      I know I’m drawing a blank but I can’t think of many seemingly superficial relationships that have lasted into the second film except The Matrix.

  • Heather

    Why don’t the ladies last with Bond?

    Herpes! Duh!

    Well, that’s the trip of even modern day fairy tales. Life isn’t all sunshine and roses and for these films with fantastical romances, a happily ever after is earned. Realism isn’t necessarily asked for.

    I think in Andy’s I pointed out The Way We Were as one of the most realistic portrayals of a relationship on film, and I think people mistake it for some mushy romance. It’s really just….life………..

    I think a lot of couples would break up, but really I still like to latch onto the idea that some will end up together forever.

  • Luke

    Unplanned sequels seem to always have to go back on the relationship and have it ‘not work’ so there is some form of drama they can have in the romantic story arc of the film.

    In the types of films that you mentioned, Speed, National Treasure, Transformers, Bond, I don’t see the relationships as being all that authentic anyway. The romantic part of these films seems to placed in by the studio executives that I don’t care one way or another about them. I think audiences now sort of feel the same indifference and apathy that the writers put into these relationships and don’t care so much as one way or the other to what happens to them.

    • MarcC

      Wow Luke, thanks for the ultra unfeeling “I detest the Hollywood formula” scientific answer:P But you’re totally right…most films are about flash in the pan relationships and not authentic. If characters are 2 dimensional to begin with, any attempts to flesh them out would be wasted efforts.

      • Luke

        Haha, sorry I got to into it. I think some of the Hollywood formula movies can still pull it off, but only when they put some effort into it and work a little harder on casting. Too much money spent on special effects 🙂

  • Castor

    What? You shattered all my illusions and dreams Marc. Happily ever after is ok by my book but it definitely needs to be earned throughout the movie.

    • rtm

      I agree. Just like real life, we’ll never know if a couple would make it or not but at least there would be hints of it. In Return to Me for example, I sincerely believe the couple would make it because of what they’ve been through in the movie. But in action films (ESPECIALLY Bond flicks), I think the chances are small to none as their attraction is mostly based on dire circumstances. Man, I’m overthinking this, aren’t I? 😀

      • MarcC

        Not at all Ruth, it’s why I wrote the post to begin with:) Like I said, just because it looks like they’re doing great before the credits it may all fall apart afterwards. Haven’t seen Return to Me so I’ll check it out, thanks!

    • MarcC

      Good point Castor, you certainly have to lay the groundwork to achieve the longevity…still even then it could all go south:(