Best Frenemies in the Movies… From KILL BILL to BATMAN BEGINS

This week, ‘Captain America: Civil War’ is released in Irish cinemas, and pits the Avengers against one another in an epic battle between former allies Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr). Although it seems as though political interference finally stokes the fire between these two friends and allies, it is clear that tensions between the Avengers has been building for a long time, especially given the events of ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’.

To celebrate the release of ‘Captain America: Civil War’ in Irish cinemas, and to mourn the death of the allegiance that is the Avengers, takes a look back at those enemies in the movies that were once the best of friends.

X-MEN – Professor X and Magneto
Although this is the first time we see Charles Xavier/Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto (Ian McKellen) in the film franchise of ‘X-Men’, it is immediately obvious that these are two men who have had an intimate friendship in the past but, due to some political interfering and a Senator who wants to pass an act forcing mutants to publicly reveal themselves and their abilities, it is not long before these old friends find themselves at odds.

It is clear that Professor X and Magneto want peace between humans and mutants, their methods of attaining such peace are very different, as are their views on humans and mutants, and it is these differences that sets these two friends against one another, culminating in a battle at a train station and a fight at the Statue of Liberty. The battle continues through much of the early X-Men films, with Xavier and Magneto agonising over their former friendship and the choices they have made.

KILL BILL – The Bride and Bill
The Bride (Uma Thruman) and Bill (David Carradine) were once lovers; the Bride was in Bill’s band of assassins named the Deadly Vipers, and all seemed to be going well until The Bride discovered she was pregnant with Bill’s child and tried to walk away from her old life for the sake of giving her child a better life. We all know what happened next; The Bride tried to marry some poor schmo with the hope of creating a family, but when Bill found out he crashed the wedding and assassinated almost everyone in the room. When The Bride woke up years later and found herself bereft of her child, she went on a “roaring rampage of revenge” – to quote the film’s tagline – to get justice for herself and her child.

The ‘Kill Bill’ films are the embodiment of the phrase “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”, and although it was The Bride that did the scorning, she still found herself wronged and looking for revenge. It’s just a shame she never talked to Bill about her feelings, since this could have stopped the entire bloodbath, but then, a calm mutual end to The Bride and Bill’s relationship would not have made for two such gloriously fun movies.

STAR WARS: EPISODE III – REVENGE OF THE SITH – Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi
Almost any time we see Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin (Hayden Christensen) together on screen in the previous film, ‘Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones’, we are reminded that although these two may be Jedi Master and Padawan, there is a friendship and a brotherhood between the two, and the bond seems nearly unbreakable. Of course, the bond is broken in ‘Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith’, when Anakin’s crush on Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) becomes a fully fledged relationship, and some meddling from the sinister Senator Palpatine (Ian McDiarmuid) turns Anakin away from the light side, and sends him on a collision course with the dark.

From the moment we met Anakin Skywalker way back in ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace’, we knew this was a child who would turn to the dark side as he got older, and we knew there was a kinship between he and Obi-Wan from dialogue in the original trilogy. Still, the turn of Anakin from light to dark is a sad one and even though there are parts of the film that are less than impressive, Obi-Wan’s heartbroken speech as he stands over Anakin’s mutilated body on Mustafar is still gut wrenching.

THE SOCIAL NETWORK – Mark Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss twins
Of course we all know that the events between Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (Armie Hammer) in the film were inspired by real events, but this tale is yet another of a frienship turned sour. After inventing Facemash – an early precursor to Facebook – in a fit of rage, Zuckerberg then teams up with the Winklevoss twins and their business partner Divya Narendra to work on a social network for Harvard students. In the end, the Harvard social network is abandoned when Zuckerberg goes to work on thefacebook without the twins and they decide to sue for theft of intellectual property, while Zuckerberg’s friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) also decides to sue when his portion of Facebook is cut in a new investment deal.

While there is truth to this row between Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss twins, it seems that a lot of what is depicted in the film was dramatised for the sake of the film, and for the sake of making Zuckerberg a highly motivated and successful villain, who ruthlessly stole from other people to benefit himself. Although it could be said that Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss twins were less friends than business associates in the first place, there is little doubt that their relationship turned from friendly to acrimonious rather quickly.

BATMAN BEGINS – Bruce Wayne and Ducard
Before he becomes the Batman, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) turns away from his home town of Gotham, and travels the world, hoping to gather new skills and strengths. The idea is that when he returns home, Wayne will have the ability to tackle injustice in Gotham, and right the wrongs he perceives in the world. In Ladakh he meets Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson), who trains him as a member of the League of Shadows, led by Ra’s al Ghul. The League of Shadows is also aiming for Gotham to be saved, but their idea of justice is different to Wayne’s, and when he learns that Ra’s al Ghul intends to destroy his city as it is beyond redemption, he burns the temple to the ground, only pausing to save his old pal Ducard. The next time Wayne encounters Ducard is at his 30th birthday party back in Gotham, where Ducard reveals himself to be the real Ra’s al Ghul – the person Wayne met in the temple being a stand in – and that is plan to destroy Gotham is still in full effect. Of course, there is only one man who can stop him… Batman.

In Christopher Nolan’s Batman universe, it is Ra’s al Ghul who gave Bruce Wayne the strength and skill to become Batman and save his city from crime and corruption, so the irony that it 9is Ra’s who wants to destroy the city is not a subtle one. Bruce Wayne’s betrayal by the one who created him is heartbreaking, and it gives Batman the strength he needs to finally take down the head of the League of Shadows, the one who intends to destroy all that he loves.

Honourable mentions to… ‘Spider-Man’, ‘Watchmen’, ‘Goodfellas’, ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Mean Girls’.

Words: Brogen Hayes

‘Captain America: Civil War’ is released in Irish cinemas on April 29th 2016. Watch the trailer below…