Movie trope question. (Spoilers for Skyfall and The Dark Knight)

This question has open spoilers for the movies in the title
Ok, The guy I saw Skyfall with was complaining that it stole a lot from The Dark Knight. One thing he mentioned was that Silva’s plan to get captured by MI6 was nearly identical to the Joker’s plan to get captured by Gotham PD. I argued that the idea was a lot older than either movie, but I couldn’t think of any examples. I still can’t but I’m sure I’ve seen it in a movie or a comic before.

“How do we break in to the impregnable fortress? We don’t. We let the guards bring us inside.”

So I’m looking for examples, if any. The one I thought of was the Trojan Horse, which would make this one of the oldest tropes of all, but that’s not quite right. The Trojans didn’t know they were bringing the Greeks in. I’m more looking for examples where the hero/villain is defeated and captured by the good/bad guys, only for it to turn out that that was the hero/villain’s plan all along. As the previous sentence implies, it can be either the hero who uses this ruse to get into the bad guys lair or the villain who uses it to get into the good guys base.


Luke gets captured by Jabba on purpose. Maybe, that whole Jabba plan was a mess.

Kitara gets captured on purpose by the Fire Nation to help free some Earth Nation dudes in a prison camp.

All I can think of.

Thanks, Lobohan. Like you, I found RotJ poorly written, so I couldn’t really make sense of Luke’s plan. “Let’s get the gang together with no real coordination or plan!” but I guess it counts.

Haven’t seen the Avatar series yet.

There have to be zillions of examples. Off the top of my head:

In the movie EXODUS (1960) (I haven’t checked whether this agrees with the book), Sal Mineo’s character deliberately allows himself to be caught by the British police, so he’ll be imprisoned and thus help with the break-out.

In NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959), Cary Grant raises a fuss during the auction, so that the police will arrest him and thus get him away from the bad guys (who have blocked his exit.)

In TORN CURTAIN (1966), Paul Newman defects to the Russians in order to learn their mathematical secrets.

I poked around on TV Tropes for a bit, and it looks like their name for this is the Trojan Prisoner. The article itself describes this trope as involving a fake or friendly guard as well as the prisoner, but some of the examples listed involve characters intentionally allowing themselves to be captured by real guards.

It might also be considered a form of the Batman Gambit, where the plan relies on other people taking what seems to them like the obvious course of action.

You know what else that plan is like? James Bond’s plan in EVERY JAMES BOND MOVIE.

Hey, that’s actually a good point. :smack:

Avengers features a similar plan with Loki allowing himself to be caught.

In the 1966 BATMAN TV series, Penquin tries to get himself thrown into prison so he can contact a forger. Ma Parker gets herself and her entire gang caught so she can use the prison as a hideout.

The Clone Wars TV show features such a plot by Cad Bane, he allows himself to be captured and put in a republic prison so he can contact and break out with another prisoner.

Right after Captain America managed it in his own movie.

I believe that was the premise of the tv show Prison Break, wherein the guy gets himself thrown in prison so he can help his brother escape.

The most recent Mission Impossible movie uses the trick.

It just struck me that Luke gets captured a second time in RoTJ, when he turns himself over to Vader and the Emperor.

As did the TV series, starting with the pilot, IIRC.

Steve McQueen’s character in *The Great Escape * and Sylvester Stallone’s character in *Escape to Victory * both escape from POW camps with the intention of later being deliberately recaptured after gathering information that would help in the later mass breakout .

They do it a bunch of times in the series, but the pilot episode is the one where Willy routinely places some luggage in the hotel’s vault – and since no one realizes he’s a record-breaking weightlifter, nobody suspects a thief is hiding inside the suitcase. (Likewise, nobody suspects a thing when the big guy later retrieves his bags, complete with their all-new all-different contents.)

In Star Wars, Han and Luke, dressed as stormtroopers, take Chewbacca as their fake prisoner to the cell block where Princess Leia is held so they can bust her out.


The Steve McQueen examnple points out how absurd this is. Having read a lot about WWII prison breaks (and about Stalag Luft III in particular), I can’t imaghine anyone allowing themselves to be recaptured. Getting out was so damned difficult in the first place that no commanding officer would have wanted his men to voluntarily get themselves re-incarcerated. They had lots of other ways of gathering information about the terrain around the camps, railroad timetables, etc. I’ve found no cases of prisoners there letting themselves get recaptured.

I didn’t see this thread, and made the same complaints in the Skyfall thread, bringing ibn Dark Knight and Avengers as similar cases, observing that most films where the villain deliberately lets himself get captured are already fantastic films, usinf supoerheroes or spies. It’s not clear at all that the villain gets any real advantage from breaking out from within, and he takes a huge risk doing so (Silva loses several men when he’s captured, and runs the risk of losing his freedom and his life. If they’d shacled him at MI6 headquarters, his ploy to escape wouldn’t have worked). And for the life of me I don’t see why he had to go through it all – he could’ve walkede into the government building at the end of it all without being captured. Saying he did it all to show off or his superiority is ludicrous – too many things could have gone wrong. It’s purely cinematic joyride.