Over the weekend, we were discussing the movie The Fifth Element, and realized that the protagonist and antagonist in that movie not only #1. Never meet
But also #2. Don’t know the other exists
And yet #3. The protagonist still defeats the antagonist
Which we thought was cool, but couldn’t think of any other examples of this pattern. Star Wars IV meets #1 and #3 (gray area: Luke sees Vader, but doesn’t interact with him) , but not #2.
I’m sure there are other examples that meet all three items. Can anyone name any?
There are several where the encounters are fleeting.
In Frederick Forsyth’s Day of the Jackal, for instance, Commissaire Claude Lebel and The Jackal fence with each other throughout, but only meet at the very end.
In Dracula, the Count appears in surprisingly few scenes. He interacts with Harker quite a bit, but arguably Van Helsing is his major nemesis, and they meet only briefly, once. Van Helsing isn’t even in at the kill, IIRC.
In war films, like Sink the Bismark (based on C.S. Forester’s the Last Nine Days of the Bismarck), the people directing operations on each side never meet. Certainly the people in the offices in London and Germany never meet, but neither do the captains of the ships involved.
IIRC, this is what happens in The Pledge: Jack Nicholson uses a kid as bait to trap the preys-on-kids criminal that he doesn’t actually know exists. See, someone else confessed to the original crime and then died, but this one oddball obsessively suspects they got the wrong guy and a pattern-loving serial predator is still out there.
Anyhow, like I said he uses a kid as bait – which, when the truth comes out, wreaks seven kinds of hell on his personal life – and, unbeknownst to him, the criminal dies in a car crash while rushing to what he didn’t realize was a trap. And so the antagonist arguably gets defeated without ever realizing he was up against a protagonist, and the protagonist apparently spends the rest of his life thinking he had it all wrong and there never was an antagonist out there getting lured in.
A general tip: when trying to find media with a similar concept, I often check the TV Tropes entry for that piece of media for an entry for the concept. Digging through the The Firth Element page, I found “Unknown Rival.”
(Trying to think of my own example, I want to count Star Wars, for Luke Skywalker and Grand Moff Tarkin. They never met, LS defeated GMT, and while it is possible that GMT’s name was dropped at The Big Briefing, LS would have probably known nothing more about him.)
In The Avengers, they never meet Thanatos, don’t learn anything about him, and defeat his invasion anyway. Which I guess counts as one of the “naval victories” mentioned above, except it’s a space navy.
#1. Ok. Bell and Chigurh never actually meet. #2. Sort of. Bell knows that someone like Chigurh exists, and Chigurh becomes aware of Bell when he comes to the motel where Moss has been killed. But they don’t really know each other’s identities. #3. No. Chigurh escapes, probably with the money.
Specifically, almost undoubtedly not. He knows that his men have captured a ship which “blasted its way out of Mos Eisley,” and suspects that the occupants of that ship were trying to bring the stolen plans to Alderaan.
He knows that Obi-Wan is then on the Death Star, thanks to Vader sensing his former master, and I would imagine that they ran a background check on the Falcon after capturing it (and thus likely learned Han’s name), but Luke is, from Tarkin’s POV, just some random person.
Given that the recently-armored Vader is shown on the bridge of a Star Destroyer with Tarkin at the end of Episode III (overseeing initial construction of the Death Star, IIRC), I think it’s possible that Tarkin knows that Vader is Skywalker (since Vader had gone by that name until very recently before), but it’s not clear one way or the other. And, certainly, Darth Vader looks very different from Anakin Skywalker, so I think the only reason that Tarkin would know is if Palpatine had told him.
Even if Tarkin knows that Vader is Anakin, I see no reason why he’d know that Vader had children (since Vader himself may not have known, at that point, that he had one or more living children).
Tarkin knew that there were rebels on the Falcon that escaped, but he (and Vader) didn’t know them by name, and of the two Vader is the only one who got a glimpse of him. And I think Vader’s identity is a secret in the canon.
In issue #4 of The Heckler comics, Bushwack’r sets a series of fiendish and elaborate deathtraps for the Heckler. The Heckler doesn’t even notice them, as they constantly backfire in wierd ways, with the Bushwack’r (obviously based on the Coyote and an hommage to Chuck Jones) bearing the brunt of the destruction.
In that vein, Robin Hood Daffy from 1958 features Daffy Duck as Robin Hood trying to impress an unnamed Friar (Porky Pig) by robbing a wealthy nobleman. The nobleman remains utterly oblivious to all of Robin/Daffy’s attempts to intercept him.
Heh. Tarkin knew Leia was on that ship, though – and she’s the one who sent word to Tatooine, to get the old wizard to show up with an apprentice in tow; and she’s the one who got the blueprints to folks who could tell that apprentice what to do; and she’s the one who then gave him that medal for doing it.
Luke doesn’t really act on his own initiative in that one, but Leia apparently does.