What is the history of this movie cliche (walking away from a fiery background in slow motion)?

I’m was channel surfing and stumbled across the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie on FX tonight. He was on a motorcycle with his six-inch knife hands, being chased by a helicopter with rockets and machine guns, so of course he won that battle. But what made my jaw drop at the absolutely unbelievable cliche-y-ness of the scene was when he struck a spark to make the crashed, fuel-leaking helicopter explode, and they had the same tired scene of him walking away in slow motion with a constipated look on his face, too cool to look back at the flames entirely filling the background.

I can’t believe that any director would film a scene like that, except as a parody. It’s been done so many times that it’s almost a parody by definition. I remember thinking what a cliche it was when Banderas and Hayek did it in Desperado, nearly 20 years ago.

So I’m wondering exactly how many times it’s been done, and when was it done for the first time? I would guess that one or more Bond films have done it, and one or more Diehards, but how far back can it actually be traced?

Good luck in finding that first version. Odds are it’s going to be obscure in some low-budget shoot-'em-up decades old.

My first thought on reading the title was Salma and Antonio or else some Tarantino thing.

The troubling part in trying to picture the people involved is that it could be a war, mobster, car racing, cops-and-robbers thing or any sci-fi genre effort.

I just thought of a variant. The scene in Wanted: Dead or Alive (1986) where Rutger gets to say Fuck the bonus

Another cliche’ that has become so ingrained is the car bomb. It’s gotten so everytime you see a car parked and some guy getting into it, for a moment you pucker up knowing it’s about to blow up. Even if it’s just a regular movie with no violence yet.

Slow motion anything looks like a lazy cliche to me. If the previews are accurate, the new video game looking Frankenstein movie is full of that crap.

1976 example was the earliest I noticed listed on TVTropes.


I’m glad you asked this because it led me to watch The Lonely Island’s video “Cool Guys Don’t Look at Explosions”, which is amusing. It has your Hugh Jackman example.


Wow, what a great resource! Thanks for the links.

I can’t remember if it was Tombstone or Wyatt Earp, but you had the three lawmen (and Doc Holliday) walking somberly toward the OK Corral, and there was a burning house behind them. It had nothing to do with the story! It was wholly (and stupidly!) gratuitous.

(House on fire, guys! Grab a bucket, not your guns! Jeez! What kind of dork-ass public servants are you?)

I’ve noticed that cliche a lot in recent years. I even wrote to Ebert about it some years ago, but he never responded.

He just set fire to your letter and walked away slowly, not looking back.

The really stupid part is that not even their hair is messed up by the shockwave from an explosion, much less any wincing due to the ear trauma.

I knew it!