Sucker Punch

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Sucker Punch is an action/fantasy/horror/thriller Feminist Fantasy Sleeper Hit and soon to be[when?] Cult Classic, directed, written, produced and conceptualized by Zack Snyder and released by Warner Bros about a young girl's planned escape from an insane asylum and... well, have a look at the tropes. It's highly stylized and highly self-aware, and deals with escapism in all its different forms: referencing practically every movie and video game under the sun, the film is a celebration of the idea that Tropes Are Not Bad and some slight "You are a perverted bastard for looking for tight clothing and wanting the 'Dance' show and seeing the girls as nails and objects and looking for Fan Service / Rule of Sexy which aren't actually there" controversial morals slipped in to Sucker Punch the gentlemen in the audience.

Alternatively, an over-produced, unusually written, sexist, twisted Mind Screw pretending to be about female empowerment, but is really the director's wet dream.

Alternatively, still it's a movie of both biases and depicts all points of view and that's why nobody will win while discussing it.

Critics stay Sucker Punched.

Special mention goes to the film's soundtrack: the entire score is composed of industrial and modern covers of popular songs (mostly girls singing tracks written by men, while averting The Cover Changes the Gender). These include songs famous for being used in previous films about hallucinations.[1] The result is a very self-referential film, drawing inspiration from every possible genre and adapting them into its own unique atmosphere. Now heading towards Cult Classic status in a latter day discovering of it by people who do actually understand what Zack Snyder is saying....and it's a lot to get your head around the first time: read below!

Ultimately, the film is a modern re-interpretation of Alice in Wonderland, mixing the classic story up with Brazil. ... If it were a video game. ... In slow-motion.

Alternatively Inception meets Emilie Autumn... made more challenging... without a guide book...

Alternatively, the film can be described as Alice in Wonderland meets 300, with Big Freaking Guns.

Look, it's just really hard to describe, okay?

In May 2021, Snyder confirmed that a director's cut of this film exists and that there are plans to release it.

WARNING! There are unmarked Spoilers ahead. Beware.

Tropes used in Sucker Punch include:

Sweet Pea: "I get the sexy schoolgirl. I even get the helpless mental patient, right, that can be hot. But what's this? Lobotomized vegetable?!"

      • Additionally, there's nothing sexy in an empty emotionless object, highlighted in the finale of the movie.
    • "You make your own world." (Babydoll)
    • "You have all the weapons you need, now fight."
    • "Appearances can be deceiving." (Babydoll)
    • "Simple plans can work." (Babydoll)
    • "Original movie ideas still happen." (And get flamed for being original.)
    • "Escapism can inspire as well as be an escape."
  • All There in the Manual: Four animated promotional shorts were released which gives some back-story to each of the four worlds Babydoll's action fantasies take place in.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: In-universe: Babydoll views the High Roller--the lobotomy specialist—as an evil, slimy, threatening man, but in reality he's extremely reluctant about his job, viewing lobotomy as flawed and inefficient, especially since his latest patient wasn't in need of a lobotomy at all. The rest of the orderlies are much the same—they're depicted as passively malicious and threatening from what we see of them in the hallucinations, but after the lobotomy, they've had enough of Blue and nearly stop him in raping Babydoll. In addition, the asylum's psychologist, Dr. Gorski, notes that she tried to reach out to Babydoll in reality but Babydoll didn't respond, whereas in the hallucinations, Babydoll takes her lessons to heart. In addition, Gorski is intimidating when introduced, but isn't anything like that in reality.
    • Whether or not they felt guilty about is irrelevant to their victims: they did it anyway, and their angst after the fact doesn't help everyone who already suffered. As for Gorski, her role is interpreted as the person trying to reach out and help her in both universes - it's just that in the asylum universe, her perception of Babydoll's actions is incorrect and she cannot offer the aid she needs, and in the brothel universe Babydoll takes the role Gorski represents and her intentions and brings them to fruition. And again, Gorski is an authority figure with power over the girls in both universes, and the parallel here is actually quite straight-forward; in both worlds she is someone who wants to help but is held back by the structure she inhabits (a dated asylum or a brothel) and in the brothel reality Babydoll actually does her a favour and reframes her limitations as someone actively working against her kindness.
  • All-Star Cast: see Hey, It's That Guy!.
  • All Stated By The Director: Mostly what Zack says.
  • Amazon Brigade
  • Anachronism Stew/Fantasy Kitchen Sink: When half the movie is hallucinations, this doesn't come as a surprise. These scenes may or may not take place in the same world. Pretty awesome world if it's the same one. There's one scene where the girls are fighting Orcs and armored knights using modern firearms, bombs made out of propane tanks and a B-25 Mitchell bomber with 50. cal mounted machine guns. Talk about an unfair advantage. In another scene, they use their shotguns, M4 carbines, Colt 1911 and katana against... robotic future cyber-guards. Of course, it's heroes versus Mooks, so Rock Beats Laser. Considering the action fantasies as a whole: although the referenced genres did exist in the '50s in one form or another, most of their tropes hadn't completely crystallized. The visual style of the action scenes simply wouldn't have developed until at least 40 years later. Also, the music in the brothel setting; "Love Is The Drug" (used in a cut scene) came out in 1975, not the 1950s, and that's about the earliest-released song in the movie. Of course, the brothel sequence was a hallucination. The B-25 itself is a meta example, having a jet engine in place of one of its props.
    • The Expanded Universe focuses on several of the enemies, insinuating they crossed the multiverse to track down Babydoll in the case of the giant samurai.
  • Animesque: All you have to do is look at the trailer or any shots from the film. You'll know why. If that's not enough, the first action sequence is a pastiche of Japanese-based stuff. Hell, the first fantasy sequence boils down to "lets see how much anime we can squeeze into live action", and is highly reminescent of Grenadier.
    • Before its release, some people thought it was a live-action Sailor Moon.
  • Anime Hair : You take a good look at Rocket when she's in her butt-kicking mode. Quite possibly the best rendition of Animesque hair spikes in live action productions to date.
  • Arc Number: 5. There are five heroines and five items to find. It's Snyder's fifth movie. Number 5 is painted on all vehicles Amber steers.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Paradise."
    • Also, the Aesop of the film: "You have all the weapons you need. Now fight." (Said by three different characters at three different times, including over the Fade to Black before the credits to the audience.)
  • Attempted Rape: Blue almost rapes Babydoll twice. Both time she defends herself. The Chef tries to rape Rocket after he catches her stealing food, but is stopped in time by Babydoll.
  • Author Avatar: Several of Sweet Pea's lines reflect Zack Snyder's view on the film.

Zack Snyder: [Sweet Pea] says, "The dance should be more than just titillation; mine's personal," and that's exactly a comment on the movie itself. I think 90% are missing it or they just don't care. [...] The other line that I think is important is, as soon as the fantasy starts, there's that whole sequence where Sweet Pea breaks it down and says, "This is a joke, right? I get the sexy school girl and nurse thing, but what's this? A lobotimized vegetable? How about something more commercial?" That is basically my comment on the film as well. She's saying, "Why are you making this movie? You need to make a movie more commercial. It shouldn't be so dark and weird."

  • Ambiguous Situation: Who's story were we told? What was real? What was a interpretation of the events? What is from Blue's perspective? What is from Babydoll's perspective? What was Sweet Pea's visualizations?
  • Alien Sky: On the "Distant Planet" world.
  • Badass: The third reality identities of the main characters.
  • The Bechdel Test: Despite some critics using the film as a punching bag for sexism accusations, it passes, it passes quite cleanly actually too. Most of their conversations are about their plans and actions.
  • Bedlam House: Lennox House. Mostly due to Blue. Madame Gorski wants to help as much as possible, though.
  • Big Freaking Gun: The second Samurai's giant RPG-7 and Minigun. Amber's mini-mech has two autocannons.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: No matter how rough the combat, even getting tagged in the face by a robot, the girls never show cuts, bruises or anything. Of course, none of that was real.
    • An interesting subversion when it comes to the subtext of the shot; in both of those scenes the girls are turning their objectification into a weapon against the people who view them as objects.
  • Between My Legs: The Mayor is framed by Amber's legs, and the Chef is framed by Babydoll's in the cyberpunk sequence.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Sweet Pea towards Rocket, even arguing against their only means of escape due to a possibility of Rocket getting hurt.
    • Babydoll and her sister have this relationship too.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Babydoll gets lobotomized and the rest of the crew is possibly dead, but Blue and likely Babydoll's step-father get punished, and Sweet Pea can start a new life outside the Lennox House.
    • Slightly sweeter in the Extended Cut, where the final scene before Babydoll is lobotomised has her meet the High Roller, only to have him turn out to be a warm, charming man. He tells her he doesn't want to "take" her and instead wants to know her, wants honesty and the person that she is and he'll give her all the freedom she could possibly have; the subtext is that Babydoll's Heroic Sacrifice is actually more rewarding, as she has finally escaped Lennox House in her own mind.
  • The Blank: The robots guarding the bomb on the train.
  • Bloodless Carnage:
    • The amount of blood in the movie is very little. Even when two orcs are thrown into a propeller.
    • Babydoll cradling her sister in the beginning of the film, and coming away with blood on her fingers.
    • Another: Immediately after the lobotomy, the lobotomist/High Roller drops the spike used into a dish of water; the camera cuts to a close-up and we see the blood swirling around and up. The shortage of blood up to that point makes it all the more chilling.
  • Book Ends: The ending lines mirror the opening lines.
  • Boastful Rap: "I Want It All/We Will Rock You" mash-up features some of this sort of rap by Armageddon.
  • Brought Down to Normal: The girls, whenever one of the "dance" segments ends. Most of the genuine conflict in the movie occurs in the brothel and the asylum. In fact, despite the gratuitous action scenes, the audience only sees blood in the asylum.
  • Break the Cutie: The first 20 minutes could already make it a good bet for an alternative title to be; Break the Cutie: The Movie.
  • Bullet Time: Used most heavily in the train sequence.
  • But You Were There and You and You
  • The Caligula: Blue. He works in a Bedlam House, but is probably the least sane guy. In fact, he shows several signs of schizophrenia: delusions of grandeur, and violent mood swings.
  • Catch Phrase:

Wiseman: "Oh, yeah. One more thing ... "

  • Call Back: The whole movie calls back and forward to itself, starting from "Everyone has an angel. A guardian who watches over us. We can't know what form they'll take. One day, old man. Next day, little girl" and ending with "Who chains us? And who holds the key to set us free? It's you. You have all the weapons you need. Now fight!"
  • Chekhov's Armoury: While she is brought into Lennox House, Babydoll catches sight of the four items that she needs to escape.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Blue arranges Babydoll's lobotomy and forges the paperwork in exchange for money from Babydoll's stepfather. Dr. Gorski never agreed to the operation and realizes her signature had been forged, and the police stop Blue from raping Babydoll post-lobotomy.
    • "Paradise" is mentioned throughout the film, usually as a place of escape. It happens to be the name of a nearby diner/bus station.
    • The gun briefly shown in Babydoll's stepfather's desk is the very same gun she uses in her attempt to kill him—and also appears to be the same one that is her firearm of choice throughout the combat sequences.
    • Also, his letter opener resembles a katana. Take a look at the combat tropes. What does this tell us about Babydoll's choice of weapons?
    • Babydoll's sister has a pink stuffed rabbit. Amber's mecha has a pink rabbit drawn on it.
    • The spilt water was emphasized a couple of times before the radio shorts out from its wire getting wet when Babydoll is performing for the chef. It was obviously going to be important.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The High Roller is the doctor that performs Babydoll's lobotomy. Wiseman turns out to a be a sympathetic bus driver who provides Sweet Pea with an alibi to evade the police. The young British soldier that catches Sweet Pea's attention is one of the passengers of the bus she boards at the end the film.
  • Clueless Aesop: Subverted: Babydoll still was not raped and won her battle against Blue, saved a whole load of ladies inside the asylum and Sweet Pea lives in the real world now, and in the directors cut gets discovered as a human being instead of an object, also was not implied to be an object at any time during the film, except by the Big Bad who got in serious trouble anyway!
  • Color Wash: The opening sequence and all asylum scenes are supersaturated with shades of gray and light blue, creating a depressing atmosphere. The bordello fantasy is intentionally bright, even garish, and the action sequences features a rich palette of impossibly rich, unnatural colours.
  • Combat Tropes:
  • Cool Big Sis: Sweet Pea, who looks out for and protects her sister Rocket and the rest of the group, even though she hates all their plans.
    • Babydoll is clearly this to her sister too.
  • Cool Old Guy: The Wiseman in all incarnations.
  • Cool Train/Runaway Train: In the sci-fi sequence, which is basically a Locomotive Level. It's also got a giant bomb cooking in the front car.
  • Cool Versus Awesome:
  • Completely Missing the Point: Viewers of the movie. Due to it's more subtle elements and Non-Anvilicious sentiment, A LOT of viewers walked away confused and, in some cases, angry.
  • Costume Tropes:
  • Curse Cut Short:

Blondie: "Eat that, you ugly mother(gunshots)!"

  • Cyberpunk: The train sequence.
  • Dead Little Sister:
    • Babydoll's evil stepfather kills her sister and then blames her for it, or Babydoll accidentally shoots her younger sister in an attempt to defend her from their evil stepfather. The exact events are unclear.
    • Rocket, who sacrifices herself to protect Sweet Pea.
  • Diegetic Switch: Whenever they turn on a radio or a tape player for Babydoll to have music to dance to, it always does this with the shift into the fantasy sequences. Also inverted a few times.
  • Darker and Edgier: Considering that Vanessa Hudgens previously acted in films like High School Musical and Bandslam, which were very light teen films with a rather family-friendly appeal, her appearance in the film was definitely a different direction for her.
  • Damsel in Distress: Rocket at several points where she needs saving by Babydoll or Sweet Pea.
  • Decoy Protagonist: It turns out that Sweet Pea is the true protagonist of the story, while Babydoll is only the means to help her escape the asylum. Babydoll even lampshades this. Sweet Pea's first lines are a plea to Madame Gorski in the brothel: "You gotta help me. I'm the star of the show, remember?"
  • Dedication: To Marsha Snyder, his mother.
  • Dodge the Bullet: As Babydoll is closing in on the German courier, she uses her katana to parry the bullets he fires at her.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Surprisingly enough, Blue claims to not like guns...Right after murdering Blondie and Amber with one.
  • Doublethink: The entire story run on this, as the character(s) live simultaneously in two or sometimes even three different levels of realities, requiering quite a bit of multitasking from the audience if they are to have any real clue as to what's going on.
    • at the end it is revealed that Babydoll did manage to help Sweet Pea to escape in the real world. This means that she must have been active in all three realities simultaneously, and actually accomplishing real deeds while trapped within a dream within a show within a hallucination. Wow.
  • Dude, She's Like, in a Coma: Blue's plan for Babydoll after the High Roller deals with her. Subverted in that he's put off by the Uncanny Valley vibes Babydoll gives off post-lobotomy.
  • Dull Surprise: One of the few times this trope is justified even expected. Considering the immense pain and confusion Babydoll and the viewer goes through in the movie.
    • Babydoll's expression never really seems to change. It's like she's perpetually scared, in shock and horrified, even in the midst of her badassery. In the extended cut, she does show emotion in the scene with the High-Roller.
    • She does show some great "Fuck You/Don't you Dare" faces at Blue whenever he tries anything with her too. She also smiles while "killing" the robots.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Both Amber and Blondie are murdered to prove Blues point.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Emily Browning, a natural brunette, plays a blonde. Ironically averted by the raven-tressed Vanessa Hudgens playing a character named "Blondie."
  • Every Helicopter Is a Huey: In the fantasy world where the girls try to defuse a bomb on a speeding train, they do it from a Huey.
  • Escapism: The nested fantasy worlds. Invoked with the entire film, according to Word of God.
  • Eye Scream: The lobotomy. Hell, just that damned poster on the wall.
  • Faceless Goons: German zombies in gas masks, fantasy knights in face-covering helmets, and mirror-faced robots. The samurai tengu/oni things have no faces to speak of, but their masks give them distinct appearances. Averted with the orcs, but aside from several shots, the camera doesn't focus on them long enough to get a real good look at their faces most of the time.
  • Fan Service: Zig-zagged, Zack's had something to say on its usage:

Zack Snyder Do you not get the metaphor there? The girls are in a brothel performing for men in the dark. In the fantasy sequences, the men in the dark are us. The men in the dark are basically me; dorky sci-fi kids.

    • The point of the exercise is that, if you wanna see boobs you will only see boobs and ass, if you want to see a real person with emotions and a story and a history and NO pure sexualizing a woman, you will see that also. It's almost entirely up to the viewer...See Wild Mass Guessing page for Sucker Punch for more on this idea....but it all comes to an end with the finale of the movie. When Blue and the stepfather, two of the greatest perverts ever, get their comeuppances
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: The action hallucinations seem to take place in one of these. Justified in that in Real Life, everyone's imagination is a Fantasy Kitchen Sink in some level.
  • Fat Bastard: The Chef. Rapist, slimebag, accidental murderer.
  • Feminist Fantasy: There is a bucketload of fantasy/alternative universe in this movie and it does have a girl power theme. "You have all the weapons you need. Now fight."
  • The Fifties: Which adds a sense of nostalgia, and thus more sex-appeal, to their already sexy outfits.
  • Five Amazon Squad
    • The Hero: Babydoll, the leader and protagonist
    • The Lancer: Sweet Pea, the voice of caution and dissent
    • The Smart Girl: Amber, who's in charge of transport in the dream-world, and who's shy, timid demenour in the brothel-world (ie: nervousness about seducing the mayor) is common for this role
    • The Big Girl/Fifth Ranger Traitor: Blondie, who, in the dream-world, is the most ruthless and ferocious, and carries the biggest weapons, and who presents a street-smart, tough personality in the brothel-world (ie: cheering on a fight between two other patients in her first scene, teaching Amber to seduce people). Vanessa Hudgens has described her as "The Tough One".
    • The Chick: Rocket, The Heart, who exhibits an emotional personality-type and is determined to hold the girls together.
    • Or, in light of the ending: Babydoll and Sweet Pea's roles are actually reversed.
  • Four-Girl Ensemble: Averted in almost every way.
  • Foreshadowing: The movie is written extremely tightly and most words and images refer to other words and images in the movie:
    • The words Wiseman gives are full of it, the most obvious example being the "One more thing" he tells the girls to do/remember before each mission. They always fail to follow his advice and it always causes them to come close to failure.
    • When in the real world, Blue calls Babydoll's stepfather "Father"; once we transition to the brothel, he is a Priest.
    • The opening lines:

Narrator: Everyone has an angel, a guardian who watches over us. We can't know what form they'll take. One day, old man. Next day, a little girl. But don't let appearances fool you. They can be fierce as any dragon, yet they're not here to fight our battles, but to whisper from our heart, reminding that it's us. It's every one of us who holds the power over the worlds we create. We can deny our angels exist, convince ourselves they can't be real. But they show up anyway in strange places and at strange times. They can speak through any character we can imagine. They'll shout through demons if they have to, daring us, challenging us to fight.

    • When Babydoll is admitted, she sees the four objects needed in the fantasy.
    • The first "dance" acted out by Sweet Pea is Babydoll's lobotomy, which she stops because she doesn't think it is sexy. She removed her Babydoll wig to reveal that she is sitting in the lobotomy chair, suggesting that she is the protagonist.
    • The titles of the songs give away a number of details, starting with "Sweet Dreams" and finishing with "Where is My Mind?"
    • The first fantasy begins with Bjork's Army Of Me
    • The simple way the therapy/social room in the mental asylum is simply called a "theater", alluding to what the girls end up doing in the brothel.
    • There is a painted dragon on the wall in one of the bordello rooms opposite the one Rocket takes Babydoll too.
    • Blue says "it's quite a show" when Dr. Gorski works her magic with the patients in the institution.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Sweet Pea is the older, responsible one and Rocket is the irresponsible one, in Babydoll's imagined fantasy. To the point that Rocket ran away from home even though their situation wasn't a very bad one and Sweet Pea followed her to make sure she'd be okay, which lands them in a brothel.
    • "It is not dying."
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Before this whole thing, they never even knew each other, then they fight for the right to be treated like a human!
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: An all-girl version, and it's a perfect fit:
    • Sweet Pea as the Cynic
    • Rocket as the Optimist
    • Babydoll as the Realist
    • Amber as the Apathetic
    • Blondie as the Conflicted
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble
    • Babydoll as Choleric
    • Sweet Pea as Phlegmatic II
    • Blondie as Melancholic
    • Amber as Phlegmatic
    • Rocket as Sanguine
  • Gas Mask Mooks: The German soldiers in the trenches and zombies sequence.
  • Genre Busting: The movie is a complete Mind Screw that folds together Bedlam House escape drama and insanely over-the-top sequences chock-full of tropes from the following genres:
  • Genre Roulette: Soundtrack, movie itself, characters roles in aforementioned movie and everything else is a Russian roulette.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Babydoll, rockin' them at age 20.
  • Glasses Pull: Both Blue and Doctor Gorski put on reading glasses to take a closer look at some important detail, just before discovering something very important.
  • Gorn: Surprisingly averted. Aside from Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, most Snyder films kick the gibs-level to high gear. Here, all you have are chopping up robots and shooting steam powered WWI era German soldier zombies. Instead of blood, when they're shot they release the steam that allows them to move. Even in the Castle Storming sequence (when two Orcs are tossed into a propeller, and a dragon's throat is slit) the blood amount is minimum.
  • Gratuitous German: The commander of the steampunk Reichswehr zombies speaks only this.
    • His German is very good, actually. The only strange/weird thing was that he randomly switched between "du" and "Sie" (the casual and polite form of address, respectively) while talking to Babydoll.
  • Grimmification: Alice in Wonderland in the form of a PG-13-rated action movie? Yeah, sounds about right.
  • Hair of Gold: Babydoll, Rocket, and Sweet Pea.
  • Hair-Raising Hare: That creepy rose bunny face on the mecha.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: "The fifth thing is a mystery ... Only you can find it." The audience can easily see it coming, but not how it will be implemented.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: Used for dramatic purposes in their extended version of "Sweet Dreams" within the soundtrack and therefore the movie.
  • Hello, Nurse!: Rocket's outfit includes a black nurse's cap.
    • Her dance performance also has her and the backup dancers in nurse outfits.
    • And Blondie and Rocket are wearing nurse outfits when we first meet them in the brothel.
  • Hermit Guru: The Wiseman's first incarnation.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Rocket does it for Sweet Pea, shown both in the hallucination fantasy and in the "real" world fantasy—she makes Sweet Pea leave and stays on the train when the bomb explodes, and she takes the knife for Sweet Pea when the Chef tries to stab her.
    • The fifth item to escape the asylum is a mystery that will require "great sacrifice" but will provide "perfect victory." It turns out that Babydoll is the sacrifice in order to allow Sweet Pea to escape.
  • Herr Doktor: Gorski.
  • Hospital Hottie: Jon Hamm and Carla Gugino provide cross-gender appeal.
  • Human Cannonball: Two orcs attack the girls' plane by launching themselves from a catapult.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Blue saying that he Does Not Like Guns after shooting two girls in the head.
  • I Just Want to Be Free: Babydoll and the rest of the girls want to escape the asylum and regain their freedom. Ironically, the one thing Babydoll was running from -- her lobotomy -- is revealed to be her "freedom" in the end.
  • Imagine Spot: All the action sequences. And the cabaret as well ... possibly.
  • Informed Ability: Because all of Babydoll's dance scenes segue into her crazy action imaginations, we have only other characters' reactions to support the conclusion that she could dance the pants off the High Roller.
    • This may have been for a point, we don't see the apparently extremely sexy show BD puts on, and we see another kind of show instead..Which is aggressive and to explain their plan of escaping, or a metaphor/dream for their plan, or her world in her head when she dances
  • The Ingenue: Subverted with Babydoll. Asylum inmates deem her at first to be very docile, naïve, and immature (also, she has Girlish Pigtails). However, Babydoll has much more spunk and intelligence than most ingenue heroines, and it promptly shows. See Seemingly-Wholesome Fifties Girl below. Blondie is also convinced Babydoll's not a virgin.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: In the fantasy sequence.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Mecha: In the WWI sequence.
  • Ironic Echo: "You have all the weapons you need. Now fight." The last time this is said is only seconds after it has been revealed that Babydoll could have saved herself from the lobotomy at any time, simply by informing the doctor that Blue intended to forge her signature. She knew this, but in her delusion she believed that Blue was running the place and that the doctor was powerless against him. Or she actually wanted it.
    • "We had a deal" and "Are you okay?" is echoed through it.
  • Ironic Nickname:
    • Blondie is a brunette.
    • Rocket's jetpack doesn't work.
    • Babydoll is one of the more mature girls. Also, she's 20.
    • Sweet Pea is very cold towards the others.
  • Imaginary Friend: In some interpretations.
  • Karma Houdini: Subverted. Blue gets caught and Baby Daddy will likely get his comeuppance for his crimes against his stepdaughter, as Blue is heard swearing to the police that it's the stepfather at fault and that he'll tell them all about him and the money as he's dragged off.
    • Played straight with the Chef. Aside from Blue screaming and beating him after he fatally stabs Rocket. Though it's entirely possible that it never happened.
  • Large Ham: Oscar Isaac as Blue, the head orderly and mafioso pimp.
  • Lipstick and Load Montage: During the closing credits.
  • Lovecraft Country: The asylum is located in Brattleboro, Vermont. Incidentally, Brattleboro is home to a famous mental hospital in Real Life as well, although its reputation is the exact opposite of the Bedlam House that Lennox House seems to be.
  • Made of Iron: Especially in Babydoll's first fight against the samurai, where she is smashed, dragged, and slammed several times by hulking Samurai—and still manages to decapitate them all. It is her fantasy though, so it isn't that unbelievable.
    • Der Kaiser shrugs off an entire bunker falling in on his head. He's implied to have undergone the same "treatment" as the soldiers, though.
    • The German courier shrugs off falling out of the sky and landing on his face.
  • Male Gaze: Played with, some parts like in the brothel occasionally it's all up there, but in the Asylum and most of the "Dance" sequences it's kept to a bare minimum. You are almost made to seek it, so a subversion, except when you see it from "Blue's" point of view. May also be seen to zig-zag itself.
  • Mama Bear: The mama dragon is not amused when the girls kill her child.
  • Mandatory Twist Ending: Zig Zagged. Yes, it's all in Babydoll's head ... until it turns out she actually did everything for Sweet Pea to escape. And then it's heavily implied those weren't hallucinations when Sweet Pea comes across two people that only existed in Babydoll's hallucinations. They may have really been Sweet Pea's imagination all along.
  • Market-Based Title: Was renamed to Angel Wars in Japan.
    • Which makes sense, actually, considering Babydoll is the "angel" who engages in battles.
  • Meaningful Background Event: You can see the demon samurai steadily approaching as the Wiseman first instructs Babydoll of her mission.
  • Meaningful Title: Sucker Punch! The one who would be saved by the plan isn't Babydoll! Anyone who came for the Fan Service is as bad as the villains! You will think about this movie obsessively no matter how much you loathe it or adore it!
  • Meaningful Echo: And HOW. See Foreshadowing / Ironic Echo.
  • The Mentor: Wiseman and Gorski.
  • Mental Story: And how!
  • Mind Screw: Intentional, obviously, given the nature of the film and its themes of inner heroism becoming outer strength. But when you have an Imagine Spot nested within another Imagine Spot...
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: At first, Dr. Gorski seems intimidating and wicked, but it turns out she's actively encouraging and helpful. In reality, she's been helpful from the start and calls the cops on Blue when she realizes he forged her signature to allow Babydoll's lobotomy.
  • Mixed Metaphor: Blue provides a doozy.

Blue: A few bad eggs -- led by one little egg in particular -- have spit in the face of that generosity.

  • Molotov Cocktail
  • Mood Whiplash: All over the place, but perhaps the most notable example comes from the Director's Cut, where Babydoll meets the High Roller, and he is a charming gentleman, who she willingly begins to have sex with after he offers her the idea of the freedom within her own mind, only for a very lovely scene to be hard cut with the hammering of the spike as Babydoll is lobotomised.
  • Mordor: The fantasy sequence takes place in a devastated volcano land with red burning skies. It's also full of Shout Outs to The Lord of the Rings. Replete with fire-breathing dragons, orcs and knights.
  • Motherly Scientist: Psychologist, actually, but Dr. Gorski just the same.
  • Mr. Exposition: Wiseman will always lay out the rules of each fantasy sequence (such as they exist), giving objectives as well as obstacles and limitations to Babydoll's basically limitless imagination.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Despite the empowering messages in the film, the trailers and TV spots generally focused on the "hot chicks in skimpy outfts" aspect. The marketing may have been a factor in the film's poor box office take and people's general Hate Dumb and failure to understand the concept.
  • No Name Given/Only Known by Their Nickname: Almost none of the characters' real names are given, only nicknames.
  • Not Using the Z Word: The girls' enemies are never called samurai, zombies, or orcs—even if they totally are.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Babydoll's first action sequence features one of the gigantic samurai wielding a minigun, while the second pits the girls against Steampunk Nazi Zombies.
    • The only 'normal' enemies they fight would be the Knights and/or Orcs.
    • Ninja? Check. The girls.
    • Zombie? Check. The Nazis.
    • Robot? Multiple Check.
    • Pirate? Not so much.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: Sweet Pea's sword is made by CAS Iberia.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Alan C. Peterson as the Mayor. In his brief appearance, he steals the scene with his utterly badass pimpin' entrance and Leitmotif: a mash-up of I Want It All and We Will Rock You.
  • One-Woman Wail: Heard in the trailer. Featured in the soundtrack, except it's a sighing.
  • Orange-Blue Contrast: Particularly with the dragon fire.
  • Orderlies Are Creeps: Blue, especially. The rest of the orderlies are simply ominous, and this gets hammered home in the real world -- Blue tries to rape a braindead Babydoll.
  • Pettanko: Babydoll.
  • Playing Against Type: Vanessa Hudgens as a Badass action heroine.
  • Playboy Bunny: A few of the background girls, particulalry during the Mayor's scene.
  • Plot Armor: The Amazon Brigade appears to have this during the first three "dance" sequences. Justified in that the fantasy sequences metaphorically represent the successful execution of their plans. The Plot Armor appropriately drops in the fantasy for Rocket when she gets killed in the bordello reality, and probably in the asylum reality also.
  • Plot Coupons: The objects Babydoll needs to escape the asylum.
  • The Power of Trust: The only way their plan can work is if they all trust each other while putting themselves at risk. Lampshaded by The Wiseman who, during their first mission as a team, asks them to try and work together.
    • Indeed, their failure to stick together (Rocket and Sweet Pea get separated, and Amber takes off on her own to take on the triplanes, and it almost ends badly for all of them.
    • The one mission that they fail on? Blondie isn't with them, having confessed to Gorski and Blue about what was going on. Things rapidly deteriorate from there.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Blue has some hints of this, especially when he describes his job to Babydoll as being like a boy in a sandbox while everyone else gets to play with his "toys" shortly before he tries to rape her.
  • The Quiet One: Babydoll, who didn't say a single word until she rescued Rocket from the Chef and only speaks her mind as she gradually opens up to the rest of the girls and grows determined to escape the asylum.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Indicated in the Director's Cut with the reveal of The High Roller's intent.
  • Rape and Revenge: In interpretations it could be seen as the "Step father" raping her and Blue trying to rape her allowed her to take revenge on the other males in the movie minus "Wiseman".
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Dr. Gorski, in both the real world and as the dance instructor-cum-madam. She seems to genuinely care for her charges' well-being in both incarnations.
    • The Wiseman in his bus driver incarnation.
  • Recycled in Space: According to Zack, it's Alice in Wonderland WITH MACHINE GUNS! AND HUMONGOUS MECHA!
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The giant samurai's and Nazi Zombies's eyes glow red.
  • Red Herring:
    • Sweet Pea carries a longsword in a back sheath in all of the action scenes (not to mention her poster), but is only seen using it in the Director's Cut.
    • Babydoll being the protagonist of the story. It's really Sweet Pea.
  • Recut: An additional "Director's Cut" which makes certain intents of this movie more true.
  • Revised Ending: This Director's Cut features the High Roller scene and the reveal and thusly the Sucker Punch of the entire purpose of this film.
  • Recurring Riff: There's a sighing woman who makes up most of the soundtrack, featured in "Sweet Dreams", "Where Is My Mind?", and "White Rabbit".
    • This is Emily Browning's voice, taken from "Where is My Mind?" and mixed into the other songs.
  • Refuge in Cool: How many things are tributed into this ...
  • Refuge in Audacity: Manages to offend both over-sexed males and feminists with recording devices EVERYWHERE! Manages to be physically appealing and blow your mind away with it's twisted but present Feminist Fantasy elements. Manages to have two very different protagonists and not even make a big deal about it.
    • That's without the Fantasy Kitchen Sink elements or the dance/dream/reality elements or the words the people say ...
  • Refusal of the Call: When Babydoll proposes that they try and escape, Sweet Pea is the only girl in the group who openly opposes the plan, mostly because she fears for Rocket's safety.
  • Rule of Cool: Hotties with guns, badass samurai, firebreathing Dragons, potentially epic action scenes. Pretty standard formula.
  • Rule of Symbolism: And how, guys with red eyes who get them shot out, in a mental asylum which could be as bad as any brothel, weapons/fighting for your right to live and be free, literally and figuratively, every foreshadowing moment listed above, "creatures in the dark" trying to dehumanize the ladies, who in turn destroy them ... And that's is just the very, very beginning.
  • Rule of Sexy: Invoked in all the ladies outfits.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Blondie.
  • The Reveal: the High Roller's scene in the directors cut, explains the movie in full detail and drives the point home.
  • The Runaway: Rocket's back story. Sweet Pea voluntarily went after her.
  • Say My Name: Rocket and Sweet Pea, when they're separated by the mooks in the WWI trenches; Rocket screams for Sweet Pea while barely fending off overwhelming numbers and Sweet Pea is yelling Rocket's name trying to get to her.
  • Schizo-Tech: One sequence features WWI Tommies with their Lee-Enfields, bayonets, and Lewis guns fighting steam-powered zombie Germans with Mausers and Maxims, while bi/triplanes duel around giant zeppelins overhead. Into this, drop our protagonists, using, among other things, an M4 carbine, an MP5 SMG, and an M249 LMG, all with modern accessories, and a Mini-Mecha with a computerized display. Oh, plus Rocket's flintlocks. The sequence afterward features the girls using a B-25 against a castle being besieged by knights, and the sequence after that has them using a Huey on a distant planet against a rocket train with robots with laser weaponry.
  • Spiritual Successor / Spiritual Antithesis: Shares a lot in common and directly conflicts with Fight Club, both about person who goes insane due to many MANY issues and changes the world through "characters" they imagined / imaginary friends, a guide, with help from a team, Sucker Punch is feminine focused, Fight Club is really masculine and violent. Fight Club is about too much of anything (Anti consumerism, inhibition) and Sucker Punch is also about that in a very different sense(Too much violence against woman will hurt you in the end/rape culture is bad/don't be a perve). Sucker Punch is all about the characters and their mental growth and goal getting, Fight Club is about the big theatrical audacity of the characters to do what they do. Both feature excessive metaphorical violence and both have an anti-accepted culture sentiment. (Rape Culture and mass consumerism mostly, but other side morals slipped in about freedom as such)
  • Seemingly-Wholesome Fifties Girl: All of the ladies actually.
  • Taking the Bullet: Rocket took the knife so Sweet Pea could live
  • Tagline: "You will be unprepared" and "Reality is a prison".
  • Take That, Audience!: Zack Snyder's intent is that none of the woman are to be sexualized and are focused on their feelings, survival and Badass-ness. If you're there for boobs you in for a bit of shock.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Who's madness is this question?
  • The Un-Reveal: Who's story is it?
  • Up to Eleven: Stylistically, story wise, moral wise, opinion wise, every thing in this movie and relating to this movie is as far as it can go and more.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Who is the narrator, what is symbolism, what is metaphor, what is dream, and who's perspective is the camera taking visual wise also falls into "Switching POV" to a degree?
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Zack Snyder's intent.
  • The Walrus Was Paul: Nobody can quite understand this movie, not the first time around!
  • Word of God: The director, writer, story creator and editor, has had to explain this movie to everybody and even then people refuse to understand.
  • X Meets Y: Alice in Wonderland meets 300, Kill Bill meets Inception, Fight Club meets Inception, Black Swan meets Alice in Wonderland, Alice in Wonderland meets Emilie Autumn, Fight Club Meets Alice in Wonderland, Alice in Wonderland meets The Matrix, Fight Club meets Emilie Autumn, Emilie Autumn meets Inception, 300 meets Black Swan, Final Fantasy X-2 meets Brazil.
  • Yandere: Blue is this in spades to do with his The Caligula persona.
  • You Bastard: The nature of this movie is to highlight certain perverts natures and show that it can be changed, and that woman are more then their bodies. Zack Snyder said many things about this. Sweet Pea expresses this as the Author Avatar, this is further proved by The High Roller.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Outright stated a couple of times.
  • You Cannot Kill an Idea: The plan, despite the sacrifices of the ladies, never the less works out.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: All but said by Blue in regards to one of the ladies.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: The girls ALMOST get everything they need, but one thing is missing ...
  1. notably, "Where Is My Mind?" by The Pixies and Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit". Emily Browning herself sings on three songs; "Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This" by Eurythmics, "Where is My Mind?" by the Pixies and "Asleep" by The Smiths