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Mike Williams

10 Pieces of Fan Art that Ask “What If Things Ended Differently?”

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Mike Williams

We live in an era of fan fiction, when it's all too common for people to imagine and describe how their favorite characters could have ended up—and that impulse stretches to art. Here are a few of our favorite alternate endings to great pop culture tales as imagined by artists, many of which were part of the Bottleneck Gallery’s “Alternate Ending” art show.

So without further ado, I ask you to explore “What if."

1. Classic Disney Films: The Villains Won

Justin Turrentine has created a number of artworks based on some of the most classic Disney films, but perhaps his most thought-provoking works are those that ask, “what if the bad guys won?” In the series, you see Gaston posed with Beast’s head on a wall and a portrait of him and Belle together; Ursula sitting down for a feast of Flounder, Sebastian, and Scuttle; Cinderella’s sisters sporting glass slippers; and more.

2. Batman: Bruce’s Parents Weren’t Killed in a Mugging

No, Daniel Irizarri doesn’t explore what would happen if Bruce Wayne’s parents survived, because then Batman just wouldn’t exist. Instead, he explores what if Batman’s parents died in different ways, causing him to take vengeance on something other than criminals. He questions if he might become a vigilante designated driver if they were struck by a drunk driver; if he might instead be Captain Planet if they were killed by pollution; if he would attack fast food if they died from high cholesterol; and, of course, what might happen if they were plagued by colon cancer.

3. Star Wars: Anakin Didn’t Go to the Dark Side

To be fair, if Darth Vader never “killed” Anakin, then the best Star Wars movies never would have happened and no one would even care about the series. But, if DeviantArt user Castellani’s version of the story happened and Anakin never turned evil, one family in the galaxy would be drastically happier.

4. Se7en: John Doe Put Something Good in the Box for Detective Mills

Serial killer John Doe still might not have the happy ending Andres Lozano Martin shows after Doe already killed five people, but without playing the role of “Envy” and pushing Detective David Mills into killing him, and thus taking on the sin of “Wrath,” Se7en certainly wouldn’t have had such a dark ending—and Mills would sure be a lot better off.

5. Pretty in Pink: Andie Walsh Went for Duckie

As someone who always hated that Pretty in Pink ended with Andie choosing the rich guy over sweet-hearted Duckie, I love Darshana Pathak’s embroidery showing what Andie should have done.

6. Dumb and Dumber: Lloyd and Harry Agreed to Be Oil Boys

If they were just slightly less dumb, or if the bikini team specifically asked Lloyd and Harry to be their oil boys rather than hinting that's what they wanted, then this could have been the real ending, not just a great image by Greg Puglese.

7. King Kong: Kong’s Trip Went Well

Of course an angry wild ape would go wild and cause mayhem and destruction if he was forcefully captured and transported to New York, but what if he was treated more cordially and the journey was more of a vacation? Mike Williams imagines what would happen if Kong got to enjoy New York like any other tourist.

8. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: Frank Shirley Did Press Charges

Sure, Frank Shirley should have warned his employees not to expect a Christmas bonus, but that still doesn’t excuse kidnapping, and Paul Ainsworth shows how Clark and Eddie’s holiday would have ended if they pulled this stunt in the real world.

9. The Dark Knight Rises: Gotham Was In Ashes

My question is, if Rob Loukotka’s ending really happened and Batman finally had Bane’s permission to die, would he do so right away? And if so, would it be through suicide, murder, or just because the hero finally gave up the will to live?

10. Comic Books: Companies Sponsored Superheroes

Roberto Vergati Santos’ “what if” might not be an alternate ending like many of the other artworks on this list, but it seems the most realistic if any of these tales actually took place in our world. After all, while Iron Man and Batman might have the funds to support their own labs and keep improving their equipment, Hawk Eye, Bruce Banner, the X-Men, and many more could certainly benefit from the increased funds corporate sponsorship could bring them—and you know Coca Cola, Monster, Microsoft and other major companies would jump at the chance to put their brand names all over superhero uniforms.

Personally, I’d like to know what would happen if one of the boys in Weird Science stayed with Lisa, but I guess they tried to answer that one in the terrible TV show based on the movie. What about you guys, are there any stories you’d like to see end in a different manner?

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Thomas Quine, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Take a Peek Inside One of Berlin's Strangest Museums
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Thomas Quine, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Vlad Korneev is a man with an obsession. He's spent years collecting technical and industrial objects from the last century—think iron lungs, World War II gas masks, 1930s fans, and vintage medical prostheses. At his Designpanoptikum in Berlin, which bills itself (accurately) as a "surreal museum of industrial objects," Korneev arranges his collection in fascinating, if disturbing, assemblages. (Atlas Obscura warns that it's "half design museum, half horror house of imagination.") Recently, the Midnight Archive caught up with Vlad for a special tour and some insight into the question visitors inevitably ask—"but what is it, really?" You can watch the full video below.

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Courtesy of Nikon
Microscopic Videos Provide a Rare Close-Up Glimpse of the Natural World
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Courtesy of Nikon

Nature’s wonders aren’t always visible to the naked eye. To celebrate the miniature realm, Nikon’s Small World in Motion digital video competition awards prizes to the most stunning microscopic moving images, as filmed and submitted by photographers and scientists. The winners of the seventh annual competition were just announced on September 21—and you can check out the top submissions below.


Daniel von Wangenheim, a biologist at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, took first place with a time-lapse video of thale cress root growth. For the uninitiated, thale cress—known to scientists as Arabidopsis thalianais a small flowering plant, considered by many to be a weed. Plant and genetics researchers like thale cress because of its fast growth cycle, abundant seed production, ability to pollinate itself, and wild genes, which haven’t been subjected to breeding and artificial selection.

Von Wangenheim’s footage condenses 17 hours of root tip growth into just 10 seconds. Magnified with a confocal microscope, the root appears neon green and pink—but von Wangenheim’s work shouldn’t be appreciated only for its aesthetics, he explains in a Nikon news release.

"Once we have a better understanding of the behavior of plant roots and its underlying mechanisms, we can help them grow deeper into the soil to reach water, or defy gravity in upper areas of the soil to adjust their root branching angle to areas with richer nutrients," said von Wangenheim, who studies how plants perceive and respond to gravity. "One step further, this could finally help to successfully grow plants under microgravity conditions in outer space—to provide food for astronauts in long-lasting missions."


Second place went to Tsutomu Tomita and Shun Miyazaki, both seasoned micro-photographers. They used a stereomicroscope to create a time-lapse video of a sweating fingertip, resulting in footage that’s both mesmerizing and gross.

To prompt the scene, "Tomita created tension amongst the subjects by showing them a video of daredevils climbing to the top of a skyscraper," according to Nikon. "Sweating is a common part of daily life, but being able to see it at a microscopic level is equal parts enlightening and cringe-worthy."


Third prize was awarded to Satoshi Nishimura, a professor from Japan’s Jichi Medical University who’s also a photography hobbyist. He filmed leukocyte accumulations and platelet aggregations in injured mouse cells. The rainbow-hued video "provides a rare look at how the body reacts to a puncture wound and begins the healing process by creating a blood clot," Nikon said.

To view the complete list of winners, visit Nikon’s website.


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