The term “Mexican standoff” seems loaded with ethnic issues, and its origins in the 19th century certainly don’t help make it any less problematic (although, curiously, one source claims that it is Australian in origin). However issue-laden the term may be, it has long been a staple in films that need to ratchet up the tension, with guns (or other implements of death) pointed in all directions and an uncertain outcome hanging in the distance. The standoff has been used in all manner of genres, including action films (of course), Westerns, comedies, and has crossed regional borders by directors of all nationalities. It’s a great way to add tension to a film and place characters in untenable situations; it’s like Chekhov’s gun but in its ultimate x-treme form. Need to add a bit of hopelessness while ratcheting up the seriousness of a moment? Throw in a bunch of guns, add some tough guy bravado usually expelled through gritted teeth, and maybe a joke or two to acknowledge the current predicament.
Burger Fiction has assembled clips from 43 different films that showcase a good standoff with whole armories pointed at different characters as they navigate some sort of detente. The ridiculousness of the situation lends itself well to exaggerated scenes like in Seven Psychopaths, The Good, The Bad, The Weird, or even (sigh) Corky Romano while also belonging to some of the most iconic moments in film (The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly’s ultimate standoff immediately springs to mind). So enjoy the supercut and be prepared to have a quip ready should one find oneself in a similar situation facing down a whole slew of baddies with their guns.