Culture of Pop

Would Jack Dawson Survive Movies Other Than ‘Titanic’?



Dalton Baggett: Something extremely sad and devastating happened in the early hours of April 15th 1912. The RMS Titanic finally sank after colliding with an iceberg on it’s maiden voyage. We’re here, however, to discuss something even more sad… Jack’s death in the movie Titanic. You might be thinking “TOO SOON!” But you would be wrong. Please think about one single time you shed a tear remembering the 1,508 people who died 106 years ago. You haven’t, and I would place a hefty wager that you have cried watching Titanic. Who’s the monster now?

So we’ve determined Jack’s death is, at this point in history, sadder, we can get to what we really came here to discuss: If we placed Jack Dawson in other movies, would he make it out alive? Sonny, do you have any thoughts on this matter? Should we just get right into it?

Sonny Giuliano: I’m going to pass on the opportunity to elaborate on the notion that Jack’s death was sadder than the deaths of actual people. While I will admit that the case you made is strong, I would just feel icky doing that. So let’s just get right into it. I’ll be the Rose to your Jack … you lead the way.

DB: “I’M THE KING OF THE WORLD!” Because ideally you’d be the Fabrizio to my Jack, but if you want to be Rose, we can go with that analogy too. I’m going to start us off with a movie that shares a couple similarities with Titanic. Would Jack Dawson survive Jaws?

If you replace the iceberg with a big ass shark, they’re basically the same movie. So, things already aren’t looking great for Jack here. My favorite thing to think about in this scenario is the scene where they all compare their scars while they drink copious amounts of what I’m going to assume is moonshine. Jack seems pretty thrifty, winning his way from being homeless to the Titanic, after all, but he’s just too damn pretty to have any scars from shark attacks or bar fights. He’d just be sitting in the corner all awkward hoping no one asks him about the scars he doesn’t have. He’d be reflecting on his emotional scars (his parents died in a fire) but those aren’t the kind you share with your drinking buddies on a fishing boat while you hunt a great white shark.

We’ve seen Jack survive longer than most people would on a sinking ship, so he makes it to the end of Jaws for sure.  Unfortunately for Jack, another similarity that Jaws and Titanic share is that characters rely on pieces of flotsam to survive. Much like in Titanic, it sure looks like Jack could fit on the wreckage with Martin Brody, but Brody would be selfish and hog the whole thing. Jack, lacking a piece of wood or scuba gear is devoured by the shark before Brody makes his shot.

“Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish ladies. Farewell and adieu to you ladies of Spain. For we’ve received orders for to sail back to Boston. And so never more shall we see you again.”

What do you say, Chief?

SG: I think you nailed this spot on my friend. And frankly, the image of Jack being gruesomely attacked by Jaws would bother me way more than seeing him all blue and frozen sinking to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. That was a beautiful way to go out. There is absolutely nothing beautiful about being eaten by a shark. Of all ways to die in the ocean, shark attack is the least attractive, but it’s also the most memorable.

I think we need to get Jack out of water. He’s 0 for 2 so far, and as much as I’d like to hear your take on how Jack would fare in Speed 2: Cruise Control, I suppose we can instead focus on if the original Speed was the story of Jack Dawson attempting to prevent a bomb from exploding aboard a city bus by keeping its speed above 50 miles per hour, rather than the story of Jack Traven attempting to prevent a bomb from exploding aboard a city bus by keeping its speed above 50 miles per hour.

Pop Quiz, hotshot … There’s a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up. What does Jack Dawson do? What does Jack Dawson do?

DB: Ah yes, Jack Traven. One of my all-time favorite Jacks, mostly because he is portrayed by my definitely all-time favorite Keanu.

What would Jack Dawson do, indeed?

It’s important to address why Jack Dawson ultimately ended up a lost, dead, sock at the bottom of Davy Jones’ Locker. It’s because he fell in love way too fast and let that dictate his final decisions on the boat. Once we accept that we need to think about how hard and how fast he would fall in love with Annie Porter, portrayed by Sandra Bullock, and how it would affect his decisions.

To be honest, I don’t think Jack and Annie would have much of a connection. I just don’t see Annie letting Jack paint her like one of his French girls. She doesn’t seem the type. Jack is a romantic, and Annie is much more suited for a rough around the edges FBI agent like the other Jack. Also, it seems to me like Jack Dawson is a survivalist. Without a love interest for him to sacrifice himself for I think he hops off the bus and lets whatever happens happen.

Jack Dawson survives, the people on the bus do not. (This is also how the scenario would play out if I got tagged into Speed).

I think we need to take women out of the scenario all together. Maybe some type of, I don’t know, prison movie?

SG: I can get on board with that. So were you thinking that we swap out Paul Crewe for Jack Dawson and see what kind of arm Jack has leading the inmates against the guards in The Longest Yard?

DB: Jack is certainly not a quarterback, Sonny. At best he’s the Caretaker and gets set on fire. I was thinking something with a little more drama and a lot more rock hammering.


SG: Oh okay, you’re talking about The Shawshank Redemption then. One of my personal favorite movies. In this scenario, we’d be replacing Andy Dufresne with Jack Dawson, and we’re seeing if Jack could withstand all that Shawshank State Penitentiary would throw his way.

We know that Andy Dufresne was an innocent man who was convicted of murdering his wife and the golf pro she was sleeping with. We know that he was sentenced two consecutive life sentences without opportunity for parole. We know that he was raped and tormented by “the sisters” and that he made enemies out of Warden Norton and Officer Hadley. We know that after 19 years, Andy Dufresne hammered his way through the wall of his cell, crawled to freedom through five hundred yards of shit-smelling foulness and eventually reunited with his best prison friend Red in Zihuatanejo at the end of the movie.

Oh by the way, Spoiler Alert.

Anyway, the question here is whether Jack could’ve eventually escaped from Shawshank like Andy Dufresne did, and my answer to that question is No. Listen, I love Jack Dawson, but he was not nearly as calculating or patient as Andy Dufresne. Remember what Red said when he was talking about Andy after Andy had escaped?

“Andy loved geology. I imagine it appealed to his meticulous nature. An ice age here, million years of mountain building there. Geology is the study of pressure and time. That’s all it takes really, pressure, and time.”

I guarantee you that Jack didn’t care for geology. Jack was impulsive and charismatic and passionate. He damn sure wasn’t going to have the patience to hammer bits and pieces of that wall away for 19 years. He would’ve asked Red for a sledgehammer to break that thing down, and then he would’ve gotten the Tommy Williams treatment.

DB: Oh man, the Tommy Williams treatment? Jack is not faring well in this little thought experiment. I would have expected better from the man who won his way onto the Titanic in a poker game and bested Caledon Hockley.

Let’s do a couple lightning rounds and see if we can get him some check marks in the win column. I’ll name some movies, you let me know if he’d make it or not. Short and sweet, much unlike the movie Titanic which is long and sad.

Armageddon? The Godfather? Jurassic Park? Rocky IV?

SG: Ooh, I love a good lightning round! Let’s do it!

Armageddon – It’s tough for me to imagine young Jack Dawson as part of the team tasked with preventing asteroids from wiping out humanity. It’s much easier to cast him in Ben Affleck’s role. So therefore, he survives and marries Liv Tyler. Congrats to the happy couple.

The Godfather – Jack’s best friend in Titanic is Fabrizio, so this tells me that Jack knows it’s a smart life decision to befriend Italians. Jack isn’t Italian, so he wouldn’t have gotten tangled up in the Corleone family business, so when the war started with Tattaglia’s and Barzini’s, Jack is a comfortable distance away from any killings. He survives.

Jurassic Park – I like Jack’s odds of surviving in Jurassic Park. I think he thrives in perilous, unpredictable situations, much like the sinking of a massive ocean liner. I know Jack technically didn’t survive in Titanic, but that’s mostly just because Rose was selfish. Considering the odds he was facing, he fared pretty damn well. Anyway, I don’t think Jack is fazed by angry dinosaurs. Jack is a great hider and evader, the most useful skills you could have in a dinosaur chase. He survives.

Rocky IV – Apollo Creed couldn’t survive a fight against Ivan Drago, so unless Rocky learned his lesson and throws the damn towel much earlier, Jack isn’t surviving a fight against Ivan Drago either.

Okay, here are the movies I’m curious about … Scarface, Fight Club, Space Jam, and I Am Legend. Go!

DB: Scarface – Jack doesn’t have it in him to be a drug kingpin, that’s for sure. With that being said, I don’t think he has to be a good guy. If he was coming up in Miami he’d do what he has to survive and would end up working for Alejandro Sosa. Jack gets sent into the mansion at the end of the movie and is quickly mowed down by Tony’s “little friend.”

Fight Club – You know the scene where Edward Norton (The Narrator) decides to “destroy something beautiful” and proceeds to beat Angel Face into a bloody pulp? If we place Jack Dawson into that scene, he’s the one that The Narrator goes after because Leonardo DiCaprio is exponentially more beautiful than Jared Leto. So Jack gets severely disfigured, but does in fact, survive.

Space Jam – Really? Space Jam? No one dies in Space Jam, Sonny. It’s a world in which characters don’t fall off cliffs until they realize they aren’t walking on the cliff anymore. Michael Jordan dunks the ball from half court! (This may be the only way Michael Jordan could hope to beat LeBron James at 1-on-1).

Sure, anvils are falling from the sky, but there aren’t any crushed skulls in the world of Looney Toons. Jack Dawson makes it through with only a couple exaggerated lumps on his head.

I Am Legend – Ok, so it’s just Jack and his dog in an abandoned, zombie-ridden, New York City. This is tough, but here’s what I think happens: He survives for a long time, and it even looks like he might make it out alive, but that’s when his beloved German Shepard is bitten and begins turning into a zombie puppy. Jack might be a survivalist, but he doesn’t have it in him to choke hold his dog until he stops breathing forever. Jack experiences death by dog.

Alright, Jack did much better in the lightning round. What if we dropped him into a different Leo movie altogether?

SG: I like that idea. Putting Leo as Jack into another Leo movie is some Inception type shit, but rather than Inception, I’m more interested in hearing how you think Jack might do in a movie that is all about survival (and Bear attacks, and Native Americans, and sleeping inside of a horse) … The Revenant.


DB: That is some Inception type shit. Which is also another Leo movie. Man, if you think that putting Jack, played by Leo into the Revenant, which stars Leo, reminding us of Inception is super confusing, you would be correct. Still easier to follow than the actual story of Inception though. If you say you understand that movie, you’re lying.

Ok, now that my brain hurts, I’ll actually discuss this.

Jack seems just clever enough to survive in the world of The Revenant. He would know how to catch and eat raw fish. He’d be smart enough to cut open, and sleep inside of a horse tauntaun-style. I just don’t see Jack Dawson, as he appears in Titanic, fighting off the world’s largest grizzly bear. He definitely gets mauled and suffers what might be the worst death of all of the ones we’ve mentioned thus far.

I think it’s time to sum it up and see just how terrible Jack Dawson is at keeping himself alive.

SG: Really? I was having fun with this exercise and now you want to end it just like that? It’s only been *checks word count* shit, 2,300 words. Ok, we better wrap this up.

To recap: Jack should stay away from sharks, grizzly bears and zombie dogs, but dinosaurs he’d do just fine against. He definitely should look to stay out of prison, but he would manage to survive if he was sucked down a golf hole into Looney Toon Land. He’d fail as a boxer and as a fight club participant, but in a fight club he wouldn’t be fighting an angry, juiced up Russian, so he’d live to not talk about his time in Fight Club. Jack is selfish enough to risk the lives of dozens of other passengers by jumping off a bus that had a bomb on it, but in Titanic he wasn’t selfish enough to ask Rose to give him a little bit of space on the wooden door. However, that’s because it turns out Jack’s soulmate was Liv Tyler, not Rose, all along.

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