Matt Damon's Jason Bourne movies have become a major franchise for the actor, but the director of the first film in the series now admits that there almost weren't any sequels, because he considered killing the character off at the end of the first movie. In a recent interview, Doug Liman, who previously killed off Tom Cruise a whole mess of times in Edge of Tomorrow/Live.Die.Repeat, admits there was a discussion on the set of the first Bourne film about killing off Jason Bourne. According to Liman...
Matt Damon and I talked about killing Jason Bourne at the end of The Bourne Identity. We were like no one will see that coming! And obviously, we decided not to do that.
Clearly, they decided not to, since Matt Damon would go on to play Jason Bourne three more times, films which Doug Liman would go on to help produce. However, Liman tells Uproxx that the potential for sequels had nothing to do with the decision not to kill off Jason Bourne. Instead, it was simply a question of whether or not the death would have been a satisfying conclusion for the audience. Nobody would have seen it coming, but that reason alone isn't enough to justify killing off a movie's hero, according to Liman.
It certainly wouldn't have been hard to kill off Jason Bourne. The character is very nearly killed at the end of the first movie as it is. If the movie had ended with Bourne's death, rather than the revelation of another layer of conspiracy, it's possible the Bourne Identity could have still ended in an acceptable manner. The hero would have found his answers before dying, and thus the story could have still come to a satisfying conclusion.
Instead, the decision was made to not only let the character live, but give him additional mysteries to unravel, leading to the sequels. This appears to have been the best choice considering that at least the initial trilogy were both critical and commercial successes. One wonders if there were any conversations about killing Bourne at the end of the trilogy. There were no specific plans to make the fourth film at that time and the story had come to something that could have been an end. In that case, killing off the character might have been the better move, as it would have wrapped up the story and, as a side benefit, kept Jason Bourne from ever happening.
Killing off heroes is a difficult thing as generally, audiences don't like to see it, though, when it's handled well, it can feel like the only way a movie could possibly end. What's your favorite movie where the hero dies? Let us know in the comments below.