Quentin Tarantino's Honest Take On Whether Marvin Was Shot On Purpose In Pulp Fiction

John Travolta in Pulp Fiction

There are so many fun debates that Quentin Tarantino fans can have (and do have) regarding mysteries that happen in his classic films. What’s glowing in the Pulp Fiction briefcase? Did Brad Pitt’s character in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood really kill his wife? Here’s a new one that we hadn’t heard before this year, though. Was Marvin shot in the face on accident… or on purpose?

That theory was floated by Pulp Fiction star Samuel L. Jackson to ReelBlend co-host Kevin McCarthy back during the press tour for Spider-Man: Far From Home. He suggested that John Travolta’s character, Vincent, shot Marvin on purpose, to get him back for not alerting Vincent and Jules that someone with a gun was hiding in the apartment. Tarantino loves Jackson’s interpretation, but when he appeared on our own ReelBlend podcast, he clarified:

Well, look, in my movies, if I want you to know, I tell you. And if I leave it open, I'm leaving it open for you. So I could tell you what I think. But if I tell you what I think, then that is the way it is. And I've got no problem with Sam's version of it. And I have no problem with anybody else who has that version of it. But I don't want to tell you what to think. I actually liked, I like the fact that both… I love any scenario where both ways almost equally work.

Don’t remember the scene in question? It plays out like this:

What’s funny is, the way that I remembered it, Jules did go over a bump. Now, however, having watched it again, I’m leaning to Sam Jackson’s interpretation that Travolta’s character pulled that gun trigger on purpose, and shot Marvin intentionally.

Either way, it remains one of the most unexpected, shocking moments in a Quentin Tarantino screenplay, a bang that disrupts a riveting conversation and reminds us that we are in the grip of a brilliant storyteller who’s never afraid to pull the rug out from underneath his audience.

Tarantino told us his take on the Marvin scene as part of an epic, two-hour ReelBlend podcast episode. Want to hear the whole thing? We have it for you right now.

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As for Tarantino, he remains in the Oscar conversation this year as his Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood strikes chords with critics and audiences around the globe. If you haven’t yet seen it, go.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.