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The Ending Of The Harder They Fall Explained

It's risky business, putting out a Hollywood western in a post-everybody-remembers-what-happened-with-"The-Lone-Ranger" world. Conventional wisdom has the public's interest very much in the pocket of Big Superheroes nowadays. Why, to convince viewers to flip back to the once-bustling world of feature length cowboy shenanigans, you'd need to get like, Kang the Conqueror, Domino, Sister Night, Heimdall, Darwin from that one "X-Men" movie...

And that's where "The Harder They Fall" comes in. Writer/director Jeymes Samuel combines real-life historical figures with genre-classic scenarios to create a world where one Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) finds himself doggedly pursuing Rufus Buck (Idris Elba). The stakes: Revenge for the killing of Love's dear mom and dad, not to mention his facial disfigurement, both at the hands of Buck.

Drama ensues. Gunfights go down. Friendships are forged, crosses are doubled, and more main characters than you were probably expecting wind up with too many bullets inside of them. In the end, however, every good cowboy flick needs a solid third act reckoning, and "The Harder They Fall" is no exception.

The Harder They Fall ends mercilessly

In the climactic moments of "The Harder They Fall," our hero Nat Love at long last confronts the man that slaughtered his parents and carved up his face. In a stunning act of narrative bow knotsmanship, Rufus Buck explains his backstory — all against a backdrop which includes a picture of writer/director Jeymes Samuel's own father, according to the Los Angeles Times, adding a personal element to the emotional proceedings.

As it turns out, and very much in keeping with the odds, Buck had a father of his own once. Unlike Love's old man, he was a real piece of work, killing Buck's mother and abandoning the budding young antagonist to start a new life. That new life, it turned out, included starting a new family with a new wife and naming his fresh kid Nat Love.

Yes, Nat and Rufus were actually half-brothers all along. Rufus scarred Nat's face as a means of recognizing him when the bereaved young gunman came searching for genre-specific revenge, which Nat promptly takes. Rufus is dead. Family is hard.

In the end, Nat tosses up a grave with his own name on it, counting on (again, real guy) lawman Bass Reeves (Delroy Lindo) to erroneously report his death. A horizon of adventure awaits, just as soon as the MCU lets Majors take a few days off from filming the next twelve Kang stories.