The Ten Most Important MacGuffins in the History of Cinema

3. The Infinity Stones

Film(s): MCU, Avengers Infinity War

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The Infinity Stones are a unique type of MacGuffin because the MCU is a unique franchise. Never have we seen something so big, with so many different moving parts orchestrating one giant overarching story. The Infinity Stones fit in there somewhere. The stones got a moment to shine in a few individual films, but those moments serve only as the audience’s introduction to them. With Avengers: Infinity War, they finally become a traditional MacGuffin. The stories revolving around the stones were like puzzle pieces, and Infinity War is what put them all together. That’s a unique way to utilize MacGuffins that we have not seen before, not to mention the fact that they play a central part in one of the biggest franchises ever made.

2. The Death Star Plans

Film(s): Star Wars: A New Hope, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

The Death Star Plans from the original Star Wars film are one of the most famous MacGuffins in film history. So famous, in fact, that the powers behind the franchise (Disney) decided that an entire spin-off movie would need to be devoted to chasing after them. How many MacGuffins get their own movie? The necessity associated with obtaining the Death Star plans adds a sense of urgency and spy-film intrigue to a swashbuckling intergalactic adventure. This helped to make Star Wars so enjoyable. That’s also a rarity among MacGuffins, being able to impact their film(s) in a positive way.

1. Rosebud

Film: Citizen Kane

Whether or not you believe Citizen Kane to be the best movie ever made, we can all agree that the beginning and end of this movie are among the most iconic in all of cinema. What links them together is what I am naming the most important MacGuffin ever conceived. The beginning of the film gives us the dying words of a mysterious and eccentric man. Right away the movie draws you in, such that the audience is the one searching for the MacGuffin as much as the characters in the film. As the rest of the movie unfolds, that word echoes in our mind, but it’s only the surface of an intriguing and captivating experience. Soon we see that “Rosebud” is more than just a MacGuffin. It’s a representative of lost innocence. It is the one thing that a man with everything in the world could not have. Citizen Kane may tell us ultimately what “Rosebud” is, but the explanation is not enough. It’s more than just an object or an idea. It’s both mysterious and hauntingly familiar. No film has achieved so much with its MacGuffin than Citizen Kane has.