Unfortunately, we live in an era where it’s extremely hard to find things surprising anymore. Don’t want to know how the recent Evil Dead ended? Better avoid Twitter and Facebook. Is Marvel planning to continue The Avengers story line? Sorry that’s not even a question at this point. We knew about Marvel’s Phase Two and Three not much longer after Avengers even ended it’s run in theaters.
What I’m trying to say is that the folks at Marvel Studios have gotten a bit…overzealous with their comic book movies. Sure I’m scared of the eventual bubble burst, but I still enjoy the stuff I’m getting now. I just wish I didn’t know what was coming. Remember how great you felt when Nick Fury had a surprise cameo at the end of the first Iron Man? Or how about when you saw Thor’s hammer at the end of Iron Man 2? Now that we know all about Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, and even Doctor Strange, we’re never getting that feeling again.
Marvel really needs to stop spoiling their movies.
Before I get into the meat of this article, I should probably take a moment to explain my definition of “spoiler” as the word is going to be used on numerous occasions. A spoiler is something (be it an image, plot line, line of dialogue, idea) that you find out is in a movie before you get to see that movie. Spoilers are bad and folks who purposely ruin things for others are jerks. It’s like you’re out on a picnic with your significant other and can’t wait to find out what kind of sandwich he made for you. Then as you’re getting ready to unwrap that sandwich, some bloke comes along and yells that it’s ham. Sandwich and built up suspense led to an anti-climactic ending.
Granted there are folks out there who argue that spoilers don’t ruin their enjoyment of a particular media (which allows them to take in more of the story), I’ve always believed that argument is one you have to come up with once something has been ruined. In a sort of scorned fashion, it’s an “I don’t care” argument because we as a race cannot yet rewind time and space. Spite is all you’re left with. Then what about repeat viewings? Does your enjoyment of a film change because you’re watching a film a second time and already know what happens? The spoiler argument doesn’t apply here either since you’ve already gotten to experience the film for yourself. When you read or watch a spoiler, you’re taking away that initial moment of intrigue that comes with the initial discovery.
Now since all of that is out of the way, how does Marvel factor into all of this spoiler talk? While this next argument could extend to every one of the big Hollywood studios, Marvel seems to be the most proficient in this area: their advertising. Every time Kevin Feige does an interview, every time a new trailer is released, every time a film’s star claims one thing or another, we run the risk of spoiler saturation.
Take the last Iron Man 3 trailer (I’m not even touching the TV spots as including them here will ironically spoil it for most of you). [Editor’s Note: As of this writing, I have yet to see Iron Man 3] While I originally applauded the trailer’s ending, after thinking about it for awhile, I realized I would have loved to be surprised by the army of Iron Mans (Men). “But Nick,” you ask “doesn’t your job involve posting movie news and spoilers that are easier for you to find that most others?” Even if I did avoid the trailer, I’d be smacked hard with a poster teasing the Iron Army (I also do realize the irony of painting my article with this very image). What I’m trying to say is that although the trailer is cut in a way to grab your attention and naturally gravitates to the film’s more exciting scenes, there’s no reason for the rest of the marketing to follow suit. Toys get released spoiling new forms (IM3 toys emerged as early as late February), posters teased the numerous armors, Gwyneth Paltrow talks about the unclear future of the franchise, this is all stuff that’s getting harder and harder to ignore.
Okay let’s say you’re not as invested in comic book movies as I am. I still argue that most of this knowledge is readily available. You watch The Avengers and think that Hulk guy seems pretty rad so you look up more of his movies. Then you read a story about how a Hulk movie is coming later after Phase Three and think, “What the hell is Phase Three?” And then link sinkhole happens until you stumble on Doctor Strange and Ant-Man movie announcements. You effectively ruined the next several years for yourself, and at the same time, are overwhelmed at the mass quantity of comic book properties. Hey The Avengers was kind of cool, Scarlett Johansson was pretty, and Chris Evans was foine, but will I watch something called Guardians of the Galaxy? Nah. That’s too much.
No other company can seem to do what Marvel does. No company outright and reveals every film in their pipeline for the next three to ten years because folks would realize how crazy the idea is. Remember how Pacific Rim came out of nowhere? It didn’t need six years of hype because it was confident in its unique premise. And best of all? It was a surprise.
I guess the main takeaway from all of this is to realize that announcements of announcements are terrible. This applies to every industry. Don’t tell me what you’re making until I can buy it for myself. Don’t announce a Doritos Locos Cool Ranch Taco until I can go eat one myself. Don’t announce a new Xbox or Playstation until I can buy it at my local commissary. There’s no need to completely show your hand in an attempt to build a good will within a community. If your product has substance, and you believe in your product, then let it speak for itself. Just make sure no one speaks about it before you can. Marvel could definitely ease up on their announcements. Heck, I wouldn’t even realize we were in a comic movie bubble if I didn’t know Captain America and Thor sequels were coming just a year after all of this. Stop saying these things exist. Let’s go back to pre-Avengers blindness, everybody.
Still doubting how far spoilers can reach? I sat in a theater waiting for Oz the Great and Powerful to start and I overheard a conversation between a Grandmother and her Grandson. I was trying to tune it out until I heard, “You know [redacted] is the Wicked Witch, right?”