It’s less than a month til Avengers: Endgame hits theatres and the group chat is in disarray. Six guys are trying to work out a time and place to see what will more than likely be the biggest movie of the year. One of the guys can’t make it to the midnight screening and the rest don’t want to leave their pal behind. The next time everyone could be in the same room together would be the following day at 7pm, nineteen hours after release.
Would it possible to swerve the inevitable spoilers on social media? Could coworkers and customers hold in the details of the blockbuster for less than a day before my friends and I see the film?
It points to how the internet interacts with films. Any fan in their lounge room can follow a film from the moment it is greenlight and pull apart every tiny detail. It can enhance a project – next year’s still unconfirmed Black Widow solo is getting great buzz – or it can damage it almost irrevocably, as in the case of Ezra Miller’s solo movie losing four directors and possibly its lead. Rocky production doesn’t always make a bad film (2017’s It went through three directors and recast their Pennywise at the eleventh hour) and smooth sailing doesn’t always guarantee a winner.
After that there’s the on-set leaks from fans and paparazzi. Not only can they give away secret casting details (Tom Holland was in Atlanta for Avengers: Endgame, but how?) but also major plot moments (Why is the Battle of New York features in Avengers: Endgame?). Toys and merch manufacturers are also major offenders as they are privy to this information months in advance. The use of the planet Titan in Avengers: Infinity War was spoiled on a Lego box.
And all of this was shoved upon me against my will. After watching every trailer in the world for Avengers: Age of Ultron there were no new surprises. HYDRA fight > Hulkbuster fight > Seoul fight > Sokovia fight. The marketing already signalled Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver’s journey from villain to hero. The only shocks were Hawkeye’s farm and the reappearance of the SHIELD helicarrier. Not enough to follow up one of the highest grossing movies of all time.
Similiarly, the best scene in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was released online in its entirety before the film was released in theatres. The moment when Batman brutally battles twenty plus of Luthor’s goons to save Martha Kent comes well over two thirds into the movie. Did it sell more tickets? Maybe. Did it damage the moviegoing experience? Yes.
That brings us to trailers. BvS is a big culprit here too by showing everything from the Battle of Metropolis from Batman’s perspective, the introduction of Wonder Woman, Clark Kent meeting Bruce Wayne, the titular battle, the iconic trio uniting and even the surprise villain of Doomsday. The only thing left for cinemagoers was Superman’s shocking death, but any diehard fan could add up that the villain of comic Death of Superman and all the profoundly religious imagery surrounding Snyder’s Superman meant time was ticking.
Captain America: Civil War was partially at fault here too. The introduction of Black Panther and Spiderman were outwardly celebrated and the famed airport scene was the centrepiece of their marketing. What stepped over the line was showing its biggest casualty Rhodey post-injury and the final fight between Captain America and Iron Man. While it didn’t rob the film of the narrative moments that would get the audience there it did spoil some iconic images that should have been left to the IMAX.
Which is why the marketing for Avengers: Endgame has been fantastic. There is a theory that there is no footage from beyond the thirty minute point of the movie (save Cap, Nebula and Ant-Man in fiery battle). Marvel is resting on its legacy even more so than Avengers: Infinity War by using flashbacks of the heroes’ other films. The acknowledgement of the fallen heroes through the use of black and white in the Superbowl trailer is a beautiful touch.
The set leaks tell us that the Avengers are going back in time through the Quantum Realm, as established in Ant-Man and the Wasp. But the trailers just say that the Avengers have a plan to undo the snap and it involves Captain Marvel, Hawkeye and the tiniest Avenger. The trailer encourages the audience to wonder how possibly this movie could go because it doesn’t need to convince you it will be quality. It just needs to nudge you towards the theatre.
The responsibility is on studios to not release half the movie ahead of time, but it’s also on the fans to not tear apart every frame prior to watching the film. In the end the film should only be judged on the two hours presented on the big screen, but there is so much more that goes into a modern day movie experience.
That’s why the marketing for Avengers: Endgame, a movie too big to fail, is a refreshing step back in time that other studios should take a gamble on.