or “Spoiler Culture and the Mishandling of Hype”
So, let’s talk about movies, shall we? As if we don’t do enough of that on the podcast…
Last night, the second full-length trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice premiered. And for some reason, I was just completely underwhelmed. I’m still excited to see it, and I’m sure I’ll have a great time that night at the theater, but there were some problems I had. Again though, nothing game changing. But the one thing that really bugged me was the reveal of a major DC Comics character that, up until this point, was largely unknown. Watch the trailer now if you haven’t already. If you don’t want to see it because you don’t want the spoilers, then click away now because that’s all we’re talking about here.
Doomsday. Doomsday is going to be in this movie, somehow created by Luthor from Zod’s remains, and he’s evidently going to be the reason our heroes quit their clumsily foreshadowed bickering and Justice Dawns.
Now, we knew this was going to be how the movie ends. We knew we’d get a “trinity shot” of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman in action poses. But we didn’t have to see it. And furthermore, we knew there would be some reason Superman and Batman were at odds, but did we need the precise conversation that exposes those reasons in the trailer? I would rather have wondered that going into the theater, but that’s the world we live in now I suppose.
Or is it?
When Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes out in a couple weeks, I’m going to go in essentially ignorant to any major plot points of the film. I know that there are Stormtroopers and that the Galactic Empire was not necessarily eradicated after the triumph of the teddy bears after all. I know there’s a bad guy leading them and that he wields a red lightsaber and wears a mask and his voice is distorted. I know Han and Leia will make appearances, as will Threepio and Chewie. I know there will be X-Wings and TIE Fighters and action and tragedy.
But I don’t know much else because the trailers have avoided giving too many actual story details. It’s easy to speculate based on what we’ve seen, but nothing is definite. We know Mark Hamill has been on set filming for this movie, but we haven’t seen hid nor hair of him in any of the trailers so far. They’re keeping arguably the most important character in Star Wars completely secret so far. And with two weeks to go before release, it doesn’t seem like we’re going to find out more without seeing the damn movie.
This is how you do it right. We’ve said on the podcast many times that we like the way the Star Wars trailers have been handled and cut. And now that the Dawn of Justice trailer has dropped, we have an example of how to do it wrong. This trailer has actually made me less excited for the movie.
But is it really the fault of the filmmakers behind BvS? This is the entertainment culture we live in right now. The shared moments during the trailers are just as important as the movies anymore. The studios are just rolling out progressively more spoiler-y trailers every once in awhile for these things.
I think Marvel is sort of walking the line to a certain extent recently, falling somewhere between giving away too much and preserving some mystery. And given, there are still rumors about how Aquaman, Cyborg, and possibly the Flash (well, not the Flash, but a Flash) will be debuting in Dawn of Justice as well, but I don’t imagine we won’t find out at least what they look like until the movie comes out. What bugs me is that I had no idea Doomsday was even going to be in this movie, and not only did they reveal one of the few things I hadn’t already heard, but they also told us how and why he was there.
When I saw the final trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron I was not happy that they revealed the look of the Vision. I would have much preferred to find that out in the theater. But, fortunately there was still almost no context given to how or why he appeared and we ended up with some really great and surprising character moments in the final film. I feel like the newest Marvel trailer for Captain America: Civil War could fall into the same category. They’ve shown us the Black Panther, but again, no context or origin. We don’t know what his motives or origins are, and we haven’t even heard his voice. Again though, I would prefer to have seen him for the first time in the movie, but I also understand that they need to tease something new, and not just the same characters we’ve been watching since 2011.
In the end though, I think the real culprit is just the nature of the global internet culture we have and the gluttonous access to information we enjoy. Somehow we’ve all come to expect a huge amount of frequent teasers for teasers for trailers for previews for movies that are really just small pieces of a gigantic franchise.
Is Star Wars immune from this because of its 40 year old pedigree? Or are we finally seeing a move back to teasers that actually tease, and trailers that aren’t just highlight reels? While I’m sure that the former is the case, I really hope the latter is as well.