Trailer spoilers in Batman v Superman

posted in: Media, Movies | 0

So last night, after a mini-marketing campaign throughout the week to build up to it, Warner dropped the full trailer for Batman v Superman.  Be warned, if you would rather just go enjoy the film, the trailer and this article’s discussion of it, contain spoilers for the actual movie.  Here it is, for the brave of heart:

Here’s the issue.  The trailer seems to basically walk right through the movie, from beginning to end.  Most of the major plot framework appears to have been laid out in the 2:45 (because the last 0:15 is title cards) running length of this advertisement.  Up to and including Lex’s role in the film (he orchestrates the two titular characters into active conflict against one another, and also appears to have somehow created or harnessed Doomsday), a pretty big specific of the Wonder Woman reveal, and that the ultimate target of the movie’s action arc will be the (now) trio of heroes dealing with Doomsday rather than pounding on each other.

That’s a pretty big spoiler.  Huge.

Let’s try to offer some examples of how big of a spoiler this appears to be.  Be warned, again, that some other films will be spoiled in this list.  So if you see the name of something you haven’t seen yet but want to, skip that line.

  • Avengers Age of Ultron – if the shot where Vision picks up and gives Thor’s hammer back to him had been revealed.
  • Titanic – if Jack’s death by hypothermia and drowning had been shown.
  • Fight Club – if the actual ‘relationship’ between Brad Pitt and Edward Norton had been detailed.
  • Shawshank Redemption – if the tunnel behind the poster had been given away.
  • The Sixth Sense – if the connection between Cole’s gift and the doctor’s appearances to him were known ahead of time

We could go on, but I hope the point’s been made.  A lot of the fun of experiencing something for the first time is in the “ah-ha” and “oh no” and “wow” moments.  Not entirely, but enough so that it’s a thing for people to get annoyed — even angry — when those moments are taken away from them ahead of time.  As we move up on The Force Awakens, people are mentioning how there were incidents back in 1980 where exiting audience members would shout stuff like “Vader is Luke’s father” at the line of people waiting to see the next show.  And some of these incidents resulted in fights.

But let’s not digress.  This isn’t casual fans deliberately trolling other fans; this is the studio not giving a shit about core fans.

Now, I see their point.  They want as many asses in seats as possible, because — barring those theaters that have lax door security — an ass covered seat is a paid ticket.  It is not a new thing among the money men of Hollywood for them to think that the best way to convince people to come see a film is to make damn sure all possible audience members know the entire film.  The thinking here, I guess, is that once these now-spoiled consumers know more or less how the film will play out, they will be more inclined to see the flick.

And, as annoyed as I am about this thinking, I also admit that it sometimes works.  Even on me.  I’m not a horror fan, as I’ve said before.  I like suspense, but not really horror.  At least, the kind of horror that the American movie market typically offers; gore covered splatter scares where the body count and gross factor are maxed out.  But I am a Joss Whedon fan, a big one.  So I knew about Cabin in the Woods, but skipped it because I don’t like horror.  Same reason I’ve still not — nor do I really ever intend to — seen Kevin Smith’s Tusk.

When I did see Cabin in the Woods last year, it was because I’d come across numerous mentions and discussions of how the plot was actually a deconstruction of the typical horror plot, how the entire film lampshades and turns around all the major tropes and beats of a ‘standard’ horror story and makes that the actual plot.  This basically spoils the reveal of the film, but I would have continued to not see it had I not known how it played out.  Because I don’t like splatter horror, which is what it looked and sounded like.

I just went over the trailer, because I really had completely ignored this film.  Including the marketing; the genre alone — even though I truly do love Whedon and have since become quite interested in Drew Goddard — had been enough to turn me off.  It has some subtle hints in it, if you know the ending.  That’s the trick here.  It flashes some title cards “You think you know the story, you think you know the place, think again.”  But out of context, that simply sounds like the same trite crap every movie advertisement will throw at you.  There are also some fleeting shots — fast paced cuts that are usually half a second or so — that come out of the last quarter of the film, after the reveal’s happened and the cat’s out of the bag, but without having seen the whole thing they don’t really spoil anything.

Perhaps if I actually had deigned to watch this trailer, I would’ve taken a chance on the film.  It’s hard to say.  This is a trailer that I feel doesn’t spoil anything, but it does seem interesting now.  But, the problem is, a lot of the interest is because I’ve seen the movie and know what it’s dancing around and hinting at.  I know the secret.  And, fact is, I didn’t ever see the movie until I’d already been told the secret; so the reveal was ‘wasted’ because I didn’t sit down until it had been spoiled.

That’s the rub here as I try to ‘decide’ whether this whole issue is one or not.

The point of a trailer isn’t to reward fans or build hype; it’s to put asses in seats.  I get that.  I know that.  I accept that.  And the people who seem most angry about this with Batman v Superman are the people who were already in the core fan group; those who were already committed to seeing it.  Those are the people who waited anxiously online for the trailer to hit so they could click, and who’ve spent the intervening eighteen hours or so building to a fever pitch of disquiet at the spilled secrets because of it.

I do think, whichever side you come down on, we can all agree it more or less sucks for everyone involved.  Who wants to have a movie they know they want to see spoiled?  I don’t; I don’t even look at “next week on…” stuff for shows I watch, for just this sort of reason.  But I keep coming back, in my head, to Cabin in the Woods.  It’s a great movie, done well with a very tightly written script, and I would still not know it had I not gone into discussion threads where people ‘spoiled’ it; because the film’s big reveal was the interesting part to me.  The rest of it was bog standard boring, but the addition of the secret made all of it good.  Without having the reveal pre-spoiled, I had no interest.

However, I do also think that the ‘reveal’ of Doomsday isn’t as necessary for Batman v Superman.  Anyone who was ultimately going to see this film — with or without being told about Doomsday — doesn’t need to know about Doomsday.  And the people who weren’t going to see it are very unlikely to be swayed by knowing that “oh, the third act will involve them beating on a big monster instead of each other”.  And I truly mean that; who actually believes that a non-fan, a non-buyer of a ticket to Batman v Superman, will suddenly become a buyer if they know about Doomsday?  Show of hands …. yeah, me either.

I think that’s probably where the truth of this particular controversy lies.  The core fans know who Doomsday is, or what if you like.  Even allowing for some reinterpretation that’s very probably been applied to this incarnation of Doomsday, the true believers instantly know what Doomsday’s appearance means.  It means one hell of a fight; the kind that unites the ‘good guys’ because there’s absolutely no way Doomsday will be on anyone’s side but his/it’s own.  But anyone who knows all this was very probably already going to see the film anyway.  Who would be so invested in comic lore and character backstory from the printed pages of yore to know all this and not already be a paying member of the audience?  Okay, there probably are some; but it should be extremely fair to say they’d be a minority.  Likely a very small one.

So what are we left with?  Well, first off, the cat’s out of the bag.  First act will be reintroducing Supes and Bats to us, and establishing (as the trailers already have) that Bats distrusts Supes.  Second act will be them in conflict, with at least one physical conflict (i.e. a fight) occurring between them.  We’ll transition from Second to Third with Doomsday’s appearance, and the Third will be where Bats and Supes put aside their differences to deal with the Big Bad (that’s a Whedon term for all you heathens who don’t recognize it).  All of this will build to the wrap up where the Son of Krypton and Gotham’s Caped Crusader accept how they’ll need to stay friendly and willing to get along because some threats will be beyond either of their individual abilities to deal with.  Thus birthing the Justice League.

Plus Wonder Woman, because Warners wants to lead from this into the standalone Diana Prince flick.  And, again, the Justice League movie, because Warner desperately wants to replicate the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

We know all of this from one obnoxious trailer that threw up a middle finger at the fanbase.

I’m really looking forward to enjoying the fucking film, but it really would’ve been a lot more fun if they’d let all of this shit come out when my ass was in the seat, instead of being in my chair at home.

Assholes.  There, I said it.  I want to see their movie, and I expect (hope) it’ll be fun, but I really wish they weren’t being such enormous assholes about it.