Since the dawn of time — well maybe not the dawn but the early 1980s, so close enough — spoilers have been considered taboo among many fan communities, as they should. While there are people who relish in the knowledge of what’s to come, most find that having too much information about the media they plan to consume makes it far less appealing than when it is shrouded in mystery.
Personally, whether it be a book, movie, or television show, I like having as few details as possible when diving in so my interpretation is as the producers intended. However, in this social media age, everyone is suddenly unable to sit on a secret for more than five minutes. Spoilers have become nearly impossible to avoid, especially when it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
I remember my roommate telling a story of how “Avengers: Endgame” was spoiled for her. A wall in front of her high school was vandalized with only the words “Iron Man dies” written in graffiti. Such instances are hard to avoid with a fanbase as large as Marvel’s — making movie opening weekends that much more important to attend. Recently though, even movies that have yet to be released have become victims to this war on surprise.
“The Eternals,” Marvel’s most recent blockbuster, experienced a leak following a private premiere where only the stars and invited guests were in attendance. The spoiler revealed a new character, Eros, played by British musician Harry Styles. This was divulged by several journalists that were present at the movie’s release. If even professionals can’t be held to their word, what hope do we have for eager fans?
On Dec. 17, the highly anticipated “Spider-Man: No Way Home” will reach theaters. On Nov. 29, ticket websites crashed minutes after midnight with fans itching to get the earliest seats possible to avoid spoilers for the movie. The movie, which is rumored to feature Spider-Man franchise alumni Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, is said to be one for the books. Details of the movie have been well-concealed, as is the case for most films in the Marvel franchise.
Despite this, a great deal of suspense has led to a combination of leaked set pictures and inside information spreading across social media that has made spoilers impossible to avoid. Fans who are reasonably excited for the film have every right to speculate and discuss what it may feature but at what point does this theorizing infringe on the rights of moviegoers everywhere to enjoy the film with wilful ignorance?
This culture of spoilers is one fans should be careful to succumb to. While taking advantage of what is public knowledge is by no means criminal, damaging the moviegoing experience for others as well as yourself threatens much of the theatrical release process. Opening weekends present the most important time to measure a film’s success.
In the case of a movie such as “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” tickets will be sold regardless. However, for movies such as “The Eternals,” which received immediate negative press for its flawed attempt to highlight representation of marginalized communities, spoilers could be fatal.
“The Eternals” and other movies within the franchise — which attempt to experiment with breaking the Marvel formula — are always going to face criticism from hardcore fans wanting a white male superhero and damsel in distress plot line.
The attempt to feature Harry Styles in the end credit scene was no doubt a conscious effort to foster excitement and bring in new fans. Rather than spoiling it, an encouragement to see the movie and a teasing of a new character would’ve been more efficient than an all-out reveal
If we want to continue to enjoy the movies we love, we must support them how they are intended to be supported. Otherwise, why would Marvel not stick with what they know works? Embrace the unknown. Living in the secret of it all is what makes movies fun. Why spoil the tradition now?