Of all the characters being featured next year in Captain America: Civil War, one of the most highly anticipated is Spider-Man, played by Tom Holland. After spending over a decade of his superhero movie career alone, the Web-Slinger is finally getting to hang out with his fellow Marvel heroes on the big screen, which will lead to a new solo movie set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With less than six months until the movie’s release, Marvel will be releasing new stills and previews soon, which is why they should take a radical approach with Holland’s Spider-Man: keep him largely hidden from promotional material.
Many (including myself) have said how cool it would be to see a shot of Spidey in the Captain America: Civil War teaser trailer, but upon further consideration, this probably isn’t the best move. With all the hype surrounding Spider-Man finally joining the MCU, his appearance needs to be something savored rather than slowly dolled out in various trailers and TV spots. If Marvel really wants to make the Wall-Crawler’s first MCU appearance special, they need to largely keep him out of any previews between now and May. Build up that anticipation so that the experience of seeing him in action for the first time (in this continuity) will be even sweeter.
That’s not to say it isn't difficult keeping a major character out of promotional material. Even The Vision, who was left out of Avengers: Age of Ultron previews until two months before release, had concept art of him leaked early on. In Spidey’s case, though, surely Marvel can put more effort into keeping him on the down low. They’ve already been doing a good job keeping his role in Captain America: Civil War a secret. We don’t even know whether he’ll side with Iron Man or Captain America during the conflict. By dedicating that same attention to keeping him mostly or completely out of the previews, the audience will be legitimately surprised by what’s in store for him. Just look at Star Wars: The Force Awakens as an example of how to accomplish this.
If you’ve been paying attention to the December movie’s marketing over the last month, you no doubt noticed that all the major protagonists have been clearly featured, with one exception: Luke Skywalker. Aside from his narration in the second trailer and that shot of what’s likely a hooded Luke touching R2-D2 with his prosthetic hand, Mark Hamill’s famous character is nowhere to be seen in any of the posters or previews. We know that Luke will play a pivotal role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but by keeping him largely absent until its release, it’s harder for fans to deduce exactly how he’s involved in the story. Give Spider-Man the same treatment.
This isn’t the same thing as putting another new character like Black Panther in the trailer. Captain America: Civil War may also be T’Challa’s MCU debut, but most of the general audience hasn’t heard of him, so putting a few shots of the Wakandan hero in action will drum up interest and hopefully lead some to reading/watching of Black Panther material. In Spider-Man’s case, he’s one of the most popular superheroes of all time, and moviegoers have seen him on the big screen plenty of times. Yes, the costume and actor will be different this time around, but we already know what to expect. He’ll be swinging around, punching bad guys and dropping one-liners. Do we enjoy seeing that? Of course, but let’s not pretend that this is anything new. These are moments that can wait until the movie’s release.
If they absolutely must include Spider-Man in an upcoming preview, don’t let it be something as direct as a full body action shot or him talking with one of the other heroes. Minimalism is the key, so something like his gloved hand sticking out to shoot a web or a brief flash of him as he’s swinging between buildings. Just like with Luke Skywalker, those show he will be involved in the story, but there’s no risk of spoiling what he’ll be doing. It’s a win-win scenario, and with 11 other heroes appearing in Captain America: Civil War, they can fill whatever time could have been allotted for Spider-Man with one of them.
Captain America: Civil War hits theaters on May 6, 2016, but we’ll see in the coming months whether the Wall-Crawler is featured in any of its promotional material. In the meantime, we want to hear your thoughts. Do you want to see Spider-Man shown in the trailers/other marketing material, or would you rather Marvel save any look at him for the movie itself? Let us know in the comments below.