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SPOILER WARNING: I'm not trying to be like Sony and ruin these movies before you've even seen them, so SPOILERS for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Read with caution!
Sony's Spider-Man hot streak continued this week with the release of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The animated feature shares very little in common with its live-action predecessors, ditching Peter Parker (mostly) to focus on Miles Morales and a plot that stretches across the multiverse. However, the film does have one thing in common with other Spidey films: Sony loved spoiling key scenes in trailers, and as a fan, it's becoming very frustrating.
If you paid attention to Into the Spider-Verse's great trailers, then you are likely more than familiar with the "I love you" joke between Miles and his dad in the cop car. It's a wonderful bit, and a good laugh for the trailer, but then the trailer decides to double dip. The trailer shows Miles, in costume, telling his dad he loves him. This is obviously a continuation of the earlier joke, so viewers are meant to laugh and shrug it off as the trailer keeps going.
However, if you stop and give that scene a little thought, it's fairly obvious that it takes place at the end of the movie. Miles is in his complete Spider-Man costume and openly shows affection for his dad, whereas before, he had to be publicly shamed to do so. The nature of character arcs tells us that this comes at the end Miles' journey, not the middle. Otherwise, it wouldn't be an arc.
Sony gave away a relatively big part of Miles' emotional journey right in the trailer. While the footage does show more bits of the third act (including one of the last shots of the movie), I wouldn't say that these things ruin the movie. Sony actually manages to keep the bigger reveals a secret, but the same can not be said for its other Spider-Man films, which has resulted in a significant and consistent problem of revealing major plot strokes and set pieces.
For almost all of its recent Spider-Man movies, Sony has spoiled important scenes, if not the whole films structure, in the trailers. Let's go down the list.
In Amazing Spider-Man, the studio shows Peter Parker getting unmasked by the police, removing the tension of that moment.
In Amazing Spider-Man 2, they give away that Harry Osborn becomes Green Goblin, that Gwen is probably going to die (it wasn't that hard to figure out), the last shot of the entire movie, the after-credits scene, and most of the action set pieces -- including the final third act battle.
In Spider-Man: Homecoming, they basically give away the entire plot. It shows the ferry fight, the ship breaking in half, Iron Man SAVING the boat, Tony Stark taking the Spidey suit away, Spider-Man fighting Vulture on Coney Island, Spider-Man in Washington, and Spidey steering the out-of-control plane. Just watch this trailer and see for yourself.
Even in Venom, Sony spoils a considerable chunk of the final scene, which includes the infamous "turd in the wind" line.
Now, does any of this actually ruin the movie or the experience of watching it? In most cases, I would argue no. The film shouldn't be punished for the decisions of a corporate marketing department, and should solely be judged on its own merits. After all, no one made you watch that trailer.
But giving key scenes away in the trailer certainly doesn't help. No matter how you slice it, it's better to go in knowing as little as possible about a film so that you can experience all the twists, turns, and jokes. If you already know that Spidey is going to be crashing a plane on a beach, then that moment has less of an impact on you.
For whatever reason, Sony is committed to showing as much of its Spider-Man movies as possible in the trailer. I believe that part of the reason for this is that Sony has rebooted Spider-Man so many times that it has to keep upping the ante in the trailers to get people's attention. It's like if your ex got a swimming pool and kept calling you back by adding a diving board, then a hot tub, and so on.
The other part is a symptom of the Digital Age, where every movie trailer has to be bigger and bigger to break through the headlines. Yes, Sony spoiled the whole last scene of Venom, but everyone was talking about the "turd" line, giving the movie more attention. So, a win.
Sony is not the only studio to give away too much in a trailer, but it's especially frustrating because now the trend is to reveal as little as possible for as long as possible. Take the famous marketing campaign for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a movie so wrapped in secrecy that it was propelled to be one of the highest grossing films ever made.
You can also take the recent example of Avengers: Endgame, one of the hyped movies of 2019 and possibly ever. After months of waiting, the trailer didn't reveal any plot points about the film whatsoever and merely sold people on the tone. And people loved it! Couple that with Avengers: Infinity War, which showed off some epic action, but not too much and with no real context.
Considering that Spidey is a part of the MCU, the amount of info that Sony will drop compared to Marvel Studios becomes more apparent. One would think that if Marvel had made the Homecoming trailer, we'd have never even seen the plane stuff until we were in the theater.
And again, this isn't to say that Marvel or any other studio doesn't show spoilery material. The Ant-Man and the Wasp trailer had a good amount of the third act car chase, but that's just action to sell the movie. It's not plot, and you won't find anything about the Janet van Dyne rescue in the trailer.
All of this is to say, I hope that Sony learns to show a little restraint with its next Spider-Man movie, Spider-Man: Far From Home. Considering this movie directly follows Endgame, there's potentially a lot to give away here, and I hope that Sony finally takes that chill pill and decides to keep people guessing with this one.