Spider-Man fans, without exaggeration, are starving for updates on the mysterious Spider-Man 3. We don’t know the movie’s plot. We don’t have confirmations on the movie’s cast. We don’t even know the movie’s title, and it allegedly comes out later this year. On Tuesday, it looked like we were finally going to get a peek behind the curtain, and at the very least learn what the title of the upcoming Marvel and Sony collaboration was going to be, which would go a long way towards helping us get excited. Only, it was a fakeout, and it left fans pretty frustrated.
If you were on social media at the end of the day, you probably saw the heated flurry of activity that swirled around Spider-Man 3 star Tom Holland announcing the “official” title of the movie as Spider-Man: Phone Home. Of course, it’s an E.T. reference, but fans are half expecting “Home” to be a part of the title because of the way that it was used in Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home, and tongues immediately began to wag. What could “Phone Home” mean? Where are Peter (Holland), MJ (Zendaya) and Ned (Jacob Batalon) standing in the photo that accompanied the title treatment?
We didn’t have that long to speculate, though, because minutes after Tom Holland shared the title, Jacob Batalon shared a different one on his own social media account. This one referred to the mystery movie as Spider-Man: Home-wrecker, and also came with an image that seemed to be from the same scene in the movie.
What the hell was going on? Why was the cast playing games with fans? It was pretty cute at first, and even funny. It definitely sent the Internet into a tail spin, and prompted most die-hard Spider-Man fans to camp out in front of Zendaya’s virtual landscape to see if she would drop a bogus title. And she did. Spider-Man: Home Slice. And a new photo.
All of this is well and good… if it’s going somewhere. Up to this point, however, it hasn’t. Spider-Man fans rightly speculated that these social media teases were priming a big announcement on Jimmy Fallon’s late-night program, where Tom Holland was scheduled to appear to promote his upcoming drama, Cherry. That would make sense. Have a little fun with the fans, but give them a real payoff later in the evening by revealing the REAL title on a talk show. Holland appeared on Jimmy Kimmel in costume back when he was ramping up for Spider-Man: Far From Home. This is part of his playbook.
Only… no announcement. The Jimmy Fallon segment came and went, and nothing new about Spider-Man 3 was revealed. So all we have left in the wake of this PR stunt are three fake titles (we’re assuming they are fake, no one will confirm anything), and a bunch of seriously frustrated fans wondering what is going on.
This can all be rectified quickly by simply revealing the title. Because angering a fanbase seems like an unusual marketing tactic. I’m not sure why the title is being shrouded in such mystery. And the longer that Marvel and Sony wait to reveal the actual title after this stunt, the more frustrated Spider-Man fans are going to feel (and rightfully so). Mystery Box marketing often has the tendency to backfire, with fans ramping up their excitement for a hotly anticipated project, only to have the rug pulled out from underneath them by a studio marketing department that believes it is being clever, but really is out of touch with how fans are feeling.
Maybe today, the title of the third MCU Spider-Man will be revealed. Until it does, the marketing on this movie keeps staging gags, and fans likely feel like the joke is on them.