Hey, did you know the shark explodes at the end of Jaws? That Darth Vader turns out to be Luke’s father? And wait till you see what’s half buried in the beach in the final scene of Planet of the Apes…
Today, boys and girls, I’m talking spoliers. Think how very different an experience Empire Strikes Back would have been if the culture-changing twist George Lucas had waiting in the wings had already been posted to your Facebook wall. What if you already knew that Charlton Heston was about to run head first into the Statue of Liberty because some doofus had live tweeted from the back row of the Odeon? What if countless bloggers had more than adequately warned and prepared you for the utter horror that was Showgirls… okay, maybe not that last one. It has always been, not least in genre cinema, supremely important that mind-boggling, planet size twists, reveals and surprises are kept fresh. (Don’t complain that I’ve spoilt Empire or Apes by the way – if you hadn’t already seen them, what on earth are you doing here?)
Pre-internet it was very difficult to read any spoilers; the closest I remember was, while waiting in a four hour line to see Batman in 1989, having the ending spoilt by a guy who’d bought the comic adaptation while in the queue and alerted the waiting crowds to the Joker’s final frame fall. It’s a wonder the angry crowd didn’t mete out a similar fate.
The idea for this blog all kicked off because for what feels like the last two years, I’ve been strenuously avoiding anything that could reveal any details about The Avengers, or Avengers Assemble for the UK folks. Despite the best efforts of Marvel’s marketing department to flood every single corner of the internet with trailer after teaser after trailer for the teaser for the trailer and so many images that I could probably print them all out and make a flick book of the entire film, I was doing pretty well at keeping most of the film’s fan boy reveals a surprise. Cinema tickets cost more than Iron Man’s suit these days and I didn’t want the final film to be an exercise in filling in the gaps from the many varied trailers that had been released. All was going so well. And then someone on my Facebook wall linked to an article from Digital Spy about the new Japanese trailer with a headline and picture only blinding myself nano-seconds earlier would have prevented me from seeing. A great big fat juicy spoiler in the shape of a cameo from a certain Iron Man character that while may not be plot altering, certainly shows the ease with which, in this internet age, spoilers can hurl themselves at you despite your best efforts to swerve out of their path. The only way to remain truly spoiler free is a total digital disconnect but when we’ve come to rely on our laptops, mobiles, social media profiles and twitter feeds to keep us up to date with the world, can we really ever fully switch off or simply expect to filter out the stuff we don’t want to hear?
So the next time you’re tempted, in the giddy rush that is fanboy/girl squee, to blurt out something about a book, movie or tv show you’ve just seen – think back to the best surprise you ever had, that Empire moment, and remember how let down you’d have felt if it hadn’t been a surprise at all.
When I take my seat for The Avengers, and earth’s mightiest heroes start smashing skulls (or Skrulls? I don’t know – I don’t read spoilers, remember!) I’ll hopefully be able to enjoy most of the surprises, twists and turns Joss Whedon has in store for us, just as he intended. In fact, in the excitement of the biggest superhero movie of the summer, the only thing I suspect may yet be spoilt is my pants!*
*This is a joke and purely a mechanism for wrapping up this blog post. No pants will actually be spoilt.