Warning: Spoilers ahead for Avengers: Infinity War.
The biggest cinematic event of the year has finally been unleashed onto our screens, and while viewers are still reeling, the directors have just made a huge Avengers: Infinity War confession.
As previously expected and noted buy eagle-eyed observers, the directors Anthony and Joe Russo have confirmed they dropped red herrings into the cinematic trailers to ‘stay ahead of [the fans]’.
The admission could’ve been dangerous, as some fans may see this as false advertising, but it certainly marks a game-changing tactic to avoid plot spoilers.
Joe Russo told Variety:
We do our best work when we follow our instincts and tell the story we want to tell. We’ve had one or two experiences early in our careers where we didn’t do that and we learned a very hard lesson: When you try to predict what an audience wants, you’re going to make mush.
When you commit to the story you want to tell, it tends to have a much more resonant impact on the audience …
The audience can tell you they love chocolate ice cream, but if you give it to them every day, they’re going to get sick of it real fast. You’ve got to stay ahead of them.
Avengers: Infinity War is an onslaught from the beginning, killing off major characters within the first few minutes of the opening titles.
We see Hulk battered to a pulp, Loki choked to death, and Thor damn near killed, all within the opening scene of the film – and things don’t get much easier from there.
Just check out the trailer:
The film is emotionally draining, a movie without much catharsis which is normally present in these superhero affairs. As a modern equivalent of Greek mythology, catharsis plays a huge part in why we find these films so damn enjoyable.
But not this one.
Yet still, we knew what we were getting into, didn’t we? The promotional material made no secret of the fact this was not going to be another Thor: Ragnarok or Guardians of the Galaxy.
We knew we were getting something we hadn’t seen before, where the gang of superheroes had actually met their match in the Mad Titan.
But actually, the promotional material did lead us astray with regards to one particular character and his relevance to the story of the battle against Thanos.
You’d seen the Hulk all over the promotional material for Infinity War, most notably in this shot:
The trailer would make you feel as though Hulk is instrumental in the battle in Wakanda against Thanos, but in actual fact we don’t see any of the big green guy after his first fisticuffs with Thanos at the beginning.
It turns out Hulk actually spent most of his time in the Hulkbuster suit because he couldn’t manage to get the big green guy to come out and have a scrap.
Now this is actually quite interesting, because it makes the film much fresher when you’re experiencing things you haven’t seen in promo material.
In an ideal world, we’d all be able to go to see films without trailers or other promotional material and just go in cold, with no knowledge of the film.
Sadly, that’s just not the way it works, so when we enter a cinema screen we have some kind of preconceived notion of what it is we’re going to see, which somewhat dilutes the raw cinematic experience.
What Marvel have done here though, is create a red herring – and it’s not the only one in the trailer – which heightens your experience of the film because the film subverts your expectations, even if you don’t realise it when you’re sitting in the cinema watching it.
If you haven’t yet, here’s a recap of the MCU:
There’s nothing more damaging to the suspension of disbelief than realising you’ve seen something like this before, or remembering a joke from a trailer, or knowing what’s coming next. That is when the cinematic medium falls short.
Marvel’s trailer trickery has avoided this pitfall, while simultaneously keeping a major subplot in the film secret until release. Nowhere online did I see a theory suggesting Hulk would be absent from the film.
It’s unclear whether the footage in the trailer was filmed purely for promotional material, or whether the Russo brothers made creative decisions after the film’s trailers were released.
One thing is for sure, though, other studios should take into account this method of marketing their films.
If nothing else, it will create more mystery around the film, and will make the viewing experience richer for it.
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