WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame, in theaters now.
One of the biggest complaints about film trailers is that they give away too much of the plot. Look no further than the recent Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw trailer and you'll see you've basically got almost the entire story already laid out before your eyes in just a couple of minutes.
Marvel Studios, on the other hand, has shown the industry the 'more is less' approach actually pays off. From the marketing from strategies adopted for Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, it's impressive how the studio has kept details -- both major and minor -- a secret. With this direction clearly helping the movies become a major success at the box office, it's clear the studio has truly deployed a strategy that changed the trailer game forever.
Marvel Studios has undeniably changed Hollywood, becoming the envy of rival studios, both in terms of box-office receipts and the ability to establish a brand and creative a cohesive cinematic universe. But we all know it's not just about a product, it's how you market it and right now, the trailers cut for these two movies had fans dissecting, searching for clues and extrapolating as if they were the movies themselves.
That's because, starting with Infinity War, the trailers deliberately and unapologetically, lied to audiences. This was to misdirect them so they couldn't come close to figuring out the plot or even ascertaining which characters would go on to play crucial roles. For example, we never got to see Hulk in Wakanda, with an entire shot of the heroes charging in the forest all being fabricated for marketing purposes. That wasn't just deft editing or creative placement of dialogue, it was straight-up fake footage.
And it's something which followed through in Endgame as well, with trailers going above and beyond, digitally adding some characters while removing others. These trailers had scenes of Black Widow at the gun range and punching up a bag in the gym added in, while the hangar scene where the heroes walked to the time machine edited out a portly Thor or Professor Hulk to keep their arcs under wraps in these early snippets. Lying like this simply doesn't just avoid spoilers, it also creates an air of mystery, piquing viewers' curiosity and leaving them guessing as to what's going to happen -- how, when and where. This kind of detective work becomes basic and rudimentary when movies spill so much in trailers, inevitably taking away from an unexpected ride in the theater.
To this point, look at how Dark Phoenix took a drastically different direction, revealing the film's major death in a trailer, spoiling Mystique's death as some kind of hook. From this we already know her former flame, Beast, as well as someone who took interest in her, Magneto, will be on the warpath, and at odds with Charles in some mutant civil war to make Jean pay. Clearly, it already feels predictable, as opposed to Infinity War and Endgame, whose plot beats we couldn't discern at all.
Endgame went into overdrive in later trailers, editing out Pepper Potts outside the New Avengers compound to hide Tony Stark's homecoming. By editing out Hulk from the scene with Rocket Raccoon entering the cabin in Norway, we had no clue they went on a search mission for Thor. Likewise, by editing in an unbroken shield for Cap, we had no idea Thanos shattered his main weapon in the fight to come. In other words, the suspense and tension were all maintained, leaving us entering these movies knowing we'll be on the edge of our seats.
To top it off, the fact early Endgame trailers didn't show anything past the first 20 minutes of the movie more of less set the cryptic tone of the marketing style the studio was once more following. And again, it's a formula filled with intrigue and honestly, it keeps us in the dark to the point we're okay being lied to. After all, this style reminds us of the surprise and awe we get when we open comics and flip through the pages.
There's a sense of wonder there which enriches our souls, and it's glad to see a studio embracing this magic and recapturing it while promoting characters we're so emotionally invested in. Hopefully, there's more of this pleasant distrust to come in the Marvel Cinematic Universe because this kind of marketing protects who gets "dusted," who dies and who's resurrected, thus keeping the creative integrity and overall fabric of the narrative well intact so that almost every scene to us comes as a much welcomed plot twist.
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, Avengers: Endgame stars Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Don Cheadle as War Machine, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Danai Gurira as Okoye and Bradley Cooper as Rocket, with Gwyneth Paltrow Pepper Potts, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, Benedict Wong as Wong, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie and Josh Brolin as Thanos.