One of the biggest complaints fans have when it comes to the marketing of movies, especially in the geek arena, is that studios allow a lot of spoilers to work their way into trailers and promotional clips. It happens in merchandising and leaks too, but when it comes to these videos, spoilers can get a bit overbearing.
However, there's a difference in how fans react to these spoilers. Fox's Dark Phoenix trailer spoiled Mystique's (Jennifer Lawrence) death, drawing the ire of fans. But when Marvel and Sony did the same for Spider-Man: Far From Home and Netflix followed suit with a huge revelation from Stranger Things, one has to wonder why the latter two didn't get as much heat. Well, it comes down to the latter understanding the art of when and where to spoil, as well as the importance of brand loyalty, which ultimately affords such issues the benefit of the doubt.
In the case of Fox, Dark Phoenix had little going for it. Neither fans nor critics took well to X-Men: Apocalypse, and it didn't help the studio was regurgitating yet another story about Jean Grey breaking bad. The problem was made much worse by the film's association with Simon Kinberg, who wrote X-Men: The Last Stand, which drew from the same source material but grounded what should have been an epic cosmic spectacle. Couple this with the Disney buyout and a dead end for Fox's X-Men franchise and it's clear fans weren't really that invested.
It wasn't smart for Dark Phoenix to spoil one of its biggest moments. These X-Men movies are pretty straightforward, so such a twist would have had greater emotional impact. It takes steam away from the movie and a franchise that's lacking in "wow" moments. A character death of this magnitude, as Mystique was a leader of the team, really needed to be experienced in theaters, blind. Advertising such a moment showed Fox didn't understand what fans want. Given how the X-film performed with critics and moviegoers, fans were seemingly looking for an excuse to trash Dark Phoenix, and this spoiler gave them exactly that opportunity.
Fox's approach was different from Marvel's, which has remained fairly tight-lipped about some of its biggest twists, offering little past the first half hour of Avengers: Endgame in marketing. Marvel Studios also had fake footage designed to keep the mystery up, and this guessing game kept fans engrossed with what was to come, making up theories and rushing theaters to see if they were right.
Fox, though, lost one of the few things it had going for it in what was essentially a by-the-numbers movie: the element of surprise. At that point, knowing Mystique was going to die, a lot of fans remembered how Cyclops and Xavier died in The Last Stand and quickly realized Dark Phoenix could be a repeat of that film, especially with Kinberg helming. And so, with the prospect of another run-of-the-mill X-Men movie to take in, how could you expect fans, knowing the history, to not lash out in sheer frustration?
When it comes to Spider-Man: Far From Home, even though the movie spoiled a few relatively interesting twists, the prospect of misdirection in the trailers keeps people guessing. Not everything was what it seemed in the film's marketing.
One of the more major twists marketing spoiled for the film was Zendaya's Mary Jane admitting in released footage that she knew Peter Parker was Spider-Man, which caught fans off guard. However, this twist ended up being relatively small in the grand scheme of things.
There was so much more in the movie to take in, and fans were eager to see other things in the film, like: the multitude of Spidey-suits, how Pete fared after Tony's death, what happened to those returning after Bruce Banner and Tony Stark's snaps and how was the MCU was faring in general after Endgame.
In other words, Far From Home didn't reveal everything people wanted to know about, and the franchise's brand is so strong, fans understand the marketing team knows what it's doing. Far From Home also delivered a lot of impressive content that wasn't advertised in advance, including two mind-blowing post-credits scenes. Fans expect big things in these Marvel movies and trust the creatives to deliver, even after spoiling something that'd usually be a big deal. The same just can't be said for Fox.
As for Stranger Things, that show revealed Billy gets infected and becomes a monster in Season 3. Like Far From Home, there's a lot more than the show, which has eight episodes and so many intriguing characters that one minion of the Upside Down won't offset interest. Billy wasn't even a big a player at that point and, honestly, that spoiler provided a hook and built hype for the season. Stranger Things also has numerous trump cards to play, so giving its hand away once doesn't hurt the franchise.
Billy's transformation was just one part of a smaller story and showed how fans trust brands. They don't see these things as spoilers or mistakes, but strategic marketing designed to reel them in: hook, line and sinker. They may not like it, but they know Stranger Things has a lot more content to offer that'll blow their minds. So, once more, the Duffer brothers show they too know the art of revealing -- something Fox hopefully will learn in the future.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is currently in theaters, while Season 3 of Stranger Things is now available to stream on Netflix.