I’ll be the first person to admit that I wasn’t expecting a lot from X-Men: First Class, and also one of the first to admit that the trailer wasn’t as bad as I’d feared from rumors, photos and interviews I’d seen ahead of time. But I can’t help but notice that that’s something that I’m seeing in a lot of reactions online – the “it’s not as bad as I’d thought it’d be” reaction. Which makes me wonder: How useful are low expectations?
Let’s be honest: Yesterday’s trailer for First Class is … okay. The music is a bit generic, and the tiny glimpses of action that we see aren’t really anything that we haven’t seen before in other X-Men movies. But that almost doesn’t matter; it doesn’t suck, and because we were all expecting it to suck, then that relief becomes goodwill towards the entire endeavor: “Hey! Maybe because the trailer doesn’t suck, then the entire movie will suck even less!” as if its scalable, that way. It’s not, of course, but that doesn’t matter; the fact that common wisdom has gone from “Wow, that’ll probably be kind of a mess” to “It’s not that bad after all!” is pretty much a victory for Fox and director Matthew Vaughn.
There’s something to be said for setting the bar particularly low, it has to be said. When you’re dealing with a project that people are going to be not only interested in but also eager to share their feelings way in advance of the actual event, the idea of letting everyone get all their negativity and bile out waaaay in advance seems to make a lot of sense to me. If you manage to convince people that things aren’t necessarily going to be that good — or, perhaps more safely, just lazily let everyone assume the worst based on some easily dropped clues — then there’s every chance that the backlash to the hate will have started, or even just that the negativity will have burned itself out on the subject altogether, before you’ve even had to release your first trailer/performance/delete as applicable on the subject.
(Let’s face it: Being negative about X-Men: First Class before this trailer came out seemed like piling on to kick a dead horse, or whatever mixed metaphor you care to use. Everyone assumed the worst, and to even agree felt as if you were over-egging the pudding.)
Which isn’t to say that I think the rumors suggesting that First Class is a train wreck waiting to happen are part of a meticulously-planned marketing campaign, because … well, I don’t think that anyone involved with the movie is that Machiavellian, to be honest. But the online reaction to the trailer suggests that it’s something for movie marketers to consider for the future. If nothing else, given the current climate, I think that Tron 3 will be a perfect trial case, if anyone wants to try it.
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