Avengers Endgame

When it comes to Marvel movie trailers, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that we shouldn’t believe what we see. Spider-Man was hidden from an airport fight shot in the Captain America: Civil War trailer, the Thor: Ragnarok trailers faked out audiences by including a key shot of Thor with both of his eyes, and an Avengers: Infinity War trailer threw us off by including a shot of Hulk running with Team Wakanda that never even appeared in the film.

Now directors Anthony and Joe Russo have confirmed that they’re doing the same thing with the Avengers Endgame trailers in order to preserve the audiences’ experience of being surprised in the theater. Place your bets below about which shots have been digitally altered.

Speaking with Empire Online (via ComingSoon), Joe Russo talked about why he and his brother have convinced the Marvel Studios marketing team to mislead audiences:

“We talked about all scales of marketing. The thing that’s most important to us is that we preserve the surprise of the narrative. When I was a kid and saw The Empire Strikes Back at 11am on the day it opened…it so profoundly moved me because I didn’t know a damn thing about the story I was going to watch. We’re trying to replicate that experience.”

Last summer, the Russos said something similar in a podcast interview:

“We look at the trailer as a very different experience than the movie, and I think audiences are so predictive now that you have to be very smart about how you craft a trailer because an audience can watch a trailer and basically tell you what’s gonna happen in the film. We consume too much content. So at our disposal are lots of different shots that aren’t in the movie that we can manipulate through CG to tell a story that we want to tell specifically for the purpose of the trailer and not for the film.”

So, which shots from the most recent trailer do you think are misleading us? Maybe Tony Stark and Nebula aren’t really back on Earth wearing those space suits with the rest of the team? When Scott Lang gives a confused, disgusted look to that telephone pole with the missing person posters on it, could that pole have been digitally replacing Thanos, who farts in Lang’s face? (Watch that moment again and tell me it couldn’t happen!)

As for trying to recapture the feeling of walking into The Empire Strikes Back, well…things are slightly different now than they were in 1980 (just slightly), and I can certainly see a case being made that the Russos should embrace The Way Things Are Now and stop trying to force their own childhood experience on audiences by essentially lying with manipulated footage.

But in this case, I have to admit I agree with the directors.

At /Film, we often comb through trailers frame-by-frame trying to find clues that could point us to how big blockbuster movies are going to unfold. I’ve done it myself. It’s fun to pinpoint little details that may have slipped past upon first watch, and our readers seem to enjoy it. But if I had my way, I’d only watch the first teaser for all of my most anticipated movies one time, and then I wouldn’t see any more footage until I’m seated in the theater on opening day. I value that surprise factor the Russos are talking about.

It’s tricky. Is digitally manipulating footage crossing a line? Arguably yes – even if the filmmakers’ intentions are pure. But then again, the act of editing is also a form of manipulation, and audiences don’t get up in arms when shots appear in a different order in the movie than they did in a trailer. Altering footage specifically to preserve a surprise might be taking things too far, but maybe it isn’t as big of a leap as some make it out to be.

Avengers: Endgame arrives in theaters on April 26, 2019 – unless the release date has been digitally altered, too.

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