With Eternals out of the way, the next big instalment on the Marvel release calendar is Spider-Man: No Way Home. It’s a movie with a sheer amount of hype, and not just because Far From Home’s cliffhanger ending saw Spider-Man outed as Peter Parker in front of the whole world.
But what could have been a climactic end to the MCU Spidey trilogy may have already been ruined. And it’s all thanks to a mix of never-ending leaks and overzealous marketing that seems hell-bent on spoiling the film before anyone can actually see it.
No Way Home has been subject to a huge amount of speculation thanks to its predecessor’s ending, and there have been countless fan theories about what might play out. How would Peter get out of being framed for Mysterio’s murder, and having his identity revealed to the world?
Both of those things happened in the comics, with Spidey relying on Daredevil and Doctor Strange to help him out — leading to rumors of Charlie Cox and Benedict Cumberbatch reprising their roles as Matt Murdock and Stephen Strange. Only the latter has been fully confirmed by Marvel and Sony.
As time went on those rumors began to expand pretty rapidly, aided in part by various untrustworthy leaks. If those rumors painted an accurate picture, there would be aspects of the Spider-Verse, the Sinister Six and a host of special appearances including, but not limited to, Cumberbatch, Cox, former Spider-Men Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, as well as former Spider-Man movie villains.
No Way Home’s leak problem
Then the unthinkable happened. Marvel, which usually has a tight rein on secretive productions, began leaking. And not just a tiny little leak here and there, like paparazzi-style set photos. No Way Home started leaking worse than a colander under a waterfall.
This is the same studio that routinely denies its actors, notably Spider-Man star Tom Holland and Hulk actor Mark Ruffalo, access to full scripts because they have a reputation for not being able to keep it all secret.
Marvel actors are vocal about not being able to do, often joking that Marvel might send a hit squad after them if they blabbed.
Owen Wilson, Loki’s Agent Mobius, even claimed to have received (opens in new tab) an ominous text message saying “Strike 1” after accidentally revealing the inconsequential detail that his character had a moustache.
Marketing is now embracing spoilers, instead of avoiding them
Things have only got worse since Molina spilled some key details, though. Leaked images and videos seem intent on spoiling all of No Way Home’s big surprises, and the official marketing doesn’t seem particularly bothered about dropping major spoilers either.
Whether it’s confirming Molina wasn’t lying by putting Doc Ock in the first trailer, adding what is undoubtedly the Spider-Man 1 Green Goblin into the poster, or teasing a never-ending stream of villains like Sandman and Electro.
There are even claims that Marvel and Sony have clashed on what to include in the second trailer. Apparently there are three cuts of the trailer, one of which reveals the former Spider-Men (or is it Spiders-Man?), and there’s some debate as to which one should be released — and when it should be.
What I know: YES. The #SpiderManNoWayHome Leaks are REAL & @JohnCampea is F*CKED for stupidly watermarking & posting them 🤦♂️ Idiot. Sony has 3 versions of the TRAILER. 1 reveals Tobey Maguire Andrew Garfield, Etc. The others don't. They're still debating which to release & when pic.twitter.com/ZmYV4lRVhlNovember 9, 2021
That's a topic that shouldn't even be up for debate, no matter which studio is pushing for it to happen. Leaks or no leaks, having former Spider-Men appear in the movie is the kind of thing you'd want to keep as secretive as possible — even if people are convinced it's happening anyway.
Revealing that Maguire and Garfield are part of the movie in a trailer would be like giving away the twist that Mysterio was the true villain of Far From Home. Or that we’d see that climactic battle featuring damn-near every MCU character at the end of Avengers: Endgame.
The leaks alone are bad enough, and already means plenty of fans are going to go into the movie wondering which scene might bring the former Spider-heroes into the fray. Adding them to the trailer is a step too far
It’s like finding out a new movie has a twist ending, but not knowing what that twist is. So you end up going through the movie trying to guess what happens, and don’t get the same enjoyment you would have done going in completely blind.
Movies can be hyped without giving too much away
And let’s be honest here. Spider-Man movies don’t really need marketing. While you could have said the same thing about Star Wars before Solo flopped, Spider-Man movies have been pretty consistent money makers. Even The Amazing Spider-Man 2, a movie so lackluster that it killed Sony’s hopes of its own interconnected Marvel universe, made over $700 million on a $250 million budget.
Couple this with the fact this latest version of Spider-Man is part of the MCU, the most successful movie franchise of all time, and represents two of the three highest-grossing Spider-Man movies to date, it’s not like Sony and Marvel need to pull out all the stops to get people in theaters.
After all, it’s not something you need to really sell if you want to convince casual moviegoers to buy a ticket. It’s Spider-Man, not Ant-Man or the Eternals.
At the very least drum up some hype with a much smaller tease. One that would get fans something to chew on, without giving away the movie’s biggest secrets. Confirming Charlie Cox was playing Matt Murdock would be a great example.
Netflix’s Daredevil series was a hit with fans, but Netflix still cancelled the series after its third season - followed by the rest of its suite of Marvel shows. Considering how well people reacted to Cox as Murdock, and the fact Peter is in dire need of a lawyer after Far From Home, it’s a reveal that would get fans excited without giving away too much of the movie’s plot.
In the ever-connected world of the 21st century, it’s hard to avoid spoilers online. People love to speculate about stuff they’re excited about, and once that thing arrives they can’t stop talking about it. The problem is, it’s hard to avoid all that if you’re one of the many people who aren’t able to see everything at a midnight screening.
But avoiding fans who are discussing the latest blockbuster movies after release is one thing. At least in that case you know when you should be setting yourself up to avoid spoilers. But to have all those key details pop up online ahead of time, and in official marketing no less, is another matter entirely.
Leaks might happen, speculation is impossible to keep under wraps. But at the very least Marvel and Sony could at least try to keep a lid on everything before release day.