But while story revelations will be restrictive on the one hand, the second thing a fuller trailer would do is attempt to create more confusion and uncertainty by trying to set up questions about the events that aren’t currently being discussed. For each new piece of information that’s introduced, there’ll most likely be a missing resolution to accompany it. There’s a conflict at work in trying to give us information while adding to the list of things we don’t know at the same time, but it’s ultimately the former that will win out in these situations.
These days it’s far too easy to watch and rewatch every new trailer online, poring over the details until no stone has been left unturned. Then, with so many reference resources available for a rich lore like Star Wars, the majority of the new questions can be all but answered if you have the patience to sift through page after page of stored information. From there it’s far too easy to uncover spoilers, making the lion’s share of viewers wonder if they should have started pulling at the threads in the first place. In fact, even those who don’t do the work for themselves can end up having things spoiled, as headlines or blog posts can so easily slip their way into a newsfeed before we’ve even realized what we just read.
It’s sad, then, that we’ve become so accustomed to having most of the answers before a movie even begins that we so willingly abandon suspense in favour of familiarity.
You don’t have to look very hard to find recent, high-profile examples of this near unquenchable thirst for advance knowledge in action. By the time Spider-Man: Homecoming reached cinemas, there were no less than three full trailers (all with international variants), one initial teaser and five different TV spots. Add to this the plethora of tie-in adverts and promotional videos and that’s a heck of a lot of Spidey content available before the movie was anywhere near its release. And, while these numbers are pretty commonplace for a blockbuster like that in 2017, it was the content of these videos that made the whole thing so much worse.
Considering myself a big fan of all things Spider-Man (yes, even The Amazing Spider-Man 2) I enjoyed discussing where I thought the events of the MCU’s first solo adventure would take the Wall-Crawler with friends, colleagues and pretty much anyone who would listen. What I did not appreciate, however, was discovering that I wouldn’t even have to wait for the full movie to be released to discover if I was right or not. By the time the second theatrical trailer was shown (March 28th – more than 3 months ahead of the movie reaching cinemas), around 70% of the story was revealed. Add another 10% to this in the third trailer six weeks away from release and a massive amount of the narrative had been ruined in succinct, two and a half minute bursts.
Through the course of the three trailers we learned that Tony Stark let Peter keep the high-tech suit after the events of Captain America: Civil War, that Peter was bored and eager to get back to more Avengers action and that a bigger challenge was waiting in the wings in the form of The Vulture. From here we saw Peter try to take on Vulture and his goons, fail, be rescued by Iron Man, have the suit taken off him, return to his homemade original and finally face Vulture one last time. Add to this the fact that Peter’s relationship with all other major characters is immediately clarified in the trailers and what’s really left to look out for in the full movie?