Eppler: Movie trailers are lying more - and that's just fine
Several recent lies in movie trailers have made for better movie-watching experiences
NOTE: This article contains mild spoilers of plot details for "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Deadpool 2"
I hate movie trailers. But as a working movie critic, I view them as more of an occupational hazard. Some critics have discussed actively avoiding trailers so they can go into a picture fresh. The late, great Gene Siskel famously would wait outside screenings until the trailers were over before he took his seat (always on the aisle).
Trailers are not becoming less prominent - quite the opposite. They're now, arguably, more important than ever for the industry. Trailer releases are considered key moments in the marketing campaigns for big titles like "Star Wars" movies. The trailer reveal is even teased days ahead of time - a preview of a preview! Once released on YouTube and other sites, scores of pieces are written about what was unveiled, some analyzing them shot by shot.
Complaints about trailers haven't changed over the years: they reveal too much of the plot, they give away the best jokes, etc. But with some of the more recent trailers for this summer's biggest attractions, we're seeing a trend: outright lies.
And I'm totally fine with that.
This is not a new phenomenon, but it does appear to be happening more deliberately with specific intentions.
The most blatant example came in the trailers for "Avengers: Infinity War" - a money shot of our heroes charging out of a wooded area, presumably, to do battle. It was the final shot of the first trailer to rile fans up for the big team-up event the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been building toward for 18 movies over ten years.
It was deliberately deceptive.
Fans now know that the Hulk is not in this scene, and his absence from the proceedings was one of the movie's major plot points. Because of the trailer, we kept waiting for the big guy to show up, but he never does. When this particular shot happens in the movie, no Hulk.
That's pretty tricky stuff on the part of Disney and Marvel. Some were understandably upset at having been lied to about the contents of the movie, but I found it refreshing. It undercuts expectations and provides a genuine surprise. Is Hulk really gonna sit this thing out?
Another example can be found in this summer's other big superhero movie, "Deadpool 2." The trailers are filled with a smattering of some Ryan Reynolds one-liners - specifically one about ridding the world of gluten. But when the movie played, it was revealed that line was replaced by a different bit of dialogue. Again, I wasn't at all bothered. I'd much rather hear a different take - a new joke - rather than the same line we've heard in the trailers for months. Other jokes showed up in different contexts than what was advertised. It demonstrates the comic versatility of the actors and writers, and it feels fresh.
Some may gripe about "truth in advertising," but I think a certain amount of misdirection (okay, lies) are fine for trailers. I want these previews to give me a sense of what to expect from these movies, rather than giving away the goods. Sure, it's a fine line to walk. I'm not saying a movie purporting to star Brad Pitt should secretly star Larry the Cable Guy just to catch the audience off-guard. That would be cause for riots.
But in a time of instant reactions and spoiler-laden websites, it's so hard to be surprised at the movies. And because trailers are so hard to avoid, I'm fine if they need to throw us off the scent to make the actual experience of watching the movie more enjoyable.
So keep lying, Hollywood. I never really trusted you, anyway.