Over the past few years the term ‘Spoiler Alert’ has become synonymous with browsing the internet. When reading articles the phrase has become a warning sign to those reading that the contents within that particular article have the potential to reveal a plot twist or the death of a character. Internet users peruse articles at the risk of finding these spoilers and it is now common practice for websites to carefully word titles so as not to reveal too much information or they may feel the wrath of multiple fan responses criticising their reporting abilities. Studios themselves often go to great lengths to preserve plot points and key details including scripts on special paper that cannot be photocopied and forcing extras to remove photographs from social media. Even friends are wary of discussing their favourite films (or television series or books) with each other in case they spoil something for the person who has yet to see the material being discussed.
It seems odd then that many movie trailers spoil key plot points of the films they are promoting. It’s a fine line between garnering interest in a movie and spoiling key moments. The recent trailers for Captain America: Civil War have been quite effective in providing a glimpse of what to expect without apparently showing their full hand- the airport fight scene glimpsed in the trailers occurs halfway through the film, leaving fans wondering what the finale to the movie will include. However there are two potential spoilers seen, notably the injury to War Machine who appears lifeless in Tony Stark’s arms and the inclusion of Spider-Man. It’s common knowledge to many who read these kinds of articles that the latest Marvel movie will include a death, so perhaps the image of a lifeless character is a red herring? As for Spider-Man, his appearance lets the more casual movie fan know he will be in the movie and those that care and already knew are probably just as excited to see a glimpse of him holding Cap’s shield as they are likely to be annoyed at his cameo in the trailer. Yet some movie trailers haven’t balanced the line as well and outright spoil key moments, sometimes even the ending. Here’s a few of them…
Oh and uh…spoiler alert! (Duh!)
Children of Men (2006)
Director Alfonso Cuarón dazzled audiences with the dystopian Children of Men, a film that takes place in a dying world where women are infertile and the human population dwindles as a result. The trailer manages to spoil the film’s entire narrative arc, which features Clive Owen trying to get the world’s only pregnant woman to safety. For moviegoers who saw the trailer first, the reveal that the character is pregnant wouldn’t have been much of a surprise.
Terminator: Salvation (2009) and Terminator: Genisys (2015)
Two films from the same franchise from different directors created two trailers with one thing in common- major plot points revealed. Salvation included a mysterious character played by Sam Worthington, whose mystery was revealed in the trailer- he’s part terminator. The same thing happened years later for Genisys when the character of John Connor, leader of the human resistance, was revealed to have been turned into a terminator himself. For films concerning the future, there really should have been more foresight employed here.
The Island (2005)
‘There is no island,’ we are told in the trailer. And the characters played by Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johnason are clones. Well at least we can save the time needed to watch the film.
An amazing action flick about a bomb on a bus. What will the passengers do? According to the trailer, they’ll watch the bus explode from a safe distance.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
Audiences were shocked when Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) died near the end of the first movie. For those that didn’t read the books it was probably more shocking to see Gandalf return in the trailer for the sequel, albeit wearing white.
Jurassic World (2015)
Filmmakers often go out of their way to fill big budget blockbusters with moments of awe. A man riding a bike within a group of velociraptors or a giant water-based dinosaur jumping out of the sea are perfect, memorable images to contain within a two hour movie. It’s a shame that these highlights appeared in the trailer.
The Negotiator (1998)
On the one side we have Kevin Spacey, on the other Samuel L. Jackson. How will they resolve the conspiracy surrounding their tense interactions? Obviously they’ll team up at some point, so why not confirm that by including said detail in the trailer?
Free Willy (1993)
Will Willy, the trapped whale, ever be set free? Yes. See the trailer below for pretty much the entire movie condensed into a couple of minutes.
Bonus- the poster for Free Willy also gave away the ending;
To end this list let’s confirm that the practice of spoiling movies in the trailer is not a new phenomenom in the trailer for this wonderfully tense film from Hitchcock that, for some bizarre reason, included the ending. What was the decision behind this? Perhaps we are meant to be so intrigued by the ending we simply want to know how it all began?