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The Case Against Watching Trailers

Trailers have dropped for Deadpool, Venom, Infinity War, Solo, and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, over the past few weeks and I haven’t seen any of them. 2018 is the year I’ve decided to stop watching movie trailers. Black Panther came out recently and I only saw the trailer before The Last Jedi. Luckily, they didn’t show the Infinity War trailer before Black Panther.

I love trailers as much as everyone else. I love getting excited about a movie I’ve waited months to see. But recently I’ve wanted to be surprised by movies more than anything else. I’m also avoiding all related articles leading up to a movie’s release. I don’t want to read articles by people combing through IMDB sites for nuggets of information. I don’t want to know what happened in the comic book storyline. In fact, I don’t’ want to know anything. I’m going to see the next Star Wars or Marvel movie regardless (but I still wait for the DC review scores), so why not save the surprise for the big screen?

I hadn’t considered avoiding trailers before Chico and Benhameen’s discussion on the podcast. If anything, the trailer only spoils the best parts of the movie. If you follow the film studio on Twitter or Facebook, you often get extended preview scenes as well. And watching the best parts of a movie on a phone instead of in the theater could easily make the difference between enjoying a mediocre film and being bored by one and liking or loving a movie.

Over the past few years there have been several movie-going experiences that changed my mind about watching trailers:

  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – This movie wasn’t great. But I showed my kids the Hulkbuster fight scene on a tiny Facebook viewing window on my laptop. That was probably the best part of the movie.
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) – I took my parents to see this and I still remember the squeal of joy my mother made when Harrison Ford came on screen and said, “Chewie, we’re home.” I think the telenovela channel was the only channel where Disney didn’t advertise the Force Awakens. My mom was likely the only person on Earth who didn’t know Han Solo was back. (Imagine being able to collectively experience that moment in a theatre.)
  • Captain America: Civil War (2016) – Spider Man’s appearance in the MCU was a big deal, so this was teased at in the previews, but what wasn’t shown in any of the trailers was Ant-Man turning into Giant Man. Spider-Man’s ‘Holy shit!’ reaction encapsulated the audience’s response. No one knew and it was delightful.
  • Justice League (2017) – I like Ezra Miller and I wished this movie was better. A lot of the humor in this movie fell flat and much of it was shown in the trailers. But there is one perfect scene that was never in the trailers and is the best part of the movie. Superman comes back (obviously) but he’s lost his memory and he briefly fights the other members of the Justice League. In a slow-motion scene, The Flash takes off to flank Superman and Superman turns his head and locks eyes with The Flash and Ezra Miller’s ‘Oh shit’ face perfectly captures the speed and power of the superheroes in a moment of levity the rest of the movie was missing.
  • My Neighbor Totoro (1988) – I took my daughter to this when a Canadian movie chain held a Studio Ghibli retrospective. I had no idea what this film was about and it was one of the most wonderful movie experiences I’ve ever had.

I’m going to try to go into a movie as fresh as possible instead of trying to piece together a two-hour film culled from trailers, extended clips and analysis articles. Black Panther was absolutely amazing. It’s a movie I wouldn’t have enjoyed any less if I had seen the trailer a dozen times. But I’m still sticking with my plan for now and I’ll see how that plays out over the coming year.