The Lie That Film Marketers Should Stop Telling Us
There’s a lot of major franchises being reinvented in this day and age from the classic Sherlock Holmes stories right up to modern hits like Jurassic Park. There’s a bit of a problem with this – actually there’s a number of things wrong with this – but one major stumbling block is keeping the viewers guessing. We already know Freddy Krueger’s spooky origin, we know the Planet of the Apes is Earth and we know Santa Claus isn’t real.
You didn’t know that last one? Shit…I mean, that was a test. You passed.
Some new films and ‘reboots’ have kept us guessing by switching things up. Changing the twist, or revealing a different killer. Other times they might simply modernise the original without changing the story. And sometime’s they’ll just bullshit us.
Cast your mind back to 2013, waiting for Star Trek Into Darkness to get released. We didn’t know much about the plot, but a lot of the marketing focused on the casting of break out star Benedict Cumberbatch as the villain. But who is he? He’s a severe, dangerous looking newcomer and there was much speculation about his identity. Some message boards latched onto on particular idea: Khan.
The villain of the second Star Trek motion picture is widely considered to be one of the best in the franchise, and fans wanted to see him return in the new version of the series. Except the studio was very quick to shut that one down, claiming that he is absolutely not Khan. It’s a new character. Many took that on face value because, well, why lie about it? We went of to see the film, and…
…it was Khan.
This felt a little deflating. If we didn’t suspect it was Khan then it’s a nice surprise. If you thought it was then we’d feel clever and settle in to enjoy the ride. But going in having been specifically told that it wasn’t Khan only to find out he is…that feels cheap and disappointing.
It happened again this year with Batman: Arkham Knight (for those actually capable of playing it). Early in the marketing they introduced the titular villain of the Arkham Knight. Who is this mysterious figure? What’s his connection to the dark knight? Theories were varied, and a popular one was Jason Todd. The second Robin was murdered by Joker but later returned as the Red Hood, a brutal paramilitary vigilante who challenged Batman at his own game. The game developers shut down this and any other theory with the claim that this was a completely original character.
Then, as the story wound on, they started including flashbacks concerning Jason Todd. Who did the Arkham Knight turn out to be?
Jason Todd. A character they said it absolutely wouldn’t be. Again, that deflating feeling.
Now we have Spectre, the latest James Bond adventure. There’s been hints of this since the Casino Royale reboot, that the evil organisation SPECTRE was pulling the strings behind the scenes. This was a prominent part of the franchise during the early years – most of the villains Bond faced in Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Thunderball and others were part of a global terrorist group led by the nefarious Blofeld. When this arch-for finally appeared in You Only Live Twice played by Donald Pleasance he cemented himself has a series icon.
With the newest film baring the title Spectre we suspected that Blofeld would be turning up to ruin Bond’s day. The trailers gave us a smirking Christoph Waltz playing a very Blofeld-esque role. But then…
Huh. I guess he’s not Blofeld. Even though he certainly looks like Blofeld, sitting there in Blofeld’s chair in the SPECTRE headquarters…
And he’s wearing a Blofeld style outfit…
Well, he must be someone totally different and not Blofeld. So who is he?
Oh, fuck you. You LIED to us.
Just like Khan and Jason Todd before him this revelation was disappointing simply because we were told we were getting something else. It wasn’t a case of shock and surprise because they’d done such a great job of leading us astray, just annoyance that they tried to kibosh the speculation. In all honesty they couldn’t kept their mouths shut and let the speculation continue and we would’ve been more satisfied. They could’ve told us it was Blofeld/Khan/Jason Todd in the marketing and we would’ve been fine with it. None of these particular cases were some grand twist – we saw it coming well before the reveals. They don’t qualify as spoilers either because it’s unconfirmed speculation.
This new marketing trend of flat out denying the obvious isn’t making the films, or the experience of watching them, any better. It’s breeding annoyance and leaving film-goers unsatisfied. In short, make this the last one. Stop telling these stupid lies.