Yesterday, a brand new trailer for the Matt Damon sci-fi mystery The Martian cropped up online, and its ruffled the feathers of sci-fi fans for all the wrong reasons.
Of course, if you’ve already read the Andy Weir book that the movie is based on, then you’re going to have a pretty clear idea of what’s going to happen going in to this movie. That just goes with the territory.
But a lot of people haven’t and want to be shocked and amazed at what was unfolding on the screen before their eyes. Which is why many are up in arms that this trailer and the one released a few weeks ago allow them to put two and two together to make SPOILERS.
It’s a trend that we’ve seen a worrying amount of recently – trailers giving away key plot points months in advance of their film’s release – and it’s got to the point where people are genuinely skeptical of them. We’ve overheard many people outlining their plans to actively avoid watching the trailers of films they would otherwise be exceptionally hyped about, and we ourselves have gone out of way to avoid seeing too much of the new Star Wars film.
Surprisingly, it’s something that’s been happening for a good few years now, and as long as film’s trailers are cut by companies separate from the production teams, it would seem there’s not much sign of it stopping.
NB: We’ve no shame in spoiling the following 12 films, because the trailers did it first! Though we will leave the films from this year to the bottom. We know how contentious an issue spoilers can be.
The Avengers (2012)
You’re sitting there watching the climatic finale to Marvel’s ensemble super-hero smash when it all comes to a head: Iron Man, having flown a bomb on a one way trip through a portal into uncharted space, is hurtling towards Earth, his suit depleted of energy from the momentous effort he’s just exerted. Oh, my God. He’s going to die. IRON MAN IS GOING TO DIE!!
Then you remember. Oh yeah, this was the bit in the trailer where Hulk caught him and cushioned his fall with his oversized green body. No problem.
Free Willy (1993)
Free Willy. FREE Willy. Will Willy ever be FREE?!
Well, if he’s isn’t, then calling your film “Free” Willy would be a colossal waste of time. But if you really want to let parents know that taking their kids to see this perennial VHS collection classic isn’t going to leave them a disappointed husk weeping at the thought of the cruel life stretching out before them, then you could always stick the climatic final shot of Willy jumping the sea wall in the trailer. Put it on the posters too if you really want to ram it home that WILLY GOES FREE!
Cast Away (2000)
Tom Hanks is trapped on a desert island. He’s grown a massive beard and looks a bit of a scruff, so he must’ve been on there aaages. And he’s gone a bit mad and made friends with a face painted on a football.
Will he ever get off the island, and reunite with his estranged girlfriend, Kelly Frears? Well, yes actually he will, and the trailer makes that abundantly clear.
In Speed, Dennis Hopper’s disgruntled ex-cop holds a bus full of commuters hostage by planting a bomb on the underside of their vehicle and threatening to detonate it if it drops below 50 miles per hour. Cue Keanu Reeves flexing his pecs as he’s put through his improvisational paces in one of the finest action thrillers of the 90s. Will he defuse the bomb, or will Sandra Bullock jeopardise the whole thing by braking as a cat runs out into the road or something?
Whatever happens, it’d be a huge shame if the trailer showed a shot of the hostages looking on from a safe distance as the bus explodes wouldn’t it? Oh…
Terminator: Slavation (2009)
What is it with the Terminator films wanting to spoil all of their finer plot points in the trailer? In 2009’s Christian Bale and Sam Worthington starring movie, John Connor leads a strike against an experimental SkyNet facility in the post-Judgment Day war where a new model of Terminator is being created: one with live human tissue covering its cybernetic endoskeleton.
Wouldn’t it be a shock if the one of the human test subjects he manages to set free turned out to actually be one of these Terminators? It’s just a hunch…
The Island (2005)
The Island is a film that relies on its mystery. It wants you to ask questions, and it wants you to be genuinely shocked when the characters on screen uncover the answers to said questions. It all sounds quite exciting doesn’t it?
Except when you realise that most of the answers (Ewan McGregor and Scarlet Johansson’s characters are cloned “products”, harvested on a sinister island in order to extend the lifespan of wealthy types who want to take their immaculate organs… and we really did get all this from the trailer) it seems a little less suspenseful.
In this thinky, low-key (relatively speaking) sci-fi film, Tom Cruise plays a defender of geo-thermal resources on a post-apocalyptic Earth. He defends these resources for the Tet, a large space station that will one day ship the survivors off for a new start on one of Saturn’s moons, against so-called ‘Skavs’ (not the undesirables that blast music from their phones down the local park, but remnants of the invasion that the planet’s downfall in the first place). Or so he thinks.
Turn out they’re all just human after all, only the Skavs are wise to the lies of the Tet, which is actually the real alien threat at play. Oh, are we spoiling the whole “the Skavs are humans” thing for you? Good job you didn’t watch the trailer then.
Double Jeopardy (1999)
Double Jeopardy centres on a woman hunting down her very much alive ex-husband after being falsely imprisoned for his murder. Oh come on, that’s not a spoiler! You should know what ‘Double Jeopardy’ means from the many thrilling TV and film crime dramas that have used it as a plot device.
But do you know what is a spoiler? The trailer, which outlines many of the films twists and turns in surprising detail.
Terminator: Genisys (2015)
This year’s return to the Terminator franchise was a little disappointing for fans to say the least, even with Arnie himself indeed being back. What made it all the more disappointing, was the fact that the biggest plot twist the film had going for it was spoiled in the trailers.
John Connor, perpetual focal point of the Terminator universe and hero “we both need and deserve”, has been the main protagonist of the films throughout their 30-year history, so revealing him to be an evil T-3000 machine in this year’s entry would be a shocking turn of events. Right?
Wrong. With the film second official trailer everything was ruined when Connor is shot by Schwarzenegger and heals from the wounds. The same trailer then ended with Connor walking through fire like it’s nothing, and casually undergoing a complete metamorphosis as a brand new Terminator.
This one’s not so much a huge story spoiler, as something that’s likely to spoil a certain surprise for all the comic book fanboys out there, who really do love their references and cameos. At one point during the admittedly fun Marvel production, Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man must sneak into the Avengers’ HQ to steal a piece of equipment of some kind (it doesn’t really matter).
What he fails to plan for is Anthony Mackie’s Falcon guarding the facility, and the ensuing confrontation is one of the sillier highlights of the film. Well, it would’ve been had the below TV spot not given away the moment entirely.
The Double (2011)
To finish, we’ll leave this one in your own capable minds. A film about espionage, conspiracy and deception should be rife with twists and turns.
Instead, watch the trailer for this Richard Gere movie and the only surprise will be how few times it takes Gere to repeat “Because… he’s dead!” before you work out the big plot twist.