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Pop Culture Corner: Protecting spoilers has gotten out of hand

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Most spoilers just aren’t a big deal

Tom Holland attends Sony Pictures’ “Spider-Man: No Way Home” Los Angeles Premiere on December 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
Tom Holland attends Sony Pictures’ “Spider-Man: No Way Home” Los Angeles Premiere on December 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Way back in August and September of 2020, rumors began flying that Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield would reprise their roles as Spider-Men (Spider-Mans?) from their respective Spider-Movies in the new Spider-Man: No Way Home film, which is enjoying its worldwide release this very day. The rumor was pretty awesome: three live action Spider-Men? It seemed to be taking a page out of Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, which is not only the best Spider-Man movie but also the best superhero movie of all time. Fight me.

The persistence of these rumors was unusually strong, and when we got confirmation of other characters from the Maguire/Garfield films (Doctor Octavius, Green Goblin, and Electro), well, it seemed set in stone that it was going to happen.

Except!!! Except. Except everyone involve swore up and down that, nooooo, Maguire and Garfield wouldn’t be in the films, including both Garfield and Tom Holland, the current Spider-Man.

Listen, I’m not in the film. I love Spider-Man, I always have, and I’m so happy to have played the part… I love Tom Holland, I love [director] Jon Watts, I love [producers] Amy Pascal and Kevin Feige, and what they’ve done with those movies and that character ... It’s an important character to me. So I’m just really excited to see what happens in the third one, as you guys are.” - Andrew Garfield

No, no, they will not be appearing in this film. - Tom Holland, about Garfield and Maguire

I have not seen the film. I do not know this is the case. But, come on. This is totally the case. I know it because I have eyes, and because the film gave it away in the official trailer. I mean, just look at this screenshot, with additional drawings by yours truly.

It’s obviously Spider-Men. Come on.

There are three villains in this picture. Two of them are completely ignoring Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. They are fighting something else, something else that is either offscreen or digitally removed. There is, of course, a nonzero chance they are fighting some secret Avenger that Marvel didn’t want anybody to know was going to be in the film. But Occam’s Razor suggests that, ya know, it’s probably the other two Spider-Men who are toootally not in the film but, considering all the other evidence, are almost certainly in the film.

And all this...for what? What does anybody gain from this charade? If they are in the film, everyone’s going to know real quick. Chances are decent, by the time you’re reading this, you know for sure one way or another. Furthermore, no one is ever going to believe any Marvel denial ever again. And if they aren’t, well, everyone is going to be hugely disappointed. But—again—I would bet serious money they’re in it. There’s so much smoke that there is obviously a fire, and we’ve even seen burnt wood at this point, too.

For the uninitiated, a spoiler is when you are told or learn of a plot point or even in a creative work ahead of time. You can learn a spoiler yourself, but of course it can be spoiled for you.

Being spoiled, of course, is not ideal if it’s not your idea. You only get one chance to experience a creative work without knowing what is inside said creative work. But here’s the thing—getting spoiled doesn’t ruin your experience as much as you think. According to actual scientific research done in the field of psychology, spoiling creative works for people actually helps them enjoy it more. This is the case for a variety of reasons, but anybody who has a favorite movie knows that you don’t enjoy that movie because you don’t know what happens in it. Rather, you love the movie because you know what happens in it.

This is doubly true when the spoiler at hand has so little to do with the overall work. In the case of the other Spider-Men, the “spoiler,” such as it is, involves whether or not they’ll appear at all. What a silly spoiler! It’s not even a plot point!

Look: it’s the courteous thing to not spoil something that just came out on social media, or in the real world water cooler for that matter. But there will be spoilers for things online, and going to such extreme lengths to prevent even basic information about a film—information that would help sell the film—is too much. I know what happens when I turn on The Lord of the Rings. But I love it more than when I first watched it. Spoilers aren’t the bad guys we think they are.