How Much Spoiler Is Too Much Spoiler? Spoilers Ahead...
WARNING: mild spoilers for Spider-Man: Homecoming (a movie I haven’t seen yet), 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man (a movie I barely remember), and an article posted this morning on Vulture. Read on at your own risk!
You still here? Cool. So I checked Vulture this morning, as I typically do while I sip my coffee and try to figure out whether there is any interesting Nic Cage news out there for me to write about, and I saw this article (again, spoiler!) which caught my eye. On the surface it’s no big deal. Apparently there is some subtle little reference to The Amazing Spider-Man hidden away in the new Spider-Man: Homecoming. Something involving branzino? Granted, that movie has only been out for like a day so admittedly it’s not like EVERYONE would have seen it by now. The new one, not the old one. What is this, the Clone Saga? Ha! Comics joke!
(Uh, spoiler alert: In the Spidey comics there was a Clone Saga storyline.)
So anyway, I opened and read the article because a) I was pretty sure a callback to another Spider-Man film/timeline/universe wasn’t going to be a major plot spoiler, b) sometimes I like to have a heads up on those little details that are easy to miss on a first viewing, and c) I doubted I was going to rewatch The Amazing Spider-Man anytime soon so why not get a little help? Hell, in my own review of The Mummy I pointed out a similar (and similarly minor) callback to the Brendan Fraser Mummy movie.
But then I read the comments. There were two of them. Both complaining about there being spoilers in the headlines for articles about a movie that was just released the night before. So I looked back at the headline, which just asks if you caught the shout-out. So the spoiler is that there was a shout-out? Frankly I’d be more upset about the actual web address for the article, which clearly states “branzino” (which, again, is apparently something worthy of shouting out but I don’t remember at all).
I know a lot has been said about spoilers on things that have been out for years (those are fine — it’s on you to catch up) or spoilers on big plot details in newer things (writers should avoid them or give a good heads-up warning). In that same Mummy review I wrote, I also got taken to task in the comments for a spoiler that I plowed straight into after a quick yet bold parenthetical “(SPOILER ALERT)” — and deservedly so. I could have handled that better. Even though, if anything, the real spoiler would have been revealing that the character I said dies ends up not so dead (because duh, mummies).
I know people have to avoid Twitter and/or all of the internet on nights when a big TV episode is airing, because obviously conversations will be occurring.
And sure, I can see how having something spoiled in a headline could be a bummer because you don’t have the option to NOT click through. It’s just sitting there, taunting you, whether you want to read it or not.
I guess my question is: Is a shout-out ever spoiler-worthy? It’s not a cameo. It’s not a twist. Hell, maybe it wasn’t even meant to be a shout-out to anything! And more importantly, is just knowing there is a shout-out in and of itself a spoiler?
This is a genuine question, because I have no real frame of reference. I’m the asshole who reads recaps and reviews of everything, even if I plan to watch it within a few hours. I even read recaps of things I know I’ll never watch, just because I’m curious (looking at you, Riverdale). It’s not that I don’t like to be surprised, it’s just that sometimes I like to be able to appreciate how something is executed without constantly worrying about WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN?!?!?!?! I’m like Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally — I’ll totally read the last page of a book first.
So what do you think? How much spoiler is too much spoiler? How much is on the writers to censor, or on the readers to avoid? Should we just burn the internet down and go back to smoke signals? Is anyone really going to rewatch The Amazing Spider-Man?
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