Don’t Hulk out just because the movie played loose with its marketing.
THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR ‘AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR.’
Was Avengers: Infinity War everything you were dreaming it would be? You’ve seen it, right? Based on box office dollars, it seems like most of the world found their way to the theater this weekend. I saw it a couple of times myself. I devilishly enjoyed watching the sad parade of devastated humans shuffling out into the lobby post-post-credits scene.
I’m not here to spoil the plot points of the film, but if you’re one of the remaining few that haven’t had a chance to see the movie yet, and you’re looking to go in fresh, maybe come back to me at a later date. We need to talk about the trickery that went into selling this blockbuster behemoth. Starting with that first trailer released back in November of last year. “There was an idea…”
What the hell, man? Marvel Studios wanted to get our blood pumping for this massive crossover event. Punctuating their first trailer with a triumphant charge of heroes racing to meet Thanos head-on in combat. That’s the kind of heroic team-up we experienced in the previous Joss Whedon iterations, and we couldn’t wait to see it replicated on an even grander scale for Infinity War. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes kicking ass and taking names, or kicking names and taking ass.
That’s not how the Russo Brothers roll. Looking at Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War, these siblings are all about dragging their protagonists through the muck before allowing them their champion status. Given the reins of two (not one) of Marvel’s most treasured event movies, the Russos were never going to let this first encounter with Thanos end in a cathartic shawarma lunch.
But where the hell is The Hulk?
I see you Hulk!
False advertising for Infinity War or SPOILERS for Avengers 4? Hmmm pic.twitter.com/7bQ2nNKlUP
— David Musni (@DavidMusni) April 30, 2018
Seconds after the Thursday screening of Infinity War, I received multiple texts from friends asking me that very question. Not only did the trailer promise a climactic battle featuring our favorite big, green rage monster, it implied that our Avengers would meet the Mad Titan in glorious combat. That kinda happened. Just replace “glorious” with “futile.”
Scott Mendelson over at Forbes calls Infinity War “a triumph of false advertising.” He takes us back to that magical time in 2014 when Kevin Feige invited journalists to the El Capitan theater to unveil their Phase Three slate. That’s where they jokingly revealed Captain America 3 as The Serpent Society before pulling a “Gotcha!” with the actual Civil War branding. He reminds us that Avengers: Infinity War was originally sold as a two-parter. Mendelson takes Feige and the Russos to task for falsely conveying the third Avengers film as a complete entity.
Could the dissatisfaction some feel stumbling out of Infinity War have been alleviated if Marvel had been upfront with the cliffhanger ending? Does advertising the climactic presence of The Hulk only to keep Banner’s seemingly floating head trapped inside the Hulkbuster armor amount to false advertising? Why hide Doctor Strange’s levitating body on Titan with Peter Parker’s confused reaction shot?
Marvel has always been sneaky with their trailers. Early breakdowns of the Thor: Ragnarok teaser contained snippets of Odinson with both eyes wide open. A few extra bucks tossed at some effects house hid Thor’s ocular wound not only in the trailer but also in the Comic-Con footage shown months earlier. Our own Infinity War trailer breakdown paid particular attention to which Infinity Stones were contained in Thanos’s gauntlet. Turns out that didn’t matter because Marvel digitally masked their colors.
Speaking of Comic-Con, while Hawkeye was hidden away from most of the advertising surrounding the film, he did make a tiny appearance stuck between the Hulk and Bucky in Ryan Meinerding’s triptych illustration handed out to fans in San Diego (seen above). The Russo Brothers teased at “a long play” story involving the character, and that our patience will be rewarded eventually. At the very least, we thought Clint Barton would pop up in a post-credits stinger or something. Uh-uh. Meinerding did not need to bother penciling that poor chap in the corner.
Should we feel cheated? Personally, I’ve never been bothered by marketing misdirection. As much as I was anticipating some serious “Hulk Smash” in Wakanda, I ultimately appreciated the punishing climax we received at the hands of Thanos. Much of Infinity War was about withholding satisfaction and testing the nerves of the audience. Marvel has earned our trust with their track record, and they’re now happily testing our faith.
Would it have been more honest if Marvel had been upfront with the two-part story? Did the Russos lie to us when they insisted that Infinity War and Avengers 4 are two separate movies? Do you have a right to be frustrated?
We thought Infinity War was going to be the ultimate Avengers film. In actuality, the film exists to tell Thanos’s story. For him, there is a beginning, a middle, and an end. He is the character who gets the complete story. The Russos were not lying on that front.
Of course, you have the right to be frustrated. I totally get it. Infinity War is a brutal film if you love these characters as much as I do. We saw the Hulk in Wakanda and we were anticipating that action extravaganza. We can never trust a trailer again.
That’s a good thing. Why even bother with them? We’re going to shell out our cash for whatever they feed us, and as long as they deliver on the film itself we’ll keep coming back for more.