how marvel tricked the internet to make mcu better: loki

Marvel Studios

I think it goes without saying at this point, but I still feel like it needs to be said over and over because of how goddamn impressive it is: MARVEL KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT THEY'RE DOING. They've thought it all through, they see all the angles - they know how the internet will dissect every last detail, how closely everyone's paying attention to even the smallest reveal. They're a lot like Loki - who knows exactly what illusion to show to others to get them into the position he wants them in.

And they used their powers to their fullest extremes when marketing Infinity War. After all, it was the most important film in the MCU - if you aren't gonna whip out your best guns for that, what's the point?

Bravo, Kevin Feige. You played everyone REAL good. And best of all, you did it for an amazing reason - to prevent the internet from spoiling itself.



The Mysterious Back and Forth of Thor's Eyepatch (and the Benefits of Gaslighting Your Audience)

how marvel tricked the internet to make mcu better

Marvel Studios

Take a look at that picture above this - you may recongize the scene pretty readily. It's Thor working to fix the mechanisms of Nidavellir so that the forge can be restarted so his pal Big Tyrion can make him a real cool axe. Except something's wrong with that photo - Thor has his eyepatch. But at this point in the film, Thor had been gifted a replacement eye by Sweet Rabbit...and doesn't ACTUALLY have an eyepatch in the final film:

how marvel tricked the internet to make mcu better: thor

Marvel Studios

And the saga of Thor's missing eye goes even deeper - just look back to Marvel's earliest sneak peek at Infinity War at San Diego Comic Con 2017. The important thing to remember is that this was BEFORE Thor: Ragnarok's release, so no one had any clue that Thor would be losing an eye or anything like that:

how marvel tricked the internet to make mcu better: thor eye patch

how marvel tricked the internet to make mcu better: thor eye patch

See that? All of the early scenes involving Thor being found by the Guardians (where he DOES have an eyepatch) were CGI'd to make it look like he had both of his eyes intact....and then corrected after Thor: Ragnarok DID come out and let everyone in on the secret that Thor would be down one eye for a while....

...while at the same time, editing scenes LATER ON in the film to make it look like he still has only one eye when in fact he has two.

It's confusing, but that's how Marvel works.

how marvel tricked the internet to make mcu better: thor eye patch

Marvel Studios

This might seem like a minor point of contention (the arc of Thor Having An Eyepatch is ultimately not very meaningful - screentime-wise, he really only has an eyepatch in the final few minutes of Ragnarok and about 10 minutes of Infinity War), but it's key to Marvel's thinking: they want to keep us guessing and in the dark. If they're willing to alter scenes for plot points as minor as "Thor getting a new eye that was up Rocket's butthole", virtually ANY piece of marketing could be potentially misleading.

It's brilliant - they've used the concept of gaslighting in as positive of a way as I've ever seen a major media company do. They've laid the seeds of doubt in my mind - and now ANYTHING'S possible.

For further evidence towards this, check out the below still from the end of the first Infinity War trailer, showing the Guardians of the Galaxy all bidding adieu to an unseen figure:

how marvel tricked the internet to make mcu better: guardians of the galaxy misdirect

Marvel Studios

See that? That's ALL of the Guardians...except, in the actual scene, Rocket and Groot were already loaded up onto the smaller transportation pod, so the actual scene was a little less crowded:

how marvel tricked the internet to make mcu better: guardians of the galaxy misdirect

Marvel Studios

Rocket and Groot were CGI'd in just to mislead people...about THAT ONE SCENE. Because - well before the movie actually came out - it became pretty clear in other trailers that Rocket and Groot were leaving with Thor on a separate mission. But - for whatever reason - Marvel didn't want this to reveal the truth behind this one brief shot (at least, as of the first trailer).




Hiding the Important Stuff

Not that ALL the misleads were meaningless little weird choices designed to make people cast doubt on the details in future MCU projects - a good number of specifically-designed adjustments and edits were included to actually hide plot points - particularly how many Infinity Stones Thanos has collected at various points in the film, and in what order he has collected them:

how marvel tricked the internet to make mcu better: thanos

Marvel Studios

The only stones ANY of the marketing materials shown prior to the film's full release ever displayed were the Power and Space Stones. That's all Marvel would ever fess up to - likely because it made the most sense for Thanos to first grab the Power Stone first (given the abilities and strength it would allow him, and the fact it was being guarded by a bunch of tertiary characters the audience didn't actually care about), with the Space Stone being an obvious second based on the ending to Thor: Ragnarok. But beyond that? Marvel didn't want us to know - by the time Thanos arrives on Titan, he has FOUR STONES: Power, Space, Reality, and Soul.

how marvel tricked the internet to make mcu better: thanos

Marvel Studios

It's the same in a late shot in the 2nd trailer - with Cap grappling with Thanos' gauntlet'd hand, and clearly only two stones are visible:

how marvel tricked the internet to make mcu better: captain america grappling with gauntlet hand

Marvel Studios

By the time he's at Wakanda, he's got FIVE (added Time to his collection), but again...only two were shown. This was a smart move - it prevented perceptive viewers from figuring out where the various plot threads fell in the story, what order Thanos was going in, and whether he would even COME CLOSE to getting all of the stones in this film. However, it did also downplay how UNBELIEVABLY BADASS Cap was being in grappling against him in that moment. Cap fighting back against TWO Infinity Stones would be impressive enough - but he was ACTUALLY fighting against FIVE:

how marvel tricked the internet to make mcu better: captain america grappling with gauntlet hand

Marvel Studios




The Art of Straight-Up Lies To Make The Finale Hit Even Harder

Then, of course, comes down to the REAL devious stuff - the things made-up WHOLESALE just to fool people and give false expectations. And wouldn't ya know it - most of them were centered around the Hulk.

AKA the true Strongest Avenger...and how he was SUPPOSED to emerge in the battle of Wakanda.

how marvel tricked the internet to make mcu better

Marvel Studios

There it was - the big hero shot of the first Infinity War trailer. The Wakanda crew all running together in tight formation towards an unseen enemy in dramatic fashion. And bringing up the rear is none other than the Hulk himself. Of course, throughout the actual film, we're waiting and waiting for Hulk to FINALLY make his grand re-entrance after getting schooled by Thanos in the opening scene. But every time Banner tries to bring him out...he pushes back. He says "no."

I had the above image in the back of mind while watching the film - "Well, I know Hulk finally comes out in Wakanda. When the Wakanda battle feels all but lost, that's when Banner will finally turn into the Hulk and the tide of the fight will shift. That's what HAS to happen - it's the only way anything makes any sense!"

I was wrong, obviously - the tide DOES turn in the Wakanda battle, but because of the sudden (and INCREDIBLE) arrival of Thor 'n pals, bringing with them the hot new battleaxe Stormbreaker. The thing is...nothing in the marketing materials indicated Thor would be showing up at Wakanda at all, so I was fixated on Hulk. It's the classic magicians' trick - keep the audience looking at one hand, so you can pull off your trick with the other. Distract them from what you're REALLY up to so they'll be amazed when you reveal it.

And Marvel didn't stop at just that incredibly iconic faux-shot from the trailer (nothing even RESEMBLING that shot appears in the film) - they even went so far as to drop a not-so-subtle faux-hint in the film's Funko Pop release:

how marvel tricked the internet to make mcu better: hulk funko-pop

Funko

The implication of that Funko Pop is obvious - Banner operates the Hulkbuster armor since he can't get Hulk to come out, but eventually he's pushed to the edge and Hulk bursts out of the armor in dramatic fashion. But that didn't happen. Not even close.

Here's the thing - why was this so important? Why was THIS the thing they went so deep on, the lie that they even pushed into MERCHANDISING? The answer is pretty simple - to up the dramatic stakes in the theater significantly.

If you KNOW for certain that Hulk does emerge in Wakanda, you'll be waiting for it the entire time. Even when it seems like all is lost - that Thanos is definitely going to win, that he's taken the Mind Stone...you KNOW Hulk will burst out and take his revenge. After all, the film opened with Hulk getting his ass handed to him by Thanos. Wouldn't it be appropriate for Hulk to finally attempt to reclaim his honor at the very end? You've seen the marketing materials, so you know Hulk's arrival is just a matter of time.

Even in those last moments, when the full power of the Infinity Gauntlet radiates through Thanos. You know - it HAS to happen. Hulk HAS to arrive...

And then he doesn't. Instead, Thor does!

And even though you knew Thor was there (although you could be forgiven for forgetting a bit, since it's unclear what Thor was up to while the rest of the Avengers were helplessly flinging themselves at the Mad Titan), you're still shocked he's the one coming out of nowhere to potentially stop Thanos at the last minute. Because...that means there's no Hulk.

Right up until the very last minute, you were fooled. You were shocked. And all it took was a single shot in a trailer and a Funko Pop.

Well done, Marvel.




Some Caveats...

There were other important little details too that could have constituted genuine spoilers - like the fact that Spider-Man's upgraded Spider-suit had the additional legs from his Iron-Spider suit in Civil War (the comic event, not the basically unrelated movie):

how marvel tricked the internet to make mcu better: iron-spider-suit foreshadowing

Marvel Studios

how marvel tricked the internet to make mcu better: iron-spider-suit foreshadowing

Marvel Studios

But things like this COULD have just constituted examples of special effects not being complete yet (Mantis is also not yet inserted into the version of this scene from the 2nd trailer). There are PLENTY of examples of incomplete special effects in trailers, which is both not that interesting and very misleading as to the intent of Marvel. There are also a number of deleted scenes that seem to suggest more (Nat, Bruce, and Rhodey all looking up into the sky; Thor holding up Stormbreaker at Nidavellir, except clearly Stormbreaker has been edited out for some reason; etc).

how marvel tricked the internet to make mcu better: thor

Marvel Studios

The point that's more interesting is where Marvel did MORE work and took MORE care in these early pieces of marketing to keep internet detectives from being able to piece together a full vision of the most important film in the MCU canon to date. They knew this one was going to be special, and they did their best to keep the internet from spoiling itself.

And for that, I thank you Kevin Feige. I'll never wholly trust another Marvel trailer or Funko Pop again, but that's probably for the best.