5 Ridiculous Ways Studios Spoiled Their Own Movies
(Warning: The following article contains movie spoilers. Then again, if you really need to be told that an article about movie spoilers contains movie spoilers, you kinda deserve to have these films ruined for you. So forget what I just said. There aren't any spoilers in this article. In fact, there's ... candy in it? Yeah, candy! So be sure to read the whole thing carefully or else you might miss it!)
You like movies, I like movies. Now that we've established that, let's talk about the two things we hate about movies: spoilers and the muppets who like to ruin movies for other people because they think it will make their fathers love them again. But what happens when the muppets are the giant Hollywood studios themselves? Well, then you get the following five stories about the stupidest ways companies spoiled their own movies.
The Phantom Menace Soundtrack Gave Away a Main Character's Death
When Star Wars Episode I was announced in the early '90s, people went nuts. One of the most popular and iconic movie franchises of all time was being brought back to the big screen by a director who was still sort of respected because people had no idea what he planned to do with one of the most popular and iconic movie franchises of all time. But what we did know about the new trilogy got us really excited, like that it'd be all about Darth Vader and a young Obi-Wan, plus a totally new character named Qui-Gon Jinn played by Liam Neeson, the highly acclaimed dramatic actor from Schindler's List.
Imagine that you're a typical Star Wars fan rocking to the Phantom Menace soundtrack that was released two weeks before the film's premiere. You listen to each song and try to imagine how it will fit into the movie. "Anakin's Theme" is soft and a little sad -- a great choice for a child character destined to become an evil cyborg samurai. "Jar Jar's Introduction" is a bit goofy -- clearly this Jar Jar, whoever he is, will be the movie's lovable comic relief, the C-3PO of the modern age!
Then you come across "Anakin Defeats Sebulba" and try to push away the thoughts that the title just ruined an important plot point for you. Come on, you tell yourself, who can really know what any of these tracks will mean in the context of the movie, like with "Sebulba," or this other track titled "Qui-Gon's Noble End" OH UP YOURS, SOUNDTRACK! How could that title be interpreted as anything but a gigantic spoiler giving away Qui-Gon's death? It couldn't, but just to make sure, the track right after it is called "The High Council Meeting and Qui-Gon's Funeral," presumably because "Neeson Dies, You Can Go Screw a Bantha" was deemed a little too on the nose.
The Iron Man 3 LEGO Set Revealed the Movie's True Villain
The thing that set Iron Man 3 apart from the previous two movies was that it ended with Tony Stark battling not another mecha suit, but rather an army of super soldiers with healing factors that made Wolverine's powers look like stage 4 leukemia. It was pretty cool.
True, the long-awaited Mandarin played by Ben Kingsley turned out to be a fraud controlled by Guy Pearce's Aldrich Killian character (himself secretly a super soldier), but the whole reveal was so genuinely surprising that most people didn't have a problem with it ... at least those of us who hadn't seen it coming thanks to a LEGO box set.
The LEGO set above (pictures of which were released two months before the premiere of Iron Man 3) shows a scene from the movie where the Mandarin attacks Tony's house in a helicopter piloted by an "Extremis Soldier," who looks normal at the bottom of the box, but furiously hungover and constipated on the box art itself. Even if you hadn't read the Extremis story arc on which the movie was loosely based, the TV spots had already established by then that the movie would feature characters with superpowers, and the Extremis Soldier guy was obviously what they would look like.
So when another LEGO box set showed Dr. Killian driving a speedboat while looking furiously hungover and constipated, it sort of revealed that there's more to Guy Pearce than meets the bloodshot, glowing eye.
Seeing the two LEGO sets next to each other made it abundantly clear that whatever was happening to the Extremis Soldier character was happening to Guy Pearce's character, a fact that does not become clear in the movie until the last third. Now, this was a pretty big spoiler for not only casual viewers, but also comic book fans, because in the Extremis comic book, Aldrich Killian does exactly two things: kill himself and squat.
To LEGO's credit, most of its sets did put almost all of the emphasis on the Mandarin, so fans could have simply assumed that the LEGO set didn't mean anything. It's not like anyone could have predicted that Marvel would tease us with the Mandarin and then yank the rug from under our feet and laugh at us for daring to want to see Tony Stark's greatest archnemesis that isn't a bottle of whiskey.
A Disney Mug Spoiled the Identity of the Wicked Witch of the West
The 2013 movie Oz the Great and Powerful was Disney's way of introducing The Wizard of Oz to a new generation of fans by having absolutely nothing to do with the original L. Frank Baum books. It was mainly a story about how falling in love with James Franco can make a person go crazy.
The movie did have one thing going for it, though: It promised to show us the origin of the Wicked Witch of the West, the iconic green-skinned sorceress who never bathed despite living with an army of flying monkeys.
There were three characters in the movie who could have become the Wicked Witch: Rachel Weisz' Evanora, Mila Kunis' Theodora, and Michelle Williams' Glinda, with Kunis being the least likely suspect because her character was portrayed as so doe-eyed in the trailers, she should have been named "Bambi." Even in their press releases, Disney described her as a "naive witch protected by her powerful sister Evanora." This was of course meant to be a clever ploy to throw you off track and shock the audience when it turned out that, a-yup, Theodora is the one who becomes the Wicked Witch of the West. A clever ploy indeed, if Disney hadn't given it away via an official Oz mug released months before the movie.
Yes, that's Kunis' Theodora adorning a mug clearly marked "Wicked Witch of the West" and ruining what Disney had been treating like a pretty big secret up until then. It's not like fans of the books would know that Theodora was destined to become Triple-W, because she doesn't exist in any of the, oh, 50 or so Oz books out there.
So, really, if you were a fan hoping to be surprised even a little bit by the origin of an iconic movie villain, the officially released Disney mug basically told you to crap inside it and eat it, valued consumer.
The Opening Narration to Dark City Blatantly Told the Audience the Movie's Plot Twist
Dark City is the original high-concept, ambitious movie that critics literally want to have sex with but that the audiences only see as a friend. It starts off as a neo-noir thriller, but as it progresses it reveals itself to actually be a philosophical sci-fi movie about a dying alien race that can reshape reality and is studying the nature of human individuality as a possible means to the survival of their species ...
... except you aren't supposed to know about the aliens (called the Strangers) until late into the movie. Before then, Dark City plays like a stylistic murder mystery about an amnesiac who thinks he's being framed for killing a bunch of people, and it's precisely that foundation of reality that makes the subsequent sci-fi reveal so powerful and memorable. Someone should really have told the studio that and stopped them from imposing an opening narration on the movie that immediately told everyone about the aliens:
" First there was darkness. Then came the Strangers. They were a race as old as time itself. They had mastered the ultimate technology: the ability to alter physical reality by will alone. They called this ability "Tuning." But they were dying. Their civilization was in decline, and so they abandoned their world, seeking a cure for their own mortality."
The narration (which was included in the movie because the initial test audiences were confused by the plot) is removed in the director's cut, but if you saw Dark City in cinemas or standard releases, you mostly knew what to expect from it in the first few minutes. Suddenly the protagonist's confusion over the events that were unfolding around him was no longer shared by the viewers because the movie just told us that, in this world, there are aliens who can change reality. Hell, the main character could suddenly switch races or become an anthropomorphized turnip, and you still wouldn't bat an eye because reality-shaping aliens!
What happened to Dark City was like taking Morpheus' exposition about humans living inside a computer, putting it at the beginning of The Matrix, and then asking the audience to still act surprised when horrible stuff starts happening to Keanu Reeves. And once you know none of that stuff is "real," seeing him suffer suddenly isn't as fun to watch anymore.
Plenty of Movies Have Given Away Their Ending on the Poster
I'll be the first to admit that I know nothing about art and design. But for all my inexperience, I know I would never design a movie poster centered on the film's surprise ending, because that would be really, really stupid. So imagine my surprise when I found out that my stance on not spoiling the movie on a piece of paper specifically meant to be seen by thousands of people is actually considered almost revolutionary in the design community.
Forget that you've seen the original Planet of the Apes movie. What would you think it was about if you'd seen this poster?
Something about apes taking over the Earth? Humans getting turned into apes? Definitely something about humans, the Earth, and apes. And there's your problem, because as you're probably aware, the ending of Planet of the Apes, where Charlton Heston discovers that he's been on Earth all along and won't actually be sexing up aliens, is one of the most famous plot twists in movie history, but you wouldn't know it by looking at this poster. You can't even blame this on the poster focusing on an iconic scene from the book the movie was based on, like with this poster for the 2013 Carrie remake that clearly shows Carrie wearing a prom dress while covered in blood.
This spoilerific poster, however, can actually be forgiven here because most people still remember the original story where the main character gets pig blood dumped on her during prom and uses her telekinesis on the school to color-match the walls with her dress. The Planet of the Apes book, on the other hand, had a completely different ending from the movie, which was then given away right there on the poster, similarly to some of these Ender's Game promotional materials:
Again, let's say you've never read any of the Ender books. Look at these posters of a character leading some kind of space attack, and the tagline "This is not a game." Now, if you went into the movie and saw that it revolves around a young boy supposedly taking part in a war simulation against an alien invader, would it really take you long to figure out that the "simulation" was actually real, and that he was in fact leading a real army against a real space invader? Because that is precisely what happens in the novel near the very end, with the explicit purpose of making you put the book down, look into the distance, and go oooof...
The same goes for Rocky IV and its poster, which clearly shows a victorious Rocky after he'd assumingly beaten the Soviet super boxer Drago.
It was such a weird choice for a poster because not only did it remove any possible suspense from the movie, it was also so over-the-top patriotic that you'd think Rocky IV ended with Stallone beating Drago, winning the Cold War, and then annexing the USSR as America's 51st state.