And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth's mightiest heroes and heroines found themselves united against a common threat. On that day, the Avengers were... deleted? Yes. The copy of the film being used for a screening last week was accidentally wiped from the server, and delayed a room full of angry nerds (and film critics) from seeing the Avengers assembled. But how does something like that even happen?

As it turns out, it's surprisingly easy to delete a digital film:

Slate asked Steve Kraus, whom Roger Ebert has called one of "the best projectionists in the nation." Kraus told us that it's as easy as deleting any important file from your computer. "It's click to delete from the server and an ‘Are you sure?' confirmation," he explained over email.


Thankfully, the issue was eventually resolved. But it set off a debate over the digital cinema packages that are replacing old fashioned film reels. Without the move to digital, the reasoning goes, you wouldn't be able to delete the movie you are supposed to be showing. That's a lot of headache for a process that's supposed to be as "easy as creating a playlist and pressing play," and that costs up to $150,000 per screen to install.

And all that is true. But traditional film has its drawbacks, too; it's easy enough to say, drop the reel and ruin the film, play the wrong reel, light the reel on fire with a flamethrower, or ruin the film in any number of other idiotic ways that are analogous to deleting it. Idiocy works just as well in analog as it does in digital.

Just keep reminding yourself of that the next time some slack-jawed teen wipes your local theater's only copy of Prometheus this summer. [Slate]