The big release of the holiday season is undoubtedly Spider-Man: No Way Home. Sony and Marvel’s new cinematic outing has become both the third biggest global opener of all time and Sony’s biggest movie ever, with a $587.2 million box office at time of writing.
One element of its success could be its secrecy. Leading up to release, Sony and Marvel kindly insisted you keep your mouth shut about what goes on in No Way Home. They put out a video asking fans to not be That Guy and spoil things ahead of time for those who wouldn’t get to see the movie right away, and they released tips for keeping safe from things you may not want to learn. And Tom Hardy did the same for Venom: Let There Be Carnage.
When it comes to the MCU and its adjacent worlds, Marvel fails to show real consistency in what it chooses to hide or divulge. If you had a TV back in 2014, you probably saw a commercial for Captain America: The Winter Soldier that spoiled the emotional gut punch that Bucky is the titular cyborg assassin. But then Avengers: Endgame was cagey about its time travel undo plot, and even its own name, for ultimately no reason. Meanwhile Thor Ragnarok’s first trailer happily showed Mjolnir getting shattered to pieces and Hulk’s turn as a galactic gladiator. They’ll be overly secretive out one side of their mouth and loudly blare things out of the other... something poor Florence Pugh learned recently when she showed up in Hawkeye.
For Phase Four, Marvel has decided to provide just enough hints to allow viewers to draw some reasonable conclusions for what comes next. Black Widow is a prequel to Endgame, and spends half its runtime setting up Pugh’s Yelena Belova to take her big sister’s spy spot, so of course she’s gonna show up to kick Jeremy Renner’s ass. It was something of an open secret that WandaVision would tie into the next Doctor Strange movie, and everyone just assumed Strange himself would show up at some point.
Which brings us to No Way Home, and incidentally...
The marketing for Spider-Man: No Way Home has been focused on how the villains of past Spider-Man movies re-appear to ruin New York and Peter’s life. It isn’t too much of a leap (more of a walk across the street, really) to see how that could suggest that Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Men would also appear. That’s something Marvel wanted kept secret, but given how folks lost their minds for Into the Spider-Verse’s League of Amazing Spiders and how crossovers are so hot right now, it’s a mystery as to why. If anything, it’s something they would be smart to advertise: Come watch these three Spider-Men together on the big screen, for the first and probably only time!
None of this is to say that Marvel should just tweet out every single one of their movies and TV shows. They’ve a right to hype the movie as a must see theatrical experience however they see fit. But for all the hemming and hawing they’ve done to preserve the secrets connected to No Way Home and Endgame, those moments aren’t so much earth-shattering secrets so much as they are future marketing material. Give it a few more days, and scenes of the Spiders swinging together will be in ads declaring this “the #1 film in the world.” They’ve done it before.
At the very least, Disney and Sony? Put your stuff out at the exact same time for everyone, if it matters that much to you.
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