Can Spoilers Really Spoil ‘The Avengers’?

As the wait for the superhero flick grows more agonizing, the age-old debate crops up again: to spoil or not to spoil?
By Josh Horowitz

Photo: Marvel

Over the weekend I was getting the shakes. And Tony Stark is to blame. I knew a whole bunch of folks had seen "The Avengers" last week (Los Angeles was host to its premiere last Wednesday) and, well, that wore on me. I don't know why. I'd get to see it myself soon enough. And frankly, seeing it without knowing whatever Easter eggs were planted would probably only add to my eventual enjoyment, right? But it gnawed on me. Since I have little to no will power, it only took me a few minutes of searching the interweb to get just about every plot point ruined forever. Do I have a problem? Is it a problem?

I'll say this to those who say they want any and all movie spoilers kept from them — fearing the house of cards will come crashing down if they know the kid can see dead people or whatever: Spoilers can't (or shouldn't) ruin a film. Any film that rests on a third-act twist and the surprise it causes just isn't all that great a film. Let me bring to mind another M. Night Shyamalan film, "Unbreakable," a movie that blew my mind with a third-act revelation the first time I saw it. Now that I know what's coming, does it make me love the movie any less? No.

Another case in point, let's journey back to 1983 and visit the 7-year-old version of me (shorter, that's about the only difference) reading the comic adaptation of "Return of the Jedi" (back before the Internet comics and novelizations were the best bet for the spoiler-minded). Yup, I was the guy who knew every twist in the culmination of the greatest saga of my youth before stepping into the theater. Did I enjoy the film at all less than I would have going in blind? I truly don't think so. My only regret actually is ruining the film for my brother in advance and that's just because he hit me really hard as a result.

Look, I know a lot of you disagree with me and trust me, we discuss spoilers an awful lot over here within the movies team at MTV. We know a lot of you want to enjoy a movie fresh without a third-act twist weighing on you throughout the flick. But we also live and breathe on breaking news, and if a certain A-list actor is going to appear in "21 Jump Street" (see, I'm being careful), it's hard to ignore that. That's news. So it's a bit of a conundrum we face every single day. It's probably the same for you if you're reading this. You want to know just enough, am I right? But some of you are like me and wouldn't mind knowing it all.

Lately I've been wondering if we've become a society that's more anxious for spoilers than ever. If I had to guess, the easy access to virtually any information on whatever mobile device is probably a big reason. Has the Ming dynasty come up in conversation again? Why, it'll just take you about 10 seconds to find out what century it began in (the 14th, duh). We're a culture that has now been conditioned to believe we can and should know anything. How much did "The Hunger Games" make in Nebraska last week? Hold on a second. I got that. How does Rihanna look on a beach when she's hanging with friends? No problemo. What happens at the end of "The Avengers"? What do you mean I can't know right now?

Secrets are hard to keep in 2012. Which is probably why films like "Prometheus" and "The Dark Knight Rises" are my two most anticipated flicks at the moment (and I know I'm not alone). Take the final installment in the Batman trilogy for example. Despite being shot out and about on the streets of several major cities, I'd guess the number of folks who actually know how Christopher Nolan's next film ends numbers in the dozens. OK, maybe a couple hundred. So I'm conflicted once again. I desperately want to know everything and yet I know it will be all the more satisfying to know nothing. Damn, I'm in the wrong business, aren't I?

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