Since I write a column called “Spoiler Alert,” and sometimes the topics I write about may fall into spoiler territory, I feel like we need to have this talk and even though I don’t think there are spoilers here, just in case…
For people who may not know, my day job is working at a comic shop in Fairbanks. A blessing (and a curse) with the job is that we usually know what’s coming out in advance because we have to order things three months out. Something that I may know might not necessarily be common knowledge to someone else. I try and be as spoiler-free as I can, despite the title.
Last week, I was helping a customer look for “Scarlet Spider” from Marvel Comics. The last trade paperback came out a couple weeks ago and since the end of that title, Kaine, The Scarlet Spider, became a member of “The New Warriors” in a new ongoing series. This customer picked up the rest of the trades for “Scarlet Spider” and — the salesmen that I am — I said, “If you like these trades, you should check out ‘New Warriors’ because after the end of Vol. 4, he becomes an ongoing character in this other book.” He looked at me shocked and said “Thanks for the spoiler.”
Trying to make my case on why it wasn’t, he ignored me and walked away. I’ve thought about this for awhile and I still don’t see why this was a spoiler. If I said something like “Hey, after he kills X character, he joins that book,” that would be a spoiler. (By the way that doesn’t happen in that book…. or it does…. maybe, I’m not saying either way!)
Let’s play devil’s advocate. Maybe he thought that since Kaine appears in a book after the events of the last trade, that negates any danger that happens to him towards the end. I disagree with that because he may show up in another book, but that doesn’t negate the journey that character goes on. The twists and consequences of Kaine decisions as a hero are still left as a mystery to readers.
Now, really, what we have is a differing of opinion regarding what is a spoiler. But what makes a spoiler, and is there a statue of limitations on spoilers?
“How to Train your Dragon 2″ comes out on June 13 and the first trailer came out a couple months ago. Basically it shows the main characters and their homeland after the events of the first film. Really no harm, but there is this one thing the trailer does show: Hiccup, the hero of the first film, sees a mysterious figure. He catches up with it to reveal that it is in fact his mother, someone who was nowhere to be seen in the first film. Despite it being in a trailer, this kind of reveal seems spoilerish. The way that it plays out in the trailer seems like it would be a huge thing in the film. It’s unnecessary and unneeded but that’s the nature of trailers today. It seems now that studios are content to show all the big parts of their films in the trailer. Last Wednesday, Sony released a 3rd and final trailer for “Amazing Spider-Man 2” and, between all three of them, I feel like I have the entire movie plotted out.
Even talking about things that happen in trailers sometimes is spoiling it for others because some people don’t want to know and go in with a fresh mind.
What about films based on properties?
“Captain America: The Winter Solider,” out April 4, is based off the comic arc of the same name. Written by Ed Brubaker, The “Winter Solider” story arc ran from 2002-2003 so the usual statute of limitations is long past. The thing is, the trailers don’t mention what the biggest part of the comic is, so when I talk about “The Winter Solider,” I don’t talk about that. Not everybody has read the book. I want people to be surprised by it. Imagine my surprise, while watching a behind the scenes look at “The Winter Solider” that was on “Thor: The Dark World” Blu-ray, where they break down the plot, giving it away in the most nonchalant fashion.
If the film makers don’t care that they gave that away, then why should I care about spoiling something? I mean unless your movie is called “John Dies at the End…”
How about novels?
I’ve seen all the “Harry Potter” films and what’s been out so far for “The Hunger Games.” I’ve never read the books, so I was seeing the journey of the story through just the films. As the way I’m ingesting this brand, should I be mad if something about the end of “The Hunger Games” is spoiled for me? As a fan of the films, do I have the right to be spoiled less then the original fans who’ve been with the books since the beginning?
I know that there are some popular theories on the statute of limitations on spoilers, but what do you think? What are some of your spoiler stories? When is or isn’t something a spoiler? Leave your story in the comments.
About The Author
John Seiler makes his home in Fairbanks, Alaska. He works at The Comic Shop - a local comic book store - and is currently a Journalism major at UAF. He also hosts Spoiler Alert on KSUA 91.5 FM, a radio program where he and a co-host talk about comics, movies, TV, games and more. You can Follow John on Twitter or like Spoiler Alert on Facebook.