With Great Fandom, There Must Also Come Great Responsibility

You know, we’ve gone so long without some major catastrophe besetting the Marvel Cinematic Universe that it’s almost reassuring that one finally has gone and happened.  It’s unfortunate, certainly, but it goes a long way to remind us that there are actual people making these movies year after year, not just some faceless corporate executives endlessly seeking profit.  Yes, I would have preferred that this didn’t happen — it’s certainly complicating my lead-up to next week — but in the long run, a little bit of humility goes a long way, even when you’re on a hot streak like the makers of the MCU.

So what’s all this about, you ask?  What’s the big scoop?  What fresh Hell is causing the internet losing its collective head this week?

Earlier this week, there was a major, unprecedented leak of material for Avengers: Endgame.  Massive swathes of otherwise safeguarded materials made their way onto the internet — including entire scenes — and quickly made their way through all of the usual channels, (allegedly) spoiling major plot points from the movie, including the ultimate fate of more than its fair chare of Avengers.

The response from Disney, Marvel and seemingly every person of note working on the movie has been swift and unilateral.  Disney’s been working to quash instance of the leak on the internet, bringing down the full brunt of the monolithic corporation’s influence to preserve what little secrets remain for their decade-in-the-making capstone film.  The Russo Brothers, who directed The Winter Soldier (2014), Civil War (2016), Infinity War (2018) and Endgame, came out with a statement begging fans to not spoil the movie for others.  In it, they implored fans to:

Please know that the two of us, along with everyone involved in Endgame, have worked tirelessly for the last three years with the sole intention of delivering a surprising and emotionally powerful conclusion to the Infinity Saga. Because so many of you have invested your time, your hearts, and your souls into these stories, we’re once again asking for your help.

Meanwhile, you know that whoever is personally responsible for this breach of security has been well and truly wiped off the face of the corporate world as assuredly as the whoever drove that tank in Tiananmen Square and didn’t run over that protester standing in the way was summarily put down in 1989.  Disney had put out all the stops to keep Endgame under wraps already, going so far as to making sure that Spider-Man actor Tom Holland always had a senior Avenger actor beside him in interviews to keep him from excitedly saying too much and didn’t even bother giving him a copy of the script to prevent him from losing it.  And then some random accident like this knocks out all those years of private preparation.

Not only does it serve as a keenly-felt reminder of Disney’s, Marvel’s and the MCU’s very human fallibility, but as a reminder of what your responsibilities as a Marvel fan — or any fan, really — are.  We’re all excited about Endgame.  We all want to see it as cleanly and freshly as possible.  We’ve all waited a long time for this franchises-ending conclusion, even those among us who weren’t even born when this whole crazy “Marvel experiment” started.  And it’s up to all of us to ensure that we all have a good time.

Fandom isn’t just about liking or talking about the same things, it’s about coming together as a community in the light of some great, shared love.  And while not every fan will love everything about the fandom, as a community it is our responsibility to be good to one another, to try to come together and do what needs to be done for the sake of everybody.  After all, a wise man once said “with great power, there must also come great responsibility.”  It is no less true for a community joined together for a shiny new blockbuster as it is a community joined in commiseration over the loss of Notre Dame.

So please, don’t spoil the movie for others.  If you happened to see some of the leaks, just hold off a week or two before saying anything about it.  Let people experience the movie as fresh as possible: the way that it was always meant to be seen.  Use “spoiler warnings” judiciously and only if you have to.  In other words, protect your fellow fans from the treacherous waters that are being a Marvel fan right now.  Don’t ruin other people’s fun.  As the bard said, “be excellent to each other.”  After all, you only have one chance to go into Endgame unspoiled.

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