Monday, July 28, 2014

I try to be a non-spoiler fan: The 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' reprise edition

I'm Cary. And I'm a non-spoiler fan and blogger/reviewer. Or at least I try to be. (More on that in a sec!)

This is the "Avengers: Age of Ultron" edition of this op-ed. Almost seven years ago, I wrote a Batman-centric version on this same topic for Batman-on-film.com (only the best daggone Batman website ever!) before "The Dark Knight" was released in theaters. This time around a feature in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY about its on-set coverage of "Age of Ultron" has inspired me to tackle this issue again.

You might be asking yourself, what does being a non-spoiler blogger/reviewer mean anyway?

That means as a writer, I don't want to take away another fan's surprise and/or enjoyment of a comic-book issue or trade paperback, much less an animated and/or live-action project he or she hasn't read or seen yet. So when I do a review, I give my readers enough information about the story to make my review and thoughts logical without ruining the fun of the first-time reading or viewing experience for my readers. When it comes to comics -- even if the stories are days, months, years or decades old, I hold to the same standard.

So what does being a non-spoiler fan mean?

It's simple: I want to know as little as possible before I read or watch something. Who can I be surprised about a story when I've read tons and tons of articles before I've seen a movie, TV show, etc. or read the story?

At least that's the standard I try to maintain.

Now keep in mind, two of my good buddies called "B.S." on me. On the same day!


Andrew Gates put it the best -- and most bluntly -- about my rant on the EW feature: "If you didn't want to know anything about the movie, you shouldn't have read it."

David Hudson was even more blunt. He basically told me he doesn't believe my B.S. when it comes to avoiding spoilers because he says I want to know about what's going on with superhero movies just as much as the next fanboy or fangirl — but I just don't like to admit it.

All that being said, IMHO it goes without saying an entertainment writer should know there are fans like me who hate reading anything that's close to being spoiler material. How difficult is it to throw in two words — "SPOILER ALERT" (which should be italicized, capitalized and/or in bold letters) — before such material? And when they're done, that segment, no matter how short or lengthy, should end with another three words: "END OF SPOILER." An equally nice touch is a sentence warning the reader just how serious the writer is about spoiling a plotline. If a publication or website goes that route, some humor about the warning — followed by yet another warning — is kinda fun and wouldn't be out of line.

Ultimately, I'm calling out EW's Breznican for his spoiler-ish on-set coverage of "Avengers: Age of Ultron."

For the record, David and Andrew didn't have any issue with the coverage — aside from the same gripe. BTW I'm not going to say what they consider spoilers because, … well, didn't you read what I've already discussed here?

Sure, I know more than most Avengers fans about one of my favorite baddies, Ultron. And granted, even if Breznican hadn't divulged half of what he did, I could have figured out most of it (given my comic-book knowledge and making some assumptions based on that plus what Tony Stark had done with his Iron Man armor in "Iron Man 3").

But still, really, dude?!

Anthony, you're an EW vet so this isn't your first rodeo. Starting on the last paragraph of the second page of your feature (the first two pages are a big photo spread with a teaser), you have spoilers in the vast majority of the next eight consecutive paragraphs.

I'll say that again: Eight. Consecutive. Paragraphs. That's basically a page-and-a-half of the five-page feature. Those same paragraphs could have been edited down to just a few or better yet, could have been labeled with those spoiler warnings I mentioned.

To add insult to injury near the end of his article, Breznican confirms the inclusion of an Avenger who was long rumored to be in the film. Again, since Ultron is the villain, it doesn't take too much fanboy/girl brain-stretching to figure out who that hero is. The writer even confirms what actor is playing that character. (Notice how I'm addressing this spoiler-ific info without disclosing that information?)

 Breznican goes on to ask "Age of Ultron" writer-director Joss Whedon if this Avenger "uses (Character No. 2)'s consciousness from spare parts" and if such casting is a coincidence. Breznican thinks he is doing his readers some sort of favor by writing "we're in spoiler territory" before providing Whedon's answer.

 Didn't he arguably go waaaaay past that several sentences ago? Absolutely.

Anthony Breznican, thanks for ruining a significant part of "Age of Ultron." You should have known better.

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