Comic book creators often feel compelled to explore the idea of all-powerful characters seizing control of the planet for the benefit of mankind. Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman did so in their legendary Miracleman runs, and more recently, Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman explored the desire to build utopia on Earth in the popular Avengers vs. X-Men event series.

In the latter comics, the cosmically powered Phoenix Five, led by the X-Man Cyclops, do away with mankind’s seemingly endless arsenal of weapons, while also solving world hunger and the planet’s energy crisis. In a speech before the United Nations, Cyclops declares an end to all war.

I love these types of stories, and I feel like they’ve got to be some form of wish fulfillment for the writers behind them. If I had the power of the Phoenix Force, destroying all dangerous weapons, curing all diseases and doing away with racism would definitely be high on my to-do list (before I lose total control and devour the sun, of course). But you’ve got to assume that so much change wouldn’t go over well with the people of Earth. Better to start small, and I’ve got just the thing…

No more spoilers.

There’s no Such Thing as a Good Spoiler

If you’ve ever read a comic book, seen a movie or watched a TV show, there’s a good chance you’ve said something along the lines of, “No spoilers!” It seems like everyone hates spoilers, and yet, I can’t seem to go a day without seeing something spoiled.

Two of Merriam-Webster’s definitions for the verb “spoil” are “to have a bad effect on (something)” and “to damage or ruin (something).” You can’t have “spoiler” without “spoil,” and those definitions are pretty darn negative. Also horrible – spoiled milk.

So then why are people out there spoiling things for others? To feel powerful? To be just plain hurtful? Those who spoil are essentially taking away people’s ability to enjoy something or let it surprise them. In a world full of terrible things, such as terrorism, mass shootings and Republican presidential debates, why can’t people just be allowed to experience a work of art the way its creators want them to – free of spoilers?

Imagine a World Without Spoilers

In a 2005 article, the late film critic Roger Ebert wrote:

“The characters in movies do not always do what we would do. Sometimes they make choices that offend us. That is their right. It is our right to disagree with them. It is not our right, however, to destroy for others the experience of being as surprised by those choices as we were.”

Think of all the great works that were created long before you were born, and how wonderful it would have been to experience them without knowing how they end.

There’s a good chance you knew how Citizen Kane, Planet of the Apes, The Empire Strikes Back or even The Sixth Sense ended before you even saw them. Not a movie buff? Then what about all those shocking comic book moments you knew about before you got to read them in trade paperbacks, such as the fate of Gwen Stacy, Jean Grey or Barbara Gordon?

Buy This Book – After We’re Done Spoiling it

Sadly, not all spoilers come from message boards and reddit. Due to the need to build buzz and drum up sales, many companies are spoiling their own products before they’re even out.

Listen, Marvel Comics, I love you, but I’m going to be hard on you. Remember how I started this article talking about Avengers vs. X-Men? That series was so exciting because I had no idea where it was going. And then you spoiled it.

Spoiler warning for anybody who hasn’t read Avengers vs. X-Men!

I remember heading to work, knowing that after 5 I could pick up Avengers vs. X-Men #11 – I heard something big was going to happen. Unfortunately, no one told me to stay off the Internet that morning, because it went ahead and spoiled the death of X-Men founder Professor Charles Xavier – at the hands of his prized pupil Cyclops!

Thanks for going to the New York Daily News with this major spoiler, Marvel. I’m sure you piqued the curiosity of some non-comic fans, but you also ruined what could have been a really powerful moment for this lifelong Cyclops fan. Such a shocking twist should be experienced as I’m holding the actual comic in my hand, not while squinting at the page featuring Professor X’s death on my tiny smartphone screen.

I’m unhappy to write that Marvel’s still at it while generating interest in the upcoming All-New, All-Different Marvel. Remember when we didn’t know what the new Marvel Universe would look like after Secret Wars and it was kind of exciting?

Well, Marvel went ahead and released teaser images and solicitations that show their new universe is pretty much just as we left it before Secret Wars began – just with Miles Morales and Old Man Logan added to the mix. I really wish this stuff had been kept under wraps until we were finished with Jonathan Hickman’s series. It detracts from my ability to be surprised by this epic.

The Following Preview Spoils the Entire Film

Comic book publishers aren’t the only ones spoiling their products, as Hollywood has also shown little regard for keeping their films’ surprises from being ruined.

The trailer for 2000’s Cast Away is a perfect example. In just over two minutes, this preview tells you pretty much everything you need to know about this 143-minute movie. Now you could say this film was more about showcasing Tom Hanks’ acting abilities than telling a good story, but couldn’t we have done that without revealing whether his character ever gets off the island?

Even Ant-Man wasn’t immune to spoiler-filled marketing. Take this TV spot for example, which completely ruins the Falcon’s cameo. Obviously, this was spoiled to draw in Avengers fans who were on the fence about seeing Marvel’s ant-themed hero, but come on.

Spoiler Alert: You Don’t Need to Know Everything

I consider myself to be an artist. No matter what I create, whether it’s a short film or a comic book, I want the audience to experience it from beginning to end. If I include a twist or two, they should be experienced as such.

And yet, we’re living in a time when it seems like people need a constant stream of information without delay. It’s not always healthy. We don’t need to know if the person we’re chatting with has entered text or is typing. We really shouldn’t know the person we sent a Facebook message to read it right away but chose not to respond. We’re just overcomplicating our already overcomplicated lives.

I feel like there are also those who seek out spoilers so they can prevent the loss of time and money. Everyone has different taste – put your faith in the artists and discover their works with a fresh opinion.

I get the spoiler struggle, I really do. I’ve been dealing with it since childhood when I’d peek at my Christmas presents weeks before the big day (did I just spoil the whole Santa thing?). I’m no stranger to purchasing a new comic and flipping to the last page before actually sitting down to read it. I also admit to watching some of the leaked Marvel post-credits scenes on YouTube before seeing the films themselves.

But I strive to be better. I successfully avoided Ant-Man spoilers like moviegoers avoided Fantastic Four this past weekend. It’d just be easier if spoilers weren’t so readily available on the Internet.

A New Hope

While I’ve never been the biggest J.J. Abrams fan, I’m beyond pumped for The Force Awakens. I’ve also gained a lot of respect for the filmmaker due to his stance on spoilers and his minimalist approach to marketing what’s sure to be one of the biggest films of all time. In an interview with news.com.au, Abrams said:

“My dream is that, despite so many rumors — many of which are true, many of which are untrue — when people see the movie, they see something that hasn’t been completely ruined for them by having read spoilers they might not have wanted to read.”

Well said, J.J. – I’m doing my best to avoid Star Wars spoilers, but the Internet isn’t making it easy. So until the day comes when I can eradicate all spoilers through cosmic means, let’s all agree to stop spoiling things for our fellow man.

Now let’s all cherish this excuse to watch the second Force Awakens trailer for the billionth time.

  • Tony Snark

    I remember purposely not reading any spoilers for The Dark Knight Rises. While it wasn’t my favorite installment of the Nolan trilogy, I still derived plenty of enjoyment from it, especially the ending — and a ton of that can be attributed to not reading the myriad spoilers and script leaks online. Well said.

    • Chris Hassan

      I agree – I think I did the same and, as a result, left the theater feeling very fulfilled. I avoided Days of Future Past spoilers and had a similar feeling.

  • Greg

    But with castaway nobody wants to see a movie about a guy you grows old and dies alone!