(Warning - the following contains a link to a possible major Marvel SPOILER, as well as some indirect discussion of it. Proceed with whatever level of caution that suggests is wise...)
Now, when it comes to contentious issues of fan-debate, there aren't too many (Batman versus Superman, Marvel versus DC, and Star Wars versus Star Trek aside) more contentious than that of spoilers versus no spoilers. For some, the very nature of the modern film industry – and the internet – has made spoilers a comfortable and accepted part of everyday life, while for others, they're potentially movie-ruining word-bastards which have no business appearing before a movie's release.
Which of those you agree with is, of course, a matter for personal deliberation – but it's perhaps worth bearing in mind that:
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2's Beloved Director James Gunn REALLY Hates Spoilers
So much so, in fact, that he recently posted a lengthy tirade to Facebook about the recently rumored identity of Peter Quill's father (which, if you absolutely, positively want to read the – now debunked – rumor, you can find it here). Fair warning – it's pretty awesome:
"All right. From this moment on I’m going to stop commenting on any rumors surrounding Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, because, eventually, someone is going to come up with a spoiler that has some truth to it. That said, the rumors surrounding Quill’s parentage at the present moment are completely false, and aren’t even close to the truth. I don’t know how people come up with this stuff, but it certainly isn’t through legitimate sources."
"Also, I get the desire to get “scoops” on character inclusion and casting choices, etc. But since when is a plot spoiler a “scoop”? Is this really what fandom wants to know? Plot details in movies ahead of time? I got in this business because I love movies, and I think most film journalists are the same way. And spoiling plot details doesn’t add to the enjoyment of the film-going experience. So bravo to those folks out there who don’t partake in this sort of thing."
"But, as I said, eventually someone will actually spoil some detail of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. So this will be my last comment squelching a rumor until May 2017. But if you do pick up on some plot detail between now and then, be aware, A) They are likely full of shit, as has been everyone so far who has claimed to have had inside info, and B) We’re creating a film that doesn’t rely on plot twists to be an enjoyable experience. They’re only a very small part of what we’re cooking up for you."
In other words?
James Gunn Just Asked Us All to Stop Spoiling Movies
Which, to be honest, is an entirely reasonable request. I mean, honestly, I dislike plot spoilers as much as the next fan (though probably slightly less than Gunn, who's having a movie he's actually making himself be actively ruined for people), and would very happily not know a single thing about pretty much any Marvel, DC or Star Wars-related movie until the moment I sit down to watch it. I suspect many other fans feel pretty much exactly the same. So why can't we all – journalists and fans together – simply agree to leave everything potentially spoiler-filled well enough alone?
Well, for one thing, there are a whole lot of people out there who do like to read spoilers. Now, for journalists, that means that it is, to a certain extent, necessary to cover any spoiler-based news, in order to adequately fulfill the news-based needs of that section of our audience. Which, provided we add sufficient SPOILER-protection to any articles of that kind, is, if not the ideal solution, at least only really screwing over ourselves.
The other part of the problem, though, is harder to solve. With the internet being what it is, many spoilers quickly go viral, and as such become almost impossible to contain. Whether in the form of headlines, Facebook posts, comments or general conversation, it can be incredibly difficult to avoid a rumor once it reaches a certain point of cultural acceptance. For the past few years, for instance, "Jon Snow is dead" has long been a favorite of Internet trolls everywhere, thrown into comments sections that have nothing to do with Game of Thrones simply to mess with fans of the TV show.
In other words – so long as a small, vocal minority opt to spread spoilers and plot-rumors, it's likely to be impossible to stamp them out – which from a journalistic perspective means it's often going to be necessary to report them (albeit from behind a protective screen of SPOILER warnings), typically with the intention of either debunking or clarifying the wilder claims.
Which... still kind of sucks for everyone who hates spoilers. On the plus side, though, at least most journalists hate knowing them just as much as everyone else does – seeing as most of us are only writing about this stuff because we love it too...
What do you think, though?