On Hitman: Agent 47, movie trailers, and spoilers

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So, I was at the cinema yesterday, and I saw the trailer for this film. ‘Tis based on a video game, but I must confess, I’d never actually heard of it before. I’m not really big on video games, to be honest. Really not particularly good at them. Often lose. (I’ve gotten quite good at Tetris, though.)

Anyway, though, the trailer for this film came up, and it looked pretty good to me. Not necessarily the sort of thing I’d watch in the cinema, but if ever it was on TV, I’d probably look into it – action movies about hypercompetent people tend to have potential, I think, and from the trailer it looked cool enough. I quite liked the opening scene, and Zachary Quinto was in it, who’s an actor I typically tend to like. So, yeah, that alone was enough to pique my interest.

But! The trailer then continued, and imparted some more information about the plot to me. And I found that quite interesting, actually. Because up until that point, it looked like our Agent 47 fellow could be broadly termed as the bad guy, and Zachary Quinto as the good guy. Except that’s not the case – there’s a twist!

Quinto is in fact a government agent type with nefarious schemes, and Agent 47 is trying to stop him. The woman it seems like he’s trying to kill isn’t an innocent woman, but is in fact another Agent (number 46?) who was raised with him and just doesn’t remember. Something like that.

It surprised me, though, and it really made me think about the current debate about spoilers in movie trailers. This is, obviously, the sort of thing that will probably be framed as a twist in the actual movie. Which makes sense – the person you thought was the bad guy is infact the good guy, and indeed vice versa. It makes sense for that to be a twist. And yet, here it is, laid to bare.

Which is an odd thing, I think. I mean, it;s not impossible to create a trailer without that reveal – because, look, they actually have. When I was searching for the link to the above trailer, I found this other one, which preserves the twist, and offers a level of set up that could still intrigue someone. Perhaps the studio weren’t particularly confident in the trailer as it was?

A comparison that sort of jumps out at me is Marvel movies, particularly The Winter Soldier. Here’s the trailer for that one. Interestingly, none of the three major twists are present in the trailer. Well, I say interestingly, I mean appropriately. Even the one that isn’t really a twist, and would have been spoiled fairly frequently beforehand, given that it actually comes from the comics – the identity of the Winter Soldier, that is.

I mean, I jumped to that comparison because, arguably, they’re in the same place as adaptations – someone is going to know the plot, and indeed how it ends, before they see the film. The Winter Soldier maybe wasn’t the best example given that it didn’t adapt a specific story – maybe a book is more accurate? Books feel a little too high profile, though, and I assume this particular film is going to reach a far wider audience than the video game did.

This is a little rambling, I suppose, given that I don’t actually have an new or interesting insights – I can’t explain exactly why Fox decided to put the reveal in the trailer, nor do I have any argument beyond “spoilers in trailers are bad”. I mean, I have a bit of a case-by-case view of spoilers – a lot of the time, knowing the ending doesn’t matter, because it’s how they get from A to B where the story is. I kinda feel, though, that in the case of this particular spoiler, it’s revealed far more than necessary – I’m a lot less likely to watch this movie, now, because I think I can more or less guess the plot with a fair degree of accuracy, and action scenes aren’t always the most interesting things on their own anyway.

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