The upcoming release of the movie “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and the video games “Pokemon Scarlet” and “Violet” have me thinking more and more about the effect of leak culture on entertainment.
Massive spoilers for media centralization have been around for decades, like when David Prowse (the man inside Darth Vader’s suit) revealed the character’s identity as Luke’s father in 1978, two years before. the release of “The Empire Strikes Back”. The general public had no idea, only a select group of fans heard the revelation in an interview given at a small sci-fi convention, and those who heard had no way to share this groundbreaking information. .
These days, finding spoiler content is as easy as googling an online community dedicated to it. Some people have monetized sourcing information about upcoming projects through Patreon, and many Twitter accounts exist that will then relay this information to the public. But by far the most popular organized forums for reliable leaks exist on Reddit. r/MarvelStudiosSpoilers has 850,000 members actively browsing through every piece of information even somewhat relevant to the movie studio.
The full plot leak for “Wakanda Forever” is already in place, but what I’m most interested in is how people aware of the leaks will perceive the film. Many notable figures in the Marvel leak community have reported for almost a year that Doctor Doom, the infamous Fantastic Four villain, will have a notable presence in the film. This was widely accepted as fact until Ryan Coogler, the film’s director, announced that he had initially expressed interest in including the character, but decided against using it for further focus. about Namor, the film’s main antagonist.
This statement by Coogler nearly shatters the illusion that the leakers have inside information that the general public does not have access to. If Doctor Doom never left the cutting room floor, how did no one find out until Coogler announced it in an interview? A significant chunk of Marvel’s dedicated fan base has been waiting for Doctor Doom, and I’ve seen comments before that suggest they’ve lost much of their interest in the film.
Don’t get me wrong – 850,000 doesn’t represent all of Marvel fandom by any means, and it doesn’t even represent all of Marvel fans actively using Reddit. But Marvel’s fight to keep their products real secret is an uphill battle against toymakers, early press reviews, acting mistakes, and more. I almost wonder if there’s any merit in turning a blind eye and letting dedicated members of the fandom figure out these answers come out on their own without changing footage for trailers or lying to toy companies.
Even in the internet age, intentional spoilers are still a newer concept. I remember frequenting Marvel Studios Spoilers in 2017-2018, before “Avengers: Infinity War” came out, and the community wasn’t nearly as organized or profit-driven as it was back then. The same is true a year ago comparing PokeLeaks, which didn’t even have 10,000 members before the release of “Pokemon Brilliant Diamond” and “Shining Pearl,” as opposed to now when it’s approaching 90,000 subscribers.
However, these companies are feeling the impact of spoilers on their bottom line and overall marketing strategy, the interest is only growing, and I don’t think they have properly adapted to consumer interests. Of course, only time will tell, but how little information like spotting actors in the local area of a film set can spread like wildfire with a single tweet. As the Internet continues to connect us, these “secrets” will not remain so, and entertainment media may need to find new strategies to attract consumers other than keeping information locked up.