And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
If you’re looking for my usual marketing recap on Avengers: Infinity War, this week’s biggest release, you’ll find it spread across two outlets.
For The Hollywood Reporter I covered the primary marketing elements such as posters, trailers and TV spots. Meanwhile over at Adweek I went a bit more in-depth than usual on the movie’s promotional partnerships and the efforts supporting those partnerships.
Even with all that there were some elements I usually include that didn’t make into either of those two pieces. So, using those as starting points, here’s the rest of what the marketing campaign looked like.
Media and Publicity
Everyone had been talking about it beforehand and the cast was constantly asked for details while they were promoting other movies, but the first actual pop for the movie itself came when Marvel released a sizzle reel on the occasion of filming starting. That video was dissected in scores of ways for all possible clues and hints as to the story by the entertainment press.
The next major pop in publicity came at Disney’s 2017 D23 event, where the cast appeared and shared details about the upcoming movie. A sizzle reel of early footage showed off some of what fans could expect, including Captain America’s status as the story picks up, the addition of new villains fighting for Thanos and more.
A couple interviews popped in late summer of last year, seemingly just to keep people talking about the movie. That included Brolin talking about how much fun he had on the set and Bautista gushing about working with Downey Jr. and others.
A massive Vanity Fair cover story contained a number of nuggets and insights about this movie and the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While there was a heavy emphasis on the role producer Kevin Feige has played in the films, it was also made clear that this is very much the endpoint for the first decade of movies, capping various stories and resulting in at least some, if not most, of the characters moving off the stage as actor contracts expire. The countdown to the end continued with a massive “class photo” featuring most every actor and director who’s been involved in any of the MCU films to date. A later short video thanked the fans for their support over the course of a decade and almost 20 films. Another had various members of the cast talking about how fun it was to work with each other.
At the end of February – *very* close to release for such a big shift – Disney announced the movie was moving up a week from early May to late April. That was widely seen as the studio wanting to get out of its own way a bit and give Solo, coming just a few weeks later, a bit of breathing room.
Entertainment Weekly gave attention that even by its standards was huge, with 15 different covers showing off all the characters in an issue that was filled with interviews and other information. That included: Details on Iron Man’s new armor, a look behind-the-scenes, insights on Thanos’ motivation, what characters might not live through the movie, how Wakanda’s role in Black Panther sets the stage for this movie, how Jon Favreau started the MCU on a lark, what Cumberbatch thought of the scale of the story, and more.
Later on EW announced it would offer a collectible book containing all of its Infinity War-related coverage and more.
In addition to that the Russos were out making other news as they talked about how this movie connects to their other two (as well as the MCU as a whole), what other movies inspired this one and more. After the release of the second trailer and the theatrical poster everyone picked up these comments from the Russos addressing the notable absence of Hawkeye from the marketing to date. A series of “Empire” covers lead to some controversy as Elizabeth Olsen took issue with the obvious photo manipulation of her, something the magazine claims didn’t come from them.
A substantial feature on Evans included comments that this was indeed going to be his last outing as Captain America, a message that was consistent with the overall theme of this being an ending to the first phase of the MCU.
As we moved into the “release clips to the media” phase of the campaign we got a look at what everyone has been hoping to see, namely Shuri dunking on Bruce Banner in a clip introduced by Letitia Wright on “Good Morning America.” She made a number of other appearances as did other members of the cast, a push that more or less culminated in the whole group (or at least a decent chunk of them) showing up on “Kimmel” for a full week of interviews and promotions.
One More Note: Keep Your Hands Off Hawkeye
There are a lot of rumors swirling around Avengers: Infinity War about who lives, who dies and whatnot. Most are just rampant speculation offered by writers claiming to have found clues to validate their theory in the trailers and other materials but who are actually just interested in garnering a few headline clicks.
The latest batch, as of this writing, involve whether the Vision’s potential death in the movie will trigger the Scarlet Witch to lose her cool, destroy reality, and introduce the House of M idea as a way to merge the Avengers and X-Men universes should the Fox/Disney deal be approved. That’s…a stretch and just one in a long list of such stories I’ve mostly ignored with extreme prejudice.
But so help me if Hawkeye turns out to have been a Skrull this whole time I will turn this cinematic universe around right now. The Avenging Archer, played by Jeremy Renner in the previous Avengers movies, has been conspicuously absent from the Infinity War marketing, leading most everyone to wonder where he might be hiding.
The movies have been unkind enough to Clint Barton. His initial cameo in Thor was a great start but then in Avengers he was mind-controlled by Loki for 75% of his screen time. He had more to do in Age of Ultron, but that’s not saying much.
I don’t usually get so protective of characters, allowing different storytellers to do with them what they will and open to various interpretations. That being said, I’m still waiting for the *actual* Hawkeye to show up, the one who clashes with Captain America at the drop of a hat and is obsessed with proving himself and his worth to his super-powered comrades. You know…the one with a bit of personality. Change his costume, that’s fine. Just let Hawkeye be Hawkeye.
Making the Clint we’ve seen so far a Skrull or some other imposter would be a huge cop-out for the inability of the filmmakers involved over the last seven years to do anything substantive with him. It’s bad enough we’ve been given watered-down Hawkeye, don’t make him a cheap plot device and pretend you were being clever the whole time.
At a press junket just before release, Feige and others involved with the movie talked about how the outpouring of concern over Hawkeye’s whereabouts was heartening because his absence was intentional, part of the buildup of a future story featuring the character.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.