I’ve been thinking a lot about the recent wave of coverage afforded the realization that Mark Ruffalo – likely inadvertently or at least accidentally – revealed the ending of Avengers: Infinity War a full year before the movie was released. The comments were made during Disney’s D23 expo, where the movie had a significant promotional presence.
When that footage surfaced, everyone was shocked. Here was a big star just dropping the ending of a major franchise picture seemingly out of nowhere. It was in plain sight all along, people said, so why didn’t we see it?
The simple answer is because that comment was lost in a sea of predictions, rumors and speculation. So many news sites, blogs and Twitter accounts were out there floating every possible theory as to who might die, what Thanos’ motivations were, where Hawkeye might be, who might be morphed into the Soul Stone and more that this was just one of 78 such ideas on that day.
Separating the wheat from the chaff takes a discerning eye and careful, patient attention. The interviewer talking to Ruffalo and Cheadle at that moment likely chalked it up to the former just playing around. At the very least, it was given no consideration above what was afforded to other comments that set off other rounds of commentary. There was no time for follow-up questions or further examination because that post needed to get published so other things could be published after that.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this model, other than that it doesn’t allow for detailed examination of any one thing. That may seem like a counter-intuitive statement in an age where every new TV spot and still from big movies are examined as if the Law Code of Hammurabi is ingrained in the video or photo. These are usually very superficial, though, and are more concerned with calling out easter eggs or clues for future movies than on doing any sort of comprehensive analysis of the media itself. Also, the writer themselves may not have time for anything deeper since he or she is on deadline to three other sites that day.
Gold is easy to miss when you’re working in a stream of pyrite and only have a few seconds in which to make a call. That’s exactly what happened here.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.