Should Marvel Just Release Its 'Avengers: Infinity War' Trailer?

Is holding back an official version of the anticipated footage (which has been bootlegged) a brilliant marketing strategy?
A poster for 'Avengers: Infinity War'   |   Courtesy of Marvel/Ryan Meinerding
Is holding back an official version of the anticipated footage (which has been bootlegged) a brilliant marketing strategy?

A lengthy trailer/sizzle real for Avengers: Infinity War has been Marvel Studios' crown jewel as it has made the convention rounds the past few weeks.

The footage closed out a blockbuster D23 panel July 15, with it getting shown again at San Diego Comic-Con Saturday. Soon afterward, a terribly shot, pirated version from Hall H began showing up online.

Marvel typically does not release much of its Comic-Con footage online officially, but a few years ago, the studio released its Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer a little early after a pirated version leaked. That raises the question: Instead of working to take down the pirated version of the Infinity War footage, should the studio just give the fans what they clearly want and release it officially?

Heat Vision's Aaron Couch (who saw the footage at D23), Graeme McMillan (who hasn't seen it) and Ryan Parker (who has not seen the footage … officially at least) discuss.

Ryan Parker: It is beyond frustrating that this trailer has not been released wide. Us nerds not fortunate enough to be in attendance have been out of luck. Now, if it were a super rough trailer, where the CG had not been completely filled in, then sure, OK, fine. Wait to drop it when it's ready. But from all the accounts of those who have seen it, Marvel has an incredible trailer completed.

Aaron Couch: It is an incredible trailer. Part of what makes a Marvel Studios panel the most coveted at Comic-Con is you will see something special, something that you can't just look up three minutes later on Marvel's YouTube account. Fans who wait in line for days are rewarded for their efforts. So no, Marvel does not need to release this wide. And as amazing as it looks, we don't know the CG is completely done. James Gunn said last year about the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Comic-Con trailer, that while something might look great for one viewing on the big screen, it might not hold up to the freeze-frame, multiple-viewing culture of the internet. I know it's hard to resist watching the bootleg, but I'd rather read a great description of something I haven't seen (and let that tantalize me). Who really wants to watch grainy footage instead of waiting for the real thing?

Parker: Of course there are going to be bootlegs. And you know what, I do not feel bad for the team of lawyers or techs who have to comb through YouTube and other sites every few minutes to get the bootlegs taken down. Fans want to see this thing — and they will find a way to do it. My thought is: Wouldn't it just be easier to drop the trailer than try to combat the piracy? The point of stringing a gigantic fan base along with a film it is absolutely clamoring for is baffling to me. With that said, yes, of course I understand the fans who put in the time and effort to make it into the coveted panel should get something special. However, it was one of those same fortunate souls who leaked the trailer to the rest of us nerds. So it's a wash, in my opinion.

Graeme McMillan: I'm really cynical about the whole idea of "rewarding" fans for their efforts, to be honest — it feels more like penalizing other fans for not being there, which seems … kind of like a crappy thing to do? Are the fans who made it to San Diego Comic-Con and waited in line for Hall H on Saturday afternoon but didn't manage to get in somehow less worthy? Isn't getting to see the rest of the panel and being in the same room as Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo enough of a reward? It feels very off-brand for Marvel, in that it seems to punish the fan base at large instead of embrace them, and it breeds situations where those fans just get mad at Marvel for not releasing the footage, as happened on social media on Saturday night. Isn't that entirely counterintuitive considering you're trying to get everyone amped up for the movies?

Couch: But Marvel did deliver plenty for fans who weren't at the panel. A great Thor: Ragnarok trailer. Awesome Infinity War posters. The cool news of who's playing classic heroes in Ant-Man and the Wasp. Marvel has two films (Thor and Black Panther) to promote and get out before Infinity War, so it's not quite time to shift focus to Avengers. Marvel's very smart to have put together this trailer to make its panels pop, but the studio is kind of like Disney siblings Lucasfilm. They don't have to do anything. They can drop the Infinity War trailer at midnight on New Year's Eve and everyone is going to watch it. To my knowledge (and I could be wrong), the only time Marvel has given in to pressure from a bootleg was when the Avengers: Age of Ultron leaked four days early in 2014. But in that case, it was the trailer. This Infinity War footage isn't the real trailer. Marvel generally cuts different "trailers" for things like Comic-Con or D23 that end up never being released. (They instead later will release different trailers.) Marvel knows its audience, and know what will play in a convention crowd — and it delivers.

Parker: They have fans talking and primed for all these films, no doubt about it. And perhaps it is a brilliant marketing strategy. But they are also ruffling a lot of nerd feathers because this film is clearly the pinnacle of everything we have been waiting for. Take. My. Money!

McMillan: Maybe one reason to not release it is to ruffle the feathers? Fans got excited over the Justice League and Thor trailers at the time, but it's the Avengers footage (which is officially unreleased) that is still dominating the conversation online, days later, perhaps because very few people have had the chance to judge Chris Evans' beard for themselves. This might end up being an entirely new marketing strategy by itself: Instead of good word of mouth, studios should consider the potential for envious tweeting as the latest hot trend in getting the word out. I mean, Ryan's already eager to part with his hard-earned cash. (That said, I'm hoping they release the Michael Pena/Paul Rudd footage first.)


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Avengers: Infinity War opens May 4, 2018.