Spoilers Don't "Ruin" a Movie

Hitting theaters this weekend is Avengers: Infinity War, which promises to be the culmination of 10 years of storytelling. The film's directors, Joe and Anthony Russo, have regularly pleaded with their followers on social media to keep all of the film's secrets to themselves as to not spoil anything for other fans. While there's no denying that movies are often more enjoyable when you know very little about them, does having specific plot points revealed to you really ruin the experience? Well, no, absolutely not. In some ways, getting that surprise out of the way allows you to more fully enjoy other elements of the experience, or, in some cases, realize there's little more to enjoy than the storyline.

There will be no spoilers in this post, other than reminding you that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father.

Sorry to spoil it for you, but Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father. This information, revealed in 1980's The Empire Strikes Back, is one of the most iconic examples of a shocking twist in a film in the last 40 years, which not only made the Star Wars films that followed this installment more exciting but, in retrospect, made the films set before it more fascinating. This surprise reveal is so well-known, in fact, that you'd be hard-pressed to find a movie fan who is oblivious to this information, as Empire is still considered by many to be a crowning achievement not only in the Star Wars saga, but in all of sci-fi cinema.

Despite audiences being well aware of this plot point, the film still offers compelling characters, powerful dialogue, impressive action sequences, dramatic set pieces, whimsical music, and hilarious gags. Not a single one of these elements hinges on the film's plot, though the overall narrative helps string all of these accomplishments together in a cohesive way, while also setting up the characters to continue to deliver these gifts to audiences in a future film.

Audiences have a tendency to say that hearing a spoiler can "ruin" the experience for you, which, if true, would mean no one ever watches a movie for a second time. After all, you've spoiled it for yourself, so that would be there's nothing to gain from watching it again, right? Clearly, this isn't the case, yet it proves that having the knowledge of something ahead of time doesn't detract from the many elements that come together to form a film (or TV show or novel or comic book) to entertain an audience.

The rise of social media has resulted in far more incidents of something being spoiled for someone, as it's much easier to watch the premiere of a new episode of a TV show and post "_____ just died" as soon as it happens, which can reach hundreds, thousands, even millions of people instantly. Even then, it's one thing to read a description of one moment of a plot and it's another to witness everything that led up to that point, how the characters interacted, what the effects look like, how the rest of the characters reacted, and what that could mean for the future of the series. If something as arbitrary as learning about one character dying can totally revoke your enjoyment of a series, how big of a fan could you have possibly been in the first place?

This isn't to say, at all, that it's better to know a film's entire plot ahead of time, as there is tremendous joy in an audience's discovery of everything a film has to offer. Watching a character appear for the first time or finally have an interaction with another character or get to have an exciting action moment offers an immense emotional payoff for audiences, though that feeling will sometimes dwindle with each subsequent viewing. In that regard, yes, having a plot point spoiled for you means you are being robbed of your brain witnessing the event for itself, which can be incredibly frustrating on an emotional level, so feel free to express your disappointment with anyone who intentionally takes those moments away from you.

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Sadly, part of human nature is that desire to figure things out for ourselves, which can be especially dangerous when it comes to consuming our favorite stories. While watching a thriller unfold, for example, our brains might attempt to put the clues together for ourselves and determine the identity of a killer. When our suspicions are correct, we are both proud of ourselves for putting the pieces together, though we've now robbed ourselves of the filmmaker's attempts to surprise an audience. In that regard, even were you able to avoid any piece of information about a film before heading into a theater, it's likely that you could inadvertently spoil a story for yourself because of your own intuition, so we can't always blame other people for spoiling things for us.

Are spoilers bad? Absolutely. As a fan, knowing information that you had hoped to discover for yourself will deprive you of much of the emotional reaction you had been looking forward to experiencing. However, whether you have a film's plot spoiled for you through either reading about a specific event or even witnessing those events for yourself, your next viewing of the film can allow you to appreciate the craft that goes into delivering viewers a rewarding experience. Knowing the plot could also make you realize that a film as a whole can be relatively disappointing, and you'd save yourself time and money by just reading a movie's synopsis on the Internet.