Recently, Chris Evans, a wonderful human, tweeted a heartfelt goodbye message to Steve Rogers. He might not have meant anything by it, but it will change my experience of Avengers 4 irrevocably.
Let’s start with viewing the offending tweet.
Officially wrapped on Avengers 4. It was an emotional day to say the least. Playing this role over the last 8 years has been an honor. To everyone in front of the camera, behind the camera, and in the audience, thank you for the memories! Eternally grateful.
— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) October 4, 2018
A beautiful sentiment. I know he meant well.
I mean, I get it. This is your job. You’ve spent a lot of time, effort, and emotion bringing a character to life throughout a series of movies. And that character has been a huge part of a lot of people’s lives. It’s natural to want to say goodbye and thank those who have helped you be able to bring that character’s story to whatever end the filmmakers have dreamed up. That includes all your fans.
And, as a fan, I’m excited to read those messages. I’m not trying to take that method away or anything, but please, for the love of all that is fandom, save posting that message for a reasonable amount of time after the release of your work.
I am not a fan of spoilers. I like to consume my movies, TV shows, and books without knowing what is coming. I hate when networks announce that a death is coming on a favorite TV show, because everything then becomes about that death. If a character dies, I’d rather not spend the entire episode or series of episodes dreading the moment when they finally disappear for good. I’d rather let the events of a show or series unfold narratively and experience the events as the characters do.
When I walk into a movie with preconceived ideas, I spend more of the film wondering how long until the thing happens than I do focusing on what’s going on on-screen. I don’t want to dwell on the upcoming death/exit/dismemberment, etc, but I can’t help but dread the moment I know is coming.
This is the reason I avoid trailers for movies I know I’m going to see anyway. When I watch a trailer, I mentally log all the scenes we see and when watching the movie, I subconsciously check all the boxes as I watch the movie. It doesn’t dramatically affect my enjoyment of a movie, but it causes me to step back behind the fourth wall and remember that I’m in a theater watching a movie rather than being fully immersed in the story.
Chris is not the first actor to do this (two Shameless stars announced their departures in recent weeks), nor will he be the last, but I hope this becomes the exception, rather than the rule when it comes to big, ongoing franchises and their most beloved characters.
Type that message up. Get it ready. Keep it saved as a draft until the day or two after the movie hits theaters or the show airs on TV. Let audiences experience the final story in the most natural way possible, untarnished.
And, yes, we know far too much about contracts and the business side of the movie business to stay completely unspoiled, but until a primary source, such as an actor, director, or producer admits to how the business side affects the creative, audiences can suspend their own disbelief. We can hold onto the hope that this character isn’t gone forever. We can dream and hope and cling desperately to whatever delusions of grandeur we’ve cooked up to avoid saying goodbye.
But the moment someone inside the bubble admits the thing, it pops. The magic of the movie dulls a bit.
So, please, actors, directors, producers and the like: Keep our movie-going experience in mind when you are crafting your goodbye messages to the world. Let us experience the whole thing as purely as we can. Then give us all the details and heartfelt words you can muster, as we’re going to need them to soothe our heartache.