© Marvel Studios/Everett Collection.
The following story contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame
Long ago, when the Marvel Cinematic Universe started, you could assume that the trailer for a given movie accurately represented the sequences in the blockbuster you were about to see. All that changed when the studio began to get a bit craftier, throwing spoiler-hungry viewers off the scent by stacking promos with digitally altered footage designed to hide important plot points. (There’s a shot in an Avengers: Infinity War trailer, for instance, that shows the Hulk running with Captain America across the fields of Wakanda; in the film, the Hulk isn’t present for this charge.) Some trailers also include shots that end up not appearing in the finished product—as in a Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer that shows Iron Man and Spider-Man swinging into action together, though it’s not in the film. (Moves like this may also be intended to prevent audiences from guessing plot points in advance—or they could be remnants of older cuts of the films.)
The Russo brothers—directors of many a Marvel movie, most recently the two-part Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame saga—have proven themselves to be particularly adept at keeping audiences on their toes by employing cleverly edited trailers, as is clear to anyone who’s both studied Endgame’s promos and actually seen the movie, now out in theaters. After comparing four Endgame teasers and watching the film itself—three times!—I’ve identified trailer shots apparently designed to hide spoilers. (Though, of course, this analysis itself contains spoilers aplenty.) We’ll begin with the first official trailer for Endgame, released December 7.
The final version of Endgame digitally alters Tony Stark, reducing his muscle mass so he looks like he’s been stranded in space for 22 days. The trailer, however, shows him unaltered.
In the film, this is the moment when Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) shows up—and it happens after a five-year time jump. In the trailer, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow has been digitally altered to hide the time jump; the movie shows her looking more disheveled, and sporting red hair.
Let’s move on to another official full-length trailer, released March 14.
By the time we reach this sequence in Endgame—when Hawkeye is being chased through a series of tunnels—the hero played by Jeremy Renner possesses a gauntlet sporting all six Infinity Stones. But this particular shot shows no gauntlet and does not appear in the movie.
This shot of Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and Rhodey (Don Cheadle) does appear in the movie—but the big version of Ant-Man is in the background, not smoke.
This shot does not appear in the movie—most of which instead features a much different-looking Thor (Chris Hemsworth).
Black Widow’s target practice sequence does not appear in the movie.
This trailer shot digitally repairs Captain America’s (Chris Evans) shield, which is broken in half when this image appears in the movie.
Next up: the “To the End” trailer, released April 16.
We see Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) wearing her faceplate and helmet in the movie—a way to hide the new haircut she sports in Endgame.
Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) has been edited out of this shot (in the film, he stands behind Rhodey), and so has Thor (who is sitting on the couch to the right of Black Widow).
When this shot appears in the film, you can see Thor holding Mjölnir—his lost and regained hammer—in his left hand. But the trailer has digitally erased it.
And finally, the “Powerful” TV Spot, released April 21.
This shot does appear in the movie—but has been selectively cropped to hide the reveal of Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), who appears screen right.
By the time this finale fight happens, the film has featured two versions of Nebula (Karen Gillan). Her past self has bronze accents; present Nebula has gaps where the bronze accents were taken from her by her past self. Neither matches the appearance of the character here.
And finally, we get another shot of Captain Marvel that hides her new hair—by adding in the mohawk helmet from her solo film.