In what may be one of the most controversial statements ever spoken, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn says that spoilers can’t ruin a truly great movie.
“If a movie can be ruined by spoilers, it’s not a good movie,” he wrote in a tweet. “I’m opposed to spoiling things for folks, but studies show knowing spoilers only very slightly affects the viewer’s pleasure, if at all (and sometimes increases the pleasure of a well-crafted film).”
In a follow-up, he told people to just Google “spoiler study,” since the one that he cites is the very first result. (Here, we did found for you.)
He has made a similar argument before, telling fans not to worry about spoiling what happens in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
This is obviously a subject of some contention. For example, last week saw some major controversy around DC Comics when the company, in the middle of a year-long story arc leading up to Batman and Catwoman’s wedding, purposefully leaked the issue’s twist ending to the New York Times a few days early. While part of the anger came from the twist itself (spoiler alert: she leaves him at the altar), many also argued that they should have been allowed to be surprised by it.
On the other hand, Gunn does have a point as well. Many films (including his) are adaptations of other stories, and while sometimes events are changed, fans generally go in expecting (or even wanting) to get the story that they’ve already heard. Indeed, sometimes this goes back even farther—not only do you know that Romeo and Juliet will die in this movie based on the Shakespeare play, people back in Shakespeare’s time did too, since it was based on an older legend. (Heck, Shakespeare just decided to spoil it in the prologue.)
That said, Gunn works for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which tries to balance the stories that you know from the comic with original ideas. There was a whole Twitter campaign, #ThanosDemandsYourSilence, simply to ask fans not to spoil the big ending of Avengers: Infinity War. Granted, those who heard about it will probably still enjoy the film when they see it for themselves, but the surprise is part of what makes the film’s experience; make sure people are okay with it before you spoil.