Marvel Studios, along with all other Hollywood movie studios, can now be sued for misleading or deceptive trailers, according to a new federal ruling Wednesday.
In the modern age, movie trailers are not only being used as advertising tools, but also as products that garner hype and excitement in their own rights. The MCU is no exception, as its trailers garner massive fan response and induce major speculation about the films. When the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 trailer dropped, it quickly swept the internet, garnering more than 24 million views in less than a month since its debut.
Marvel trailers have not tended to be maliciously misleading in the past, but they have included footage that did not make it into the final cut of the film or footage that was doctored as to not give away spoilers.
Notably, Avengers: Infinity War’s trailer included a scene with Hulk in the Battle of Wakanda, though the Hulk never fully transformed in the movie after the opening scene. Furthermore, a shot containing Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield was edited to conceal the actors’ appearances in the Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer.
Now, that practice could potentially lead to some trouble for Marvel in the future.
No More Misleading Trailers
Movie studios can legally be sued if they present misleading information about appearances of actors in a film trailer, as of a Wednesday ruling by U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson.
The ruling came in the midst of a lawsuit against Universal regarding the trailer for the 2019 movie Yesterday, which featured actress Ana de Armas despite the actress not being included in the final cut of the movie.
Judge Wilson rejected Universal’s argument that movie trailers are “artistic, expressive work” that should be considered “non-commercial” speech, cementing the fact that trailers are commercial speech since, at their core, they’re “designed to sell a movie.”
The ruling applies to trailers that mislead a “significant portion” of “reasonable consumers,” so just because a trailer contains some shots that get scrapped from a movie’s final cut doesn’t necessarily constitute that trailer as false advertising.
More Accurate Marvel Trailers?
Marvel Studios, one of the biggest studios in the world, will be no exception to this ruling. If MCU trailers continue to contain doctored or unused footage like in Infinity War or No Way Home, the studio will be liable to be sued by consumers who feel misled or lied to.
Perhaps this will lead to MCU trailers being more accurate, meaning fans will not be forced to question whether that really will be Hulk in that scene, or if Marvel is hiding a surprise appearance of an edited-out character from a scene in the trailer.
For now, though, the trailers for the next MCU movies are available to watch online, with February’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and May’s Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3.