With great power

Leaked Spider-Man 3 trailer reveals the biggest problem with MCU fandom

The low-res leak clearly shows a flaw in the culture.

The Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer is the holy grail of MCU trailers.

After being teased for months, including red herring title announcements and a behind-the-scenes video, there’s still no sign of a trailer ahead of the threequel’s December 17 premiere.

That is, until last night when a screen recording of another screen recording of a watermarked rough draft of the trailer was leaked online. Though the quality was like watching a bootleg recording of a PS2 game, it was enough to spark fervor throughout the fandom — and reveal the toxic culture surrounding leaks.

Here’s how the leak came about and what it says about the state of the MCU fandom.

Anatomy of a Leak

How everyone working on Spider-Man is probably reacting right now.Sony Pictures

When reputable “leakers” publish information about upcoming projects to the public, they do so by obtaining information from sources and then removing all identifying info about that source to protect them from any major consequences.

It’s a process that requires a lot of trust: the public’s trust in the leaker to release genuine information and the source’s trust that the leaker will do everything they can to protect the source’s identity.

In this case, Superhero Theorist leaked the Spider-Man 3 trailer. The popular leaker has worked with another reputable leaker, Murphy’s Multiverse, in the past. They were in contact with a VFX artist working on the No Way Home trailer, who shared a rough cut, presumably, confidentially.

According to a Reddit post from a friend of Superhero Theorist, they did not leak the rough cut emblazoned with an identifying watermark directly but shared the cut with some other parties who then broke confidentiality and posted the video to the public.

Like it says in every after-school special about the internet, once something is posted, there’s no stopping it. Now, one of the most anticipated trailers of the year is online half-finished, which isn’t the best first impression. But there’s a bigger problem than that.

The Real-World Consequences

Messing with the fanbase is typical for Spider-Man, but this time it went too far.

Though it sounds cliché, it’s important to remember there are real people behind these leaks. Superhero Theorist is a person who has now lost their job and friends and indirectly ruined all credibility in the leaks industry with this one mistake.

Inverse spoke with a friend of Superhero Theorist who wished to remain anonymous. The source says he hasn’t responded to any correspondence all day, which is extremely out of character. This situation has affected his mental state, which is not worth any exclusive look at an upcoming trailer.

“There are too many flaws to count, all of which have been well exposed in the past,” the source tells Inverse. “The biggest thing is definitely the harm it can do to people's lives.”

Superhero Theorist’s social media profiles have all been wiped.

Many fans think the Marvel rumor mill is a push-pull between an upstart fandom and the huge corporations that keep these secrets under lock and key. But the sad reality is the people who lose out when leaks happen like this are the most powerless in the situation: lower-tier employees and leakers who could face legal consequences for this one action.

This situation, as exciting it may be for the casual fan, has no winners. Disney and Sony lose the element of surprise and the ability to make a good first impression. The fans lose the ability to see the trailer as it was intended. The source and leaker face huge losses, mental and emotional distress just for one leak.

“Be careful what you wish for,” Inverse’s source says. “People lost their jobs, careers, and could potentially be sued into the ground over a pixelated video that was likely going to be released in full quality soon anyways.”

Spider-Man: No Way Home will premiere in theaters on December 17, 2021.