The Thing About Plot Spoilers

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At this point it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the Batman. I’ve seen each of his movies several times each (yes, even the terrible ones), I’ve read volumes upon volumes of his comics, and I’ve played Arkham Asylum several times over. I’ve also been carrying the torch for the upcoming Arkham City here on PlayStation University, posting news and features for the highly anticipated game. On paper, I’m exactly the kind of person that should be upset by the revelation of a supposed spoiler in the game’s plot.

Big surprise: I’m not. Let me explain.

One of the things to remember about comics is that characters die, and they die pretty frequently. Just as importantly, you have to know that those dead characters don’t stay dead for very long. Just take a look around the comic landscape and you’ll see a graveyard’s worth of dead heroes and villains walking the streets. Batman and Superman have exited this mortal coil only to escape the light at the end of the tunnel months later, and villains are no different.

With that in mind, I find it impossible to wrap my mind around the fact that people are upset over this … particular spoiler. I won’t mention it here because, Heaven forbid, someone decides to rain hatred over me saying that someone who has kicked the bucket several times, only to come back to life several issues later, in comics continuity has done so in a video game based that same comics license. It’s kind of like knowing that someone that has been in and out of drug rehab had a relapse after hanging out at a sketchy party attended by sketchier people, then being taken absolutely aback as if it was unprecedented.

There are plenty of scathing opinions circulating on the internet on this matter, but a headline that caught my eye was the one published on GamePro titled “We Have a Right to Be Angry About Batman: Arkham City Spoilers.” At its core, the headline is absolutely correct; everyone has the right to their opinion. But as Patton Oswalt says on his newest album, while we have to acknowledge another’s opinion, we don’t necessarily have to respect it when it’s so ridiculously misguided.

In literally any other case, I’d be right there with anyone upset about a spoiler — I had to play though Heavy Rain already knowing who the Oragami Killer was, and it kind of sucked because of that. Right now, I’m doing my goddamndest to avoid Gears of War 3 spoilers. I also agree with McKinley’s opinion that Kotaku has a tendency to prioritize pageviews over readers when it comes to coming up with a juicy headline. This particular “spoiler,” however, is not unlike learning that Jason Voorhees dies at the end of a Friday the 13th movie. Not only has this particular thing happened in Batman comics before, it’s definitely going to happen again.

To be fair, that particular piece of information isn’t something that I would have put in a headline. It’s unfortunate that out of the many people that are excited about Arkham City, not a lot of them seem to know what happens in the world of Batman outside of what they see in video games or in movies. I wouldn’t have kept it out of the preview body, though, and I’m not sure how much better that is for the reader — you can either find out immediately via the headline, or after ten-plus minutes of reading a detailed preview that was meticulously planned by the game’s publisher.

The sad irony is that readers want as much information as they can muster, but are upset when that information upsets their delicate sensibilities.