It was a great plan while it lasted. To boost ABC's flagging Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel planned to debut the trailer for next May's The Avenger's: Age of Ultron film during next week's episode—but that changed last night.
Wednesday evening, a version of the trailer with low-quality sound but comparatively high-resolution visuals hit the Web. But rather than spend the next several days intimidating the fan site to take down the copies that sprung up minutes later, Marvel simply rolled with the punches, offering a great tweet in response:
— Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel) Oct. 22, 2014
Viewers rapidly lost patience with S.H.I.E.L.D. last season, but ABC needs to keep the series running given its strategic value to the network's gigantic portfolio of Marvel assets, especially the main franchise it spun out of: the $1.5 billion Avengers film. This season, the show is down 27.5 percent year over year in the demo, albeit with much better dialogue, a more interesting series of plot twists and a foolproof plan to drive core viewers to the show, at least until last night.
The company was smart enough to acknowledge the can't-put-the-toothpaste-back-in-the-tube nature of the Internet and simply posted the full high-res trailer online last night. It's been viewed some 8 million times at this writing.
Disney is amazingly good at making sure its valuable advertising assets stay in-house—in February, the company premiered the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy on Jimmy Kimmel, earning that show some live-viewer love, and it kept the clip up with Kimmel-related branding afterward.
But of course, there's a far weirder synergy at work in the Age of Ultron trailer, namely the song I've Got No Strings from Disney's beloved 1940 cartoon Pinocchio. It's the second time in the recent past when Disney has creepified an iconic song from its library of sunny animated features (that would be Once Upon a Dream from Sleeping Beauty for Maleficent, which Lana Del Rey memorably crooned).
Open request to Disney: Please, oh please, release a single of James Spader singing "I've Got No Strings."