Expectations and Privilege

An EYG Editorial

I went to watch Top Gun: Maverick today and I overheard something that got my mind to racing about one of the biggest problems in the world of fandom today and I wanted to write about it while the thoughts are fresh.

Top Gun: Maverick ended and I was sitting in my seat as most of the theater filled out. I was staying for several reasons. One, I like to see credits, at least for a bit because there are so many talented people who work hard on movies. Two, I was enjoying the score that was playing over the credits. Three, I was in no rush, and four, and probably the most important, I was hoping that the line at the restroom would be shorter at the end of the credits.

I was not the only person still in the theater, but I was not paying any attention to them as I was just enjoying the after thoughts of an excellent movie. The credits end and I hear the lady standing directly in the row behind me say, “There better be more.”

I thought, is she waiting for a post credit scene? It’s Top Gun: Maverick. There was never going to be a post credit scene on this movie. It’s not a comic book movie or a fantasy film of some sort.

When the film ended and there was, of course, no post credit scene, the lady started to leave and then said to the people who she was with, “They got us” and then she added “Bastards.”

I was shocked, but it put something immediately into focus, a problem that has been rearing its ugly head all the more over the last few years. This woman clearly had an expectation that there should be a post credit scene and then, when there was not one, she reacted with privilege that she had been cheated out of something.

Who told you or hinted at you that there might be a post credit scene at the end of Top Gun: Maverick? No one, anywhere. I could MAYBE understand this reaction if it were a Marvel or DC movie and there were no post credit scene because we have become accustomed to them being there. And they always have them. But Top Gun? That makes no sense.

The only person at fault here is you, by building up your own expectations about what you think should be there.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness faced some of the same backlash, in my opinion. There had been so much speculation that the film would contain a hoard of cameos and that everything from the introduction of mutants to the arrival of Tom Cruise’s Superior Iron Man was going to happen in this movie, so some people were disappointed that the number of cameos were kept at a minimum and there were only a few multiverses included. The internet feeds all of this by taking any tiny news bit and writing articles that blow the info way out of proportion.

Now, to be fair, Marvel does a lot of this on purpose and they never outright reveal what is not going to happen. By trying to keep the surprises a surprise, they teach their audience to speculate about what could be connected. And they absolutely encourage this behavior with their Easter Eggs and including Patrick Stewart’s Professor Xavier in the trailers. If Professor X is there, and given away in the trailer, clearly there must be much more coming, and the fans are off to the races.

I will admit that I liked the movie better the second time around because my own expectations were removed and I was just able to watch it as a movie. I did not wonder every second if this is how the MCU was going to introduce the X-Men or when Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine was going to show up. I just enjoyed the film.

It is not just the movies either. I was at Comic World, my local comic shop, and discussing the Disney + series Moon Knight with another customer. He said that Marvel made a mistake and that he might have liked the show if they had made it like Moon Knight originally was, “Marvel’s Batman.” I wish I would have had time to continue that conversation because it highlights perfect the fact that fandom, at times, judges a movie or series by what they wanted it to be instead of watching it for what it is. This irritates me, though I understand it. I have done the same things before.

I remember when Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man came out and there was such an outrage about organic webs and no mechanical ones. I remember hating the idea and I even wrote something about how it damaged the character of Peter Parker, and then I saw the movie and it was fine. It didn’t bother me at all. However, if I had decided that I hated what they were trying to do and refused to watch the film, I would have missed out on some great Spidey movies (and Spider-Man 3).

My fervent wish for people in the internet community and for the lady at Cinemark today, don’t judge on expectations. You don’t deserve the filmmakers to do what you want. If there are no post credit scenes, just go home. These are pieces of art that the producers, directors, actors and all other creative arts individuals work hard on. Try not to judge it because of what is not there. If you watch a movie and you dislike it, that is absolutely fine. You have the right to like or dislike anything you want. Art is subjective. However, you have no right to say, “I think this should be included and because it is not there, I am mad.” Grow up. Deal with it.

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