‘Amazing Spider-Man’ Lizard Leak Raises Questions

In this week's Marvel Mania, we use a recent 'Spider-Man' controversy to consider whether it's fair to judge a movie based on leaks.

Over the years, big-budget blockbusters have revealed themselves in increasingly inventive ways. “The Dark Knight” gave us our first look at Heath Ledger’s Joker by way of an elaborate viral game, for instance, and just this year, “The Dark Knight Rises” instituted a similar treatment for the villainous Bane. Even on the Marvel side of the aisle, we’ve seen creative, out-of-the-box revelations — like the buildup to “The Avengers” through numerous post-credits sequences, for example.

But revealing your villain through a PEZ dispenser? That’s a new one, even for the House of Ideas!

Nonetheless, that’s exactly how we got our first look at the Lizard, the villain played by Rhys Ifans in next summer’s “The Amazing Spider-Man.” Earlier in the week, a photo of an officially licensed “Spider-Man” PEZ dispenser leaked online and gave eager webheads their first and, really, only taste yet of what Curt Connors’ monstrous transformation will look like when the Sony film swings into theaters.

A separate leak occurred earlier Wednesday (November 30), this time in the form of an alleged concept design showing Lizard in all his menacing glory. Folks lucky enough to have caught the “Amazing Spider-Man” panel at Comic-Con this year are largely in agreement on the blurry design’s authenticity, giving fans bummed by the PEZ reveal another shot at getting to know the Lizard on better terms.

We can argue for days over whether the design itself is up to snuff — the biggest bone of contention is Lizard’s lack of an elongated snout, based on fan reactions seen thus far — but no one’s going to stand here and say that a frickin’ PEZ dispenser is the best way to meet a highly anticipated movie character for the very first time. The concept art, however, is a somewhat different story; if that’s a legitimate design, whether officially released or not, perhaps it is worth decoding.

For me, Lizard-Gate raises an interesting point about the changing shape of movie consumption in the digital age. Early looks at leaked material — like the Lizard concept art and his filthy PEZ habit — can either build buzz and excitement for a movie or they can crush all enthusiasm in one fell swoop. But is it fair to judge this crucial aspect of “Spider-Man” (or any movie) based on something that wasn’t officially released? Can we really pile hate on Lizard based on candy of all things?

In a perfect world, we would be able to reserve all judgment of a movie until the movie’s actual arrival. But it’s not a perfect world; it’s a lightning-paced digital one, and where there’s an Internet, there’s a picture of a Lizard PEZ dispenser that’s bound to inform your opinion of “Amazing Spider-Man” in some way, no matter how big or small. Ultimately, it comes down to the click of a button: Are you so curious about an upcoming movie that you need to digest any and all information as soon as it’s available, or can you look away long enough for the official goods to drop?

I don’t think there’s a right or a wrong answer here. In the end, it’s a personal choice: Either you want to look, or you don’t. Nobody’s going to die because you stared at a PEZ dispenser for a few minutes (don’t hold me to that, please). But the next time you find yourself on the horizon of that choice, consider Uncle Ben’s famous words of wisdom: With great power comes great responsibility — or, to riff on another famous phrase, “To PEZ or not to PEZ; that is the question.”

What do you think of movie leaks? Let me know on Twitter via @mtvsplashpage, and be sure to check out our new weekly discussion show, “Talk Nerdy to Me.”

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Likes pizza, punch and pie. Dislikes the Chitauri.
@roundhoward