Back in the early days of movies before superhero films and the summer blockbuster, merchandising in the form of toys and collectibles only existed after a film had been out a while, or in very special circumstances. But after the success of Star Wars (which has made twice as much from its toys as its movies) and the success of other merchandise-driven franchises like G.I. Joe, Transformers, He-Man, My Little Pony, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and pretty much every animated Disney film you can name, toy tie-ins for big budget movies became a given. Soon every big silver screen event had merchandise and a toyline to go with it.
Film merchandise is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, everyone liked playing with action figures of their favorite character, heroes, and spaceships, when they were a kid, and many still enjoy collecting them as adults. Merchandise can certainly be a good way to market a film and to give fans something as a beloved reminder. But on the other, the problem comes when companies release action figures and playsets that spoil the coolest parts of the movie months before it even comes out! From hidden villains to epic fight scenes and major plot twists, toy tie-ins have been spoiling movies for decades. Oftentimes the coolest parts of a film are major plot reveals that were meant to be kept secret.
Here are 28 examples of toys that completely spoiled the movies they were from. It should go without saying that major spoilers for the movies on this list follow.
28 Phantasm Unmasked
One of the most famous movie spoilers that came from a toy was the reveal of the titular villain from the 1993 animated film, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. In the movie, the Caped Crusader faces off against a mysterious masked vigilante in an awesome costume known as the Phantasm, who is offing mob bosses and running afoul of the Dark Knight's strict code of honor. Batman believes the Phantasm is Carl Beaumont.
Kenner's action figure of the Phantasm absolutely ruined the big twist of the film by revealing that "he" was actually Andrea Beaumont, Carl's daughter, and Bruce Wayne's childhood sweetheart. The Phantasm was her way of avenging her father's demise. It's the biggest twist of the film, and the Kenner action figure blatantly reveals Andrea's face as the Phantasm.
27 Green With Envy
In 2001, DreamWorks' Shrek film took the world by storm, becoming an unlikely success at the box office, winning the first ever Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Of course, Shrek also spawned a huge merchandise boom. For a while in the '00s, Shrek was everywhere, from cereal boxes to clothes to action figures.
One toyline in particular though revealed some unfortunate details about the movie.
The Burger King toyline for the first film had a Fiona toy that changed from her humanoid appearance to her green ogre look, spoiling the ending. It didn't stop there: Shrek was such a massive success that sequels were swiftly announced. Plush toys of Shrek and Fiona's triplets were on retailer's shelves long before the release of Shrek the Third, which not only spoiled the fact that Fiona wass pregnant, but even the number of children she would have.
26 The Handmaid's Tale
When the first Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace, hit theaters in 1999, it had to deal with perhaps the highest expectations in cinematic history. One remarkable thing is that other than Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, all the characters were brand new to audiences. And so, just like it would be with The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, the toys released before the movie became a game of "find the spoiler."
In this case, they didn't have to look hard. One significant revelation in the film is that Natalie Portman's character, who we are introduced to as Padmé, one of Queen Amidala's handmaidens, is, in fact, the Queen herself in disguise. Maybe this would've been a bigger reveal if they hadn't released a Padmé action figure and a Queen Amidala action figure at the same time, both identical and clearly bearing Portman's photo on the package.
25 A Giant Spoiler
Everyone knew that Paul Rudd's Ant-Man was going to play a role in the next big Marvel flick, Captain America: Civil War, teased by Captain America and Falcon's appearance in the post-credits sequence for the Ant-Man film. Even better, in what was intended to be a big surprise, Ant-Man was going to turn into Giant-Man to help Cap fight against Iron Man and his allies.
Unfortunately, not just one, but every single toyline spoiled Giant-Man's appearance months before the film was even in theaters, with Hasbro, Lego, and Funko, all doing versions of the character. While Giant-Man wasn't seen in any of the film trailers, he was even part of Hasbro's "build-a-figure" set, appearing on the packaging of every figure. Funko eventually pulled images of the toy from their websites, but by then the damage was done.
24 Lotso Ruined Endings
Pixar did a better job than most in keeping the plot of Toy Story 3 under wraps. The movie trailer avoided any major reveals, including that Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear, or Lotso, was the antagonist of the film, or that he ruled Sunnyside Daycare with an iron fist. They also kept a lot of the harrowing scenes later in the film out of the teasers and trailers, keeping the mystery about the film.
But the Lego toyline ruined all of that by outright revealing the incinerator scene at the climax of the film, releasing an entire playset based on it.
It even included one of the Little Green Men operating a crane to save everyone at the end. Lotso's true nature was also spoiled by this playset, depicting him with an evil grin and operating the machine's button on the box.
Most of the toys for the McFarlane Toys' line for The Simpsons Movie are careful to avoid any plot points. All the usual characters are there: there's Homer playing with Plopper (aka Spider-Pig), Itchy and Scratchy, Bart skateboarding past Sherri and Terri, Lisa reading, Homer chowing down on popcorn, Marge being Marge, and so forth. The idea was to release them all as a four-part figure set that could be connected together to form a couch scene. They could even speak with two AA batteries. All in all, the toys were pretty ordinary.
Except for the "What You Lookin' At?" figurine playset, which depicts the scene where Bart Simpson and Ned Flanders discover the many-eyed mutated squirrel. It even helpfully depicts the nearby polluted Lake Springfield glowing green and with an ironic "No Dumping" sign. This blew the whistle on the plot, and images of the toy were censored.
22 Deformed Deadpool
The character of Deadpool was handled so poorly in the film X-Men Origins: Wolverine that the 2016 Deadpool movie came out, this much more faithful version repeatedly mocked the earlier version (Ryan Reynolds actually played both). One of the biggest shocks to longtime fans was that the X-Men Origins version of the "Merc with a Mouth" had his mouth sealed shut!
This felt like a slap in the face to the character's famous wisecracks, but the experiment that left Deadpool mute didn't happen until the final act of the film. Earlier, Wade Wilson was depicted as a talkative mercenary with a dark sense of humor, and that's how Deadpool was shown in the trailers. The action figure line, on the other hand, depicted Wilson transformed into Deadpool and lacking a proper mouth, which raised concerns early.
21 Lex Loses
It's almost a given that the bad guys are going to lose in superhero films; the real question is how they lose, and what it costs the heroes in terms of lives along the way. So, when people learned that Lex Luthor was going to be the villain of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, everyone knew that Luthor would not win the day. However, that still doesn't mean it was a good idea to release an action figure totally giving away his ultimate fate.
The Multiverse Doomsday series action figure not only showed Lex in shackles while wearing an orange prison outfit, giving away that he goes to prison at the very end, but also showed him with a bald head. Lex appears with a full head of hair in all the promotional trailers, and the figure showed that he would lose his hair before the movie was over.
20 Literally All The Pokémon Movies
In addition to being one of the biggest and most profitable anime franchises of all time, Pokémon also has a history of revealing some truly awful spoilers in its merchandise. One infamous example is the soundtrack for Pokémon: Volcanion and the Mechanical Marvel having two tracks on it titled, "Volcanion [Perishes]?" and "From Within The Mist." In case you were wondering, yes, the soundtrack came out before the movie.
But this was nothing new: character captures and evolutions in the Pokémon movies are regularly spoiled this way.
You can tell when a character is going to capture a Pokémon because a toy will be released around that time, complete with the trainer's name ("Serene's Pancham" or "Ash's Palpitoad"). Group shots on the merchandise usually spoil evolutions by showing the Pokémon in their new form among the character's other Pokémon.
19 Bearly Concealed
Pixar's Brave was released in 2012 to critical acclaim and box office success, and all the plush toys and action playsets that Disney's near-unlimited resources could provide. The characters and fantastical setting – as well as the prominence of bears in the plot – made Brave a prime candidate for toys. There was just one problem: the dolls and plush toys released before the film blatantly revealed the identity of the family of bears seen in the trailer.
For the movie's merch, there were three plush bears named "Hamish," "Hubert," and "Harris," which just so happened to be the exact names of Merida's trouble-making triplet brothers. Other plush toys also spoiled the fact that Merida's mother would be turned into a bear as well. Of course, on the Disney Store's website, the three bears were named "Happy," "Hungry," and "Curious," but anyone who bought the actual toys knew better.
18 You May Call Him Commander
Though G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was considered to be a failure with both critics and fans, it went on to perform well enough at the box office to warrant a sequel, G.I. Joe: Retaliation. In the first film, it was supposed to be a secret that the mysterious character known only as "The Doctor," portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, was Rex Lewis - the man who would become Cobra Commander.
But that key plot twist was revealed by some careless labeling on the G.I. Joe merchandise that accompanied the film. The action figure for Gordon-Levitt's character was outright labeled, "Rex 'The Doctor' Lewis," a recognizable name for anyone familiar with G.I. Joe, or anyone with Google for that matter. Luckily, the actor's other reveal for The Dark Knight Rises, where his character John Blake is revealed to be Robin, avoided such an unfortunate fate.
17 Vision Of The Future
While it was well-known that Vision would make an appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel went to great lengths to avoid showing what he would look like or where he would come from. Vision was kept out of any of the trailers, and his appearance was obscured by the sun in the posters.
But all of Marvel's careful planning was for naught. Multiple action figures and promotional toys released before Age of Ultron hit theaters not only showed exactly what he looked like in the movie but even revealed his biography, including that he would be granted sentience by Loki's scepter. Considering the importance of the Infinity Stones in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this spoiler was truly massive. Keep in mind all this was months before the movie's release!
16 The Darkseid Of Spoilers
Superhero movies are one of the lucrative opportunities to sell toys; after all, who doesn't like playing with miniature versions of your favorite heroes and villains? Most of the time, we go to superhero movies not knowing who the ultimate bad guy is going to be, and fans like to speculate on which villains from the old comics will make an appearance on the silver screen.
Or, you could do like DC's 2017 Justice League movie did, and give it away with the toyline months before the film's even been released.
Nearly every action figure set for a film with a large cast of heroes just begging to be turned into profitable merchandise featured Steppenwolf, the antagonist of the story. Since Steppenwolf is a servant of the supervillain Darkseid, this also spoiled the fact that Darkseid would be featured in the DC Cinematic Universe at the ultimate "big bad."
15 What Can We Say Except, You're Welcome?
Every Disney animated adventure presents a new chance for shiny new Lego sets to go with the film, and 2016's Moana was no exception. But while the playsets typically just reflect iconic or unique locations within each new Disney production, such as the ice castle from Frozen, Moana's flagship set revealed the most major plot detail about the movie.
The Lego set "Moana's Ocean Voyage" spoils the entire ending by showing how Moana saves the world from the lava monster Te Kā. At the climax of the film, Moana returns the heart of Te Fiti to the fire demon, revealing her identity as the life-granting goddess Te Fiti herself. In the Lego playset, after Moana returns to the heart to a compartment underneath Te Kā's mountain, the whole thing rotates and shows Te Kā changing back into Te Fiti.
14 Fiery Depths Of Spoilers
The November 2017 film, Thor: Ragnarok, turned out to be a smash hit with audiences after the mixed reception of its predecessor, Thor: The Dark World. Though the trailer featured a Gladiator Hulk and bits of humor, Marvel went out of their way to keep their mouths shut about the movie's plot. However, that didn't seem to apply to Ragnarok's numerous toys, all of which seemingly spoiled something.
First, it was revealed by a Funko figure that the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum's character) was a Celestial. A more substantial spoiler happened when Funko released a toy of the fiery demon, Surtur, revealing him as the main foe. But the worst was yet to come, as the Hong Kong-based Hot Toys debuted a collectible called "Roadworn Thor," which featured a notable accessory on Thor's back: Surtur's skull, lashed to him with a metal chain. Well then...
13 Looking A Little Pale
The more toys are released to tie in with a blockbuster film, the more like they are to spoil important plot points. Such was the case with the Lego sets for Iron Man 3. Though a bit more subtle than some of the others on this list, a fan who collected all the Lego playsets would soon put two and two together. The spoiler is regarding the Lego figure of the villain, Aldrich Killian, who is looking a little sickly in his brick form (he even came with a glow-in-the-dark head).
Since this version looked identical to other characters infected with the Extremis virus looked on the cover of other playsets, astute fans concluded (rightly) that Aldrich Killian would be infected with his own virus at the end of the film.
12 Don't Judge By Its Cover
Wreck-It Ralph tells the compelling story of the villain of an arcade video game who wants to break out of his role and become a hero. It's one of the most beloved 3D animated films in recent memory, and it was a huge twist that the exuberant King Candy, the captain of confectionary, the sovereign of sugar, is actually Turbo, the villain of the film. Turbo broke into Sugar Rush, usurped control of the game, and reprogrammed all the citizens' memories to erase all memory of Princess Vanellope von Schweetz.
Or at least it was a big secret, until Disney released their Disney Villains Limited Edition O-ring line.
The DVD and Blu-ray slip-covers depicted the villain of each movie, and Disney put King Candy on the front instead of Turbo. It got even worse in the official coloring book, which walked through the entire plot instead of showing individual scenes.
11 Membership Has Its Privileges
Marvel movies have certainly had more than their share of spoilers, and the massive variety of toys available for the second Avengers movie confirm this. At the end of Captain America: Winter Soldier, viewers knew that Cap and Falcon had agreed to help each other find the titular Winter Soldier, Cap's old friend Bucky Barnes, at the end. But that's all we knew going forward, and it appeared that "find Bucky" would be Falcon's only role in the next installment.
But when Falcon and Hawkeye were released in action figure form as part of a two-pack for the next Marvel movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron, fans discovered that Falcon would become an official member of the Avengers, which didn't happen until the end of the film.
10 This One's A Shocker
The particulars of the plot of Spider-Man: Homecoming were a well-guarded secret since a new franchise about everyone's favorite web-slinger would obviously draw a lot of scrutiny from rabid fans. Twists like those regarding Peter Parker's love interests, Liz and Michelle, remained under wraps. It was known that Vulture was going to make an appearance as a bad guy, and that was about it. Marvel almost succeeded in keeping secrets until the release of the film.
Then the toy line came along, which spoiled the fact that The Shocker, an old Spidey villain, would make an appearance within the movie. While there are technically two Shockers in the actual movie and they don't take on the traditional appearance of the villain like the toy did, it was still a big spoiler as to which bad guys would show up.
9 Which Witch is Which?
The 2013 film Oz the Great and Powerful took a unique, if deeply flawed, perspective on Frank Baum's series of Oz novels, acting as a spiritual prequel to the classic 1939 film version The Wizard of Oz. While the final product received mixed to average reviews from critics, it boasted an all-star cast, starring James Franco as the titular character and Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, and Mila Kunis, as the three witches. The big question was: which witch would go on to become the green-faced Wicked Witch of the West?
Of all things, this twist in the movie was spoiled by a coffee mug (yes, a mug).
It depicted Mila Kunis' character Theodora in full witch gear, with a prosthetic nose and chin and green skin, giving away which character would turn evil. The cup went on sale on the Disney Story before the film was even out.
8 Jedi Mind Tricks
The Star Wars toys are so big that it's almost impossible to avoid spoilers. Considering that, Disney did better than most in covering up spoilers for The Last Jedi. But some details were revealed before release. A playset featuring Supreme Leader Snoke and his red-armored Praetorian Guard spoiled the fact that a scene would take place in his throne room, and also that a fight with his guards was likely. It also revealed that Snoke was not a giant as his hologram in The Force Awakens would lead us to believe.
More than that, action figures for Finn and Rose were released depicting them in full First Order gear, with the helpful annotation, "First Order Disguise," on both toys. But the biggest one was a new Yoda figure. While it carefully avoided labeling that said "The Last Jedi," his inclusion in the new line spoiled his surprise appearance.
7 Who Is Kaecilius Again?
Very often, the big spoiler given away by a movie's toys is which villain the hero of the story will face in battle. This is particularly true for superhero movies, who have many long-established villains to choose from. Fan speculation is always fierce, and the promotional trailers and posters tend to put the spotlight on the star of the film rather than the antagonist, even if the bad guys are cooler.
Everyone expects the big villains in a movie: the Joker for Batman, Lex Luthor for Superman, and so on. But a funny situation can happen though, when more obscure villains are chosen for film adaptations. This was the case with Doctor Strange, which revealed through its toyline that its villain was a little-known character named Kaecilius, when most people expected Baron Mordo. Still, Strange's arch-nemesis Dormammu did make an appearance.
6 Skull And A Crossbones
The opening scene of Captain America: Civil War featured former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent turned HYDRA operative Crossbones stealing a biological weapon from a lab in Lagos, Nigeria. He is caught by Cap, Black Widow, Falcon, and Scarlet Witch. The scene is faithfully recreated in the Lego set "Crossbones' Hazard Heist," which disclosed almost everything about the scene, complete with escape truck, Black Widow's bike, Redwing, and the stolen material, complete with biohazard symbols.
While this set didn't spoil everything about the scene, other toys went the extra mile in leaking details about what could have been a shocking opener for the next chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Funko released a Pop figure of an unmasked Crossbones, spoiling the fact that his face is heavily scarred from the Battle of Triskelion.
5 My Daddy Was A Planet
It was already known that Kurt Russell was going to be in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and that he would be playing Peter Quill's father. For a long time afterward, that was all we knew. But eventually, Marvel was willing to reveal that Star-Lord's father was Ego the Living Planet, but they didn't reveal that he would be the main antagonist of the film.
Until the release of the two-pack action figure pack of Star-Lord and Ego together, released for the film.
On the package, it clearly says: "Ego and Star-Lord share many of the same qualities as father and son. But when it comes to defending the galaxy as each sees fit, their approaches unquestionably differ." While carefully worded, since Star-Lord is the hero this pretty much admitted that Ego was the villain.
4 Prepare Your Childhood Memories
Okay, so this one isn't a movie per se, though it was made into two live-action movies before (to the cold reception of the cartoon's fans), so Inspector Gadget belongs on this list if only for the sheer "bigness" of this spoiler. Anyone who's seen the cartoon knows the biggest question of the Inspector Gadget series is the face of his nefarious archenemy, Dr. Claw. Claw's face was never seen at any point in the show, and what he looked like remained a long-standing mystery.
That is, until the second toyline for the series, which had a Dr. Claw figure with his face shown. The package itself covered his face so you could only see it by buying and opening it, but it was still a pretty huge spoiler. While it's not clear if the toy is canon, this design for Claw was used in the SNES video game.
3 God Of War
Wonder Woman took the cinema world by storm, giving new life to the DC Cinematic Universe. The filmmakers of the smash hit went a surprisingly long time keeping the plot of the film or the identity of the villain under wraps. No details leaked out during development either, a welcome change of pace these days when spoilers for big-budget films are constantly leaked.
That is, until the toyline from Mattel, Lego, and Funko, came out, which all confirmed that Ares was the big bad. While Ares didn't appear in any promotional material for Wonder Woman, he made his way to all the action figures, playsets, Funko Pop figures, and Lego sets, months before the film even hit theaters. Ouch. Well, at least they didn't spoil which character Ares was. We'll take what we can get.
2 Brightest Day, Clearest Spoiler
The 2011 Green Lantern movie is synonymous with how not to do a superhero movie. Highly anticipated as the character's first theatrical appearance, it stalled in development for over a decade and was released to largely negative reviews. But while long-time fans of Hal Jordan's adventures probably weren't surprised that Parallax -the yellow entity who feeds on fear and inhabited the Green Lantern Power Battery – would play a role in the film, the toys left nothing whatsoever to the imagination.
Parallax did not appear in any of the trailers of the movie, but it's impossible to overstate how heavily featured he was in the toyline.
Nearly every playset had a huge plastic Parallax, including a two-pack with Green Lantern which was helpfully called, "Final Showdown."
Echoing the spoiler for Batman: Mask of the Phantasm at the start of our list, this one for the Dick Tracey film is a doozy. While some may argue that Tracey is a detective and not a superhero if you were to put a mask on Tracey he's basically Batman. He also boasts a comic book series of his own, not to mention one of the most colorful arrays of villains out there. Having debuted in 1931, Dick Tracey was planned to make a comeback in the 1990 movie starring Warren Beatty. Madonna even played nightclub singer Breathless Mahoney.
But the secret mastermind behind everything was revealed when Playmates Toys' released the action figure of Tracey's nemesis The Blank - the figure had a removable mask with Mahoney's face underneath, completely spoiling the big twist of the film.