ByRichard Berrigan, writer at
I'm 35 years old, I am divorced, and I live in a van down by the river.
Richard Berrigan

This may or may not be revisiting controversy that has already been settled; I've lost track. With the recent drop of the Captain America: Civil War trailer, people have begun dissecting, analyzing, and evaluating it. I'm sure we'll see tons of articles about it in the coming weeks. 18 takeaways from Civil War Trailer, 12 Easter Eggs Hidden in Civil War Trailer, Civil War Trailer Out-awesomes BVS Trailer, etc. ad nauseum. MP writers seem more interested in trailers for movies than the actual movies. I've been told that "part of the fun" of enjoying movies is enjoying the trailers, but when I went looking for some serious writing about Age of Ultron, I turned up zilch – just some reviews that were either "I liked it" or "I didn't like it". What I did find were lots of articles about AOU's trailers, boy I tell you hwhat. One might even claim that some MP superhero movie writers don't care about the movies as much as they do the trailers for those movies. This brings up an interesting question: Are trailers art?


Why does this matter? We're here on MP to write about what we love! And we love trailers! What's so bad about that? My answer is one that many of you may not like: It lowers the bar. There are a lot of writers on MP who have a real gift for analysis and study, but they're applying it to the wrong thing. A movie is a work that needs to be analyzed. A trailer is an advertisement for a movie. These writers aren't writing about works; they're writing about ads.

There ought to be more thoughtful things written about movies. A movie is a story that is going to or will attempt to tell us about ourselves or about our society. We have many movies, especially Marvel movies, that need and deserve to be studied for themes and meanings by the creative thinkers on MP, and not just for trivial things like Easter Eggs. (Sidenote: There are plenty of people who will argue that superhero movies are not works of anything, just formulaic, glitzy trash for making money. I'm in the superhero-movies-are-still-art camp.)

Advertisements for movies can't tell us anything about ourselves or our society. They're designed to peak interest in a movie. Trailers use unused takes and even cutting-room floor material to get your attention (I don't know why trailer editors do this. Maybe directors just don't want footage to go to waste). Trailer sequences will sometimes show key scenes out of chronological order and important dialogue out of context. They'll even film material and record dialogue just for a trailer. The trailer is not the movie; it does not have the message or meaning of the movie.

Now, I understand the excitement over trailers. I can't wait for Batman V. Superman either, but I don't need the trailer to be persuaded to see the movie. If Zack Snyder never released a single second of footage beforehand, I still wouldn't need any convincing. Why? Because I'm a hardcore DC fan, and I'll be there opening day. I won't need any convincing to go see Civil War, either. Why? Because I love Marvel superheroes. Even if it's awful, I'll still go see it. I'm guessing none of you really need to be convinced to go see these movies either. The trailers are just teasing little glimpses of a movie you desperately want to see, which is fine, unless you get carried away with it.

I think of it like a Christmas present. The anticipation of getting something is often greater than actually getting it. MP trailer analysts are like those kids who are so obsessed with what might be under the tree that they'll shake the present, measure it, weigh it, sniff it, taste it, perform molecular analysis with their bat-computers, and grill their parents with 20 questions. What's the harm? The harm comes when the movie finally gets released. Everyone will (think they) have figured out the entire movie by analyzing the trailers. But when the real movie doesn't go the way they thought it would, they get disappointed and go, "Hm. I expected more." Of course they did! They spent waaaaay too much time studying those trailers and developing theories, so that when the movie finally comes out, it will either be disappointing because it fails to live up to wild expectations, or it just simply won't be as satisfying because they'd already figured out what was under the wrapping paper five months ago. Either way, they lose.

Thus, once the film is released, they don't want to write about it anymore. This is the true shame of it all. Now that we finally have the whole movie for study and discussion, we're already bored with it. If someone else in the media makes some accusation about the film being sexist or something, that might get a few people writing, but otherwise, they'll all be talking about the trailer for Wonder Woman or Justice League or whatever trailer precedes the actual film.

MP has some great writers. It would be nice if they applied those talents to movies instead of trailers. Despite what you might think, trailers are not works of art, nor are they proxies for the movie itself. Trailers are just flashy attention-grabbers designed to whet your appetite for a movie you were already excited to see. Now I don't expect anyone will change what they're doing because of this; maybe some of you will double down on trailers just to spite me, but I hope some of you will go back and study already-released works.


Latest from our Creators