We’re now well into the 2016 blockbuster period. Captain America: Civil War reigns supreme at the box office, and we have plenty of comic book movie goodness left to enjoy, with Suicide Squad and Doctor Strange hitting theaters later this year. Indeed, excitement is already building because of the thrills their trailers have promised.
When you stop to think about it, movie trailers are funny things. They are made to promote the movie by using a hodgepodge of music and footage from the film, and have to carefully coax skeptical audience members into paying to watch the full-length feature.
Regardless of whether the movie is bad or good, some trailers are also so successful that they are pieces of art in their own right; whereas poorly constructed ones can result in diminished box office returns.
A good trailer must tread a fine line. It must tantalize, by showing off the film’s strong points, yet not give too much away. Trailers have to define the movie from the rest of the flock, yet offer a broad appeal to cater to the general moviegoer.
However, comic book movie fans (myself included) are a discerning bunch, and the way a trailer is crafted can mean a great deal to this particularly large and vocal group. And thanks to the internet, trailers have become a massive part of the way we consume these films.
Hundreds of people construct detailed analyses in which they write of spotting recurring trends, and obsess over glimpsed plot points in reaction videos. Many are already champing at the bit for an Assassin's Creed (2016) trailer and more Doctor Strange (2016) promos. As with other releases, some trailers for comic book movies work, and others don’t. Some are very memorable and potent, and others aren’t.
So which have stood, and will continue to stand, the test of time?
From the most recent trailer down to the oldest, here is a collection of this genre’s best advertisements. Enjoy the trip down memory lane!
12. Captain America: Civil War (2016) (Trailer 2)
A recent popular feature in movie trailers is the money shot (a crucial, dramatic, crowd-pleasing moment), and the trailer for Captain America: Civil War features one of the most distinctive examples.
Internet-savvy fans already knew the wildly popular Spider-Man was finally coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Though to general audiences, there is a major difference between showing and telling, which this trailer proved spectacularly.
Whilst some were unhappy that he wasn’t kept a secret until the movie’s release, the sudden appearance of the all-new Spider-Man spawned a widespread discussion and only served to spur hype for the movie onto even greater heights.
11. Suicide Squad (2016) (Trailer 2)
With the seesawing response to each trailer for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, along with the criticism that Doomsday’s appearance invoked, the marketing team for Suicide Squad has definitely avoided these negative appraisals thus far. Indeed, all of the trailers for Suicide Squad have conveyed the dark, blithe and twisted tone of the movie. However, this one does it best.
Why? Because it takes guts to feature amusing cutaways (such as Jai Courtney’s Boomerang cracking a beer) from such an iconic song as "Bohemian Rhapsody," which fits really, really well. It's kinda surprising that it hadn't been used already for another superhero movie.
With the riotous action on show, and the less-is-more approach to Jared Leto’s Joker (and the minutiae of the plot), this impending, seemingly exuberant film has been warmly received thus far and looks set to thrill audiences everywhere.
10. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) (Trailer 1)
This is definitely one of the most accomplished selections on this list. Focusing more on the dramatic interaction between the characters rather than their powers, it blends sex appeal (courtesy of Hugh Jackman), striking imagery and great dialogue, (intoned by various accomplished actors) into a forceful and portentous mix.
Calling back to the franchise's past, this is a stirring and emotionally resonant advert.
9. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) (Trailer 1)
With a slow and theatrical start, this trailer starts to layer a traditional space opera feel — only to quickly subvert it with a healthy dose of anarchic humor.
After introducing us to each of the characters (before this video they were mostly unknown to the general public) it then lets rip with rollicking action and Blue Swede’s "Hooked on a Feeling." Overall, we are given a taste of the movie’s funny and wildly irreverent tone as well as its catchy, killer soundtrack through the inclusion of its signature song.
Other trailers (mentioning no names *cough* Suicide Squad *cough*) have since tried to replicate the tone of this movie as well as its trailer’s success.
8. Man of Steel (2013) (Teaser Trailer 1)
Howard Shore’s heartrending score from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)? Check. Russell Crowe’s empowering voice-over? Check. Put them together, and you have something very soulful. This teaser for Man of Steel underscores the brooding, powerful nature of this new iteration of Superman in an intriguing and minimalist way.
There is another version of this with a different voice-over from Kevin Costner; it's brilliant, but Crowe's cinches first place for its fittingly grandiose dialogue.
The shot of Superman flying at the end is pretty epic as well.
7. The Dark Knight Rises (2012) (Teaser Trailer 1)
This foreboding trailer poses many questions. Why is Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) hospitalized? Who is the hulking villain Bane (Tom Hardy)? What's his plan? And what is causing the usually fierce and uncompromising Batman (Christian Bale) to back away from him?
With its low, ominous music, the trailer builds Bane up to be a substantial threat and calls back to a certain famous moment in his comic book history with very little effort.
Similarly, having the great Liam Neeson in your franchise is always a good thing, and the people who made this trailer knew it. Murmuring over footage from Batman Begins (2005), we get the sense of passing time, which emphasizes the finality of the movie, and the soon-to-be-told epic conclusion of Batman's story.
It's really interesting to rewatch the different trailers and experience the variety of moods and feelings in all of them. Awe, amusement, elation and reminiscence, they each tickle our fancies and convince us that the movie about each of their superheroes is worthy of our time and attention.
But these are all from movies that were released fairly recently! Let's go back in time a little bit further!