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Comic-Con Trailers: The Best of the Best, Ranked

by  in Lists, Movie News, TV News Comment
Comic-Con Trailers: The Best of the Best, Ranked

Comic-Con International in San Diego was the usual flurry of announcements, trailers and sneak peeks, climaxing Saturday with epic Hall H presentations from Warner Bros. and Marvel Studios.

Well, we say “usual,” but it was anything but that. Comic-Con 2016 offered new – or, in some cases, first — looks at gods both old and new, fantastic beasts, a league of superheroes (in live-action and animated forms), and so much more.

As the dust settles on the pop-culture event of the year, CBR takes a look at the 14 most exciting film and television trailers, and then ranks them best to … also pretty good. Consider this the best of the best.

Before you say, “But what about –?,” keep in mind that we didn’t include trailers screened in Hall H but not released, previously shown footage re-edited and presented in a new way, or teasers that were so short or content-free that they barely qualified as teasers (sorry, “Iron Fist”).

OK, now you can ask, “But what about –?”

14. 14. The Exorcist


Following the disappointment of the short-lived “Omen” sequel “Damien,” most horror fans were in no hurry to see another 1970s classic make the move to television. That is, until they saw the Comic-Con International trailer for Fox’s “The Exorcist.”

Opening with a nod to an iconic scene from the seminal 1971 film, the tightly wound trailer thrusts us into a world of inhabited by a family in crisis, two men of faith of a collision course, and supernatural forces beyond their understanding. Horror can be difficult to pull off on broadcast television, as those pesky commercials for toilet paper and air freshener so often disrupt the building tension. However, if this new trailer is any indication, director Rupert Wyatt may actually be able to do it. — Kevin Melrose

Starring Alfonso Herrera, Ben Daniels, Geena Davis, Brianne Hawley, Hanna Kasulka and Kurt Egyiawan, “The Exorcist” debuts Sept. 23 on Fox.

13. 13. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them


Magic has arrived in America! Well, OK, magic has always been in America, but probably never quite like this.

While the first two “Fantastic Beasts” trailers skirted around showing its titular magical creatures, the one debuted at Comic-Con International holds nothing back — and even the No-Majs are sure to take notice! The new trailer for the latest installment in the “Harry Potter” franchise shows a more of New Scamander’s supporting cast, adding a little fun to the proceedings. It spins the film as a whimsical adventure and brings back that touch of storytelling magic the original series is known for. By the time you’re done watching, you’ll want to be a wizard too. — Meagan Damore

Directed by David Yates from a script by J.K. Rowling, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” stars Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dave Fogler, Alison Sudol, Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller and more. It opens Nov. 18.

12. 12. The LEGO Batman Movie


Following a few teasers, the full-length trailer for Warner Bros. Animation’s “The LEGO Batman Movie” revealed the film’s plot: The most grimdark Batman of all time (voiced by Will Arnett, who reprises his role from “The LEGO Movie”) now has an orphan named Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) to take care of — which he does by begrudgingly bringing him on as his sidekick. The trailer’s packed with great visual gags (like Dick’s revealing alteration to his super-suit) and solid one-liners (“Bruce Wayne lives in Batman’s attic.”).

There’s even a taste of the maniacal laugh Zach Galifianakis will unleash as the Joker. We may still be three years away from the official “LEGO Movie” sequel, but February 2017’s “LEGO” Batman” looks to be a spinoff worth plenty of excitement. — Brett White

Directed by Chris Miller, “The LEGO Batman Movie” also stars Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes and Mariah Carey. It opens Feb. 10, 2017.

11. 11. Doctor Strange


Although it’s unmistakably woven into the fabric of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Doctor Strange” manages to stand out as its own beast, especially in this second trailer. Boasting trippy visual effects in the spirit of legendary comic book artists like Steve Ditko and Gene Colan, the film looks to squash that seemingly never-ending talk about superhero fatigue with its bold philosophical take on the genre and stunning, reality-bending aesthetic that just may outdo Christopher Nolan’s “Inception.”

Plus, this trailer emphasizes that “Doctor Strange” has one hell of a cast, with great moments (and new dialogue) from the likes of Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Baron Mordo, Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One and Mads Mikkelsen’s villainous Kaecilius. And, in case you were worried, the stinger demonstrates the film will include the MCU’s signature humor. — Anthony Couto

Directed by Scott Derrickson, “Doctor Strange” also stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt and Scott Adkins. The film opens Nov. 4.

10. 10. Legion


With mind-twisting visuals on the level of “Inception,” the first trailer for FX’s X-Men-based drama “Legion” looks unlike any other Marvel television series ever. The footage focuses heavily on David Haller’s (Dan Stevens) session — or is it multiple sessions? — with a psychiatrist. As perspectives twist, aspect ratios shift and a Bollywood dance number breaks out, viewers are left with one question: What’s really happening in the mind of David Haller?

We only get a tease of the series’ connection with the X-mythos, as Haller’s called “the most powerful mutant” around. Whether the show will establish him as the son of Charles Xavier, or even if it will have any ties to the X-Men films, isn’t known. What is clear, however, is that “Legion” will push the boundaries of what a comic book TV show looks like. — Brett White

Also starring Rachel Keller, Jean Smart, Aubrey Plaza and Jeremie Harris, “Legion” premieres in early 2017 on FX.

9. 9. The Flash


The Comic-Con International trailer for the fan-favorite CW series is all about the reality-altering “Flashpoint” storyline that’s set to rock the upcoming third season.

Having gone back in time to save his mother in the Season 2 finale, Barry returns to a present day where he never became The Flash. Instead, Keiynan Lonsdale’s Wally West is the Fastest Man Alive, and in the trailer, we get to see him in action wearing his yellow-and-red costume for the first time. The Kid Flash moment is probably the most exciting moment, but the reveal of the classic DC Comics villain Doctor Alchemy, and the dialogue from Reverse-Flash — “This isn’t your real home, Barry. It’s a mirage” — make for an appetite-whetting preview for what’s to come this fall. — Anthony Couto

Returning Oct. 4 on The CW, “The Flash” stars Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Tom Cavanagh, Jesse L. Martin, Tom Felton and Keiynan Lonsdale.

8. 8. Arrow


In “Arrow’s” upcoming fifth season, Oliver Queen will get a fresh start — or, rather, a fresh start was forced upon him when most of his team went their separate ways. This trailer introduces a slew of vigilantes (including some we’d seen before, like Curtis Holt and Evelyn Sharp), as well as a new archer villain.

Consequently, it feels as though the series itself is getting a shot in the arm as Oliver assumes the role of both mayor and the leader of Team Arrow. This season promises to be as action-packed as ever, with teases of fight scenes both past and present (was that a Russian Fight Club we spied?). The trailer also reveals Laurel Lance’s lasting effect on Oliver and the team, as he attempts to change the direction of Star City and his own life. — Meagan Damore

Returning Oct. 5 on The CW, “Arrow” stars Stephen Amell, David Ramsey, Emily Bett Rickards and Willa Holland.

7. 7. Justice League Action


To answer Batman’s question at the final moment of the trailer: Yes, we missed you. In particular, we missed having a “Justice League” animated series around; it’s been since the since heyday of the beloved DC Animated Universe, after all. Thankfully, “Justice League Action” looks to fill the void in its own unique way.

Showcasing a combination of fun action, dialogue and character reveals, the “Justice League Action” trailer assures us the animated series manages a balance of weight and humor. Based on all of the characters that appear in the trailer — Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Hippolyta, Firestorm, Joker, Mongul, Lobo, Cyborg, Brainiac, Lex Luthor, Solomon Grundy, Plastic Man, Zatanna, Harley Quinn, Vixen, Doctor Fate and Mr. Freeze, among others — “Justice League Action” is worth keeping an eye on. — Anthony Couto

Debuting this fall on Cartoon Network, “Justice League Action” boasts a voice cast that includes Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Diedrich Bader, John DiMaggio, Tara Strong and Patton Oswalt.

6. 6. American Gods


Fans of Neil Gaiman‘s bestselling 2001 fantasy novel have awaited a television adaptation with a blend of trepidation and excitement for the better part of five years. Featuring a diverse cast of characters, “American Gods” is a nuanced story about a mysterious ex-con caught in the middle of a brewing war between the waning old deities and the new gods – media, technology, etc. — that have sprung up to take their place. What could possibly go wrong in its journey to television? Judging from the first look at the upcoming Starz drama, absolutely nothing.

Your early faith in the seemingly flawless casting – Ricky White as Shadow, Ian McShane as Mr. Wednesday and Cloris Leachman as Zorya Vechernyaya, for starters – is rewarded in this nearly two-minute trailer laced with the perfect mix of mystery, menace and magic, with a hint of humor. Just like Gaiman’s novel. — Kevin Melrose

Also starring Emily Browning, Pablo Schreiber, Yetide Badaki, Bruce Langley, Crispin Glover, Orlando Jones, Gillian Anderson and others, “American Gods” premieres in 2017 on Starz.

5. 5. The Walking Dead


AMC’s “The Walking Dead” has made it a tradition to reveal big news through its Comic-Con International trailers, and this summer’s did not disappoint. What began as a straightforward, and somewhat bland, recap of the most important moments in the lives of each of Negan’s potential victims became far more interesting once it turned its attention to the future.

No, we didn’t learn who will be on the receiving end of Lucille’s barbed-wire wrath, but we did learn quite a bit about how far into the comic book mythology the TV series will venture in Season 7. Not only does the trailer offer our first glimpse of The Kingdom, a survivors’ settlement that rivals the size of the Hilltop Colony, it also introduced who will undoubtedly turn out to be the show’s most eccentric character: Ezekiel, and his furry sidekick/protector Shiva the tiger. — Stephen Gerding

Starring Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Chandler Riggs, Melissa McBride. Laura Cohan, Danai Gurira, Sonequa Martin-Green, Michael Cudlitz, Lennie James, Josh McDermitt and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. It returns for its seventh season Oct. 23 on AMC.

4. 4. Luke Cage


Luke Cage strolls from Hell’s Kitchen to Harlem To the sounds of Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya,” and effortlessly takes out an entire building filled with opponents using only his bare hands and whatever’s within arm’s reach (a car door, a pipe). This is an entirely different take on Marvel/Netflix’s widely praised – and now practically trademarked — hallway fight scene, with Mike Colter’s Cage trading out Daredevil’s martial-arts mastery for straightforward swagger.

This first look at Marvel’s upcoming Netflix drama keeps most of the series a mystery; beyond Luke himself, we only see a pair of characters — played by Frankie Faison and Mahershala Ali. But if this brawl is in any indication, it looks as if the eagerly awaited “Luke Cage” may be as bulletproof as its hero. — Brett White

Debuting Sept. 30 on Netflix, “Luke Cage” also stars Alfre Woodard, Simone Missick, Theo Rossi, Frank Whaley and Sônia Braga.

3. 3. Kong: Skull Island


We’ve seen King Kong in more than a half-dozen films – most recently in Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake – but never quite like this. Although no one likely predicted the director of the quirky coming-of-age drama “The Kings of Summer” would deliver “Apocalypse Now,” only with Col. Kurtz replaced by a colossal ape, that’s what this first trailer promises, much to our delight.

The footage wisely withholds the title character – the largest Kong ever depicted on film – until the final moments, and then only revealing parts of him, the rest obscured by sun and shadow. We’re left to imagine the sheer scale of the monster, relying on a boneyard, the reactions of characters and, worst of all, an enormous bloody handprint on the side of a cliff. The picture we end up with is terrifying. — Kevin Melrose

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, “Kong: Skull Island” stars Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins, Toby Kebbell, Tom Wilkinson, Terry Notary, John Goodman and John C. Reilly. It opens March 10, 2017.

2. 2. Justice League


Following the disappointing critical and commercial response to “Batman v Superman,” intended to be the cornerstone of the DC Comics cinematic universe, there was a lot riding on this first look at “Justice League.” Warner Bros. and director Zack Snyder had to assure audiences there was more to their superheroes than a grim tone, dour expressions and dull colors. With this reel cobbled together for Comic-Con International, they managed to do just that.

Sure, everything still looks as if it were filmed through a cyan fog (it is still Snyder, after all), but despite the suggest high stakes of the storyline, there’s a welcome lightness to the footage. It’s not merely from the inclusion of Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen, either; there’s honest-to-goodness warmth in the exchange between Ben Affleck’s Batman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. — Kevin Melrose

Opening Nov. 17, 2017, “Justice League” also stars Ray Fisher, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons, J. K. Simmons, Amber Heard and Willem Dafoe.

1. 1. Wonder Woman


The first trailer for Warner Bros.’ “Wonder Woman” certainly delivers. Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince may have showed up in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” but she truly shines in this first look at her solo film, which introduces fan-favorite characters like Etta Candy, Hippolyta and Steve Trevor.

Unlike the dour “Batman v Superman,” “Wonder Woman” bursts with color and warmth as Diana discovers the world of man and makes her own way in it. That’s not to say, of course, that it isn’t also action-packed: Diana proves herself to be every bit the fierce warrior she promised to be in her first appearance. Several sequences — like Wonder Woman standing strong against a hailstorm of bullets — become instantly iconic, even as the horror of war is balanced by humor and the characters’ chemistry. Here, the DC Comics superheroine is just as defiant and compassionate as her comic book counterpart, providing fans with a good reason to get excited for the film. — Meagan Damore

Directed by Patty Jenkins, “Wonder Woman” also stars Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Lucy Davis, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Danny Huston, Elena Anaya, Ewen Bremner, Saïd Taghmaoui and David Thewlis. It opens June 7, 2017.