The point of a trailer is to inform and excite people about a film and get them to buy tickets as early as possible. A good trailer hypes them up and fills theater seats while a great trailer gets people marking their calendars and clearing their schedules for what they expect to be a mind-blowing film, even if deep down we all know comic books films have a tendency to follow a formula. That has not and will not ever stop you from getting excited about upcoming films featuring your favorite superheroes battling a classic villain from their rogues’ gallery.
So what makes a great trailer? Obviously we have to know who will be in the film. Which character is being adapted and who will be playing them? Will there be action and adventure? Is there romance? Comedy? A great trailer answers all of this without giving too much away. The worst trailers effectively compress a whole film into two or three minutes, giving away almost every twist and turn. It’s equal parts disappointing and impressive, but those are the ones we tend to hate. You might notice that DC films tend to do relatively well regardless of how good or bad the film actually is thanks to their trailers, which rarely fail to impress in some way. Those are the ones we’re taking a look at, ranking them from worst and best according to how well they teased their respective films and how captivating they were.
15. CATWOMAN (TRAILER 1)
To be fair, the issues with the Catwoman trailer predominately stem from the issues with the Catwoman film (directed by Pitof) itself. The film is chock-full of cheesy one-liners and bad CGI, all of which pretty much fill the trailer alongside poor narration. To its credit, at the time, one might have been tempted purely by the amount of action and sex appeal teased by the trailer, both of which are brought to the forefront in the film.
Whatever your thoughts are on the film, they were probably the same when you saw that trailer, tempting you to see what Halle Berry herself described as a “god-awful film” when she accepted her Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress. Everything that led to that award is evident in the trailer, which isn’t something you want from something that’s supposed to help market a superhero film, which is why it’s the worst trailer for a DC-based film.
14. THE LOSERS (TRAILER 2)
Slightly better is the second trailer for The Losers (directed by Sylvain White) which begins with a small clip from the film in which Aisha (played by Zoe Saldana) offers a proposition of sorts to Clay (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan). What begins as a slow buildup to fun under the covers turns into a heated brawl that sets the room alight in more ways than one. The clip is followed by a fast paced introduction to the rest of titular group.
It’s a decent trailer, marred by the fact that it reveals too much of the plot in its three-minute length and pretty much just fills the rest of the time showcasing guns, explosions and a few jokes. That’d be fantastic for a shorter trailer but there’s a fine line between teasing the great parts of a film and just putting them up on display. The trailer disappointingly crosses that line.
13. CONSTANTINE (TRAILER 1)
Before anything else, we have to give praise to the way the film is presented in this trailer: as an eerie, dramatic horror film. There are flashes of odd rituals, demons, angels and hell while dialogue is weaved together to help describe the world and characters without giving anything away about the plot. For example, it shows us John Constantine’s gritty world of the occult and of its dangers, overrun by both hellish and heavenly forces.
The trailer gives away just the right amount to get people interested in Constantine and the Hellblazer world the film adapted. Unfortunately, with little to no music and vague images without any context whatsoever, it’s not enough to really captivate the audience though it has enough to keep them curious about the film.
12. JONAH HEX (TRAILER 1)
This was a terrible film but try and forget that for a moment so we can look exclusively at the trailer and its merits and flaws. The trailer gives us a glimpse at Hex’s origin story as well as the main antagonist, Quentin Turnbull (played by John Malkovich). Through narration, we’re given vague hints as to what the story and character are all about –vengeance and the occult.
It didn’t look like it took itself too seriously, which was probably a wise choice. Unfortunately, because of the over-dramatic voiceover, the emphasis on an exhausted type of origin story, it veers too close to being cliché and laughable. So while this trailer isn’t quite the pits, it’s still largely forgettable at best and tragically laughable at worst.
11. WATCHMEN TRAILER
The great thing about this trailer is that it seems to trust that those who would get most excited about this film probably already know the story from the graphic novel. It teases the characters, the setting and the tone of the film without giving away the story or the depths of its characters, except for that great line near the end from Rorschach, “the world will look up and shout ‘save us’, and I’ll whisper… no.”
Against the slow soundtrack, this trailer is enough to get fans eager to see the film. Strangers to the source material, however, may have been put off by the colorful costumes in the dark world and for them, the trailer might have failed by not including glimpses at some of the more serious, gory moments from the film, just to really let newcomers know that despite the design, it’s no joke.
10. GREEN LANTERN TRAILER
This trailer might have benefited from being a little more conservative with what it showed us. Bad CGI doesn’t tend to sell tickets. What it did get right was Hal Jordan’s recital of the Green Lantern oath while images of other-worldly forces flashed on screen, teasing Parallax and the Green Lantern Corps.
The dramatic bits work in getting people excited about the film and the more comedic elements definitely help balance things out but none of that can help the film’s aesthetic failures from shining through. Anyone who has seen the film can see that’s not all the the film is about, so where the trailer fails is focusing a little too much on the alien side of things and not enough on the more human moments, however few they numbered in the actual film.
9. BATMAN BEGINS (TRAILER 1)
While some fans may not find this as impressive now, keep in mind that Batman Begins was the first Batman film since the poorly received Batman & Robin (directed by Joel Schumacher) back in 1997, so the very beginning of this trailer was exciting as it showed us that Batman Begins would be a more serious film with a tone closer to that of the comics.
While it’s certainly not the most exciting trailer in the world in comparison to the high octane thrill rides we often get with every superhero film nowadays, the trailer succeeded in igniting an eagerness for what would become one of the greatest Batman films to date. It wisely offered only brief glimpses at the dark knight, ensuring audiences would go and see the movie to see him in all his dark glory.
8. V FOR VENDETTA (TRAILER 1)
This two and a half minute trailer tells us just what we need to know. No more and no less. It gives us the essential ideas that drive each character in V for Vendetta (directed by James McTeigue), both Evey (played by Natalie Portman) and V (played by Hugo Weaving) as well as the film’s villain, High Chancellor Adam Sutler (played by John Hurt) and it does all that within the first 30 seconds before diving into the action.
There’s very little emphasis on the film’s true themes, which are corruption, anarchy and freedom, but fans of the graphic novel of the same name (written by Alan Moore, artwork by David Lloyd and Tony Weare), already aware of the story’s themes, would have gotten excited by this trailer regardless. Those unfamiliar may have been put off by the almost monotone color scheme of the film as depicted by this trailer. It’s almost too dark, and that makes it pretty difficult to get excited about.
7. MAN OF STEEL (TRAILER 3)
Beginning with a brief look at Superman’s origin, the third trailer for Man of Steel (directed by Zack Snyder) teases a Superman film unlike any that came before it. We see a much more serious tone with a lot of close ups to give us a look at how grounded the costume design is in comparison to the film’s predecessors.
After the origin is dealt with, the trailer seems hesitant to show audiences any of the major characters, with flashes of a younger Clark running around in a makeshift cape and a few odd structures to some pretty epic music. When it does finally show us Superman’s (played by Henry Cavill) face, it never shows us any of the characters in action, allowing for just one shot of the titular man of steel taking flight and breaking the sound barrier. In so doing, it does a great job at hinting at a plot and teasing the audience with everything in store.
6. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (TRAILER 2)
Surprisingly, this trailer begins with a shot of a football game taking place in the daytime. You realize soon after that it was a pretty good idea to begin that way and introduce the concept of normalcy in Gotham before Bane is shown and the overall tone takes a darker turn, foreshadowing the grim events of the film and establishing Bane as that force from the darkness, disturbing the peace.
After The Dark Knight and its incredible villain, there were high expectations for the third entry in Nolan’s trilogy. This trailer let us know that great things were in store. Just to help build on that excitement, there was that unforgettable chant playing throughout the last minute of the trailer. Who doesn’t get excited at the sound of a crowd chanting?
5. THE DARK KNIGHT (THEATRICAL TRAILER)
While other trailers for comic book films might place a lot of focus on the hero’s journey, the theatrical trailer for the Dark Knight focused on the Joker (played by Heath Ledger). This was especially exciting for everyone because the last time the Joker was featured on film was in 1989’s Batman (directed by Tim Burton), in which he was played by Jack Nicholson in a depiction that stayed faithful to the comics.
This almost thug-like anarchist depiction of the Joker was a bold direction to take the character and the trailer focused on that, sparking conversation and debates as to whether or not the film’s Joker would do the character justice, something many critics and comic book fans now agree that it did. What really made this trailer shine was how it ended, with the scene in which Joker and Batman clash on the street. It was nothing short of spectacular.
4. WONDER WOMAN (COMIC-CON TRAILER)
People were already talking about the Wonder Woman film before trailers hit screens. Her appearance in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (directed by Zack Snyder) received praise and fans could not wait to see her in her own feature film. The first trailer at SDCC 2016, brings us back to her origin before getting into the action and humor of the film.
What this trailer says about Diana is that she’s kind and compassionate but she’s also a warrior, both being critical qualities to establish in her character. The trailer also showcased the Amazon warriors and World War I, neither of which had been heavily featured in previous adaptations, including the awesome and hilarious series of the ’70s. The trailer really shows us that Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman is way more dramatic and action-packed, and that it also promised to have a lot more heart (which it did).
3. SUICIDE SQUAD
Many fans were excited for Suicide Squad (directed by David Ayer) for a few reasons, Harley Quinn an the Joker being paramount. The trailer tempts us with those two fan favorite villains and more, all set to one of Queen’s finest anthems. Even if you weren’t singing along to that immortal song, you’d still get excited about seeing Joker for the first time since Ledger’s portrayal of the character.
The editing is perfect in this trailer and it manages to find the perfect balance between the serious aspects of the film and the humorous ones. It knows that this is a comic book film so it doesn’t take itself too seriously. At the same time, the first Suicide Squad trailer still respects the kind of atmosphere characters like the Joker, Amanda Waller and Deadshot foster, but adds in an admittedly odd tone; a mix between jaunty and grim. The film itself ended up being divisive, but its trailer was generally well-liked.
2. BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (TEASER)
Just the thought of seeing Batman and Superman battle it out on the big screen is enough to excite fans, if not for the action, then to at least settle an old argument. You could argue that showing any kind of a sneak peek at the actual fight would have been enough to hype fans up for a while, but the trailer doesn’t settle for that. In fact, it doesn’t even show either of the titular characters fighting.
It establishes who they are and vaguely outlines what their stories are about in the film, but then it leaves us wanting more with one line of dialogue over a shot of Superman landing in front of the dark knight: “Tell me, do you bleed? You will.” That’s it. We were all sold when we heard that line because we knew that this film was going to be nothing short of epic. The end results are debatable, but that trailer definitely got our blood up!
1. JUSTICE LEAGUE (TRAILER 1)
Hands down the most exciting of all DC film trailers is the first official trailer for Justice League (directed by Zack Snyder), which showcases Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg in action against a horde of parademons. It also introduces us to lesser known members of the League such as Aquaman, Cyborg and Flash through Batman and Wonder Woman.
It leaves out Superman, which is a good thing, as it adds a bit of mystery, wonder and anticipation, given how Dawn of Justice ended. People wonder if he’ll show up as a villain, though this trailer doesn’t show any indication of that. In fact, it leaves the villain out of it, focusing more on the dynamic between each superhero, which is the perfect way to introduce the Justice League and separate itself from the formula comic book film trailers tend to follow. Turns out, that’s the perfect way to get people excited about this team and many fans are looking forward to watching it.
What’s your favorite DC movie trailer? Let us know in the comments!
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