[Be sure to check out last week’s Movielinx article in which we broke down the origins of movie trailers and how they got where they are!]
On the outset, looking just five years back may seem like an odd choice. Truthfully, however, in my years here at Cinelinx, I’ve chronicled the best trailer from the last couple of decades already. More to the point, I feel like movie trailers have changed just in the last few years to be something else.
I’ve always felt like a trailer is an art form in and of itself, and in the new climate of mega franchises, studios are having to do more with their movie trailers to WOW audiences and snag their attention. As such, this means the quality of trailers has really improved within the last few years, and I think they’re worth talking about. Some of these continue to stick with me, and some on this list are most certainly better than the movies they marketed for. Either way, these are some of the best trailers we’ve been treated to in the last 5 years.
Mad Max: Fury Road (Trailer #3)
All of the trailers for Mad Max: Fury Road were pretty damn impressive and left many jaws on the floor. The third and final trailer for the film, however, is a masterpiece in and of itself. This trailer completely blew me away and somehow, the final film managed to be even better than what’s on display here (no easy feat mind you).
For me, the coolest thing in the footage we see is the incredible looking color pallette. The film looks gorgeous and shakes off the notion that post-apocalyptic movies have to be grey and drab. Moreover, it lines up very well with previous Mad Max movies, making it clear that even though the actor may have changed, this is very much the world we all know and love.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Teaser Trailer #2)
There’s no describing how it felt to watch this trailer for the first time with thousands of other fans live at Star Wars Celebration, but even without all of that energy behind it, this teaser for The Force Awakens still impresses. It has a lot of things going for it that keeps bringing viewers back time and time again. While it doesn’t give us much of any information about the film’s overall plot, it gives fans enough hints to get a feeling for how things are 30 years after Return of the Jedi.
It shows off plenty of action, new characters, better looks at the villains and best of all, a great shot of Han and Chewie at the end. While I loved the first teaser for The Force Awakens, it doesn’t hold a candle to this one. It has enough appeal to snag new audiences, even those who aren’t Star Wars fans, while featuring the money shots that diehards have been hoping to see for a while now. In all, it’s a pretty damn perfect teaser trailer that succeeds on all points.
Man of Steel (Trailer #3)
Warner Bros. had an uphill battle when it came to marketing Man of Steel. So many fans were disappointed in Superman Returns that it would take a lot of effort before they were on board with the new vision of the iconic character. It’s safe to say that Warner Bros. nailed it with every trailer they released. Every new preview managed to improve upon the one that preceded it, managing to encourage the jaded fans and drive the anticipation to an all time high.
This trailer in particular (the third one released) is among my favorites as it hints at the larger universe that Man of Steel is a part of. It gives you a haunting glimpse of Krypton and a hint to the events that led the society’s eventual downfall. On top of that, it takes the action up a notch and showed off a far more active Superman than we’ve seen in the films previously. Couple that with the emphasis on the story and character development and you have a trailer the excites, intrigues, and engages the viewer; it’s practically a short film!
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Trailer #2)
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was easily my most anticipated film of last year. I couldn’t wait to see it, and that hunger only intensified when this full length trailer landed and totally blew me away. This trailer put the spotlight firmly on the Apes and for fans, gave us a good look at how they’ve progressed in the years since Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
More than that, this trailer set a solid tone for the film, letting you know that the story had deep emotional connections and wasn’t just a blockbuster style film (though it hinted at blockbuster action here and there). For me, that was the great aspect of Rise, and something I hoped would continue into Dawn, which this trailer sold me on completely. Having watched Dawn of the Planet of the Apes a few times now, it’s impressive how this trailer STILL manages to move me.
Prometheus (Theatrical Trailer)
I can’t say I was overly thrilled with the Prometheus movie when it released. It was lacking in a lot of areas and failed to live up to the potential it had. That said, the trailer for the film leading up its release is pretty amazing. Regardless of how the story panned out, Prometheus is gorgeously shot and continues to look amazing. Those stunning visuals are on full display here, dazzling potential viewers and promising more to come. The context of the story is interesting here too, giving off a little more of a horror/suspense vibe than anything else. It’s a well done trailer that manages to hook your attention, look great, and leave you wanting to see more.
Battle: Los Angeles (Teaser Trailer)
More than even Prometheus (which has its saving graces), the trailer for Battle: LA is a prime example of how even bad movies can make for great trailers. Seriously, when this trailer hit, I can’t think of ANY person who wasn’t hyped for the flick. For one, it starts off with some history in an attempt to connect the more fantastical elements of the film with facts. From here, it slowly moves into crazier and crazier things, building up to some tense action shots that leave you asking “what’s next?!”
Sadly, the film never capitalized on the premise set up in the trailer. The trailer teases you with the aliens, while showing wide-scale destruction, making you wonder how mankind could do anything to stop them. Either way, it’s a great trailer, that even having watched the movie and knowing it’s faults, still gets me pumped up.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Trailer #2)
My love of all things Scott Pilgrim is pretty well known, so it’s shouldn’t really be a surprise that one of the movie’s trailers ended up on this list. This trailer starts off a little slow, seeming like a normal rom-com with an awkward guy going after the hot girl…but things quickly get weird, and it’s suddenly clear that this isn’t a normal movie.
The build up in the trailer is great, and manages to ease potential viewers into the crazy madness that is Scott Pilgrim, while offering up plenty of great moments for people to latch onto/quote. It’s some great marketing that’s approachable for people unfamiliar with the property (as I first was when I saw this), but also gives fans of the comic plenty to enjoy as well.
X-Men: First Class (Teaser Trailer)
Having seen it now, I still feel like First Class is my favorite X-Men movie to come out. At the time of this trailer, however, I was feeling put-off of the X-franchise and ready to give up on it. I’m fairly certain it was this, however, that started to change my mind. More than just a cheap Summer popcorn flick, this first trailer showed a film that looked like it was going to be so much more. This trailer showed off the characters more than action, giving us hints of the classic heroes we all know and love.
I think this emphasis on the people as characters is what drew me into the marketing for this film. Instead of a traditional action movie, First Class looked like it was trying something new with the X-Men, something that was desperately needed to revitalize the franchise. Between the alternate history stuff, and our first look at the younger versions of the characters, everything flows nicely with this trailer, effective showing jaded fans that this was going to be different…and thankfully it was!
The Avengers (Teaser Trailer)
Oh man, this one was a doozy. Technically speaking, I feel like the first teaser for Avengers: Age of Ultron is better for it’s presentation and wow factor, but I’m listing the first Avengers movie trailer on here for other reasons. For one, this was the first time that eager fans got to see the all of these heroes gathered together on the screen. We knew it was coming, Marvel had been promising the film with it’s lead up and introduction to all the other characters…but now it was REAL.
It starts off great with Loki’s voice-over, painting a viable threat to humanity that would require all of these Marvel heroes to gather together. It shows off a bunch of destruction to this end, before finally giving us some money shots of the Avengers suited up together. It’s definitely a teaser, and some of the later trailers brought the goods, but this first teaser continues to stand out to me all these years later as the realization of something fans had been hoping fg to see for years.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Teaser Trailer)
Whereas the first Avengers trailer is remarkable for being the beginning of a new era, the first trailer for The Deathly Hallows Part 2 was exciting for marking the END of one. For a decade, fans of the incredible book series had been following the adventures of Harry, Hermione, and Ron; quite literally watching them grow up on screen. Seeing this first trailer, knowing it was the final film, was kind of bittersweet, but phenomenal nonetheless.
More than setting up the end for the series, the trailer shows fans that they’re in for an action packed adventure. Where the first Deathly Hallows was all about the journey to find a way to stop Voldemort, this teaser let fans know that the battle was fully on in this film, and that viewers had better hold on. We get some great money shots in this trailer, as well, and the final one with Harry and Voldemort squaring off still gives me chills to this day. It’s great at projecting hype, even if you weren’t a big fan of the series.
There are so MANY other movie trailers I could have listed on here, but these are the ones which have stood out to me most over the years. Things that continue to move me even long after seeing the films in theater. The truth is, movie marketing in general continues to become more and more impressive and I could have easily filled up this list with trailers just from last year.
Now that you’ve seen my top movie trailers of the last few years, I want to see what yours are! Share with us the movie trailers that continue to get your blood pumping!