We all love movie trailers, even if they give too much away sometimes. But when it comes to superhero movies, there’s just something epic about them…something that gets you extra tingly. Superhero movies have a wonderful history of awesome trailers. Sometimes they are even too good, as the trailer for that same movie can end up being a huge pile of shit. With the recent releases of the Captain America: The Winter Soldier and X-Men: Days of Future Past trailers, it got me thinking…what are the best superhero movie trailers?
There’s been some absolute gems, and I’m here to break it all down, trying to remember how I felt when I first saw the trailer. One rule I have is only one trailer per movie. Also, you’ll see a lot of teaser trailers on here. Teasers to me have a special place in my heart, and can make you think anything could be the greatest movie ever.
But enough teasing (see what I did there?). Let’s get to it – THE TOP 10 SUPERHERO MOVIE TRAILERS OF ALL TIME!
Iron Man (2008) — Trailer 1
While I think most would have this much higher, the reason it just misses out on the top ten for me is that it’s just too grungy at the beginning. Nevertheless, it does a perfect job of promoting the best element to this film, and that is of course Robert Downey Jr. being Robert Downey Jr. And certainly using Black Sabbath’s Iron Man is a no brainer.
10. Green Lantern — Trailer 3 (2011):
Yeah, I know it’s hard to imagine a time when Green Lantern could have been a great movie. In fact, this trailer pisses me off, because I had accepted from the other trailers and word of mouth that this movie was probably going to suck. But this trailer was released about a month or two before it opened, and sucked me right back in. I’d imagine this is how a Dallas Cowboys fan feels every year. Regardless, I love the history lesson in the first half recited by Geoffrey Rush, but the music really builds up as Hal Jordan cites the oath at the end. It was a great last ditch marketing ploy that unfortunately was too little, too late.
9. Hulk – Teaser Trailer (2003):
Oh, Ang Lee’s Hulk. How I loathe thee. To be honest, if this film cut out 30-40 minutes, it could have been good, but I digress. Regardless of how you feel about Ang Lee’s pretentious pile of green poop, it did have a pitch perfect teaser trailer.
8. Superman Returns – Teaser Trailer (2006):
Part of the reason I hate Superman Returns so much is because of this teaser trailer. Remember, when this teaser was released, there hadn’t been a Superman movie since 1987…wow. There could have just been an “S shield,” and people would have lost their minds. In retrospect, continuing the Superman world started by Richard Donner in 1978 was the wrong move, but at the time, listening to the John Williams score as Marlon Brando narrated…goose bumps.
7. Batman – Teaser Trailer (1989):
While I was four when this bad boy came out, on podcasts today, I still hear people reminisce about it. What you have to put into perspective is the last Batman people saw on screen was the Adam West version. Talk about doing a total 180. What’s so cool about this teaser though is that there’s no music. It’s just dark as shit images of Batman kicking ass like only Batman can. But what cements this teaser for me is towards the end when Jack Nicholson’s Joker takes center stage. It doesn’t get more epic at the end when you just hear the Joker laugh as Batman stares out at the audience, followed closely by “Coming This Summer” in big silver letters…now that’s how you promote a movie!
6. Watchmen – Teaser Trailer (2009):
To me, Alan Moore’s Watchmen is the second greatest graphic novel, behind only The Killing Joke, also written by Moore. I actually think this film is one of the most underrated superhero movies of all time, and unfairly criticized, but that’s a discussion for another day. No matter what you think of this movie, if you’re a fan of the book, there is no way your heart didn’t leap out of your chest when you saw this teaser. The Smashing Pumpkins song choice could not be more perfect, as there’s no dialogue till the very end, and then they hit you with Dr. Manhattan and Silk Spectre on Mars…just a beautiful trailer.
5. X-Men: Days of Future Past – Trailer 1 (2014):
How about recent events, and the trailer that inspired this countdown? There have been six X-Men movies, and I haven’t disliked any of them, even 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It’s certainly the worst, and extremely disappointing, but I don’t think it’s a bad movie by any means. As someone who thinks X-Men: First Class is the best of the franchise, I wanted that to serve as an all out reboot, leaving the past X-Men universe in the dust. Boy, was I wrong. This is going to be the X-Men movie to end all X-Men movies, and this trailer has me absolutely salivating. It really saddens me when I read and listen to opinions of how people actually want this to fail, so Fox will no longer want the X-Men franchise, and the rights can go back to Marvel. Keep this far away from the Marvel cinematic universe. I’m sorry, I don’t need Wolverine and Tony Stark having a one-liner off to see who can out quip the other in a script written by Joss Whedon. Okay, okay, I’m going off on a tangent. Bottom-line – this movie looks remarkable.
4. The Dark Knight Rises – Trailer 2 (2012):
Obviously, one of the trailers for The Dark Knight Rises was going to make it in here, but I have to admit, I had a tough time picking between the first three. While I adore the teaser, and how it just ends with Batman stumbling backwards as Bane lumbers towards him, this first full length trailer sent me into a panic that didn’t end till I was sitting down watching The Dark Knight Rises. And I’m not ashamed to admit it – this was the only trailer I ever paid to go see, and then just walked out afterwards (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows). I couldn’t even wait for it to come out online. This trailer had me shaking, it’s so damn tense. “When Gotham is ashes…you have my permission to die.” I love it.
3. Man of Steel – Trailer 3 (2013):
When I first clicked on this trailer and saw the length was 3:03, I rolled my eyes. 3:03!? TOO LONG. But this trailer did a remarkable job of giving everybody a perfect taste of what this film was going to be, and really didn’t give away much at all. The Hans Zimmer score is simply magical. All the voiceovers, and all the build-up, this is the trailer that had me thinking Man of Steel could be the biggest money maker of the summer…then the ass bag reviews happened. In any case, this trailer is basically like a mini-movie that had everybody talking about Superman. It’s epic in every sense of the word.
2. Batman Begins – Teaser Trailer (2005):
The one that started it all. This is the one that changed EVERYTHING. For as big a Batman fan that I am, I was still in recovery even eight years after Batman & Robin. We all were. Even when this film was announced, I had no faith in the project whatsoever. Much like the Batman 1989 teaser did, it’s hard to believe this trailer was the first Batman we saw on screen since Joel Schumacher’s abomination. How could this be the same character? What I love about this trailer though is that you don’t even know what you’re watching until you get that one second shot of Batman at the end, followed by a rustic bat symbol that looks like your old boom box that’s been sitting in the garage since the 1980’s. I love this trailer.
1. The Dark Knight – Teaser Trailer (2008):
Come on? Was it really going to be anything else? Not only is this the best superhero trailer, it’s my favorite movie trailer of all time. There’s no video. There’s no images from the film. It’s just Bruce and Alfred talking, as a bat symbol breaks apart on a blank screen. You know they’re talking about the Joker. You know at the end, we are going to hear Heath Ledger’s Joker for the very first time:
“Starting tonight, people will die. I’m a man of my word.”
And then he laughs…obviously. There is no better way to set up a movie then that. NONE. This trailer came out in the summer of 2007, paired with The Simpsons Movie. I knew right then and there that The Dark Knight was going to be what it was.