We experienced a lot of deja vu with Super Bowl LIII. The New England Patriots were back for another championship, while the Avengers were back with another new movie teaser. For most of us, the latter repeat was much more exciting, and it’s not surprising that once again Marvel had one of the winners as far as the advertisements aired during the big game. Avengers: Endgame is the most anticipated movie of 2019, after all. And like the Patriots, the Earth’s Mightiest were attempting to come back from a shocking defeat.
As for the rest, there was no surprise Netflix movie debuting right after the game, but let’s not forget how disappointing that wound up being anyway. What else did well this year, and what went sour, movie-ad-wise? Check out our annual ranking of the best and worst teaser trailers and Hollywood-inspired commercials below.
Yes, the most anticipated movie of the year also has one of the most exciting trailers of the Super Bowl. Even better than last time, the Avengers teased a spot that gave us all the feels. This isn’t our first look at Endgame, but it’s a more hopeful look at the leftovers who’ll be banding together for whatever’s going to happen next. Is that sign asking what we do when they’re gone a hint about all our lives once the MCU as we know it is over? Let’s hope not. This team is going to rescue the disappeared and they’re all going to be in our lives forever, isn’t it? After all, that’s Chris Evans’ voice, whether as Steve Rogers or not saying these guys and gals aren’t moving on.
While the new spot isn’t that different from the first trailer for Us, there wasn’t really any reason to change things that are working. Jordan Peele, who also won with some Twilight Zone ads during the game, easily sparked attention from the Super Bowl crowd with his creepy look at his chilling sophomore effort. Who is excited to see Us? It’s us. And it’s all of the US now.
Another Marvel movie wins, this one for the next installment of the MCU, releasing ahead of Avengers: Endgame. The new Captain Marvel spot had a nice touch for the Super Bowl. “Let’s show these boys how it’s done.” Carol Danvers may not be playing football, but her call to go higher, further, faster injected a much-needed boost of female power in between plays in a scoreless game. For the biggest TV viewership of the year, they probably could have stressed even more that everyone has to go see Captain Marvel before Endgame, but everyone will figure it out.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
Most of us caught the full version the other day. We even broke it all down. But for a lot of the Super Bowl audience, this is probably the first time they’re hearing about the Fast and Furious spinoff let alone seeing how awesome it looks. Days after our own first look, Idris Elba’s supervillain still tops all the rest — indeed he’s the necessary shock to the system that is this franchise — but Vanessa Kirby’s addition to the Shaw family looks great, too, and I’m still very glad to see that she’s basically one of the leads, tagging alongside The Rock and Jason Statham. If only it had one stunt as party-stopping as that ad for Fast & Furious 6 aired six years ago rather than leaning on the comedic tone.
Kids watch the Super Bowl, right? Wonder Park got in early with a tease of the upcoming animated feature, but does it look any good? If you’re a young person who likes movies that look like The Boss Baby but with the plot of Action Point (or any movie about underdogs trying to save the whatever). And you’ll see the ad and turn to your parents and demand they take you. But how many viewers are going online after to see the full trailer?
The non-trailer ads this year were pretty lackluster, save for one from Turkish Airlines, who went all out and made an actual short film. Teased at the end of the game, the actual six-minute commercial could be found and enjoyed online. It’s directed by none other than Ridley Scott and stars Sylvia Hoeks of Blade Runner 2049 and Aure Atika from The Beat My Heart Skipped. The spy thriller plot is just a MacGuffin through which to lead us from a look at the Turkish Airlines experience and see landmarks and other attractions in Turkey, and it’s a very effective tourism ad.
There were a lot of ads involving voice command, some of them parodying Alexa and some of them actual Alexa spots. The commercial for the Mercedes-Benz A-Class is for a product that does feature voice command technology and it parodies the whole concept. How does it fit on this list of movie-related spots? The Free Willy reference, of course. And maybe the Wile E. Coyote cartoon counts, too.
Alita: Battle Angel
It pains me to put the Alita spot in the Losers circle because I really enjoyed the movie. A lot. I think it’s the spectacle of the year, in need of the biggest screen you can find and actually in 3D. But this commercial was not catching many eyes. The movie may be criticized for feeling too much like an already dated YA dystopian film, and Fox looks like they’re trying to sell it that way, too. Unfortunately, that approach hasn’t worked for anything without a built-in reader fanbase, and even then it’s not the best way to market this thing. How might they have done better? I’m not sure. Perhaps more of the raves from critics who appreciated it? Emphasize more of the groundbreaking effects and action over the plot? This movie is doomed.
Toy Story 4
Yeah, the animation in Toy Story 4 looks amazing, and sure it’s great to have our old friends Buzz and Woody back — plus Bo Peep with pants! But this teaser aired after the game was over. The very boring low-scoring game. Was anyone still watching? Definitely not any children. And it’s just a slightly amusing spot. The buzz, pun intended, on this thing is not going to be anywhere near infinity and beyond.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
I love the idea of just having a variety of different, very short teasers for this movie, but all four of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark ads were too brief and not that scary. Maybe the brightest spot with the zit-based body horror caught my eye more than the others, but overall the campaign is a disappointment. The biggest selling point is Guillermo del Toro’s name rather than any of the visual content. I doubt many people went off and marked their calendars to remember what they saw come August.
As a documentary lover, I’m happy that we actually got a documentary series advertised during the Super Bowl. But I’m not sure Netflix delivered the best possible push for its upcoming original nature series. Subscribers already have access to Planet Earth and Planet Earth II to stream, and this doesn’t seem to stand out much from that and any other program of its kind. Maybe there was some additional hook to use besides a montage of clips from the show.
We do not abide. The whole thing where they tease a return of an iconic character and people think it’s a sequel is already tired. Using The Dude from The Big Lebowski for a Stella commercial (and yes, everyone just calls it Stella not “Stella Artwa” or “Stella Artose“) is blasphemy for who that guy is. And pairing him with Carrie from Sex and the City is weird. Sure, it’s good to see Jeff Bridges in the sweater and Sarah Jessica Parker in… that hat, I guess? I can even see if they sprung these two for a Bud Light ad, but Stella is one of the least cool beers there is and this won’t help it or the legacy of these two characters.