We were supposed to get an Avengers 4 trailer this morning, but it was postponed by at least a day allegedly due to a “national day of mourning” for recently-departed George H.W. Bush. Not to be cynical, but Disney’s stock price can’t go up based on trailer release hype if the NYSE is closed for the day. While we patiently (?) wait for Walt Disney and Marvel to drop that promised Avengers 4 teaser, I wanted to take a glance at the previous teaser trailers/announcement trailers for the last ten years of the MCU. So, with no additional fuss or muss, here are my personal picks for the five best announcement trailers/teasers for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Released on February 20, 2014, this was a key first-look pitch for what at the time seemed to be a pretty risky MCU flick. Based on cult characters and with its two biggest stars (Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel) voicing animated characters, the first teaser for the James Gunn’s sci-fi action comedy introduces both the main characters and the unconventional (and pop music-assisted) tone. John C. Reilly is the audience surrogate, both explaining who these folks are and sharing our confusion, bewilderment and disdain for the motley group of outlaws. By the end, we knew who these folks were and we knew that they were a bunch of a-holes.
Iron Man 3
Released on October 23, 2012, this lengthy tease for Shane Black’s trilogy capper represents one of the outright darker teaser trailers for an MCU flick. Sure, the whole “strip away the hero’s toys and leave him fending for himself” thing is old hat for threequels (Thor: Ragnarok, Star Trek Beyond, The Dark Knight Rises, Cars 3, Logan, etc.), but it’s still an effective template. And, like all of the best teasers, this one offered plenty of compelling footage (and lots of foreboding narration) without giving away any major story points. And yeah, Ben Kingsley sure does sound chilling as the Mandarin…
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Released on October 24, 2013, this teaser uses Robert Redford’s ponderous (and quite misleading) narration and Sam Jackson’s confrontational exposition to establish that the Russo Bros.’ Captain America sequel will be a grounded and potentially grim (again, teaser trailers tend to emphasize the darkness) Tom Clancy-meets-Sydney Pollack conspiracy thriller that happens to feature costumed heroes. Most impressively, the teaser excites and intrigues without a major centerpiece villain, since the Winter Soldier is essentially a henchman for a main baddie whose identity was not divulged prior to release. And that elevator sequence is a doozy.
Arriving on April 10, 2017 like a bat outta hell, this candy-colored rock-n-roll teaser trailer (scored to “Immigrant Song”) immediately established that Taika Waititi was upping the wacky fantasy for a trilogy capper that looked like a cross between a 1980’s fantasy flick and an old-school Nintendo video game. While the majority of the teaser was somewhat po-faced “Egad, Thor loses everything that makes him Thor!” material, the final joke (which played off a reveal that everyone already knew about) led to a flurry of “Hey, Thor movies are funny now!” hot takes (never mind that the previous Thor movies were pretty jovial affairs).
Avengers: Infinity War
Granted, this is almost a cheat since it has the mythology and nostalgia of the prior decade’s MCU movies as a hook, but if you got it, flaunt it. This sober, “epic” teaser, which debuted on November 29, 2017, uses Nick Fury’s “There was an idea” speech and Alan Silvestri’s core Avengers theme music to hammer home the whole “everything has led up to this” mentality. The footage sells an unparalleled scale and successfully positions Thanos as the big bad of big bads while selling the “everyone into the pool” mentality. And, yeah, it successfully sold Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II.
Oh, and don’t forget…
This barely counts, since it debuted as a post-credit cookie for Captain America: The First Avenger, but the “some assembly required” tease was the first footage of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes mingling amongst each and doing battle together. Having just finished the superb Captain America movie (still my favorite MCU movie and the first of these that I actually loved), seeing that post-credit cookie (albeit via a bootlegged version since the press screenings didn’t include it) was the first time I actually thought this crazy whole idea might just work. So it’s a little ironic that said teaser was actually superior to the otherwise lukewarm initial Avengers teasers and trailers.
Yes, there were other strong teaser trailers for other MCU movies. The “No Strings on Me” teaser for Avengers: Age of Ultron gets the point across, while the first teaser for Captain America: Civil War successfully positions the movie as a Captain America movie first and an Avengers cross-over second. The first Spider-Man: Homecoming teaser is fine, although the second trailer (which gives away the core story and positions itself as another damn origin story) is probably the worst piece of MCU trailer-ing thus far. Otherwise, the rest of the teasers (save for Captain Marvel, Thor and that first theatrical trailer for The Avengers) are variations of “pretty good.”