If it seems like most of the biggest movies being made nowadays are of the action-sci-fi-comic-book variety, it’s only because that’s patently true. As great as a lot of these movies are, they do follow a pretty basic formula, especially when dealing with origin stories. There was this fellow some years ago named Joseph Campbell who postulated that every hero in myth follows the same basic steps to take him from a regular nobody to a Master of Two Worlds. We don’t need to have read Hero with a Thousand Faces to recognize a lot of these major keystrokes; they just make for good mythic, iconic storytelling.
While that’s all well and good, there’s an even more telegraphed formula for these movies, and that’s from the highly repetitive, but undeniably effective, trailers. The folks at Red Letter Media (who’ve contributed some of the most analytical and irreverent looks at movies like the Star Wars prequels and the Star Trek: The Next Generation movies, review recent movies in their show Half in the Bag, and debate the merits of crappy flicks with Best of the Worst) have made this mash-up of every trailer for recent comic book, action, and sci-fi movies that fit the bill for hitting particular moments about as hard as Superman and Zod plowing into the side of a building.
The basic formula consists of an establishing shot of a city with some doom-laden narration and ends with a loud explosion before the title and a funny-clever moment before the release date. Once you see these, you can’t unsee them. Try to enjoy trailers from now on!
What’re some of your favorite trailers that are great despite being formulaic? Let me know below!