This is it, San Diego Comic-Con has (save for the Alita: Battle Angel trailer that’s dropping online tomorrow after having been shown off to con-goers Friday night) come to an end for another year. The 2018 edition of the world-renowned convention brought a mix of exclusive footage and the much-anticipated public trailer debuts. But how do the five trailers that Warner Bros. and Universal dropped online for the general public to enjoy stack up against each other? Find out in our breakdown below:
5. Aquaman – Trailer 1 (Warner Bros.; Statement LA)
The long-awaited (and delayed, having previously been set to debut back in mid-June) first look at James Wan’s latest entry in DC’s film universe, as anticipated as it was, may unfortunately be the weakest piece of the weekend. Some high points do include the humour, the reveal of Atlantis (the short pause as the spectators watch Jason Momoa’s Aquaman fight Patrick Stewart’s Orm is an inspired touch) and some of the awe-inspiring fight sequence tableaux (the underwater battle at 2:06 is a particular highlight). However, overall the trailer succumbs to a few too many cliches of typical blockbuster trailers: the obligatory voice-overed introduction to young Arthur Curry and his parents (Nicole Kidman and Temuera Morrison) as well as the overall pace and vibe of the piece, including some messy cuts in the end stinger featuring Amber Heard’s Mera jumping out of a plane all of a sudden (what’s with that goat?) and a soundtrack (Two Steps From Hell’s ‘None Shall Live‘) which we have heard in a DC movie trailer before. From a pure marketing rather than creative perspective though, falling back on tried and tested trailer beats is understandable when you’re trying to introduce a character and a pocket of the universe as outlandishly out-there (and previously seen as silly) as Aquaman and Atlantis.
A slightly longer cut of the trailer allowing the footage room to breathe may have been benefitted this hastily-paced first look; in fact, a six-minute extended version which features extended set piece footage among the previously-seen clips that remained exclusive to Hall H has been much more warmly received among press.
(To digress slightly before moving on to #4, the way Warner Bros. has handled exclusive footage for Hall H vis-a-vis the online trailers this year has been excellent. The early Wonder Woman 1984 footage was a clip from the film which wouldn’t be suited for online uploads in the same manner, and the public’s thirst for Aquaman has already been satisfied with the online trailer, allowing the studio – much like with Mad Max: Fury Road in 2014 – to show off a longer and far more extensive version of it for the paying audience in San Diego.)
4. Shazam! – Trailer 1 (Warner Bros.; Buddha Jones & TRANSIT)
This first look at David F. Sandberg’s DC universe debut is one that we, admittedly, have egg on our faces regarding – having basically told everyone and their mother not to expect it online, and it came anyway. Unlike Aquaman which arguably needed as much as the three minutes of footage Shazam! presented, this first look feels almost like too much at this stage in the game: the film is still 9 months away! This is primarily thanks to an over-extended first half which serves as an abridged version of Billy Batson’s (Asher Angel) origin story and how he came to be able to transform into Zachary Levi’s red-suited and white-caped crusader – basically the film’s first act. Once we get past that, however, the excellent second half nails the film’s ‘Big with superheroes’ tone with some hilarious moments of discovery as well as Levi’s Shazam and Jack Dylan Grazer’s Freddy just messing about. We don’t need to know what villainy Mark Strong’s Dr. Thaddeus Sivana may be up to at this stage, having fun with the concept of the character is enough – and that’s why they call it a ‘teaser trailer’.
3. Glass – Trailer 1 (Universal; Buddha Jones)
The first look at M. Night Shyamalan’s conclusion to the superhero trilogy he started with Unbreakable and Split, a bit like Shazam!, also slightly suffers from being a touch too bloated, with a runtime approaching three minutes. It also, like Aquaman, suffers from a music choice that will stick out like a sore thumb to those who watch as many trailers as we do (Hi-Finesse’s ‘Apex’, having previously been featured in Independence Day: Resurgence). However, despite the above, the editors cleverly structure the trailer around re-introducing Bruce Willis’s, Samuel L. Jackson’s and James McAvoy’s super-powered beings, all framed by Sarah Paulson’s newcomer psychiatrist. When you have your official synopsis giving away more of the film’s actual structure than your trailer, this is a great move at this early stage in the game.
2. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – Trailer 2 (Warner Bros.; JAX)
Aside from exactly three moments that could have been slightly cut down for time, this trailer makes the maximum use of every second of its three-minute-plus runtime. It feels of a piece with the previously-released teaser trailer, not featuring too much of the exact same footage from there, and the swelling and tense score which incorporates elements of themes from both John Williams and James Newton Howard’s scores of the previous Harry Potter and Beasts films takes the tightly-paced edit to great heights. And this is while not much new is revealed of the story beyond the basic premise – Johnny Depp’s Grindelwald assembling supporters and dividing the Wizarding World, with a young Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) enlisting Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to stop him. The surprises here are introductions to new characters from the Potter lore, such as Zoë Kravitz’s Leta Lestrange and Brontis Jodorowsky’s Nicolas Flamel.
1. Godzilla: King of the Monsters – Trailer 1 (Warner Bros.; Trailer Park)
Far and away the best trailer of the convention, the first look at Michael Dougherty’s Godzilla sequel oozes with scale and majesty. The incredibly inspired music choice of Debussy’s ‘Clair de Lune’ (arranged by Imagine Music) accompanying a slower-burn cut flips over the usual cliches of such ‘epic’ trailers on its head; the focus isn’t on the destruction that the featured kaiju Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah wreak, it’s on their grace and – arguably – beauty. And that’s not to mention a ‘trailerized’ cover of – for once – not a pop track! The stunningly-shot footage from the film helps achieve that stunning impact and we are sure when we sit down to see Mission: Impossible – Fallout again later this week, the teaser will play incredibly well on the big screen.
Do you agree or disagree with our ranking? What’s your favourite trailer coming out of SDCC? Let us know in the comments below!