Every year millions of viewers tune into the Super Bowl for one purpose — to see the biggest commercials of the year, which often includes some great movie trailers as well. There’s also a football game and a halftime concert going on, too. We often get our first look at some of the most anticipated movie events of the year via 30 seconds of footage (sometimes more) that succinctly sells the product to general audiences.
I’ve compiled a list of the 10 most memorable teaser trailers aired during the big game (in no particular order).
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
So many movies on this list failed to live up to expectations, and The Lost World: Jurassic Park is no exception. Steven Spielberg made us wait four long years for a sequel to his monster hit. While the final product disappointed, the buildup to the film’s opening was incredible to behold. Delivered at the tail end of Super Bowl XXXI, the brief teaser, set to Hans Zimmer’s “Backdraft,” sees a T-Rex roaring in the middle of a rainstorm before a few quick shots of the cliff/trailer sequence followed by the immortal words: A Steven Spielberg Film. Goosebumps.
Ah, remember the good ole days of superhero flicks like Daredevil, Ghost Rider, and Fantastic 4? (On that note, isn’t it weird how the current wave of superhero films has reverted back to the goofy shenanigans of early 2000s cinema?) At the time, X-Men and Spider-Man were the creams of the crop, but Ang Lee’s Hulk looked poised to take the genre to a new level. The Super Bowl teaser garnered a mixed reaction due to the Shrek-like quality of the title character. However, it was still enough to get our attention. Whatever your thoughts are on the final film, you can’t fault the marketing team for their efforts.
The Avengers (2012)
This was it. After years of buildup and clever teases, Marvel finally brought together its merry band of superheroes for Joss Whedon’s The Avengers. Sure, many had already seen a trailer with Captain America — I think? — or bits and pieces from the leaked Comic Con preview, but the Super Bowl ad aired amidst the Patriots v Giants: Part Deux and knocked our collective socks off. “We have a Hulk,” Tony Stark says. Superheroes, nay cinema, would never be the same — for better or worse.
Following his breakout hit, Get Out, Jordan Peele unveiled his next thriller, Us, to eager audiences. This first look ranked among the few bright moments of an otherwise putrid battle between Tom Brady and Jared Goff and promised more spine-tingling chills — the Jaws shirt was a nice touch! The minute-long tease is weird, dark, quirky, and incredibly unsettling. Even if you were only partially into the game, the trailer was enough to jolt one’s senses. Yeah, I was hyped.
War of the Worlds (2005)
Sure, the title effects look like something out of a bad sci-fi student production, but the first teaser to Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds nonetheless wows with some (ironically) truly remarkable VFX. The 30-second spot sees Tom Cruise and Co. enter a vehicle. Dakota Fanning cries as explosions erupt offscreen. Then the money shot: lasers rip through a neighborhood, producing a monstrous explosion that engulfs our heroes. If you weren’t sold on the Cruise/Spielberg team-up (their second following Minority Report), this teaser trailer likely made you a believer.
Independence Day (1996)
The marketing for Independence Day (dubbed ID4) was incredible. 20th Century Fox leaned hard on that magnificent shot of the White House exploding — probably too much! — and the epic scope of the production. We had already seen a few teases before this Super Bowl spot, so the 30-second trailer served as little more than a reminder that ID4 was coming later that year. Still, kudos to whoever came up with the ominous line, “Enjoy the Super Bowl, it may be your last.”
Mission: Impossible — Fallout (2018)
I’m torn between the Super Bowl spots for Mission: Impossible III and Mission: Impossible — Fallout. The former teases the great Philip Seymour Hoffman’s menacing Owen Davian, plenty of high-octane thrills, and that incredible bridge sequence. But Fallout’s teaser (set to Imagine Dragons’ Friction) runs a whopping two minutes and does a great job showing off the film’s vast scope, incredible stunts, and Henry Cavill’s extraordinary biceps reloading skills. Good hell, this Super Bowl also featured the Patriots. Thank God Tom Brady retired.
The Mummy (1999)
During the mostly bland game between Denver and Atlanta, a random trailer immediately caught my attention. Shots of sand, explosions, and Brendan Frasier sitting in a plane, blasting a wall of sand with a machine gun. Okay, Universal, you have my attention. This was my first look at The Mummy, and this trailer did a bang-up job selling the eventual blockbuster.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
I’ve never been more hyped for a teaser trailer than for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. I loved Michael Bay’s original feature and was ecstatic to see what the man would do for an encore. The trailer didn’t arrive until late in the game. Still, I remember rushing home and waiting for my computer to render the damned thing to get a glimpse at more high-octane robot action. Boy, did the trailer deliver! By the looks of things, this promised to be a darker, grittier Transformers movie, replete with the tagline “Revenge is coming.” Unfortunately, the movie sucked, but this first look was excellent.
The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions (2003)
1999’s Super Bowl also offered our first look at The Matrix. Personally, the first teaser made the pic look like a rather generic action vehicle with Keanu Reeves, save for a quick shot of bullet time. Obviously, that wasn’t the case, and The Matrix went on to become one of the greatest sci-fi actioners of all time. A few years later, the hype for the sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions was through the roof. Warner Bros. only intensified the excitement with a terrific one-minute look at both films. Ah, man, the action, the spectacle … jaw-dropping. If memory serves, this was only our second look at the sequels following a teaser that hit the summer before. Great stuff.
The most incredible Super Bowl teaser of all time, Michael Bay’s Armageddon, gets the juices flowing with a hefty batch of good ole fashioned Americana. Like the film, the minute-long tease is incredibly over-the-top, but in a good way. I mean, the American flag is superimposed over a shot of Bruce Willis and company walking in slow motion while a choir bellows America the Beautiful over the soundtrack. It’s friggin’ awesome and hilarious in equal measure — kinda like the film. I vividly remember watching this live and saying, “Holy shit, I have to see that movie!” I mean, Willis plus Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, and the guy who made The Rock and Bad Boys? Sign me up.
- Logan – Amazing Grace mixed with Hugh Jackman’s aged Wolverine slicing up bad guys? Hell yeah.
- Solo – Sure, it bombed, but the first teaser for Ron Howard’s Solo is a visual feast.
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – WB ran two ads to promote BvS, one highlighting Metropolis, the other Gotham. Different, but in a good way.
- Avengers: Age of Ultron – Hulk Buster Suit. Enough said.
- Top Gun: Maverick – Tom Cruise going nuts in a jet? I know what movie I’m watching this summer.
- Gladiator – It’s just 30 seconds of Russell Crowe as Maximus slicing faceless foes with his sword — of course it’s awesome!