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As noted earlier, the first official trailer for Suicide Squad offers information about the set-up of the the movie without going into specifics, such as the character’s names. But how does that compare with other initial trailers for new superhero properties?
To answer that question, THR went back to the first trailers for the first chapter of 11 superhero movie properties from the last decade or so — Batman Begins, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, X-Men: First Class, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Amazing Spider-Man, Man of Steel, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man and Deadpool — to ask two questions: Does the audience learn the hero’s name? And does the trailer reveal the plot of the movie?
Does Suicide Squad represent the most vague superhero movie trailer yet, or does it have super competition?
Batman Begins (2005)
Is The Protagonist Named? “Tell us, Mr. Wayne,” says a suitably breathy Liam Neeson in the opening seconds of the trailer, only to be fully identified as Bruce Wayne by the 30 second mark. “The Batman” is named by Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow at 1:45.
Is The Plot Explained? Between the scenes of Christian Bale’s Wayne training, Liam Neeson’s talk of training to become “something more,” and Michael Caine’s Alfred asking, “Are you coming back for good, sir?” there’s no way that anyone could have seen this trailer and not known exactly what this movie was about.
Iron Man (2008)
Is The Protagonist Named? Yes, when confronted by the leader of the Ten Rings. He’s not called “Iron Man” at any point in the trailer, despite the use of the AC/DC track of the same name as he wanders away slowly from an explosion.
Is The Plot Explained? Almost comedically so; with Robert Downey Jr.’s Stark passionately telling the audience “I want to protect the people I put in harm’s way!” while building his high-tech armor showing the evolution of the character from his arms dealer he starts both the film and the trailer as. In fact, this movie is pretty much the entire movie in miniature.
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Is The Protagonist Named? Only as Bruce, which is interesting; perhaps the character’s previous cinematic outing (2003’s Hulk, directed by Ang Lee) was seen as laying enough groundwork to only give his first name?
Is The Plot Explained? Pretty much; while Tim Roth’s Abomination goes unidentified other than “he’s another Hulk, but a scarier one,” the dialogue gets over the idea that Bruce considers the Hulk a curse, the military a weapon, but ultimately he might be… a hero. Or, you know, a weapon, but not in the same way as the military considers him because details, you guys.
Is The Protagonist Named? Nope. But then, the movie is named after him, so…
Is The Plot Explained? To an extent. While much isn’t properly explained — there’s no “This guy looks like the god of Thunder!” and only the barest glimpse of the Frost Giants — the basic emotional arc of the movie (Jerk son is cast out by family, has to grow up to save the day) is present and correct. Of course, the trailer could’ve done with more Kat Dennings and Tom Hiddleston, but couldn’t everything?
X-Men: First Class (2011)
Are The Protagonists Named? Only the two primary leads, with the rest of the team being left on the sidelines.
Is The Plot Explained? What’s on offer in the First Class teaser is far less explanation than broad hints: there’s something going on with anti-mutant hysteria — it is, after all, an X-Men movie — and the Cuban missile crisis, and it’s a prequel to the earlier X-Men movies, but beyond that, it’s left very vague indeed.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Is The Protagonist Named? Yes, first thing, with the awkward CGI of skinny Chris Evans trying to sign up for the war effort. Despite a “Who are you?!?” midway through, he doesn’t get called out as Captain America in dialogue, however. Isn’t that why such questions exist?
Is The Plot Explained? Not really; the trailer concentrates on Cap’s origin, rather than the rest of the movie. There’s painfully little Red Skull (or even Bucky, for that matter), but it does get over the basic idea of Cap’s journey from skinny underdog to Nazi puncher.
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
Is The Protagonist Named? Yes, both as “Mr. Parker” and “Peter,” although not as “Spider-Man” in dialogue.
Is The Plot Explained? Beyond reprising the origin of Peter’s spider-powers, no; his appearance in costume is left to the last seconds of the trailer, and beyond a brief appearance by Rhys Ifans, there’s no sign of the villain of the piece.
Man of Steel (2013)
Is The Protagonist Named? Not in the slightest.
Is The Plot Explained? Again, not in the slightest. The first trailer for Man of Steel is likely the closest superhero movie trailers will ever get to a tone poem, with Russell Crowe’s Jor-El giving his son advice from beyond the grave that doesn’t include the words “Oh, and by the way, you should call yourself Superman,” nor the suggestion to maybe watch out for an invasion of aliens led by Zod. That said, it looks beautiful, still.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Is The Protagonist Named? Yes. In fact, that’s pretty much what the first trailer is, an introduction to the new characters with some added fight scenes to let people know it’s not just a movie about people standing around.
Is The Plot Explained? Nope. Beyond the fact that the leads have apparently been arrested for some reason, and the fact that the audience sees them fighting other people both in hand-to-hand and spaceship-to-spaceship combat, there’s actually very little information about the movie given away in this trailer. The appeal here is the tone, culminating in that “What a bunch of a-holes” punchline, underscoring that, sure, it’s Marvel, but it’s not the same Marvel you’ve been loving so far.
Is The Protagonist Named? “Scott” is the first word of dialogue, and the superhero name ends up being a punchline twice, with Paul Rudd’s initial “huh” leading to his asking “Is it too late to change the name?”
Is The Plot Explained? Much like the Thor trailer, this trailer is all about the emotional arc of the movie, not the plot specifics — while characters like Corey Stoll’s Darren Cross or Evangeline Lilly’s Hope Van Dyne make brief appearances, this is really a two-hander of a teaser, concentrating entirely on Rudd’s Scott Lang and Michael Douglas’s Hank Pym instead of trying to lay out the plot of the movie per se.
Is The Protagonist Named? Immediately, with “Wade Wilson” being the very first words heard. No-one gets to call him Deadpool, however.
Is The Plot Explained? Similarly to the Captain America: The First Avenger trailer — and, really, that’s the only true parallel between the two — the origin story is fairly well detailed, with what happens afterwards being left to vague images and promises of ultra violence. As with Guardians, the appeal here is very much in approach, and specifically, the sense of grim humor on display after Wade becomes Deadpool.
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