Two of the biggest movies of 2018 have recently seen their first full trailers arrive online, and while fans of both franchise entries will probably have felt ecstatic by what they’ve seen, there are worrying aspects to both trailers that should provide some cause for alarm. There are different reasons for this, but these worrying aspects reflect the problems that the makers of both movies will have faced while putting their respective sequels together.
Officially the most viewed online trailer in its first twenty-four hours (with over 230 million hits), Avengers: Infinity War is the movie that Marvel fans have been waiting nearly ten years for. Continuing a storyline that come May 2019 will have encompassed twenty-two features, the trailer is at once melancholy in tone, reverential in style, and does what all the best trailers do: teases you with what’s going to happen. But it does so in such a way that it stops you from realising that aside from the unsurprising revelation that Thanos has come to retrieve the Infinity Stones that he doesn’t have, there’s no sense of what the story is going to be. Most of the Avengers are seen looking worried or glum or both, there are the standard action beats required of a trailer for a superhero movie, and the overwhelming sense that, whatever happens, by the end of the movie Thanos will be in the ascendancy, and the Avengers themselves might be feeling what it is to lose (as promised). But if you’re looking for confirmation of what it’s actually all about, well, it looks like you’re going to have to wait until next May.
Whatever else you can say about this trailer – or indeed the actual movie – what remains is a glimpse at a project that’s still in post-production, and which may or may not contain scenes that will make it into the final cut. There are plenty of first trailers that do this: use footage that’s available to them but which later find winds up on the cutting room floor. To focus too much on what’s shown is to invite disappointment, as the nature of the trailer is to whet the appetite, not to confirm or deny what the potential viewer or excitable fan thinks is going to take place. That said, if the line, “and get this man a shield”, isn’t in the finished product then Marvel will have dropped a huge clanger. So, as first trailers go, this isn’t as incredible or pants-wettingly awesome as some may believe, and if anyone wants an example of why this is the case, then you only have to look at the massive fight that takes place outside the city of Wakanda, and then ask yourself this: why does it look like an unused battle scene from The Lord of the Rings?
Two years ago, if you’d said before it was released that Jurassic World would rake in over a billion dollars at the international box office, then people might have looked at you funny, or even crossed the street to avoid you. But the most successful third sequel of all time did exactly that, and a fourth sequel was pretty much inevitable. But where the story of Jurassic World didn’t work entirely, and the set-pieces were too reminiscent of Jurassic Park (1993), it’s clear from the trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom that the producers have decided that destruction porn equals thrills, and that they have no qualms about showing us a fairly detailed section of what is likely to be the movie’s effects-fuelled highlight. And there’s no point at this stage in putting the two main characters in jeopardy… because they’re the two main characters! Is anyone, after watching the trailer, worried about Chris Pratt’s character (consumed by volcanic ash), or Bryce Dallas Howard’s (trapped in a travel pod beneath the sea)? And is anyone really unable to wait until June next year to find out their fates?
The trailer – or at least the way it’s been compiled – also seems to imply that Pratt’s character will go back just to save a raptor (called Blue) he’s raised from birth. This element from the movie implies an examination of nature vs nurture, but it’s about as convincing as the trailer’s final image: the series’ T-Rex giving his signature pose and roar while Pratt looks on in awe. It’s a triumphalist moment that occurs at some point during the race to get away from the spreading volcanic eruption, and tells us that one of the series’ most iconic moments is being recreated as part of a sequence that is likely to see the T-Rex swept away with all the other dinosaurs. How much irony can one movie pretend to be including in its finished product? This is a trailer that should be setting off alarm bells, not having people react excitedly. And if you needed any further proof, there’s that awkward “conversation” between Pratt and Howard, where the level of sophisticated dialogue shows us that – possibly like the movie itself – some things haven’t changed for the better.