X-Men: Apocalypse Trailer Shows Mystique and Charles Xavier Reuniting to Stop …
‘X-Men: Apocalypse': First Trailer Promises Death and Destruction For Humanity.
They’ve triumphed over evil mutants and evil mutant-hunting robots, but as the first trailer for next year’s X-Men: Apocalypse teases, perhaps seemingly immortal mutants with dangerous ideologies and blue faces will succeed where all other threats have failed and undo Charles Xavier’s dream of human/mutant peaceful co-existence once and for all.
The superhero team is tackling its the most formidable opponent yet — an ancient mutant named Apocalypse (Oscar Issac) — in the latest trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse. Directed by Bryan Singer (X-Men: Days of Future Past), Apocalypse finds the core mutants, including Charles (James McAvoy), Erik (Michael Fassbender), and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), taking sides when the titular character reawakens and seeks world domination. This time around, however, it’s not Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique who’s walking the line between good and evil, but Michael Fassbender’s Magneto who falls under the thrall of the mysterious Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac). After awakening in the 1980s, he quickly grows dissatisfied with mutantkind’s status on the planet, and recruits the likes of Psylocke (Olivia Munn) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) as his Four Horsemen to help him cleanse the world.
Studios, under increasing pressure to post big opening weekend sales and in possession of ads people actually want to watch, have set about flooding platforms like YouTube and Facebook with all manner of trailers: multiple primary trailers, trailers to introduce characters, to highlight subplots, to target specific demographics or countries. It’s a bit spoiler-ish, so with the film set to open on Wednesday, you may want to think twice and save some surprises for the actual movie watching.
No wonder Xavier is willing to go to new lengths — including finally adopting the iconic bald look — to stop Apocalypse’s plan of cleansing the world of humanity. Modern trailers shouldn’t just introduce and excite: for franchise films especially, they should link films together, hint at new directions, and provide fodder for fan debate and speculation, amplifying anticipation for free. Black Panther, teased in Ultron and with a movie of his own on the way, made his first appearance in the Captain America: Civil War trailer, with fans going frame by frame in an attempt to figure out who’s on whose side.
The first full trailer for Dawn of Justice gives Bruce Wayne’s view of the final battle in Man of Steel, setting up a conflict with Superman that gets resolved in the second trailer, when Wonder Woman unites both against Doomsday. “This is all about building anticipation,” says Keith Johnston, professor of film and television at the University of East Anglia and head of the Watching the Trailer research project. “It’s no longer anticipation for the finished product, it’s anticipation for something that will build your anticipation.” For most of the trailer’s century-long history, editors were limited in the material they could draw on. Starting a few months before filming finished, they’d go over whatever footage was available and splice it together until it conveyed the basics of the setting, characters, and plot, filling in the gaps with title cards and voiceover. The trailer for A New Hope, for example, spends most of its time on a minor dogfight set to a curiously plodding score, while an echoey voiceover manages to make a “big, sprawling space saga of rebellion and romance” sound kind of dour. (On the other hand, sometimes you ended up with a trailer like the one for Alien, which is more powerful for never showing anything.) Trailer editors now start working far earlier. The first Force Awakens trailer went online less than a month after filming wrapped, with finished shots of Kylo Ren’s lightsaber, the BB-8 droid, the Millennium Falcon, X-Wings, and Rey’s speeder. Sometimes the process begins two years or more before a film is released with nothing but a script, with trailer editors picking out scenes or dialogue they want fast-tracked.
Almost 20 years later, the White House explosion also seems quaintly direct — the goal of a trailer now isn’t just to be spectacular, but to pick scenes that will prompt debate. Almost every scene has managed to drive this kind of interest, making headline news on virtually every media outlet, all while revealing practically nothing about the movie. The trailers reveal no more plot than the most basic “light versus dark” themes and give only the most elliptical character introductions (“Who are you?” “I’m no one”). Yet the brief appearance of the crossguard lightsaber and BB-8 droid in the first teaser prompted intense fan discussion, which turned into news stories, which turned into toy sales far in advance of the movie’s launch. Finn’s Stormtrooper uniform, Kylo Ren’s mask, Darth Vader’s melted helmet, and the crackle of Luke’s lightsaber after the final title card have all been the subject of fevered debate.
Even Luke’s absence has been fodder for speculation, with fans wondering whether he’s the hooded figure with the robotic hand glimpsed in the teaser and whether he’s turned evil. (J.J. Baritone pitchmen like Don Lafontaine have been replaced with character dialogue, sometimes spliced together into thematic-sounding voiceover from unrelated line readings. “Audiences have grown up with the trailer,” says Nick Temple of the agency Wild Card. “Especially younger people, we’ve all evolved together and as soon as you hear voiceover you think, ‘I’m being sold to.’” Stylistic trends move faster now, changing in a matter of months or years rather than decades.
Several editors brought up the Inception “whoom” sound (also described as “braaamp”) — saying that it was cool for a few years before becoming a cliché. Evelyn Watters, who runs the Golden Trailer Awards with her sister, points out that covers are nice because they hit two demographics — fans of the original and of the cover artist. But now even that’s getting old, says Brubaker, who used a cover of the Bee Gees’ “I Started a Joke” for Suicide Squad. “I think the microscope always being held to our head is the internet.” The demand for trailers seems to be limitless, and why shouldn’t it be? But in a trajectory that mirrors digital media at large, from destination sites like Apple Trailers to YouTube’s search and embedding to social networks, Facebook is making a play for the trailer market. In the week leading up to the launch of the first Furious 7 trailer last year, the film’s Facebook fan page posted a short teaser clip every day, culminating in a cross-platform unveiling: an hour-long special on E! (owned by NBCUniversal), along with posting to the Facebook pages for Furious 7, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Dwayne Johnson, Tyrese Gibson, and the memorial page for Paul Walker.
The first shot of Finn wielding Luke’s lightsaber went up on Instagram, and this Thanksgiving, a Kylo Ren-focused television spot made its online premiere as a Facebook exclusive. Its entertainment division can tell studios not only what demographics watched its trailer, helping them target further versions, but what scenes fans paused and rewound. Services like Rentrak monitor other forms of social media, like Twitter, for what elements of the trailer people are discussing and how they feel about it.
Jon Handschin, co-founder of Moviepilot, a fast-growing site he describes as a “Medium for movie fans,” says that studios have begun giving fans of a franchise embargoed access to trailers so that they have their reactions ready, something studios have been increasingly reluctant to do for films themselves. “From a studio perspective, you want to control both, right?” said Handschin. “You’ve got the signal, your marketing signal, the trailer. But you would also love to amplify the echo to the signal, by the fans, and to amplify both of these messages, the signal and the echo.” Embargoed trailer reviews might seem absurd, but they makes sense in a world — in a world — where the trailer has become the content, the snack that tides fans over during the diminishing gap between franchise installments. It should be exciting, tantalizing, not unsatisfying but not so satisfying that you won’t want to come back for the sequel, the show, or click on the trailer when it goes online.
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