The 25 Best Superhero Movie Trailers of All Time, Ranked
The trailer is an art form of its own, a short film designed to make would-be viewers want to see an upcoming movie. When it comes to movies based on already existing source material — i.e. the superhero film — trailers can be even more important, as they give fans an idea of what kind of adaptation they are in for.
In the era of the superhero film and the time of peak content, a superhero movie can be made or broken on the merits of its trailers. In other words: trailers are more important than ever when it comes to superhero films. With these qualifiers in mind, here is a list of the best superhero movie trailers of all time.
Before we begin, some disclaimers: For the purpose of this article, I’ve limited each superhero movie to one trailer per list. Logan can’t just be all of the spots, even if all of its trailers are great. Second, this list has nothing to do with the quality of the film the trailer is promoting. Some of these amazing trailers tricked us into believing the movie from which it drew was going to be amazing. Well played, trailer. Well played.
25) The Incredible Hulk — Official Trailer
Say what you will about The Incredible Hulk, the black sheep of the MCU (personally, I think its underrated), the official trailer for this standalone feature gets it right, highlighting the character struggle of Bruce Banner before letting us see the destructive power of the Hulk.
“I’ve been running for a long time. Not because I want to be, but because until I solve this problem, I have to be,” Ed Norton’s Bruce tells us, as the trailer gives us shots of the man trying to avoid armed military men as he is chased across the globe. Finally, they catch him and the Hulk comes out, giving us a glimpse of what kinds of visuals were finally possible in superhero movie storytelling.
24) X2: X-Men United — Official Trailer
Starting with the iconic “Have you tried not being a mutant?” scene, the official trailer for X2: X-Men United really gets to the thematic heart of this movie before diving into the traditional action sneak peeks that have become a superhero movie trailer mainstay. Add in some highlights of the characters new and old who will be appearing in this much-anticipated X-Men sequel, and you have yourself one hell of a trailer.
23) Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer — Teaser Trailer
Rise of the Silver Surfer was a garbage movie. I’m still upset that I paid to see it in theaters and I at least partially blame this impressive trailer for the monetary misstep. After a humdrum first film in the would-be franchise, the trailer for Fantastic Four 2 convinced millions that this film would be different by highlighting an epic chase between the Silver Surfer and Chris Evans’ Human Torch in its teaser trailer. Unfortunately, this was the best part of a terrible, boring movie.
(Embedding has been disabled on this trailer, so click here to see it)
22) Superman II — Official Trailer
If you don’t want to be spoiled for a 40-year-old movie, don’t watch the trailer for Superman II, which gives pretty much the entire plot away. But there’s something endearing about this no-chill trailer, which includes the classic voiceover narration that used to be so common in trailers, telling you a story about what you are about to see.
This classic trailer plays like a supercut of some of the best moments from Superman II — including Superman and Zod fighting in the air and Lois Lane pushing out of frame someone who doubts Superman’s superiority. What’s not to like about that?
21) Black Panther — Teaser Trailer
This trailer starts off slow, but more than makes it up for it by the end by giving us our first look at a big-budget superhero movie populated by black people. It’s a first for the superhero movie genre, and a milestone that makes this already epic, stylish trailer that much better. With a killer soundtrack from Run the Jewels, our best yet look at the world of Wakanda, and voiceover quotes like this, “The world is changing. Soon, there will only be the conquered and the conquerers,” this trailer has pumped the world up for the Black Panther standalone film.
20) Deadpool 2 — Teaser Trailer
With its first irreverent installment, the Deadpool franchise made a name for itself as a film series more than willing to poke fun at the superhero genre from whence it came. This short film teaser for Deadpool 2, released in front of Logan for American audiences, built on that reputation, lampooning everything from Superman to Stan Lee to Logan in its three-and-a-half minutes as we watch Deadpool fail to save an elderly man’s live because he is too busy getting his outfit right. Classic.
19) Thor: The Dark World —Trailer #1
Coming off of Loki’s success in The Avengers, Thor’s relationships with his family are at the center of this trailer for Thor: The Dark World, a smart move for a film series that relied heavily on fish-out-of-water dramedy in its first outing. Unfortunately, Loki wasn’t in this film half as much as the trailer would suggest and, while Thor’s familial relationships do get a fair amount of screen time, the MCU continues to have trouble melding the world of Asgard with the world of Earth.
18) Deadpool — Trailer #2
“Surprise, this is a different kind of superhero movie.” If you didn’t realize it after watching the first Deadpool trailer, then Wade Wilson spells it out for you in the second one. While both Deadpool trailers are great, the second one gives us a bit of a better look at Wade’s superhero team, while also upping the ante on all of the meta-commentary that played so well in the first trailer. “I don’t have time for your X-Men bull, Collossus.” The world of superhero movies — or superhero movie trailers — would never be the same.
17) Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice — Comic-Con Trailer
It’s hard not to be interested by a trailer that teases the clash of Superman and Batman, two of the most iconic superheroes of all time, but for it to also be visually mesmerizing and to include our first real glimpse at Wonder Woman, that’s just icing on the cake! Whatever you may think of Batman v. Superman as a movie (personally, I think it’s a joyless mess), it’s hard not to be drawn in by this beautiful, stakes-raising sneak peek. Even if it has a few too many Jesus shots.
16) Wonder Woman — “Rise of the Warrior” Trailer
This final Wonder Woman trailer still makes me want to see this film… and I’ve already seen it three times. The first two trailers in this marketing campaign sold this film and what it was about so well, this final trailer could just have some fun with its promotion, highlighting Diana as a warrior by pairing Imagine Dragons’ “Warriors” with some killer highlights of Diana’s path to becoming a defender of humanity.
15) Guardians of the Galaxy — Trailer #1
This trailer had a lot of work to do. It needed to sell a weird space adventure comic book story that no one outside of the comic book world had ever heard of. The first trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy not only had to give the audience a lot of information about this world and these characters, but it also needed to actually, you know, make people want to do see it.
This trailer made that all look easy, making us laugh and giving us some insane shots like the one of Rocket Raccoon firing his guns wildly from Groot’s shoulder, all to “Hooked on a Feeling.” Like the earworm, this was one of those trailers you just couldn’t get out of your head.
14) X-Men: Days of Future Past — Official Trailer
Speaking of hard sells, before Days of Future Past, no one would have thought it was possible to meld the worlds of the original X-Men films with the world of the prequels. Enter this trailer, which convinced would-be moviegoers that Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier could share a screen with James McAvoy’s Charles Xavier, and that it would somehow make sense. The X-Men movie timeline has all kinds of continuity and logic errors, but try to remember that while you’re watching this wonderful trailer.
13) Thor: Ragnarok — Trailer #2
The most recently-released trailer on this list, the trailers for Thor: Ragnarok hints at a film that has finally managed to iron out the kinks of the Thor film franchise by not trying to meld Asgard life with Earth life and leaning into Chris Hemsworth’s comedic talents as Thor.
Add in some cameos from Bruce Banner (and the Hulk), Loki, and Fenris Wolf; a killer soundtrack; and some literally out-of-this world action, and you’ve got a Thor movie that seems to make the previous two installments like straight-edged bores. Thor: Ragnarok is teeming with imagination… or at least the trailers are.
12) Batman — Trailer #1
While this trailer for 1989’s Batman is dated in its visuals, it’s surprisingly modern in its structure. Instead of giving us a voiceover narration of the entire story, holding our hand to explain exactly what movie we’re about to see, the trailer for Tim Burton’s film gives us flashes of Michael Keaton as Batman and Jack Nicholson as The Joker. It also gave viewers of the time a taste of the tone Burton was going for, letting audiences know that this would be more serious than the campiness of the Adam West TV show.
11) The Dark Knight — Trailer #1
This is the trailer that gave us our first real look at Heath Ledger’s career-defining performance as the Joker. It also gave us a glimpse of what this franchise was to become after the solid, but more generic Batman Begins. The first trailer for The Dark Knight teased something darker and more complex, with Alfred’s mandate for Bruce to “endure,” telling him: “You could be the outcast. You could make the choice that no one else could face.” We might not have dared to hope just how great Christopher Nolan’s second Batman would be before seeing it for ourselves, but this trailer certainly gave us an idea.
10) Watchmen — Official Trailer
Zack Snyder sure knows how to make a trailer. The official trailer for the film adaptation of Alan Moore’s iconic 80s comic book series assuaged many a fan’s nervousness that Snyder would lighten up the film’s dark themes. With voiceover quotes like, “Why would I save a world I no longer have any stake in?” and “The world will look up and shot, ‘Save us,’ and I’ll whisper, No.’” sprinkled throughout the trailer, it seemed that Snyder was going all in on Moore’s deconstruction of the superhero genre. Add in some stunning visuals to attract those who know nothing about the story, and you have one of the best superhero movie trailers of all time… however you may feel about the movie its attached to.
9) Iron Man — Trailer #1
I still remember watching this trailer with my college friend and getting actively excited to see a superhero movie that was tonally somewhere in-between the campiness of Spider-Man and the seriousness of Batman Begins. This trailer hits the spot by not only highlighting Robert Downey Jr.’s charismatic performance as Tony Stark, but by convincing still-skeptical movie-goers that this kind of superhero movie — one in which a man flies into realistic wartime combat situations in a Hot Rod red suit — could look good. And it has AC/DC.
8) Superman Returns — Teaser Trailer
I am a Superman Returns defender, but even if that were not the case, I would still dig this trailer. It effectively plays on the nostalgia of Superman: The Movie by giving us a Marlon Brando voiceover and the John Williams’ score. Paired with Bryan Singer’s retro visuals already apparent in this teaser trailer, you’ve got hints at a film that is a spiritual sequel to the Richard Donner classics. Whether you believe that Superman Returns delivered on that promise or not, this trailer certainly makes you believe it’s possible.
7) The Dark Knight Rises — Official Trailer
The trailers for The Dark Knight Rises didn’t need to prove anything. Anyone who saw the masterpiece that was The Dark Knight was going to see this movie. This freed the promotional campaign up a bit, giving us trailers like this work of art, which is really just flashes of what is to come: A child singing the National Anthem as we begin to see hints of how broken Gotham is about to become. The introduction of Catwoman as she lampoons Bruce for his wealth and power. Bane’s destruction of a football field behind an oblivious player scoring a touchdown.
6) Spider-Man — Official Trailer
The trailer for Spider-Man is pure, kinetic energy, announcing to would-be viewers that the era of the superhero movie is here. While contemporary movie-going audiences would have no way of realizing just how big the superhero movie genre would become, this trailer is one of the first that showed prospective audiences that it is possible to make a superhero movie that doesn’t sacrifice any of the action or antics seen on the page. It does all of this while giving us hints of the heart, humor, and romance that make this film great.
5) Avengers: Age of Ultron — Teaser Trailer
Ultron was never as scary as he was in this teaser trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron, which saw shots like the Avengers looking defeated on their plane and Captain America’s shield split in two while a child creepily sings “I’ve Got No Strings.” Was this the end of the Avengers? Nope. And, logically, we knew that even before we saw Age of Ultron, but this trailer was so effectively haunting and ominous that it temporarily convinced us that bad, bad things were about to come for the Avengers and that things would never be the same again.
4) Man of Steel — Trailer #2
I am not a fan of Zack Snyder movies, but I am definitely a fan of his trailers, including this second one for Man of Steel, which leans heavily on the minimalist, naturalistic tone Snyder strove for in bringing this Superman origin story to live. Snyder is great at the kinds of iconic, symbolic money shots that make for great trailers. In fact, his movies are full of them, which is why they tend to make for such great trailers. This look at Clark’s world — from trying on a red cape in the backyard of his Kansas farmhouse as a young boy to wearing the real thing as he makes his way across a snowy landscape as an adult — is gorgeous and hints at a Superman film unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
3) Unbreakable — Offical Trailer
Most superhero movie trailers rely on showing you as many glimpses of things you are excited to see as possible to entice you into seeing the film. The trailer for Unbreakable, the 2000 film starring Bruce Willis as a man with superhuman abilities, does the opposite. It relies on the hallmark of any good M. Night Shyamalan movie, mystery, by slowly revealing to both the audience and main character David Dunn that he is the lone survivor of a horrific train crash. How did he survive? Well, you’re just going to have to watch the movie to find that out, aren’t you?
2) Captain America: Civil War — Trailer #1
Much like Age of Ultron before it, Civil War plays up the angst of the film, making us believe that this movie would be much darker than it inevitably was. This trailer relies heavily on the character-driven aspects of the film, pitting the two strongest characters in the MCU against one another and calling on the Steve/Bucky relationship that drove Steve’s actions in the first two Captain America films. The final shots of Bucky and Steve teaming up against Tony are emotionally affecting for so many reasons. If you are a fan of the MCU and come out of this trailer without immediately wanting to see this movie, then you are dead on the inside.
1) Logan — Trailer #1
Seventeen years after he first originated the role in X-Men, Hugh Jackman plays a broken, weary version of the Logan/Wolverine character we have seen guide the X-Men universe in Logan, a modern superhero western set in a world where the X-Men no longer exist.
This initial trailer for the film blew most people away, letting audience know that this wouldn’t be your normal X-Men film, nor your normal Wolverine outing. No, this is something different. It is something darker and more mature.
Set to Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt,” a cover recorded in the twilight of the musician’s life, this trailer tells you everything you need to know about where Logan is at, while still giving us hope in the form of Professor X’s tired voiceover: “Logan, you still have time.”
A masterpiece of a trailer for a masterpiece of a superhero movie.