As often as trailers can be super exciting, they can also fill us with false expectations. It's easy to make a movie look thrilling, emotional or funny with a slickly cut preview.
That's because the things that a trailer doesn't require are what make movies great, stuff like emotional depth and complex characters. This makes comparing the two an admittedly silly thing to do.
But that being the case, trailers can sell a movie that only resembles the final product. These are just a few that stung particularly bad.
"Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace"
This is — and always will be — the king of the "great trailer, disappointing movie" category. It could be argued that this preview only made the fall from where expectations were going into the prequels so much worse. The trailer has a sense of discovery that perfectly matched up with what fans hoped to see from the saga's continuation. Plus, it focused on the film's highlights — the podrace and the Darth Maul — while avoiding any mention of the Trade Federation.
Maybe this is how it was always destined to be. Could a movie about robots fighting monsters ever live up to a trailer about robots fighting monsters? Whatever the case, Guillermo del Toro fell short of expectations when things like characters and emotions need to be added.
"The Dark Knight Rises"
Could anything ever live up to "The Dark Knight"? The first full trailer for Christopher Nolan's trilogy topper had us believing that we were in for a satisfying and melancholy ending, and while there are great aspects to "The Dark Knight Rises," it never fully came together. The teaser presented a different tone for the series, but still a Batman movie at its core. Also, it had the expected amount of Batman in it, something the movie couldn't match.
And thus began the tradition of good Superman trailers for less good movies. Bryan Singer's attempt definitely cashed in on the nostalgia for the Richard Donner series, and that's the big problem here. The trailer is nice because of it’s a nice, compact homage. The same isn't as true when that's all a movie can offer.
"Man of Steel"
The second trailer for "Man of Steel," with the gibberish lyrics of its music, and Terrence Malick-esque shots of pencils, does a very good job of establishing the tone of Zack Snyder's reboot. At the same time, it captures what people love and hate about the finished film. The trailer had a human element to it, which didn't develop as fully as we'd hoped.
Oh, the sweet, naïve time before we all saw "The Village," back when M. Night Shyamalan could do no wrong and this all seemed like a really good idea. It's all here: a mystery, some monsters, a beautifully shot period setting. What's missing is the terribly misguided ending, and ultimately, it's for the better.
It's strange looking back at "Terminator: Salvation" now that we're on the brink of another reboot for the series. This movie had Christian Bale, an actor who's picky enough to make each of his movies an event, and now we do our best to forget this film ever existed. The trailer's cool though.
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Like many of the trailers on this list, David Fincher's "Benjamin Button" has a distinctive look and a promising premise that don't delivered once expanded. The preview gets away with being all style, no substance and as cold as the movie ended up being.