The Sunday Magazine: The Art of the Trailer; Game of Thrones and Avengers: Endgame

In the next five weeks the end of two of the greatest pop culture stories will begin their endings. On April 14 the first of the final six episodes of HBO’s Game of Thrones will be followed two weeks later by the Marvel Studios movie Avengers: Endgame finishing the story told over the first ten years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not that either of these events require any promotion to have everyone who has been invested in them to show up they have still released short trailers over the last week or so. Both are good examples of how to build even more anticipation without giving anything away that we already didn’t know what was coming. I thought this was good opportunity to mention why I think they work so well.

The Game of Thrones trailer uses its first moments to confirm the battle we know is coming takes place. We see one of the biggest toughest characters breathing heavily with what looks like dirt, could be blood, running in a rivulet down her face. She seems to be hiding as she then runs at full speed away from something. To see Arya in this state is an ideal scene setter. They juxtapose her headlong run with words of her saying how she looks forward to the battle.

Over the next minute or so we see quick glimpses of all the characters we have been following as they gather where the story began; at Winterfell for the battle. The final shot is of our heroes lined up outside the walls. As the camera pans back and we see the undead leg of a horse for the army of the dead.

This is effective for me as a viewer because the opening piece lets me know something goes enough wrong to put Arya into that state. By showing her confidence with the voice-over pre-battle bravado as she pelts down the halls. It is all I need to know this is not going to be a clean resolution. For our heroes to win they will have to sacrifice and overcome much. I really know little more than I did at the end of last season which makes it the right amount of enticement.

Avengers: Endgame also reminds us where it all began. Instead of location the first half of the trailer are the three core Avengers Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor reflecting in voice-over about how they ended up where they are. The old footage used is in black and white except for the color red which is still there. I thought it was a nice visual cue because in between the old footage are new scenes which are in full color. Natasha says “even if there is a small chance” followed by many of the characters responding “whatever it takes”. This leads to a beauty shot as the Avengers clad in matching white suits head toward that “small chance”. Then we see the logo followed by a funny moment as Thor meets Captain Marvel for the first time.

This is another effective trailer because it does move me a little bit further on from the ending of Avengers: Infinity War. I have an idea of who will take that “small chance” without knowing what it is. I assume it is the one path Dr. Strange mentioned in Avengers: Infinity War where they had the chance to beat Thanos.

I am left at the same place the Game of Thrones trailer left me; battle lines clearly drawn a whole movie in front of me to resolve it. This is how trailers used to be. I am shown just enough to excite me without ruining any of the major plot points.

Mark Behnke

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