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‘Game of Thrones’ Goes Dilly Dilly: Grading the Trailers From the Super Bowl

Plus: Captain America is alive, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is still on, and Jordan Peele is everywhere

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This year’s Super Bowl isn’t going to be fondly remembered for its on-field product (outside of ardent punting enthusiasts), mediocre halftime show, or corn-obsessed commercials. lt did, however, provide trailers for some of the biggest releases in TV and film coming in 2019. And while Netflix didn’t stealth-drop a Cloverfield movie this year, the trailers were a much-needed respite from the rest of a wholly forgettable Super Bowl experience. From the latest Avengers: Endgame footage to the peak capitalism Bud Light–Game of Thrones crossover you never saw coming, we’ve graded all the Super Bowl teasers—some of which met the hype more than others.

Avengers: Endgame

With the latest Endgame teaser, Marvel has decided to lean into the Leftovers of it all. (As in, there are now brochures that say “WHERE DO WE GO, NOW THAT THEY’RE GONE?”) It’s not a bad strategy, assuming there are no copyright infringements: Even in a fictional world where superheroes exist, the populace is probably going to assume some kind of divine rapture occurred, rather than the actions of an all-powerful, nihilistic purple alien. Anyway, this bleak outlook isn’t going to stop our surviving Avengers from coming up with a plan—and this Endgame teaser is mostly a table-setter for the coming fight to save everyone who vanished into dust. It’s serious and grim; well, as serious and grim as things can be when one of the heroes is a CGI raccoon voiced by Jackson Maine.

One last gripe: Why did Marvel feel the need to show the regular attendance of a Mets game?

An aerial image of CitiField with no fans inside Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Grade: B+

Captain Marvel

Oh, right: Before we even get to Endgame, there’s another Marvel movie coming next month. I’m still not sure how to feel about the Brie Larson–starring Captain Marvel, which seems to be at odds with itself over two contrasting tones. On one hand, there’s Carol Danvers, the Top Gun–esque fighter pilot (I dig it!); on the other, there’s some generic CGI-fighting between alien races called Kree and Skrulls to add to the MCU’s ever-expanding world-building. Of course, none of this changes the fact that a lot of people will check out Captain Marvel—if only to see how Carol Danvers and her powers fit into the Thanos of it all.

Grade: C+

Game of Thrones and … Bud Light?

Game of Thrones’ final season is just two months away, and, before the Super Bowl, HBO had avoided showing any actual footage, aside from a few seconds of Sansa Stark greeting Daenerys Targaryen in Winterfell. It was a smart approach from HBO, which doesn’t really need to promote the biggest show on the planet—especially not when there are so many smart fans prepared to analyze every single frame for clues and foreshadowing. If there was going to be a full-blown Season 8 trailer, however, the thinking was it’d come during the Super Bowl. Technically, there was Thrones content Sunday. More specifically, though, it came in conjunction with a beer that ABSOLUTELY does NOT use corn syrup. Yes, the Mountain and Drogon invaded one of Bud Light’s medieval-themed commercials—the former crushing the Bud Knight’s skull (who the hell approved this script?) and the latter setting a jousting tournament on fire, likely roasting dozens of spectators. The body count here was staggering—almost as staggering as the brazenly capitalistic decision to tie Game of Thrones into a Bud Light Super Bowl ad. Dilly dilly, I guess?

Grade: C-

The Twilight Zone

For a brief moment, the Super Bowl entered The Twilight Zone—and for a brief moment, the Super Bowl was interesting. Even without any footage to show off, the rebooted anthology series—with new host and executive producer Jordan Peele—looks like one of the most exciting non-Thrones debuts coming to television this year. Here are just some of the people tapped to appear this season: Steven Yeun, Adam Scott, Jessica Williams, John Cho, Jacob Tremblay, Taissa Farmiga, Rhea Seehorn, and Kumail Nanjiani. And again, Peele is running the show. This is going to be good—even if the only teaser we got Sunday was some mind-bending shots of Peele walking across an empty football stadium.

Grade: B


The new Us teaser is mostly an abbreviated version of the first footage revealed from Peele’s new horror movie on Christmas Day. (Not necessarily a bad thing, since it was straight-up terrifying and almost single-handedly upended my Christmas.) With a film like Us, it seems like the less revealed before the March release, the better, so that the movie’s biggest scares and twists can properly land. Peele made Get Out—we don’t need much more convincing than that. Though Doppelgänger Lupita Nyong’o sure is scary.

Grade: B+

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

We waxed lyrical about this spinoff Friday. The TL;DR version: Holy shit, the Fast & Furious franchise has fully leaned into making superhero movies now, and leather could be choking Idris Elba to death. Shut up and take our money.

Grade: A

The Handmaid’s Tale

“It’s morning again in America,” the first words echo from The Handmaid’s Tale’s Super Bowl trailer, confirming Hulu’s Emmy-winning drama still has no chill and will not relent as television’s most prestigious torture porn. For those wondering what’s the latest in Gilead: June (Elisabeth Moss, pulling Super Bowl double duty between this and Us) is now trying to topple the patriarchy from within the system. Also: Apparently the Washington Monument is now a giant cross, which seems like an architectural nightmare.

Image of women in red gowns lined up in rows on the National Mall Hulu

I got off the Handmaid’s Tale train during Season 2 and haven’t looked back. This trailer did little to make me second-guess that decision.

Grade: B-


Peak TV is in full bloom, to the extent that there are prestige-looking shows I didn’t even know existed. For instance: I genuinely had no idea that Amazon was adapting the Saoirse Ronan–starring film Hanna into a television series, but it’s a real thing coming in March. From the trailer for the eponymous series, it seems like an extended retread of the film: A girl trained to be a killing machine in the middle of nowhere is thrust into society, learning more about herself and humanity in the process. If this sounds up your alley, Amazon has made the pilot available for the first 24 hours following the Super Bowl. Consider me cautiously optimistic, if only because nobody can—or should—be asked to live up to Queen Saoirse, first of her name.

Grade: B

Alita: Battle Angel

Full disclosure: I have already seen Alita, and it’s a solid sci-fi spectacle that rewards big-screen viewing in spite of a diminishing plot. For some reason, the trailers for the film haven’t been able to capture the same kinetic thrills—maybe because it’s hard to think about anything other than the titular character’s googly, anime-like eyes. The Super Bowl trailer is more of the same: If you’ve seen the half-dozen other Alita trailers, you’ve already seen everything you’re going to get. Nevertheless, the uncanny valley of Alita’s big eyes, and Mahershala Ali’s aesthetic choices, are strong in this one.

Grade: B-

Million Dollar Mile

While LeBron James was awkward-dad-tweeting his way through a boring-ass Super Bowl, CBS premiered the first teaser for Million Dollar Mile, a new competition series for which LeBron serves as an executive producer. (He also narrates the first look.) The basic setup is this: A normal person races against an athlete across the city, and if the competitor is able to run through a gantlet of obstacles ahead of said athlete, he wins … a million dollars, I guess? (It’s not made clear, but I mean, why else call it Million Dollar Mile?) The trailer doesn’t show any footage, it’s just intoning what people should expect, which is: a slightly tweaked version of the Rock’s The Titan Games, which itself is a slightly tweaked version of American Ninja Warrior.

Grade: B-

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

The Twilight Zone isn’t the only horror anthology that released a first look at the Super Bowl. Based on the children’s books, with an original story written by Guillermo del Toro, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is going to be a big-screen adaptation that likely culls some of the creepiest entries into one cohesive narrative. There are four Scary Stories teasers available online showcasing different terrifying scenarios: If I had to pick the one I’d least want to happen to me, I’d go with the hairy spike moving inside my cheek. (Light spoiler: This poor woman has a face full of spiders.)

Grade: B+

Our Planet

In lieu of a Cloverfield-type surprise drop or a Stranger Things Season 3 trailer, Netflix showed off a teaser for Our Planet, its forthcoming nature docuseries narrated by—who else?—David Attenborough. This seems like the streamer’s answer to BBC’s Planet Earth series, and I’m all for it: If Netflix is going to spend billions of dollars on original programming every year, it ought to give us more nature documentaries to gawk at. Being able to see the beautiful animals and environments spread across our planet—many of which are teetering on the edge of extinction thanks to climate change and deforestation—is as important as it’s ever been. I am already in love with Our Planet and its adorable and startlingly human orangutans.

Grade: A

Toy Story 4

I’m still cynical of Pixar bringing Andy’s toys back for a fourth film. Toy Story 3 was a perfect cap to the trilogy that, many scientific studies have shown, made 100 percent of viewers tear up and recoil in fear at the threat of Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the gang being incinerated. But Toy Story 4 is happening this summer. Here’s what we know, thanks to this Super Bowl footage: Somehow, Andy’s toys end up in an amusement park, and Buzz encounters two carnival stuffed animals (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) with more than a little hostility. Where did Andy go? What the heck is the plot of this movie? That’s all TBD, but at least this Toy Story 4 footage wasn’t overshadowed by a Detective Pikachu trailer like last time.

Grade: B

Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.