OPINION | Stop Overanalyzing Movie Trailers


EDITOR’S NOTE: Op-eds by BOF contributors do not necessarily reflect the official position of this website or its founder/EIC…unless they do.

I had to stop myself from doing a frame-by-frame breakdown of last month’s trailer for THE FLASH when it played during the third Super Bowl the Eagles gratefully lost.

On my fourth viewing…no, let’s call it seventh…there was one detail I really wanted to know more about. I prepared to rewatch it again and go through the scene in question before stopping myself, remembering that this path leads to…nowhere.

If there’s one thing I’m striving for in fandom it’s de-escalation. I’m burned out on trailer analysis videos (as well as trailer reaction videos, for that matter) and see them as creating an unfair level of expectations.

Trailer breakdowns can be innocent enough. At best, you’re contributing to the hype and maybe drawing attention to a comic that not enough people have read. At worst, you’re writing the movie in your head and acting like you know better than the writer and director. I believe the second path is more common.


Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about…

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES was the first movie where I noticed this trailer breakdown habit, so naturally, these theories stuck with me. Was that one henchman filming the Bane vs. Batman fight? A propaganda tool to present Bane as a hero following Batman’s fall from grace at the end of THE DARK KNIGHT?

The first RISES trailer included a shot of Bruce Wayne entering the charity fundraiser which didn’t make it into the final film. This is the moment I overanalyzed. My theory was we’d find Bruce having hung up his cape and cowl and regressed into adopting the playboy facade as his main persona (which Christian Bale excelled at). The Batman and private side of Bruce would’ve entered a dormant state.

Later BATMAN V SUPERMAN would be the victim of my strongest trailer theory. Having majored in political science, and dabbled in history all my life, my first thought was that the scenes at the U.S. Capitol HAD to be a Pearl Harbor or 9/11-style commission to investigate the attack on Metropolis.

What an opportunity for meta-commentary! Such a commission could have arguments for and against the decisions Superman and the military made in MAN OF STEEL. You could take fan concerns and both give them a voice and address why they are wrong (*wink wink*).

I still loved the hell out of both movies, but to this day have that nagging voice in my head that my ideas were better. This is my point: trailer theories lead to you developing a prejudice going into the movie.

If you argue about the plot of a movie after it comes out that’s fine, the filmmakers’ vision would’ve at least gotten the first say. When your theory is attached to the hype leading up to a film though, it’s harder to shake loose.

Hopefully, the tide is turning against trailer breakdowns as I haven’t seen any on my YouTube or Twitter feeds. I’m not sure if that’s part of a larger trend or if some algorithm has noticed my apathy for such things. Either way, I’m satisfied I’ll go into THE FLASH with the right mindset!

I’ll end with a bit of journalism advice I once got from columnist David Brooks. He said in striving for objectivity be the guy at a sporting event who doesn’t stand when the crowd does the wave. Stay seated, be an observer and not a participant.

Prepping for THE FLASH is going to require me to reverse that rule. I’m ready to stand up and ride the wave of excitement for this movie and just be a fan, not someone who sits back and overanalyzes whatever breadcrumbs we get from the trailers and marketing. – James Armstrong