11. Superman Returns

This is the movie that lured Bryan Singer away from the X-Men franchise originally - a weird sorta-continuation/reboot of the old Christopher Reeves Superman films. The trailer is appropriately filled with awe and hope and Marlon Brando voiceover, but little did we know the actual movie would be more about Superman as a creepy stalker and absentee father who never fights anyone the entire movie (although he does lift a bunch of stuff).

 

10. Where the Wild Things Are

Spike Jonze's naturalistic direction, Arcade Fire music (back before they were cool? Or are they still cool? I dunno, but "Wake Up" is a pretty good song), some awesome animatronic puppet suits, and one of the most beloved children's stories ever all came together to produce an undeniably great trailer. The movie itself, however, is a very strange thing - and very much in contrast to what the trailer is. While the trailer suggested a lot of whimsy and life lessons and coming of age (in a feel good kinda way), the movie was more about the immense discomfort of childhood and the loss of innocence.

 

9. Terminator: Salvation

I'm not entirely sure why anyone ever thought a Terminator sequel directed by a guy who goes by the name "McG" would ever be good, but the trailer goes a long way in convincing you this might be a worthwhile endeavor. In case you haven't seen the movie yet, this is all you need to know:

IT WAS DIRECTED BY A GUY NAMED "McG".

Also it's pretty bad.

 

8. Watchmen

This much should be said: Zack Snyder did the best we could ever expect anyone to do in bringing Watchmen to the big screen. It's really just not meant to be a movie - especially not such a literally translated one. The movie serves as a pretty solid filmed version of the graphic novel (in as compact a form as possible) and has a few great sequences (the opening credits and the Doctor Manhattan backstory), but so much of what made the graphic novel amazing and iconic and literate was totally lost in favor of slo-mo kicks and awkwardly scored sex scenes.

The trailer though? Fantastic.

 

7. Battle: Los Angeles

Such a weird, unsettling, and haunting trailer. Such a bad, frenetic, boring movie.

 

6. Man of Steel

 

Two things that tend to have better trailers than movies: movies by Zack Snyder and movies about Superman. Not that Man of Steel is AWFUL or anything (Zack Snyder is always incredible with visuals, at the very least), but while the trailer is awe-inspiring and hopeful and majestic, the actual movie is a bloated, strange movie, about a Superman we never really get to know, his two dads (one of whom is a computer-ghost-thing played by Russell Crowe, the other is the weirdest Pa Kent ever committed to film, who tells young Clark he should have let a bunch of kids die instead of revealing that he has super-strength), and an epic Superman/Zod battle that is comprised of, like, 50 separate 9/11s all happening at once.

 

5. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

A lot of the best trailers tell a little story within itself - here we see sadsack Ben Stiller, who wants so much more out of life, discovering that he can do that. And there's a nice indie-type song over the whole thing (the kind where people are just saying "HEY" for no discernable reason every now and then) and everything looks so heartfelt and personal and amazing. The actual film is pretty weird and bad - and is mostly notable for having the most (and most intrusive) ad placement for a movie in recent memory.

 

4. Prometheus

Ridley Scott cuts a damn fine trailer - it helps that he's such a skilled director, able to get some incredible shots that are ready-made for trailerization. The epic scale of things, the music, the subtle references to bigger answers and tie-ins with the Alien franchise, Michael Fassbender, etc. all made this look like it would be the next great sci-fi film. What we got was a weird bad terrible mess - it's no surprise they failed to mention that the guy behind Lost was the writer of the film.

 

3. Star Wars: Episode I

This is a trailer that does require some context - it'd been nearly 20 years without a new Star Wars film (unless you're counting those Ewok Adventures movies, which you're not because NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO MENTION THEM EVER), and this was like manna from Heaven. New Star Wars! Young Obi-Wan! Young Anakin! Dual-sided lightsabers! Adventures and bad guys and OH MY GOD WAS THAT PALPATINE???

Even if you're a fan of The Phantom Menace (and more power to you've managed to stay a fan in an age where the internet seemingly came into wide-spread usage JUST to complain about The Phantom Menace), it's hard to argue that the final product matches up anywhere near to the excitement and promise of the trailer.

 

2. The Blair Witch Project

Say what you will about The Blair Witch Project (it's a boring, dull, pointless mess of a film where a couple dumb people wander around the woods and yell about a map for like 70 minutes), but it had one hell of a marketing campaign behind it - buoyed mainly by this unsettling and highly-effective trailer (which mostly leaves out the people yelling about a map).

 

1. Cliffhanger

The trailer for Cliffhanger may be the best trailer ever - not just a great trailer for a bad movie, but a beautiful wonderful trailer period. Whoever decided to do a dialogue/narration free trailer for a Sylvester Stallone movie about mountain climbing scored only by an operatic piece by Mozart is a genius. The movie itself isn't the worst or anything, but it's your standard fare for an early 90s Stallone film, which means it's better than Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot but not quite up to Over the Top standards of stupid-greatness.