Most people thank (or blame) Ridley Scott’s 1984 Macintosh ad for inventing the spectacle of the Super Bowl commercial, but the Independence Day spot that 20th Century Fox unleashed during the big game in 1996 was an equally significant milestone. Ever since 100 million Americans gawked at their televisions in awe as a massive alien spaceship blew up the White House, the football championship has become the ultimate launching pad for the next wave of spring and summer blockbusters. These days, it almost feels like there’s an entire Comic-Con worth of hype weaved into the breaks between flagged plays and punt returns.
This year was no exception, as the broadcast was accompanied by an avalanche of new footage from the biggest movies coming out in the next six months. From superheroes to poodles and everything in between, we rank the 10 biggest movie commercials that touched down during the Super Bowl.
10. Gods of Egypt
On the one hand, the latest commercial for this shiny Egyptian epic loses points because the film comes out in a couple of weeks, and most of the footage here is already played out. On the other hand, it loses even more points because the movie its selling looks absolutely atrocious. Positioning Gods of Egypt as the perfect movie for anyone who thought that the Clash of the Titans remake needed more cut-rate CGI, this spot plays like a supercut of Gerard Butler growling at green screens. “I’m coming for you,” he barks to Games of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, but we’ll be happy to watch the highlights tomorrow, or more likely, many months from now during a cross-country flight.
9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
Haven’t the Beastie Boys suffered enough? Mercilessly scored to “No Sleep Till Brooklyn,” this ad for the sequel to 2014’s TMNT reboot promises a film that will not only snuff out the franchise’s last whiff of personality but become the Transformers knock-off that producer Michael Bay so obviously wants it to be. After all, what says Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles more than a giant alien airship hovering over Manhattan? At least this clip offers a glimpse of the classic hockey-playing antihero Casey Jones teeing up for a slap shot — it might be the only thing that longtime fans recognize about this noisy summer blockbuster.
8. The Secret Life of Pets
In the Super Bowl that gave the world the hyper-disturbing “Puppy monkey baby,” it’s nice to see cute animals just being themselves (or at least not doing anything that will give us nightmares). And this spot for Universal’s cartoon comedy delivers old-fashioned adorability in spades, milking a painfully derivative premise — Toy Story, but with pets instead of plastic! — in order to give America the catharsis it needed after Mountain Dew robbed our nation of its innocence. The laughs may be cheap, but there’s something inherently amusing about a French poodle thrashing to speed metal as soon as his master leaves home for the day.
7. Captain America: Civil War
These days, Marvel movies kind of sell themselves. On the other hand, it can’t be easy for advertisers to make each new chapter of the MCU look like it’s doing something different than the one before it. The Super Bowl spot for Captain America‘s third solo adventure doesn’t feature much in the way of new footage, but it plays up the sporting hostility that sets Civil War apart from Steve Rogers’ more congenial episodes. Scored to the thundering chants of an arena crowd (“United. We. Stand! Divided. We. Fall!”), the clip builds up to the brawl that’s going to tear the Avengers apart, ending with Captain America and his pals standing across the line of scrimmage from team Iron Man (which includes Black Panther). It’s a safe bet that this play won’t end with a fair catch
6. X-Men: Apocalypse
Coldplay couldn’t compete with Beyoncé during the Super Bowl Halftime show (and who could have?), but this clip for the 384th X-Men movie found a much better use for the band’s music: a moody cover of “Don’t Panic” playing over footage of the apocalypse. That savvy bit of synergy helped to distract from the fact that this clip didn’t offer many compelling new morsels from the mutant battle royale. And what the commercial lacked in excitement it made up for in tone and scale, as the despairing tune convincingly set the stage for a fight where the world is at stake. “Let’s go to war,” says Mystique, and the movie looks ready to take her there.
5. Independence Day: Resurgence
The sequel that nobody asked for but everyone is at least mildly curious about, Independence Day: Resurgence scores some points for hijacking the indivisibly American spectacle of the Super Bowl. The spot for this summer’s Jeff Goldbloom-iest blockbuster begins with a fleet of fighter jets flying in formation above the big game, only to chase them with a wave of the iconic alien blasters from Roland Emmerich’s original. From there, the ad made good on the franchise’s implied promise to destroy Earth’s cities in the most ridiculous ways possible — not only is London falling, but some other world capitol is falling on London. It shouldn’t be legal to show this much CGI destructo-porn on network television.
4. Jason Bourne
None of the Super Bowl’s movie commercials had more business to take care of than this blowout spot for the fifth installment in America’s most bone-crunching spy saga. Within the span of a tight 30 seconds, this ad reveals the official title of the new movie; makes audiences forget about 2012’s The Bourne Legacy (RIP #Chems); and reintroduces Matt Damon as the rogue CIA assassin who makes James Bond look like a tea-sipping ninny. And as if that weren’t enough, the spot also gives us the one thing that the franchise had previously been missing: Tommy Lee Jones. The left hook Bourne that drops at the end is nothing if not well earned.
3. 10 Cloverfield Lane
It’s only been a few weeks since we learned that this mysterious quasi-sequel to 2008’s Cloverfield even existed, and not much is known about the low-budget thriller beyond its basic premise. (In short: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher, Jr., and John Goodman are stuck in an underground bunker during a mysterious attack of some kind). Every new frame of footage feels packed with clues as to what might actually be going on, and this short Super Bowl spot was enough to send the imagination reeling. Opening with the car crash that shows how Winstead’s character ends up in the shelter and ending with her looking at a mysterious bloom of light (which is accompanied by a familiar roar), the ad makes it easy to take Goodman at his word when he says “Something’s coming.”
2. The Jungle Book
The only film that had the nerve to blitz the competition and unleash a full trailer, Jon Favreau’s blockbuster adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic stories definitely offered the Super Bowl’s most coherent spectacle. Dropping us into the heart of the jungle, the clip creates a vivid ecosystem full of photorealistic CGI animals and — just as important — a believably human Mowgli (the technology has finally reached a point where we can make a visceral version of this story without any child actors being eaten). Plus: Idris Elba is the menacing tiger Shere Khan, Bill Murray is the beloved bear Baloo, Christopher Walken as goofy ape King Louie, and the trailer promises a grand adventure that’s part Tarzan and part Indiana Jones.
Doubling down on the commercial spirit of the Super Bowl, the evening’s only truly creative bit of movie marketing came from WB and Turkish Airlines, who reintroduced fans to the comic book world’s two most famous cities via dueling tourism spots. In Gotham, billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) promises that his hometown is safer than you might remember. (“Thanks to a significant grant from Wayne Enterprises,” of course.) Across the way in Metropolis, wunderkind entrepreneur Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) declares that Superman’s favorite place is “open for business!” Wisely fighting back against the grim aesthetic of the film’s trailers, these clever blasts of corporate synergy sparkle with bright colors and heavy dollops of optimism. “There’s never been a better time to visit our great city,” Wayne says, and these fun — if slightly ominous — ads are enough to make you wish you actually could.