To celebrate May the fourth, we take a look at the best and worst trailers in the Disney era of Star Wars
From the world-conquering return with The Force Awakens to the divisive Episode VIII, Star Wars has been at the forefront of movie discourse for the last five years now.
But how has Disney and Lucasfilm generated so much hype for a series that’s now 42 years old?
Apart from the already existing fanbase, a lot of credit has to go to the incredible work that goes into the teasers and trailers for the new Star Wars films which are able to generate so much hype and excitement for their respective films.
So much so, that we decided to take a look at the best Star Wars trailers since Disney took over the galaxy-spanning franchise and what better day to do it than May the fourth.
For the five films released so far under Disney’s leadership, there have been 12 teasers/trailers so there’s plenty to pick apart.
For many, Solo: A Star Wars Story feels very much like a dulled-down ‘by the numbers’ addition to the Star Wars franchise and that’s hardly surprising following the drastic re-structuring the film underwent during production.
Despite the film falling flat and bombing at the box office, the trailers for Solo looked promising.
‘Big Game’ TV Spot:
The first glimpse of Ron Howard’s reimagined Solo: A Star Wars Story came during 2018’s Super Bowl half time show. The trailer features plenty of quick-cutting action shots and a few first looks at the film’s characters.
For the most part, it’s all pretty simple stuff. The most intriguing thing about the teaser is the music used as it’s nothing like the typical orchestral Star Wars score we know so well, more on that in a moment.
Released just one day after the Super Bowl TV spot, the first ‘proper’ teaser trailer for Solo opens with plenty of snappy button clicking and the same sort of music heard in the previous teaser.
For the most part, it’s a fairly standard teaser trailer, giving away just enough about the premise and showing off plenty of the film’s new characters, as well as giving us a chance to get to grips with seeing Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo.
And of course, we come to the main trailer for Solo which continues to show off more about the film’s plot and characters.
The most interesting thing about it by far is the Western vibe it gives off. We get Mexican-style stand-offs, space-poker and even a train robbery. Coupled again with very un-Star Wars-like music and you’ve got the makings of an interesting looking film here.
Too bad the film itself was a slightly watered down affair that traded the new-sounding, guitar-heavy music for a lacklustre soundtrack from John Powell that only redeems itself when re-using old pieces of John Williams’ score.
As we’ve only had one trailer for Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker so far, the film takes fourth spot on this list almost by default. Nevertheless, the trailer we got for The Rise of Skywalker is certainly an interesting one.
The first teaser for Star Wars: Episode IX is definitely very different from the rest on this list.
While most of the teasers and trailers use very quick-cutting shots that feature lots of explosions and lightsabers, this trailer focuses on one scene in particular for well over a minute, quite possibly hinting that the conflict between Rey and Kylo Ren will dominate the movie. Once that scene finishes however, we then get the usual fast-paced rip-roaring teaser we usually expect.
Without doubt, the biggest reveal in the trailer, if you like, is the Emperor’s evil cackle right at the end. It’s fairly safe to say that fans lost their shit when this happened, myself included. Whether the inclusion of Emperor Palpatine was always intended or whether his return is an attempt to get fans back on side remains to be seen.
You can read our full reaction and breakdown to The Rise of Skywalker trailer here.
3. Rogue One
Much like Solo, Rogue One also endured a troubled production with extensive reshoots completely changing parts of the film. Nevertheless, the first Star Wars spin-off still enjoyed critical and commercial success but just how much of that was because of the film’s trailers?
The first teaser for Rogue One, the first Star Wars spin-off film, came in April 2016 and it goes all-in for showing off the movie’s war-film vibe.
Of course, we get plenty of info about Jyn Erso, the new lead character, and the premise of the film itself, stealing those all-important Death Star plans, but you can definitely sense that Saving Private Ryan influence in the trailer’s action scenes.
A few months later, we got the first official trailer for Rogue One. The biggest thing to note straight off the bat is the use of the Imperial March music, almost as if it’s hinting at something, hmmm.
The trailer itself shows off a bit more Jyn, as well as the rest of the Rogue One crew, giving each new character a line of dialogue or two. For the most part, it’s fairly standard trailer stuff that continues to build on the war-film vibe from the first teaser.
However, just as we think the trailer has finished, after the shot of the mysterious TIE fighter that was never there in the film itself, we get one of the most hype-building reveals seen in recent cinema history. Darth Vader is back! Looking back on this moment now and it feels very similar to the Emperor’s laugh in The Rise of Skywalker trailer.
Now we come to the final major trailer for Rogue One and, without doubt, this trailer feels most like the film itself. We get to see a few new locations from the film as well as plenty more Vader, all good stuff.
For the most part though, it just follows the main beats of the film. It’s all well and good but apart from the new shots of Vader the trailer doesn’t really add all that much more to what we knew about Rogue One before its release.
Nevertheless, the teasers and trailers for Rogue One really did capture the imagination. The possibilities a new story brings to the table, coupled with the nostaglia fest of the almost A New Hope setting makes for a really convincing trailer campaign.
Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII takes a deserved second place on this list and there are almost certainly going to be fans who believe the trailers for The Last Jedi are far better than the film itself but that is not the debate here.
Just like the film itself, The Last Jedi’s trailers are beautifully complex and subtly hint at the premise and subversion of the film. The main trailer, in particular, has plenty to pick apart but first…
The first teaser for The Last Jedi fully embraces the subversion we see in the final film. Literally the first shot tricks the audience into thinking they’re looking at a cluster of stars when in fact it’s a rock. From that exact moment, you should really be clicking on that not all will be as it seems.
From the word go, the trailer shows the film carrying on with the story that began in The Force Awakens. We get to see a shot or two of Rey beginning her training, taking her first steps into a larger world and leave her past behind and that is what the trailer and indeed the film itself wanted us, the audience, to do as well. Even a melancholic Luke says shockingly that it’s time for the Jedi to end.
The second teaser trailer for The Last Jedi switches its attention onto the battle between light vs dark, good vs evil, Rey vs Kylo Ren. A lot of that can be seen throughout the trailer, even in the locations of the two characters. While Rey is on a lush green island, surrounded by nature and the colours green and blue, Kylo Ren is always seen in man-made environments where the colours red and black dominate.
It’s a fascinating trailer that really delves into the relationship between the two that forms during the film and the attempts each of them makes to bring the other one over to their own side of the force.
Of course, all that aside however, the best moment in the whole trailer by far is the appearance of the porg and its adorable war cry.
On a serious note though, the trailers for The Last Jedi are masterful at hinting at the content of the film and the complex relationships it aims to delve into. Sure, the film may have divided the fan base and is anything but perfect, but for those that appreciate the film, there’s so much juicy goodness in there to pick out and that stems right the way from the film’s trailers.
Obviously, The Force Awakens had to take top spot on this list. The trailers for Episode VII were a cut above most teasers in the industry and the hype they helped to generate for the film was almost unparalleled until a certain Avengers: Endgame rolled around this year.
Unbelievably, the first teaser for Episode VII came a full 13 months before the release of the film itself. The teaser keeps everything to a bare minimum. We only get very brief shots of the new characters and new stormtrooper designs, before a cool reveal of the mysterious new villain’s cross-guard lightsaber.
However, this teaser absolutely excels for the very last scene we see. Coupled with John Williams’ epic score we see the Millennium Falcon, the most iconic spaceship in all of cinema, back in action after decades away from our screens and oh is it a beautiful sight. It’s nothing more than fan service really but you won’t find me complaining about that.
The next teaser came in April 2015 and it goes all-out for the nostalgia in fans’ hearts. We get more of John Williams’ classic score, shots of Star Destroyers, X-Wings, you name it, it feels just like an original trilogy Star Wars film.
And that feeling is only multiplied by the trailer’s final reveal. It’s only Han Solo and Chewbacca back aboard the Millennium Falcon again. The majority of the trailer is there to make you go ‘ooooh’ but this final reveal is there solely to make you go ‘AAAHHHHHHH’ and oh boy did that help to build excitement for the upcoming film.
And finally, we come to the main trailer for The Force Awakens, released in October 2015. The trailer itself does a much better job of hinting at the premise and the plot of the film rather than hitting the audience with a great big pile of nostalgia.
Once again it’s a solid trailer and does exactly what it needed to do. It manages to strike the right balance of showing off the new characters and elements of the plot. With over 100 million views, it’s safe to say that it more than helped in driving the anticipation levels for this film through the roof.
The teasers and trailers for the Force Awakens were a complete masterclass in getting people to embrace Star Wars again. While the trailers and film itself may not have had the same complexity as say The Last Jedi, they did exactly what they were supposed to and reminded everyone why they loved Star Wars.
It’s for that reason that the trailers for Thr Force Awakens take the top spot on this list and with that, we come to the end of our rundown.
Which of Disney’s Star Wars films is your favourite and which trailer got you the most excited for it?