THE AVENGERS: IGN Rewind Dissects the Trailer for fun, fans, profit and promotion

Recently I wrote about trailers for trailers, using Prometheus as my example. One of my small, but devoted readers sent me a link to full page advertisement that 20th Century Fox purchased in UK newspapers announcing the release of its latest theatrical trailer for Prometheus, during the broadcast of the TV series HOMELAND. Where will it stop, or perhaps the more accurate question is, where will it start? We’re through the looking glass, people, spiralling along an endless vicious regress of promotional materials for promotional materials with consumption of the feature release endlessly deferred. But I digress…

Reviewing Summer blockbuster trailers last night, I happened across this IGN Rewind Trailer for AVENGERS, among suggested video selections in the right hand column of YOUTUBE. It was nearly 9 minutes, well beyond my usual attention span, but in pursuit of new marketing developments and on behalf of my demanding readership, I clicked and watched and marveled.

IGN Rewind is a branded feature of IGN (the internet gaming network) website, a leading provider/aggregator of news, promotion and fan reaction to film, video games, music, graphic novels (comics) and other media. IGN offers a variety of channels devoted to each media subspecialty.

(Full disclosure: when I worked for After Dark Films, we used to send IGN press releases and movie assets–stills, trailers, key art, etc.– for our upcoming releases, using them to promote our films as they used us as a source of free, entertaining and high-quality content to provide to their readership. For companies without major marketing budgets working in genres with dedicated fans, digital and social network outreach is the new normal in publicity and promotion.)

IGN Rewind playfully if ungrammatically describes its sustained look at the Avengers trailer thus: “IGN’s movies and comics editors use their combined nerd powers to dissect the final theatrical trailer for Marvel’s The Avengers. From Loki and Nick Fury’s confrontation to the looks of an inevitable doom for the earth, Joey (Esposito) and Jim (Vejvoda) breaks it all down for you!”


While I was keen to benefit from their “nerd” insights and tech skills (notably: slo-mo, stop-mo and reverse-mo, as well as graphic tools with which to highlight visual elements they want you to notice), I worried lest they were doing what I do better than I do it.

In fact, Esposito and Vejvoda do some things much better that I can do, namely reading the manifest content of this (and other) trailers, because they know the source material so much better and they are able to slow, stop and reverse motion the better to focus on details of this kinetic, quick-cut, visually spectacular preview. But while they discuss in general terms the story the trailer tells about its film, and they highlight the appeals of genre, spectacle and stars in the process, they are not offering a marketing analysis or a formal consideration of the trailer as a trailer. Not because they can’t or don’t want to, but because that’s not their brief. They know their audience too well to subject them to that!

What is going on here, manifestly, is that they are participating in the promotion of the Avenger’s release, in order to entertain, engage and attract visitors to their site, the better to sell advertising. [Note to advertisers: let’s talk about how much my couple-dozen, pointy-headed, media-critical readers are worth to your brands and products and overall marketing strategy.]

This is media symbiosis at its finest. Generating valuable branded content by repurposing Marvel’s valuable content, IGN promotes itself, makes the trailer its own, thereby redirecting fan interest to its brand and its own creative product. It’s value-added content.

The tone is conversational, casual and enthusiastic, rather than critical/analytical. Yes, dissection of trailers goes on, but at the surface level of visual information. The how, why and wherefore of marketing decisions behind the trailer, it’s political unconscious and its psychological/emotional and haptic level of engagement, are not subject to scrutiny.

The focus is squarely on trailer content and fan anticipation of the release, rather than the marketing and advertising approach devised to achieve those objectives. Positioning and promotion are, however, implicitly considered. Each of the 6 Avengers are discussed, extending to their apparel, appearance, weapons and interpersonal dynamics.

Where IGN Rewind excels is in geek-knowledge and nerd-analysis. These guys know comic books, prequels, comparable releases and other source materials that may or may not have inspired this film, its heroes, their costumes and weapons, as well as those of the enemy host unleashed by uber-villain, Loki. (Richard Wagner would be delighted, I think, to see his Godly trickster refashioned for the 21st century.)

Comic Con and Toy Fair gossip is retailed as oracular wisdom. Is Tony Stark‘s suit of armor the Mach 7 model, they ask? Are the alien/monsters Frost Giants, escapees from the 9 Realms, Joss Whedon inspired BrakeWorld critters (a la ORD) or updated versions of Fin Fang Foom? Who knows, but all such references are eminently google-able!

Other signal insights from this hyper-trailer? The Transformer’s influence on the look of Tony Stark’s suit in particular; Black Widow‘s ammo-bracelets with suggestive electrostatic blue bolts; the politically topical plot point that Loki prospects among the Tuxedo and Gown-wearing 1 % for local elites to carry out his rule.

Lastly, although IGN Rewind (or this trailer, specifically) declines to discuss editing, graphic design, copy (or lack thereof) and music cues, it does make a valuable point about story order, with implications for what to expect from the film and its two-stage conflict. The trailer emphasizes the lack of cooperation among the super-heroes. As Esposito and Vejvoda note, rule one of Superhero-dom is that if you’re gonna fight together, you’ve first got to fight each other. Clearly, that tension among the disparate superheroes will need to be resolved before they can turn their attention toward the imminent and awful threat represented by Loki and Co.

What an awesome resource, one that enhances my ability to analyze trailers without muscling in on my territory. Phew!

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movietrailers101 by Fred Greene is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

About Frederick Greene

Entertainment Copywriter & Visiting Assistant Professor, UCLA Dept. of Theater, Film & Television. I teach a graduate seminar in new movie marketing, which focuses on the history, contemporary practice and likely future of a/v advertising for motion picture entertainment.
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