While Super Bowl 50 (did you know they stopped using Roman numerals this year?) didn’t have any truly viral commercials, there were still plenty of geeky commercials, sneak peeks, and trailers slipped in amongst the football. From the funny to the dramatic, we got aliens, astronauts, Avengers references both on-the-nose and subtle, David Bowie earworms, and likely the best product tie-in we’ll see this blockbuster season.
Here they all in one place. Enjoy! Don’t let your boss know you do this.
Turkish Airlines: Gotham City & Metropolis
Easily the best commercials of the bunch. It’s smart brand alignment, not only because you can completely see Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor crossing the globe in first class (with Lex looking wonderfully awkward), but also because it sets up Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Both Gotham City and Metropolis are looking to rebuild themselves after the events of Man of Steel, but sometimes two superpowers having the same idea puts them at odds…
Captain America: Civil War
Bucky did you just try to shoot Tony Stark in the fa…YOU JUST TRIED TO SHOOT TONY STARK IN THE FACE. #TeamIronMan, sorry Cap.
Coke Mini: Hulk vs. Ant-Man
We already got the Captain America: Civil War trailer, so there was no need to have the Avengers shilling for soft drinks, but sigh. (Note how they used the most CG characters, so you didn’t even need to have familiar faces.) These kinds of commercials work well if they actually seem in-character for the properties—see Turkish Airlines—so this end result was just lame.
Janelle Monáe & Pepsi
To kick off the haltime show, Janelle Monáe dances through 50 years of pop music, channeling The Contours, Madonna, and Britney Spears. Much more entertaining than the actual halftime show (with Coldplay, Beyoncé, and Bruno Mars)—this is far too short.
Lots of smashing in this commercial trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse, including our first look at Psylocke in action! Sorry, Wolverine and Mystique, the franchise’s new break-out star has arrived. Can’t wait to see her join the team in X-Men: The Search For More Money.
It is so weird that Poe Dameron is playing Apocalypse.
Emoji alphabet and The Dress launching a civil war… Yep, that’s about how we imagine aliens looking back on the human race. And, weirdly, it’s fitting that avocados have become a treasured artifact even in the future. Good on you, Avocados from Mexico, for managing to hit that line between wacky and on-point.
10 Cloverfield Lane
The new trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane shows us what happens to Mary Elizabeth Winstead once she escapes the fallout shelter. What if this ends up being Roseanne: After the Apocalypse? Trick question. It doesn’t matter because we also want to see that.
Yes, it’s a car commercial, claiming that driving a new Audi brings back the same rush as going to space. It’s an unapologetic grab for heartstrings, especially for its use of David Bowie’s “Starman,” but it kind of works. The fact that organizations and people like SpaceX and Elon Musk are redoubling efforts to get us into space makes this kind of ad equally nostalgic and optimistic.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
The TMNT 2 trailer gave us our first cartoony look at Krang and his goofy host-robot body! Even though Liz Lemon told us no one would ever care.
Am I the only one who watched this and thought “Tony Stark arc reactor”?
A couple of ads mocked genre movie tropes, such as…
Arnold Schwarzenegger got his action movie on, with some allusions to Kill Bill and… The Grand Budapest Hotel?
LG OLED TV
While Liam Neeson starred in what I initially thought was a Taken sequel in which he coaches his son on stopping people from getting taken. Instead, it goes a little more Looper but is ultimately just to promote an insanely thin, insanely expensive TV.
“The Prius 4”
And its only real genre influence is the Fast and the Furious movies, but I was tickled by the ads following “The Prius 4,” amateur bank robbers turned social media darlings.
The big trailers of the night were Captain America: Civil War, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, and X-Men: Apocalypse. But a few other studios and projects got in on the Super Bowl advertising, to less exciting effect:
Independence Day: Resurgence
As io9 points out, the 1996 Super Bowl ad for Independence Day blew up the White House. There’s nothing as shocking now, though it’s almost comical to see the Navy ships fly above the Super Bowl (as happened before the actual game), followed by a bevy of alien warships.
The Jungle Book
The ad that aired during the game was more action-packed and had a cool effect where the animals seemed to be leaping out of the confines of the letterbox. The ad that Disney released online is more slow-paced and features the animals actually talking for the first time, adding more dimension, especially with Idris Elba as Shere Khan and Bill Murray as Baloo.
More fun than watching Jason Bourne drive a car into other cars would have been to call back to the original Bourne movies and have him use something seemingly innocuous—like a souvenir Super Bowl jersey?—to exact maximum pain.
And while it’s not a commercial, we got a kick out of Stephen Colbert’s postgame live episode, in which he did a little bit of time travel to visit the White House and the International Space Station. Great spiral, Astronaut Scott Kelly:
What were your favorite ads and trailers from the Super Bowl?