Movie trailers were once designed to provide you with an authentic, abbreviated sample of the full film; two or so minutes of tastefully selected clips that give viewers a good idea of what to expect when heading to the cinema. But, in the information era, where trailers aren't so much complimentary tasters as they are internet shaking events in and of themselves, that's no longer the case.
Movie makers use their trailers to mislead and misdirect their audience, deliberately or otherwise, with edited clips or deleted scenes that never actually show up in the final product. Just take a look at the new Super Bowl trailer for Avengers 4: Endgame, which has almost undoubtedly been tinkered with by Marvel to avoid revealing any major plot points that could ruin the viewing experience. And Marvel isn't the only one. We've noticed dozens of scenes from trailers that never appeared in the movies themselves, but the following 30 have to be the most egregious examples of the lot.
Star Trek (2009)
The trailer scene: Newborn Spock is greeted into the world by his parents on Vulcan. The full scene is a rather sweetly underplayed sequence, as the pair discuss names and softly banter around the nature of mixed-species parenting. “He has your eyes”. “He has your ears”.
Do we miss it in the finished movie? We can’t have been the only ones who sat through JJ Abrams’ initial Star Trek reboot wondering why they’d cast Winona Ryder for such a small role? Sure enough, the majority of her scenes were actually cut, including this insight into the origins of the Enterprise’s science officer, which would probably have helped establish the pointy-eared protagonist's significance to the mythology a lot more quickly, in parallel with the movie's young-Kirk sequences.
Star Wars: Rogue One (2016)
The trailer scene: There are loads of them. Jyn turning around dramatically in that Imperial corridor as the lights come up. Jyn being ambushed, face-to-face, by a TIE Fighter. Saw Gerrera’s voice-over asking: “What will you become?” An absolute ton of stuff was pulled from Rogue One’s trailers, possibly as a result of the reported reshoots and reworks toward the end of production. Though arguably, some of the trailer footage was probably shot as diversionary material to avoid spoilers.
Do we miss it in the finished movie? Some yes, some no. Out of context, it’s tricky to know how much impact some of the standalone shots would have made, but the VO implies a bigger story for Guerrera, which would have been very welcome given the brevity of his appearance in the final film.
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
The trailer scene: A suicidal Bruce Banner heads out into the Antarctic wilderness as he attempts to end it all, in this extended version of an early scene from the film. Watch closely and you can supposedly see a still-frozen Captain America in the background too.
Do we miss it in the finished movie? The forgotten MCU movie, Edward Norton's Incredible Hulk is a patchy and rather downbeat affair, lacking the scale or spark of the movies that came after it. The greater cinematic sweep, and dialed-up, heady drama implied by this shot could certainly have improved its fortunes.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
The trailer scene: A baby Storm is shoehorned into one of the trailers for this magnum opus of X-Men awfulness. She was apparently due to appear in a village that Wolverine visits along his journey (Logan being way older than Storm, but holding up well due to his regenerative mutation), but was eventually consigned to the DVD extras.
Do we miss it in the finished movie? Given the kaleidoscope of comic book characters that did make the final cut, we’re pretty sure that no one really missed Storm from the finished film. And given how bad Deadpool's treatment was, she was probably better off out of it.
The trailer scene: Bruce Willis makes an inspirational speech as the team attempt to avoid the end of the world. Because, you know, apparently the impending destruction of the world isn’t enough alone to motivate people into action. A blockbuster summer disaster movie always needs rousing, stand-out speeches.
Do we miss it in the finished movie? There are probably enough inspirational monologues in Michael Bay’s movie. Cheesy grandeur is kind of Bay’s thing. Besides, cutting Bruce’s bit gave the director some extra time to fine-tune the slow-mo explosions. You know they're more important than dialogue in a Bay film. Usually more intellectually rewarding too.
Point Break (1991)
The trailer scene: Surfing, sky-diving, bank robbing, and a Keanu Reeves performance so wooden it can give you splinters at 50 paces; Point Break is pretty much the greatest film ever made. One thing it lacks though, is this deleted scene in which Reeves' Johnny Utah corrects a superior who asks if he thinks federal taxpayers would like it that he's being paid to surf and pick up girls. "Babes, sir,” the fresh faced FBI agent explains. “The correct term is 'babes'".
Do we miss it in the finished movie? NOOOOOOO!!! *shoots imaginary gun into the air repeatedly* No, this one doesn’t add anything to, well, anything, really, and it makes Utah come across as a bit of a douche at the same time. More so than his cocky actions throughout the film already do.
The trailer scene: One of the earliest teasers for Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man features a superb scene in which the webslinger catches a helicopter full of bank robbers in a web he’s strung up between the twin towers of the World Trade Centre. The chopper seems to be making a smug getaway, when it's suddenly snagged by a thrown web and yoinked backward through the towering city streets, before getting well and truly stuck.
Do we miss it in the finished movie? After 9/11 there was never any doubt that the sequence would be pulled, although to be fair it was always intended as a standalone teaser and not part of the finished product. That said, Spider-Man films overall have not shied away from cutting stuff seen in trailers, as the next few entries will attest.
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
The trailer scene: Given that it clocks in at just over two hours long, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Marc Webb didn’t leave a thing on the cutting room floor when it came to turning in his Spider-Man reboot. But then, as anyone who’s seen the early trailers will tell you, a whole subplot involving Richard (father of Peter) Parker’s secret research was left out of the story when Spidey eventually swung into cinemas.
Do we miss it in the finished movie? The subplot in question features pretty heavily in 2014's sequel. But whilst audiences eventually caught up with the action, including the story earlier could have gone a long way to fixing up the shaky plotting that blighted the short-lived series.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
The trailer scene: Webb repeated the lost-plotting trick in the trailer for the franchise’s sophomore outing. There are several scenes that didn’t make it to the multiplex, one of the most important coming from Norman Osborne’s deathbed, where Papa-Goblin seems to tell Goblin Jr. about Richard Parker’s experiments, whilst lifting the lid on Peter’s secret along the way.
Do we miss it in the finished movie? Fans initially called for an extended director’s cut, upon realising how much footage had been chopped. But given that it would have changed the entire complexion of the film, we can see why Webb felt it was best to leave this one out of the final movie. Making cut scenes work in the context of a whole, finished film is often more complicated that simply stapling everything back together.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
The trailer scene: That air-punchingly cool shot of Peter and Tony swinging and rocketing their way through Queens. The studio wanted an action shot for the trailer, depicting the two heroes together. Nothing from the ferry scene - their main, shared action sequence - worked, so director Jon Watts cobbled this together out of other footage.
Do we miss it in the finished movie? It’s a heck of a cool image, but it doesn’t really gel with the tone of Parker and Stark’s relationship in the final movie. And besides, the amount of Tony in Homecoming is perfectly balanced, so this could have been a scene too far. Also, hey, it’s a shot without context, that never really existed, from a scene that was never filmed. So no, we pretty much have no reason to miss it.