Here's how a Hollywood studio used to sell an upcoming superhero epic:
This is how they do it now:
Like night and day, isn't it? The 1978 trailer for Superman is almost painfully earnest in tone. This isn't a movie about spectacle or sensation; it's about character. The trailer for the upcoming Iron Man, on the other hand, is nothing but empty sensation: flashy camera moves, heavy-handed CGI, arch and unfunny gags, jokey use of music.
It's that--the music--I want to discuss. Aside from the nudge-in-the-ribs use of the same-named Black Sabbath song, the Iron Man trailer is a mixed bag musically, blaring metal, whooshing synthesizer, temp music used to enhance various moments onscreen but utterly lacking any stylistic unity.
The Superman trailer, of course, uses John Williams' score for the finished film. Aside from giving the trailer a sense of grandeur Iron Man utterly lacks, it suggests another big difference between moviemaking then and now.
The studio could use Williams' completed score to sell Superman because the movie was largely complete, even months before its debut. Williams was hired early on in the process and given adequate time to compose the music because movies back then had enough of a post-production period to fine-tune every last detail.
This Iron Man trailer debuted in late February for a film to be released in late April, but the use of a temp score is a dead giveaway: This thing isn't completed yet, mere weeks away from its premiere. Not an unusual situation these days, unfortunately. Movies now--even ones not involving an overqualified cast acting in support of a goofy-looking metal suit--are so reliant on CGI effects which are often not delivered until the last minute, the final cut can't be locked in until weeks, even days before the damned thing opens.
This is moviemaking in its crudest form, unapologetically manufacturing product instead of even pretending to create art.