Subnation | Scott Bernberg | November 14th, 2020
It’s November, which can only mean one thing: time once again for our annual pilgrimage to the Land of the Headshot, which coincidentally is also an ill-conceived tagline from the Hollywood Department of Tourism. But we’re talking Call of Duty here. The place where friends become enemies, and enemies become KDR fodder in digital jungles and unguarded nuclear silos strewn across far flung lands. And since our recently-purchased copy of the all-new Call of Duty: Cold War still has five or so days left to download, let’s make productive use of that time and count down our favorite live COD trailers.
10. “Screw This” | Call of Duty Infinite Warfare
Helmed by the great Peter Berg, “Screw This” comes direct from the game’s beloved “celebs and explosions” period. Most of this trailer is just above average, but still wins us over with quirky star cameos that include Danny McBride and the untapped comedy potential of Michael Phelps.
It’s also notable for this unfortunate bit of irony at the 0:06 mark:
9. “Reassemble”| Call of Duty WWII
It tries too hard at times, but “Reassemble” does a decent job of capturing the special kind of bond that develops between the members of a longtime COD crew who begin to see themselves as a suburban Seal Team Six.
8.“The Replacer” | Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
If you’re a fan of the movie Fargo, you’ve no doubt developed a lifelong love affair with the work of Peter Stormare. Although he’s not shoving anyone into a wood chipper as “The Replacer” he finds time to stand in for a variety of folks who just need a little more COD time to ease the daily grind. Relatable.
7. CODnapped | Call of Duty: Ghosts | Onslaught DLC
CODnapped is the UK version of The Replacer, basically. And like the British take on everything, it’s a little talkier and a wee bit smarter as a result. It’s also an insane amount of work to go to in order to promote a 4-map DLC pack. Hey, it’s not our marketing budget.
6. “Vet and N00b” | Modern Warfare 3
Jonah Hill is the N00b and Sam Worthington is the vet in this spot that looks pretty, has all the promise in the world, and then fades from our consciousness forever. Just like Sam Worthington. Kidding! Love you Sam. Heard those Avatar sequels are coming together nicely.
5. “Feeling Like a Rock Star” | Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
Fan made Post Malone videos do not usually make for appointment viewing, but this is next level hilarity. For the record, the single funniest COD live action trailer ever was made by someone who calls themselves “clonky_ding”
4. “Epic Night Out” | Call of Duty: Ghosts
Directed by James Mangold and featuring a surprise cameo from Megan Fox, “Epic” is polished to a fine shine, and symbolized how, as gaming grew to become our pre-eminent entertainment medium, “boys night out in Vegas” would become “boys night in playing Call of Duty.” On the con side: Fox was underutilized, and we couldn’t shake that sinking feeling that the whole thing was shot on a green screen from the set of another franchise that loves a good colon, Resident Evil: Extinction.
3. “Surprise” | Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
Now it’s getting good. Guy Ritchie directed this fast-paced, star-studded salute to the annual franchise that, more than almost every other spot on this list, gets us legit fired up to miss work and throw down airstrikes all day long. Guy brings AC/DC’s Back in Black to the party for the backbeat, not to mention the single greatest COD cameo ever.
2. “Seize Glory” | Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
Nails the underlying appeal of every video game dating back to the Atari 2600 era: that we love games because they let us become someone else, if only for a little while. Additional points for making us realize that Michael B. Jordan needs to play Bond at some point. Soon.
1. “There’s a Soldier in All of Us” | Black Ops
Our unequivocal number one.
Before esports. Before streaming your gameplay was as natural as breathing air. Before the clans moved into the Hollywood Hills, Call of Duty was just a bunch of f***ing people mowing each other down online in Deathmatch after Deathmatch. And this spot, at a mere 61 seconds long with the gorgeous strains of the Stones’ Gimme Shelter in the background, totally captures what that felt like. Back then, COD wasn’t your job. YOU HAD A JOB! COD was what you did to relax and unwind in the most joyfully angry way possible. Your brothers in arms were a concierge, a hippie girl, a dental hygienist, Jimmy Kimmel and Kobe Bryant. Good times. Now get off my lawn.
Miss you Mamba.
Until next week Trailer Parks fans, you’ve almost made it out of 2020. Give yourself a high-five.