21 awesome sci-fi themed Super Bowl commercials

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012

This year's Super Bowl commercials will take on a distinctly sci-fi theme. We feel that this is a pleasant departure from the usual theme (animals selling beverages.) Transformers 3 and Cowboys & Aliens both plan to debut high-budget spots. Volkswagen and Kia will unveil sci-fi throwback ads involving Darth Vader and a DeLorean. Maybe Vader will travel back in time. (Hint: Seal that vent in the Death Star.)

In celebration of this, we present to you the most eye-popping sci-fi-themed Super Bowl commercials of all time.

21. Garmin, "Ultraman" (2007)

One of our favorites: Giant monsters, rock music, lasers. Throw in a guillotine and you pretty much have the advertising equivalent of an Alice Cooper show.

20. Budweiser, "UFO" (1997)

Not only do aliens steal a Budweiser truck, they force the driver to be their designated, um, flyer. We imagine the drunk aliens will hover over Times Square and pee on people.

19. Fed Ex, "Moon Office" (2007)

FedEx delivers to the freaking moon. Note that Super Bowl commercials seem to be the one time when a gratuitous death punchline is totally fine. We suppose officials are too busy making sure Fergie keeps her wardrobe functioning.

18. Pixar, "Wall-E Trailer" (2008)

Classic Toy Story stars sit around, just talkin' 'bout Wall-E. It's odd that Pixar expects that the endorsement of imaginary celebrities will provoke us to spend real money. But we guess you don't have to work to hard at advertising when you make a film as good as Wall-E.

17. Intel, "Flying Machine" (1995)

Some guy named Paul rides Da Vinci's Ornithopter through a Pentium-equipped computer. This basically feels like a lame Renaissance version of Tron.

16. Fed Ex, "Alien" (2004)

What if aliens came to Earth and pretended to be boring office drones? An anticlimactic apocalypse, that's what.

15. Sobe, "Thriller Lizard Dance" (2008)

Even zombified CG lizards can dance better than Naomi Campbell. Frankly, they probably have a more defined moral center, too.

14. Audi, "The Chase" (2009)

Jason Statham escapes pursuers in a car chase through multiple eras. Since he travels rapidly forward in time, these cars must be exceeding the speed of light.

13. Bud light, "Meteor" (2010)

Pierre Chang notices an asteroid about to hit the Earth, so scientists get to partying. The scientists then proceed to get too drunk to realize the asteroid is tiny. Earth is in good hands.

12. Bridgestone, "Moon Dancers" (2009)

Astronauts off-road on the moon, rocking out and enjoying Bridgestone tires. Note that the aliens steal the tires but refuse to steal the stereo blasting awful House of Pain music.

11. Budweiser, "Jay-Z vs Shula" (2007)

Jay-Z and Don Shula play some weird high-tech version of football chess (whatever that is). Despite the "futuristic" feel, the game is in black and white and looks less interactive than Madden '96.

10. GM, "Robot" (2007)

An assembly-line robot's obsession with making a mistake leads to a suicidal fantasy. This commercial is depressing, mainly because it reminds us that GM assembly lines are full of robots and not workers.

9. Budweiser, "Aliens" (2007)

In this spot, aliens apparently learn about humans through their commercials. Oddly enough, that scares us less than aliens learning about humans through reality TV.

8. Budweiser, "Power Plant" (1997)

A hamster's insatiable thirst for alcohol powers an entire city. That reminds us of the episode of Superman where Clark Kent got drunk and threw up on a windmill.

7. Apple, "HAL" (1999)

Apple's longstanding theme was "Think Different," but the theme of their Super Bowl commercials always seems to be "Scare the beer out of you by stating that Apple products are your last hope for survival."

6. Bud Light, "Robobash" (2002)

A robot battles a fridge full of Bud Light. Due to "Bud Bowl" safety regulations, beer bottles must now wear a protective fridge before fighting.

5. Audi, "Green Police" (2010)

In a totalitarian environmentalist society, only Audi drivers are safe. This probably wouldn't have made our list, but it gets the nod because Audi tapped the real Cheap Trick to remake their awesome arena-rock classic, rather than using a cover band.

4. McDonald's, "T Rex" (1996)

A museum exhibit comes to life, seeking partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. So that's how the dinosaurs went extinct: heart disease.

3. Skittles, "Skittles Tree" (2010)

One of our favorite "what the heck is going on here" moments of all time. The ridiculously overqualified Beth Grant (Donnie Darko, No Country for Old Men) harvests Skittles from a tree growing out of her son's chest. We thought this might be a poignant metaphor for something but, no, it's just sick.

2.Hulu, "Your Brain" (2008)

Alec Baldwin is candid about Hulu's intent to make your mind atrophy into gelatin. He then softens the news by admitting he's an alien. We wonder if this could work for the PR of other companies ("our aspirin is killing all the bees, also we're four-eyed monsters from another dimension").

1. Apple, "1984" (1984)

Perhaps the most celebrated Super Bowl commercial of all time, Apple again wants to haunt your dreams with threats of dystopia. Also note director Ridley Scott's nod to feminism. Good for him, but we still had to sleep with a nightlight on for months.

These fantastic commercials prove that, if you give the audience's intelligence a bit of credit, you don't need to make sexist commercials with fugly racecar drivers ripping open their shirts.

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