You know the feeling. You sit down in the theater, the lights begin to dim, and suddenly you find yourself watching a car commercial. No, it’s not a pre-roll advertisement, it’s the movie you paid to see — but it’s suddenly decided to veer hard into product placement. We’ve all seen it, but what’s the worst example you’ve seen?
From Q showing James Bond all the features of a new Aston Martin, to the General Motors ads that Michael Bay has managed to dress up as Transformers movies, we’re all used to seeing movies try to sell us a new car. After reading about some particularly egregious Lexus product placement in Moonfall, however, the Jalopnik Slack got to talking about our own least favorite examples. For many of us, that always circled back to one place: the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The first movie I saw in theaters post-lockdown was (for some reason) Shang-Chi And The Ten Rings. Months later, I can’t tell you much of what happened in the movie beyond “fight in a bendy bus” and “big mess of a CGI battle at the end,” but I can still tell you the secret star of the movie: BMW.
Shang-Chi was packed with BMW product placement, from shots of Awkwafina hooning an M8 Competition to the custom-painted iX3 that became the hero car of the movie’s second act. Even throwaway cars are BMWs: At one point, that bendy bus destroys a street parked car that just so happens to be an i8 — in the press color, too.
And Shang-Chi isn’t the only example. From the swarm of government-issued Acuras that ends Captain America: The First Avenger to Tony Stark’s decade-plus-long love of Audi, Marvel movies have always had some particularly unsubtle automotive product placement.
But what’s your pick for the worst car-company product placement in film? Did you hate the Aston Martin Vanish, or was Bullitt’s Mustang a step too far? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll collect the top answers later in the day.