Is “Wreck-it Ralph 2” Just One Big Product Placement?

Matthew Loffhagen
(Photo: Disney)

The second trailer for “Wreck-it Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet” is here, and it’s, uh, interesting.

The movie looks as colorful and cute as the first film, but it’s hard to deny that there’s something a little off about the whole concept.

The first “Wreck-it Ralph” movie was filled with references to video game pop-culture, both recent and more ancient.

At one point around the time of the film’s release, I met an excited younger fan who told me that the “Plants vs Zombies” pea-shooter was in the film. He was referring to Q-Bert, showing that sometimes these more obscure references can be accepted and adapted by any enterprising young brain.

“Wreck-it Ralph 2”, on the other hand, seems like a movie that’s a lot more worried about fans not missing a beat with all of the references that are bouncing around.

The trailer shows off all of the major brands of the modern internet. Snapchat, Amazon, Google, and Twitter all have a moment in the spotlight. Many of these simply boil down to a static shot of the companies’ logos atop large, colorful digital skyscrapers.

I’m baffled that Disney would make this movie. It’s essentially the same basic premise as “The Emoji Movie”. It wonder why anyone thought it would go down any better this time around.

I’m not sure who pays in this circumstance. Does Disney need to license the Google logo? Or does Google pay Disney for what is essentially free advertising? The implicit message behind the movie is that no online experience is complete without a trip to the world’s most popular search engine, right?

This whole trailer feels like a large exercise in product placement. There are no jokes attached to these references. The closet we get is the visual statement of, “hey, the Twitter logo looks like a bird”. Otherwise, these references are statements more than an attempt at commentary.

All Roads Lead to Disney

Perhaps the most concerning part of the new footage is the moment when all pretense falls away. A promotional piece for “Wreck-it Ralph 2” becomes instead a trailer for the wider Disney experience.

Disney Product Placement Wreck-it Ralph
Source: Disney

TIE Fighters! Spider-Man! Cinderella! Stormtroopers!

Is “Wreck-it Ralph 2” merely an extended attempt to sell us on Disney’s version of reality, in which the most fun, most exciting website on the internet is simply a smattering of toy commercials for the various brands that Disney owns.

I really like the original “Wreck-it Ralph”. The first movie speaks to my generation of slowly aging Millennial gamers who cherish their memories of pixelated video games and refuse to let the past die.

“Wreck-it Ralph 2”, on the other hand, looks like a solid reminder of why I prefer to focus on retro nerd culture rather than embracing the Kim Kardashian-inspired breaking of the internet.

Source: Disney

But, hey, maybe I’m just salty because my personal favorite social media platform  (and its related Disney cultural products)seems mysteriously absent from the movie trailer.

I want a scene where Ralph and Vanellope visit Tumblr. I want them to walk uncomfortably through an art gallery that’s filled with Captain America slashfic artwork.

Dagnabbit, Disney! This is the perfect opportunity to embrace Stucky, and you’ve blown it!