Friday, February 27, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron -- Nick Fury, Thor, and Black Widow character posters

Marvel must be as impatient as their fanboys, because we already have three new posters for the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron to discuss. 

First up is Nick Fury:

Samuel L. Jackson's lack of presence just oozes out of the frame here. I remember how excited I was at the idea of Sam Jackson playing Nick Fury back when the first Iron Man came out, but in most of these movies he feels like he's phoning everything in. Unless it turns out that those Furys were really LMDs, Jackson needs to step up his game. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was an improvement, but this poster makes it look like things are going back to the way they were before. At least he has an excuse for not reacting to the robots in this poster, seeing as how they're about to literally blindside him. (Are blind jokes okay? You know what, I don't care, these posters are asking for it)

None of the posters so far have had great lighting, but this new Thor one is particularly strange. Those shadows on his arm don't feel right. It's like not even diffused light gets under the part of his armor extending past his shoulder, but at the same time, the shadow isn't very dark. It gives me the same feeling I get when I try to see that dress as blue and black. What really bugs me about things like this is that somebody got paid to make it look like that.

At least the people on these posters have looked like actual people so far, but then that just serves to make the backgrounds look that much more fake. This poster reminds me of the obvious green screen shots in the throne room toward the end of Thor: The Dark World.

The fact that this Black Widow poster is easily the best of these so far is sad. It's better than the others because the camera is pulled back a bit, allowing us to actually see what we're looking at, and because her upright posture paralleling the building behind her gives the image at least some sense of composition (accidental, I'm sure). Apart from that and the distracting strangeness of the lone robot standing on the rooftop on the left, it's still a pretty forgettable image.

Okay, let's get to the fun part.

The Matching Game

First, let's look at the robots:

What a mess. I can't be sure about some of those smaller ones on the Black Widow poster, so there might be even more that match. And this is not even comparing them to the earlier posters. Maybe I'll compare all of them once they're all released.

We're not done with the matching game just yet though:

It's hard to tell, but the these buildings from the Thor and Black Widow posters are the same one.

Taking things even farther, the same building appears on the Nick Fury poster--twice!

Sorry for drawing on your face, Samuel L. Jackson. Please don't kill me.

That building on the right edge is also in the same spot on the Black Widow poster. I'm assuming it's part of the same original image as the tall building.

At first, I thought building in the middle with the crumbling corner was also on the Hulk poster, but it appears to have been a case of mistaken identity:

However, this burning police car from the Thor poster--

--does make a cameo appearance in the Black Widow poster, albeit with different flames:

This other car from the Black Widow poster--

--turns up on the Nick Fury poster.

I'm surprised I haven't been able to match any of the flames or smoke/dust clouds yet, but we probably still have several posters to go.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron -- Hulk character poster

Time to take a look at the Green Goliath's Avengers: Age of Ultron poster:

I'd always hoped for a poster of the Hulk's armpit to hang on my wall. Maybe if we're lucky the next one will be the back of Nick Fury's left ear.

I hate the fact that CGI creations like this are the accepted standard in movies now. I remember being surprised at how unimpressive the Hulk looked in the first Avengers, but apparently I shouldn't expect anything more. I know this is just a poster, but I doubt the movie will look any better.

Being that practically half the image is the Hulk's furry pectoral alone, there's not much to discuss here, so let's get straight to

The Matching Game

On the plus side, none of the robots on this poster match each other. We do still have one matching the previous two posters though:

The robot above the Hulk's shoulder is a flipped version of the robot we've seen twice before.

Not too bad with this poster then, right? Not so fast. Take a look at this:

The Hulk himself is the same one from before. At first I thought, "At least they toned down the phantom backlighting on the bottom of his arm." Then I noticed the light hitting his side, which looks like it should be blocked by either his arm or his latissimus dorsi, the muscle stretching from beneath his arm to behind his back. Somebody got paid to put that unnecessary flourish that just makes the poster look more fake.

As disappointing as these posters have been so far, I'm actually more disappointed that none of them have been bad enough to make me laugh yet. I'm holding out for a Quicksilver one, I think that would do the trick, but we'll have to wait and see.

Avengers: Age of Ultron -- Iron Man character poster

Looks like we're getting individual posters for the major characters in Avengers: Age of Ultron. First up is Iron Man:

Careful observation reveals that Iron Man, demonstrating his formidable intellect, has yet again elected not to wear his helmet in the middle of battle. To be fair, he still doesn't look very concerned about those robots, so maybe they aren't as big a threat as they appeared to be in the trailer. Or maybe Robert Downey, Jr.'s ego is just too big to fit under the helmet anymore.

And what's with the spray-painted Avengers logo at the bottom? It doesn't fit the aesthetic of the movie on any level--they're fighting robots, not inner city hoodlums.

Another uninspired poster from Marvel Studios, but at least it's not overly painful to look at, like the first poster for the movie was. Plus, it gives us another chance to play:

The Matching Game

Even with there only being seven robots on this new poster, there are several that match each other:

Note to Marvel: Adding glowing eyes to some robots does not magically make me not notice that they are still the same robots.

Not only that--all but one of them match robots from the original poster:

At this rate, I expect this Avengers poster to look like a crazy rainbow by the time all the character posters come out.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron poster review

Today, Marvel released a poster for the upcoming film Avengers: Age of Ultron. If you've seen the posters for their earlier movies, you know what to expect, but for everyone else, I advise you to shield your eyes in case of Photoshop overload (click for larger size):

Some would say that ten characters, plus a bunch of attacking robots (at least I think they're attacking; the Avengers seem to be more concerned about other things) is too much for one poster. I would disagree and say it just takes someone with some design sense to make it work. Apparently they don't have anyone like that on staff at Marvel, a company that employs hundreds of people whose job it is to to make effective images of superheroes, including, for example, Avengers comic covers.

Once you get past the poster's terrible overall composition, your eyes move to the individual characters, each of which seems to have their own source of backlighting, even if they are standing right in front of another character. Let's analyze them more closely.

Right up front we have Captain America:

I find it interesting how much Cap has taken the spotlight away from Iron Man, both in the poster and in the general public's eye. It helps to have your most recent solo movies not be total crap, I guess. Cap seems far less concerned about whatever everyone else is looking at, even with the ground apparently exploding right in front of him. I guess he's used to that kind of stuff by now. Why no mask though? Who keeps making these new costumes for him anyway? Why does he even need a costume? Personally, I don't like the weird stuff going on around the star on his chest, or the Avengers logo on his shoulder, but I guess the unnecessary clutter fits with the theme of the poster.

Thor's new costume isn't much better, but then all of his costumes in the movies have been pretty bad so far. They can't seem to find a pattern for his chest piece that doesn't look like an ugly jumble of random shapes. The other thing I notice about him is that the arm holding up his hammer looks kind of weird. It might be just me, but I think they tried to lower his arm to keep it from getting too close to the names across the top of the poster. They should have been focusing on bigger issues.

Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, for example. Why are they standing sideways on a wall? Sure, Wanda has magic powers (at least in the comics, the movies have been afraid of using magic so far), and I guess Pietro could run up the wall with his super speed, but with everything else going on in this poster, raising more questions is the last thing they should be doing here. Guess they had to shove 'em in somewhere. Also, we have yet to see a picture of Quicksilver that does not look ridiculous. What is that pose? Is he trying to crack his back? Granted, everyone felt the same way about Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past and changed their minds when they saw the movie, but I remain skeptical for now.

Next up, we have Iron Man. Cap without a mask I can deal with, but why does Iron Man not have his helmet on? Especially seeing as how he's about to blow a hole through Cap's shoulder, he really should at least keep it on to use the suit's targeting systems.

Visually, the color scheme of the ribs on his suit doesn't work with his placement either. The background is grey/brown and he is standing in front of a dark-suited Black Widow. The grey parts of his suit combine with those elements to confuse his form and needlessly make an already cluttered image even more muddled. It doesn't help that one of the few areas without backlighting on the entire poster is that part of his suit.

The Hulk, on the other hand, is the biggest victim of exaggerated backlighting here. Where is all this light coming from?

The Black Widow has some weird new stuff going on with her suit. Makes sense, I guess, she needs something to elevate her from just another S.H.I.E.L.D. agent to a full-fledged Avenger.

What about Hawkeye, though? He still just looks like some idiot with a bow (I say this as someone who names the comics' Hawkeye as one of their favorite Avengers).

Samuel L. Jackson just looks bored. I guess after being in so many of these movies, he already knew how the poster was going to turn out. There's something strange going on between Fury's shoulder and Hawkeye's quiver too, like they're fighting for which one gets to be in front. Another example of crappy image design. 

Then there's the fact that the three of them are strangely shrunken and out of proportion with everyone else. I think the problem is actually that Stark is too big, but maybe they're just teasing us for Ant-Man. In a world where we have five-second teasers for thirty-second teasers, that's not too hard to believe.

I also want to point out that Robert Downey Jr.'s name appears before the title at the bottom, as it did on the posters for the first Avengers

I'm surprised his ego isn't listed separately.

Now let's play my favorite game when it comes to modern movie posters: 

The Matching Game 

This is where you try to find the same piece of imagery repeated multiple times on the same poster. Often, it will be altered slightly, but it's usually pretty easy to find copies.

While it's a bit harder to play this game with such a low resolution image (this is all Marvel has put out so far), here is what I found on this poster:

That's at least six elements that repeat themselves, all within the same third of the poster. I even found this piece of debris next to Cap's shield that matches a piece next to Nick Fury. I flipped, rotated, and blurred it just to make sure:

With a higher-res image, I can only expect even more copy-and-paste-ing to be revealed.

Posters used to be used to entice people to see a movie, but I can't imagine someone who didn't already know about this movie wanting to see it based on this poster. In particular, the posters for comic book movies like this feel like a huge missed opportunity to do something interesting. Imagine what someone like Drew Struzan could have done with this. Or how about a poster replicating a comic cover? So many possible options, and this is what they came up with.