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.


  1. The more I look at Downey's head on top of that robot suit, the more it stands out as being so poorly Photoshopped in.

    1. Yeah, the resolution doesn't match. His face is sharper than the suit.