Marvel Schools Fox on How to Market a Superhero Movie



I think it’s safe to say that the two Guardians of the Galaxy trailers might be the best movie trailers of all time. Is that too much? I don’t think so. I’m seeing a talking raccoon and a talking tree alien kicking ass and being hilarious and I am SO pumped for this movie. What more could I ask for?

The other upcoming big Marvel film, Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, looks like it’ll be amazing, too. In fact, I’m going to a sneak-preview showing right after I’m done typing this. But Fox has never done a great job marketing the X-Men films. For the longest time, Fox acted like Warner Bros., embarrassed to be making “superhero” movies and trying to make them look like anything else. Then-Fox Chairman Tom Rothman made a point of sabotaging Bryan Singer on the first X-Men film, constantly trimming the budget and demanding that the characters not dress like superheroes. (While many of my favorite X-Men stories involve the characters out-of-costume, I don’t need to see everyone wearing all-black. Bo-ring.)

I guess Fox doesn’t understand what’s drawing the audience to see the adaptation of one of the greatest comics of all time. Every trailer and commercial emphasizes the dour, dark, depressing story (along with some awesome action, of course). I guarantee they’d get more asses in seats if more people saw the clip from last night’s Tonight Show with guest Hugh Jackman (movie clip starts at 1:12):

Action, humor, drama: Boom. More, please.

What I really don’t get are the X-Men movies’ posters. Throughout the life of this franchise, the posters have been boring shots of the characters in various flat standing poses, usually Photoshopped together in fake-looking group scenes. (The one exception being those sweet ink-wash character posters for The Wolverine, which were strikingly original.)

The main poster for Days of Future Past is hardly different:


Ugh, that looks like a high-school locker-door collage. Let’s make Hugh Jackman and Jennifer Lawrence BIG, because people recognize them! It couldn’t be that audiences are invested in the overall story at this point, right…?

Why not do something inspired by the original comic’s cover artwork? It’s only one of the most influential (and most imitated) covers of all time:


But hey, you want to see something really scary? Check out what they did to poor Hugh Jackman for this character poster (originally used as a cover for Empire magazine):


Ewww, vein-y. While Hugh Jackman does, defying all logic, actually look like this in the movie, I don’t get it: it’s not sexy, it’s not heroic, it’s just kinda gross. Why?

Now compare Fox’s posters to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy posters:



Those say it all right there. Cool action, cool-looking characters, cool setting, cool attitude, done. Was that so hard, Hollywood marketing weasels?

‘Nuff said.

Author: Mike Hansen

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8 thoughts on “Marvel Schools Fox on How to Market a Superhero Movie

  1. I feel like after “Nuff said”, there should have been a *drops the mike and back away* added because I legit felt like applauding. I really wished that Fox would have completely started anew with X-Men: First Class and stop with this convoluted mess of a storyline. The movies seems to lack any and all continuity, with each direction seemingly doing their own thing but using similar faces. The other comic book movie makers really need to hit pause and study what Disney Marvel has done with their Avengers ‘verse because they seem to have the formula for quality storytelling and marketing done pat.

    1. I don’t really mind the lack of continuity among the X-Men films. Each one is consistent unto themselves, but you’re right, it would be nice if there weren’t SO MANY contradictions among them. The new Marvel Studios films have really changed the game, though – until Marvel, nobody had attempted a consistent film *universe* before (and, one that includes TV shows!). I’m curious whether anyone else will bother doing it…

  2. Fox is not thinking about what it wants to do…i just feel Disney Marvel is setting the ‘example’ when it comes to superhero movies and the continuity between them…even though XMen DoFP did reboot a lot of things, it still didn’t feel like the ‘team’ movie like The Avengers…even the marketing didn’t make it feel like a team movie: gigantic sizes of Wolverine and Mystique…do people really come to theaters just for that? if it’s a good film, more people will see it, regardless how big J.Law looks on the poster

    I can feel that Guardians of the Galaxy will be a team movie, even the posters shows them as a team and no one is bigger than anyone else…we will probably know more about each character as well..compared to what XMen 1 told us about Cyclops, Jean, and Storm…heck even up to DoFP all i know about Storm (movie wise) is that she the African American white haired mutant that controls the weather, nothing else….Cyclops is the guy with laser eyes…

    I don’t feel Fox moving away from focusing on Wolverine, Magneto, Charles and Mystique anytime soon…whether in film or even marketing campaigns…however, i do feel they might try to promote Gambit more when promos for Age of Apocalypse starts to roll out

      1. OMG! The Maleficent one…lol!!!!

        I know Halle couldn’t be in much cos of being pregnant etc…but seriously, after her combo attack with Magneto and then turning around to inquire “Is everyone/body alright?” before *that scene* was just too much…it has even become a running gag in my house…oh, the things my family does to annoy me

        but yeah, at least she didn’t take hours to summon a bolt of lightning and really took care of the sentinel horde coming with the ships…i think they did film more future XMen scenes, i remember seeing one with Rouge, Magneto and Iceman in the trailer..guessing it’s the one Bryan said was cut and will be in the DVD features

  3. I’ve seen some creative criticism of the X-men poster on Tumblr. Particularly of Professor X’s position and the unfortunate placing of that fire… below him. Disney’s MCU is so superior in so many ways.

    1. Disney’s MCU, the reason i wish they also had the rights to the X-Men film franchise…sigh

    2. Yeah, that X-Men poster is like somebody vomited Photoshop everywhere. Dislike.

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