Sunday, 31 March 2013

Man of Steel

Ok, so this poster has been in circulation for a while now and after seeing the trailers, we know that this image will be at least be semi-relevant to the film, Man of Steel. However, I can't help but feel that it's an unusual choice to kick-start a major marketing campaign, especially for a film that focuses on one of the most iconic superheroes of all time, Superman.

Opinion has been well and truly divided with regard to this poster and rightly so… Superman is in handcuffs! Who wants to see that right?

At a first glance the imagery seems to show nothing positive in terms of character or story, and there's nothing to get overly excited about if Superman is unable to use his abilities whatsover, which raises obvious questions:

- Why doesn’t Superman just break free?
- Why is he in custody?
- Are they kryptonite handcuffs?
- Is he a vigilante?
- Are the humans afraid of him?

The list of questions is endless but lets look at this poster another way. What if the poster has been taken too literally and too much emphasis placed on the imagery? What if it is a red herring? Let’s face it, it is working well, regardless of the response being positive or negative, people are talking… Superman is in handcuffs!

In my opinion, this is a fantastic poster and a great way to initiate a high-profile marketing campaign and ensure huge audience awareness. From the image, it seems as though Superman has been struggling with his own identity and acceptance within a wider community for decades, his tall posture suggests that he is proud of who he is and what he can achieve, but fearful of society's negative opinion of him. The latter point is also symbolised by the armed guards who are clearly weary of the man of steel, evident through their cagey body language, but more poignant is the notion that they represent humanity as a whole.

This poster is far more than simply - Superman in handcuffs - it symbolises a nation overwhelmed with unease, not through danger but through a lack of understanding. The same can be said of Superman, the handcuffs represent his reluctance to reveal his true identity and power for fear of rejection. The imagery here represents everything that the movie aims to explore, coherently and in one effective image.

Another way of interpreting the poster is this:

As a movie franchise, Superman has been in metaphorical handcuffs for decades, and forced to wait idly by as other young pretenders stake claim to his throne. Now is his time and here he is, taking centre stage on a movie poster that initially looks as though he is in custody, but perhaps this is not the case. It is perfectly feasible to suggest that the handcuffs represent the current weakness of the franchise and now Superman is finally able to break free and take back what is rightfully his.
As he is escorted away in handcuffs, the glaring light that dominates the centre of an otherwise dark poster represents a new beginning for the character and quite possibly the source of Superman’s powers, the sun.

Superman is standing tall and proud, this not typical of someone being taken to a maximum-security prison, but more likely someone with a point to prove and the opportunity to do so.

To conclude, I am still of the opinion that it is a strange image to launch a major marketing campaign, however, it is complimented by the fact that it is very concise and much more visually engaging than one that focuses on Superman's ability to fly etc. It is an image that can be taken at face value or opened up for further interpretation and debate, leading to greater audience awareness and subsequently increased anticipation for the movie.

Man of Steel is directed by Zach Snyder (300, Watchmen) and stars Henry Cavill (Immortals) as Clark Kent / Superman, Amy Adams (The Fighter), Russell Crowe (Cinderella Man, Robin Hood), Kevin Costner (The Untouchables) and Michael Shannon (TV's Boardwalk Empire).

The film is scheduled for release in the US and UK on 14th June 2013.

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