Monday, 8 April 2013

X-Men: First Class (Part 1 of 2)

Disclaimer – This article will be split into two parts and will focus on several movie posters into order to provide a detailed analysis…

X-Men: First Class was the sort-of franchise reboot that many hoped would re-ignite the flailing movie franchise. It introduced new characters, and younger versions of iconic characters such as Professor X, Magneto and Beast. However, the purpose of a reboot is generally to reintroduce an entirely new audience to the characters, but when the characters are unfamiliar or, in the case of the iconic ones, look completely different, the marketing strategy must always start from scratch to achieve this.

In the case of this movie poster… Who exactly are these people?

A movie poster is the first piece of marketing material that is released in order to build initial fan interest in a movie; it acts as a precursor for the target demographic to gauge a rough sense of story, character, theme… well, the good ones do, the bad ones tell us nothing.

If you can identify a certain aspect that interests or excites you through the one-sheet, you are more likely to see the film. It is of course, no coincidence that movie posters are often the final piece of marketing material a cinemagoer will see before they make a decision, if they are otherwise undecided at the cinema.

A striking and effective movie poster indicates that the studio has confidence in the movie, and these ones stand out and scream (not literally) – SEE THIS MOVIE! It doesn’t matter if the film is well or poorly received; an effective poster exudes confidence. Budget, is irrelevant, if the marketing creativity is below par, it’s effectively dead money.

When viewing a movie poster, a prospective audience should never be made to work too hard in order to roughly establish…

·    What is the film about?

·    Am I likely to enjoy it?

·    Why should I watch this film over another?

This X-Men: First Class movie poster is one of the laziest that I’ve seen in recent years, what we are left with is an assortment of unfamiliar characters, who are essentially faceless in terms of distinguishable character features (excluding – Beast and Mystique). There is also the near impossible task of deciphering which characters are villains, possible plot details, and perhaps most importantly – which characters make up the X-Men’s First Class?

The following will consist of a brief breakdown of each character (from left to right):


The most recognisable X-Man from this roster, so in that case very little work needs to be done here… right? Wrong! His story arc revolves around his mutant transformation from human into the big, blue furry beast. The problem here is the character looks somewhat bored and also seems to be playing on a mobile phone. This is a truly iconic character arc, but we get none of that at a first glance.

Professor X:

The leader of the X-Men and one of the most recognisable characters for the following reasons…

·    He’s bald.

·    He’s wheelchair bound.

This character shows no sign of either of these features, and therefore, to the average cinemagoer, who the hell is this character? What we can determine is that he is the main character simply because he has walked further forward than the other characters. Finally, he’s dressed very similar to Beast, so he must be an X-Man…


Well, he’s clearly not an X-Man because he’s dressed differently! But who is he? A marketing team should never assume that an audience would be familiar with a character especially when the character in question has none of the distinguishing features.

Emma Frost:

Sexy blonde in a white dress… you can’t expect an average cinemagoer to know much more than that. However, in fairness, this is a very accurate depiction of the character’s appearance, but… is she an X-Man? Is she a villain? How are we supposed to know from this image?

Moira MacTaggert:

If you’re not an avid X-Men fan this character will be an absolute unknown.


Can you see him? He’s so small he may as well have not bothered turning up! He’s an X-Man… honest, but from this image, what’s his ability and who is he?


One of the most recognisable characters and therefore, very little work was required here. She’s dressed as an X-Man, which adds a decent amount of depth and intrigue to the character, but why does she take centre-stage on the poster?


Well, he must be a villain because he’s dressed in black and has turned his back on the other characters. It’s also no coincidence as to why he is positioned next to Mystique… but only avid comic-book fans will understand why.


What character is this? She’s small and has boring moth-like wings… that’s all you can gauge from this image. Judging from her (lack of) prominence on the poster, it is not hard to determine her as a character by-the-numbers before you’ve seen the film.

Sebastian Shaw:

It’s hard to believe from this poster alone, but Sebastian Shaw is the primary villain of this movie! His positioning on the far right of the poster indicates that his presence in the movie is again, of little importance. Apart from him being very smartly dressed in black… what sets this character apart from the others and how is he identifiable as a villain?

Ultimately, this is an X-Men movie about the origins of the X-Men’s first team… but it strangely doesn’t seem too concerned about the members of the titular team. There is absolutely no difference between the heroes and villains here, they are all walking side-by-side, which is not something you would associate with great adversaries (with the exception of Magneto, but even that is a stretch). None of the characters really stand out as a focal point to the narrative, there is no indication of story, and the lack of a Wolverine-type character limits the dramatic impact.

The marketing strategy here assumes that cinemagoers would see this film solely on the strength and appeal of the X-Men franchise. However, this is not necessarily true, largely due to the lack of recognisable characters and poor critical response to previous instalments – X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The assumption that there is always a ready made fan-base is largely dependent on the strength of the previous films.

This is an extremely disappointing poster that fails to truly excite and entice you into seeing the movie, which is a shame because the film is fantastic and deserves to be seen by countless times.

Next up will be the concluding article on the X-Men: First Class poster analysis. 

No comments:

Post a Comment