Tag Archive: poster

X-Men: Fail Class

If you’re a fan of the X-Men or comic book flicks in general, you will undoubtedly have seen at least some of the horrifically shit promotional material produced for the upcoming foray into the universe, X-Men: First Class. As a designer, I find a bad movie poster will have more sway over whether I want to see a film than your average movie-goer, and X4 is so far the best example I have experienced. My personal gripes with aspects of the film aside (beast looks like a gay version of Benecio del Toro’s Wolfman, teen angst forced in to appeal to the Twilight crowd etc.) I was still up for paying £8 to see it come June, but then images like the cast shot above began making their way around the internet and my plans of spending hard-earned money gradually changed.

I see great graphic design all the time, and it makes my brain hurt to think that 20th Century Fox has spent thousands – if not millions – of dollars on terrible Photoshop comps like that. Seriously, what the fuck happened there? Was it really too much to ask the cast for a quick photoshoot? Or if that wasn’t an option, how about assigning the job of making the composite to someone who’s actually good with the software? Still, it was early days when that line-up etched itself onto the eyes of fans the world over, I was sure the real posters wouldn’t be half as bad…


Alas, no. What the fucking hell was going on at the studio when these were being made? Did some crazy lunatic bust into the office shouting incoherent bollocks about floating heads and silhouettes and force a trainee designer to produce these two teaser posters in 15 minutes at gunpoint? In fact, considering how epically awful these are it was probably the janitor or tea lady that was forced to churn out these two doozies, because if the man or woman behind these calls themselves a “designer” they are a liar. I can maybe even understand some hack who blagged his way onto a Mac bashing these out, but then he must have had to show them to his peers, his superiors, the people fucking paying him. “Hey Bill, I finished those two X-Men teasers, you want to have a look?” “Yeah sure… Is this some kind of joke?”  But I guess nobody saw a problem, AT ALL.

Something is clearly wrong when work this dire can go through a string of supposedly creative and professional people and not one of them calls bullshit. This has somehow done the unthinkable and out-crapped the poster for Bangkok Dangerous. Say what you like about invisible guns and inexplicable lava, at least Nic Cage’s head isn’t floating in a black illustrator live-traced cut-out.

From what I gather there was quite alot of internet uproar when these were seen by pretty much everyone, and I’m sure that’s the reason for this secondary duo of teaser posters, which to be honest, are pretty good actually:


Not bad at all, the whole ‘dark reflection’ thing is hardly original, but it works given the nature of the film. Sadly though, at least for me, the damage had been done. The insanely bad promo material combined with the fact I didn’t think it looked that great to begin with has stopped me wanting to pay decent money to see it. I’d maybe folk out a couple of quid if we still had cinemas at that price (because, ya’ know, it’s X-Men), but we don’t, going to the cinema is expensive, and while I’m more than happy to folk out £10 to see Thor in IMAX, I’m now going to either download X-Men: First Class illegally, or wait until I can catch it on TV. And that is almost solely the fault of the bellends in charge of its marketing.

Getting back to the posters though, it’s almost like the knuckleheads on the board of directors weren’t satisfied with two reasonable teasers and when the time came for the official one-sheet they sent that gun-toting lunatic back into the studio, but this time I’m betting he gave the designer an hour maybe? And the brief probably went something as follows: “We gotta show all the cast, looking cool and walking toward the camera, but don’t do anything that references the source material at all, because we don’t care about the fans, they’re in the theatre already, we need to attract as broad an audience as possible.”

And look what happened…


So the film’s about a group of superhero-looking people with broken necks, walking around a blue aircraft hangar with no discernible floor. I’ll admit the second one is slightly better, at least it shows something happening, but movie posters don’t get much more generic than this. They say nothing about the tone of the flick, the characters themselves or really anything useful at all, certainly nothing that would convince me to see the damn thing, and isn’t that what the purpose of a movie poster is? All you’ve succeeded in doing is paying some moron alot of money for something completely and utterly gash.

A quick Google search revealed something I was sure of before even typing the words, that there would be several fan-made posters that shit all over the stuff churned out by the ‘pros’. This is true of pretty much every high profile film (e.g Thor, Source Code, Iron Man 2, Inception), but it’s overly appropriate here as the real ones are just so amazingly bad. These guys (aside from possessing actual talent) probably would let Fox use their work for free if they asked them nicely, and prove that there is original, engaging and excellent material waiting to be mined from your big-budget abortion of an X-Men film. If I saw any one of these presented as an official poster I would be in the theatre with bells on.


by Dane Frost


by Jeffrey Zang

My favourite ones all reflect the film’s period setting with lovely, retro style. It fits really well and offers so much great imagery. Also after watching the trailers this X-Film seems to be a more serious, almost sophisticated comic book flick, something not conveyed in the official posters at all. Jeffrey Zang’s versions on the other hand make First Class look like The Third Man and Vertigo. These next two are also wonderfully 60s, and give the movie some serious credibility, conveying comic-book sensibilities as well as tension and action:


by Bryan Lenning & Michael Dee

Now as much as I dig the retro style posters, I do understand that from a mass marketing standpoint they don’t connect to the kind of audience Fox wants to attract. The basic principle of movie-making is – sadly – to make as much money as possible, and your run-of-the-mill Twi-hard probably won’t see one of the above posters and think “Gee, what a great throwback to the work of Saul Bass.” But the below piece, by Barry Villegas is much more mainstream, even using the same idea as the second teasers, but executed with more of a restrained flare, definitely reflecting the tone of the trailers, and I think it looks really good.

by Barry Villegas

Finally, if seriousness and brooding undertones isn’t your thing you have these two frankly awesome comic-book themed efforts by Erik Johnson and Rory Phillips. These are just crazy cool to me, again channelling a 1960s style and going in a slightly different direction from the others by portraying a more light-hearted comic feel. After all, it is a comic book movie, to ignore that fact is like slapping us fans in the face. Not to mention Johnson’s young Charles Xavier looks way better than James McAvoy’s real version.

by Erik Johnson

by Rory Phillips

These ones remind me of classic spy thrillers, like From Russia With Love or The Ipcress File. A suave, Mad Men-style, which again fits the film really well. Now compare the above to the latest piece of official artwork released:

See what I mean? I really hope this film tanks, people need to learn from this that you can’t be so incredibly lazy with your ad campaign simply because you’ve got a famous name. If anything this should have been the opportunity for Fox to go balls to the wall in rejuvenating the X-series (after one disappointing sequel and one truly awful prequel), to remind us that there’s life in the property yet. But it’s just another million-dollar blunder.

Do yourselves a favour and go see Thor a second time, if you pay to see First Class you’ll be proving these idiots right, and they’ll be laughing at you all the way to the bank.

Post Script – I got all the fan made posters from a competition run by the good folks at Super Punch, check it out here.


I sorta went off on one in my last post and although it was good to verbalise what’s been grinding my gears as of late, I realised it made my experience at New Blood sound pretty darn negative. And yes, it’s true that I didn’t get a chance to wow anyone from industry (at all), and I have yet receive any emails or comments from anyone who may have possibly seen my work, but I still had an absolute blast with my friends and design colleagues. Two days in a really happening area of London, chock full of other creatives, cooky stores and lovely weather is worlds better than staying in Norwich, or worse, at home.

Apart from simply having a nice time and seeing alot of awesome work, I also managed to land a portfolio surgery with Mary Lewis, of Lewis Morberly (who offered some advice regarding cluttered layouts and stuff that interviewers would pick up on) and a visit to the boardroom of creative agency POKE, thanks to Portfolio’s from the Soul‘s Mark Amos who booked a place, couldn’t make it and offered it to yours truly. Both very cool opportunities that I’m grateful for, and no doubt wouldn’t have considered had I not been floating around the Truman Brewery, admiring everything on show, collecting things and noting down my favourite pieces of work. Which brings us back to the continuation of my ‘Best of New Blood 2010’…

Postcards & Flyers:

Dungeons and Desktops & G-Shock East – As well as numerous lovely business cards, there was also a ton of postcards and flyers to take. I really liked that alot of students had printed their work on postcards, as it doesn’t take up much room, and as a physical object can be scanned in, stuck on the wall or filed away pretty easily. No fuss, and good exposure. The flyer for ‘Dungeons and Desktops’ struck me thanks to the great illustration by Jack Teagle, it’s fun and geeky, and reminds me of the Nerdcore hip-hop scene and the artwork I often see for various things in that department. The G-Shock flyer is fairly basic I guess, but the simplistic layout, funky type and bright colours just work for me, very hip sorta Saved by the Bell-esque.

Phil Wilkinson & Hannah Watkinson – On top of the fact I really like the purely happenstancial fact that both these guy’s last names sound so similar, these are two lovely looking postcards. Wilkinson’s type design evokes old school Hitchcock, especially with the swirling hypno-disc graphic and Watkinson’s owl struck me as just being a beautifully rendered illustration. I’ve been looking at the various pieces of work on her website, and she has a wealth of really awesome print based stuff. I’m a sucker for cool printing, all the textureyness and imperfections that are different every time, I just dig it. If you’re anything like me (or have even a basic grasp of what makes cool design) you’ll love her work too, check it out here, here and here.

Ben Walden – Simple and striking. The punk side of me always like skulls and skeletons, and I really like the use of the orange X they have on solvents and cleaning products, instantly identifiable and very strong.

Work on Show:

Cherie Chapman ‘Patricia Cornwell Book Covers’ – Very cool, cut-out style book covers (alot like my own H.G. Wells books, which I will whack on here soon). A striking colour scheme and funky imagery which I could harp on about all day thanks to my love of all things retro and movie-related.

Chris Arrowsmith ‘Resistance’ – Being very cynical of fashion trends and scenesters, this poster immediately appealed. I absolutely, fucking hate skinny jeans, with every ounce of my being. They’re uncomfortable and look stupid. Usually it wouldn’t be a problem and I wouldn’t mind (after all, you should wear whatever you want to wear), but now it’s got to the point where they’ve become so popular that EVERY pair of jeans is now ‘skinny’ to some degree. They have literally reduced the size of all jeans made. ‘Average’ and ‘normal’ jeans are ‘skinny’ jeans nowadays, ‘skinny’ jeans are ‘stupidly-skinny’ jeans, and ‘baggy’ jeans are now about as common and easy to find as unicorn blood. I don’t actually know what Arrowsmith’s opinion is on the matter, but this awesome, propaganda-spoofing poster certainly highlights what I personally think is almost a complete joke and illustrates how blindly people (sorry, morons) buy into silly fashion trends.

Matt Pell ‘Marc & Anna’ – I always say that however unoriginal, using CMYK colours generally looks really nice. Case in point, this lovely poster. It has a cool print-making feel, and is simple, stylish and elegant.

Leah Alfonso & Matthew Steedman ‘Ikea’ – Here’s a fantastic example of how you use light humour to maximum effect. Sly and witty, the humour works great with the cartoony illustrations. Great stuff.

Ben Cridland ‘100’ – I didn’t realise how big infographics had become until seeing the amount of fantastic posters based around various facts and statistics. It just came out of nowhere. Sure I’d seen a few online, but I’d actually never considered making one myself. This poster (which either won or was nominated for an award) struck me with it’s mellow beige colour and beautifully designed graphics. There’s almost a clash of boring diagram with competent design flair, which is what makes these posters work so well in my humble opinion.

Although I have amassed loads more nifty pieces of work, I literally can’t be arsed to keep going. I think at this point more work would detract from the ones I’ve already featured. So there you have it, my fantabulous summary of D&AD New Blood 2010. A fun jaunt in our capital and massive eye-opener as far as the competition and state of the industry goes. “It’s like the X-Factor of design” as my friend and colleague pointed out, and that’s a pretty spot-on observation.