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Off My Mind: The Use of Stunning Visuals to Sell Comic Book Movies

Check out these rare studio photos that make comic book movies seem better than they actually are.

Comic books continue to invade Hollywood. The idea of adapting a comic for the big screen isn't a new idea. We've seen it done many times over the years, sometimes successfully and other times...not so much. While movie studios are looking for the next big franchise to develop, attempting to make one based on an existing property is clearly easier than starting from scratch.

Simply taking a beloved comic character and throwing them into theaters isn't a guaranteed success. A lot of time and money is needed to ensure the character's popularity carries over from readership to movie viewership. Translating the character sometimes requires tweaks and changes but the biggest selling point is the visuals.

Comic books are a visual medium. Of course a large of a comic's success depends on the writing but it's the look and the art that will draw the immediate attention. The same can be said for movies. A comic book movie can't simply rely on the comic book status of a character to drive in crowds to theaters. The reality is there are many more movie watchers than there are comic book readers. The easiest way to catch the attention of potential ticket buyers is by creating an amazing and unforgettable movie poster. One man responsible for creating more movie posters than you probably realized is Michael Muller.

== TEASER ==

Looking over the works of Muller is shocking on two fronts. For one thing, his visuals and eye for marketing a movie are phenomenal. Second, it's surprising how many comic-related movies he's been involved in.

With today's marketing, creating a movie poster is almost an on going job. In the old days we would see a teaser poster and one, maybe two regular movie posters. These days, there are numerous one-sheets produced and plastered all over the place. Again, each has the task of selling the movie. The desire to journey to a movie theater and see the movie is the goal.

Muller does his job very well. As much as we love comic book movies, we can admit that some of them have been clunkers. When you look at the images Muller has captured, he makes even the bad movies look good. Is that deceptive marketing? Not really. It just shows that, visually, Muller has an eye for what makes a stunning image.

Here are some examples from Muller.

Captain America: The First Avenger

Iron Man

Iron Man 2

X-Men: The Last Stand

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

These are just some of the images Michael Muller is responsible for. Be sure to check out his website for more.

A picture is worth a thousand words and a professional photograph speaks volumes. Not all of the movies above have been widely accepted or praised by comic book fans but you have to admit the images are amazing. As much of a fan I am, there are some even I want to forget about. Seeing some of the images that I hadn't seen before has renewed my faith in the concept of comic book movies. They won't all be stellar. But so many times as we read our favorite comics, we're left wondering what a real life version might look like.

Seeing the way the characters were captured shows that superheroes can be translated properly onto the big screen. Filmmakers simply have to take care in ensuring the imagery is right. You can't just slap special effects together and hope to create a new franchise. For those movies that didn't quite achieve what they set out to, at least we have these spectacular images to show us how things could be.

44 Comments
Posted by RainEffect

I've never ever seen the Iron Man one before. That's an incredibly captivating picture. Tony Stark is bloodied and in the ruins of his armour, which instantly begs the question:
 
"How did he get there?" 
Movie tickets sold.

Edited by ArtisticNeedham

Some movies, like Sin City, try very hard to stick to the source material to make
the comic movie not only based on the character and the stories, but also the art.
From what I have heard about their plans for the Madman movie they are going to try and make it visually like a comic too.  I actually heard it would be like Sin city.
That is one of the things that they seem to loose a lot when a comic becomes a movie, for me anyway, the character becomes real and they loose the graphicness of the comic.
Posted by NightFang

I always hate these things, there so misleading. 

Posted by mbembet

Batman Begins and TDK!!!!!

Posted by Deadcool

Check out these rare studio photos that make comic book movies seem better than they actually are. 

Ouch!
Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

These are perfect for ringing in audiences and frankly are akin to what is always taught to us in our English classes as the introductory paragraph, which above all else is designed to ring in a reader and get them interested in what was written.  Well I think the same rule applies to these stunning images to get people to watch movies that are, well, quite mediocre otherwise.  In a way its almost a classic bait and switch routine since the movie is not nearly so epic as the picture (or trailers for that matter).

Posted by Oghmata

That's strange how you hope we can estimate the quality of a motion picture based on single images. Yet it's kinda logical to see your faith in comic book adaptations being renewed by images that look like panels.

Posted by EdwardWindsor

Solid advertising , draws people in. Some cleverly selected stills. Hollywood arent stupid when it comes to letting tid bit slip to increase hype.

Posted by KainScion

they're making another movie like sin city. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! shoot me now! some poor bastard really wants to lose all his money. on-topic posters are how they getcha. cuz thats what its all about. BIG PICTURE that looks awesome and if you got a BIG NAME in acting to go with it well boy you just got about half of the money u put in the movie in tickets. there is just curiousity or comic fans.

Edited by FoxxFireArt

As an artist. I see no problem with using well produced dramatic images to promote the movie. Though, as with comics covers. I don't like them to lie. They shouldn't show you something that never even happens in the actual movie. A good example is that one of Rogue with the crushed car. I don't remember her even using a suit in the third movie.

Posted by CptPanda29

I can probably guess which one sold Iron Man 2 best...

Posted by craigbo180

The Hugh Jackman Wolverine Origins stills actually look really good.

Posted by jubilee042

veery awesome article

Posted by benny2

EMBRACE OUR CYAN AND ORANGE FUTURE!!!

Posted by SC

Great thread, I agree! Appeal to peoples on a certain raw aesthetic level. 

Moderator
Posted by ninjacommando

Captain America promotional images are the best, I bought the movie poster third from the left!

Posted by dangerapple

whats up with storm in that picture

Posted by Croi

And pointy things

 
A lot of time and money is needed to ensure the character's popularity carries over from readership to movie viewership.

Posted by Sammo21

The MARVEL studios ones weren't misleading actually...

Posted by bingbangboom

No offense but this is a stupid article. It is not just comic book movies but ALL movies they try to use stunning visuals to sell them. Period.

Posted by QuantomMan
@bingbangboom said:
No offense but this is a stupid article. It is not just comic book movies but ALL movies they try to use stunning visuals to sell them. Period.
no offense, but it's flippin irritating when people say "no offense" and then say something offensive. Like it somehow magically dismisses everything that follows that statement 
 
Dont be a jerk.
Posted by sesquipedalophobe
@QuantomMan said:
@bingbangboom said:
No offense but this is a stupid article. It is not just comic book movies but ALL movies they try to use stunning visuals to sell them. Period.
no offense, but it's flippin irritating when people say "no offense" and then say something offensive. Like it somehow magically dismisses everything that follows that statement  Dont be a jerk.
No offense, but I agree.
Edited by SpaceCommander

I'm pretty sure that the poster where Captain America punches Hitler is by Paolo Rivera not Michael Muller.

Posted by ImperiousRix

It's weird how one of the Last Stand pictures has Rogue, who was barely even featured in that movie (let alone doing anything).

Posted by kfhrfdu_89_76k

Muller is awesome.

Posted by difficlus
@bingbangboom said:
No offense but this is a stupid article. It is not just comic book movies but ALL movies they try to use stunning visuals to sell them. Period.
Posted by PhoenixoftheTides

The only bad movies there seemed like "X:3", "Wolverine" and "The Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer". The others were pretty good. I didn't see "Iron Man 2", though.

Posted by Omega Ray Jay

I am a fan of the striking pose seeing as it does make it all the more 'comic booky' I'm content with it remaining within the publicity shot domain though.

Posted by Gambit1024

Man, this article only reminded me how good FF2, Wolverine,  and X3 could have been.  
 
Seriously, it would be so easy to make a good Wolverine origin movie, or an X-Men movie with "the cure", or a FF vs. Galactus movie. 

Posted by LittleSocrates

Not a fan of the Iron Man 2 main headshot or any of the shots from Rise of the Silver Surfer. Also was never drawn in by the Cap America poster.

Posted by Druid

I really like some of these images. Thanks for posting them. Muller's work is amazing. They do say a picture is worth a thousand words.

Posted by Druid
@KainScion: @KainScion said:
they're making another movie like sin city. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! shoot me now! some poor bastard really wants to lose all his money. on-topic posters are how they getcha. cuz thats what its all about. BIG PICTURE that looks awesome and if you got a BIG NAME in acting to go with it well boy you just got about half of the money u put in the movie in tickets. there is just curiousity or comic fans.
The Sin City film was mind-blowing. I thought it did well commercially too. Who is going to lose all his money? I don't understand.
Posted by Westlife

I'll see anything if they use stunning visuals in their promotions.

Edited by yo_yo_fun

The posters always make people more excited about the movie, sometimes can even leave goosebumps. 
They all look great but The Captain America posters look the best from these galleries.

Posted by LP

Now this I need too see.

Posted by dondasch

It's called hype, people.  And, for the most part, it's usually best to just let it go on by.

Posted by Band Lone

Beast one looks ridiculous if u ask me

Posted by Doctorchimp
@FoxxFireArt said:
As an artist. I see no problem with using well produced dramatic images to promote the movie. Though, as with comics covers. I don't like them to lie. They shouldn't show you something that never even happens in the actual movie. A good example is that one of Rogue with the crushed car. I don't remember her even using a suit in the third movie.
It was that Danger Room sequence at the very beginning of the movie where they destroyed a Sentinel.
Posted by ThomasElliot
@ArtisticNeedham said:

Some movies, like Sin City, try very hard to stick to the source material to make
the comic movie not only based on the character and the stories, but also the art. From what I have heard about their plans for the Madman movie they are going to try and make it visually like a comic too.  I actually heard it would be like Sin city.That is one of the things that they seem to loose a lot when a comic becomes a movie, for me anyway, the character becomes real and they loose the graphicness of the comic.
 
 
It really just depends.  It WORKED for Sin City... it worked for 300. 
 
But all-in-all, its a different medium.  its like saying, "I wish Stairway to Heaven played on a tuba sounded more like the original Led Zeppelin version". 
 
Ok... then go listen to the original song then and ignore the tuba player.  Its a problem many novel/book readers can't seem to grasp either... you can't (in most cases) just do a straight adaptation of another work... its usually pointless and not very compelling.  another example: Kubrick's The Shining VS the Stephen King approved TV mini-series The Shining.  One follow the book more closely than the other, and ends up being boring, mediocre and sucky.   
 
Watching a new take on a beloved character is like listening to a good remix of a song. 
 
Ok... anymore analogies or examples I can make up here?
Edited by ArtisticNeedham
@ThomasElliot: Yes, that is true, but what I am saying is that one of the things I love about comics is the
graphic look of it all.  And in most cases they do not transfer that, because
they are trying to show what the comic looks like in the real world (so why make it look like a graphic comic come to life anyway), and it looses something.  And if all the Comic Movies did do what Sin City did, and what I hear Madman plans to do, then it would be over saturation and people would get sick of it.  But imagine if they did this with an animated Hellboy movie
done in the style of Mike Mignola, or
used the graphic Sin City shadows in Spawn to hide his face like they did in the original comics, or used the sound effect stuff from Scott Pilgrim in the Madman movie.
Not only would it look more like the comic, but it would make it look and feel more like an artsy movie too, and not just another run of the mill summer superhero movie.
Its funny, if you follow the comics exactly into the movies I think fans would be upset but if you alter them too much fans get upset too.  But to me when a movie tries to stick close to the source material it works out great, in style and story too.  lie Batman Begins and the Dark Knight, or Watchmen.
Posted by SpidermanWins
@QuantomMan said:
@bingbangboom said:
No offense but this is a stupid article. It is not just comic book movies but ALL movies they try to use stunning visuals to sell them. Period.
no offense, but it's flippin irritating when people say "no offense" and then say something offensive. Like it somehow magically dismisses everything that follows that statement  Dont be a jerk.
Oh my god I hate it when people do that. It's worse than saying it outright.
Posted by Leopaldon
@RainEffect: ...like the cover of a comic book, actually. x)
Posted by bingbangboom
@QuantomMan said:
@bingbangboom said:
No offense but this is a stupid article. It is not just comic book movies but ALL movies they try to use stunning visuals to sell them. Period.
no offense, but it's flippin irritating when people say "no offense" and then say something offensive. Like it somehow magically dismisses everything that follows that statement  Dont be a jerk.
This is the internet and it is my right to be a jerk but I think G-Man has written better articles in the past. This is more showcasing various Marvel movie artwork, which if it is that then why mislabel it. Maybe I shouldn't have said "stupid" what I mean it is more silly. It would be like a Comicvine article saying "Batman: Is he Gotham's Best Hero?" . 
 
I know in terms of online comicbook news and entertainment, there are a variety of avenues but more flushed out editorials will push CV into that stratosphere. If G-Man was offended, my sincere apologies.
Posted by untammed
@Deadcool said:

Check out these rare studio photos that make comic book movies seem better than they actually are. 

Ouch!
agree OUCH!