So where do I start? Maybe I should start by telling you what this post isn’t about; it’s not about whether the movie will be good or bad, it’s not about who is playing which character; it’s not really about anything other than this poster.
I first saw this poster on the Batman Memes Facebook page (awesome page) and just kind of assumed that it was a fan created poster scrolling past it with a swipe of disdain. A couple of hours later I saw it again, but this time it was posted by the official DC Comics account. I was shocked.
Now movie posters are supposed to be eye catching, yes, but this one is eye catching in all of the wrong ways. It’s a literal assault on the eyes, I’ll start with the photograph…
I mean just look at it; the trying-too-hard Alex Ross style photograph (probably a composite) of *some* of the Justice League. It’s grainy as all hell and looks like it was shot on 2000 ISO film from the 1970’s, I’m pretty sure that is intentional but what were they thinking? I guess that sometimes graininess can be nice but the next thing is even worse and is never nice; the lighting. What on earth is going on with those lights? Why does Batman have no eyes? Why does the Flash’s face look like a bulldog that’s been chewing a wasp? Argh! The shadows are just so distracting, all over the place making every single character look like some low rent crime noir detective or dodgy gangster film, all they need are fedoras and this could be the Goodfellas poster, albeit a terrible version of the original. All of the character’s eyes look dead and glazed over like they’re just waxworks that have been arranged rather than actual real people.
The photograph isn’t even the worst thing about this poster though, you know, maybe I could even look past that if the rest of the design was good, but unfortunately that is very far from being the case.
Just look at that text, stop reading this, go back to the poster and look at that text.
Read it. I dare you. Read it. This is far from the first time that a designer has used logos as letters in text, it’s pretty common and not exactly a crime but the way that it is done in this poster is a travesty. I’ll give them a pass on The Flash and Cyborg logo, those don’t look too bad really, the shape of The Flash’s symbol is circular as an ‘o’ should be. Cyborg’s logo is where it starts to go downhill, it’s passable but the way the opening of the ‘c’ is so narrow makes it kinda look like another ‘o’ at a glance, add to that the circle inside the ‘c’ and your eyes take a minute to actually recognise what letter it is, despite that, it’s passable like I said, they get away with it just about.
Next up is the Superman logo; the fat and distorted ‘s’ creates the first problem with word alignment, because of the diamond shape of the logo it makes it seem as if the word ‘save’ is aligned slightly to the right of the word above creating a strange perspective. The fatness also is totally at odds with the rest of the normal text making it’s bloatedness look more exaggerated that it is already.
On to the Batman logo, or at least it would be if it was horizontal rather than vertical. If that was taken out of context, nowhere near Batman, the Justice League or DC, would you instantly recognise it as the Batman logo? I’d hazard a guess that it’d take at least second or two to see it which is not what a logo should be. That’s not the real problem anyway; the real problem is that it doesn’t look that much like an ‘e’. The reason the rest of the logos almost work is because they are all letter shaped or just actual letters, the Batman logo is not. No. It definitely isn’t. Even in its correct orientation you can’t really pass it off as a letter, maybe, just maybe an ‘m’ but it’s a stretch. As with the Superman logo, it’s alignment is out, if you draw an imaginary line (or a real one if this gets published on paper for some reason) from the ‘You’ at the top down to the ‘The’ where the Batman logo is, you’ll see that it is totally out of whack, the word ‘the’ is a good few pixels further over to the right than the word ‘You’ making everything seem a bit slanted. The edge of the Batman logo lines up with the edge of the ‘u’ but the edge of the ‘t’ does not line up with the edge of the ‘y’ and they haven’t bothered to centre it. Seems like an amateur mistake to me. It also suffers partly from the same problem as the Superman logo in that it’s at least twice as fat as the other lettering… Why have DC made all of their logos extra fat? Even Aquaman’s logo is pretty chubby, anyway, I digress.
Wonder Woman! Here we go. At least this one is a letter unlike the Batman logo. The logo continues our issue with alignment of text, with the width of the ‘w’ and the wings on the end it just pushes everything out of whack; making it look like the ‘d’ is way too far to the right and just hanging in empty space. The next thing is that two thirds of the right hand wing of the ‘w’ are totally missing, it’s like the designer just thought “Nope, can’t be bothered dealing with that” and chopped it off. Someone spent time designing that logo and this poster designer struts up and just destroys it in one fell swoop, not even mentioning that the logo has been that way decades. Finally for Wonder Woman’s logo, it doesn’t work properly as a single colour, the new logo design has multiple layers that are essential to its look, when it’s flattened it just looks like there are some weird extra blocks going on there.
And finally we come to Aquaman, if you’re still reading then we’re almost done, I don’t expect many of you are and I apologise for my ranting. This one I would say, is probably the best of a bad bunch. It pretty much looks like an ‘A’ and doesn’t cause too many issues with alignment. It’s not as fat as some of the other logos and is kinda slick. One of my few problems with the Aquaman logo is that it touches the ‘l’ and looks a little off.
As I said initially, I honestly thought this was a fan made posted at first due to some of the issues I’ve mentioned (in great detail) above. I’m not saying that fans of Justice League are bad designers but, well, I’m sure you all know what can happen with fan made stuff. You’d have thought that with a big budget movie like this, they would have got the poster right (see: Thor Ragnarok poster, it’s a thing of beauty) but no, they didn’t. Whoever approved this poster should probably be sacked, I don’t understand how they didn’t see the glaring problems. The standard details at the bottom are fine. I guess it’s pretty hard to mess that up.
If you’ve got any opinions or want to tell me that I’m wrong and/or send death threats then don’t hesitate to comment, I’m all ears!
I feel this post will need a little context; I’m a photographer of sorts, have been for around 13 years. I studied it for about 5 years and have a degree in it. Before coming to the comic book world I worked in the field full-time for more than 5 years. During that time I also honed my skills as a graphic and web designer, something I have been doing freelance for at least 4 years now.
I’m not saying this qualifies me to take down DC’s professional graphic designers and photographers who are probably really great, but this poster is just ugly.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of Piranha Comics. (Maybe they do though, I haven’t asked)