Poster Picks: X-Men: Days of Future Past

Foregoing Flashback Friday this week because…well, because I’m not really in a reminiscent mood this evening. Although, I suppose that’s a bit of a lie, since I’m instead reviving a lamentably ignored featured series (lamented, I’m sure, mainly by me).

As I’m sure you’ve no doubt deduced, I’m a bit of a geek about many things, including comic books. I’m not quite Comic Book Guy-level geeky (Worst. Confession. Ever.), but I can hold my own when it comes to certain comics. One of my absolute favorite series belongs to those band of merry mutants, the X-Men. I was massively disappointed in the last of the first round of X-Men movies (so disappointed that I apparently wanted to try Bryan Singer for multiple counts of mutanticide).

I must confess, though, that I was pleasantly surprised by the…whatever they want to call X-Men: First Class (What was it? Reboot? Prequel? Preboot?). By going back to the very beginning, the movie succeeded in at least distilling the horrible taste left by X-Men: The Last Bland Stand.

Needless to say, First Class did well enough to actually warrant a sequel (Sequeboot?). Thus, X-Men: Days of Future Past. I’m equal parts excited and terrified about this one, denizens. It’s based on another John Byrne/Chris Claremont story, just like part of X-Men: The Last Stand. It’s also directed by Bryan Singer, just like Last Stand was supposed to be before Singer bailed to give us Stripper-Pole Panty Superman.

Thanks for that. Really.

Regardless of my worries and excitement about the movie, I’m here now to share what I consider one of the most wonderful movie poster designs I’ve seen in a very long time. Surprisingly enough, the entirety of the design is a massive head shot, one of Sir Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier and one of Sir Ian McKellen as Magneto. You might remember in my first Poster Pick that I took the piss out of posters that relied heavily on showing only head shots of the movie’s star(s) rather than putting any effort into a creative design.

These two head shot posters, however, actually do rely on a lovely bit of creative zing, incredibly simple in concept but a tricky gamble in execution. You see, while the primary design elements are close-ups of Stewart and McKellen, each face contains a great surprise. A red X cuts across McKellen’s face. Look closely and you’ll realize that the X has revealed the face of Michael Fassbender, the young Magneto from First Class, beneath the older Magneto’s skin. Same with Stewart’s face—the blue X slices through his face to reveal the younger Charles Xavier, played by James McAvoy.

Strip away old to reveal young. Strip away the future to reveal the past. So simple. So delightful. So excellently played.

I have to admit, I like the McKellen/Fassbender combination much more than the Stewart/McAvoy design, simply because the former actors resemble each other enough that I almost didn’t catch the morphing of their faces the first time I saw the poster. It was the fact that the designer didn’t perfectly align the images that made me do the immensely delightful double-take for this poster. The Stewart/McAvoy combination is far less subtle for several reasons, most obvious being all of McAvoy’s hair. Still, I think even that poster is starting to get to me.

I’ve no idea if this is the first time this design trick has appeared like this in a movie poster, but it’s the first time it’s registered with me. If you can think of an earlier design that utilizes this trick, please let me know. However, right now I’m going to give mad props to the designer of these two posters, for a brilliant bit of PhotoShop trickery. I’m also going to lament now the fact that this will undoubtedly be a trick that will start popping up all over movie posters. I really hope not, but…well, apparently, there are only a few designers who have been working on all the movie posters for a very long time.

Hopefully, this concept won’t get played out. Until it does, however, enjoy these two fine specimens. I really, really hope this is a reflection of the awesome to come with the actual movie.