This weekend, 20th Century Fox’s Wolverine adventure Logan is expected to take in a massive opening at the US box office. The film, which sees Hugh Jackman reprise his role for the final time, has been sold as an ultra-realistic, low-key take on the comic-book hero, and anticipation for the film has been extremely high over the past few months.
As of October 5 last year (just 4 months ago today), Logan was known only as Untitled Wolverine Sequel. An R-rating for the film has been confirmed by director James Mangold in the wake of Deadpool‘s phenomenal success in February 2016 (though he claims Fox had promised him the rating prior to Deadpool‘s release). Several supporting players had been cast, including Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier. Yet only on the morning of October 5, as a massive billboard was mounted in Los Angeles, was the film officially titled Logan. So began a marketing campaign of terrific originality.
Neither Wolverine solo adventure is remembered particularly fondly (though, in the case of Mangold’s 2013 The Wolverine, that isn’t exactly fair), so a reasonable amount of brand reinvention was required in selling Logan. The teaser poster of a child’s hand grasping Logan’s established the film’s earthiness, exploration of ageing and generational shift. The white typeface used for the title has a classic western quality to it. The title itself: a reference to the classic comics storyline ‘Old Man Logan’, and a clear simplification of the brand. This would not be a film about Wolverine, the X-Men leader who has adorned Happy Meals and bedsheets: this is the story of Logan.
A few weeks later, the film’s first trailer debuted online. Under 2 minutes in length, “Logan | Official Trailer” is one of the best previews of a mainstream film released this decade. It uses Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” (Mangold directed Cash biopic Walk The Line) hauntingly to soundtrack our first look at this gritty new world of Wolverine. It’s a stunning piece of advertising.
Building further on the sense that Logan would have a western sensibility, this second poster has serious Sergio Leone vibes, as Logan walks through the desert alone.
In the lead-up to the second trailer, Fox launched a campaign titled 1974 Frames Of Logan, offering a postcard of a single frame from the trailer to fans who signed up online. I ordered one, but never received it (likely because I live in Ireland).
The second trailer, while not to the standards of the first, is another excellently-cut to Kaleo’s “Way Down We Go”. It’s a more accurate representation of the what the film turned out to be.
On this poster, we see Logan’s haggard face in full detail. He really is an Old Man now.
This final, IMAX exclusive poster highlights the film’s 1970s/B-movie elements, with a gorgeous illustrated take on the main characters. On this sheet, Logan really is The Man With No Name, facing his enemies with both rage and weariness.
Overall, it’s impossible to fault any element of Logan‘s marketing. This built on the success of the R-rated, ultra-violent Deadpool, (to a lesser extent) on the success of 2013’s The Wolverine and broadly on the enormous admiration there is amongst all film fans for Jackman’s two-decades of commitment to the Wolverine character.
In our review of the film, we criticised its disappointing heavy-handedness in parts, but praised its sincere depiction of cinema’s greatest comic-book hero. Read the full review here. The film itself aside, Fox’s handling of the build-up alone is worthy of exceptional praise.