It's still briskly cold most mornings, but Captain America: The Winter Soldier opened to $95 million last weekend, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is almost here — summer movie season starts earlier and earlier every year. Which is why we're launching our Summer Movie Preview before tax day.
We're breaking the massive summer season — 46 movies are set to open wide from May through August — into a five-part extravaganza, and we're kicking things off by keeping the "preview" in Summer Movie Preview, looking at the best and worst posters of the season.
Movie posters are a sadly deteriorating art with fewer and fewer standouts and more and more lazily slapped-together floating head collages. Which summer movies got the benefit of truly inspired work?
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Director: Matt Reeves
Starring: Andy Serkis, Tony Kebbell, Gary Oldman, Judy Greer, Keri Russell, Jason Clarke, Apes
Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a bit of a forgotten blockbuster, a surprise hit in 2011 that hasn't endured in the public mindset as much as Fox would have hoped. This poster is here to help you remember what you liked about Rise: it had lots of realistic, sympathetic, angry ape warriors! Now they have babies! This is the kind of stark image that stands out in a theater lobby, and the other posters (which feature war-painted apes looking directly at you) are just as arresting.
Release Date: July 11
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Director: Bryan Singer
Starring: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Peter Dinklage, Ellen Page, Nicholas Hoult, with Halle Berry, and Evan Peters as Sonic the Hedgehog
This has not been a flawless publicity campaign (more on that later). But the initial teaser posters for Days of Future Past struck exactly the right tone. A simple, effective concept, laying the original and young versions of Magneto and Professor X over each other. This series has always struggled to make its posters remotely interesting (remember this garbage?), but Days of Future Past threw down a terrific marker.
Release Date: May 23
Guardians of the Galaxy
Director: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Benicio Del Toro, Karen Gillan, Glenn Close, Lee Pace, John C. Reilly, Djimon Hounsou, the voices of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper
Marvel knows there's only one way to sell this movie: with a sly wink. They don't want you to forget this is a cosmic action epic, hence guns and spaceships and the like, but they also know no one has ever heard of the Guardians of the Galaxy. "You're welcome" is exactly the right slogan. You know Marvel's kidding, but they're also telling you what a good time you're going to have.
Release Date: August 1
Director: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn
Absolutely no one was eagerly anticipating the Godzilla reboot, certainly not after the colossal failure of Roland Emmerich's 1998 stab at the property. So any and all eager anticipation that exists is due to the promotional campaign, which has thus far been extraordinary. All of its posters are pretty arresting, but I like the skydiving paratrooper team the best, just because it's an innovative way to represent the monster's colossal size. There are some arty alternative posters that are well worth a look, too.
Release Date: May 16
The Expendables 3
Director: Patrick Hughes
Starring: *deep breath* Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Terry Crews, Jet Li, Antonio Banderas, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kellan Lutz, Kelsey Grammer, Harrison Ford, Randy Couture
Every single cast member in The Expendables 3, no matter how unknown, gets a poster (Every. Single. One.) That means there's a lot of silly posters that will never see the light of day outside the internet. That also means that this masterpiece exists.
Release Date: August 15
Think Like a Man Too
Director: Tim Story
Starring: Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrera, Romany Malco, Kevin Hart, Terrence J, Adam Brody, Gary Owen, Megan Good, Regina Hall, Taraji P. Henson, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Gabrielle Union, La La Anthony, Laurence Olivier, Just Kidding About That Last One
Perhaps the most heinous Photoshop botch-job of the season. Every single one of the male cast's heads appears to have been grafted on to someone else's body. Jerry Ferrara isn't even making eye contact with Romany Malco as he prepares to choke the life from him. Terrence J is deploying some sort of arm-growing superpower to stop Kevin Hart from stealing all the poker chips. Why do you need so many poker chips, Kevin Hart? At this point couldn't you buy Las Vegas with the change in your wallet?
Release Date: June 20
Director: The Wachowskis
Starring: Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Tuppence Middleton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, James D'Arcy, Not Even Kidding About Tuppence Middleton That's a Real Name
I'm sure that featuring Mila Kunis on the poster in her flannel shirt is meant to emphasize her lowly status at the beginning of this sci-fi epic. As a result, there's not really much to suggest that this is a sci-fi epic at all. Aging Kunis' face by 20 years was maybe not the best call either.
Release Date: July 18
Director: Jake Kasdan
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel, Rob Corddry, Ellie Kemper, Rob Lowe, Jack Black, hundreds of free iPads
What, we're not allowed to see Jason Segel's legs all of a sudden? We can't even see his feet? Cameron Diaz is doing a terrible job here of blocking our vision. Her legs are emphasizing that "A" all the more! Segel's at least throwing his torso on that "P." The fact that Diaz's hands are facing in opposite directions is weirdly upsetting.
Release Date: July 25
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Director: Bryan Singer, remember?
Starring: Hugh Jackman, a bunch of people who live inside his body
The X-Men guys did such a good job of making those teaser posters, and then they probably all died in some horrible poster-making accident, leaving some poor intern to slap this thing together in a day. That's the only excuse I will believe for why this poster exists. Professor X looks like he's farting fire all over Washington D.C. There has to be a better way to make a team look cool on a poster.
Release Date: May 23
A Million Ways to Die in the West
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Liam Neeson, Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Silverman, Giovanni Ribisi, Christopher Lloyd, Dennis Haskins (wait, really? Dennis Haskins? No kidding!)
This nightmare must be stopped in its tracks before it ruins the world.
Release Date: May 30
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.