I was looking at reviews on Common Sense Media last night, and upon looking at posters for Noah and Captain America side by side, I noticed something a little peculiar.
A little odd, isn't it? They're the same poster. Quibble with the details all you want, but both of these posters are a shot of the hero standing on high ground, bracing themselves for the action happening below/in front of them.
Shots from behind are not new to the world of film advertising. It's a pretty standard method. But it seems like a more recent trend than something that's been around forever (like the hero holding a gun with an explosion behind them). This seems to have hit its stride in popularity in the last decade. Take a look.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013)
Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Evil Dead (2013)
AMC's Mad Men (this particular poster is from 2013)
The Raid (2011)
Battle: Los Angeles (2011)
The Last Airbender (2010)
Up in the Air (2009)
The Road (2009)
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
3:10 to Yuma (2007)
Rocky Balboa (2006)
Walk the Line (2005)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Like I said, it's nothing new. And while it's perhaps most common among action and superhero films, it's clear to see you can easily find it in dramas and thrillers too. But what is the appeal behind this approach? Is it the idea of facing into the future? Or the opportunity to show the trial that the hero is (literally) facing? Or is the back of someone just simply more mysterious?
Whatever it is, it works. Posters designed this way portray their heroes as mysterious, adventurous and thoughtful. It's an interesting brand of advertising. I personally am more of a fan of ensemble posters, however I can appreciate simplicity and elegance in its style when it's done right.