In Zoolander, Ben Stiller plays a male model who only knows how to make one facial expression in front of a camera: Blue Steel. Most of us have Facebook friends with their own version of Blue Steel -- a particular facial expression (or if they've had a few drinks, body part) that comes out every time someone tells them to say cheese. Well, it turns out that some of Hollywood's most iconic actors are no different when it comes to selling their movie. For instance ...
Eddie Murphy has this thing he can do with his eyebrow that he wants you to check out. It first showed up on the poster for Beverly Hills Cop.
Murphy appears to be looking out at us from inside this fish out of water comedy, and saying, "You believe these Hollywood assholes?"
Then he brought it out for The Golden Child, where he used it to say, "You believe these Chinese assholes?"
But recently, he seems to be using his eyebrow to express disbelief at the circumstances of his career, since he only seems to break it out for the posters of his absolute worst movies.
"You believe these Hollywood assholes paid me to make this movie?"
He doesn't break it out for Dr. Dolittle. But on Dr. Doolittle 2 ...
Could it be that somewhere deep inside Eddie Murphy, the comedic genius from the 80s is still alive? Like Axl Foley, Murphy's inner genius can't believe the shit these Hollywood assholes are putting him through. Maybe he's trying to signal out to us, like the guy in Diving Bell and the Butterfly but with more expressive eyebrows.
Do you think that theory's too far fetched, Mr. Nash?
Huh. So to recap ...
Of course having a go-to look requires some talent or, at the very least, the ability to emote. Lacking that, a favorite body part will do. For instance, Jean-Claude Van Damme desperately wants to show you his right arm. And he swears he's not flexing. Although ...
... that's not technically an athletic stance in anything that's not body building.
And even in body building, that's not considered anything but a dance move.
You can actually track the rise and fall of Van Damme's career by how focused the movie's poster is on his right bicep. For instance, despite Van Damme's best efforts, the art director of this early poster seemed to miss the point ...
"Why does he keep yelling 'Not the face, the BOOM!' at me?"
The art director of Black Eagle had the nerve to cover his right bicep with a small Asian man -- either out of spite or because he was tired of trying to make a fight scene out of what is clearly just JCVD doing his hair.
But at the height of his career, they look like propaganda posters from a fascist dictatorship that is ruled by the muscles of Van Damme's right arm.
"Yes, very impressive Mr. Van Damme. But you've been standing like that for six straight hours flexing and unflexing your arm. Everyone's hungry."
By the end they were clearly just sticking a gun in his hand while he flexed his right bicep, and trying to take the picture before he noticed. This strategy was clearly at work on the hilarious poster for Double Team ...
He is either flexing or he was putting on a top hat that magically transformed into a handgun.
When it was announced that JCVD would be starring as two twins in the film Double Impact, fans assumed they would finally get a chance to see another side of Van Damme, or at least his left bicep.
What are you hiding Van Damme?
Finally, when his career had fallen apart and he'd lost the right to say which arm he gets to show off, we learn the horrifying secret he's been keeping. His left arm.
It looks like they photo shopped his head onto Frank Costanza's body.
Other martial arts experts don't care which of their body parts you're looking at, as long as it appears to be bigger than their head. Jackie Chan loves showing us how much bigger his giant fist and/or foot are than his head -- whether he's showing off his impressive punching power by breaking through paper ...
Punching through a tape measurer, and possible mistranslation of "red tape" ...
Breaking new ground in the world of 19th-century British male cheerleading ...
Or indirectly setting women's right to bear arms back millenia.
On the poster for his movie with Jennifer Love Hewitt (who appears wearing exactly what audiences have always wanted to see her in: a sensible pant suit), his foot and the area behind his head are vectorized to ensure nobody's confused about which one's bigger.
None of this movie takes place inside of Tron. It's about a magic tuxedo. The only reason for that effect is to ensure you know how much bigger Jackie Chan foot is than his head.
Denzel never looks directly at the camera when his intensity gland is active, presumably because he knows how many people it would blind. Early in his career he spread his drama lasers around, making the horizon tremble on Remember the Titans ...
Somewhere in the sky behind you, a bird's heart just exploded.
On the poster for The Hurricane, he looked down, and thousands of women went into labor and found out they were pregnant at the same moment.
The babies all emerged morally outraged and sexually aroused.
He was still searching for the perfect place to look in 2001 on the poster for the movie Training Day, when he looked somewhere off to his right at some bullshit that was hardly worth his time ...
"Now this is some bullshit."
When he won an Oscar for the role, Denzel and the people who make his movies took note, leading to a rash of movie posters that seemed designed only to make us glad we weren't standing two feet to our left.
Denzel is not taking anymore shit from whom or whatever is standing to our left ...
... and neither is his mustache.
Sometimes, he seems to be asking whatever is over there a question.
"How am I going to sex my way out of this one?"
"Why is half of my face disintegrating?"
"Is Travolta acting via ridiculous facial hair again?"
But mostly he's just pissed, and unwilling to stand idly by while whatever it is continues to happen over there.
"Why can't you be more like whatever is happening off the right edge of the poster?"
Of course, there's probably some rule of photographic construction that says that dignity must be exuded off the left edge of the photograph, right?