Whether you're sitting at home trying to decide what to watch on Netflix or standing in the lobby of a cinema like some sort of caveman, movie posters are important. You've probably stared at thousands of posters over the course of your life before deciding that, fuck it, you're just gonna watch Hot Shots! Part Deux again. We've all been there.
That's why we're always surprised when we notice that famous actors tend to do the exact same oddly specific things in almost every single one of their posters, for reasons that are beyond the comprehension of common mortals like us. For example ...
Much like Van Halen and their bowl of M&M's, Nicolas Cage must have a clause in his contract stating that he won't appear in any movie that doesn't have fire on its poster. You'll also notice that in all these cases, the fire is either behind Cage or below him, and that he never looks at the fire.
Check out the Spanish Season of the Witch poster for a bonus fireball!
Speaking of Drive Angry, exploding vehicles are a recurring motif in Cage's oeuvre. Sometimes he's behind an exploding car ...
"I told you not to use your cellphone at the pump!"
... and sometimes he's running away from it, like that time he starred in a re-enactment of Taken.
Except that Liam Neeson would have already chopped that fire in the throat.
In Con Air, he's depicted above a plane trying to lift off in the middle of an explosion ...
... and in Knowing, he's standing alone in the middle of the resulting wreckage.
In Lord of War, he plays an arms dealer, a job that according to the poster consists of literally selling explosions to people.
"Sure, the one on the left is bigger, but the one on the right will get you more bang for your buck."
Now, we'll admit that there are certain cases where it's somewhat justified, like when his character's head is literally on fire.
But then you have cases where we don't even remember that many things actually being on fire in the film itself, but they still set the poster aflame anyway:
"Just throw some torches on there. We told you, it's in his contract."
And finally there's The Wicker Man, the Nicolas Cagest of all movies, in which Cage didn't bother to show up for the poster at all. He was probably supposed to be running away from that fire or something, but without him in the way, we finally get a pure, unobstructed view of the blaze:
Spoiler alert: Cage is inside there getting burned alive. At least it wasn't the bees.
You've probably noticed that Zooey Deschanel seems to play pretty much the same character in every movie she does, like a whiter, quirkier Samuel L. Jackson. She usually portrays a free-spirited, unconventional girl who does whatever she wants -- so it's a little bit ironic that her posters keep trying to put her in boxes. Literally.
"Nobody puts Zooey in a cor ... oh, OK, I guess they did."
It seems that Zooey's quirkiness is a force that must be contained lest it spill over to the rest of the poster and infect the other actors, so they started boxing her off right from the beginning of her film career -- she's been put in boxes in the posters for Mumford and Manic, and she doesn't seem very happy about it.
Run, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Run while there's still time.
This tendency continued in her movies Live Free or Die and The Go-Getter, but something happened -- her disruptive influence has shaken up the position of her boxes and those around her. She's breaking free!
Clever girl ...
It became clear that boxes were no longer enough -- Zooey had to be contained at all costs.
They eventually figured out a solution in (500) Days of Summer, where the entire marketing campaign consisted of trapping Zooey Deschanel in increasingly smaller boxes until she finally disappears.
One day, 500 tiny Zooeys will escape. You've doomed us all, you fools.
Either Owen Wilson is obsessive-compulsive about colors matching or he's trying to blend into the background of his posters like a chameleon. It started all the way back in the military drama Behind Enemy Lines and continues in his present day comedies.
And in Drillbit Taylor, which falls into neither category.
For Midnight in Paris, he even wore yellow pants and a blue shirt to match the Van Gogh painting used in the background -- they tried a Picasso first, but Wilson's body parts kept painfully shifting place.
But still, this is clearly a deliberate aesthetic choice -- it's not like he actually has mutant powers that allow him to blend into any environment, right? Except that, even when there are more people in the poster, he's the only one who matches the background.
The costume designer who gave him bandages that didn't match was summarily executed.
A red, black, and white jacket in Starsky & Hutch, a blue shirt in Hall Pass, and a green coat in The Darjeeling Limited (the beige shirt is probably a printing error). And then there's the poster for How Do You Know:
You may recognize Jack's expression as classic "I have 12 Oscar nominations to my name, and yet here I am" disdain.
Now, that's impressive. Here we have four characters: two who don't match the background at all, one who is vaguely in the same color family, and then Wilson, who appears to be wearing a shirt made out of the curtain he's standing in front of.
This just makes us appreciate Wilson's accomplishments even more: It must be hard to get noticed in Hollywood when your greatest talent is to not get noticed. This might explain why they snubbed him and he didn't even appear in the posters for the Night at the Museum movies.
But wait a minute ... who's that down there, wearing an outfit matching practically every color in the poster's shifting background?
It's Owen Wilson, right? Right?
When you're an internationally adored actor, it's hard not to become a bit vain. When you're also Batman, it's impossible. Case in point: Christian Bale knows which one of his eyes is more attractive, and that's the one he wants to appear in all his movie posters.
Twice, if possible.
Seriously, the dude has something against his left eye and has apparently banned it from promotional appearances. It's not like this is the result of a Tom Cruise-like obsession with only showing his face from a certain angle, because Bale has employed many different eye-hiding techniques over the years, from covering it in shadows (as seen above) to just turning his head.
It doesn't matter if he's fighting robots in the future ...
There's no face but what you make.
... performing magic tricks in the 18th century ...
We can make do with just the right half of Scarlett Johansson.
... starring in serious historical dramas ...
... or singing and dancing in while delivering newspapers ...
And trying to nail his best friend's sister.
... he'll only let us see one eye. Wait, is the other side of his face horribly disfigured? Do they have to digitally alter it in movies?
The left side of his face features a deformity known as a "second dick."