5 Movie Tie-In Ads With Subversive Anti-Capitalism Messages

Movie tie-ins are terrible things, because they're always a bait-and-switch. Hey, do you like Godzilla? Then here's the most boring car! Do you like Dr. Seuss? Here's another boring car! Hey, remember how rad Bruce Lee movies were? Fuck you, buy a Mazda!

But sometimes, the people making the ads know the score. And sometimes, they're tired of playing the game. They want to tear down the whole world from the inside. And they sneak messages into the ads so that we can understand what's really going on. At least I hope that's what's happening here, because otherwise I may have gone completely insane.

#5. Wolverine Warns You Against the Danger of Milk

As part of their Got Milk? campaign, the California Milk Processor Board hit a goldmine when they got a license to use the X-Men characters in their ads. Milk makes your bones strong, Wolverine has metal bones, so all they have to do is say that milk will make your bones as strong as Wolverine's and ...

California Milk Board

"I still need milk to keep my bones strong to support all that metal"? Alright. Um. Look, I understand that you guys are a milk company and not a scrawny dork wasting his life on mindless consumption, but that's not true at all. For one thing, the metal only adds 100 pounds to his body weight, so it's not an absurdly heavy metal. For another, the adamantium improves the strength of his skeleton structure, because that's the point. If you said the guy needed to stay active and eat his vegetables, that would've been one thing, but bone strength is literally the only thing this guy doesn't have to worry about, and that's the whole goddamn point of his character. Suggesting that he has to watch his calcium intake for his health is like saying that Pacific Rim's Jaegers would rust because they're made of solid iron: You clearly just wandered into the wrong theater. Go watch something boring instead.

20th Century Fox
That should do it.

Seriously, though -- this has to be intentional, right? Surely the people responsible for putting together this commercial know that milk is quite bad for you, or have at least heard of the controversy. Surely they know that people who are familiar with Wolverine (also known as the only people who will give a shit about this ad) will immediately know that this is a flawed premise, and maybe do some research to explain why, like I just did.

What I'm saying is, we hear you, subversive dairy marketer guy. Wink.

Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images
I just winked at you.

#4. The Man of Steel Tie-Ins Tried to Warn Us About How Much This Movie Sucked

This Hardee's ad, in which Metropolis Public Works employees discuss cleaning up Superman's mess, foreshadows one of the most common complaints of the movie. On purpose. Let me explain.

The biggest complaint about Zack Snyder's Man of Steel is that the "hero" doesn't seem to care about any actual humans. The final fight would've caused more casualties than every other superhero movie combined, and no, I didn't bother to check if that's actually true.

Warner Bros.
But I did check to see if burning ash brings out the color in his eyes. And it does!

The worst part comes when Superman helps Zod knock an entire building on top of a bunch of innocent civilians -- the camera even lingers on their shocked and helpless faces.

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.
"That's not on top of them!"
-someone who stands next to collapsing skyscrapers all the damn time, and knows exactly what they're talking about.

But as bad as that is, you can kinda half-squint your way to an excuse: Superman's concentration is on Zod because he's in the middle of a fight, and he just doesn't realize how much damage he's causing. He's focused on the greater good: stopping Zod.

Unlike this Hardee's ad, where Superman is clearly just fucking around.

Carl's Jr
Carl's Jr
Carl's Jr
"We're all terrified of angering you!"

If Superman's "Gawrsh!" look after causing about $500,000 in damage to a city street doesn't convince you that he's not currently locked in a life-or-death struggle, then just look at literally everything else in the ad: Life is going on like normal. That construction worker not only showed up to work today, but is on his lunch break. Either he has the worst fucking union contract ever, or aliens are not currently trying to genocide the hell out of humanity. Which means Superman is just bouncing around, wrecking shit, because he wants to.

Again, that's the point -- we all know this. It's what people have been bitching about since the day the movie came out. But only one brave marketing intern working at Hardee's dared tell us before the film was even released.

By the way, did you know that Man of Steel set the record for the most promotional tie-ins ever? It's decisions like that that allow IHOP spokesmen to explain that being an IHOP manager is pretty much like being a superhero -- a claim so preposterous, it actually broke the advertisement:

"Does the company take issue with the fact that Superman's boyhood antagonist ends up working for IHOP?"

"Well, I think it signifies a good career choice, personally. If you can't be Superman, you might as well be another superhero."

"What do you mean?"

"IHOP managers go above and beyond."

That "What do you mean?" is the closest Business Insider will ever get to publishing the words "Haha, the fuck did you just say?"

#3. The Hunger Games Subway Ad Warned Us About the Tyranny of Our Corporate Overlords

When Subway developed their new Sriracha chicken sandwich, they knew they needed a marketing campaign that would accent how bold the flavor was. And when they landed a tie-in marketing deal with the new Hunger Games movie -- a film crammed, jam-packed, perhaps even grotesquely swollen with raw, unfiltered boldness -- the message they needed to go for became instantly, inescapably clear. "Of course!" the marketer cried, thrusting his fist in the air with exuberance, "we'll tell everyone that eating our sandwich will get you executed by an oppressive fascist state!"


For those who haven't seen the movie, the character whose "boldness" Subway is comparing to their sandwich flavor is immediately executed by the state. As in literally moments after that shot, they drag him on stage and shoot him in the goddamn face, precisely because of how bold he is. There's no delicate way to put this, so I'll just come out and say it: Subway, your sandwiches aren't that good.

The ad also shows the movie's child protagonists, but that's ... kinda worse. Katniss (so named because she's agile, like a cat) and Peeta (because he makes bread) are "bold" because they're willing to murder the shit out of just a whole bunch of children. Is that what this sandwich will do? It's certainly a more realistic claim for them to make, but still probably not what they were going for.

And that's not the only problem: This entire situation just makes no sense. The Hunger Games is, after all, about an entire subsection of the population being subjugated into extreme poverty, while Subway (and fast food in general) is ... my God, that's it. That's the secret message: We're being Hunger Gamesed by fast food corporations. Not "Hunger Gamesed" in that we're being forced to kill each other to survive, but "Hunger Gamesed" as in what the book is actually about: We're an oppressed class being kept down by people in big, weird outfits, and only Subway dares warn us.

Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images
Behold, the vacant smirk of fascism.

But instead of sacrificing our children to an admittedly superior version of Survivor, we're sacrificing our digestive systems to Subway. Subway is the secret master of America, and we are all its puppets. And the only thing we can do is ... uh, whatever they do at the end of the books, I guess. Probably rebel? That's where it seems like it's going.

And while we're on the subject of dead children ...

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J.F. Sargent

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