6 Superhero Movies With Baffling Tie-In Products
It shouldn't be hard to make tie-in products for a superhero movie. Pump out a bunch of action figures and collectibles, write some prequel comic books, maybe team up with KFC to sell a Magneto Munchie Combo -- it's not rocket science. But every now and then, someone tries to get creative, and the results are so bizarre that they make you want to skip the movie out of spite.
Wonder Woman Diet Bars Did Not Go Over Well
Wonder Woman broke bold new ground by doing the seemingly impossible: making a DC movie that isn't illegal to show to prisoners. Oh, and it made a ton of money while giving us a female lead and director for a superhero movie, proving that there's a viable market for women-driven action films when they don't just ask some schmuck to crap out a Catwoman. Naturally, all sorts of products were released to capitalize on the phenomenon, like, uh ... oh no.
Yes, Wonder Woman became the new face of thinkThin protein bars. Because that's her superpower, right? She's Wonder Woman because she's miraculously always ready for bikini season?
There's nothing inherently wrong with Wonder Woman's face being slapped on products that are considered feminine -- no one complained that she graced lipstick, lady razors, and froyo. But with thinkThin, the message became: "Wonder Woman is a celebration of the power of women in a male-dominated world! But no fat chicks." In contrast, Batman and Superman appeared on the cover of Muscle & Fitness, which promised to share the workout the stars used to get ripped for their movie. Getting superhero-style muscles is a male fantasy ... and having every woman constantly worry about staying thin is also a male fantasy. The male equivalent to this would be putting the Hulk's face on a brand of herbal supplements designed to fight premature ejaculation.
Not only was it a bad message, it was a contradictory and impossible one, since Wonder Woman also found herself on Dr. Pepper cans. Go guzzle down a delicious can of sugar to celebrate womanhood, ladies! Just remember to buy branded diet bars to help you shed that soda weight immediately afterwards, because society doesn't want strong, independent women who are also a little chubby!
Smell Like The Hulk
Fellas, you want to smell like the Avengers with official Marvel cologne, right? Never mind the fact that Tony Stark probably reeks of booze and despair, while the Hulk perpetually smells like a rancid dumpster doused in testicle sweat. We're sure they classed things up for their official scents. And indeed, nothing says class like "SMASH," a cologne that encourages you to, uh, "be angry."
Think about the kinds of places where a man would wear cologne. A wedding, a date, maybe a big job interview, or, based on the box, a junior high dance. None of those are situations in which you should be angry. If you're getting angry on a date, the next cologne you wear should be "seek counseling" or "agree that a peaceful separation is the healthiest move for both of you." But maybe that was simply a weird, one-off miscalculation. Surely the other Avengers got better slogans?
So this cologne is "your attack plan" for a date. You know, because dates are battles in which you must triumph. And if you don't, well ... you could always get angry.
Turkish Air: The Official Airline Of Lex Luthor
Batman v Superman v. Testing Your Resistance To Just Doing Chores On Sunday Afternoon went with an all-out marketing blitz to trick innocent people into seeing it, and the most baffling ploy in their bag of riddles came via a partnership with Turkish Air. The airline helped make two promotional videos about how they now fly to Metropolis and Gotham City, because nothing says "exotic new vacation destination" like cities that are routinely ravaged by criminals and alien supervillains. Finally, the "airline that flies to more countries than any other" is pretend-flying to two crime-ridden American hellholes! Cancel that Italian Rivera getaway and pack your imaginary bags!
The Gotham City promotion promises "a city that's risen above its past" while accidentally ominous music plays. It comes across like a video that would play in the movie as a plane crashed into Gotham City's jail as part of a plot to help all the murderers escape. "Discover why Gotham City is great again," a slogan that's already aged terribly tells us. Viewers are encouraged to check out the opera house (haha, get it?!), and then we see Bruce Batfleck Wayne sitting on a plane and clearly refusing to do more than one take of his line. The Metropolis ad is somehow even worse.
When a movie villain tells you that it's a great idea to come visit their city, do not take them up on the offer. You're only tempting fate. Even if you knew nothing about Superman lore, Jesse Eisenberg sitting on a plane and saying "We can't wait to welcome you" while fiddling with a toy and molesting the camera with his creep eyes should give you pause. If we can't tolerate a minute of hearing about Metropolis in an ad, why would we spend money to watch an entire movie about it?
We're not sure what Turkish Airlines got out of this deal, because we doubt that anyone left that two-and-a-half-hour slog and said to themselves, "Wow, what a movie! I can't wait to go home and book a flight to Ankara!" And since the promotional videos were short, efficient, and made use of a full color palette, they didn't prepare a single person for the experience that was awaiting them in theaters.
Here Are The Official Watchmen Blue Condoms And Coffee
Remember the sex scene in Watchmen, wherein a couple of past-their-prime superheroes desperately reconnect after a night of beating the shit out of some bad guys in an emotionally complicated attempt to briefly recapture their glory days which deep down they know are forever gone? Well, now you too can have that experience, and then cry about it in the shower afterwards!
Those condoms were handed out at conventions to promote the movie's Blu-ray release. They're blue, like Dr. Manhattan! You know, the superhuman character who has a purposely off-putting sex scene that terrifies his lover because of how cold and strange he is, then eventually tires of human contact and leaves Earth forever. What could get you in the mood better than existentialism, alienation, and the slow but steady decay of all meaningful relationships? And when you're done having sex with your partner and questioning your entire connection to them, you can unwind with a nice cup of Nite Owl Dark Roast coffee.
"Making an imaginary coffee into something real seemed like a fitting and fun way to honor the multilayered world of Watchmen," said someone involved in the product, before shedding their human skin and revealing themselves to be an alien that feeds on awkward marketing copy. Because if there's one word that's commonly used to describe Zack Snyder's Gloomy Slo-Mo Violence Glorification And Remedial Philosophy 101 Rain-a-Thon it's "fun." Get in on the supposed fun by dropping 20 bucks on a ten-ounce can of coffee that's probably nothing but Nabob with the price jacked up! Hey, real quick, remind us which Watchmen character profited the most from unchecked capitalism? It was the villain, right?
The Avengers Team Up With A Defense Contractor
Superhero movies have to strike a balance between giving us heroes who condemn violence and showing us a bunch of cool consequence-free violence that was the whole reason we bought a ticket. This is usually accomplished by having Captain America say something about how conflict is bad and showing us a quick shot of panicked civilians before the good guys blow up hundreds of aliens, robots, Nazis, or the dreaded alien robot Nazis. The only way to truly mess this up would be to have the Avengers, say, suddenly kill dozens of civilians while raiding a Nepalese village and then writing it off as a forgettable casualty of the War on Terror ... which is basically what happened when Marvel teamed up with Northrop Grumman.
They're a $23 billion company that manufactures highly advanced military equipment, fighters and bombers, and drones. So maybe it seemed natural for them to join forces with the Avengers, since they're the fictional world's most technologically advanced paramilitary force. There's just one problem: Only one of these two entities came in sixth on USA Today's list "10 companies profiting the most from war."
Solving America's complicated relationship with the military-industrial complex is beyond the scope of this article, but Northrop Grumman's products are used on very real human beings in very adult conflicts, while Marvel heroes fight goofy made-up monsters to entertain children. There's also the fact that, as angry fans were quick to point out, Iron Man sees Tony Stark become horrified by the weapons Stark Industries sells and then pivot the company to make ... shit, what does Stark sell now? Smartphones? Whatever, the point is that the very first movie in the Marvel Universe is about Stark making a conscious decision to stop running a company that was exactly like Northrop Grumman.
The details of the proposed marketing campaign were mostly lost when Marvel dropped the deal like a hot potato that could murder kids if employed based on the faulty intelligence of another hot potato, but we do know that there was going to be a comic wherein the Avengers would team up with the "Northrop Grumman Elite Nexus." Get it? The tagline was "Start Your N.G.E.N.s," and that alone should constitute a war crime. There also would've been recruitment ads.
Wait, why is Vision in one of those ads? Is ... is Northrop Grumman bringing an artificial intelligence to life with the use of a magical space stone, then giving it weapons? Clearly, no one there watched Iron Man, but someone please make them watch Age Of Ultron before it's too late.
General Hospital Staged An Entire Scene Around The Avengers
And now, let's take a moment to pretend to be your grandma and watch a General Hospital clip:
Can't watch it, or aren't in the mood to age several decades? Don't worry, we'll break it down for you while we eat this ribbon candy. The show's token nerdy dude is in the middle of analyzing whatever dumb plotline is currently ongoing when he asks himself "WWTAD?" Then he explains his acronym to himself as he stands alone in the dark: "What would the Avengers do?" They also unsubtly pan to the movie poster, although to be fair, they're probably doing that partially so septuagenarian viewers don't get confused about which Avengers they're talking about.
So what would the Avengers do? Well, we're told that Captain America would pursue justice no matter where it leads, as the camera pans around to reveal that our hero is soliloquizing it up in the middle of a pocket dimension made mostly of posters.
Then a Hot Doctor shows up with a kid, because they're there for a super special advanced screening! "The Avengers rock!" declares the child, who's far too young to understand that he's sold his soul. Then the trio talk about the Avengers for a bit. Which one is the coolest? They debate, and arrive at a twist conclusion: They all are. Did you know that "Iron Man is the genius billionaire playboy, he gets to wear that really cool high-tech suit, fly around, save the world, and when he's not doing that he's going to the coolest parties and exotic locales"? General Hospital was one cut line of dialogue away from telling everyone Tony Stark's blood type.
The Nerd then accuses Hot Doctor's brother of committing a murder but forgetting it because he blacked out, a situation he argues is plausible by citing Bruce Banner. This segues into a serious conversation about the crime. Go see The Avengers, the perfect movie for hashing out your inner demons and dark secrets while waiting around in the lobby! Then, after that Real Talk, it's time to attend the screening so advanced that there are like five people there. Way to make the movie look popular, General Hospital!
Mr. Nerd hangs around outside for a bit and realizes that, gasp, Hot Doctor's brother might not be the murderer ... it could be an amnesiac Hot Doctor himself! He announces this to the movie poster, his only apparent friend. Then we cut to after the film, when Nerd tells Hot Doctor that he really enjoyed the movie, plans to see it a second time, and that he's been "inspired by the Avenger's good example to right a great wrong." Presumably if he hadn't seen The Avengers, he would have let the murder go unsolved. This nearly seven-minute scene didn't sell a single additional movie ticket, but it did ensure that a few disappointed grandchildren got a PlayStation 2 Batman game for Christmas.
Mark is on Twitter and, thanks to a promotional deal with Marvel, has a book.
On the off chance you don't have enough time to spend on all the Marvel movies, here's a handy Marvel Encyclopedia to keep you on track.
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For more check out The 6 Most Insanely Depressing Examples of Movie Merchandise and 6 Movie Marketing Tie-Ins That Hilariously Missed The Point.
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