Movie posters range from great works of art, like with the designs of Saul Bass or the paintings of Drew Struzan, to hastily thrown together computer approximations of a half-remembered nightmare about John Travolta’s face. Then there is the trend of “character posters,” a series of different images each showcasing a unique cast member from the movie. It’s what helped everyone in the ‘90s keep track of the sprawling, attention-hungry, neon-bathed cast of Batman Forever, for example. 

And we’re still getting character posters today for projects like Dune, The Batman, Black Widow and, most recently, the upcoming The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power series which released a whopping twenty character posters this week. Weirdly, though, they’re all of people’s torsos and hands – either because the show wants to keep things mysterious for the time being, or the photographer was wasted on Hobbit mead. 

While it may seem like a more modern trend, character posters are actually way older than you might think, dating back to the silent era’s "personality posters" which highlighted the stars of a given film. Yeah, before they even cracked sound, studios had figured out how to cram their product down the throats of the moviegoing public. 

United Artists

Rated X for that one shirtless guy in the bottom corner.

And this trend continued into the ‘60s and ‘70s with movies like Grand Prix and Logan’s Run – although with the latter, it was really just for one character, since presumably the studio wasn’t going to miss out on an opportunity to exploit the decade’s booming “here’s Farrah Fawcett smiling on a poster” industry.

United Artists

Pictured: an ad for a movie about mass-murder. 

Although it does seem like some recent character posters haven’t been quite up to snuff – like the Han Solo poster for The Force Awakens; what the hell happened to the right side of Harrison Ford’s face? 

Lucasfilm

Maybe the image simply distorted as the result of Ford exiting the Star Wars franchise as quickly as humanly possible.  

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Top Image: Warner Bros.

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