We have seen a lot of superhero movies find great success in the theaters. The Green Lantern looks to be another in that line opening in the number one slot with over fifty million in ticket sales the first weekend alone. We won’t comment on the quality of the movie or the lack thereof; we are here to talk about the character design, logo designs, and marketing.
The Green Lantern was a little over-hyped; advertisements and marketing for the film seemed to be ubiquitous, especially in the week immediately preceding the premiere. Once the movie opened, we assumed the marketing onslaught was over, when in fact it was only beginning. The movie has what must be a record number of product placements.
First, there is LG, which is the film’s “partner” and the main sponsor of the “green carpet” premiere. Then there is Verizon, which is shown in so many contexts throughout the movie that it starts to get a little ridiculous. However, the most gratuitous product placement is that of Hot Wheels. That’s right: the little metal cars are one of the main stars of the movie. In one scene, the Green Lantern turns a helicopter in a Hot Wheels car that moves down a Hot Wheels track. If it seems gratuitous, well, it feels that way as well.
What else feels gratuitous? Let’s start with the fact that every car in the movie seems to bear a Chrysler Daimler logo. The Dodge Challenger is a great choice, but it would be better if we weren’t already aware of the fact that the carmaker is a major sponsor of the film.
Subway is another sponsor that just doesn’t feel right. But it is not the last. Apple, Puma, Ray-Ban, and every beer maker we can think of offhand have paid to have their products featured in this movie. Apple denies paying for placements, but this movie makes that assertion downright ridiculous. Dell is another major sponsor, pitting the Mac and the PC against each other on the big screen.
Product placement is not evil; in fact, it is a great way for manufacturers to get exposure for their logos while movies get a little extra cash as well. However, it seems to be getting a little gratuitous, especially in superhero movies. First, these movies always make plenty of money, so there is no reason to ruin the quality of the work with endless and at times nonsensical logos. Second, the logos really do get in the way of the plot movement, especially in scenes such as the Hot Wheels one, where the scene was obviously written just for the placement. Last, we like a little integrity in our art. If the Dodge is truly the perfect choice in the vehicle (and this cool, retro car just might be!), then why not choose it and then go after the endorsement fees. The Green Lantern was not entirely bad, but it felt like a 100+ minute commercial. A great commercial, but a commercial still.