Men In Black: International – Marketing Recap

You can read my full recap of the marketing campaign for Men In Black: International at The Hollywood Reporter.

Online and Social

The second trailer leads off the content on Sony’s official website for the movie. After you close that the rest of the site’s offerings are lackluster and standard, far below what a movie like this is capable of presenting.

Media and Publicity

An Entertainment Weekly cover story in early January offered the first major publicity push for the movie, including lots of new photos, comments from Thompson, Hemsworth and the rest of the cast and crew and lots more.

Thompson was featured as an up and coming leader in the movie industry. She also appeared just before release on “The Late Show” in an interview that included how young she was when the first movie came out in 1997.

Sony released a video of an informal (but staged) chat with Hemsworth, Thompson and Kumail Nanjiani where they answered random questions sent in by fans. The studio also put out a sizzle reel of footage from the movie’s premiere.

A short promo was released by IMAX to encourage fans to see the movie in that format.

While walking the red carpet Thompson spoke about how she hopes the movie opens up more opportunities for female filmmakers.

Hemsworth’s appearance on “The Tonight Show” was ostensibly about this movie but much of the conversation naturally turned to his role as Thor.

Overall

men in black international gif

Picking Up the Spare

A joint interview with Thompson and Hemsworth focused on the chemistry they’ve built up over the course of a couple movie. 

This is the latest big budget flop to get a postmortem detailing the behind-the-scenes problems, including extensive and unsupervised daily rewrites, that seem to have lead to box office underperformance. 

Thompson was interviewed by Trevor Noah on “The Daily Show.” 

After the movie’s box office fortunes were sealed, the head of Sony came out with comments about weakness in the story that helped seal its fate. 

Creed II – Marketing Recap

creed 2 poster 52015’s Creed was better than it really had any right to be, taking the continued story of Rocky Balboa and providing a fresh perspective by introducing us to Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the son of the late Apollo Creed. Apollo (Carl Weathers), of course was killed in the ring by the Russian propaganda machine Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) in an exhibition bout back in the 80s.

This week’s Creed II hopes to build off that good will and tie this new chapter even more closely to the Rocky legacy. After Adonis, in the first movie, worked so hard to live up to his late father’s name now he faces an even more stark reminder of the past. That comes in the person of Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), the son of the man who killed his father all those years ago. Adonis is called out by Viktor and, with the support of his girlfriend Bianca (Tessa Thompson), sets out to do what he needs to.

The Posters

Adonis stands defiantly and stubbornly on the first poster, a giant Roman numeral II in the background. It’s stark and powerful and does its job, which is tell the audience the character is coming back this Thanksgiving. A second poster put Rocky in the same position. Another set showed Adonis in a moment of angst as he kneels on the canvas and Rocky looking on from the other side of the ropes.

Finally all the characters, including both Dragos, are included on the next poster, each set looking defiantly at their counterpart.

The Trailers

Rocky narrates the opening of the first trailer as we see Adonis dealing with the effects of his fight from the last movie. The older fighter is warning him that the unnamed challenger coming after Adonis is dangerous and not to be taken lightly. That’s not stopping the young man, who’s still driven to live up to the name of his father and so we see him training hard to right the wrong done all those years ago. It’s not until the very end that we see the challenger come into frame, the name “Drago” on the back of his robe.

Adonis is ready for the next challenge in the first full trailer, even if that includes getting in the ring with the son of the man who killed his father. That’s something Rocky wants to discourage him from for personal reasons. The main theme of the trailer, though, is that Adonis is stepping back into the ring to help and and support the people he loves and can only do so because of that love and support.

Online and Social

Not much of interest on the movie’s official website, just the skimpiest of information.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

The first TV spot, released in mid-October, cut the story down to the basic elements by showing how Drago was calling out Creed, who can’t resist rising to it. Promoted Tweets like this were run in the days leading up to release to drive last-minute ticket sales. Online ads used key art and other images of Jordan to drive traffic to the official site so people can buy tickets.

The website didn’t offer much background on any promotional partners, so the only one that popped up was Nke, which launched the “Adonis Creed Collection” of apparel and gear inspired by the movie and character.

Media and Publicity

The press portion of the campaign kicked off in early August with some stills showing Adonis and Rocky back in action.

In mid-August a video was released showing Jordan surprising a super-fan with a special experience. The actor later spoke about how Stallone pushed for there to be a more specific antagonist in the sequel and how one with ties to the Creed character was seen as a natural fit in that role.

Around the time of the second trailer, Caple spoke about how he was encouraged to take on directorial duties for this movie and the advice he got from both Coogler and Stallone.

A featurette had Jordan talking about how this was his first sequel and how everyone involved wanted to make the story more intense and personal, while everyone praised Caple and his directorial efforts. Another connects this story to the first movie, emphasizing the themes of the past coming back to haunt Rocky and Adonis while a third had the cast and crew talking about the evolution of the characters and how the story focuses on family connections and responsibilities.

A series of featurettes was released in the early part of November, each exploring the background of the main characters in the movie. There were videos for Viktor Drago, his father Ivan, Adonis and Bianca.

Thompson showed up on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to talk about the movie a couple weeks before release. At about the same time Lundgren appeared on “The Late Show” in character to have some fun with Russian stereotypes.

An interview with Jordan, Thompson and Caple allowed them to continue talking about how the story focused on the importance of family but also explain how it shows a young professional black couple, something not often seen on screen. Caple was interviewed on his own again, mentioning how he almost passed on the film until Coogler, Stallone and others made him feel comfortable he’d be able to make it his own. He also spoke about the inspirations behind Thompson’s character’s music and performance.

Lundgren was interviewed about how he went about returning to the character after so many years and what went into updating the elder Drago. Jordan and Thompson then spoke about the story and how they enjoyed working together once again, all while Jordan was named GQ’s Man of the Year.

A video for “Shea Butter Baby” from Ari Lennox, one of the news songs on the film’s soundtrack, was released just a few days ago.

Overall

After a bit of a shaky start things really kicked into gear when the cast, as well as Caple, got more fully involved and started speaking about the characters and the story. Their personalities and their passion for the project all started coming through more clearly.

That was an even more powerful message than the connections of the story to the rest of the Rocky history. Those elements were still on display, but allowing Jordan, Thompson and the others to get out there and apply their personalities to the publicity campaign.

Picking Up The Spare

Jordan hit “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and Thompson “The Daily Show” to talk about making the sequel.

Cable Jr. also spoke more about how he and the cast wanted to more than just create a nod to nostalgia for the original Rocky movies.

A Dobly-specific poster was finally released shortly after the movie hit theaters.

Sorry To Bother You – Marketing Recap

sorry to bother you poster 10Rap/hip-hop star Boots Riley makes his feature film writing and directing debut with this week’s new release Sorry To Bother You. Based in part on Riley’s own experience, the movie stars Lakeith Stanfield as Cassius, a young man living in a magical alternate version of Oakland with his girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson). Riley is kind of aimless and has trouble holding down a job, but is a nice guy who works hard.

One day he gets a job at a telemarketing firm and finds the key to success is simply hiding his blackness and pretending to be someone else. Suddenly he’s raking in the cash both from his real job and taking other opportunities that are a little more questionable, all while living a life that is ever-so-slightly exaggerated from reality.

The Posters

A series of brightly-colored posters, one for each character, came out right around the time of SXSW. Each one gave us a look at the character, with the name of the actor above the title, but written like it’s going to offer their character name. So it’s “Tessa Thompson is Sorry to Bother You.” That’s kind of fun and shows the movie’s irreverent and unusual attitude.

 

 

Two more posters came out later, one of which showed Cassius on the phone despite his head being bandaged while the copy emphasized “Destiny is calling.” The other was more of a theatrical one-sheet, showing Cassius from a distance as he leans against a wall while looking at something on his phone. There’s no tagline here, just a couple of positive blurbs from early reviews of the film.

The Trailers

I honestly don’t know what’s going on in the first trailer and I don’t really care. We have Cassius working menial jobs and living with Detroit before finding the keys to success in making himself sound more white on the phone and getting involved with the shady Steve. It’s a trip and a half and looks incredible. This is going to appeal to a lot of people for its whacked out attitude and clear message about what it takes to make it in the world and how much you have to sell out to celebrate.

The second trailer is similarly inscrutable, showing more or less the same level of “wow…what?” as the first, only slightly more outrageous thanks to its red-band designation. There’s so much good stuff here but if you’re looking for realism, this isn’t the place.

Online and Social

For a movie that’s so obviously presenting a heightened version of reality, the official website is pretty ordinary. There’s all the usual material like the trailers and information on the cast and crew, along with some quotes from early reviews of the movie. Up in the corner are links to the film’s Instagram, Twitter and Facebook profiles. One interesting addition is a link to a merchandise store where you can buy some of the fashion and other items featured in the movie.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

I haven’t seen or been able to find any TV spots, which is surprising given the studio is generally giving this a sizable push. There has been some online advertising done using elements pulled from the key art.

Media and Publicity

Almost universally – unsurprising given the creative talent on both sides of the camera – the movie made critics’ “films we need to see” lists in advance of its Sundance Film Festival debut. While the subsequent buzz wasn’t universally positive, it was still well-received and was called out as one of a handful of films at the festival taking a fresh look at masculinity. Hammer spoke while there about the unusual nature of the story and the character he plays. Annapurna Pictures acquired distribution before the festival was over. Riley also was interviewed a bit, talking about how he’s always harbored aspirations of being a filmmaker, what it was like to attend Sundance and more. After that it was also screened at the SXSW Film Festival.

Riley was later announced as the recipient of the Sundance Institute’s Vanguard Award. A feature profile of the freshman filmmaker went through his whole career, the somewhat difficult process of getting the movie made, how he’s had to hustle and scrap to maintain his creative edge and lots more. He, along with members of the cast, spoke more when the movie was screened at BAMcinemafest.

A video profile introduced Riley to those unfamiliar with him and allowed the filmmaker to explain what the movie was about. He and the rest of the cast talked about the experience of filming in Oakland and more in a series of interviews like thisThere were also a few joint interviews with Stanfield and Thompson where they talked about how unusual and interesting the movie was and what attracted them to it.

Overall

If Riley was looking to come out of the gate with a strong first impression, he appears to have succeeded spectacularly. Not only has he made what looks to be a spectacularly original movie, but Annapurna has given it a campaign that is one of the most colorful and eye-catching of the year. Its vibrant personality and skewed sense of humor is front and center, making sure anyone who catches any part of the marketing is going to know exactly what kind of movie it is they can expect should they choose to visit the theater.

PICKING UP THE SPARE

Writer/director Boots Riley ignited a thousand hot takes when he spoke up about the lack of international distribution for his well-received movie, citing a belief by the studio and others that “black” movies still don’t work overseas.

 

There isn’t usually a lot of attention paid to producers, but Nina Yang Bongiovi got a nice profile covering how she has become a force in the indie movie world and helped bring this movie to fruition.

 

The movie has generated a metric ton of stories such as this about code-switching and “white voice.” Annapurna Pictures leaned into that by releasing a featurette with Patton Oswalt and David Cross, who provide some of the white voices used by black characters in the film.

 

Star Lakeith Stanfield has engaged in a bit more media, including appearing on “Kimmel” to promote the movie.

 

Lakeith Stanfield received a substantial profile in The New York Times covering how he’s made a decent career to date by playing off-kilter characters.

 

There’s also been lots more coverage of writer/director Boots Riley, including this feature where he talks tech and this one where he weighs in on the role activism should play in the life of the artist.

Annihilation – Marketing Recap

annihilation posterAfter making quite a splash in the science-fiction world with Ex Machina, writer/director Alex Garland is back with Annihilation. Based on the novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer (the first in a trilogy of books), the story follows Lena (Natalie Portman), a biologist married to Kane (Oscar Isaac). He’s sent on a mission to investigate “The Shimmer,” a massive mysterious zone that’s claiming more and more territory and from which nothing returns.

Or almost nothing. When Kane comes back as the only survivor from his team, Lena is sent in to find out what happened within The Shimmer. Joining her are Josie (Tessa Thompson), Anya (Gina Rodriguez), Cass (Tuva Novotny) and Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Once inside the perimeter, they’re quickly surrounded by a world where the standard laws of nature no longer apply and which is filled with unexpected dangers.

 

The Posters

That there was just one poster created for the movie doesn’t do much to counter the arguments of those who felt Paramount didn’t put its full weight into marketing the release. Natalie Portman’s name appears at the top and she’s the primary figure in the image, more visible through the distortion of The Shimmer than the rest of her team, who are obscured in the background. Copy above the title tells us to “Fear what’s inside” while below the audience is reminded this is coming from the director of Ex Machina.

The Trailers

The first trailer appeared right after an early still was released. We see The Biologist and her team walking across a strange-looking landscape and entering an equally strange forest of some sort. Cut to later on when she’s being debriefed as to what they saw while they were in there. We get some hints that her husband went into the same forest and never came back out, driving her to investigate.

Well that looks awesome. Incredible visuals, great performances. Yeah, it’s a solid first pitch to the audience, with a tone that seems similar to the one used to sell Arrival last year.

As the second trailer opens The Biologist is being questioned by hazmat-suited officials who hope she can describe what she encountered before we flashback to see her saying goodbye to her husband, who’s leaving on some kind of mission. Later on he’s been found but is in bad shape after entering “The Shimmer.” The Biologist decides to lead another team into the phenomenon to find out what’s inside its ever-expanding borders, a mission that’s needed because no drones or other probes are returning any data and The Biologist’s Husband is the only human to return. The encounter all sorts of strange and dangerous creatures and while some see The Shimmer as destruction, others see it as a new form of creation.

There’s a lot more of the story and the character motivations on display here in a trailer that’s just as effective as the first. It retains much of the mystery and doesn’t give too much away, only showing events that cause more questions both for the team in the movie and the audience. Clearly there’s a philosophical lesson being shared here, but it’s wrapped in a mind-bending sci-fi story.

Online and Social

Unfortunately the movie only received the lackluster tickets-centric treatment for an official website. There’s the second “Trailer” and a “Synopsis” where you can get an overview of the story. Neither are linked to from the site but there’s also a Facebook and Twitter account.

On that Twitter account the studio left a series of cryptic clues that, when put together, unlocked a bit of exclusive new footage on ForThoseThatFollow. After viewing that it gave you the option to create your own message that could be shared and decoded by others.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

A short TV commercial introduces us to The Shimmer and the danger it poses. This one’s less about exploration and discovery than it is about danger and thrills, which is understandable. A longer spot lets the story breathe a bit more and hits more of the same mysterious beats as the trailers by focusing on the mutations and creations happening within The Shimmer while also clearly showing that danger lurks around most every corner.

The second trailer was used for paid posts on Twitter after it was released. And in the immediate lead up to release pre-roll and sidebar ads were run on YouTube.

Media and Publicity

Isaac spoke briefly about the movie and how weird he assumed it was going to be during a break in his stage performance schedule. A bit later the first still from the movie showing Portman was released. Portman was later announced as a host for “Saturday Night Live” right around the time of the film’s release, an episode that saw her do a bunch of skits based on the films she’s done over the years.

In early December the movie got a bit of a bloody nose with a story on how a clash between two of its producers stemming from a poor test screening lead to the unusual situation where Paramount is releasing the film in the U.S., Canada and China while Netflix gets it for the rest of the world about two weeks later. The disagreement centers around whether the movie is too “intellectual” to score with mainstream audiences looking for a little more action and zest in their sci-fi. The unique distribution deal, which included Netflix covering a percentage of the production budget, is a hedge by the new regime at Paramount against a flop

A much-discussed featurette offered a bit more information on “The Shimmer” that is so integral to the plot, which is what got people talking. If you look again, though, you’ll also notice that it’s focused solely on the female characters and talks only with the ladies of the cast. So there’s an attempt being made to pivot the publicity for the film to meet the cultural conversation about gender and racial diversity, with much of the cast also being pleasantly inclusive on the latter front.

Just a week before release a mini-scandal emerged when someone called out how both Portman and Leigh are white actors while their characters are both of mixed-ethnicities. Responses from both of them made it clear they weren’t aware of that disconnect and even Garland made comments along those lines, explaining that the race of those characters isn’t addressed in the first book on which the movie is based and that he didn’t know mixed-race descriptions are offered in the second book, which no one has apparently read.

Both Portman and Isaac made the media rounds in the last week prior to release to engage in late-night hijinks, share stories of sexual harassment in Hollywood, offer amusing personal anecdotes and more. There was also a feature interview with three of the main leads – Portman, Thompson and Rodriguez – where they talked about sci-fi that’s female-centric and the bond they formed while filming.

As the clock ran down there were also profiles of Isaac and Rodriguez about how they got involved in the movie and prepared for it, including that Isaac was filming this and the latest Star Wars at the same time, sometimes on the same day. There also an interview with VanderMeer where he talked about the long strange trip his book has taken to the screen.

Overall

Yeah, I kind of see the point people were making that there’s a less than full-throated effort being made by Paramount here. There’s nothing specifically that can be identified as necessarily lacking, but it all seems to add up to less than the sum of its parts. You can see the lack of effort in a website that’s not exactly robust and offers little in the way of entry points into the story as well as the surprisingly low number of trailers and just one poster that doesn’t take the same ensemble approach as much of the rest of the campaign.

If there’s one positive thing to call out it is that the studio made no effort to hide the fact that this is a female-driven story and that the character’s gender isn’t a big focus, like it’s something they have to overcome. Instead it just…is. That’s going to rankle some ignorant sci-fi fans who still believe the genre should be a boys-only club, but that’s reality, idiots. I just wish that had been extended even further into other elements of the campaign.

PICKING UP THE SPARE

This is just one of several similar stories in the last week or so that have asked why the movie received a vote of no confidence from Paramount, which did handle domestic release but gave Netflix international distribution rights. It all seems to boil down to the idea that a non-franchise sci-fi film featuring a largely female cast that made people think was just too much for the studio.

Great points here at Indiewire that if Paramount found the movie was going to be too tough a sell, that’s partly because of a system that emphasizes IP-based movies and other blockbusters. And if audiences are upset by the movie heading (in international markets) quickly to Netflix, it’s partly because they’ve failed to turn out for difficult, complex movies and made studios question their commercial viability.

Her comments about working with Roman Polanski have gotten the most press, but Natalie Portman talks about her current film quite a bit in this Buzzfeed interview as well.

Two new interviews with director Alex Garland where he talks about the movie and its story, one at The Verge and one at Entertainment Weekly.

Thor: Ragnarok – Marketing Recap

2011’s Thor was fun. Less an origin story than a “how he fulfilled his destiny” story, the mix of comic book content and Shakespearean gravitas was pretty enjoyable.

Thor: The Dark World was drastically less fun in 2013, removing the cocky self-confidence that was essential to the character in favor or endless brooding over an incomprehensible story.

And now we have Thor: Ragnarok, the third solo outing for the God of Thunder in addition to his two team appearances in the Avengers films. This time around Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is confronting nothing less than Ragnarok, the death of the gods, at the end of Hela (Cate Blanchett). Finding himself out of commission and largely powerless on a mysterious alien world overseen by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum).

While fighting for his survival he encounters his old friend Hulk/Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and the Asgardian warrior Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson). Together they need to not only get themselves off the planet they’re trapped on but also back to where they can take the fight to Hela and stop her plans. This time around director Taika Waititi is pulling the strings, so let’s see what happens when you let a slightly mad New Zealander control of a superhero film.

The Posters

The first poster is a colorful effort that shows a short-cropped Thor with helmet in hand as he stands in the middle of an arena of onlookers. The swirling debris and bright light at the top are meant to show this is taking place somewhere other than Earth, which is important. A slightly animated motion version of that poster was released later on.

A whole series of character posters put each member of the ensemble on their own, set against a bright and colorful background that’s coming at them like a wave. Everyone from Thor to Odin to Grandmaster to Valkyrie to Hela get their own posters, selling this as a real team movie.

A more comic-book like artistic style was applied to the poster created specifically to promote IMAX screenings. All the characters are here in various action poses, but it’s all run through what appears to be a “comic” effects setting in Photoshop as I’m skeptical this is actual artwork. Another IMAX poster is more traditional, arranging photos of all the major cast around the one-sheet in order of importance. The bright, colorful visuals are all in the background while the major element is the call to action to “Experience it in IMAX.” One more poster singles out the title character, who has lightning shooting from his eyes just like in a scene from the trailer. This one was created specifically for those buying tickets through Fandango.

The Trailers

The first teaser trailer starts off with a “you’re wondering how I got myself in this situation moment” shot of Thor in chains, followed by a quick shot of Hela smashing Thor’s hammer in her hands. That shows the power he’s facing off against and the stakes of the story. She has plans to destroy Asgard and as a result Thor is catapulted through space to a strange alien planet where he’s collected by Valkyrie, who’s working for the Grandmaster. Thor is forced into an arena where he has to fight an opponent that turns out to be the Hulk, who’s decked out in full gladiatorial gear. That leads to the lightest moment of the trailer, where Thor gets all excited that it’s a “friend from work” (a line that was later revealed to be a contribution from a Make-A-Wish recipient on set that day) but it’s clear he’s not going to get off easy.

This is pretty great. It shows the broad strokes of the story, from Thor’s confrontation with Hela to her plans for Ragnarok to the scenes on the alien planet we meet Goldblum’s Grandmaster. As many people pointed out, the shots of Grandmaster and his court contain some of the most blatant Jack Kirby-inspired imagery ever put on film. And that last gag is just great, showing off some of the humor everyone’s been waiting for since it was announced Waititi was going to be in the director’s chair. There’s a great touch to the whole thing, though, that marks it as being more in line with the first Thor movie than the second one.

The second trailer, which debuted at San Diego Comic-Con, doubles down on the idea that this is a buddy comedy featuring Thor and The Hulk. It seems like half the footage in the trailer involves Thor talking to or interacting with either Hulk or Banner. Most of that is to explain they need to stop Hela, the Goddess of Death that is threatening to unleash Ragnorak. So they assemble a team that includes Loki and Valkyrie to take the fight to her. There’s lots of gunplay, sword slinging and more as they seek to save the universe.

It’s fun and funny and got everyone excited, which is exactly what it needed to do. There’s more story shown here, which is nice, but it’s Waititi’s comedic touch that’s really on display. It’s almost as if they’re working extra-hard to move the franchise in a direction 180 degrees the somber, dark dark tone of The Dark World.

Online and Social

It’s not totally surprising that the movie’s official website is somewhat lackluster. Big franchise films like this don’t need to put much effort in on this front. The colorful key art featuring the array of characters graces the front page, which notably includes links to the social profiles for Marvel Studios and not this movie specifically. Despite that, there were Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles that have been in use since the first film was released.

The actual site content menu has prompts to get you to “Watch Trailer,” check out a “Photo Gallery” of stills, read a brief “Synopsis” and find out more information on the movie’s promotional “Partners.” That’s about it.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

The first TV spot, titled “Contender,” aired during the first NFL broadcast of the season. Most of the footage here has already been seen. New, though, is Thor making the pitch to join his team to Valkyrie. When she asks if the team has a name he stammers a bit before saying it’s “The Revengers,” a name Banner doesn’t seem to be totally on board with. So it’s making it clear to the football audience that not only is there a massive Thor/Hulk battle and lots of spaceships and other action but also some offbeat humor.

Further commercials like this one continued using the humor that’s so prevalent in the rest of the campaign, particularly the competition between Hulk and Thor. Some also included Doctor Strange to make it clear the story still connected to the rest of the MCU. Eventually spots like this one took a more traditionally-Marvel approach to sell the action.

The following efforts were undertaken by the movie’s handful of corporate promotional partners:

  • Red Robin offered a free movie ticket when you bought a limited edition movie-branded gift card.
  • Comicave produced high-end collectibles based on the movie and the look of the characters.
  • Synchrony Bank created a movie-themed landing page with “Thor-spiration” videos to help people “save like a hero” and more.
  • Screenvision Media, which made the movie part of its regular pre-show entertainment package.

Media and Publicity

There had obviously been lots of speculation and on-set reports about the movie leading up to this, but San Diego Comic-Con 2016 was the first big splash of official material. That included props on display that hinted at potential ties to the Planet Hulk storyline and was part of Marvel Studios’ Hall H presentation. Those activities also included a fun look at what the cast and characters have been up to in their time off. Marvel later released the short online and on the home video of Captain America: Civil War and it was as great as advertised.

Blanchett spoke briefly from time to time about the role she played as the movie’s villain. After lots of speculation and rumors, Marvel finally confirmed some key plot points, including that Thor would face off against Hulk off-world. Waititi later talked about what attracted him to the project, what he hoped to achieve, the process of working on the movie and more.

The first big official publicity push came with an EW cover story that featured comments from the cast, first-look photos and a glimpse at some of the news characters for the first time. It also notably showed off Thor’s new hairstyle, which got lots of people talking.

This movie was one of those that were highlighted to journalists who attended a behind-the-scenes look and tour at Marvel’s upcoming slate. While promoting other things, Goldblum also talked about his experience shooting Thor, particularly praising Waititi and his approach to getting the most and best out of his actors.

Marvel’s Kevin Feige talked about the movie regularly, including making sure fans knew this one was an essential part of the path toward the coming Infinity War.

There were a few stories about the movie in Entertainment Weekly’s fall movie preview, including first-look stills, comments from Waititi about how he wanted to capture the vibe of old sci-fi movies he loved like Flash Gordon and more.

Just as they’d done with Doctor Strange, Marvel launched a STEM challenge encouraging young girls to create community-improvement projects and submit them, with the five best winning a trip out to the movie’s premiere.

The new characters this movie introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe was the focus of this story, which included comments by Thompson about how lazily female heroes are often written and what set this one apart.

Throughout the summer Waititi talked often about the movie and how he approached shooting such a massive story, including commenting on how his experience on Green Lantern years ago influenced him and how often he put on a motion-capture suit himself to fill in for someone who was unavailable at the moment.

This was just one of a few movies with Elba in a starring role, a trend that lead to him gracing the cover of a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly, with a story that had him talking about this and his other recent releases. Hemsworth and the rest of the cast appeared on various late night talk shows and other media to promote the movie and engage in host-driven antics. The star even talked about how he was kind of bored by the character before Waititi shook things up a bit. Ruffalo hinted in an interview that this could be the first chapter in a bigger Hulk story, though he’s also said Marvel has no current plans for more standalone Hulk movies.

Waititi’s unique personality was the focus of this New York Times profile, which positioned the director as someone who can’t believe his luck and being given so much latitude, including looks at his background, how he got the job and how he managed a casual and creative production.

In the final weeks of the campaign Thompson became more of a central figure as she revealed that, while it’s not directly addressed in the story, Valkyrie is indeed bi-sexual. More than that, the presentation of the character was identified as a great one for inclusion on a number of fronts. That increased spotlight included features like this that reviewed her career to date and talked about how she made the leap from smaller films to a big superhero franchise. There was also one more profile of Goldblum just because.

Hemsworth, Ruffalo, Goldblum and Thompson, as well as Waititi, all did the TV and other media rounds in the couple weeks leading up to release.

Overall

It’s hard to overstate just how fun this whole enterprise is. I really feel like Marvel Studios made the conscious decision to let Waititi have more say in the marketing of the movie than it usually hands over to directors, who are often simply workhorses in service of the corporate machine. Instead it let the filmmaker have a bit of fun with the shorts released before the marketing really ramped up and continue to be the public face of the campaign, bringing his fanbase along for the ride as he conveyed his unique sense of humor and assured them it would be intact here.

That bit of originality and levity was desperately needed for the character, who’s been on the cusp of being not just overly-brooding but also one used only to further the overarching story along. Both The Dark World and his role in Age of Ultron were subject to the needs of setting up what’s next, which did no one any favors. That rescue seems to have come in part by realizing Thor needs a supporting cast that operates on his level, something that was present in The Avengers films but lacking from his solo movies. The campaign has made sure everyone knows this is just as much of a team story.

PICKING UP THE SPARE

Director Taika Waititi continues to be an absolute wonder with this introduction to the film that’s part of the push for its home video release.
It’s not *exactly* the version of the character played by Tessa Thompson in the movie, but the take on Valkyrie was popular enough that a new version of the Asgardian warrior who looks a lot like her film incarnation is joining a new “Exiles” series from Marvel.