Remember at the beginning of a mighty Marvel movie that classic comic book flipbook logo and how it made your spider-sense tingle?
And courtesy of J.J. Abrams who has a flare for the dramatic the iconic Lucasfilm logo is now restored; it’s no longer a menacing disturbance in the force: Star Wars has returned.
In 1977 LucasFilm practically invented logo cheer with Star Wars. By 2008 Marvel Studios immediately and successfully established logo cheer with Iron Man; managing to keep the positive sentiment flowing through 16 plus movies despite some occasional faulty offerings (i.e. Thor: The Dark World).
Third time’s the charm right? One more crucial production company logo before the movie properly starts. You’ve seen it but can you recall it with the same warm-fuzzy-nostalgia as you do the Marvel and Lucasfilm silver screen logos?
On August 5, 2016 when Suicide Squad opened to Waterworld-like disdain it introduced a new DC logo.
Simultaneously that logo debuted on DC comics to coincide with Rebirth and in a way that’s what Suicide Squad was supposed to be…a cinematic rebirth following the regrettable Man of Steel and the forgettable Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Unfortunately for this rebirth Warner Bros. decided to skip the midwife and deliver this baby at home. In a WebMD world what’s the worst that could happen right?
Suicide Squad failed to generate any positive logo sentiment. Recall how eerily quiet it was when the movie commenced? The DC Films logo was quickly becoming kryptonite and not earning any of the cheers, hollars, imaginary bust a cap up in here-free love that the Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm logos comfortably garner. (Does anybody cheer the Warner Bros. logo?) Thus it was up to Wonder Woman to save the day and the DC Films logo.
DC Films came back strong with Wonder Woman who lassoed a new animated style logo featuring the popular cast of characters known as the Justice League. So far that fresh production logo is tied to a well received movie; so finally for DC…it’s begun.
For it’s first 3 movies DC Films stumbled; there was no justice and certainly no united league of movie goers. In Hitch Will Smith promised: “But what I can tell you, is that it happens in the blink of an eye. One moment, you’re enjoying your life. And the next, you’re wondering how you ever lived without them. Three dates is all I need. Three dates, and I’ll get you here, to the high-stakes medal round…”
So with Justice League set to open on November 17 can DC Films successfully build on Wonder Woman’s affirmative feelings to begin generating DC Films logo cheer to get fans (and critics and civilians) to the high stakes medal round?
Justice League will be followed by Aquaman on December 21, 2018; Shazam! on April 5, 2019; Wonder Woman 2 on December 13, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020. Plus sorta kinda maybe Flashpoint the newly renamed Flash movie, Joss Whedon’s Batgirl, Ben Affleck’s The Batman, Suicide Squad 2 and if you’re feeling as optimistic as a Las Vegas gambler a Justice League Dark movie.
Over the next 3 to 5 years the release dates and titles will change; what won’t change is the marketing. Each movie will be preceded by the DC Films logo and of course many trailers.
Logo cheer is imperative: it’s the cinematic version of rubbing your hands with eager glee.
Characters, directors, style, tone all will change movie to movie; sequel to sequel but the production company logo opening each movie will always be present in some incarnation. With all these dynamic changes the production logo is the faithful North Star.
Marvel Studios is on it’s third logo incarnation (the flip book is the second logo; currently there’s dramatic music as the camera zips through Marvel’s letters like a suburban go cart track). When the Marvel Studios logo appears…even if people are just watching a trailer in front of a non-Marvel movie they cheer! That logo has become synonymous with infectious fun.
The Lucasfilm logo creates anticipation and engages expectations. It’s the same visual cue as when the lights go down in a movie theatre or at a concert.
Equally important and impressive is Marvel Studios consistently scoring logo cheer from civilians. Logo cheer is an uncommon yet valuable metric to measure success…when you have civilians excited and celebrating your logo you can expect to earn profitable box office returns. A strong and healthy box office cannot happen if Marvel Studio is only appealing to its fans and nerds. Sadly DC Films still has to earn logo cheer from nerds; that’s not good which means it has an even longer path to building warm box office allure with civilians.
Marvel movies succeed in part because of 3 significant touchstone points consistent across all their cinematic offerings: the opening studio logo which fosters excited cheers. The Stan Lee cameo in the middle-ish which typically prompts laughs. And lastly the stinger…the post-credits scene that either confuses moviegoers (who is the purple bad guy?) or creates cliffhanger like suspense (until next time…). Beginning, middle and end Marvel Studios has it covered.
Wonder Woman was a decent start however starting on November 17 we’ll see if Justice League along with the solo movies can continue connecting favourable emotions to the DC Films logo. Like every great story it all starts at…the beginning.
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.