I am available for freelance work - HIRE ME

30 Incredible Epic Movie Posters & Related Trends

posted by Matt Ward on Mar 11, 2010.

There have been a lot of really great epic movies released over the past 10 years (or to be released soon), and a lot of really great posters! In this post, we will look at a collection of 30 excellent epic movie posters and examine some of he trends that exist between them.

There’s no doubt that movies are big business these days – really big business. For the most part, I like watching them a whole lot more than I like watching the bulk of what’s on TV. I wouldn’t say that I’ve seen a lot of movies – not compared to some people that I know – but when I do sit down to watch a film, or go to the theater, there is no doubt that my favorite genre has to be the epic/fantasy.

In this post, I have collected 30 awesome movie posters from the contemporary era of film making (I don’t think any of these were released prior to 2000). There’s some pretty nice eye candy to be found below, but instead of just providing you with some awesome, epic posters to look at, I would also like to consider some of the design trends that we see recurring throughout this collection.

The Lord of the Rings

Okay, what would an article about epic posters be without paying homage to Peter Jackson’s epic The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was totally awesome and had some really great poster designs? It’s also a great place to start because these feature some of the key trends that I want to look at – the ensemble design and the monochromatic design, both of which I’ll discuss more below.

For now, let’s just admire the realization of Tolkien’s epic vision.

The Fellowship of the Ring

The Fellowship of the Ring

The Two Towers

The Two Towers

Return of the King

Return of the King

The Ensemble

The ensemble technique is immensely popular in epic movie posters, especially in films with large casts or a wide range of important characters. Often, the main character will be featured at the center, or as the largest figure, with other characters surrounding them according to varying degrees of importance. Other times, as in the King Arthur poster, the design simply features that which will capture the greatest attention – namely the lovely Guinevere (Kiera Knightly)

Eragon

Eragon

Transformers

Transformers

The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass

Stardust

Stardust

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

King Arthur

King Arthur

One of the great advantages of the ensemble (and you will see more examples below), is the ability to showcase multiple aspects of the film through the various characters. In cases of a star studded cast (see Alexander), it also provides an opportunity to showcase all of the well known actors who might help draw an audience (Colin Ferrell, Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer and Anthony Hopkins).

Monochromatic Colours

Another really common technique in epic movie posters is to work the design so that it maintains a mostly monochromatic feel. We saw that in the Lord of the Rings posters, which all had somewhat subdued earth tones. You can also see it, in varying ways, in each of the following posters.

Pathfinder

Pathfinder

Avatar

Avatar

The Scorpion King

The Scorpion King

The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight

Beowulf

Beowulf

The Matrix

The Matrix

The blue in the Avatar poster, obviously matches the colour of the Na’vi, and is the primary colour of the film. The same is true of the The Matrix, which has a sort of dark, blueish tinge to it. The beige colour of The Scorpion King is also used in the posters for the related Mummy films, and connotes the sandy characteristics of the film’s principal setting.

All in all, the monochromatic effect is used primarily to establish the tone of the film in some way, whether that be for the prevailing colour of the film itself, or simply a technique to set the desired emotional tone.

The Ancient Texture

The ancient texture effect is a useful technique for epics in the truest sense of the word – and which have their roots in the ancient world. This technique basically uses some extra texture, superimposed over the rest of the poster design in order to give it that ancient, weathered look. The poster for Troy is an excellent example, both in terms of the strong use of texture, and the fact that the film is based on the Homer’s epic, The Illiad.

Troy

Troy

Alexander

Alexander

Kingdom of Heaven

Kingdom of Heaven

Gladiator

Gladiator

Often, this technique is also a subset of the monochromatic effect. As you can see from the four examples above, they all have a beige/brown tone to them, with very little in the way of additional colour. Again, this helps to establish a sense of age and history.

The Solitary Hero

In direct opposition to the ensemble is the technique of the solitary hero. Like the ensemble, this is less of an effect a more of a compositional decision, which places the attention squarely on the film’s central character. This works particularly well for these kinds of films, because it puts the emphasis squarely onto the most important part of any epic – the main hero. There is just something incredibly awesome about seeing the character all on his (or her) own.

Prince of Persia

Prince of Persia

10,000 BC

10,000 BC

Underworld

Underworld

300

300

Clash of the Titans

Clash of the Titans

Robin Hood

Robin Hood

Spiderman 3

Spiderman 3

Often, you will find the solitary hero technique used on alternate posters, which will often appear in a series of posters, each featuring a different character. The Beowulf poster is an example of this. The Robin Hood poster, however, appears to be the main promotional image, as does the Prince of Persia poster.

Lighting Effects

This is probably the least specific of the trends we’re looking at, but it is also very common to see epic movie posters that incorporate some sort of dramatic lighting effect. There can be any number of reasons for this. On the Prince Caspian poster, the lighting effect seems to shimmer off the sword in an almost magical manner. In the Iron Man poster, the lighting effect emanates from the suit itself. The Spiderwick Chronicles poster uses light to cast an eerie glow and the Inkheart poster uses it as a narrative technique, indicating that much of the story actually comes out of the book.

Prince Caspian

Prince Caspian

Iron Man

Iron Man

The Spiderwick Chronicles

The Spiderwick Chronicles

Inkheart

Inkheart

Ultimately, the lighting effect can be used in a number of different ways, but what it generally does best is to just add a real sense of energy to the poster, whether that energy be literal, atmospheric or magical!

That’s a Wrap!

So there you have it, 30 awesome movie posters from the last 10 years (or so) of epic film making, and 5 interesting trends that we can see emerge from this collection. Of course, there are probably many other films that I could have included, but these are some of my favorites – either in terms of the poster design or the film itself (I haven’t seen all of them – yet). And you’ll have to forgive me for including all three Lord of the Rings posters. I’m a real fan.

So, what do you guys think? Did I miss your favorite epic movie poster? If so feel free to leave a comment and let us all know what it is! Also, do you see any other trends emerging from these posters? If so, please share! I’d love to hear all your views and insights

Post A Comment

Also from Echo Enduring Media:

An Unfolding Tale

About the Author

Matt Ward is a digital artist who lances freely under the moniker of Echo Enduring Media, and specializes in graphics design, illustration and writing. He is also the Creative Director for Highland Marketing, a creative direct marketing company based out of Waterloo, Ontario. You can follow Matt on Twitter

Like this post? Help Promote it!

Comments

Mar 11, 2010

Peach says:

Nice read. I never see a similarity of each epic movies posters until I read your post. Very interesting.

Mar 12, 2010

Sean says:

I love the Matrix poster.

Mar 12, 2010

starr says:

Great collection. Dark Knight poster is superb

Mar 15, 2010

Alexander Vassbotn Røyne says:

Where is the Star Wars (IV, V and VI) posters?

Mar 15, 2010

Matt Ward says:

Great posters, for sure! I was only including those from the past 10 years or so, though!

Mar 16, 2010

Callum Chapman says:

Great post Matt! I love almost every poster there, some great films, too! Promoted in every way possible! ;)

Mar 16, 2010

Sneh Roy says:

You gotta love LOTR posters, my fav! :) and of course The Matrix .. such a classic!

Mar 16, 2010

lono says:

great collection, i love the dark knight ones.

Mar 16, 2010

Ronel says:

nice post …

I enjoyed viewing all of those ,,

Thanks !

Mar 16, 2010

Ish says:

Great stuff. The matrix has a blue tinge?? Wasn’t it green?

Mar 16, 2010

Kissie says:

Wow! That Robin Hood is great – I look forward to seeing it!!!

Apr 3, 2010

Kenny X says:

You should definetly include The Chronicles of Riddick poster, now that is a sweet poster.

Jul 9, 2010

Aidan Bailey says:

Anthony Hopkins is one of the veteran actors in Hollywood that should be given a lifetime acheivement award.:*’

Oct 4, 2010

bijuterii argint says:

great movies and posters. I would remember Gladiator, 300, Alexander, Troy, Kingdom of Heaven, Matrix. And you gave me some ideeas of movies to watch

Oct 14, 2010

bijuterii says:

I love almost every poster there, great collection!

Oct 14, 2010

Gyaruson says:

Have you noticed the blue/orange contrast that most American movie posters seem to posses? I mean, look at Transformers, Golden Compass, Narnia, Stardust, Avatar, Inkheart, and Spiderwick. They all have the blue/orange contrast in the posters. It’s not just those franchises either. Just keep a watchful eye and you’ll start seeing it everywhere.

I just want to know what focus group decided that blue and orange are the staple for any movie poster nowadays.

Nov 16, 2010

Bijuterii says:

Fantastic movies, and the posters to.

Nov 25, 2010

mohith says:

the whole collection is nice…..but harry potter is missing…..some of hp posters are really good….

Dec 15, 2010

monik says:

Yes! Where is Harry Potter?

Jan 18, 2011

base godszx says:

yo these are really great poster i like the collage in the Alexander poster

Jan 29, 2011

suhas bhargava says:

really nice work dude….all are epic movies specially lord of the rings, troy, dark knight and all…really nice stuff

Feb 8, 2011

bryce says:

where is tron

Feb 16, 2011

maidhen says:

great collections!!!

Mar 11, 2011

Alex says:

Kingdom of Heaven is a great movie. This is a great list of movies. You must see all of them

Jul 21, 2011

argint says:

Where is harry potter?

Aug 22, 2011

sunday agbi says:

Nice posters and collections. where is Spartacus series

Sep 12, 2011

JIEM31 says:

I think that Harry Potter is ought to be included here. I’m a real fan of LOTR, Harry Potter, and Prince of Persia – I like it when computer games are seen on big screens. I hope that Alice: Madness Returns would also be made into a film. Seems too cool.

Sep 16, 2011

adina says:

Nice collections. I would remember Kingdom of Heaven, Matrix. Dark Knight poster is the best!

Feb 29, 2012

Ionita Victor says:

Lord of the rings is my opinion one of the best movie ever, followed by Matrix and 300. And the best poster has to be that one from LOTR return of the king.

Sep 24, 2012

laavanya says:

great list…thanks..:)

Leave a Comment

Copyright © Echo Enduring Media 2009-2014