How to Sell Captain America to Non Americans
It’s occasionally interesting to see the movie posters put out for films in different countries, if only to completely over analyze the differences as somehow representing distinct cultural differences instead of being simply outsourced to different ad agencies. But occasionally there are films that make you generally curious about how in the world they can be sold in particular overseas markets. Remember Pearl Harbor? It was a highly successful in Japan, largely because the marketing played up the romance angle and downplayed the other 90% of the film.
Captain America is a bit of a special case though because it’s glaringly specific to a country. How do you sell Captain America to non-Americans? That’s not to say that the studio is compromising their artistic principles to advertise the film in despicable anti-American countries, although that’s the spin being raged at in the sort of Internet message boards that make rational minds bleed. Put it this way: if James Bond had been called Captain Britain, wouldn’t you have been less likely to ever give it a chance? That’s not because you hate Britain (probably).
Speaking of Britain, here’s the generic “international” poster for the Cap. I assume “international” and all the text being in English implies that this is the default for Britain, other English speaking countries, and countries the studio just doesn’t care enough about to do any actual translation:
Now check out the French one:
First, the French clearly like their explosions filled with fire rather than debris. Second, they apparently don’t want the Red Skull dominating the top space. Third, they prefer their women to carry small guns. Fourth, they felt a need to include Robert Downey Jr’s character from Tropic Thunder. Finally, they also greatly increased the emphasis on the subtitle compared to the English versions (although the title is oddly in English here).
Finally, take a look at the Russian one, which is a hilarious contrast. And apologies for the generally bad picture quality, Pajiba’s staff photographer Mugsy Fontana was unavailable as she has been on assignment (read: missing and last seen with Kevin Sorbo) since Comic-Con 2009.
How do you advertise Captain America to Russians on a poster a hundred feet from the Kremlin? You remove every mention of the word “America,” simply refer to the film as “The First Avenger” and wash most of the red, white and blue into black. Also, unlike the other International posters, don’t say that the film is from the same studio as Iron Man and Thor, just say it’s from the same studio as Iron Man and Iron Man 2. Because the studio apparently decided that mentioning something Germanic on the poster is probably as bad as mentioning something American.
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