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Phill Alexander - The Dark Knight document design presentation
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Phill Alexander - The Dark Knight document design presentation


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  • 1. Phill Alexander
  • 2.
    • I have to apologize for this feeling a little like a commercial since the movie opens tomorrow, but I’ve been fascinated by the last several months of Dark Knight viral marketing.
    • Let’s start with the two earliest movie posters
  • 3.  
  • 4. Batman’s poster is clean. It’s dark, but the colors are cool blues and blacks. If we apply the color associations from page 175 of Horton, we get many of the responses one would map to Batman: cold, calm, truth, precision, grief, gloom, despair, dignity, solemnity, negation It’s sophisticated, and it rings true to the character. Batman is also looking away, into the image(the city) and not at the audience.
  • 5. The Joker’s poster is abstract. It’s also dark, but it’s “gritty,” with jagged, harsh brushstrokes for the eyes and lips/bat logo against the white painted, chipping brick wall. The only clean line are the type elements. Again, if we apply the color associations from page 175 of Horton , the qualities of red that work well with the Joker character include: aggression, impulsiveness, extroversion, crudeness, danger. Though it isn’t really the Joker’s face, the eyes are staring at the audience.
  • 6. This poster, from the Joker’s viral website, represents the Joker’s “style” of presenting things. Notice that the poster is made of chopped up playing cards as well as a chopped up headshot of Batman. The Joker’s X-acto knife appears on the image as well, along with red which the audience might assume is blood. The motif here– the cutting, the red, the pasting and the scribbled handwriting added, will be important to the next slide(s).
  • 7.
    • As part of the major Dark Knight marketing push, Warner Brothers posted a website called The Gotham Times .
    • It mimics a typical newspaper, detailing events from the Batman universe.
    • The site is interesting in its own right (but sadly– it’s not “really” there anymore  )
  • 8.  
  • 9.
    • The initial issue(s) of The Gotham Times contained links that would kick the reader to a secondary site: the HaHaHa Times.
    • The HaHaHa Times is a “Jokerized” version of the paper.
  • 10. Notice how the Gotham Times has been remixed/remade in the Joker’s style. It’s funny, but also a bit disturbing. Most importantly, though, the Joker’s style as applied here violates the uniform, neat, utility Newspaper layout.
  • 11.
    • I’d argue it matters because viral marketing is interesting in-and-of itself. It’s worth study.
    • From a design standpoint, however (which is what we’re talking about here), three things emerge:
      • Designs like this require almost twice the work, as the original AND the copy must be designed in concert
      • The use of elegant, muted, clean imagery for Batman (or “normal”) imagery and the use of jagged, more colorful, chaotic design for the Joker creates an obvious contrast
      • The “Jokerized” versions of almost every text movie related (from trailers to websites) is powerful branding for the film
  • 12.
    • The Joker “hacked” the main site for the Dark Knight movie this week
  • 13.  
  • 14.
    • Images from the family of websites, though they change daily.
    • View all three editions of The HaHaHa Times at
    • I also mentioned one of our readings for today: “Color in Icons” by Horton, available on Angel, but you so should have read it already!