The Story Behind 6 Iconic Movie Logos


You don’t need a single word of copy to know that the Apple logo is indicative of the famous hardware company founded by Steve Jobs, or that the Golden Arches promise a very particular fast-food dining experience. Occasionally, that kind of silent recognition is present in feature films, where graphic designers have created iconic logos for movies that become synonymous with their titles. Take a look at the stories behind six of Hollywood’s most indelible movie trademarks.



Appearing prominently on posters for three theatrical Ghostbusters films, the stylized, seemingly spooked ghost was actually designed before the 1984 original even had an official title. Designer Michael C. Gross had previously worked in print media before meeting director Ivan Reitman, who invited him to craft an image for his in-development paranormal comedy. The problem, Reitman explained, was that the studio hasn’t yet cleared Ghostbusters from Filmation, which had produced a 1975 kid series called The Ghost Busters—until the legal matter was resolved, the teaser poster would have to stand on its own. Gross took the description of the ghost logo from Dan Aykroyd’s script, which called for it to appear on the team’s car and uniforms, and drafted 30 or so variations before settling on the affable specter with a banned strike running through it.

Everyone loved it. Mostly. Harvey Comics, which published Casper the Friendly Ghost, believed Gross’s sprite looked too much like a supporting Casper character named Fatso and sued Columbia Pictures over it. The two parties settled. Gross was unmoved by the charge. “There are only so many ways you can draw a cartoon ghost,” he said.



Originally seen in the 2000-2002 MTV series, the skull-and-crutches has come to represent the anarchic spirit of Johnny Knoxville and his troupe of stunt comedians. Director Jeff Tremaine had graphic designer and friend Andy Jenkins compose the logo: The two knew each other from the BMX and skateboarding scene of 1980s California.

Oddly, the logo has come to take on an entirely different meaning for the Mexican drug cartel. In 2009, three suspected assassins in Tijuana were detained after authorities noticed bullet holes along the side of their vehicle. Inside were 15 black uniforms adorned with the logo. In 2012, the San Diego Reader reported that the emblem was favored by notorious drug dealer Raydel “El Muletas” Lopez Uriarte to identity his drug shipments and employees.

3. BATMAN (1989)


The comic book movie industry had not yet taken shape when Warner Bros. and director Tim Burton mounted their serious take on the Dark Knight: The last major live-action adaptation of the character had been the campy 1966 ABC series starring Adam West. To help distance themselves from that take, and to capitalize on the recognition Batman had with a mainstream audience, producer Jon Peters decided to enlist the film’s production designer, Anton Furst, to rethink the Bat-logo for teaser posters. Peters, Furst recalled, hated the early posters that looked like generic action movie ads and wanted Furst to “drop everything” else he was doing on the movie to revisit the logo.

Rather than use the bright yellow background of the emblem from the comics, Furst and ad agency B.D. Fox went with a stark gold with clean, sharp lines that was both familiar and different enough to make people walking by the poster do a double take. (Seen in silhouette, the Batwing vehicle in the film mimicked its shape.) The slightly abstract imagery was so successful that it was used throughout the film’s numerous merchandising lines and was reimagined in a snow drift for the 1992 sequel.



Guns, gadgets, women: The 007 logo for the James Bond series makes promises to viewers with three simple numbers. Iconic now, it was originally intended to be used for nothing more than letterhead. Designer Joseph Caroff was commissioned by United Artists to create a Bond image the studio could use to help identify press releases for media members. Caroff decided to use Bond’s agent classification. In drawing it, he realized the “7” could be a piece of a gun and added an outline of a Beretta firearm that he had come across during a visit to the library. Caroff received $300 for the work.



There are multiple dimensions to the theatrical release poster design that helped moviegoers spot this Oscar-winning adaptation of author Thomas Harris’s novel about FBI agent Clarice Starling’s peculiar relationship with unofficial mentor—and serial killer—Hannibal Lecter. The moth depicted in the artwork is real: The death’s head, or doomsday, hawk moth is native to Europe and has what looks to be a skull on its back. But if you look extremely closely, you’ll see that the skull is actually paying homage to Salvador Dalí’s “In Voluptas Mors,” a 1951 photograph depicting seven naked women intertwined.



The silhouette of a T. rex skeleton frozen in time while stalking its prey was courtesy of book jacket designer Chip Kidd, then an assistant for book publisher Alfred A. Knopf. Kidd's design for the original printing of Michael Crichton’s 1990 novel was later placed against a red backdrop and used in promotional materials for the 1993 film adaptation. Kidd said he went to the Museum of Natural History, found a book in the gift shop that featured a T. rex skeleton diagram, reconstituted it for accuracy, and then watched it become synonymous with both the film franchise and dinosaurs as a whole for the next quarter-century.

Kidd recalled that Universal’s marketing department called Knopf requesting permission for his image in case they “might” want to use it for the film’s advertising. Tom Martin, the film’s poster designer, used Kidd’s design, adding typeface and a small jungle landscape at the bottom to help give the dinosaur scale. For the sequel novel, The Lost World, Kidd simply turned the T. rex's face downward.

Pop Chart Lab
A Visual History of Captain America’s Shields
Pop Chart Lab
Pop Chart Lab

Captain America has gone through plenty of wardrobe changes since his comic book debut in 1941, but it’s his iconic shield that has had the most makeovers. Over the past eight decades, fans have seen the shield change its shape, color, and even the material from which it’s crafted. For the folks at Pop Chart Lab, the shield’s storied history provided the perfect subject matter for their latest poster.

On this piece, the company teamed with Marvel to give a rundown of 50 of Cap’s shields—from the instantly recognizable to the downright obscure. Here we see his classic Golden Age shield, with its slightly different color scheme, and the different variations from Jack Kirby’s time-traveling Bicentennial Battles book. Then there are entries like the vibranium shield he received from Black Panther in Captain America #342 and an adamantium one made by Tony Stark.

Those different shields just scratch the surface of the deep cuts Pop Chart Lab provides. There are also shields from Captain Americas across Marvel’s numerous alternate universes, like the ones used by the Ultimate Universe Steve Rogers and the android Cap from Earth-725.

Each shield is illustrated to match its comic book counterpart and comes with a description specifying the series it debuted in and which Earth it exists on (the Marvel Universe has thousands of different versions of Earth, after all).

The posters will begin shipping on May 23, and you can pre-order yours now starting at $29 on the Pop Chart Lab website. You can check out a full look at the poster below.

Pop Chart Lab's Captain America shield poster
Pop Chart Lab
Google Fixes Major Problem in its Cheeseburger and Beer Emojis

A digital slice of cheese that once sat beneath a digital beef patty has now ascended to its proper place in the hamburger emoji hierarchy. Google CEO Sundar Pichai saw to it personally.

"Towards the end of last year it came to my attention that we had a major bug in one of our core products," Pichai said in a keynote speech that opened this year's Google I/O conference for developers. After a pause, he added, "It turns out we got the cheese wrong in our burger emoji." Before and after images of the emoji were shown to an audience of more than 7000 people, bringing a satisfying resolution to an issue that was raised via tweet last October.

Author Thomas Baekdal was the first person to bring this crime against condiments to the public's attention, according to Dezeen. He tweeted, "I think we need to have a discussion about how Google's burger emoji is placing the cheese underneath the burger, while Apple puts it on top."

Pichai responded via tweet that he would "drop everything else" to fix it, and indeed, he kept his word. Google emojis are just one variety in the emoji universe, and they can be found on Android devices, Gmail, Google Hangouts, and ChromeOS.

Google's emoji experts were also tasked with fixing an image of a half-full mug of beer which had an inexplicable gap between the beer and the cloud of foam on top.

"We restored the natural laws of physics, so all is well, we can get back to business," Pichai said. Finally, a proper emoji meal can be had.

[h/t Dezeen]


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