Comic books are a visual medium, so what better way to catch readers’ attention but put a picture that is familiar on the cover. Like other comic publishers, Marvel has done a fair share of covers that pay homage to the movie industry. The following covers take familiar or popular movie posters and replace real-life actors with characters from the comic universe.
While more of a current trend in the industry, Marvel Comics has been using this concept since the late 70s. Also, unlike other publishers, Marvel seems to do a great job of not only referencing a movie on the cover but also including an easter egg reference in the inside story, which adds a bonus for readers.
10 Pulp Fiction/The Incredible Hulk #441
In 1996, the cover of the Incredible Hulk not only pays homage to the movie poster to Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 movie Pulp Fiction with its cover but also includes a parody of the dance scene from the movie. On the cover, She-Hulk, drawn by Angel Medina, replaces Uma Thurman’s Mia Wallace as she lays on the bed, eating a celery stalk instead of smoking.
The issue, aptly entitled “Hulk Fiction,” is full of movie callbacks as Betty Banner writes a memoir about her relationship with Bruce Banner/The Hulk. As she continues to try and write, she includes and then deletes a scene between her and Bruce as if the two were Mia Wallace and Vincent Vega (John Travolta) competing on the dance floor in the movie.
9 Star Wars/Spidey Super Stories #31
This issue of Spidey Super Stories, the series which tied into the wall-crawler’s appearances on the TV show, Electric Company hit stands in November of 1977. This issue is most likely one of the first comic books to pay homage or parody the sci-fi franchise, which had just been released a few months before the issue was released.
The cover shows Spidey wielding a lightsaber-like weapon as Moon Dragon lays at his feet as Doctor Doom’s face hovers above. Inside the cover, the similarities with Star Wars continue as the story culminates is Spider-Man and Doctor Doom squaring off in a lightsaber-like duel. This issue is a fun read for both Spidey and Star Wars fans alike, looking back at issue as a whole.
8 Terminator/New X-Men #141
The X-Men’s Bishop channels his inner Terminator for the cover of New X-Men #141, on this Terminator, inspired piece of artwork. This issue from Grant Morrison’s run on Marvel’s mutants, finds Bishop visiting the X-mansion with fellow X-Treme X-Men teammate Sage, and investigating the death of Emma Frost, the White Queen, who had been shot while in her protective diamond form. Bishop, like the Terminator, is a time-displaced character from a bleak, apocalyptic future, who travels back in time in an attempt to change the destined outcome of the human (or Mutant) race. On the cover, Bishop is an almost spitting image of Arnold Schwarzenegger from the 1984 film.
7 The Rocketeer / Iron Man – Enter The Mandarin
Two years before Disney acquired the Marvel Universe character, Iron Man paid homage to his soon-to-be fellow superhero property, The Rocketeer. Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin was the miniseries that served as the lead into Iron Man 2 which featured the Mandarin’s introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Like Iron Man, The Rocketeer, created in 1982 as an homage to the Saturday matinee serial heroes from the 1930s through the 1950s, is just an ordinary man who found a way to take to the skies through the use of rocket propulsion and fight against evil.
6 Bullitt / Captain America: Living Legend #4
In 2007 Captain America found himself caught between two global superpowers, the United States and Russia, as the two nations once again find themselves on the brink of war. Cap soon finds himself even deeper when his mission involves a decorated WWII Russian officer who mysteriously disappeared on an ill-fated lunar mission more than forty years ago, reappears among the living.
The variant cover to issue four pays homage to the 1968 movie Bullitt, starring Steve McQueen. The cover featuring the artwork of Francesco Francavilla switches Steve McQueen with a 60s/70s stylized Steve Rogers, and while not an exact replication of the original movie poster, it still conveys the spirit of the original poster.
5 Interview With The Vampire / X-Force #21
The 2009-10 the X-Men event, Necrosha, which ran through the X-Force, X-MEN Legacy, and New Mutants titles, the X-Force tie-in issues embraced paying homage to popular vampire movies with their variant cover offerings. This theme worked perfectly with the story as the main villain was the psychic vampire mutant, the Black Queen, who embarked on a mad quest to devour enough souls, which would give her the ability to ascend to godhood.
The Clayton Crain variant cover is a reworking of the 1994 film adaption of Anne Rice’s Interview With The Vampire starring Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, and Kirsten Dunst. The cover art places Selene in the place where Cruise/Lestat is and replaces the park bench where Pitt/Louis with a Sentinel’s hand.
4 From Dusk Till Dawn / X-Force #22
The next variant cover of X-Force’s chapter to Necrosha paid homage to the Quentin Tarantino film, From Dusk To Dawn (1996). For this vampire variant tribute, Clayton Crain replaces Clooney and Tarantino with Wolverine and Warpath, the two X-Men who learn Selene’s endgame but must face the overwhelming odds of resurrected mutants.
This idea of two people against a massive number of supernatural creatures is the theme of this issue and the movie, which finds Clooney and Tarantino playing a pair of criminal brothers who find themselves trapped in a truck stop, which is also the home for a coven of vampires.
3 Bram Stoker’s Dracula / X-Force #25
The variant to X-Force #25, the conclusion to the Necrosha event, pays homage to the most well-known vampire, Dracula. More specifically, the cover is styled after one of the movie posters for Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 star-studded Bram Stoker’s Dracula starring Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, and Winona Ryder.
Other variant covers that appeared in this story included homages to Lost Boys, Underworld, and Blade: Trinity. The creative team took a very innovative approach to the variant cover theme, aligning it with the overall theme of the storyline and issue.
2 Jaws / Deadpool: Merc With A Mouth #2
If there was one Marvel Universe character that works well with movie homage covers, then Deadpool would be that property. Deadpool also referred to as the Merc With A Mouth, is known to break the fourth wall regularly, which lends itself to the humor aspect that plays well into the overall homage concept. The 2009 – 2010 Deadpool: Merc With A Mouth series embraced the movie poster concept for most of the covers to the 13 issue run.
Issue #2 of the series plays off the classic 1975 Jaws posters showing Deadpool swimming while a Deadpool/Jaws hybrid is lurking underwater. The Jaws movie poster is probably one of the most used concepts in the whole movie poster/comic cover trend, the first again most likely being Spidey Super Stories. Some of these homage covers work well, and others may not, this particular one works because of Deadpool’s character.
1 Pretty Woman / Deadpool: Merc With A Mouth #5
The Deadpool: Merc With A Mouth series paid homage not only to Jaws but also classic movies such as Dawn of the Dead (issue #3), Scarface (issue #4), Alien (issue #6), The Graduate (issue #9), and Silence of the Lambs (issue #13) with issue covers. Perhaps the cover that is the funniest is the cover to issue #5, which portrays Deadpool and Dr. Betty, who Wilson meets while in the Savage Land reenacting the poster to 1990s Pretty Woman starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts.
Marvel Comics often reference movie posters on the covers of their books. From Deadpool & Jaws to Spider-Man with Star Wars here's 10 you need to see.