Lily Gladstone and Leonardo DiCaprio in Killers of the Flower Moon

This ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Poster Shows How the Film Should’ve Been Marketed All Along

You may have seen the posters for Killers of the Flower Moon that look very much like those thriller movies from the ’90s that probably had Al Pacino in them. The style and tone of those initial posters don’t feel as important as the movie warrants. Not that I don’t love them, I think they’re hilarious and wild, especially given the context of the movie. What works much better for Martin Scorsese’s new epic is the poster released by IMAX this week.

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Created by the film’s Osage Nation Ambassador, Addie Roanhorse, the poster centers Mollie Burkhart. The previous IMAX poster focused on the Osage Nation as well, highlighting an image from the movie of the Osage people discovering that they had oil on their land, celebrating said discovery and the joy of their impending freedom and wealth. This new poster, however, emphasizes the role of Mollie (played beautifully in the film by Lily Gladstone), and should have been the focus of the marketing all along.

For most of the posters, Leonardo DiCaprio is at the forefront, making it clear that he is the main character in this story, for better or worse. DiCaprio plays Mollie’s husband, Ernest Burkhart, and while I do not think it is a bad thing, I do think that the film could have been focused more completely on Mollie’s journey as a whole, and not on the Burkharts.

The story itself often takes a turn away from Mollie and her sisters, despite the reason for its existence being Mollie’s determination for answers and her plea to the government for help. It highlights an issue within Killers of the Flower Moon that is not glaring (nor is it a reason to knock the film as a whole), but one that is worth noting: This should have been purely focused on Mollie.

Telling Mollie’s story

As the film’s Osage language consultant, Christopher Cote, pointed out at the Los Angeles premiere, his feelings about Killers of the Flower Moon are complicated because it still highlights Ernest Burkhart. There’s a “love story” at the center of the movie where love should not exist—at least where history is concerned.

The IMAX poster highlights Mollie, and it’s something I wish a lot of the film’s marketing did. The movie doesn’t hide her; in fact, I think the runtime is still split between Ernest and Mollie. The love story that Cote touches on is a problem if viewed as romantic from Ernest’s side of things. Killers of the Flower Moon could have given even more time to Mollie in the last act, but where it really caters to DiCaprio is in the marketing.

Gladstone deserved to be on the posters with DiCaprio, and not shown as smaller or leaning on his shoulder. This poster, the one that Addie Roanhorse created, is a beautiful piece that reminds us that the Osage people don’t want a story about Ernest. They want one about Mollie, and that is what she deserves. While I do love Killers of the Flower Moon a lot, it is important to remember that this movie is in a lot of ways still catering to what is the more palatable story, instead of the truth of Mollie’s history.

(featured image: Paramount Pictures / Apple TV+)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her current obsession is Glen Powell's dog, Brisket. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.