The Marvel effect is one of the most divisive trends to have gripped the film industry in recent years. While increasingly big-budget superhero movies have a knack of drawing in A-list talent, there also seems to be a limitless supply of Hollywood directors queueing up to slag them off.
There’s a certain irony in the fact that Disney-owned Hulu’s new series Extraordinary, which serves up a satirical response to the superhero glut in pop culture, comes from the same entertainment giant behind Marvel itself.
Written by Emma Moran and produced by SidGentle, Extraordinary follows protagonist Jen (played by newcomer Máiréad Tyers), as she navigates the daily struggles of living in a world where everyone has a unique superpower – except for her.
Matt Willey, who previously worked with the producers on the striking titles for Killing Eve, was tasked with creating Extraordinary’s title sequence, visual identity and typeface design.
The designer’s initial inspiration came from the popular tropes of superhero universes. “We were looking at a lot of classic comic book lettering, amongst other things, and liked the idea of having lots of ‘Extraordinary’ logos, rather than just one — to reflect the idea that each character had a different and unique superpower,” he tells CR.
The process involved sketching out “a lot” of different ideas, the designer adds, before ending up with the final nine designs seen in the titles, which feature a brilliant mishmash of colours and typefaces.
Then there was the challenge of deciding on a single typeface to work as a static ‘logo’, to be used across promotions, marketing and the streaming platform’s homepage. “Diana Ovezea from Blast Foundry helped us develop our logo into a full two-weight typeface — it has a base and a shadow weight which can be individually coloured and combined to create the logo typeface,” says Willey.
“We also used that typeface for the cast credits and made some actor cards that appear before the final scene — a simple blocky illustration style and a parallax animation.”
Extraordinary is out now on Hulu and Disney+; mattwilley.co.uk