It seems like we’ve been talking about Western-comedy A Million Ways to Die in the West – the second big-screen enterprise from Family Guy auteur Seth MacFarlane – for several years now, and with little to show for it in return. That makes a degree of sense, of course; since first announcing the project, MacFarlane has busied himself by assembling a cast that’s so good, the film may be worth seeing on star power alone. From Amanda Seyfried to Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson to Giovanni Ribisi, Neil Patrick Harris to Sarah Silverman, this movie is stacked.

More importantly, though, its release date is just around the corner, which means that it’s time for Universal to start with promotion. To that end, the studio has treated audiences to an octet of A Million Ways to Die in the West posters, all but one of them character-centric; the eighth is simple, boilerplate stuff, nothing more than the film’s title plastered over the same landscape shot on the open range, but the rest introduce us to the film’s principal and supporting players in one-on-one, tongue-in-cheek fashion.

The images are captured below; if their backdrops are somewhat uninspired, it’s only because every ounce of effort has clearly gone into the design of the characters that they showcase. Anyone who’s familiar with the Western genre can take a glance at these posters and accurately guess which tropes and archetypes they play too; homesteaders, cattle barons, gunslingers, outlaws, meek townsmen, high society ladies, and soiled doves, all. MacFarlane hasn’t reinvented the wheel here, but he has taken care to put a stamp of quality on each look displayed in these one-sheets.

For those unaware, A Million Ways to Die in the West tells the story of a craven sheep farmer (MacFarlane) who finds himself single and shamed when his girlfriend (Seyfried) leaves him for wimping out of a gunfight. Before long, though, he meets a new woman (Theron), who teaches him how to shoot and helps him find his courage; good thing, too, because her criminal husband (Neeson) is riding into town, and he’s out for blood.

That synopsis leaves out any mention of Harris, Ribisi, or Silverman, but fortunately, the all get their moment in the sun in the posters, which we’ve collected in the following gallery. Browse at your leisure:


Some of the posters get across their meaning more easily than others – Neeson’s spotlight (double-entendre aside) screams “badass”, for example, while Silverman’s pretty blatantly conveys her character’s profession (though not in so many words) – but all of them are effective at acquainting us with A Million Ways to Die in the West‘s troupe of frontier-dwellers. If nothing else, it’s encouraging to see these characters in their respective elements; Harris looks every bit like the cad most expect him to play, while MacFarlane himself looks appropriately out of his depth.

Between these and the first shot revealed from the film, A Million Ways to Die in the West at least looks the part; MacFarlane appears to have done his costuming homework, though whether or not he’s able to wring laughs out of the film remains to be seen. We’ll find out for sure this summer.

A Million Ways to Die in the West opens in US theaters on May 30th, 2014.

Source: Seth MacFarlane