Can we talk for just a minute about how brilliant these two posters are?
Hannibal’s mouth is the focus of the poster for Season 1, and as we all know, Hannibal’s mouth is the center of his power. It is his ultimate weapon, how he consumes those he considers beneath him, how he controls and manipulates and exposes the pain of others so he can taste their pain, and while he is incarcerated, it becomes a literal weapon he uses to bite and brutalize and mangle.
The rest of the poster is rich and sumptuous in its palette and pattern, elegant, indulgent, reflecting his manners and taste, both literally and metaphorically, with the napkin drawn up to his lips. Everything about the image is Hannibal.
The focus in the second poster, by comparison, is Will’s eyes. The center of his power: his ability to see the truth of people, right down to their very core.
The rest of the poster reflects Will’s situation, both literally and metaphorically: the mask covers his mouth—it dims his mouth—not so that he cannot speak, but so that his words have no power. The unnatural lines of his confinement are repeated both before and behind him, in the lines of the padding and in the lines of the straightjacket. The colors are bleached almost to non-existence: it is a cold, colorless world he has found himself in, all but the stain of blood across the bottom that is Hannibal’s name.
He is restricted in every way—except for his eyes, the very part of him that makes him so powerful.
And that is not a look of weakness in their depths.
Also the fact that in the first poster you can’t see Hannibal’s eyes at all. While this also does just look really cool, given the fact that Will avoids looking people in the eyes, I doubt this is accidental. In other words, consider some of the explicitly stated reasons why Will says that he trys to avoid looking people in the eyes: “you see too much, you don’t see enough.” Here, we don’t see Hannibal’s eyes at all. Will may find eyes “distracting” but in the end what he didn’t see about Hannibal was a theme of the first season that led up the dramatic confrontation at the end— and the reason why Will’s in prison (and wearing the mask) in the second.
Maybe you guys said this more floridly than I did:
Hannibal: Mouth focus, no eyes visible.
Graham: No mouth, eyes focus.
I think literary-devices said it best here:
Juxtaposition: In literature, juxtaposition is a literary device wherein the author places a person, concept, place, idea or theme parallel to another. The purpose of juxtaposing two directly/indirectly related entities close together in literature is to highlight the contrast between the two and compare them. This literary device is usually used for etching out a character in detail, creating suspense or lending a rhetorical effect.
contrasts are like my favorite literary device don’t touch me
Well, and the really interesting thing about it is that juxtaposition just shows how much the characters are alike.
Because, see, Hannibal’s a talker, right? He’s a psychiatrist by trade, a charming conversationalist, and one of the ways that he keeps himself above suspicion/learns info to keep his fridge full is by talking to people. He’s all about it. But none of that would matter much at all if he weren’t also seeing, observing.
And Will, Will’s all about what he sees. It’s what Jack asks him all the time, to the point where it’s become a running joke in fandom: "What did you see, Will?" "Tell me what you see, Will." He sees so much it’s not even funny. But the thing is, all that stuff he sees doesn’t do him any good (in fact, it’s in many ways harmful to him) if he can’t talk about it or tell anyone about it— even though he’s quite often somewhat reluctant to.
In other words, two sides of the same coin. No freaking wonder Hannibal’s so fascinated with Will.
The meta on this is already incredible, but I have a few things to add: Will’s mask seems to be modeled on book! & Hopkins!Hannibal’s glass/plastic prison-with-air-holes, which makes the mask an even more obvious stand-in for Will’s cage. Here, the mask is Hannibal; it’s always been his symbol, both pop culturally and in-universe, and is now the only thing between Will’s mouth—the truth—and the rest of the world.
But the important thing here is that Will’s eyes are above the mask; they are uncovered and unhindered, all-seeing, piercing, and knowing. He can see past his prison into the world beyond, which is what (I believe) Crawford’s going to have him do from behind prison walls: continue to solve cases for him. Like bonearenaofmyskull says, Will is restricted in every way, devoid of everything but his mind—while Hannibal remains surrounded and shrouded in his daily luxuries. Will: the cold, hard, plastic, high-contrast, sharp-edged man, looking directly at us in obvious challenge, and Hannibal: secluded, lavish, soft-clothed and coy, hiding his mouth slyly behind another veil. Where Hannibal conceals to an art, Will has nothing left to hide.
Also—weirdly—due to the design of the poster, I didn’t realize Will was wearing a mask at first; I thought he was half submerged in water, and the air holes were the bubbles issuing from his submerged mouth. Given all the water imagery we’ve seen applied to Will, I thought that was an interesting (and possibly intentional?) parallel.