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It wasn’t that long ago that the world’s first glimpse of a new superhero costume for a live-action project would premiere in, say, the pages of a fan magazine, or even an early trailer. Now, we live in a time when every major news outlet scrambles to score the first run of such an image. The recent debuts of Jason Momoa‘s Aquaman costume from Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Melissa Benoist‘s Supergirl costume from the upcoming CBS show got me thinking.
With so many examples of superhero costumes for fans to examine, which have been the most faithful to their four-color roots? And is there any connection between the loyalty of a costume to its source material and the quality of the adaptation; that is, do they go hand in hand? Let’s take a look through some of the most reverent examples and see what we can find. All of the costumes I considered for this article were from live-action projects, as animation doesn’t carry as many challenges for transitioning a costume. I also omitted CGI characters such as The Hulk and The Silver Surfer, since their creation was primarily digital.
1) Christopher Reeve as Superman, Superman: The Movie (1978): What better place to start than with an icon? While the suit doesn’t conform expressly to any one comic artist, it does replicate all the hallmarks of the widely accepted Superman look: spit curl, wide “S” on the chest, secondary yellow “S” on the cape, thin yellow belt with circular buckle, even the subtle “M” shapes cut into the top of the red boots. The thorough translation of that look, along with Reeve’s heartfelt performance, lifted Superman: The Movie to its status as both the first serious superhero blockbuster and the grandfather of the entire comic-book film landscape.
2) Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014): Another iconic hero, another familiar costume, though perhaps not from a film afforded the same affection as Superman: The Movie. Whatever your thoughts regarding Marc Webb’s second stab at Spidey, you have to admit that the costume is hard to criticize. It’s all there, as if he just swung in from an early Stan Lee/John Romita Sr. issue: the rounded white eyepieces (not pointed; a detail that bugged me about the Raimi films), the bright blue and red in their classic configuration, even the black web-rings that encircle the web-slinger’s fingers. If anyone ever thought that the Spider-Man costume wouldn’t work on film as is, here’s proof to the contrary.
3) Sebastian Stan as The Winter Soldier, Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014): A more recently created character, but another successful translation from page to screen. The Winter Soldier springs from the mind of Ed Brubaker into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, complete with metal arm and a half-mask that makes him look like a Cobra trooper. The comic design of the Winter Soldier already lent itself to cinematic copy, and the recent debut of the character allowed much of the general audience to experience the character on film without prior knowledge.
4) Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman (1975 – 1979): Much like Christopher Reeve’s super-wear, this costume was a crystallization of Wonder Woman’s history of slightly modified battle attire (sometimes shorts, sometimes a skirt, etc.) by cementing the “swimsuit” style look in the public’s mind. Like Reeve, it helped that Carter was a solid physical match for the character. This is generally what springs to mind when one thinks of WW: golden tiara with red star, gold and red top, blue star-spangled lower piece, bullet-stopping bracelets and striped red boots. While the show suffered from an overabundance of camp and the absence of a generous budget, the costume would continue to appear in much the same form across multiple media formats for decades.
5) Robert DowneyJr., Iron Man, Iron Man (2008): An instant classic. Utilizing Adi Gradov’s Extremis-era armor design from the comics (which made sense as Gradov worked as a concept artist on the film), the Stan Winston Studio delivered a detailed, believable armored battle suit that filtered the multitudes of Iron Man suits into a crowd-pleasing singularity. Bonus points for the design of the Mark 1 armor, capturing the DIY feel of a clunky, first-draft walking tank with panache. A rare example of all elements of a film working together to produce something special and unexpected.
6) Brandon Lee as The Crow, The Crow (1994): While admittedly a relatively simple look to replicate on film, the late Brandon Lee’s striking performance leapt out from behind the rage-mime makeup to create a truly memorable character: raw, emotional, caring and vengeful. The unadorned black clothing kept the focus on the power of the character and his mission while satisfying the fans of James O’Barr’s graphic novel.
7) Billy Campbell as The Rocketeer, The Rocketeer (1991): Such a period-evocative costume design that feels as if it could only have exploded out of the 1930s, yet Dave Stevens’ high-flying aviator first appeared in 1982. Disney’s 1991 film followed Stevens’ lead exceptionally well, nailing the thick-buttoned leather jacket, jet pack, puffy pants, boots and that Art Deco helmet that looks like Dr. Fate’s blue-collar cousin. This adherence to Stevens’ design helped the film achieve its rollicking derring-do and high adventure as an energetic throwback to the early days of cliffhanger serials.
8) Nicolas Cage as Ghost Rider, Ghost Rider (2007): Ghost Rider’s costume design isn’t necessarily the most eye-popping, from the neck down. From the neck up, well, it’s just hard to beat a burning skull that can talk, laugh and spew brimstone. But the filmmakers did an admirable job of equipping that flaming skull with all of his comic-accurate accoutrements: lots of leather (with buttons that transform into metal spikes), a long length of lethal chain, and of course, that seriously intimidating bike. While the film may have stumbled with wild shifts in tone, the look of the main character was handled with aplomb.
9) Ron Perlman as Hellboy, Hellboy (2004): A great example of an above-and-beyond creation of costume design. The Hellboy design team, under the direction of Guillermo del Toro, duplicated Mike Mignola’s Hellboy comic design even down to the underbite that gives him that tough-guy profile. The devil’s in the details: the filed-down horns, the symbols cut into his skin, the worn duster jacket, and of course the Right Hand of Doom. The character’s relative human-like size allowed practical effects to create him believably in live-action, as opposed to Michael Chiklis’ Thing in Fantastic Four, who was rendered much smaller than his on-the-page counterpart. Coupled with Ron Perlman’s surly yet lovable performance, Hellboy translates improbably well into our world.
10) Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach, Watchmen (2009): Aside from the shifting mask, the rest of Rorschach’s ensemble may seem a bit pedestrian. But this one’s all about the little touches: broken belt loops, old bloodstains; all the effects of an obsessive crime-fighting mission on a man without Bruce Wayne’s resources. This wear and tear, combined with Haley’s mastery of the character’s objectivist rage and bulldog tenacity, made Rorschach as much of a standout in the film as he was in the graphic novel.
Now obviously this isn’t an exhaustive list, or even particularly ranked on a subjective scale of comic-faithfulness. It’s simply my opinions regarding the examples that bridged the visual gap between comic and film in the best way. But within these picks there seems to be one through-line that pertains to the best examples: attention to replicating a character’s costume usually runs parallel to attention paid to the character’s inner workings and personality. Not always the case (Ghost Rider may be an exception) but many times a commitment to the legacy of a character’s outside equals a respect for the character’s inside.
Wizkids has announced their Marvel and DC Comics Heroclix 2015 Convention Exclusive figures.
As prize figures, the Marvel figures that will be released include Spider-Ham (as Spider-Man), Loki, Agent of Asgard, and a new Ghost Rider.
They will also be selling two new Marvel Heroclix exclusives on top of the three figures above which are just prizes. The two figures include the Supreme Intelligence, and a new Doctor Strange. The Supreme Intelligence will cost $50 and Strange will be $15.
Brainiac will cost $70 and Faust will cost $15.
The figures will first be offered at the Wizkids U.S. Nationals Event in Maryland this April.
Also, Wizkids has released a new ATA for the Squadron Supreme that will allow you to use these figures as a team. Since they’re Primes, you should only be able to use one per force, This ATA helps you get around that.
It’s Monday and that means a brand new Facebook Fandom spotlight where I look at the statistic of Facebook users when it comes to some part of geek fandom. With so much buzz recently about comic book movies and casting, I thought it might be interesting to look at various comic-based movies and how they did individually and as a series when it comes to gender.
The first thing that stands out to me is that both Catwoman and Elektra have women as the majority of their “likes.” Men in Black as a franchise does well, but though it shows women as a majority, they are most likely just under 50% due to Facebook’s returning fuzzy results with large numbers such as this.
But, what also stands out is Superman Returns being split exactly 50/50 when it comes to men and women. Director Bryan Singer has spoken about how he wanted a movie that would appeal to women as well as men, and it looks like he achieved that according to these numbers.
Many movies on this list came out well before Facebook existed, but overall the results are interesting to me.
Constantine which will soon be a television series does shockingly well when it comes to gender, with 45% women, and the recently rumored Fantastic Four casting had me interested in those results, which was some of the worst when it came to women with 16.67% for the franchise.
Saturday saw a good chunk of announcements at New York Comic Con from Marvel, including some long rumored or wondered about series and characters. Numerous teasers that have hinted as to what we can expect were revealed!
- Avengers A.I.” #8.NOW – The series heads to the 130th century with the Uncanny Avengers and a new division of S.H.I.E.L.D. called the “Robot Hunter Squad”
- Ghost Rider rides in 2014! – Looks like Ghost Rider is getting some focus again. Not only will the Spirit of Vengeance get his own series written by Felipe Smith and drawn by Tradd Moore but he’ll also join Charles Soule‘s Thunderbolts. However…. from reports, it looks like Thunderbolts will have Johnny Blaze while the solo series will be someone new!
- Silver Surfer! – Dan Slott and artist Mike Allred take on the classic character and say they’ll introduce a new female character to go along with him.
- Iron Patriot – Ales Kot with art by Garry Brown take on James Rhodes in his own series who attempts to forge his own path (as opposed to the other series where he tried the same thing).
- Miracleman – We’ve wondered when he’d return, but Marvel has finally announced their plans for the legal limbo creation. Starting in 2014 we’ll be seeing more including the never before been seen Miracleman #25 by Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham. The series will kick off with an all new material and a #1 in January!
It’s new comic book day tomorrow! What’s everyone getting?
Around the Tubes
CBR – “Ant-Man” Release Date Moves to Summer 2015 – Excellent.
CBR – Marvel, Gary Friedrich Agree to Ghost Rider Settlement – I’d be fascinated to know what the settlement is.
Around the Tubes Reviews
Batman News – Batman: Black and White #1
CBR – Forever Evil #1
Spandexless – The Star Wars #1
New comic book day is today! What’s everyone getting?
Around the Tubes
ICv2 – Friedrich Wins ‘Ghost Rider’ Appeal – Interesting…
The Guardian – Man of Steel: why Hollywood needs a break from superhero movies – I couldn’t get through this article. Such shit and a misunderstanding of movies and comics.
CNN – The 99: Islamic superheroes going global – Glad to see this still going.
Bleeding Cool – The Trial Of Bradley Manning, The Comic Book – Interesting…
Around the Tubes Reviews:
CBR – Batman #21
Bleeding Cool – Batman #21
Comic Vine – Batman #21
Bleeding Cool – Multiplayer #1
CBR – Superman Unchained #1
Comic Vine – Superman Unchained #1
Bleeding Cool – Takedown
Combs 24 Advertiser – Thor God of Thunder: The God Butcher
The Marvel Select line has put out a lot of great figures in the 11 years it’s been around, and not all of them are easy to find nowadays! Luckily, Diamond Select Toys regularly goes back and re-issues some of the more popular figures to make sure everyone who wants to start a Marvel Select collection has the ability to get the characters they want. This year, DST has brought back the Classic Green Goblin figure as well as the original Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze! Blaze stands atop a base depicting a particularly unpleasant section of Hell, and Goblin re-creates the famous cover of Amazing Spider-Man #39, with glider and tied-up Peter Parker. Check out the redesigned packaging below, and look for both figures to return to comic shop shelves (and online store databases) this summer!
The characters in each poll were based on fan wish lists, so it was anybody’s guess who would win, and now that the results are final the line-up may shock you! (Note: Spider-Man villain Shocker was not a winner.) This series will only be available at comic shops and specialty stores in summer 2013, so be sure to pre-order with your local comic shop (or your favorite online retailer) when the time comes!
MAIN ASSAULT TEAM
The first poll dealt with the superstars of the Marvel Universe, the A-list heroes everybody knows and loves. The clear winner, with 2,516 votes, was Ghost Rider, in his most recent look as Danny Ketch, complete with blue flame. Second place went to Cyborg Spider-Man, with 1,723 votes, and both characters will be made in Series 50.
The second poll was entirely composed of the supporting heroes of the Marvel Universe, those who may occasionally headline a mini-series but are primarily team players. The surprising winner of this poll with 1,719 votes was Thunderbolts member Songbird — one of the few female characters in any of the polls. She will be the sole Support Team member made in Series 50.
The all-villains poll gave us the largest portion of the assortment, with crossover villain and Heroes Reborn instigator Onslaught coming in first place with 1,535 votes. Additionally, the second-place winner was longtime Avengers foe Baron Zemo II, with 1,337 votes. Both will receive figures in the assortment, and Zemo will also receive the rare variant figure in the wave — his father, Baron Zemo I.
The final poll was dedicated to army-builder characters who may not have individual names, but are known to fans for their roles in some of Marvel’s most epic battles. The winner, with 935 votes, was the classic Nova Corps Centurion, who recently played a key role in the War of Kings. A Corpsman will be packaged with Zemo I AND Zemo II, and will include alternate head and hair pieces to represent different characters and races.
It’s new comic book day already! What’s everyone getting?
Around the Blogs:
Den of Geek – Ghost Rider, The Walking Dead, and creative ownership in comics – Pretty solid read.
io9 – How My Little Pony’s Lauren Faust will make you love Batgirl and Supergirl all over again – Will Brony’s follow?
USA Today – Rare comics collection could fetch $2M at auction – I doubt mine would bring in $200.
GeekWeek – GREEN ARROW TV Pilot Gets Green Light – But will it be any good?
GeekWeek – Snikt! THE WOLVERINE Gets a Release Date – But will it be any good?
The Mary Sue – Everybody Asked Kate Beaton How to Make it in Comics, Here’s Some of What She Said – A good read with some great advice.