With every superhero film comes a heated debate over a myriad of details; the casting, writers, director, even which studio is producing the film gets questioned. But what can often earn the most ire from fans are a superhero movie’s costumes. How a superhero is translated visually is key to defining that persona onscreen, and if fans don’t like how a character looks, then they’re prepared to hate that character entirely. (Look no further than the recent outrage over Jared Leto’s Joker, for an example.)
That being said, whether or not we love or hate what the heroes and villains wear, countless hours go into designing and creating those costumes. Often these designs include tiny details that can go unseen onscreen (which does raise the question of why include them at all?), but hint at a character’s motivations or heritage. For Batman V Superman‘s costumes, designer Michael Wilkinson put a lot of thought into what little touches he would bring to these heroes’ attire, while also trying to honor the iconic designs of DC Comics’ famed Trinity.
While speaking on a panel at the recent MAGIC event (a premiere fashion convention) in Los Angeles, Wilkinson discussed how he approached his designs for Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman (via People’s Choice):
“We tweaked the Superman suit only slightly from our suit from Man of Steel. We streamlined plus sharpened the details of the costume a little to suit the more earthly (less alien) context of this film. The batsuit is a complete 180 degree turn from the previous film incarnations — our Batman’s power comes from his incredible physical strength and fighting skills, not from armor. The director Zack Snyder wanted him to look as much like the comic book version as possible — to be respectful to the original source. As for the Wonder Woman suit, well she has never been seen in a film before, so there was nothing to compare it to! There is of course the costume from the TV show. Zack wanted our character to be a fierce and intimidating warrior — gritty, battle-scarred and immortal.”
It’s immediately obvious that Superman’s costume hasn’t changed much from Man of Steel, though the coloring does appear brighter in the images that have been released so far. As for Batman, Ben Affleck’s suit is very unlike what either Christian Bale or Michael Keaton wore, and the visual link between this design and The Dark Knight Returns was only made all the more apparent thanks to a shot from the trailer that mimicked Batman’s iconic leaping pose from that story’s cover.
When it comes to Wonder Woman, however, she basically has just as long a publication history as the other two, so even without a feature film, there are years upon years of comic book designs for Wilkinson to pull from. He mentions earlier in the panel that “[I] really did my homework” and “immersed myself in the long histories of these iconic characters,” and the final look of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman does evoke what most would imagine when they think of the Amazon warrior.
Wilkinson continued by mentioning a few of those small details he worked into his designs:
“Zack had a great idea to have some kryptonian script subliminally included in the details of the suit, so we made that happen. There is ancient Greek script on Wonder Woman’s weapons too. My favorite details of the batsuit are the brass knuckles on the gloves.”
These are the sorts of details that will be overlooked when it comes to watching Batman V Superman on the big screen. Well, perhaps not those brass knuckles since surely they’ll factor into Superman and Batman’s brawl, but otherwise such small details in a costume are easy to miss. Still, they do add to the presentation of these characters and allow them to come across as if they come from fully realized world, even if you’ll only ever notice in the film’s artbooks or when the costumes are out on tour.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25th, 2016, followed by Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman on June 23rd, 2017; Justice League on November 17th, 2017; The Flash on March 23rd, 2018; Aquaman on July 27th, 2018; Shazam on April 5th, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14th, 2019; Cyborg on April 3rd, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on June 19th, 2020.
Source: People’s Choice