[In light of Jared Leto’s recent Joker reveal, we decided this perspective was as relevant as ever.]
As geek-friendly properties become increasingly mainstream, Hollywood has made it a point of adapting one beloved cartoon series, comic book, and video game, after another – with everything from a Godzilla reboot to a Batman vs. Superman team-up in the pipeline. Yet, even the most buzzed-about projects have faced stern criticism from longtime franchise faithfuls.
Recently, 20th Century Fox unveiled 25 character images for the superheroes and villains that will square off in the time-traveling X-Men: Days of Future Past movie – debuting first looks at high profile players as well as two versions of the Sentinel robots. Readers familiar with the characters were quick to praise certain designs (such as newcomer Bishop as well as future and past iterations of fan-favorite Wolverine); however, not every image was a hit – as Evan Peters’ Quicksilver and a “Future” Sentinel (Mark X) variation were both the cause of widespread ridicule and complaining.
Of course, this isn’t even the first time (this week) that passionate fans have taken to Internet comment boards to decry Hollywood’s treatment of choice characters. One recent mock-up image (or photoshop hoax) of a spandex children’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles costume caused many to conclude that the upcoming film reboot was, once again, set to ruin all of our childhoods (until actual images of the designs appeared and changed a lot of minds).
Understandably, we fans have reason to be increasingly vocal – now that everyone (including feature filmmakers) are clamoring to join-in on the superhero bandwagon that many dedicated followers have been championing for decades (even at the risk of ridicule from peers). That said, as fervent fans have expanded their reach through social networking and internet comment boards, some have also become increasingly irrational – decrying, and preparing to boycott, upcoming films as a result of concept artwork, prototype toys, set images, and isolated (albeit official) production photos, that they deem as an affront to their version of certain pop culture characters.
In an effort to set the stage for a larger discussion about whether or not we can truly determine the quality of an upcoming feature film via children’s merchandise and static images, we ask: Can You Pre-Judge a Comic Book Movie By Its Superhero Costumes?
Reasonable Fan Outrage
No doubt, a lot of the frustration behind pre-release sneak peeks stems from the numerous times that fans have been burned in the past, as studios and filmmakers (who knew nothing about the source material) attempted to piece together a profitable movie adaptation by throwing out key aspects of a beloved character (or their physical appearance). Previously, we identified 6 terrible costume designs that resulted in equally bad movies, but in order to help less superhero-obsessed readers understand what all the fuss is about, we’re going to revisit a few of the worst page-to-screen attempts here.
Easily one of the most obvious examples of a head-scratching costume reveal that, even at the time, had many people (rightly) concerned about the final superhero film product was Joel Schumacher’s Batsuit(s) in Batman & Robin – which famously added external nipples to the dynamic duo’s crime fighting attire (along with a pointy bra for Batgirl). The film also included laughable outfits for Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, and Bane but Bat-nipples are the most notorious example of just how nonsensical Schumacher’s take on Batman had become.
A slightly more recent example, the Catwoman solo film (starring Halle Berry) included one of the least functional and downright bizarre costumes in superhero movie history – drawing understandable fury from comic readers. In a film where Catwoman goes toe-to-toe with one brutish thug after another, the slashed leather pants and cumbersome headgear, paired with bare midriff and empty utility belts, made it clear that director Pitof thought sexualizing the character was more important than providing her with basic protection from physical injury.
Early glimpses at concept artwork and leaked merchandise images offer our first look at a filmmaker’s prospective vision and, as we all know, you only get one chance to make a first impression. To that end, plenty of other superhero movies have featured head-scratching costume designs, so it’s easy to understand why certain longtime fans have been cynical about Hollywood’s attempt to bring beloved characters to the big screen.
Dishonorable Mentions: Wonder Woman (NBC TV Show) & Steel
Yet, sometimes costume controversies were ultimately the least of our problems.