Leather, Latex and Nipples: The Magical World of Comic Book Costumes Gone Bad

ShaqWe all know the most important thing to consider when adapting a comic book movie for the big screen isn’t story or character, it’s a great costume! With the superhero trend in full effect, we’re seeing a huge number of comic book films streaming down the pipeline, some of which feature characters you wouldn’t even imagine possible to properly capture on the big screen. Ghost Rider, Silver Surfer, Galactus (from what I hear)…filmmakers are faced with the challenge of pleasing hardcore comic fans by staying true to the original designs, but at the same time making alterations based on the reality of shooting an actor in tights. Sometimes the results are a success, but in many cases things seem to fall flat. The following are some examples of costume design adaptations that failed for one of two reasons: they were way off mark from the original concept or they were too closely following a design that should only exist in paper and ink. Let’s have a look-see shall we? More images after the jump…

Catwoman

CatwomanA few summers ago, me and some friends decided we’d make it our goal to attend the local drive-in theatre every Thursday night, no matter what the double bill was. What seemed like a David Blaine style feat of mental and physical strength (drive-in theatre poutine and pickles once a week can really destroy a person’s insides) actually ended up turning into a fun tradition. UNTIL…the Thursday in which the only double feature we hadn’t seen was A Cinderella Story and Catwoman. Let’s just say I got more out of the Hilary Duff movie. Halle Berry’s Catwoman is blessed with superpowers that make her drink milk out of a dish at an accelerated rate and play basketball with the prowess of one of the Fly Girls from In Living Colour. She can’t even shoot hoops without oozing sexuality. It’s too much. Too much sexuality. Her costume? IS…FUCKING…RIDICULOUS. Its over-the-top less-is-more leather is Harley Davidson meets America’s Next Top Model. The main problem is it’s not even sexy. Halle Berry’s rape scene in Monster’s Ball was more sexy than this. Tone it down.

Kingpin

KingpinUmmm…black? Okay, so it’s a different take on the villain that Marvel comic book fans have come to know and love. Maybe it’s just the casting choice that gets me. Michael Duncan Clarke is a physical force to be reckoned with, but to me he’s still just the loveably stupid yet supernaturally gifted John Coffey from The Green Mile. I can see it now: Kingpin grabs a hold of Daredevil by the balls and sparks start shooting from the lights, suddenly Ben Affleck realizes his blindness, and urinary tract infection, are cured! ‘I helped it. Didn’t I help it? I just took it back, is all. Awful tired now, boss. Dog tired.’ Luckily, Daredevil was such a piece of shit that I didn’t make it far enough through the film to find out.

Steel

SteelThere’s not much to say about Steel. To be honest, i’m not very familiar with the comic book, but from what I understand, Steel is a man made of STEEL, not a guy who wears armour. If you think that picture is bad, just imagine it moving with words coming out of Shaq’s mouth. Now THAT is bad. This is definitely a low point in the history of African-American superheroes on the big screen. Sure the standards were set pretty high with Blank Man, but Steel is probably one of the worst, right behind Robert Townsend’s Meteor Man. Director Kenneth Johnson also helmed Short Circuit 2, starring everyone’s favourite robot of the 80′s, Johnny 5. Now THAT is a true man of steel.

Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four

Fantastic FourNow here’s an example where the filmmakers stuck too closely to the comic book. This just reminds me of some aspiring actors performing in a live stage show at Universal Studios. I’ll sum this picture up with one word: WIGS. Luckily, this Fantastic Four film never saw the light of day. But thanks to the inter-web, bootleg copies have been circulating and Roger Corman’s on-screen adaptation has managed to find a cult following. Actually, to be honest I think the Thing looks OK. A little ridiculous, but sort of reminds me of the good ol’ man in a latex suit days. A throwback to the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies. Actually, that’s what I liked about the new Fantastic Four film, it was just light, fun viewing.

The Punisher

The PunisherTwo words: no skull. What the fuck are you thinking??? You make a Punisher movie, you give him a skull on his shirt! That’s THE ONLY element of his design that remotely resembles a superhero. But I guess this film was riding the popularity of the big action films of the eighties. The comic book trend was still down the road, so maybe the idea of a revenge seeking ex-military man with a skull on his chest seemed a little silly? We all know the standards that were set by such straight shooting affairs as Commando and Cobra. And Dolph Lundgren with black hair?? He looks like Superman’s down syndrome younger brother. Thankfully, to the relief of fans around the world, the new Punisher movie brought back the skull, but it still wasn’t enough for me to waste my time on it.

The Justice Leage of America

JLAWell the first thing you’ll notice about this picture is the lack of some of the most important members of the Justice League. Thankfully Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman have been spared the made for tv overhaul that the rest of the team unfortunately underwent. It’s my understanding that this was a failed pilot that has now resurfaced thanks, yet again, to the internet. Well you gotta give them points for keeping it colourful. Otherwise, these outfits look like they were fitted two sizes too big. I also hate how pointy everyone looks. The Green Lantern just screams out 1990′s. He looks like he belongs on Wall Street. Maybe that’s where he’s getting his powers, from green money. He seems like the type of yuppie that you’d find having sex with hookers on video to the beat of Phil Collin’s Sussudio. Maybe he can hook up with Catwoman and re-enact some of that hot Monster’s Ball action. Throw a little Huey Lewis and the News into the mix and i’m totally there.

Batman

BatmanThere’s no point in getting into how bad Batman and Robin was or whether or not George Clooney had anything to do with the nose dive this franchise took in the late nineties. But perhaps the most controversial thing to come out of Joel Schumacher’s attempt at mixing darkness with campiness was a little addition made to the bat suit. NIPPLES. He gave them nipples. First off, i’m not entirely sure why men even have nipples. I’m even MORE confused as to why a BAT man would have nipples. NON-FUNCTIONAL nipples no less. In fact, I can’t think of any article of clothing/apparel that has fake nipples for aesthetic purposes only. I thought the idea of the bat suit was to give criminals a sense of non-human dread as they’re being stalked by this bat-like figure? Nipples? The gayness of the dynamic duo increased by about 80% thanks to Schumacher and his high fashion costume design team.

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  • Henrik

    Excellent rundown. That Dolph Lundgren picture is classic, and those fantastic four goofballs are so endearing.

    I can’t believe that’s actually George Clooney underneath that suit though… Seeing that picture makes me want to see the movie again just for kicks. He looks cross-eyed.

  • http://www.myspace.com/cruelmessenger Darren J Seeley

    I’m glad to see the Punisher up there. It’s well known the writer, Boaz Yakin, got fired for various attempts to put the skull in…the only two remaining bits of this is the knives and a deleted scene (a still of which is seen on the back of VHS and DVD covers).

    But I think you are off the mark with Kingpin. That’s your opinion on CASTING not the costume.

    Batman & Robin: why stop short? Mr. Freeze, Ivy, Bane…and the last act of the film with the black & silver look…was it my thoughts of horror when I thought if Triumpant were made, would they have gone back to the Grey Bat- outfit? That was my thought at the time.

    Henrik: if you must see that again, keep in mind that it reminds one of flies around week old rotted hamburger; so if you must, take plenty of ibprofen and several glasses of water…

  • http://www.thedocumentaryblog.com Jay C.

    True on the Kingpin. I guess I just took the liberty of stretching the guidelines a bit to include the complete overall look of a character.

    As for Mr.Freeze, he did look like a giant cappucino maker, but I actually did like the glittery make up on his face.

  • http://www.powet.tv Zac

    Steel from DC comics is actually (surprise!) a big black man in a steel suit. He took up a suit of armor and a big hammer to dish out justice when Superman died in the early 90s. He was the star of “Man Of Steel” and then his own book for several years. The Shaq movie might have not been that good and the suit wasn’t that accurate, but his origins are better than most comic to movie translations.

  • DarkKinger

    I’m a bit surprised of no mention to Green Goblin in Spider-Man. Not that I’m saying I have a problem with it, but I noticed a lot of people do. Then again, I’d rather have the costume in armor instead of tights; God knows I don’t want to get hit with that metal fist!

  • http://www.thedocumentaryblog.com Jay C.

    I actually didn’t mind the Green Goblin in Spider-Man. As for comparison’s to him looking like a Power Ranger, I think the same could probably be said for Spider-Man himself. Oh well.

  • http://servewithchips.blogspot.com/2007/01/good-bad-and-ugly-of-superhero-costumes.html chip chief

    here is my thoughts, including the real catwoman, lex luthor and hellboy.

    http://servewithchips.blogspot.com/2007/01/good-bad-and-ugly-of-superhero-costumes.html

  • http://www.thedocumentaryblog.com Jay C.

    Nice list. Although I didn’t think the Daredevil costume was that bad. The movie on the other hand? BARF

  • moose

    I THOUGHT DARE DEVILS COSTUME WAS GOOD

  • rosa

    I am trying to make a robot costume, the costume is a form fitting costume that I can get into and breath that I can attach lights with a control panel do you reccommend a sight that i can go to to help me make this costume

    Rosa

  • Victor

    Umm..so what does it matter that Kingpin was interpreted as a Black American – what are you in the 3rd grade? Second, has any comic book movie lived up to potential, c’mon quit bitching…

  • http://www.thedocumentaryblog.com Jay C.

    For me? Yes. Spiderman 2 lived up to its potential. Daredevil was shit.

  • Matt

    Men have nipples because MEN CAN LACTATE.

    Tolstoy nursed his kids. Look it up.

  • Lia

    you’re hilarious lol
    the nipple one si good lol
    and to matt…eww!!

  • Sam

    I know you can’t think of everything, but there were 3 attempts at superhero movies/tv shows back in the 70′s and 80′s. “Captain America” starring Reb Brown with an oversized motorcycle helmet that had the “A” and wings painted on it. Then there was “Wonder Woman” starring Cathy Lee Crosby in a costume that resembled nothing remotely close to the comic books and Daredevil’s guest appearance (Rex Smith as DD) in the made for tv movie “The Trial of the Incredible Hulk” starring Bruce Bixby and Lou Ferrigno back in 1989. His costume was all black.

    All 3 are searchable on Google Images.
    Have fun!!!

  • dan

    the 1989 punisher rocked you arse hole its a million times better than the shity re make. you were right about the rest tho esp the fantastic 4 and steel

  • http://www.almtalkies.com almtalkies

    Sexy purple and black catsuit at http://www.Catwoman-Resolution.com. Inspired by Jim Balent’s “Catwoman, Guardian of Gotham.”

  • swarez

    The funny thing is that The Thing from Corman’s Fantastic 4 looks better than the one in the recent films version. Doc Doom looked great in it as well. The rest though, not so much.

  • Finfrosk

    You make some interesting lists, but you talk alotta ignorant crap. Jeez. Didn’t wanna waste your time on the new Punisher-movie? You didn’t have a problem wasting your time on a whole lot of other sh*t tho.

  • http://www.filmjunk.com Jay C.

    Finfrosk: I didn’t say anything about not wanting to waste my time in general. Just not on the new Punisher movie.

    I will be the judge of how I do and don’t waste my time, thanks.

  • Finfrosk

    Uhm, okay.
    Judge and waste away!

  • http://none Jon Marrs

    Brian Singer should’ve left the superman costume alone.

  • Crow

    Excellent man, great list. You would think they would learn from their mistakes though, no? Each Punisher movie has basically sucked ass. Even Ray Stevens, whom I love, couldnt do anything with that last POS. They should have called it “Jigsaw” considering the camera was on him 90% of the time. And i gotta comment on Kingpin. Hes NOT black. Sorry folks, politically correct or no, the Kingpin never was, never should be a black dude. Nor is Nick Fury black. You want black hero’s theres plenty to choose from; Blade, War Machine, Powerman (AKA Luke Cage)the list goes on. But dont fucking turn a character black just for some obscure PC reason. Stick with the books.

  • Matt K

    Man, I thought Halley Berry was hot in that outfit…..too bad the film sucked.

  • Issawi

    STEEL was an alternate Superman story. He wore armor.

  • http://hhh.com Shut-Up Ed

    What about costumes done right?

    Daredevil looked awesome (movie sucked).
    Ghostrider looked awesome too (movie sucked).
    Superman (new one) looked fantastic (movie’s awesome)

  • Rick

    i’m trying to understand what was wrong with cat womans costume. not even remotely close to what it really is, but god damn man. IT’S HALLE BERRY. i’ll have to go with the old saying LESS IS SO SO MUCH BETTER (atleast when it comes to her)

  • Rick

    oh, and the newest super man movie. SUCKED BALLS

  • Thyo

    LOL, yeah I didnt know what to think about the batman nipples, I saw that one as a kid. “Daddy, why does batman have nipples?”

    I hated the catwoman movie, it was terrible, it was like watching a crappy videogame. They gave here POWERS? WTF? Thank god the made her character up and she wasn’t Selina Kyle, and that mask was terrible along with the story! Tim Burton can make a better catwoman any day!

  • Roger Wheeler

    I just hope they keep the Green Hornet costumes correct-That was an awesome TV show!

  • http://www.magneticwoolunderlay.com.au Jessie

    LOL batman with a nipples. I agree with you, the costume isn’t that appealing. I don’t even think of any valid reason how they come up with that costume for a superhero like batman.

  • David

    I totally agree that Daredevil’s costume was awesome but the movie sucked. Like the author of this article, I also couldn’t finish the movie because of how awful it was. And yes, the Captain America costume belongs on this list, in my opinion, as the worst superhero costume on film. Ever. Even worse than the nippled Batman & Robin costumes, which I have been told were designed by a gay man

  • David

    The Thing from Corman’s movie (which looked like foam covered with cheap fabric) is in no way nearly as good as the Thing in the recent FF films

  • David

    For the record, the Nick Fury in Marvel’s “Ultimate” universe is black. I’m not surprised they used this version, as the Spider-Man 1 was heavily based on”Ultimate Spider-Man

  • The Ponderer

    Just a little tid-bit of brain yums for you…

    Men have nipples because everybody is born female. In the womb your chromosomes are XX, and it isn’t until you develop further that it changes to XY, thus making you a male. So basically nipples on men are just a remnant of what once was in your mothers stomach. Pretty exciting, I know.

    Oh yeah, and great stuff. Makes me laugh and really think about movies. :)

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