The Web is still reeling from the first official photo of Andrew Garfield in the Spider-Man costume. The general consensus seems to be positive, which is a relief — comic-book-movie fans have been through their share of disappointments in this department. Some sequels and reboots have improved upon their heroes’ duds, while others are a serious downgrade. Join me for a look at the best (and worst) changes made to iconic comic-book-movie costumes.
Best – Andrew Garfield, Untitled Spider-Man Reboot
Though we’ve only seen one image, the new Spidey costume is already an improvement of the previous version. First, the lack of metallic outlining is refreshing. (Spider-Man doesn’t need to shine like Iron Man.) The darker blue and red is also striking and in keeping with the web slinger’s stripped-down look in the popular “Ultimate Spider-Man” comics. Now the real question: are the metal circles on Peter’s hands supposed to be web shooters? If so, the “mechanical versus organic webbing” debate could begin anew.
Worst – Nicolas Cage, Superman Lives
As test shots of Cage in the ridiculous getup he was supposed to wear in Tim Burton’s aborted late-nineties take on the Man of Steel attest, we really dodged a speeding bullet with this one. For some reason, Burton saw fit to dress Cage in a skintight vinyl outfit more suitable for a fetish club than Metropolis. It should be noted that Burton’s film was scrapped after the budget ballooned out of control. This is what they blew millions on? And they couldn’t afford a hairstylist? He looks like Eddie Vedder circa 1993.
Best – Christian Bale, Batman
In keeping with the realistic tone of
Nolan’s first Bat outing, Lindy Hemming’s Caped Crusader costume is
heavily padded (Batman gets shot at a lot, after all) and features a
larger belt than previous incarnations (the better to carry his many
wonderful toys). While less menacing than designer Bob Ringwood’s iconic
duds for Tim Burton’s Batman, the Batman Begins costume
(and the similar outfit Bale sports in The Dark Knight) is a
solid update. Now maybe Hemming can fix his oddly shaped nose for The Dark Knight Rises.
Worst – Halle Berry, Catwoman
absurd costume looks like what would happen if you took a pair of
scissors to Michelle Pfeiffer’s outfit from Batman Returns and
then added some mouse ears. Catwoman’s costume shouldn’t be that
difficult to nail — it’s literally a skintight catsuit. While Pfeiffer’s
suit was sleek and sexy, Berry’s looks like something you might find in
the Naughty Cat section of a Halloween store. Completely impractical
for crime fighting (there’s tons of exposed skin for bullets to pierce),
the costume’s sole purpose is to showcase Berry’s abs. In this sense,
it’s a success. Too bad it fails on every other level.
Best – Ray Stevenson, Punisher: War Zone
For a character with easily the simplest
costume in comics, Hollywood sure has a hard time getting the Punisher
right. Dolph Lundgren’s version from the late eighties didn’t even bother to
have the iconic-skull logo, instead turning Frank Castle into a generic
leather-jacket-clad biker. Thomas Jane sported the logo in 2004’s Punisher but was still basically wearing a T-shirt while battling
the Mafia. Punisher: War Zone finally gave Frank suitable body
armor, while also coming the closest to capturing fan-favorite artist
Tim Bradstreet’s comic-book covers. Now that the costume is in order,
perhaps Marvel can work on developing a decent Punisher script.
Worst – George Clooney and Chris O’Donnell, Batman
From the space-age tin can that Mr. Freeze calls a
costume to visible Bat nipples, nobody came away from this debacle
unscathed. (It’s a wonder that Alfred’s signature tux wasn’t bedazzled.)
Compared to the Day-Glo nightmares on display here, the Dynamic Duo’s
rubbery suits in Batman Forever look practically sedate. But with
Batman & Robin, Joel Schumacher pushed the camp so far that
it effectively killed the franchise for nearly a decade. Fourteen years
later, the Batman & Robin costumes remain a cautionary
example of comic-book-movie excess run amok. Try as we might, we just
can’t erase the image of Batman with nipples from our memory.