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Superheroes Past (Batman), Present (Deadpool) and Future (Thor) Strut the Runway

Now that the Thor cast is finally in place, it’s time to get down to real business: The costume. When it comes to fashion, comic book geeks have strong opinions on, to paraphrase Heidi Klum, what’s in and what’s out. Should director Kenneth Branagh and crew go with the more traditional attire, as seen above? Or would the character be more believable in his rugged, capeless Ultimate Universe incarnation? Before Chris Hemsworth picks up the hammer, Branagh would be wise to look at what has worked in the past (and what’s failed spectacularly). Who’s ready to play superhero Project Runway?

Batman, Batman (1989)
batman-keaton-125.jpgNot to agitate Christian Bale or anything, but I’m not the biggest fan of his Bat-duds. Sure, Bats needs a lot of armor to protect him from Joker’s dogs, but it’s still awfully bulky. Michael Keaton’s costumer Bob Ringwood nailed it, updating Batman’s traditional blue and grey to sleek black with yellow highlights. The result was an outfit at once menacing and respectful to the character’s history, and a symbol more ubiquitous than Bart Simpson that year. And the best part? No visible nipples. If Thor wants to honor the character and captivate audiences, perhaps he too should consider keeping it trim, and veering from strict comic adherence.
Verdict: In

Deadpool, X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
deadpool-125.jpgOn the other hand, the character has to somewhat resemble the comic. For the record, this is how Deadpool is supposed to look — and it’s nothing like Ryan Reynolds in a tight red shirt. The rom-com king’s costume rivals Dolph Lundgren’s skull-less Punisher in terms of sheer laziness. I mean, how can he not have a mask? It’s essential to the outfit, especially considering Deadpool is supposed to look like the offspring of the Toxic Avenger and Darkman underneath. Mr. Reynolds claims his upcoming solo spin-off will hue closer to the comics. For Thor, we’d better at least see a Viking helmet.
Verdict: Out

Rorschach, Watchmen (2009)
Rorschach-125.JPGWhatever your opinion of Zack Snyder’s slavish adaptation, there’s no denying Jackie Earle Haley’s Rorschach “made it work.” The trenchcoat, the constantly morphing inkblot, the purple pants that look like something your uncle would wear golfing — it’s the one movie costume that doesn’t veer towards the cartoonish. (And unlike Nite Owl and Ozymandias, he wasn’t overly padded to the point of looking like something Joel Schumacher would’ve rejected.) There’s a reason why Rorschach is overtaking Joker as the convention season costume favorite. It’s a simple, real-world look that anyone can pull off — and one that all superheroes, Thor included, would be wise to emulate.
Verdict: In

Iron Man, Iron Man (2008)
iron-man.jpgWhy is the suit that Tony Stark built the greatest superhero costume to date? It was designed by a comic book artist. Marvel Comics superstar Adi Granov helped create the look, which bears a striking resemblance to the one he drew in the “Extremis” story arc. Fans were happy, Marvel execs enjoyed a strong synergy between the movie and comic, and Robert Downey Jr. was made even smoother than usual. If Chris Hemsworth wants to look righteous channeling the Odin-force, he better make sure he’s strutting a respected Marvel label. (Perhaps designed by current Thor artist Oliver Coipel?)
Verdict: In

Everyone, X-Men (2000)
storm-125.jpgYou can thank the X-men movie franchise for cursing every other superhero flick with the black leather look. (Even Will Smith’s surly Hancock makes like an X-recruit when he finally puts on his costume.) In the comics, Charles Xavier’s mutants have some of the most interesting costumes around. Unfortunately, you’d never know that from the movies, which make them all look like a bunch of S&M freaks. Between this and Brandon Routh’s faded, rubbery Superman Returns costume, designer Louise Mingenbach deserves all the fan ire we can muster. There are countless fabric choices out there. For Thor, let’s give the cows the night off.
Verdict: Out

And who could forget the heroes whose duds are such duds, they’re best ignored altogether:

1. Steel, Steel (1997) – Just because you’re playing a poor-man’s Man of Steel doesn’t mean you have to look like a hunk of metal.

2. Catwoman, Catwoman (2004) – At least Michelle Pfeiffer’s costume didn’t make her look like a mouse with a taste for fetish parties.

3. Robin, Batman and Robin (1997) – Robin stands out above the rest for his mix of garish colors and visible bat-nipples.

4. Nuclear Man, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) – A costume so campy, even He-Man wouldn’t be caught dead in it.

5. Punisher, The Punisher (1989) – No one thought to draw a skull on Dolph Lundgren’s armor? Even Punisher War Zone got that much right, folks.


Got any favorite (or most hated) comic book movie costumes that Thor could learn from? Let us know in the comments section.

Want more comic book movie news and opinions? Follow Nick Nadel on Twitter.

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