Strange Brouhaha

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Superheroes are hard

An article over at CNN asks the musical question, "Who's the next great film superhero?"

It doesn't really touch too much on the big problem with making superhero movies. It's a well-known problem: superheroes are hard. Not because you can't write good superhero stories; good superhero stories are a dime a dozen. (Okay, not literally, but in a lot of ways the writing part is the easy part.) And not because you can't do the special effects. Or get actors. All of those problems are surmountable, although so often they are not. But none of those things are inherent problems of the superhero genre, but rather problems inherent in the moviemaking process itself. No, superheroes have one huge, gigantic problem.

The costumes.

Taking Batman all-black was the only way to make that costume look reasonable. And somehow, unfathomably, Christopher Reeve was able to sell the Superman longjohns. Superhero outfits, by and large, have bright, primary colors. They dealt with it in the recent Spider-Man movies by dialing down the color palette a lot; they dealt with it in the X-Men movies by simply not dealing with it, other than by making a joke. The article does mention the upcoming Wonder Woman movie, and female superhero costumes are even more of a problem than the male ones. You know, for obvious reasons.

Look at all the other superhero movies of the last little bit. They're all black-leather heroes, and black leather can only go so far. Not to mention that black-leather heroes are minor ones, like Blade. Or Black Panther.

The costume designers for the Fantastic Four movie did a good job with the FF costumes. (I hear, though, that they didn't actually take care of the actual moviemaking problems, like making it any good.) You know what makes me nervous? Thor and Captain America.


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