If you’ve had a chance to look at Empire magazine’s awful new variant covers for X-Men: Days of Future Past, you’re likely hoping that this is just a marketing and design nightmare that is not reflective of the quality of the upcoming movie. But aside from the layouts, there’s also some issue with the look of some of the characters. Particularly the costuming of both heroes and villains is downright atrocious if even existent.
Why are the makers of the X-Men movies consistently afraid to embrace the character designs from the comic books? Maybe they’re not as iconic as Superman’s shield and cape and red, blue and yellow color scheme, but for the fans there’s something of value in at least working from some of those familiar costumes. Especially if the alternative is so bland or goofy that even the nonfans think the costumes are lame. It’s been an issue for many of us since the first X-Men in 2000.
I saw someone tweet earlier today pitying anyone who cares one bit about what a superheroe’s costume looks like in a movie. Well, superhero costumes are big deal to comic geeks. It makes more sense on the page, of course, because that’s a lot of what makes up the characters, what they look like. The movies (and their makers and audience) should be more concerned with the plot and the character development that isn’t all image based. Still, put some nipples on a batsuit or weird goggles on Quicksilver and people might go into a berzerker rage. All the more likely if it’s all we have to think about for months ahead of the stuff that matters.
Of course the most perfect superhero movie of all time, The Incredibles, had a lot to say about the importance of costumes. That’s an animated film, though, and so the actual costumes worn by its characters are a bit of a cheat against the live-action stuff. For those, Superman: The Movie still works quite well. The Burton and the Nolan Batmans are pretty good, the latter being notably practical almost all around. Captain America, meanwhile, seems fairly realistic for what it has to be (the upcoming sequel appears to be following, um, suit).
Realism, or at least plausibility, appears to be something the X-Men movies aim for in terms of the costuming. That’s why a lot of the time there is no individual or team uniform, because the idea in general is sort of goofy. It also gave Wolverine something else to make fun of the X-Men for in the first movie, when a uniform was tried. It would have made more sense if it was even more cartoony. I like what they did with X-Men: First Class in terms of paying tribute to the old comics. Hopefully some of that will still play in Days of Future Past and we’re just seeing some awkward looks at the moment.
Which superhero movies have the best costumes?
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