SUPER HERO GARB
An ever-widening number of comic book fans have continued to show their appreciation for this literature genre at cinema houses all over America. Thanks to their support films such as Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight become the second highest grossing film of all time. Batman hasn’t been the only success; movies featuring Iron man and Spiderman have also broken sales records for multi-million dollar earnings as well. Yet as interesting as this trend is, audiences recognize that excellent and imaginative design has been a part of the success of this genre also. What design, of all of the potential categories that we could discuss, am I talking about? I am specifically talking about the costumes designed for the actors portraying these heroes and heroines.
The goal of this 15-part essay is to address a number of design questions. How should the character the Flash’s costume be designed for his upcoming feature length movie? What topics should be taken into account when formulating this costume? And what is the costume design history and trends in the garment design of super heroes.
Originally created in 1948, the Flash has been one of the most popular characters in super hero history. As it has been promoted lately, the Flash movie is on the verge of being green lit for film development by Warner Bros. pictures. The expected writer/director Greg Berlanti, who co-wrote the currently filming Green Lantern script, will be at the helm. But all of those details will be worked out long before any one actually commits this character to film.
So what issues should be considered when designing this character’s costume. When presenting a character with a sixty year plus long history how much of the character should be familiar to us? Different from other characters what aspects of his costume should receive the most emphasis? And what will fans permit or not regarding the final design?
To elicit these answers we will examine the history of this character and similar characters to assure we can best describe the best treatment for the character. Also if references to science, literature or other design fields will prove useful they will be addressed as well.
Technically I am not a costume designer, so my description of costume production will not be exhaustive. You may not hear me pinpoint the exact nature of fabric, the exact method of construction, nor specify the full range of influences for every costume that will be discussed. I can’t even say I have had a direct relationship with every example discussed. My only strategic asset is I have a wife who is a startlingly impressive costume designer (who now calls herself a character designer) and she has largely influenced this undertaking. When I have been able to rely on her for her advice I have taken it.
My only expertise is that I have has been a comic’s reader and fan for most of my life and have seen most of the comic’s movies (good and bad) that have ever been made. This vantage has gained me some perspective on the field and where it is going. My frequent speculations, due to being an aspiring human computer interface designer also assist my musing on costume functionality.
Others who have made attempts to be informative on this subject have also influenced me. This undertaking would not be possible without the comic book companies DC and Marvel comics and all of the others who will be mentioned. I have been indebted to organizations like Ifanboy.com, comicbookresources.com, and comicbookmovie.com for their exhaustive and consistent reviews and commentary regarding this field as well.
One thing I may frequently do is talk about some of the functional aspects of the costume to point the relative utility of one aspect of a costume or another. One problematic aspect of the presentation that can’t be denied is the translation from comic book drawings and paintings to photography. Far more detailed film frequently casts a critical evaluation on costumes that doesn’t always occur in a purely graphic environment. Suddenly requirements for tailoring, better material selection, and functional utility become evident where they were frequently unimportant before.
That said I appreciate any assistance my audience gives me in helping me to review each one of these essays that make up this evaluative set.
Information pertaining to the Flash character and costumes were found at:
Flash character likeness TM and copyright 2010 DC Comics. All rights reserved.
Image Source: Illustrator Alex Ross