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Old 02-23-2010, 10:43 AM   #1
Chris Wallace
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Default Has Batman hurt the genre where costumes are concerned?

30 years ago, we had absolutely no problem whatsoever going to see a movie whose lead character was dressed head-to-toe in colorful spandex. Fast forward to 1989, we see for the first time a Dark Knight type Batman-one whose battle gear, while based on the garb he sports in the comics-is radically changed. The filmmakers deem his grey tights "silly & unrealistic". And we, the fans, buy into this for the most part. But now so many movies & TV shows are taking such drastic liberties & taking characters' looks further and further away from their pulp counterparts. We, the fans, debate these decisions relentlessly-some of us defend it, others are totally against it. But if not for Batman's black rubber, would we all eagerly run to see the colorfully clad characters without any regard for how "silly" they looked?

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Old 02-23-2010, 11:15 AM   #2
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Default Re: Has Batman hurt the genre where costumes are concerned?

Batman89 improved the batsuit forever and some other characters have been copying it to death. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't. But for Batman it still works - okay, maybe if Nolan wouldn't exaggerate the armoured suit concept.

I still would have loved if Nolan would come up with something different.

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Old 02-23-2010, 11:58 AM   #3
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Default Re: Has Batman hurt the genre where costumes are concerned?

I don't feel Batman is as much to blame as The Matrix is.

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Old 02-23-2010, 12:21 PM   #4
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Default Re: Has Batman hurt the genre where costumes are concerned?

It's more to do with studios not wanting to take risks. Why put time and effort into constructing a good-looking, comic accurate costume when you could play it safe and follow typical 'cool' design conventions? (Black, leather/rubber, coats instead of capes)

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Old 02-23-2010, 01:06 PM   #5
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Default Re: Has Batman hurt the genre where costumes are concerned?

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I don't feel Batman is as much to blame as The Matrix is.
I disagree. We're not talking about trenchcoats, guns & vinyl here. And since there is no precedent for the Matris-no comic book in which the characters run around in tights-it really doesn't fit the mindset.

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Old 02-23-2010, 02:49 PM   #6
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Default Re: Has Batman hurt the genre where costumes are concerned?

Batman's traditional garb would have looked ridiculous within the context of B89 as well as Nolan's films. Taking liberties is not necessarily a bad thing, you just have to hope that those liberties make sense and add to the quality of the character and plot.

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Old 02-23-2010, 02:52 PM   #7
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Default Re: Has Batman hurt the genre where costumes are concerned?

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Batman's traditional garb would have looked ridiculous within the context of B89 as well as Nolan's films. Taking liberties is not necessarily a bad thing, you just have to hope that those liberties make sense and add to the quality of the character and plot.
It doesn't.

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Old 02-23-2010, 02:54 PM   #8
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Default Re: Has Batman hurt the genre where costumes are concerned?

I may be wrong but I thought his traditional garb was the gray and bright blue colours?

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Old 02-23-2010, 02:58 PM   #9
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Default Re: Has Batman hurt the genre where costumes are concerned?

The blue is debatable. Batman was introduced wearing black. Black costumes were, for the longest time, highlighted in blue, as the base color of comic book ink is black. Over time, with deadlines & God knows what else, inkers filled in less & less black, while colorists filled in more & more blue. Somehow this led to people coming onto the book with the impression that his garb was SUPPOSED to be blue, & rendering him accordingly.

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Old 02-23-2010, 03:03 PM   #10
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Default Re: Has Batman hurt the genre where costumes are concerned?

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I may be wrong but I thought his traditional garb was the gray and bright blue colours?
Let's make this clear: It is true that when costumes are translated to film changes must be made. But that's the result of translation, instead of replacement.

Batman is officially gray and black, which is sometimes represented as gray and blue.

What changes between comic and film is colour theory. Batman's high-contrast gray and black costume works better on paper than subtle changes in tone.

This proposed 'accurate' costume is gray and black, but the contrast isn't as high. If we wanted, we could have the black part of the costume reflect blue under strong lighting, like the costume in Batman Forever.

So you're right, changes must be made, but that doesn't mean we should suffer sub-par replacements.

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Old 02-23-2010, 03:11 PM   #11
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Default Re: Has Batman hurt the genre where costumes are concerned?

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Batman's traditional garb would have looked ridiculous within the context of B89 as well as Nolan's films. Taking liberties is not necessarily a bad thing, you just have to hope that those liberties make sense and add to the quality of the character and plot.
See, I wonder about that now. I agree with you but, how much of that agreement is based on my own aesthetic preferences & how much of it is because over the last 20 years we've been conditioned to think certain outfits would look silly on film? I mean, nobody but nobody has more fiercely defended the leather X-suits or opposed the idea of bringing Batman's grey tights to the silver screen than I have. But then Spider-Man wore tights in his movies & looked GREAT. Had the same time & care that went into his suit been put into Batman's traditional garb, then maybe-just maybe they could've pulled it off. Is it entirely inconceivable that the movies could have just told us that the suit was made of some kind of special protective fabric and we would've swallowed that? We don't question it when they say it in the comics. Tell us an obviously form-fitting & otherwise ordinary looking suit is armored, we accept it. From time to time the outermost layer bts ripped up, revealing a kevlar mesh underneath & we're fine with it. And it HAS been pulled a time or two-the Flash series said that his suit was some unique material that could stand up to vibrations. We bought into the FF's "unstable molecules" bit. (I know the FF movies were wildly unpopular but for all the complaints I've heard, plausibility of the costumes was NOT among them.) Maybe, just maybe. I don't know. I'm only speculating. The only real evidence any of us has AGAINST the use of spandex really comes from things like the 60's Batman TV show & cheaply made fan-films.

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Old 02-23-2010, 03:25 PM   #12
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Default Re: Has Batman hurt the genre where costumes are concerned?

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See, I wonder about that now. I agree with you but, how much of that agreement is based on my own aesthetic preferences & how much of it is because over the last 20 years we've been conditioned to think certain outfits would look silly on film? I mean, nobody but nobody has more fiercely defended the leather X-suits or opposed the idea of bringing Batman's grey tights to the silver screen than I have. But then Spider-Man wore tights in his movies & looked GREAT. Had the same time & care that went into his suit been put into Batman's traditional garb, then maybe-just maybe they could've pulled it off. Is it entirely inconceivable that the movies could have just told us that the suit was made of some kind of special protective fabric and we would've swallowed that? We don't question it when they say it in the comics. Tell us an obviously form-fitting & otherwise ordinary looking suit is armored, we accept it. From time to time the outermost layer bts ripped up, revealing a kevlar mesh underneath & we're fine with it. And it HAS been pulled a time or two-the Flash series said that his suit was some unique material that could stand up to vibrations. We bought into the FF's "unstable molecules" bit. (I know the FF movies were wildly unpopular but for all the complaints I've heard, plausibility of the costumes was NOT among them.) Maybe, just maybe. I don't know. I'm only speculating. The only real evidence any of us has AGAINST the use of spandex really comes from things like the 60's Batman TV show & cheaply made fan-films.
I think you have to look at each superhero within his own context. Spider-Man is light in tone for the most part, so the tights fit the context.

In regards to the X-Men, I think have each character in their own specific costume would have looked horrificly bad and camp in live action. The "aesthetic" would have been all over the place. Plus, you have to think about what Singer was presenting us with; a bunch of outsiders/mutants who come together in unity. What better way to portray that unity than have them wear a kind of uniform which states "we are one"?

Now, in regards to Batman, the tights would have looked out of place badly in both Nolan's and Burton's universes. Imagine Batman's introduction in BB; would it have worked as well with tights? Would the theme of fear worked with tights? I'm not so sure.

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Old 02-23-2010, 05:09 PM   #13
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Default Re: Has Batman hurt the genre where costumes are concerned?

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Now, in regards to Batman, the tights would have looked out of place badly in both Nolan's and Burton's universes. Imagine Batman's introduction in BB; would it have worked as well with tights? Would the theme of fear worked with tights? I'm not so sure.
Well the manip I posted earlier doesn't look any less intimidating than what Batman wore in TDK.

And they wouldn't be 'tights' on film. The characters in the film will not notice he is wearing tights. Just like they don't notice that the armour he wears is made of rubber.

It's very easy to say that a man in tights can't look scary. It's another thing entirely to actually make that costume to find out.

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Old 02-23-2010, 06:04 PM   #14
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It doesn't.
It doesn't because that is the same armoured bat-suit created by burton, used by him, Schumacher and Nolan (with many variation of the original concept) but gray. That is not the traditional comic suit. Now, after 1989 many comics have depicted the bat-suit as an armoured suit but you know who to thank for for that.

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Old 02-23-2010, 06:13 PM   #15
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Default Re: Has Batman hurt the genre where costumes are concerned?

How did TDK's Batsuit follow the same formula ? It was completely redesigned compared to the previous Batsuits.

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Old 02-23-2010, 06:17 PM   #16
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How did TDK's Batsuit follow the same formula ? It was completely redesigned compared to the previous Batsuits.
Armoured suit, completely black, cape that turns into a glider, gauntlets.

That wasn't seen in comics untill B89.

And there's more than one feature in the BB's bat-suit that reminds the Schumacher bat-nonar suit.

And TDK was the same but busier and oh, yes, leaving some spandex between the black armoured plates.

Now, it's not like Nolan just copied the previous suits. He made variations of them just as Burton did it varying the B89 suit and then Schumacher did with Burton's bat-suits.

Completely re-design would have used the comic book colors and another idea than the black armoured suit.

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Old 02-23-2010, 06:29 PM   #17
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Default Re: Has Batman hurt the genre where costumes are concerned?

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30 years ago, we had absolutely no problem whatsoever going to see a movie whose lead character was dressed head-to-toe in colorful spandex.
Here's where the argument falls apart. With pretty much the sole exception of Superman: The Movie, superheroes were seen as either jokes, for kids, or at best guilty pleasures. It wasn't until Batman '89 that they started becoming cool and it was mostly due to its dark and gritty look.

While the traditional spandex and bright colours can work for more light-hearted heroes like Spider-Man or Superman, it can't be on badasses without the audience revolting. Nobody would ever take Wolverine seriously if he was wearing yellow and blue spandex.

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Old 02-23-2010, 11:27 PM   #18
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Default Re: Has Batman hurt the genre where costumes are concerned?

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I disagree. We're not talking about trenchcoats, guns & vinyl here. And since there is no precedent for the Matris-no comic book in which the characters run around in tights-it really doesn't fit the mindset.

Actually, I DO agree with him. Because of the Matrix, X-men looked...the way it did. I honestly think if it weren't for the Matrix, Nolan's Batman(while still not in bright blue or anything), would've possibly been in gray and black at least. WE know that the Matrix isn't a comic book film but I think many people put Matrix in the same category as most of these superhero flicks.

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Old 02-23-2010, 11:36 PM   #19
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Default Re: Has Batman hurt the genre where costumes are concerned?

It's an interesting argument, here. I don't think that realism is really a factor when it comes to costumes, despite how often it's brought up - it's more about aesthetics and how serious the costumes will be taken on screen. I mean, even the most realistic comic book movie costumes usually wouldn't function too well in real life.

For instance, I really doubt that Tim Burton had realism in mind when he was telling the designers what he wanted in his version of the bat suit. My feeling is that Burton wanted to make Batman look more powerful, by representing him in an armored suit instead of a spandex one. It also has a lot to do with Burton's view of the character - I mean, there's a reason that Michael Keaton wasn't told to bulk up the way that Christian Bale or Tobey Maguire were told to. I think Burton wanted his Batman to be a less a self-made, muscular man and more of a distant, quiet outsider, a smaller man, who used gears and tools to make himself into a creature of the night. Not necessarily a comics accurate depiction, which is why I prefer Nolan's interpretation by far...but I think that it was the reasoning behind the 1989 rubber suit.

I think the movie that made comic fans and studios so hung up on the realism idea was, actually, X-Men back in 2000. Changed costumes may have started with Batman but it wasn't until 2000 that the term "realism" started becoming so accepted as a reason for changing things around, dulling them down, using materials like leather and so on.

Personally, I like the leather X-Men costumes quite a bit but I don't think they're particularly more realistic than the comics ones.

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Old 02-24-2010, 01:01 AM   #20
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Default Re: Has Batman hurt the genre where costumes are concerned?

Misguided argument considering that before TDK the king of the comic book movie world was spiderman with his spandexish costume and i see no rush to radically change his look for the nest film.

The FF movies had spandex, Daredevil had tight leather.

As for the X-men franchise they would not have been depicted in their traditional costumes even had Batman 89 never come out. I could almost book that.

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But if not for Batman's black rubber, would we all eagerly run to see the colorfully clad characters without any regard for how "silly" they looked?
Rubber or no rubber batman is not a colorful super hero. He probably has the dullest colors of any major comic book character so why are you comparing the effect his costumes depiction should have on the "color" of others.

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Old 02-24-2010, 02:36 AM   #21
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Default Re: Has Batman hurt the genre where costumes are concerned?

I think the easiest way to look at things is simply to accept that what works on the page doesn't always translate well into real life, there are plenty of comic costumes where you can just see how they wouldn't work in live action. It might sound cliched but it rings true, that also goes for things like altering story arcs, character origins, settings, etcs, it's not just costumes. You've also got to take into account the type of character and the type of movie they are making, so really you just have to take each character as they come. The way I look at it, if a character's costume in a comic is iconic, as long as the suit keeps the spirit of the comic book design it shouldn't matter what the materials are made out of or whether it's got too many seams or whether it's deemed 'to busy', the point is if it's clearly recognizable as the character, really what difference does it make?

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Old 02-24-2010, 06:58 AM   #22
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Wow. So much to respond to.
I agree that the X-Men do and always would look better in a team uniform than in the random rainbow garb that tends to populate the comic book pages. I've said this before, but with the exception of Storm, Wolverine and occasionally Archangel, there's no individual themes for them to display. Many of their comic book suits-Jean & Gambit particularly come to mind-are very generic in their design. The X-Men aren't the Avengers or the JLA-a bunch of solo heroes who band together in an emergency & then go back to defending their separate cities. They are a true team-nay, a FAMILY. And while i do like the uniforms they had in the movie, I'm now open to the possibility that there was a third option that may have been overlooked.
On "The Matrix"-I see no signs of its influence on any superhero project except MAYBE for "Smallville"'s JLA. Plus, Burton's Batman came first.
Batman's NOT a colorful superhero, this is true. I hate that so many attempts have been made to turn him into one. And while I would hate to see something that reminded me of the Adam West days or the numerous fanfilms I've come across, the TDK suit is far from prefect. Again, maybe there were other possibilities that were simply overlooked.
I guess my biggest concern is how this "realism" mentality could infect other projects. Look at the "Ultimate" books-it's like the superhero costume-apart from Spidey-is just a dead concept. If you go to the Captain America costume thread, there are so many horrendous proposals, most of which are steeped in the argument of whether or not someone would wear that in a war zone in real life. They wouldn't. But so what? NObody would wear a pointy-eared cowl to fight drug dealers either.
I want costumes that LOOK good as well as costumes that are functional. But I don't want them to sacrifice one for the other.

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Old 02-24-2010, 07:11 AM   #23
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Default Re: Has Batman hurt the genre where costumes are concerned?

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It doesn't because that is the same armoured bat-suit created by burton, used by him, Schumacher and Nolan (with many variation of the original concept) but gray. That is not the traditional comic suit. Now, after 1989 many comics have depicted the bat-suit as an armoured suit but you know who to thank for for that.
That manip is supposed to show a fabric-based Batman costume with armour underneath the costume, which is what he does have in the comics. True, Tim Burton may have popularised the armoured Batman costume (even though Frank Miller had Batman with armour underneath in The Dark Knight Returns, in 1986) but it is part of the comics now.

My philosophy is: as long as it is comic accurate, it doesn't matter how they rationalise it.

Of course, there are certain characters where it would be impossible to adapt the costume without changing the tone of the movie.

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Old 02-24-2010, 09:55 AM   #24
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That manip is supposed to show a fabric-based Batman costume with armour underneath the costume, which is what he does have in the comics.
The problem is that the manip shows the armour on the outside in spite of what it was supposed to show. It looks like another Burton bat-suit variation just in grey (which doesn't look bad at all btw).

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True, Tim Burton may have popularised the armoured Batman costume (even though Frank Miller had Batman with armour underneath in The Dark Knight Returns, in 1986) but it is part of the comics now.
That's my point when I said Burton improved the Batman suit forever. Now other direrctors and even the comics are using it and can't go back to what was previously traditional.

Now, wearing the armour under the suit and make the armour the suit itself are two different things.

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My philosophy is: as long as it is comic accurate, it doesn't matter how they rationalise it.
But in this case it was such an improvement that it became comic canon.

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Of course, there are certain characters where it would be impossible to adapt the costume without changing the tone of the movie.
I agree. It will always be a risk though to discern which characters are better to have a different suit and how different it should be.


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Old 02-24-2010, 01:45 PM   #25
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Default Re: Has Batman hurt the genre where costumes are concerned?

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I guess my biggest concern is how this ''realism'' mentality could infect other projects.
Realism is the wrong word, justification is probably a better alternative, 'why would this character wear this costume?' is the question, and really there's nothing wrong with asking it. I think in film, especially if the character is to be treated seriously a la Batman or Iron Man, you have to at least try to give some rational reason as to why this person would start to wear some ridiculous outfit. I think they days of simply accepting 'that just how it is' for these big name characters are over.

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