Contrary to many other types of filmmaking, and art in general, in superhero films, appearances matter. A lot. If you’re basing a movie around a person enabled by a magic suit, then you will want to take pains to make the suit as awesome as you can. Failing that, making it as hilarious as possible can also go a long way (see below).
But anything in the middle gets lost in the near-constant barrage of superhero and comic book movies. However, here are seven suits that get it right, and in doing so, make their films that much better.
While Robocop 3 saw him flying around like some sort of metallic savant, the original Robocop suit did a fine job of balancing the characteristics of Murphy, the cop, and Robocop, the, uh, robotic cop.
The bluish sheen, awesome visor, and the fact that it could stop bullets didn’t really hurt much either.
While it may seem a cop-out to put all of a film’s suits in one entry, the praise here goes more to the idea, followed by the execution, and the idea runs to every costume. Kick-Ass follows some regular, non-superpowered kids who decide to step up to their calling.
They can’t fly, they don’t own polymer factories like Bruce Wayne, and they don’t have legions of 3-D printers to forge their outfits, so they do the best they can with what they have, which isn’t much. Initially, they look a little ridiculous, but the concept of a hero having to put on a special outfit is pretty ridiculous, too. So it all checks out.
Not the Dolph Lundgren film He-Man from Masters of the Universe, but the cartoon He-Man from He-Man and She-Ra: The Secret of the Sword. This one goes to the homoerotic “Ohmygodguysweshouldallgoclubbing” OUTFIT donned by Adam. It is comprised of some fur-trimmed briefs, two leather cross-body suspenders, some very handsome cuffs, and boots.
If only business suits were such.
From a practical perspective, the suit is a nightmare. It only protects his wrists and feet! From a costume design perspective, this ensemble hovers near perfection. Top it off with a four-dollar Dutch boy haircut, and you’ll be able to stop any of Skeletor’s henchmen to stop.
Stop in the name of LOVE.
Often, the best thing an adaptation can do is steer away from the original. Captain America (the film) managed to do that by taking away the squeaky-clean red, white, and blue while still keeping it thematically correct and just a tad more realistic and gritty.
While “grit” has rarely been what the classic comics are about, the idealized notions of a superhero don’t fly with today’s audiences. They could use a little humanity. And what’s more human than dirty clothes?
From an era similar to Captain America, the Rocketeer took on a very American bent as well, but this time utilizing art deco to a high degree. The look manages to be highly stylized, but still believable and realistic. With just a hint of steampunk, bless its soul.
The suit in this instance pretty much just consists of a jetpack, a bitchin’ leather jacket, and a really cool, streamlined helmet. It’s more real than fantastic, and that realism lends a little credibility to the notion that a regular dude can fly through the air with a backpack.
Since the subsequent film adaptations from 1989 onward, it seems that the many Batsuits have existed more to blind audiences with technology, angles, and fanfare than simply serve as a costume that a person could attain.
So it’s with some ironic enjoyment and some sincere praise that we salute the suit from 1966’s Batman. We love the gray, the super-dark navy, and a utility belt that appears to be fashioned for a middle school play. When you look at the role of Bruce Wayne, and think of Christian Bale’s dark portrayal, it’s fun to think of a morose billionaire slipping into something you could pick up at K-Mart for $30 and balancing the scales of justice.
It may not be the costume we need,….etc.
Along with Tony Stark’s huge glib personality, the suit is the star of the Iron Man show, so they had a lot to live up to in getting it right. And they did. While it’s certainly easier in this age of CGI to have a suit, costume, or backpack do just about anything, there’s no shortcut in determining the style.
So when it was time to put their best foot forward with the Iron Man suit, the producers had to walk a fine line between the fantastic and the real (as they have in all the best costumes). The color scheme, shape, and fact that the suit is a vehicle all get seamlessly integrated, resulting in the best superhero suit out there today.
Iron Man’s lucky that this list is confined to HEROES, though. Otherwise, the Predator suit would have taken #1 in a walk.