A couple of days ago I kicked off a debate on my Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/comicacademy) on the suitability of the costume from the new Superman movie, starring Henry Cavill (see pic).
Personally I thought it was atrocious. Although I can live with the webbing that seems to be de rigeur in superhero movie costumes these days (see Amazing Spiderman), the colours are way too dull for me.
In addition, although having one’s underwear outside of their trousers has become a point of fun in ‘ironic’ superhero movies, we’re talking about the original character who introduced the concept to the world. Removing the red briefs, along with the bright yellow belt makes the costume lifeless. It’s almost as serious a crime as putting nipples on the bat-suit.
Now, although the costume was also revamped in the 2006 movie ‘Superman Returns’, the colours were of a richer tone, making Superman look more like superhero royalty. The new grey-blue costume looks more like a badly made gym suit being hawked on a late-night shopping channel.
I came across this poster advertising the original 1977 Superman movie, starring Christopher Reeve. It’s an amazingly powerful image, celebrating the primary colours of the costume. I can’t see how the makers of the new movie can compete with this image, unless they have Superman holding up the sun.
Now – here’s the interesting thing. Although most of those who posted on Facebook agreed with my views, there were a few people who welcomed the changes, and couldn’t wait to see the suit on the big screen.
It got me thinking – just how important is colour in comics anyway? If you’re simply writing a strip about regular folk, such as the Archie comics, you haven’t got a defined costume to stick to. And then there are characters like The Wasp who seemed to change her costume design and colours almost every issue.
But it’s the icons of the comics world that tend to generate the most flak when any costume changes are made, and this includes long-established supporting characters. After all, it’s messing with history. Just check out the reworking of the Spiderman costume in the forthcoming movie (see pic), also in darker colours, and trying maybe a bit too hard to look ‘cool’.
But did anyone really care that the movie Wolverine didn’t stay in his original blue and yellow costume? And so what if Christian Bale’s Batman changes his threads with each instalment? After all, black is black (even when you’re Perry White but that’s a whole different argument).
DC Relaunch – New Costumes, Not Colours
Last year DC revamped the costumes of almost all of its heroes after Flashpoint. But interestingly, the colours stayed more or less the same. Now, with characters like Green Lantern and Green Arrow, their choices were obviously limited, but there was nothing to stop them changing the costume colours of characters such as Aquaman, Wonder Woman and The Flash. Does this prove that colours are more defining than design?
So what do you think? How important is colour when designing a character from scratch? If you’ve already given a character a regular colour-scheme, are there limits to the changes you would make to it?
Please let me know your thoughts by posting a comment below. I’ll endeavour to respond to every one.
All the best,
The Comic Academy
Phil Hampton founded The Comic Academy to help and inpire comic creators and publishers to market their work effectively. Download your FREE exclusive report ‘The 7 Steps to Comic Creator Success’ at http://www.TheComicAcademy.com