Comic-Book Costumes From Page To Screen, Ranked By Fidelity To Source

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The first picture of Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars-And-Stripes is now online, and it got us thinking about comparisons between film characters and their comic-book sources. Which ones most closely resemble their origins? And who’s gone waaay off-book? We look at the evidence here…

So faithful that they invented a whole new way of shooting to match it as closely as possible to the comics, Sin City is the gold standard of direct transitions – which is good news for all those who underwent hours of prosthetics / months of pole-dancing lessons to make it so.

The Spider-Man costume has changed remarkably little over the years, and onscreen about the most they’ve done is to tweak the shape of the logo and add a little texture to the fabric. Quite right too – why mess with perfection?

Most of Iron Man’s CG suits are awfully similar to his comic-book look, but they differ in one major respect: certain comic-book images almost appear to give his suit muscles (like the thigh shading here or here), while the filmmakers have been fairly consistent in acting like his suit’s made out of, y’know, metal.

How faithful are the costumes in Dick Tracy? So faithful that they buried some of the biggest stars in the film under unrecognisable layers of prosthetics to more closely resemble their on-page characters – and the colours are pretty comic-book friendly too.

Say what you like for Snyder’s film (and we know you will), but he and his team went so far as to mimic the precise inkblots of the graphic novel Rorschach’s mask in their film version at key moments, and the costumes overall display a real commitment to detail.

Colonel Stars-And-Stripes' hood is a little less full-bodied than the comic version and the flag motif a little more prominent (especially on his dog’s mask), but this follows the first Kick-Ass outing in modelling its costumes closely on the book, and then splattering them with buckets of blood.

Awkwardness, bad posture, bad hair, deadpan expressions – it’s all here on the page and on the screen. About the only major difference between film and book is that the film’s considerably more colourful, and features Scarlett Johansson.

Until now, the biggest Superman costume controversy concerned the dulled-down colours of Superman Returns. But in Man Of Steel, Supes will forego his usual panties-and-belt combo in favour of a somehow more crotch-emphasising all-in-one. Still, four out of six Superman movies have been faithful which isn’t bad.

It’s hard to judge how faithful Batman is to the comics since both he and his costume change every other minute. However, while the basics remain the same – Bat-belt, cape, cowl – the detail is forever subject to change, leading to this relatively low placement. Also, never forget: Bat nipples.

Sure, the film’s stars were mostly naked and spent all their time on set working out and avoiding carbs. But in the comic book, they frequently skipped the leather pants, so we’re deducting points for fidelity (albeit adding some for decency). Incidentally, real-life Spartans wore proper armour in battle, which was one of the reasons they were so fearsome.

At last! It took five X-films, but we finally got to see the mutants wearing some yellow. Of course, it’s a little tougher than on the page, and used more sparingly, but it’s still there – as is Emma Frost’s ridiculously impractical bra-centric look.

Wesley Snipes is, no two ways about it, a fine figure of a man and one not averse to taking his shirt off when the occasion demands it. But compared to many of the the comic iterations of Blade, he’s a stringbean who’s positively monk-like in his adherence to a vest. Some change here was probably inevitable.

Fans hated – hated – this oxblood effort, and the biker-leathers-meets-gimp-mask effect isn’t exactly a slam-dunk. Then again, how else to adapt the comic-book’s sleek red duds into something screen-friendly?

Well the costumes aren’t massively unfaithful; it’s the hair colour and LA setting that were wildly off-book in this Keanu Reeves-starring adaptation. The comic’s John Constantine, for the record, is blond and looks more like 1980s Sting. Both share an affection for Columbo-style macs though.

As is often the case with ladies in comic-books, Elektra’s on-page costume consists of a few pieces of ribbon and hope. That wouldn’t quite work onscreen (sorry, boys), so instead she’s in a bustier and leggings that manage to look almost – almost – sensible by comparison.

There are almost as many Catwomans as there are Batmans, but this look, it’s fair to say, was invented from basically nothing. Halle Berry is a stunningly beautiful woman – and it's just as well, because even she almost fails to pull off this rip-torn monstrosity.

Such was the furore over the not-even-nodding-to-faithful costumes in this first X-outing that there’s even a joke about it in the script. “You actually go outside in these things?” asks Wolverine incredulously, tugging at the collar of his black leather jumpsuit. “What would you prefer?” asks Cyclops. “Yellow spandex?” Oh snap!