Why a Great Superhero Costume is CRUCIAL in Comics and Movies! || NerdSync

Why a Great Superhero Costume is CRUCIAL in Comics and Movies! || NerdSync


– The great people over at
Fun.com sent me this suit. You may have seen me wearing it on all of my social media
things, I love it so much. It’s a comic book themed
tie and pocket square, and, oh yeah, full suit, check it out. Bam! What? I love this thing and I
never want to take it off I want to wear it in every single video. They have a ton more like
this over at their website Fun.com, go check it out. Link in the description below. But wearing this suit made me think about superhero costumes. How’s that for a forced transition? But seriously though last
year around this time we did a four part series
about why superhero costumes are designed the way they are. Everything from capes, spandex, underwear on the outside of the pants, and those awesome white eyes a la Batman. I had plenty of other videos
lined up for this month, including some Christmas special stuff, but you know what? Gosh dang it I love superhero costumes and I want to revisit the series. So over the next couple weeks we’re going to be talking
more about superhero costumes. But instead of talking about why they’re designed the way they are, I want to take a look at
the function of costumes, why they are so important
in superhero stories. Both in the comics and in the movies. Now obviously comic books
are a visual medium, costumes are visually eye catching and they should help tell the story. We talked about this
plenty of times in the past but the early comic book industry didn’t really have great
printing technology. So designing superheroes with bright, vivid costumes helped the reader follow the character from page to page. And it became so effective that a reader could identify a character just by looking for their color
scheme and pattern. And so in that way
costumes made characters iconic and easily recognizable. I mean, plus they’re just super cool. Look at Superman here,
look how confident he is in this costume despite the fact that in real life it looks kind of silly. And if there are characters out there that can wear these kinds
of costumes confidently, then that kind of signifies that they know exactly who they are
and what they stand for. A costume should inform and reflect a very large part of the character. Not all of it, mind you, but a lot of it. Look at characters like Punisher, or Aquaman, or Doctor Strange. You can just look at these characters and know a lot about them instantly, just by what they’re wearing. And that’s a huge part
of what costumes are for. As comic scholar Peter
Coogan points out, quote, “The difference between
Superman and earlier figures “such as the Shadow or Doc Savage “lies in the element of identity “central to the superhero, the costume. “Although Superman was not
the first costumed hero, “his costume marks a clear
and striking departure “from those of the pulp heroes. “A pulp hero’s costume
does not emblematize “a character’s identity. “The slouch hat, black cloak and red scarf “of the Shadow or the mask and fangs “of the Spider disguise their faces “but do not proclaim their identities. “Superman’s costume does. “Particularly through his S chevron. “Similarly Batman’s costume
proclaims him a bat man, “just as Spider-Man’s webbed costume “proclaims him a spider man. “These costumes are iconic representations “of the superhero identity.” End quote. And in some cases a costume hero can be a metaphor for real life. When Marvel comics
printed that famous cover of Captain America punching
Hitler square in the jaw they got a ton of backlash for that. From isolationists who
believe that the U.S. shouldn’t even be involved in the war. And then here comes Marvel
printing a character who’s literally dressed
in the American flag not only getting involved, but going straight to the top and taking matters into his own hands. But of course the tights and the capes, those are just one costume
that a superhero wears. Their civilian clothes are
also a type of costume. Someone like Batman for example feels more comfortable
in the cape and cowl than he does as Bruce Wayne. Bruce Wayne is his costume. But where heroes’ civilian clothes are in constant flux from day to day wearing different outfits, the superhero costume
is resistant to change. Barry Allen might wear
a different combination of sweater and button up from day to day, but when he’s the Flash he
has a very specific uniform. Because a hero has to be
clear in their intentions and motivations and goals. And a costume helps create
that sense of stability. If Superman wore a different
costume every single day you wouldn’t really know
what to look out for if you were in trouble, but once you see that red, blue blur, you know that help is on the way. Which is not to say that
costume redesigns don’t happen, of course they do. Things get rebooted and
updated all the time. Most of the time it’s
minor tweaks and updates that don’t change a lot of the character. But when they do change drastically it can change how we perceive a hero. When Superman was de-powered and put into a t-shirt and jeans with that old classic Superman logo, it was to represent
that he is getting back to his roots as a character. A different costume change
can even allow a character to reach a completely
different audience than before. Take Batgirl’s redesign,
or even how Marvel will take characters from the comics and make them look like their counterparts in the movies. This is all an attempt to
reach a different audience. Someone who might not be familiar with a character’s classic costume and more familiar with
their movie costume. Which honestly could be
an entire video of itself, but let’s get back on track. I could talk about
superhero costumes forever and honestly I was planning on it. But I figured with all of
the thoughts that I had the video would turn out
to be a 40 minute long rambling, disjointed mess. But I figured to save you all from that I would just break this
up into individual chunks, critically examining
very specific superheroes as case studies. So over the next couple of weeks we’re going to be taking
a look at characters like Superman and the X-Men, Watchmen, even the movies. And seeing what they’re doing right and wrong with superhero costumes. The importance of Superman’s
cape for instance, or why he doesn’t wear a mask
and why that’s so effective. Why the X-Men having a unified
costume theme is significant. How Watchmen deals with the
power of masks and identity. And how costume designers
for comic book movies design super-suits, how
it informs the actor, and how restricting movement
might actually be beneficial. And if there’s time
potentially talk about cosplay. But all of this is just
in the works right now. I’m still writing all of these videos, which is also why I
wanted to make this video. To inform you about what’s
going to be happening and also to get the
conversation started right now. Maybe I could even use
some of your comments in these upcoming videos. So all of this is going
to start next week, but not before we do a Star Wars video because I forgot Star Wars was happening. So that’s going to be first, and then we’ll move on
to superhero costumes. So once again a huge thanks to Fun.com for sending this awesome comic book suit. Go check them out, they’ve
got a ton of other ones like Joker and Hulk and Iron Man. Just a bunch of great stuff over there. Links are in the description. And while you’re down
there hit that like button, and that big sexy subscribe button. If you can’t wait to learn
about superhero costumes we’ve got an entire playlist
already from last year that you can binge watch to get ready. So you can click right here to watch that. My name is Scott, reminding
you to read between the panels and grow smarter through comics. See ya.

100 Replies to “Why a Great Superhero Costume is CRUCIAL in Comics and Movies! || NerdSync”

  1. Well, i wish i'd be a guy just to wear one of those suits 🙁

    btt: ou may consider talking abolut the costume changes they made in the arrow tv series. in 5 seasons they had like 6 oder 7 different versions (including adding the mask instead of just green/black makeup).

  2. Little known comic book series featuring Carmine Infantino artwork that might help in costuming discussion is DC's Dial H For Hero. I don't recommend exploring the dark places those characters ended up. For purposes of costume discussion, the original 1980s series would be worth exploring. The two main characters Chris King and Vicki Grant had dials they used to magically generate a new superhero they could emulate for an hour's time. The heroes were designed by the readers, and were a literal representation of how "The clothes make the man" or woman. The Flying Buttress comes to mind. What were his powers? I don't recall off the top of my head but the visual communicated a lot while also leaving one scratching their head. What was that reader thinking when he dreamed this one up? While some of Infantino's work felt rushed in that series, it was clear he was enjoying the exercise of realizing new iconic looks from a fan's scribbles every few pages or so. Other artists got to work on that series as well but it's Infantino's efforts that stand out the most for me, especially his covers. Dial H For Hero. Might be fun if you tackled that series for a whole episode. Lots of costume visuals to choose from. What works and what doesn't?

  3. Hey Scott, haven't been on YouTube for a while but I saw this video and I am very glad you are doing a series on this. I had recently gone to see Doctor Strange, actually it was yesterday, and I noticed that Marvel and DC just love to change the costumes from the comics. Not like I have just noticed this, but look at the Eye of Agamotto and how it looks like some mechanical, steampunk necklace instead of a golden eyeball that opens and looks super cool. I would just like for one of your episodes to talk about how the movies change the costumes and how it is because of the fact that we live in a more tech-based world. Just a suggestion, I just want to see what you come up with. Alright, can't wait to see more videos.

  4. I just want to say, starting off, I'm going to need a TON of updates and notices for these.
    Also, a quick bit:
    body of the suit: protects just that
    mask/helmet: face or identity +saves from certain risk(unless you're Deadpool; JUST KEEP IT ON, ALL DAY)

  5. The beginning of this video reminded me of Spider-Man whenever he wears the black spidey costume( Symbiote or other). It's a drastic change in Spidey's otherwise iconic suit and coloring, and it's not the only time Peter's gone through a drastic change in costume, but I think it was one of the biggest changes to the suit at least in respect to color. Every super suit goes through change as their comic life goes on, but I find it interesting that they keep bringing back tht old spidey suits for Spider-Man even parodying it in new variations.

  6. Why is the matching uniform a trend among families and criminal organizations? What did the X-Men having matching uniforms signify, when the Brotherhood Of Mutants didn't?

  7. Also there are things like… For example Barry Allens costume is built specially so the friction doesn't burn it. Or another example like his costume is so slick (on his body) is so he can run faster instead of having a cape which would disturb his running.

  8. Superhero costumes and Company brand logos are very similar in concept and perception. Especially when you take in their re-designs, cause when you think about it, it's really the hero's "brand" or personal "logo"

  9. Maybe the 3 different Spidey incarnations in movies are an interesting case study.

    Or why villains sometimes resamble the costume of their adversary and sometimes not.

  10. Another thing important is that the public within the story can see that the hero is a certain one, so they know who to thank or blame. They may not know the secret ID of the hero, but they know what hero that person is.

  11. I forgot what Raptor said, but he mentions something about costumes or "branding" that I remember I thought was pretty cool (In one of the first few Nightwing Rebirth).

  12. I think you have to talk about the pratical part of costumes. For instance in Frank Miller's Dark Knight, Batman explain why the bright yellow on the chest. It serves as a target to the shooter hit him where he got more armor on.

  13. what do you say about Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill dialogue that says its not Clark Kent wearing a costume as Superman but rather Superman takes on the costume of Clark Kent to appear normal?

  14. i loved bale's suit in batman begins, but i hated the design for the dark knight and the dark knight rises. it looked like a puzzle

  15. Something that needs to be addressed: The similar costumes of different superheroes, and how regular people are able to pick them apart. I'm talking Batfamily, Flash and Kid Flash… And even CW's Arrow and Green Arrow. You see, while it is Oliver Queen under both hoods, that's nothing like the citizens think. They view them as different persons.

  16. Not to mention that trends in superhero costumes reflect fashion and zeitgeist of the era. Classic example is the rise of the antihero in the '90s and the wave of "darker" costumes. And BFGs and pouches. I can't explain the piping seams in modern hero costumes though. What's that all about?

  17. i think the flash costume in the movie ( suicide squad & justice league) is not very representative. those layered armors look cool and make sense, but Flash is a fast character. his costume should say "streamlining" and "velocity" out loud and those metal layers just make him look clunky and slow. And also his color scheme should be pretty simple so we don't see a big different when he standing still or when he became mostly a blur.

  18. This is completely off-topic of the actual video, but in comics now exceeds to me the only two characters out of the entire comic book universe that actually age. Tim Drake and Peter Parker seem to be the only comic book characters who actually age within their universe. Why is it that other superheroes don't age in their own universes like they do?

  19. As both a comic creator and reviewer going over the foundations of the superhero costume is something I very much support. There are differences between good and bad costumes as well as good and bad costume redesigns. And as the classic concept of a superhero costume seems to be fought against (one of my biggest problems with Heroes was the lack of costumes…certainly not my only problem) and are just making a comeback thanks to the MCU and DC TVU it's certain something for anyone looking to design superheros to think about.

  20. @1:45 Let's not get lazy on the editing. That's why I love you guys.
    PS-Do the Movie costumes video! Some def work, others def suck.

  21. I think my favorite cover with Hitler on it is the one where Batman and Robin are throwing baseballs at the faces of the axis leaders.

  22. PETE COOGAN is being quoted as a noted "comic scholar????"
    Mind . . . blown. Part of me wants to think that it's a different Pete Coogan than the one I went to Kent State with during the latter half of the '80s, but . . . in my heart of hearts, I know better. Jon Marshall must be spinning in his grave.

  23. Imagine this episode in Idea Channel. "Here's an idea. A superhero's costume is crucial to their identity".

  24. Cws flash costumes look like a wierd rubber, hate it, just like any other suit with similar texter, even batfleks cowl, also barrys head piece in cw for both suit designs are too bulbous cuz of the emphases in design in certin areas, like i kno he has hair and ears that need to be coverd up comfortably but dude, it makes his head look bigger than it is, lol like the cowl for batflek, except in his case, the part of his neck looks like that too making the whole cowl piece look bigger in comparison to his bodyXD

  25. What I hate are the non-costume costumes. Costumes that aren't much more than over-glorified street clothes (jackets, leather pants or jeans, etc.). Marvel has been particularly bad about this off and on. Trying to distance their characters from "superheroes" by downplaying the costumed aspect and overplaying the "every-man" look with plain or gritty-looking clothing. Those horrifying team jackets the Avengers wore before the Heroes Reborn storyline are a small example. Wolverine has been really bad about this.

  26. really nice points made here. I think the most distinct thing about a superhero costume compared to pulp heroes is that if you cosplay as a superhero, it's clear you're dressing AS them, whereas if you wear a specific combination of suit-hat-accessories, you're just dressing LIKE them

    as for the suit worn in this video, erm.. I can't help but think of the old cheap halloween costumes with a picture of the character ON the plastic smock…

  27. What superhero fan isn't familiar with the comic book version of the characters costume? Changes to superheroes costumes in movies and TV, for the most part, are too drastic. Bright colors are still used in comics and should be used in movies.

  28. Something I've always wondered was how the costume of a comic character can be different depending on their age and upbringing. The younger heroes might have a more homemade, DIY look while the adult heroes will have a more…professional look. Color schemes come into play too based upon their upbringing.

  29. 4:00 …Yeah that's right, I'm looking at YOU Dan Garrett! At least the creators of your successors got their look down BEFORE printing their first issues!

  30. @1:29 … okay im actually really bad at this. i know the first one is Marge Simpson maybe? and the second to last on the right is Michelangelo?

  31. I never liked the notion of "Bruce Wayne is Batman's disguise, not vice versa" because that informs the most unhealthy – and incidentally, unlikeable – version of the character.

  32. I am fascinated by all of this. In fact, if we look at Young Justice, especially the most recent series, a lot of focus is put on the cowl and the name as aspects of a superhero's identity, and what that identity can mean. The costumes shift and change throughout the seasons, each change in costume matching a particular shift in identity.

    (Spoilers ahead.)

    Grayson and Nightwing are now separate personas, for instance. Robin and then Nightwing became too front-and-centre, so now he relies on his secret identity for covert ops, even leaving his eyes uncovered for the first time ever on-mission. Will (formerly Roy) Harper has dropped the cowl almost entirely, now doing his work in a blue-collared security uniform, clearly and vocally more comfortable as Will the Bizarrely Competent Rent-A-Cop than he ever was as Red Arrow.

    Bart Allen, who felt a fraud as Kid Flash initially, has added his own splashes of Impulse Red to the costume in order to solidify his own identity as a hero in this strange old world, while Artemis has ditched the Robin Hood Green and become Tigress, also due to Wally's death, even though that was a persona synonymous with subterfuge, lies and betrayal.

    Even characters who would seem unable to go out-of-costume, like the erstwhile Beast Boy, Garfield Logan, have found new looks and identities. He's still green, he's still the entire animal kingdom at once, but he's become a civilian even so, using his powers for good but not to punch bad guys. His older sister, M'gann M'orzz, now is more comfortable with her own dual identities. Megan Morse is older, more confident, less of Hello Megan and more Just Megan, while Miss Martian has ditched any pretence, taking on a White Martian form, albeit humanised like her uncle's.

    But none of this comes close to the identity shifts seen in the costume changes of Kaldur, AKA Aqualad, Black Manta II and then Aquaman. One could do an entire case study on him alone, as he shifts from the practical, ever-ready tactical wear of the first season, to the imposing and villainous wear of the second, to the proud and regal armour of the third. It is interesting to note that even when he was under deep cover as the double-agent Black Manta II, he still chose to show his face more often than not. As if to show that yes, this was still Kaldur'Ahm, the trustworthy and empathic leader we knew. A clue, perhaps, though in-show it was more than likely justified by the fact that he quite simply did not need a helmet the same way his father did.

    The only mainstays of the character over his entire run are very appropriate, of course. His twin water-bearers. Tools, weapons, and an iconic part of the character. Practical but not rigid, ever-shifting to suit themselves to the situation at hand. His very first lines in the show are about that very situation at hand, and that too has been one unchanging part of his identity. He may no longer be the idealistic paragon and he may no longer have Tula; he may not even be part of the team whose membership defined him for so long, but he will always be above all practical, and always ready to fight the good fight.

    I could go on… Arsenal's satisfaction, Captain Marvel's unchanging look as Billy grows, and Blue Beetle, whose very identity was very literally in threat from his costume. This show is a masterclass in the superhero costume, and the superhero name.

  33. The costumes have always put me off superhero comics. I've always thought they look ridiculous. I read loads of comics but have never cracked the whole superhero thing.

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