Super Outfits

It’s London Fashion Week so (rather tenuously) Dean Newman lifts the cloak and spandex on what makes a super and not such a super superhero costume or superhero disguise as he counts down the five best and worst that superherodom has to offer as he strives for truth, justice and the American way, and has a good old rummage in some superfolks wardrobes.

The Best

I never was a massive fan of grown men wearing their pants outside of their trousers, but Spidey, to me, was the real deal. Sure, like Clark Kent, Peter Parker was a mild-mannered reporter but it was the Spidey outfit, again red and blue (not counting the super cool 80s black get up) that really got me hooked. Darn it, its coolness couldn’t even be diminished in the poor 70s hash of a TV series. It reached levels of uber-coolness though under the artwork of Todd MacFarlane in the early 90s in the comics. Old web head’s outfit certainly sticks in the mind, if you’ll pardon the pun.

The Rocketeer
“An airborne Indiana Jones” so enthused good old Barry Norman back on Film 90 when this film came out, has it really been that long? Love the costume, which perfectly captures the 1930s feel of its setting, with a great helmet that looks like something off the hood of a car and a jetpack, with leather jacket. Did I mention that jet pack? Gleefully channelling both art deco and distant memories of the King of the Rocketmen serials.

The Punisher
Frank Castle and his family saw a mob hit. His family were taken out; Frank swears vigilante revenge and delivers in spades, quite literally as death himself, with an iconic death’s-head emblem on his costume. Subtle but stunning and even three trite film versions can’t lessen the impact.

Ghost Rider
Talking of skulls and vigilantes…Originally Johnny Blaze’s alter-ego in the 70s the dude with the flaming skull was resurrected in 1990 as teenager Dan Ketch who witnessed his sister slain thus becoming the new Ghost Rider, to great fiery effect, who had a spirit of Vengeance out to punish those who spilt ‘innocent blood’. The teenage Ketch is at odds with the violence by old fiery features so attempts to keep him at bay, unsuccessfully, rather like another green-skinned Marvel character.

Clark Kent
Is it a bird? A plane? No its Clark Kent. Okay, so for many this should probably by on the worst list but it takes the top slot for its sheer brilliance and the fact that pretty much every other hero has copied it. Sure it’s ridiculous that no one hasn’t thought that Clark, minus kiss curl but with added glasses looks at least a little bit like Supes, but it works. Comics aside, in the movies it works for one reason and one reason alone, Christopher Reeve.

For me it was never really about ‘you’ll believe a man can fly’, for me it was always about I believe a man can convincingly pull off two alter egos. Supes is pretty darn easy, it’s Kent that is the tough cookie and the makers of the latest reboot have a large pair of polished shoes and glasses to fill, the red boots and cape is the easy bit. Genius comic timing.

You only have to look at the performance of Christopher Reeve to see how convincing the act can be, the accident prone, dithering Kent is a masterstroke and as good as his Man of Steel is, it’s the portrayal of Clark that really seals the deal.

The Worst

Batman in Batman and Robin    
Holy chaffing Bat nipples! Nuff said.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Such colours. Who knew that motorcycle crash helmets came in so many wonderfully bright colours. Sabretooth tiger indeed! Or perhaps they’ve all just got cold sores?

The Shadow
He’s the inspiration for Batman and he has a huge nose and hat and is hidden by a scarf. A big hit on radio in the 30s, the Alec Baldwin film of the same name didn’t exactly set the world alight, but then with such a nose and a scarf it may as well have been Nigel Havers going round with a bit of a cold. Hardly fills the criminal underworld with fear and dread.

Ben Grimm AKA The Thing and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
No, it’s not a money spinning team up, it’s the fact that both these sets of characters go for the rain mac and brimmed hat as the outfit of choice to act as a ‘disguise’ to keep them incognito. Really? Unless it’s worn by Columbo a rain mac looks pretty dodgy and makes them look even more suspicious if you ask me. For superhero mac wearing in style they should have taken a leaf out of Gambit’s book rather than looking like a dodgy gumshoe detective.

The Phantom
He’s always on about being the ghost that walks but he’s hardly ghost like in all that purple spandex. Was that really the greatest colour for the jungle? Not unless he’s endorsing Ribena its not!

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