Superhero outfits through the ages
Superhuman powers, smart gadgets, and unique uniforms make the modern superhero extraordinary in almost every way. Right from the start of cinema and TV’s treatment of their adventures, Batman, Catwoman, Hulk and the rest have undergone pretty extreme makeovers compared to their predecessors.
Fashion has always looked to exceptional men and women of the past for inspiration so why should superhero style be any different? And this raises the question: which costumes do you like best, the original or the modern?
Is it a plane? Is it a bird? No! It’s … Superman. Ok we got the order mixed up, but seemingly no more than the Man of Steel himself when he first appeared on screen wearing his underpants on the outside. At least that was the first impression of actor Kirk Alyn (far left) with the retro pants in a high-waist style over his superhero costume. Either way, the American was assured an entry in the history books as the first person to embody the hero from the planet Krypton.
Alyn laid important pioneering fashion foundations for his successors; actors like Christopher Reeve, Dean Cain and Brandon Routh who donned the suit in the following decades. Then with Henry Cavill as Kal El, the latest costume was pimped to a new level. Whether the skintight suit - the outline of the muscles clearly visible of course - represents a better ensemble for the main man of Metropolis is a matter of taste.
Catwoman: Lee Meriwether vs. Anne Hathaway
Catwoman has remained surprisingly true to her style over the years.
With the skin-tight catsuit highlighting the curves of Kitty in the right light, placed cat ears, claws and a discreet mask, didn’t actress Lee Meriwether just purr on screen in 1966?
Then almost 50 years later Anne Hathaway slipped into the role of the scratching superheroine.
Although her costume has got a more modern look, it’s still strongly reminiscent of the 1960s version. But which of the two fighting felines do you like best?
Batman: Adam West vs. Christian Bale
When Catwoman sharpens her claws and goes on the prowl at night, Batman is usually not far behind. Maybe the Dark Knight should have asked for some styling tips from the woman with the whiskers. The costume donned by Adam West from 1966 to 1968 looks dated by today’s standards.
But did Christian Bale do any better more than 40 years later? They say black never goes out of style and the Caped Crusader’s getup oozed a new kind of confidence in the Dark Knight trilogy from 2005. And the skintight suit with printed muscles had bat fans in a flap.
Hulk: Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno vs. Mark Ruffalo/CGI
When Bill Bixby took on the role of Dr. David Banner in the television series The Incredible Hulk 1978-1982, it wasn’t exactly a special effects extravaganza. Monstrous acts of strength by his angry alter-ego Hulk (played by Lou Ferrigno) seemed puny compared to today’s theatrics when the scientist could burst through his shirt just because someone stepped on his toe.
So things were taken to extreme CGI levels in 2012 in the Avengers as Mark Ruffalo took over as the green giant with a terrible temper, something Thor could tell you a thing or two about. Despite his super powers, even his head was spinning after a ferocious meeting with the bare-chested beast. But in this case does size really matter?
Exo-Man vs. Iron Man
Maybe the biggest example of the influence of time on a superhero costume is Iron Man and his clone from the Exo-Man TV movie. Played by David Ackroyd in 1977, the exoskeleton definitely had an old school look, consisting of a red plate vest and an oversized helmet. Underneath was a blue leather body suit which no doubt prevented unwanted chafing.
It’s clear the style consultants were called in to kit out Robert Downey Jr. aka Tony Stark aka Iron Man. The yellow and red robotic ensemble is definitely a far more serious wardrobe upgrade. But which costume is actually better? The retro look of Exo-Man or the modern interpretation of Iron Man?