Make It Sew: The Costume Blog – Wolverine? Is that you?

Comic book and superhero fans are a tough bunch. Few characters when brought to life on screen are as closely scrutinized, or widely criticized, as when an iconic comic book character makes the leap to the silver screen.

Let’s face it…there have been many disappointments.

As an ardent Bat-fan my life long goal is to slap Joel Schumacher as I repeatedly shout “Nipples? Nipples? Nipples? Ok, so it was actually the designer’s idea, but Joel had to approve it…and he did…otherwise no nipples.

But few costume designers have felt the wrath of comic book fans more than Louise Mingenbach.

Her credits include The Usual Suspects, Superman Returns, The Hangover and GI Joe: Retaliation. But in 2000 she enraged scores of X-Men fans when the first of the Bryan Singer series was released.

For decades fans thought they knew what the Xmen looked like. You know, blue, yellow, the mandatory X. But Mingenbach had a much different take on these beloved characters. Blue and yellow was replaced with black leather and the whole team took on a tougher, and some would argue much more adult, look.

x2_costumes

I was one of a dozen or so stitchers hired for this film when it was filming in and around the GTA and Hamilton, Ontario. While I was aware of Xmen, I was at the time not what one would consider a fan, but I knew, or thought I knew, what we were going to be producing. While most of the stitchers just took the sketches and got on with it, another stitcher – Thomas – and I sat kind of dumb founded before getting down to work. Early on in the process we sat down for lunch.

”What are you working on?” he asked.

“Wolverine” I answered. “He looks like a really well dressed biker. What about you?”

“Storm. Kinda dominatrix-ish”

And the rest of the crew was equally dumb-founded. I did not think it was particularly bad...just different...and kind of lifeless.

Recently it was announced that Mingenbach will return to the X fold as costume designer when Singer directs X-Men: Days of Future Past which is slated to open in July 2014. While fans online praised the return of Singer, the return of Mingenbach was greeted with less…lets call it enthusiasm…and Singer knew it.

International-X-Men-First-Class-Movie-Poster

He recently Tweeted: “For those of you wondering… no leather suits.”

What are your thoughts? Did she get it right re-imagining these iconic characters? Do you prefer the look of X-Men: First Class? Bat-Nipples?  Which movies got it right? Which got it wrong?

Sound off!

 

14 Responses to Make It Sew: The Costume Blog – Wolverine? Is that you?

  1. I can understand why it was done. Since the X-Men where brought back in the mid-seventies after their ten year hiatus, they haven’t looked much like a team, more like a random collection of superheroes (like the Avengers or JLA), and these films where trying to give them more of that team dynamic. But if I’m being honest, the only costume that looked right (discounting Prof X, who only whore a suit) was Magneto’s, the one that looked the most like the comic costume.
    However, I’m not sure Wolverine’s costume would have translated as well onto the big screen, it’s too gaudy. Storm’s might have but it wouldn’t really fit with the more realistic feel, but at least it would look better than what Mystique ended up wearing (i.e. a blanket to ward off the cold). That was a stupid idea

  2. William A. Peterson

    There are worse things you could wear than leather… Leather, at least, is tough, and provides the wearer with a degree of protection, without being as heavy as armor. I don’t like it for Superhero costumes… But, take a look at what they had Cap and Spidey, and Batman, for that matter, wear in the 70s! Underoos, anyone? 😉
    On the other hand, Lycra and Spandex are a little too shiny, and, for some reason, Professor Richards seems reluctant to sell his Unstable Molecules to Hollywood…
    Whatever is in that picture just above the comments, on the other hand, is even worse than the leather costumes, and comes close to rivaling the Underoo look!

  3. I first have to ask Djuby-Do you just sit there with your mouth open totally Enthrauled(if that’s how you spell it) Watching X-men, or any superhero related movie,critiqueing the costumes,getting crazy about ideas and do’s and don’t’s?Well I would love to be a fly on the wall in your TV room.And I am really starstruck just knowing you worked on those movies.Back to the question at hand.I love the leather look!Black even better ,even if it IS overkill lately with every hero dressing in leather and armor these days.I was wondering about Man Of Steel and how to make that costume design to work today!I saw it and well Whatever,better than underoos.As for Batman,combat armor and black leather is bad a$$,nothin’ more!I will just end with this…BLACK,MEAN,SEXY,and SLEEK!all the way!
    PS sorry if I sound Ignorant but you should look at my attire to realize I shouldn’t be speaking about style.:(

  4. Just worked on the first of the series. It was ridiculous fun, and the cast and crew were great.

  5. William A. Peterson:
    There are worse things you could wear than leather… Leather, at least, is tough, and provides the wearer with a degree of protection, without being as heavy as armor.I don’t like it for Superhero costumes… But, take a look at what they had Cap and Spidey, and Batman, for that matter, wear in the 70s! Underoos, anyone?
    On the other hand, Lycra and Spandex are a little too shiny, and, for some reason, Professor Richards seems reluctant to sell his Unstable Molecules to Hollywood…
    Whatever is in that picture just above the comments, on the other hand, is even worse than the leather costumes, and comes close to rivaling the Underoo look!

    Poster for XMen first class.

  6. i thought the leather costumes really worked for the setting. and again that movie came out in 2000. all these new super hero movies have years of other movies to learn what works and doesnt.

  7. I’m willing to give most super-hero movies a bit of a pass on costuming, simply because people in comic books are so hyper-realized with almost impossible (or sometimes completely impossible) physiques that real-life people (or actors; close enough) cannot possibly do it justice. Bryan Singer wants to dress the X-Men in leather bodysuits instead of spandex costumes: fine. Michael Keaton needs to have molded muscles on his bat suit, because he can’t match Batman’s physique, you got it. Joel Schumacher wants nipples on the Bat Costumes: go to hell! I still won’t condone everything, especially something so stupid.

  8. When I saw the black costumes at first, I thought: flak suits? flexi kevlar? Then the sheen hit me and I looked again. I started LAUGHING! Best laugh I’d had in a while. Poor actors. I did find out later that they couldn’t jump some low wall or something and action shots needed to be redone. Wearing leather in SEGMENTS is practical. Whole suits? This is why snakes have such small bones and squid have none. Tough hide means the flexi capability of an aged COW. I do wonder who skimped on their research before giving out the assignments, djuby.

  9. Myro:
    Michael Keaton needs to have molded muscles on his bat suit, because he can’t match Batman’s physique, you got it.

    Nope, rare occasion that I defend Tim Burton. Michael Keaton’s “molded muscles” were part of a smart costume design. You had the scene with Keaton lifting weights, sure. Attitude, presence, acting, Michael Keaton was Bruce Wayne and Tim Burton’s mold made him Batman. Keaton in the first movie was classy, smart, while being smarmy and charming. His performance was comic yet “real.”

    Juxtaposed against Tim Burton’s Gotham. My biggest complaint… b!tch about the Burton-Keaton movie? Jack Nicholson as The Joker. That wasn’t The Joker… that was Jack Nicholson playing the same character as he has done since 1962… boring!

    The only Joker since Cesar Romero was Heath Ledger. And he was so creepy disturbing to be the best Bat-villain. Too bad that he off’ed himself.

    Wait… we’re supposed to be talking about Wolverine. Sorry to rant there, djuby. I won’t lay the blame on your fellow Canadian(s)… I just have to geek-rage when someone disses Michael Keaton’s Batman

    Back to my corner… Wolverine… costume and character, just doesn’t do it for me… that yellow and blue, they didn’t even pay tribute to the original in the movies. From clean-cut square-jaw tp burlap biker in jeans to action form-fitting rubber tire… I like the unifying costume-design in the X-movies… but you want to talk about flat presentation… my Shrinky-Dinks and chocolate chip cookies had bigger swells fresh from the oven… ummm… enough of my rants… back to my corner…

    Just saying… Michael Keaton as Batman was better stuff than Hugh Jackman as Wolverine (by relative ucomparison). So there!

  10. The Atomic Punk:
    Just saying… Michael Keaton as Batman was better stuff than Hugh Jackman as Wolverine (by relative ucomparison).So there!

    There must have been something that got lost in translation. I was actually condoning that costume decision. As for Keaton’s performance, I’ll even admit that there are parts of it that were better done than Christian Bale’s (notably, the menacing voice that didn’t sound like laryngitis.) I had no problem with Keaton as Batman.

  11. Wolverine… costume and character, just doesn’t do it for me… that yellow and blue, they didn’t even pay tribute to the original in the movies.

    There’s a reason for that…

    http://media.comicbookmovie.com/images/users/uploads/52816/HughJackmanWolverinemask.jpg

  12. Well, I’m surprised to say I find this not so bad.
    THe worst part is the mask, but besides that, that’s not too horrible.
    They could have dimmed the colors a little, made the same kind of changes as with Captain America, it maybe could have flown.

  13. If you’re gonna do a superhero movie, go with the superhero costume. Reeve’s Superman and Maguire’s Spider-Man owe a lot of their success to keeping the comics’ costumes, even though I had reservations about Mom Kent’s survival and HATED the organic web-shooters! If the actor doesn’t like their pretty little face getting covered up, then GET ANOTHER ACTOR! They’re NOT hard to find, guys (even SHORT ones with muscles) and newer ones will be more willing to follow direction than others. The right director is also VERY important: Schumacher had no more business doing a Batman movie than Ang Lee had making the Hulk, or J. J. Adams raping Star Trek. Why not get somebody like Kevin Smith, who respects the costumes and all the other continuity, to direct a superhero film? Marvel and DC shouldn’t sign a contract without control of these things.

  14. Amen to that.