BY JASON DAVIS
The coolest thing about superheroes apart from their powers of course is without a doubt their costumes. Many of us have spent endless hours sketching the costumes, the chest emblems, the gadgets and the capes of our beloved heroes.
Now let’s state the obvious: Captain America has probably the cheesiest superhero name and costume in the history of comics. Red, white and blue can be iconic on a flag but if you aren’t careful when applied to a superhero (or any form of clothing for that matter) it can feel like an exercise in propaganda gone wrong. On today’s Suit Me Up we look at Cap’s awkward beginnings, and modern day awesomeness.
Like Superman, Batman and Captain Marvel, Captain America made his live action debut in a Republic Pictures Movie Serial in 1944, titled Captain America, starring Dick Purcell as our hero in red, white and blue.
As you can tell like most of the costumes from the serials (and let’s face it up until Donner’s Superman) our avengers looked like they were wearing pajama versions of our beloved heroes. Unfortunately the next iteration of our American Avenger in the 70s didn’t fare that much better. Two made for tv movies debuted in 1979, Captain America and Captain America 2: Death too Soon both starring Reb Brown as Steve Rogers.
The 1979 Cap rode a motorcycle and sported two costume variations between films. The first outfit featured raised wings on his helmet, a blue eye mask and a more comic based ensemble with the single star on the chest and patented red gloves. The second seemed to have borrowed more from Evil Kenevil than Jack Kirby. The raised wings are gone for a more streamlined helmet with printed graphics. The eye mask has been replaced with a tinted visor and the overall design is more stripe and star based than before. Fast forward eleven years later to 1990 and Cap returns in Albert Pyun’s Captain America.
Albert’s film starring Matt Salinger never saw the light of day in theatres, but it has found a second life on DVD and was even released as a Director’s Cut in 2011. The costume followed the times by using a rubber base featuring pre fab abs. The shield took on a more traditional form, as did the head piece with one exception: his ears. I have no idea why they used rubber ears on the outside and didn’t just cover them up in blue rubber or add in cut outs.
Eleven years later we finally received the first authentic attempt at bringing Captain America to life with a budget, screenplay, cast, director and design direction that made every fan of the WWII hero happy.
In Joe Johnston’s summer hit Kirby’s original costume is honored when Steve Rogers is a traveling USO act boosting moral at home. As Rogers begins to see some action it eventually morphs into a Stark Industries hi tech suit designed by costume designer, Anna B. Sheppard. Ditto for the shield that evolves from a coat of arms like emblem to an aero dynamic weapon made out of vibranium. The reasoning for the suit, the development of the shield, it all makes sense in Captain America: The First Avenger.
This summer we will see a slight update to Cap’s suit in The Avengers – it’s safe to assume that being frozen preserved Steve Rogers but not the suit.
As you can tell there are minor variations in the design of the suit (an added stripe in the center), new gloves and a new utility belt. The helmet is pretty much the same minus the chin strap although certain images show the suit with a hoodie of sorts. What we are not sure about yet is if the shield will have any added features – it seems to make sense that the technology developed by Stark Sr. in the 40s can easily be improved upon by Tony Stark in present day, but will it?
What we do know is that there are more costume outfits to come with further Captain America, and Avengers movies all but guaranteed by Marvel Studios.