Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Real Problem I Have with Smallville

And no, it isn't the litany of fiberglass fiacial expressions from Tom Welling. And it's not that we have never seen Superman as Superman. Or the fact that we have to essentially sit through Superman being forced through the ringer of the prime-time WB teen demographic format (Supernatural, One Tree Hill, 90210, Vampire Diaries, I could go on...)

It's the fact that the show recognizes it has a television budget, and still goes for broke on costume/character design.

I'm sure that's part of the reason we haven't seen Clark in the cape and cowl, because it would look like a fraternity house president's older brother showed up wearing a storebought Superman costume. But do we have to suffer through the constant onslaught of ancillary characters dressed like their parents saw a comic book and decided to put a costume.

There are essentially two types of "bad" costume choices on the show. There's the "We don't have the money to put together what it should look like, so let's have the character wear a shirt the same color as the original costume." We won't touch too much on that today, since there's so many examples we could provide for that (Supergirl, Aquaman, Flash, Black Lightning, the entire Legion of Superheroes...) Today we're going with the second "bad" costume type;

Power Ranger costumes.

I've dubbed the phrase "Power Ranger" costumes after the kid's show, in which every character or bad guy of the week had costumes made out of either super-floppy rubber or super-shiny plastic. The helmets are two sizes too big, so the characters always looked like they were handicapped, and everybody moved really slow because the material was such Guatemalan
shit that any quick motion would rip a piece off. This is Smallville.

Here's the picture that sparked this whole post. I present... Blue Beetle and Booster Gold.

You can see Booster Gold is the one wearing the styrafome outfit, and although it doesn't look too bad, it looks more like something a professional paintballer would wear. Blue Beetle, on the other hand, is the Japanese children's nightmare standing in the background. Besides the Power Ranger helmet, it also looks like his arms are a good half-foot away from his body. Can he see in that costume, let alone lift either of his arms?

How about some others?


Okay, this isn't terrible. The logo on the center of the chest is good, and I'm pretty impressed by the quality of his wings. But the helmet really doesn't look good at all, and doesn't seem to fit his head in the slightest. I best if he sneezed the thing would come shooting off of his face. Plus, not to be nit-picky, but Hawkman doesn't wear a shirt. The dude is just 250 lbs of man, and simply wears the straps and emblem across the chest. He doesn't wear a Spartacus: Blood and Sand chestpiece underneath of it (although that could be just the overall physique of the actor playing Hawkman....)

Dr. Fate and Stargirl

Good God, look at this fucking atrocity. Dr. Fate I honestly don't mind at all, even though he's wearing old lady's dishwashing gloves. The chestpiece is cool and the helmet looks spot on (and actually fits!).

My problem is with Stargirl. Stargirl represents the main problem with comic book costumes translating to the big (or small) screen. They're usually skintight with features that operate in different ways depending on the circumstances in the story (Batman's cape was actually explained brilliantly in Batman Begins). So Stargirl as an 18 year old girl wearing bike shorts and a long sleeved T/belly shity with a domino mask is a tough one to pull off. Tough, not impossible.

That fucking mask of hers looks like she's going to a costume party for children. It juts out from her face, is super shiny (Power Rangers), and honestly is giving her a bit of a five-head (so much forehead it's a five-head). Her cosmic staff is pretty much a lamp stand with a glow tube on top. Got enough in the budget to make CGI light come out of the staff when she shoots it? Good, then you should've had enough in the budet to just make the top of that staff completely CGI and track the damn thing. This all leads to my biggest gripe...

Martian Manhunter.

I imagine the writers of the show said "well if we pop prosthetics on a guy and face paint him green, it's going to look really bad." I can't imagine them saying that though, because they seem to have no problem doing it for other characters, but that's not the point. This is a black dude in a trench coat. They did put the red cross-hatch over the chest, as they did with Hawkman, and it's over green, so they got the colors right. But there is nothing that says Martian Manhunter to me. You can have a black dude on the show, if that was your point! Make him Mr. Terrific! Make him Black Lightning! If you think it's too racist then call him Jefferson Pierce and just pretend like that dopey kid in the earlier seasons never happened! It makes no sense to say that Martian Manhunter, an alien superhero, is just going to be a guy wearing the appropriate colors.

I've pointed out some of the costume choices I hate (and believe me, there are more), so I may as well touch on the one costume I think is done well on the show.

Green Arrow

This is just a nicely thought-out costume. Ollie's costume has never been an overly-complicated one. He's a man of the people, a street-level fighter, and his costume should reflect that. This has the main offerings; the hood, the smaller arrows attached to the glove gauntlets, the "G" on the belt (which is a great touch), and the armbands near the shoulders. Again, it's a bit plastic-looking and has a zipper in the front, which is just dumb, but if you don't show it then you don't notice it.

Ollie does wear sunglasses in the show, and although I'd like to see him in a domino mask to detract a bit of the "motorcycle fetish" it's got going, I've seen the domino mask on Stargirl... stick with what you've got, Green Arrow...

That's enoguh rambling for today, Podcast next weekend since we missed it this weekend! Stay tuned, sorry for the wait!

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