The Justice League Costumes That Might Have Been
Everybody loved the Joker's custom purple suit in The Dark Knight. Nobody liked the bat nipples in Joel Schumacher's Batman. Nailing costume design is hard, especially when you're dealing with characters who have built up an iconic look over the past couple decades. A few days ago, the world got a rare glimpse at what goes into those designs when Ironhead Studios (the people behind everything from Black Panther's new outfit to Daft Punk's helmets for Random Access Memories) posted two maquettes with scrapped Flash and Cyborg costumes for the upcoming Justice League movie:
While Barry Allen's Flash costume looks like a stillsuit from Dune crossed with some bounty hunter droid out of Star Wars, Cyborg's suit looks like a Terminator-disciple of Deathstroke. Both of the prototype costumes cover up the faces of their characters, which, for most superheroes besides Iron Man, makes them look a lot more intimidating. Compared with their finalized counterparts in the recent ComicCon trailer for Justice League, both of the rejected Ironhead designs look a little less human and a lot less fun. By covering up Cyborg's half-human, half-machine face, the now-rejected design took away a prime reminder of one of Cyborg's key themes ("What makes somebody human?") and replaced it with purely technological badassery.
Barry Allen's rejected Flash costume also seems at odds with the usual image of the character. The Barry Allen in the trailer is a fast-talking, quick-witted kid who is apparently in need of friends, while the Flash of the 2001-2006 Justice League cartoons on Cartoon Network was a wise-cracking comic relief character with a surprisingly poignant, human side. None of that comes through in the washed-out, barely scarlet-tinted combat armor in Ironhead's photo, which seems to be lacking the lightning-bolt earpieces of the comic and TV costumes.
After the cataclysmic response to the unrelentingly grim Dawn of Justice, DC movies need to lighten up in a big way—and Justice League might just be the right way to do it. The fact that Ironhead Studios rejected the designs above (despite looking like pieces of sci-fi gold) and went instead with more colorful costumes that allow some humanity to shine through is a nice indicator that DC might be learning something about their audience. Considering the recent parody trailer that features toast popping out of Cyborg's chest, fun might be making a comeback in the DC Universe.
The release date for the new Justice League film is set for November 17th, 2017.