April 19, 2014

Character Study: Alternate Costumes

Captain America and Wonder Woman have been iconic fictional characters for over 73 years. Their unmistakably recognizable red, white, and blue costumes have been a part of the comic book as well as patriotic pop culture. However, when a character in comics needs a fresh direction, one of the artistic directions authors and artists usually go towards is a new costume design. Mainly it is to refresh the character and hopefully bring in new subscribers/readers. Both Captain America and Wonder Woman, in this instance, have used other costumes in battle, even abandoning the red white and blue patriotic designs. Let's examine the more familiar alternate designs.

Agent Steve Rogers
In the comic book continuity published in 2001, Steve Rodgers had resigned the title of Captain America over being disenfranchised with the shadowy nature United States government and defense protocols. He then finds work with S.H.I.E.L.D. and chooses a stealthy non-colorful battle suit without a cowl mask. By now, his identity is public and no longer needs to be hidden. He becomes head Agent super spy able to take new secret missions that the Avengers team couldn't. Having a red, white, and blue uniform makes the Captain stand out as a target. I could see just how a change was needed. (Also at this time, Bucky had returned to action and started to take over in the role of Captain America.)

The suit design is a dark navy blue bodysuit with a dark metallic silver star on the chest. It does appear to have some red stripe in the pant-leg along the sides of his thighs. Despite it not being mentioned much in dialog, the suit used in the Captain America movie was used for more practical purposes such as spy work and stealth missions.

The stealth full body suit looks like something a military commando would wear in the field. The Captain didn't make full use of it in the field, but it looked to me that the uniform was an advanced Kevlar suit.

2001 Comics to 2014 Movie comparison
There are a few smaller distinctions with the comics to movie uniforms. In the comics, Agent Steve has two brown holsters at his waist while the movie has a brown holster around his shoulders. While Agent Steve didn't carry a firearm in the movie, it did appear that the holster's function was to keep his trademark shield fastened to his back.

Initially, I was disappointed at the change in the movie universe because it seemed as if they were trying to appeal to a more worldly audience and tone down the Captain's very identity just to sell more at the box office. It apparently worked and I am really starting to like the Cap's new look in the movies. After watching the movie, I became more accustomed to the look and actually grew to like the SHIELD suit more and more. Soon after the movie's debut, it had become difficult to find the stealth suit action figure in the stores.

Chris Evans probably liked and appreciated the move also as most superstar actors and actresses want the most face-time and find way into the script to remove the mask as much as possible. Lynda Carter on the other hand had plenty of face time on the TV show and got a chance to use a few different practical changes to her costume. She wore an alternate full body diving suit. (Even one campy yet appropriate skate boarding gear.)

Agent Diana Prince
Even though she's always found a way back to a more acceptable variation of the original design, Wonder Woman has used many other costumes either in print or on the classic TV show. Wonder Woman's changes in look often create more polarizing criticism when she dons a new costume. This typical reaction is mostly due to her fans wanting to stay true to the classic red bustier and blue panties.

In 2006, artist Terry Dodson had drawn a Wonder Woman that looked like it was inspired by previous 1970s civilian Agent Diana Prince by artist Mike Sekowsky. Diana had again been purged of the Wonder Woman mantle and the title was passed along to her understudy/sidekick Diana Troy. Like Steve Rogers, Diana Prince had adjusted her career to the spy game with the Department of Metahuman Affairs. She had a brief stay there (comic book issue wise) and in my opinion didn't get enough time to develop the story arc. However, readers learned she was supported by Bruce Wayne and Steve Trevor.

The full body uniform is a tight white suit with a powder blue low neck and underarm. Even though it wasn't fully explored in the comics, I would assume that it served the same function as a Kevlar body armor. But the powder blue in my imagination would be an active wear Under Armor clothing. She did have quite the accessory utility belt slumped around her hips. Who knows what she's keeping in there! In the comics, a shoulder holster and utility belt are brown, but on the action figure, they are a grey-blue. She also has rose tinted glasses which also was an unknown factor if she actually utilized them or could've just been a fashion statement. Lastly, her hair is pulled up.

We were also treated to a business suited Agent Diana Prince. She really styled the office with her black pantsuit or skirt. Nowhere to hide a sidearm or no known drawing exists on what kind of shoes she's wearing.

We are probably far from seeing this uniform appearing in the DC movie universe. Unless this is how Diana is going to be worked into the upcoming Dawn of Justice 2016 movie, we may never get to see this short-lived storyline on the movie screen. So, we don't have any more source material to compare to or imagine further adventures.

We've also had alternate uniforms for Wonder Woman in issue #600 as well as the Smallville continuity graphic novel. or the 1994 Brian Bolland/Mike Deodato leather strap costume. I'll save that for another blog entry at some other time.

Agents Rogers and Prince
The source material for both alternate costumes for Agents Steve Rogers and Diana Prince have placed each other with a closer fit in this "one true pairing". Spy agents teaming up together, guarding each other's backs, and using their military training aims to be the focus for future fan-fiction adventures in this blog.

Please leave a comment or two in the appropriate sections to let me know what you think of these special costumes.