Once comic books characters were uncomplex – they were either from DC Comics (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman) or Marvel (Spiderman, the Hulk and the Fantastic Four basically), but things have moved on and after some initial TV shows, comic characters can now be found on the big screen: The Marvel Universe has certainly expanded, with an ambitious program of future films and ‘crossovers’ between individual movies. Big budget movies offer merchandise opportunities, and such is the enthusiasm to cash in that, in some cases, costumes are being made for children who, in theory, should not have been able to see the film to which they relate: The Guardians of Galaxy Film is rated 12, yet there are official costumes for children up to 11 (and often no adult versions of the same outfits).
Anyway, here are the highlights of current and future developments. Note: On occasion we mention that ‘several costume versions are available’. This is because, aside from Basic and Deluxe costumes (which may vary in build quality, and what accessories are included, or need to be purchased additionally), there are also versions which come in the skintight ‘morphsuit-style’.
Spiderman: The original (2002) movie caused a change in British film classifications because its original 15 rating meant children could not see the movie and merchandise opportunities were diminished. As we have seen, there are apparently no such problems nowadays, and Spiderman costume varieties (plus variations such as the Venom version from the 2007 film) are widely available.
The Hulk: A hero with a number of solo films under his belt, but more recently seen as part of the team of Avengers saving the Earth from various threats. The ultimate in muscle-chest outfits, some versions require you to provide the torn trousers and green skin!
Guardians of the Galaxy: A breakout hit film of 2014 (and hence due for a sequel), the Guardians are a bunch of intergalactic misfits who turn their hand to a little world-saving of their own. Given that two of the Guardians are Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, and a talking humanoid tree (Groot), the costuming is unusual (but outfits are available, if only for children). We are on safer ground with the ‘hero/leader’ of the group, Star Lord (an outfit featuring a long coat, bandolier and face-mask) and the no-nonsense female mercenary fighter Gamora. The official outfit for Gamora, uses a green jumpsuit base, reflecting the fact that she is green skinned. Matching the green colour on your face and hands adds extra dimension to preparation for partytime and the ombre wig (black turning to dip-dyed/orange), which might also be useful, is available separately.
Thor: Well-known Norse God with a multi-talented war-hammer, and various costumes, plus hammer accessories, are available. Like Hulk, he has had a few solo film outings, but is now another of the mighty Avengers. As a side-note, nothing is certain in comic-land, and mid-2014 there was talk of the magazine version of Thor becoming female – not a gender-change, dream or ‘parallel universe’ story, just a change of incumbent. We always thought the Valkyries would break the glass ceiling!
Captain America: One of the earliest (and most patriotic) of Marvel Heroes, originally created for action in World War II, fighting the Nazi-orientated Red Skull. The stars & stripes inspired red white and blue outfit with matching shield has undergone a few makeovers over the years, and the Captain is now another of the stalwart Avengers band.
Iron Man: Iron Man is the creation of millionaire Tony Stark who dons the high-tech orange/red cyber-suit to become another of the Avengers. Power dressing at the highest level!
Black Widow: A female action hero of Russian origin and another of the Avengers, the Widow favours an uncompromising dressed-to-kill black jumpsuit outfit with appropriate weaponry.
Fantastic Four: Victims of a space radiation accident, the Fantastic Four have featured in two recent films and are apparently due for a ‘reboot’ (doubtless so they can get involved with other heroes). The foursome are Reed Richards (Mr Fantastic), Sue Storm (Invisible Girl), Johnny Storm (The Human Torch) and Ben Grimm (The Thing, a more craggy and orange version of the Hulk).
Antman: Showing size isn’t everything, Antman is a Marvel character due for an outing in mid-2015. Here’s one area where child-size only might work.
X-Men (Original & ‘First Class’): After a few ‘conventional’ movies featuring the ‘Goodie’ mutant X-Men (including Storm, Phoenix and Wolverine, for which costumes were available) versus the Baddies (including the all-blue shape-shifter Mystique, a favourite with the dedicated cosplayer), things have become complex, with a series of prequel stories (for which X-Men/Woman outfits were ‘reimagined’) and a time-travel film incorporating ‘old’ and ‘new’. Add to that some spin-off films featuring the blade-handed Wolverine and there’s plenty of potential choice here.
Looking to the future, as we have said, Marvel Studios has an ambitious plan to roll-out other heroes over the next year or so, including Black Panther, the first ‘superhero of colour’ and Captain Marvel. The latter is a female hero who might take over as major role-model from Black Widow, whose integrity and motives have been called into question recently (no, really). As always, female superheroes can be thin on the ground in the Marvel movieverse but with ‘strong’ females making an impact elsewhere (such as Game of Thrones), things may change.