Sometimes what we see on screen just doesn’t do a character justice, and what a Hollywood studio with hundreds of thousands of bucks and months of production time fails to achieve, a creative fan can do a much better job of with a few hours to kill and some Photoshop know-how. A lot of this comes to down to risks and big studios’ reluctance to take them — understandable when you’re gambling millions on a titular character who is relatively obscure to a non-nerdy audience. It’s hard to believe now, but casting Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man was considered to be a big risk — one that director Jon Favreau had to fight against Marvel Studios on.
Now, of course, it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role. Sometimes a comic book character’s look is drastically downgraded from fantastically cool to fantastically ordinary for the sake of believability. But, this often comes across as studio executives grossly misunderstanding a fundamental part of their appeal — ridiculous characters wearing equally ridiculous costumes, and somehow still looking cool. Live-action redesigns are fine as long as they still pack the same visual punch. Luckily, where the studios come up short, some dedicated and talented fans have stepped in to pick up the slack and proved that even characters we thought looked great on screen, could look even better.
Catwoman has been on our screens for decades and almost no other superheroine (slash-villain) has gone through as many wardrobe changes as her. From Julie Newmar and Eartha Kitt’s blinged-out catsuits; to Michelle Pfeiffer’s stitched-up latex; to Halle Berry’s bra and ripped-up leather; to Anne Hathaway’s combat suit; and most recently: Camren Bicondova’s goggles and skinny jeans.
Though most have been well-received, this incredible offering from the famed digital artist, BossLogic really blows them out of the water. You could say it’s… purrrfect. (That pun is unavoidable, right?) The stitches pay homage to Catwoman’s past on-screen while switching the catsuit to a two-piece number gives it a more modern, edgy feel. Using Prinkya Chopra as the model also honors the character’s rich history of being played by women of color.
What’s that? A comic-accurate Robin costume could never work in real life, you say? It’ll look dumb? It’ll ruin Batman movies? Well, BossLogic is here to prove you wrong. Drake Bell sent Twitter into a mild frenzy by tweeting his interest in joining the DCEU in the role. Though the tweet was deleted, the Internet couldn’t help but hang on to the possibility, leading to this brilliant rendering of what the actor could look like as the Boy Wonder.
The answer is… pretty damn good. Previous versions of Batman’s sidekick on-screen include Burt Ward in the campy TV show from the ’60s and two equally campy (but for all the wrong reasons) movies from the ’90s, in which an aged-up Robin wore weird body armor. BossLogic’s version, taking inspiration from one of Tim Drake’s costumes, would definitely be a great addition to the new DCEU.
13. DARK PHOENIX
Though she never donned the classic blue and yellow costume, Famke Jansson did a stellar job at playing Jean Grey in Bryan Singer’s original X-Men trilogy. It’s just a shame that the character’s swan song from The Dark Phoenix Saga in the final instalment was fudged. Again, the characterization wasn’t terrible but it would have been a great payoff to see the iconic Dark Phoenix costume.
Instead, we got black contact lenses and a red leather trench coat, which was pretty underwhelming. This gorgeous piece by photo-manipulation expert, LuLebel fully realizes that classic costume in all its fiery glory, complete with the manifested Phoenix Force snaking its flaming tendrils around the powerful X-Woman. The added detail of the Earth also gives her the cosmic contextualization lacking from the film.
12. SCARLET WITCH
There’s no doubt that Wanda Maximoff’s classic comic book costume would look just a tad out of place among the ranks of the MCU’s Avengers. And yet, with Vision and Thor there, maybe she could get away with it. At the very least, something more closely resembling her all-red look would be really satisfying to see on the big screen, rather than just a long coat and eyeliner.
Currently, Elizabeth Olsen is giving us more “weird goth girl” than all-powerful sorceress. LuLebel‘s phenomenal artwork brings all the high-fantasy and drama back to the character we’ve been sorely lacking from the Marvel Studios films with incredible photorealistic accuracy, and beautifully rendered magical effects. Let’s hope that Fox’s version of the character grows up with a thing for crazy headpieces.
11. HARLEY QUINN
Even though Suicide Squad didn’t please everyone, Margot Robbie’s performance is one of the only things that unites divided opinions on the film. The twang in her voice and the devilish grin were completely on-point, but her costume deviated quite a lot from what fans know. Though it’s proven very popular with cosplayers, it would have been cool to see her debut on-screen in her more classic threads, rather than looking like a Hot Topic model.
It’s amazing — given its quality — that artist BossLogic whipped up this comic book-accurate Harley as just part of his, “daily Photoshop practice.” The costume is an exact replica of its original design from Batman: The Animated Series, while the removal of the matching headpiece gives it an original twist. The combination of Margot’s sultry expression with the blood splatters also evokes the character’s scary-sexy appeal really well.
10. YOUNG CYCLOPS
It was fun to see a teenage Scott Summers discovering his powers for the first time in Apocalypse. It’s just a shame we didn’t get to see more of him and the rest of the X-kids on their downtime hanging tight at the mall. While Tye Sheridan looked spot-on — especially with his classic visor at the end — this awesome piece of fan art from BossLogic imagines the missed moment when the young mutant excitedly tries on his visor for the first time.
The piece also adds in more of the head and neck coverings that we’re used to from more modern versions of the X-Men leader’s costume from the comics. And no, they didn’t have smartphones in the 80s but that doesn’t make the concept any less fun. Plus, you can totally imagine a young Scott Summers today being a total Instagram addict. #XManSwag
9. YOUNG JEAN GREY
Sophie Turner was a good casting choice for a teenage Jean Grey in Apocalypse — and not just because she didn’t need a ginger wig. But, while we were given a hint of her true powers during a bad night’s sleep to set up for her instrumental role in Apocalypse’s defeat, it might have been rewarding for fans to see even more of Jean testing out her untapped abilities.
In this dramatic scene, digital wizard BossLogic imagines what the actress could have looked like while unleashing some of her hidden potential in Xavier’s School — evidenced by the classroom chairs being blown up in the background. Despite the destruction going on behind her, Jean looks calm and in control here, with even a hint of a smile on her face –perhaps foreshadowing the darker side of her that is to come.
8. THE MAJOR (MOTOKO KURSANAGI)
As you’ll probably remember, the live-action adaptation of Ghost In The Shell was caught in a storm of whitewashing accusations prior to and after its release. The landmark cyberpunk manga and anime adaptations centered around Major Motoko Kursanagi, a cyborg policewoman who is played by Scarlett Johansson in the film, with her Japanese name abbreviated to just “The Major.”
Many fans felt that as a Japanese cultural property, giving the part to a white actress was not only inaccurate but fed into a nasty tradition of “yellowface” in Hollywood. Just to prove how miscast Scarlet was, one fan photoshopped Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi into one of the film stills and the result certainly rings much truer to the source material. Plus, if we care about fictional character’s costumes being accurately represented, we should care equally about their cultural heritages too.
Aren’t we well overdue a Blade reboot? Just before the comic book movie boom in Hollywood, the Blade trilogy gave us R-rated gore and Ryan Reynolds basically playing Deadpool but without the costume. Wesley Snipes was casting perfection as Marvel’s “daywalking” vampire hunter, no-one can really argue with that. But, this modern, gender-bent fan art gives us a tantalizing alternative.
Created by Jamie Lee-Lloyd, a character artist for Rockstar Games, this could either work as an updated twist on the character or serve as his daughter in a sequel to the films, which the artist suggests in his notes with the fanart. “My take on a daughter of Blade, raised as the next Daywalker by the old man Whistler.” The hairstyle and weaponry nod to the original while the cargo pants and sneakers reinvent the character for a new generation.
6. RED SONJA
We haven’t seen the She-Devil With A Sword on our screens in live-action since Brigette Neilson played her in very cheesy, ’80s style, complete with a red haired mullet and an obligatory Arnold Schwarzenegger. Robert Rodriguez released some concept art for his abandoned remake in 2008 featuring (his then-fiancee) Rose McGowan in the role. It seemed more focused on loads of hair and licking blood off of swords than much else.
This badass fanart from Jeff Chapman features Sonja doing what she does best — killing lots of dudes and working the hell out of a chainmail bikini. The Hykarian warrior woman sits proudly on a throne here, a far cry from her humble origins. On-screen, the bikini would, of course, be highly impractical, so it’s unlikely we’ll ever actually see it. But, fanart like this allows us to dream!
5. SPIDER-MAN/SCARLET SPIDER
Web-heads probably couldn’t help noticing the striking resemblance between Peter Parker’s homemade Spider-Man costume in Spider-Man: Homecoming and that of the Scarlet Spider’s from the comics. Scarlet Spidey, aka Ben Reilly, is a clone made from Peter Parker’s DNA, and if his costume looks like a DIY prototype of the classic Spider-Man suit — it’s because it is.
After Peter’s high-tech Stark Industries suit is confiscated by Tony in Homecoming, he’s forced to go back to the homemade one he wore during his early days. Obviously, the suit isn’t supposed to be the coolest thing Spidey’s ever worn but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t look a little better. And, using something even closer in design to the Scarlet Spider, like in this great piece by Zimonini, would have been a great easter egg for fans.
Not too long ago, villains of cosmic proportions had to — for some reason — be smuggled onto screens in gaseous form. In Smallville, Darkseid blasted around Metropolis as a puff of smoke, Parallax was a dust storm in Green Lantern, and in the second Fantastic Four movie, Galactus descended on Earth as a space tornado. Going into The Avengers, the odds of Thanos being a talking purple cloud remain high.
Concept art released from Rise of the Silver Surfer reveals — frustratingly — that Galactus could have appeared in a more physical form, and this fantastic piece of art from OliverInk echoes what this might have looked like had it made the final cut. As the Devourer of Worlds sits silhouetted against the sky, he outstretches his hand for his Herald to take off into the foreground. Hopefully, we’ll see something more like this a future film.
From the 1984 movie to her appearances in both Smallville and Supergirl, Supergirl’s costume has always been faithfully replicated on the big and small screen. Given that it’s basically the same as her Kryptonian cousin’s but with a skirt (and underwear on the inside) this isn’t particularly surprising. Though Kara has worn variations in the comics, they never stray too far from the original.
This version from Jeff Chapman offers us a more modern twist on the classic, imagining a younger Kara than what we’ve seen in the Arrowverse show, who is perhaps trying to hide her identity while attending high school instead of working for CatCo. The hoodie and jeans are reminiscent of the (not so) subtle nods to the Super-family colors that Tom Welling used to always wear on Smallville in lieu of his costume.
Though the air of mystery around her was tantalizing, Psylocke’s lack of characterization and backstory was a bit of a disappointment for long-time fans in Apocalypse. At least her costume was accurate, though. We were also treated to some to pretty cool action sequences where she got to show off her killer psi-blades. But, sword-play is really only one aspect of what she can do.
This stunning work by LuLebel has far more visual hints going on to clue us into the true power going on in Betsy Braddock’s head — or rather, around it. As well as a demon with a katana, Psylocke is also a powerful telepath and telekinetic, which viewers wouldn’t have gotten much of a sense of in her movie debut. The whole piece feels charged with energy, depicting her more deservedly as the force to be reckoned with that she is.
1. DOCTOR DOOM
Is this the live action Doctor Doom we’ve been waiting for? Digital artist DarthDestruktor sums up Hollywood’s Doom problem in the caption for this great piece. “After three failures, we really need [Doom done right].” While Julian McMachon was passable as the supervillain in the ’00s Fantastic Four films, he lacked the gravitas needed to sell Doom’s regal look.
The 2015 reboot took an even bigger step away from classic depictions of the character, turning him into a weird, glowing, teenage rock monster. Considering much of the film was based on alternate Fantastic Four continuity, changes like this could have been acceptable… had they done Victor an once of the justice he deserves. For now, this impressive poster satisfies our craving for a version whose name really is something to be feared.
Which other characters do you think could have been done better in the movies? Let us know in the comments!
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