Most superhero costumes are impossible. The capes wouldn’t work, the power suits would crush their users and skin-tight outfits are actually very, very uncomfortable to wear. In other words, superhero costumes are pretty much form over function, which is why making them come to life in comic book movies can sometimes be pretty disastrous. Getting the on-screen costumes to look just like the comics means that sometimes the actor’s comfort is thrown out the window, especially with makeup-heavy roles. As heroic and flawless as the actors make their costumes and makeup look, some of them were nightmares to wear!
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The very nature of superhero costumes lends itself to complications when brought into reality. They’re meant to act as symbols, things to illustrate that this person is different from others, that they have powers or skills that can come in handy when saving the world. When you bring that concept into a live-action film, there’s the added problem of making sure the outfit doesn’t look ridiculous. Thus, we get outfits that look badass on the outside, but use materials that are horribly uncomfortable, not to mention tight! Even though they turned out great on screen, these 15 superhero costumes completely DESTROYED the actors who wore them.
15. IRON MAN
The first Iron Man movie was pretty innovative in the effects it used to create the Iron Man armor. As CGI got better, bringing the suit to life became easier and easier. These days, Robert Downey Jr. hardly has to wear a full bodied Iron Man suit, and most of shots are done with motion capture and CGI. It’s a good thing that effects have gotten so good, since RDJ doesn’t think all that fondly of this full body suit.
For one thing, it’s heavy, apparently weighing nearly 85 pounds. It wasn’t just the weight, since RDJ apparently also felt incredibly claustrophobic in the fake suit, which was hard to move around in, thus the reason for using more CGI in the sequels. In fact with each appearance, he learned he would have to wear less and less of the suit, which made him more comfortable, mentally and physically.
Everyone loves Ron Perlman as Hellboy, so much so that when a Hellboy reboot was announced, fans were a bit disappointed that Hellboy 3 would never happen. Ron Perlman is just as big a fan, and was so dedicated to his role that he was behind a huge social media campaign to get the third film made, which he had to apologize to studio executives for afterward.
Though the actor definitely enjoys the films, getting into character is another story. The process would take hours to both get into and get out of and, for the first film alone, Perlman went through the makeup process 86 times! As painful as that sounds, the actor is actually quite torn on doing it again; he doesn’t enjoy the process, but he thinks fans deserved an ending to the story and said he would have to — now that’s commitment!
As great as the opportunity was for Paul Bettany, it’s probably not all that fun going from being a voice actor in a comfy recording booth to 12 hours of filming in heavy makeup as The Vision. Bettany has said that the makeup sometimes took two hours, and that the pristine superhero look would last about five minutes before the Atlanta heat would turn him into a literal hot mess.
Luckily, there were some accommodations to the process: Bethany didn’t have to wear contacts in addition to the makeup and muscle suit and was also given special suit that used ice water pumps to cool him off, something he described as like “being inside a gin an tonic.” Despite these accommodations, the costume was still so bad to wear that Bettany had trouble finding the motivation to get out of bed by the fifth day of filming.
12. BATMAN (DCEU)
Fans might be divided on BvS, but it’s hard to argue how good the Batsuit looked, especially the mech suit. However, as amazing as the mech suit was — being of course inspired by Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns — it pretty much didn’t exist. Instead of putting Affleck in a big, bulky suit that would be hard to move in, Director Zack Snyder chose to use motion capture.
It was apparently very important to Snyder that Ben Affleck be able to move easily and freely, so he was given a motion capture suit. This was a good choice in retrospect, since a bulky suit like that might have been torturous for Affleck to wear. However, the Batman actor still wasn’t a fan of the mo-cap suit, which Affleck described as “the most humiliating, ridiculous thing in the world.” It might not have been physical discomfort, but it sure as heck destroyed his pride.
Despite the fact that, in the X-Men comics, Mystique actually wore clothes and didn’t just walk around in the nude, the Fox X-Men films have depicted her wearing nothing at all. The process involved in making this interpretation come to life was not all that fun, and kind of makes us question why Rebecca Romijn and Jennifer Lawrence weren’t given clothes when playing the shape-shifting mutant.
With the first X-Men films, it took eight hours for Rebecca Romijn to get her makeup on, and even that wasn’t the biggest issue for the actress. Romijn stated that having to film completely naked was what concerned her the most. Jennifer Lawrence on the other hand wasn’t bothered by the nudity as much as the allergic reaction she had to the makeup, which resulted in later appearances using a bodysuit rather than prosthetics.
10. BLACK PANTHER
Everyone knows it’s not a good idea to wear all black on a hot, sunny day, but apparently Black Panther didn’t get that memo. Just looking at Chadwick Boseman in the Black Panther suit is enough to make anyone feel like they’re getting heat stroke! Boseman has said that the costume was hot, so hot that he’d never felt that hot before in his life.
In fact, the actor said he had to get into a “zen space” to combat the feeling of wearing a layered, all-black suit in the hot weather. Luckily, like his Captain America: Civil War costar, Paul Bettany, Boseman was also given an under-suit that cooled him using ice water. That actually makes us wonder how real black panthers handle the heat?
9. BATMAN (DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY)
Remember that scene in The Dark Knight where Batman is getting his suit upgraded and Lucius Fox says “you want to be able to turn your head”? If the costume was such a problem for the character that they had to write in a new costume, then just imagine what the actor went through! Christian Bale does not remember the first Dark Knight trilogy batsuit fondly, as it was so tight the actor almost had a panic attack from the claustrophobia.
Bale wasn’t a fan of the second suit either since it was still just as tight as the first one, and it took even longer to put on, consisting of around 110 parts. On the second suit’s tightness, Bale said that it was so tight that he had to watch his diet. Though he also said sweating off pounds in the heat helped a bit.
8. BLACK WIDOW
When Scarlett Johannsson first showed up in the as Black Widow in Iron Man 2, she had some complaints about the suit she wore, and stated in an interview that she hoped some of the flaws could be fixed in the next iteration. Unfortunately, the Avengers costume was not much of an improvement. In fact, we should probably say “costumes,” since one of the drawbacks of her Black Widow outfit was how easily they would get “shredded” by her stunt work, lasting only about three days each.
But that wasn’t the worst, or the grosses part, and Johannsson described the costume like a “wetsuit,” because of how tight and overheated it was — actually hallucinating from the heat at one point! Not to mentioned that at the end of each filming day, ScarJo would have to wring out her socks from all the sweat the costume caused. Yikes!
Michelle Pfeiffer wanted to play Catwoman long before Tim Burton’s Batman was ever made. The actress trained extensively for the part, including learning martial arts and how to use a whip like an expert. However, it didn’t matter how much she trained when she finally put on the costume for the first time.
There’s a story of Pfeiffer first day on-set as Catwoman. Michael Keaton had not warned her of the “horrors” of wearing a superhero costume, so he could laugh from getting to see someone else struggle not to feel silly in a rubbery body suit. To make things worse, Pfeiffer also experienced constant rubber creaks, clotting of talcum powder (used to get the suit on) and the rubber vacuum of the suit, which had started to lock her joints. It’s a testament to Pfeiffer’s commitment to the role that she pushed through all that!
Psylocke is known for her impossibly tight, and rather revealing costume. It’s actually kind of crazy that X-Men: Apocalypse actually found a way to make her outfit even more revealing, but that’s not even the craziest thing about the suit Olivia Munn wore in the film. It was apparently just as tight as its comic book counterpart, which meant Munn needed some help to get in.
Specifically, Munn said it required two women and a lot of lube. And before you get all hot and bothered, the process wasn’t as alluring as it sounds. After having both the costume and herself lubed, Munn had to push herself into it with the help of two other women in a strenuous process. To make matters worse, the first time Munn appeared on set, she accidentally broke the latex, popping out the crotch.
No, we’re not talking about the “nipple suit” from Batman & Robin! We’re going farther back than that, to the Batman ’66 outfit that Burt Ward wore. There are already countless stories from Ward on his experience playing the boy wonder, most of which include dangerous stunt work, injuries, emergencies rooms and the like. The producers even ended up taking out a life insurance policy on Ward!
The costume was partially to blame for these accidents, since it was, as ward puts it, “a horror.” Ward couldn’t see in the mask, the seven-pound cape gave him a neck-ache, the tights pulled his leg hair and the top gave him a rash. Ward even said “I couldn’t save myself in that costume, let alone Gotham.” Plus, there’s the infamous anecdote that Ward was so “well-endowed” that he had to be “taped down” in order to fit into the suit. Holy bindings, Batman!
4. THE THING
Ben Grimm struggled for years with the appearance his mutation by cosmic radiation left him with. After all, a giant rock man is hard not to be afraid of. Eventually, though, Ben’s friends and family got him through his struggle and he found a new lease on life. With how freakish Ben felt in becoming The Thing, it’s not surprising that Michael Chiklis went through his own psychological issues when portraying the character.
Getting out of the suit took hours, so Chiklis was stuck in it for the entire day of filming. The suit made Chiklis feel claustrophobic to the point of panic attacks, which were exacerbated by his core overheating in the suit. Chiklis combatted these feelings with a mantra given to him by a psychologist, “I can hear. I can breathe. I can think. I can feel. I am OK.”
3. SILK SPECTRE
Seeing as “silk” is in her superhero name, we always wondered why Silk Spectre II’s costume was made of a latex in Zack Snyder’s Watchmen. It seems like a no-brainer and, despite the fact that the costume ended up looking pretty good, the material seemed to rub actress Malin Ackerman the wrong way… so to speak. Seriously, nothing about this costume seems fit for fighting crime, especially by Ackerman’s accounts.
Ackerman said the suit was like “wearing elastic bands all over your body,” which was only the base since she was also wearing a corset (that made it hard to breath) and impossible high heels. Ackerman had to do stunt work in this getup, and we’re sure it wasn’t easy, especially since the actress described the suit as smelling like a giant condom. At least it looked great?
2. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
Though Andrew Garfield claims he didn’t really have any complains about his costume in the first Amazing Spider-Man, there are two things that had to be changed for the sequel’s suit. For one, the suit had to be completely taken off for him to use the bathroom, and the actor did not enjoy needing help to pee. For the sequel it was actually written into his contract that his costume had to have a zipper.
Since Garfield did all his own stunts for both films, he found it a bit hard to know what was happening with the limited visibilities from the suit’s lenses. Another noticeable change to the sequel’s costume is that the eyes are much larger than its predecessor, this was both so it looked more like the comic book costume and to improve Garfield’s field of vision. Guess he did have a few complaints.
1. THE INVISIBLE WOMAN
In the 2005 Fantastic Four, the superhero team’s ridiculous costumes were written in pretty well. They were depicted as the space suits that the team was wearing when they were hit by cosmic radiation. Since they were designed to be like second skins, the suits had the same properties as the team and their newfound abilities; Johnny’s was fireproof, Reed’s could stretch and Sue’s could turn invisible with her. However, in real life, Sue’s suit was a bit different than the others’.
Though nowhere near as physically daunting as Michael Chiklis’ Thing costume, Jessica Alba’s Fantastic Four costume was, as she put it, like wearing head-to-toe pantyhose. This was because her suit, unlike the men’s costumes, did not have a muscle suit underneath, so the material stretched and pulled on her skin directly. Good thing she didn’t have to wear it much, being invisible and all.
Do you know any stories of movie costumes going awry? Let us know in the comments!
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