Captain America's Movie Costume: Classic or Ultimate, Does It Matter?

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Contributed by Joey Esposito

It's only been a few days since the concept art of the Captain's new film duds were released, and as expected, the internet/comic book fan community has been divided. Some have cried foul at the revelation that there are no wings on the head. Others are excited that Cap seems to be in keeping with the Ultimates-themed Marvel Movie Universe. And then there's the camp that's mixed.
I think it's quite clear that Chris Evans' Captain America getup is firmly planted within The Ultimates, but that only makes sense when you consider that based on Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and the look of Thor. Leading up to an Avengers film, it's reasonable that the main players - Cap, Iron Man and Thor - all exist within the same stylistically similar universe.

For those that have complaints of the costume not being in the classic style, I offer you Exhibit A:

See? Direct translations of classic costumes to film simply don't work - they just wind up looking like the Adam West Batman TV show. The only exception might be Christopher Reeves' Superman costume, and I'll credit that more to utterly amazing acting ability rather than costume design. The new Captain America seems to be taking a page not only from The Ultimates, but also movies like Batman Begins/The Dark Knight, that trade tradition for "realistic" functionality.

Sure, having a red, white and blue outfit in the midst of a war zone isn't exactly the product of the higher brain function (didn't we learn anything from the British in the American Revolution?), but at least the concept artists have dulled the colors a bit, making them stand out less. They've also opted to remove the stripe design on his torso and have shrunk the star on his chest, leaving the outfit with less of a "I'm a moving target" design. The costume is outfitted with what looks to be armor, and the straps holding up his utility belt surely hold a purpose, be it to strap on his shield, a parachute, or whatever else Cap has up his sleeve. He's a complete war machine, first and foremost, so it makes sense that his costume is stripped of unnecessary accessories and designs.

There is an elephant in the room that needs to be addressed, however: this Cap movie has been said to take place, for the most part, during World War II as the origin of the character dictates.  I'm not an aficionado of WWII garb, but I'd say this costume looks relatively modern, as far as fake comic book costumes and kevlar goes. Not only that, but if we're going by the design of The Ultimates, then Cap's WWII costume is significantly different from anything we've seen thus far:


Is this too far removed from the classic outfit that it may not be acceptable to the masses? Is it simply that Marvel hasn't released these concept designs yet? Who knows. Is it detrimental to the film if it's not included? Absolutely not. In fact, who cares? In the end, it's the film quality that matters. If the movie is good, disapproving comic fans will come around, regardless of which costume he's rocking. A similar stink was made about the original X-Men film when that came out and Wolverine wasn't wearing yellow. But that turned out okay, no? Well, except for X3...

Anyways, the released Cap outfit does borrow heavily from the Ultimates WWII costume in that his gloves, boots and color palette are all significantly different from the traditional outfit, in keeping with the functionality idea. He looks like a soldier, not a superhero, which I think is key in finding the essence of Captain America through costume design. While it would've been cool to see that Ultimates WWII costume in action, I think this concept art shows a happy medium between the two that should appease fans, regardless of the time period.

Forget for a moment that the story is about a roided up super soldier that shares a world with the God of Thunder and the world's smartest and technologically savvy billionaire, and consider that if someone were to wear a costume to represent America without being overly tacky, it'd be pretty close to what we see in these concept pictures.

Or, we could always revert back to this awesomeness:

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  • Andy Oliver

    Andy Oliver Jun 5, 2010 at 9:32am

    Not that I'm going to lose any sleep over it but count me in with the traditionalists on this one...

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