Movie Makeover: Thor & Captain America

Note: Hey guys, sorry for going dark for a few weeks. I had some deadlines hit and then headed out to the East coast to visit family before HeroesCon. But I’m back! Black Canary runners up should be up Monday. While I was gone, mostly checking the internet on my phone, I saw the new Cap and Thor movie redesigns. Here are my thoughts. – Dean

First off, as cosplay costumes, these look incredible. They’re sharp, recognizable, and they’ve got that clean superhero shine you know I love.

On the other hand, as the big picture “real” versions of these classic characters, the versions the wider audience is going to see and talk about, I think both of these designs have missed an opportunity for period realism. They’ve instead chosen to aim for modern bad-assery, which, I HAVE TO TELL YOU hardly ever works in color. Put these uniforms in black and gray, and yeah, they’re tough guys. But brightly colored leading men in masks and capes are ALWAYS going to look like silly superheroes. And the line between getting it right (Spider-Man, The Dark Knight, Iron Man) and looking like a kid’s show reject (Fantastic Four, The Phantom, Batman & Robin) is a thin one.

Yes, the designers here have successfully avoided putting their heroes in tights, which seems to be a big deal in modern supermovies, but the overcomplication and modernization of elements here is pretty troubling. My feeling is that the Thor suit would look way better with the same armor on his legs as his arms, like the current in-continuity uniform it’s based on. On Captain America, the suspender straps and shoulder pads combo is so weird and cumbersome. I know these shots are heavily dependent on digital rendering, but don’t they both look really stiff to you? How’s Cap going to even twist his torso to throw his mighty shield with all that armor and padding? And anyone who’s drawn Captain America knows the middle stripe on his torso is always red.

But as I mentioned earlier, the modern feel of these uniforms is what bugs me the most. I would’ve gone more Lord of the Rings on Thor and more Saving Private Ryan on Cap. If you’re going to try for realism, and the detailing here suggests they have, you’ve got to go went with it. Both designs feel trapped in some horrible middleground between the Saturday morning adaptations and professional football uniforms. As upgrades for their Avengers appearance, maybe I’d buy these. But Thor just in from Asgard or Cap in WWII? Nope nope nope.

ALL OF THAT SAID, these are first impressions based on digitally enhanced pics, not film. And anything out of context is going to suffer. The first time I saw how Batman was going to look in The Dark Knight, I didn’t think it’d work. But it ultimately did…to the tune of a billion dollars. So, see you in theaters, Thor and Cap.

Best Elements: Thor’s cape and tunic, Captain America’s helmet shape and star emblem.

Worst Elements: Thor’s rocker pants and boot tread, the under-designed “A” on Cap’s head and his weird suspenders.

P:R Grade: 8 for Thor, 6.5 for Captain America

41 comments to “Movie Makeover: Thor & Captain America”
  1. Good post Dean! You make some valid points. I agree about Cap’s suspenders, they seem to hid behind his belt, it’s kind of awkward. But I find it clever that that is how they incorporated his red stripes into the costume. They could’ve taken a cue from Bryan Hitch’s Reborn Cap and made the “A” more stenciled as well as the wings, which they abandoned!
    Thor looks totally metal. I love the torso armor. It really feels like they brought Kirby technology to life with that whole piece. The boots feel like he bought them somewhere. they don’t really feel forged by the Gods. The cape could stand to be more crimson, like in 300.
    Great concepts and I think they will work on screen once properly lit and doing what the camera needs them to do.

  2. I just wish they’d drop Captain America’s head “A” altogether. In these renderings particularly, it just looks like a giant bullseye to me.

  3. Cap is an abomination, I fear. Which makes no sense, really, as the PERFECT Cap costume (WWII-era Ultimates) is so easily translated as it’s real clothing.


  4. The Cap design has been bugging me immensely since I first saw it, thanks for putting the feeling into words.

  5. You were missed, Mr Trippe!

    You pretty much nailed how I feel about the costumes. I don’t really consider them failures, but not at all what I expected or hoped for, and your criticisms are essentially mine too.

    Cap’s suit is a bit to busy with all that crap on the legs, and I don’t know what’s up with those shoulder/strap/harness things. Doesn’t look very WWII either. But it DOES look like Captain America…

    I think Thor’s suit looks pretty good. I don’t get the choice to go more Batman than LotR, but I think in action it’ll look cool. The sets sure as hell do. Missing that helmet like CRAZY though, and no one seems to be talking about it…

  6. Yeah, I thought about the helmet. I have a feeling it’ll make an appearance somewhere in the film, but probably won’t be something he wears the whole time. Not sure if I think that’s the right call or not. Did you see the Entertainment Tonight behind the scenes stuff? Odin and other Asgard stuff looked pretty rad. Pretty Kirby-ish, imo.

  7. Great post! I totally agree with your thoughts. I understand that they are trying to be more “modern” but come on… Thor looks less like a God of Thunder and more like a God of Rock! Put a guitar in his hand and it would look more realistic. As for Cap, I’ve never been a fan of such an ultra lame character, so to have a movie about him at all, I have no comment about.

  8. I wasn’t getting a strong Kirby vibe from the set design, but it was there. And The Destroyer is 100% faithful, which is insane. It’s the most Kirbyesque thing ever to be realised in live-action. Makes me madder about the Galactus-cloud thing.

  9. I think the suspenders could work. Imagine real suspenders, not digital, the kind used in the WW2 uniform… My english sucks and I’m sleepy… I leave this pic so you see what I mean.

  10. also, I don’t mind Thor’s pants… since he will be moving and what not, the details won’t be that annoyng. Cap’s pants are hideous…

    oh! and I forgot the pic

  11. My biggest complaint with Caps costume is really that it doesn’t look WWII at all. There are design elements like the padding on the thighs that really just seem unnecessary. I think there should have been a better mix of WWII soldier and Olympic athlete rather than what they chose which really just looks way too modern.
    When they don’t bother to make costume vintage it makes me worried about the idea of the whole film being a period piece.

  12. A good post.

    The Cap concept art looks good and seems appropriate for the WW2 setting.

    The Thor concept art is a little disappointing vis-a-vis the earlier “teaser” shot we had showing Hemsworth.

    Stiil, I can hardly wait to see either movie, especially the Thor movie.

    I’m a Marvel Thor fan from way back and also a long time Marvel fan fiction writer:

    If you haven’t already done so check out my Marvel fan fiction. Just scroll down below my author profile and you will see over 40 fan fiction stories here:

    I’m also an Australian science fiction writer and the Norse gods Odin and Thor are featured in just a couple of my science fiction stories:

    I have a new novella “Soldier of the Brell” coming out as an e-book soon.


  13. Cap’s cowl never looks right without wings. That’s one of the long list of missteps with Ultimate Cap. The wings are as important to his silhouette as the ears are to Batman’s.

    And, yeah. Cap needs to be DIESELPUNK.

    Or just full-blown Kirby.

    I hope Thor has HIS winged helmet in at least a COUPLE of scenes.

  14. Excellent observations. My two cents:

    1. My primary question is this: WHY DOES EVERYONE ASSUME THIS IS THE WWII COSTUME? Is it not possible that this is the modern version? Perhaps we’ve not seen the WWII digs yet. My assumption is that this is, in fact, the modern version, and therefore, it’s mighty fine.

    I would concur, however about the suspender straps. Kind of like they were trying to be too clever by half.

    2. I agree 100% with the previous God of Rock comment (Coming soon to Guitar Hero 4!). I find myself wishing for more leather and metal, something that looks more, I dunno, Viking. This is groovy, but it trends towards biker dude with a big gay cape.

    Of course, how they work on screen is all that matters. I am very, VERY much looking forward to both films!

  15. John – I’m with you on #1, too. I kinda hedged my thoughts on it in my review, because that’s my thinking as well. Not sure why they’re showing this one off if the movie’s set it WWII, tho, so now I’m thinking it’s mostly not? Hard to keep up with the rumor mill. But yeah, I fully expect to see a period uniform, but I’d rather see a period film that just ends with Cap being frozen in ice. That kinda crit (made before even knowing what the film will cover) is pretty outside the scope of reviewing just this uniform. But yeah, here’s hoping for a more rough and tumble, superheroey WWII version ala The Ultimates flashbacks.

  16. I’ll bet ya that this is his WWII battle uniform (trad kirby look complete with wings and scales are his USO uniform), designed by SHEILD founder Howard Stark. I myself love the suspenders. It’s a brilliant example of forcing form to follow function and recall the equipment used by soldiers of the day. IF ONLY they had made the clasps and buckles more period appropriate then this would be an A plus double gooder design.

  17. As goofy as Cap’s usual costume is, this manages to look goofier while getting away from all the neat things that make Cap’s costume work. All you need to say is that he’s meant to be a modern-day knight and suddenly all the little things like the wings on the side of his cowl and the red and white stripes and funky gloves/boots make more sense. Add the shield and show him riding a motorcycle in place of a horse and it’s complete.

    His costume is meant to look gaudy and showy because he’s representing an ideal. If you start trying to make him “realistic” with a half-way practical costume like this it just makes him look like the worst-camouflaged soldier on the battle field. The weird gloves and boots don’t look like anything, and the torso straps/suspenders aren’t attaching anything.

  18. I agree about Cap… I think this outfit looks too modern for WWII and think the Ultimates WWII uniform would have looked amazing on screen – with the flight mask and the stencil work on the helmet. This might not be the final design and it might looker better on screen… fingers crossed anyway.

    Thor I really like and based on the actual imagines of Hemsworth in the Thor uniform… it works for me. Based on what I’ve heard, the route they are going down is Asgardian advanced technology rather than magic, this fits.

  19. Scott:
    The weird gloves and boots don’t look like anything, and the torso straps/suspenders aren’t attaching anything.

    I disagree. The gloves echo the notched shape of the pirate gloves while repeating the shape they used on the top of the boots that’s supposed to recall the pirate flaps of trad cap. Also the straps clearly attach to the shoulder pads (which give him the superhuman football hero torso silhouette) and hold up the enormous weight of the utility belt.

  20. Dollars to donuts that that is the modern end of the movie Cap costume. I do like the cowl borrowed from the movie serial.

  21. “I disagree. The gloves echo the notched shape of the pirate gloves while repeating the shape they used on the top of the boots that’s supposed to recall the pirate flaps of trad cap. ”

    You and I spotted the glove is cut like a tighter version of Cap’s usual glove with a fancy buckle, but my dad won’t. This movie will probably be one of the first times my little nephews see Captain America; do you think this weird homage to Captain America’s costume will look cool or just like a cheesy Watchmen/Sky High costume with lots of straps and buckles?

    “Also the straps clearly attach to the shoulder pads (which give him the superhuman football hero torso silhouette) and hold up the enormous weight of the utility belt”

    The suspenders/straps don’t look anything like a load-bearing vest. It looks like they needed to make an excuse for having red stripes on part of his torso and came up with adding buckles and straps that will weigh him down and hinder his movement. Cap is a super-fast and agile acrobat, remember, we’re supposed to see him leaping and flipping around. The football pad/shoulder harness makes it look like he couldn’t even raise his arms over his head.

  22. Scott: This movie will probably be one of the first times my little nephews see Captain America; do you think this weird homage to Captain America’s costume will look cool or just like a cheesy Watchmen/Sky High costume with lots of straps and buckles . . . The football pad/shoulder harness makes it look like he couldn’t even raise his arms over his head.

    Well your dad will delight in seeing the scales and wings costume on screen while cap performs for the USO. This will inform the audiance what the practical armor is insired by. I also don’t believe that scaled chain mail is any more comfortable than football pads. QB’s seem to be able to move their arms just fine.

  23. When I read Reformed Geek’s note that they’re going for an “Asgardian Advanced Technology Instead Of Magic” approach, Thor’s costume finally CLICKED for me. That was always Kirby’s approach to the Thor visuals, and it delights me down to the cockles of my heart that they’re taking that approach rather than a more “period Viking” aesthetic. It’s a daring move, and shows that Branagh, indeed, is a hard-core Thor geek who respects ALL of the source material.

    In that light, the Thor costume is PERFECT. It’s More Kirby Than Kirby: the kind of thing the King would have designed in the LATE ’60s or the ’70s. This is Thor as a NEW GOD, and I mean that in all the BEST ways.

  24. curgoth:
    There’s a guy claiming to have seen the WWII era costume here:
    It does sound more like the Ultimates Cap costume, and I don’t *think* he’s describing what we see above, which is presumably the modern Cap outfit.

    No, I think it’s this one. Read it again, and compare word by word with the picture. Maybe it’s better with these here (forth one specifically. Shows the black chinstrap.)

    I also thought that the shoulder pads seemed stiff. But if you looked closer, the shoulder pads seem to be part of the top-half of the shirt, meaning that they’re not separate. Seeing that, the action-poses in the above mentioned link, and the “scaly” part (in lack of a better word) of the pads made me see them as uncomfortable at most.

    Personally I like it. Whether it’s modern or period, I think it works either way. I asked my dad for his opinion if it fits WWII or looks too modern, and he thinks it fits WWII. But he doesn’t follow superhero movies or comics, so what does he know?

    And I like Thor’s costume. I was also thinking it should look viking-ish at first, but when first seeing the actual costume made me quickly discard that.

  25. Well I agree on sooo many levels on this post…. The gloves and boots on Cap surprisingly doesn’t annoy me… where do you get red leather boots and gloves anyway? and the Thor costume, well, let’s face it, we all knew would be difficult to translate, however rock god was a bit off for me… I’ll say I’m looking forward to the finished product… We’ll see

    Sidebar: We should keep in mind Cap is stronger and faster than you or I, so I doubt the bulky suspenders would really give him much trouble, it’s more that the shoulderpads themselves come outta left field. Cap has never rocked them before…. Or did I miss something?

  26. Also thought I’d add… stark white doesn’t do so hot for covert Ops… I was expecting the white on cap to be toned down, possibly done with a kinda a metallic finish of sorts…

  27. dean: i fully agree about thor’s pants/boots. i love the top half of his costume, mostly because it sticks fairly closely to the current in-continuity costume (which, in my opinion, is the best thor costume ever); however, as my eye is drawn down below the belt, it looks like a completely different superhero – way more “blade” than “thor”. i mean, really? black techno boots with red accents? there’s no way i’d imagine the norse god of thunder wearing those. why use leather pants when a black loincloth/tabard (with the big white dots on either side) and scale mail leggings in the style of the comics would actually look MORE badass. and while i appreciate that even in the comics, thor is usually drawn without his helmet, there is no way i could see him going into battle without his iconic winged helm. thor was originally conceived as a “hulk-buster”, but dressed like that he looks more like sebastian bach than any sort of threat to the hulk. thumbs waaaaay down.

  28. At first I was a bit disappointed that Thor didn’t look more Norse. But when you think about it the techno-god Kirbyesque style is pretty brilliant considering they have to do Avengers next.

    Also, if you remove Thor’s cape and metallosleeves he’s now Ultimate Thor. Maybe that’s the look for Avengers?

  29. Maybe Cap’s suspenders are so he can put his shield on his back?? That’s the only thing I can think of.

  30. “And anyone who’s drawn Captain America knows the middle stripe on his torso is always red.”

    I don’t know why, but this line made me smile.

    You make some wonderful points about both costumes. Cap’s is definitely more problematic than Thor’s because it does take place during WWII. The only way to go would be period-accurate, so it kind of worries me that he looks so modern. Thor allows a little more freedom because he is, after all, and Asgardian on Earth in what we can assume to be the present. It would definitely be a lot more stylish if they went more medieval on it, but it doesn’t clash so badly with the setting, at least.

  31. Huh. Thor looks like Wiccan from Young Avengers, which is odd because Wiccan was originally the ‘kid knockoff’ of Thor. Our master of thunder just isn’t scuffed-up enough, I think.

    Add one more to those missing the headwings. I just don’t believe in this design as charming, which was an essential part of the Steve Rogers I knew.

  32. To quote Henry Fonda in Once Upon a Time in the West… “How can you trust a man who wears a belt and suspenders? Man can’t even trust his own pants.”

  33. Thor looks like a high-priced children’s party performer trying to cash in on the popularity of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, not really thinking about how that was five years ago and most of the children won’t make the connection, they will just think he’s a queer magician inexplicably wielding a hammer.

    Captain America looks like he’s going to a leather and bondage fetish bar on the 4th of July.

    These are completely disappointing.

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