Movies

Steel and Spandex: Two Oscar Night Super-Developments, Considered

So: None of the comic book movies that hit theaters in 2009 managed to ride The Dark Knight's scalloped, titanium-tri-weave coattails into Oscar nominations. Cynics dubbed the Academy's decision to expand the pool of 2010 Best Picture nominations "Affirmative Action for popcorn movies" but, at least when it came to comics-based flicks, it didn't work.

Which is hardly surprising and just as it should be, when you consider the 2009 crop of comic book movies. Seriously, are you going to sit there and try to construct the case for Surrogates? For Whiteout? For the grimly dutiful Watchmen? Or the grimly doody-full X-Men: Wolverine?

As Hugh Jackman put it (no less than three! times!) in Wolverine: "NOOOOOOOOO!"

Despite the dearth of comic book-inspired fare during the ceremony itself, (and just to be clear: Nobody who calls Avatar a "comic book movie" means it as a compliment), Oscar Night 2010 saw two significant comic-book-movie developments.

Development Number One was the premiere, during Jimmy Kimmel, of the Iron Man 2 trailer.

Development Number Two involved Ryan Seacrest and Ryan Reynolds discussing, at surprising length, spandex.

After the jump: IM2, and the single word that, when uttered by Ryan Reynolds during a red carpet interview last Sunday evening, triggered a wave of out-of-body experiences at Oscar parties across the nation.

We can dispense with Development Number One quickly.

The Iron Man 2 trailer features Robert Downey Junior, and he spends much of it Robert-Downey-Junioring around with customary verve and aplomb. Which: Yay.

And for future reference: Hey, Hollywood producers? You know one way to make me not care that you've fired Terrence Howard and replaced him with another actor? Make that other actor Don "Likability Made Flesh" Cheadle. So again: Yay.

In the closing seconds of the trailer, something happens that caused a friend to send me a text that stands among the most lovably nerdy I have ever received - which, trust me, is saying something:

"Dude! Suitcase! SUUUUUUUITCAAAAAASE!"

(The suitcase in question, as you could perhaps gather, figures largely in the comics.)

As for Development Number Two, well.

It happened toward the end of this red carpet interview with Ryan Reynolds, when Ryan Seacrest asked him about the physical training he's been doing as he begins to film the Green Lantern movie.

Geek website IO9 has the transcript (but not the costume itself, which hasn't been glimpsed yet — the photo on this page was ginned up by a fan with Photoshop.)

What was it like when you put on the costume for the first time?

Um, it, ah ... snug. The costume is snug. It doesn't leave a lot, uh, it doesn't really camouflage too much. So it's going to be interesting.

Some people are probably interested in that.

Yes maybe. I think that once I stop blushing, which will be about month three of production, it should all be equalized.

Now: Many, many of the statements made by Ryan Seacrest during his stint on the red carpet Sunday night were of the crushingly obvious, "It-must-feel-good-to-be-nominated" variety, but perhaps nothing he said encapsulated pure, crystalline DUH more than "Some people are probably interested in that."

Odds are, if there were any straight women or gay men at your Oscar party, the moment after Reynolds said the word "snug", more than a few of them fell suddenly silent and gazed wistfully into the middle distance.

Waxing Prolix Over Spandex
Regardless of our sex or sexual orientation, the subject of live-action superhero costumes gets us geeks going. From George Reeves'circus-strongman number to John Wesley Shipp's sculpted foam deltoids to (inevitably, endlessly) George Clooney's bat-nipples, we are fascinated and frustrated by how difficult it has proven to translate the singlemost iconic thing about the superheroes of the printed page — those bold, skintight outfits — into three-dimensional reality.

After all, the costumes drawn by comic book artists — all that sharply delineated musculature, with pecs and delts and twelve-packs outlined in thick swoops of India ink — are impossible. Because even the tightest, stretchiest fabric on the leanest, most muscular frame will only flatten and obscure the ridges and striations that characterize the familiar "How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way" superhero body.

What those artists are actually drawing, in every frame, is brightly colored, perfectly lit skin.

In 2008, writer Michael Chabon wrote a lovely, thoughtful, elegant piece on the subject of the superhero costume, and its inherently two-dimensional nature, for The New Yorker. It's a wonderful and frequently funny read, and if the guy gets a bit overexcited here and there ("The superheroic wardrobe resembles a wildly permutated alphabet of ideograms conceived only to express the eloquent power of silence.") it's forgivable. Hey, it's The New Yorker. They do that.

It's encouraging to hear that the Green Lantern producers don't seem to be going the plastic-sculpted- armor route, which always seems a bit like cheating. Of course, when you stop to consider that the costume, in this case, is the standard-issue uniform of an intergalactic police force, a little space-Kevlar wouldn't seem out of place. But good for them for sticking to the source.

Because on the page, the costume looks great. Tight, yes, and even more Keri Strug-y than your typical superhero, but great.

It's just a matter of time before an official (or leaked) photo of Reynolds in the GL costume makes its way online. The guy's got the muscle mass of an NFL lineman and the body fat percentage of an anorexic whippet; if anyone can make a green leotard and black tights say "Tough Space Cop", it's him.

Dogs in Wigs? Bah. Try Dogs in Capes.
And while we're on the subject of super-suits, here's this.

Please note: I do not endorse this practice.

Except for Photo #4. I endorse that one. Because I am not made of stone, over here.

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