“Likely The #1 Story On 80 Percent Of Comics Sites” – Tom Spurgeon

§ March 7th, 2008 § Filed under watchmen Comments Off on “Likely The #1 Story On 80 Percent Of Comics Sites” – Tom Spurgeon

Okay, like you all haven’t heard enough about the Watchmen movie costumes over the last day or so…well, it is kind of a big deal, as one of our little picturebook industry’s most high profile, and most beloved, funnybooks finally lurches its way onto the silver screen, and we’re all interested in how it’s gonna turn out.

Granted, most of us are…skeptical, or cautiously optimistic, or, um, a tad excited. After all, it’s a very complex, very dense work, as much about the superhero genre as it is of the superhero genre, and most people are fairly convinced that if it can be botched, it will be botched.

Now, I didn’t think I was too hard on the stills we all saw yesterday. I was somewhat taken aback by the Night Owl costume, as it seemed a little too Hollywood-movie-ish for what was supposed to be a goofy Batman-esque analog, as well as possibly indicating a serious missing-the-point problem at the script level (as eloquently explained by Mr. Kevin Church). Otherwise, the rest of the outfits seem fine, my qualms mostly being 1) still not overly impressed by Rorschach, but willing to be convinced otherwise, and 2) Silk Spectre’s pose seemed a little too…superhero-y for what I know of the character from the source material, which is really about as nit-picky a complaint as you’re likely to find. Otherwise, her costume, considering the inspiration for the character (her particular character archetype being, paraphrasing Alan Moore, “the lady who looks good in tights”) is just dandy.

So, basically, if the film turns out to be not any good, it’s not going to be because of the costumes.

But it got me to thinking. As I’ve probably said on my site in the past, and I’m too lazy to go looking for it right this moment, one of the main points of Watchmen is the deconstruction/reexamination of the tropes of superhero storytelling. (I wonder if the full impact of that particular ingredient is lost on readers coming to the book late, after having read countless regurgitations/waterings-down of those same ideas in two decades’ worth of comics that followed.) Given that the average movie-goer likely to see a Watchmen film hasn’t read any comics, a movie version of Watchmen, assuming it still includes that aspect of the work, would be wise to stick to attacking clichés familiar from other superhero films. Okay, yes, I know there’s probably a lot of overlap, but one cliché that’s more an issue in the films is the ridiculous, unnecessarily-detailed, overly impractical, sculpted-muscle superhero outfit.

You know, like the costumes of Ozymandias and Night Owl in those promo stills.

I was okay with Ozy’s costume looking like it did, since that level of…ostentatiousness, I guess, seems fitting to the character. But if we’re approaching the Night Owl character as someone who put a lot of money and time into building himself an over-the-top supersuit, which doesn’t necessarily make him a better superhero, but makes him feel like a superhero — and a costume that the audience would recognize as “yeah, that’s what every impractical costume looks like in every superhero movie I’ve seen” — well, in that case, I can live with it (which I’m sure comes as a great relief to the filmmakers). Especially if we see that he has a whole closetful of similar costumes for different occasions, as seen in the comic.

In that context, I find myself appreciating the Rorschach costume a little more…sure, it still looks kinda dorky, but that works in contrast to the overly-slick costumes of the other heroes. Obviously Rorschach didn’t have the money or skill to give himself…I don’t know, a trenchcoat with sculpted stomach muscles. He’s playing at being a superhero like the fancy uptown folk, and this is the best he can do, with an awkward, ugly outfit. With that particular perspective hurdle of mine overcome, I can begin to see how the creepiness of Rorschach’s character can work itself out in the film.

Of course, that’s a whole lot of justification on my part, assuming Watchmen the movie approaches the complexity of Watchmen the comic book. If the film is just an X-Men movie with different costumes (“To me, my Watch-men!”), which it could very well be, then all that typin’ is moot, I guess.

Ah, well. We’ll see in a year. I’m certainly still interested in checking it out when it’s finally released. And despite any griping and complaining and nitpicking that may occur between now and then, we’re all gonna see it. Don’t you lie to me. You know you will.

Anyway, that’s far more about Watchmen costumes than you’ve ever wanted to read. I promise, when Lost Girls: The Movie makes its approach, I’ll try not to be so obsessive.

From work, the other day:

“Hey, get this…what if Rorschach from the Watchmen was instead…HORSHACK from Welcome Back, Kotter?

“‘Up your nose with a rubber hose, Dr. Manhattan!’

“‘Hey there, Mr. Dryyyyyy-berg!’


Sigh. I’ve no pride at all.

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