Seeing Captain America’s upcoming costume for The Avengers (2012) was a case of loathe at first sight. Here, I (try to) explain why.
Captain America’s new helmet is the main offender, and the primary eye-sore. Problems arise in the mould of the helmet and the lack of jawline. The headpiece we saw in The First Avenger is somewhat reminiscent of an M1 helmet. With its distinctive anterior and rear brims, it immediately invokes a World War II American soldier. The various strappings also provide a rustic touch, and a nice contrast.
Fast forward to present day Captain America, and we find that those features have been vastly diminished. From certain angles, it looks like he could be wearing a bathing cap! The roundness of this particularly domed helmet also reminds me of characters like the Coneheads, or the Human Bullet (from The Tick fame).
The next issue concerns chins and jawlines: the astute viewer will note how First Avenger Cap has a chin strap, while 2012 Cap does not. Additionally, one is barenecked, while the other has a cowl-like piece covering up the neck. The lack of a covered chin and jaw presents problems as seen in the following images:
Without something to disguise Evans’ natural chinniness, as well as to provide an artificial, angular jawline, we get these rather derpy depictions of Captain America.
It’s funny to see that if we remove the helmet, all of the above problems are solved. Captain America, sans helmet, looks absolutely spanking, with no awkward helmet shape, or feeble chin exposed. But of course, we are then left with an uncharacteristic Captain America…
To ear or not to ear?
Captain America has traditionally had his ears exposed. Interestingly enough, some of the promo art for The Avengers has shown Captain America with ears exposed, and it looks pretty good too.
We all expect Captain America to be barrel chested, pectorals ablazing, deltoids apopping. So why doesn’t his new outfit channel that? The First Avenger costume did a good job of it, creating a period-related bulky outfit that carried weight about it. Cap’s costume has been traditionally skin tight, which has the benefit of highlighting the structures beneath. But of course, not very realistic.
Set photos have not delivered a sense of strength and power in Captain America. He looks skinny. Hunchbacked. Awkward. Frail.
Traditional Captain America - White forearms (well, they extend up to mid bicep)
First Avenger Cap - As above.
2012 Cap - A patch of white covering the anterior biceps!
Now that ain’t so bad in itself, but we are left with an overwhelming amount of blue on his arms. The traditional colouring has also emphasised his chest and shoulders, while isolating his gloves. I believe this pattern is also similar to why short sleeved shirts are so popular post-90s—they emphasise a man’s arms, and so also his masculinity. Also look to the sports arena for examples… NFL and soccer jerseys have shortened sleeves over the years.
But back to Captain America, one gets the impression that he is wearing a long sleeved shirt. Not armour, not leather, but a blue long sleeved shirt.
Once again, part of the ingenuity of Cap America’s First Avenger costume was that it played upon the period of which it was set. Cap’s lower body garments could look bulky and baggy, because that’s how American soldiers were uniformed.
2012 Captain America’s legs are exposed due to the tight leggings. Unfortunately, Chris Evans does not have Schwarzenegger-like quads and thighs.
I’m confused about the texture of the costume’s fabric… what does it remind me of? It reminds me of cosplay material. It reminds me of couches. It reminds me of a giant novelty tennis ball I once owned. Compare it against his fellow Avenger’s outfits… they are predominantly leather looking, materials that look durable and tough. Captain America looks like his uniform could catch on a stray nail, and be torn apart. Look as the fabric creases and scrunches up over Cap’s chest!
Yet again, the promo art doesn’t reflect what set photos have shown us, with lighting reflecting off Cap’s suit, as if off some type of tough, leather-like armour.
As touched upon above, First Avenger Cap benefited greatly with touches of brown, and a subdued palette. Not only that, but the arrangement helped to prevent any one colour dominating a part of the body.
As mentioned above, the 2012 Avengers outfit suffers from being overwhelmingly blue. The numerous layers on the First Avenger uniform also allowed for lights and shadows to provide depth. Not so on the new uniform. Cap in the comics could get away with this, on account of his muscles showing through.
Captain America’s upcoming Avengers (2012) uniform sucks.
Disclaimer: I suspect through the power of movie magic, many of the derpier aspects of Captain America’s new uniform will be edited out, or made to look better.
*Like waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out. Heck, they’re even naturally punted to the sides of the assembly, as if to say: “Yeah, you’re definitely not capable of being a focal point of this superhero team.”
Alex Ross, Invaders Now! #1, 2010.