Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Judging from the promo pix I've seen so far, it looks like the forthcoming movie version of THE PUNISHER will be the latest in a long line of film adaptations of comic books to dispense with the hero's skintight costume. (Yes, I'm talking about you, DAREDEVIL.) I've never been a huge fan of the Punisher (too much machismo, too direct a ripoff of DEATH WISH), but I must say his body-hugging lycra outfit (and occasional tendency to stumble into b&d situations) has inspired me to buy an issue or two of his comic over the years, and even to rent the earlier, awful (and equally spandex-free) movie version starring Dolph Lundgren.

I know I'm not the first comics fan to bitch about this, but what's the big problem with portraying characters the way they were originally drawn? Guess we could trace the trouble back to the baggy trunks of the Superman TV show (and, before that, to various movie serials), then to the way that presumably absurd image was playfully satirized by the costumers of the 1966 Batman series. Of course, as this blog has surely made abundantly clear by now, the sight of Adam West in gray long johns might have been intended as a joke, but it had quite a different effect on the likes of me and many other future perverts around the world.

Ever since then--even though we now possess a whole bunch of miracle synthetic fabrics straight out of Jack Kirby's imagination--movie moguls have felt compelled to shy away from tight-fitting fantasy outfits for fear that modern-day hipster audiences wouldn't take them seriously. (As if anybody takes action heroes seriously, in or out of costume. I mean, it's not like we'd want them as elected officials, for god's sake!) Meanwhile, the world of championship wrestling has been packed with well-built men stuffed into lycra for decades now, and that doesn't seem to have hurt ratings one whit.

There have been a few promising exceptions to moviedom's rampant lycrophobia: The Phantom, the TV version of The Flash, and, of course, Tobey McGuire as Spider-Man--that last one being proof positive that you can hire an actor with some emotional depth who still looks good in lycra.

As for my beloved Caped Crusader, I've recently discovered a Yahoo group devoted exclusively to the black rubber batsuit of the recent movies over the Adam West version. Truth be told, by this point in my life I've come to prefer the rubber outfit to the version that first floated my boat--but either is preferable to the kind of leather-jacket compromise the Punisher now finds himself encased in.

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