Bysteve aherne, writer at

So you have an idea, you get the pitch meeting and you get the green light, a top tier director is on board, the producer really knows his genre, the special effects department is top drawer, the script sings and everything is looking good in generic superhero movie land when some wise ass agents asks"what about my clients face?

Imagine the air slowly leaking out of a balloon.

You get the idea when the elephant in the room of superhero movies is addressed; how to see the stars face!

This is a problem studios have been wrestling with since day one, after all why have a star if you can't see them? A stunt man would suffice otherwise.

Of course for your Supermans, Thor or Human Torch or any others who fight face on as it were this is no problem but for half/domino mask heroes like Captain America or Green Lantern or full mask heroes like Spiderman or Iron Man the problem is significant and the solutions to such problems range from the inspired to the absurd.

Having the viewpoint of seeing Tony Starks face from inside the mask was inspired as well as logical, the tech included inside the helmet lends itself to a heads up display. However, the scene in First Avenger where Bucky is hanging from the damaged train and before he can affect a rescue attempt Cap sees fit to remove his mask -wasting valuable rescue time- is silly.When Batroc challenges Cap in Winter Soldier not only does Cap drop his shield but he sees fit to unmask before kicking ass, in fact later in the same movie after the Winter Soldier is unmasked quite creatively during a fight, he apparently decided that going unmasked from here was the way to go.

A half mask is one thing but a full mask is something else again. Consider Spiderman, arguably the most popular superhero in the world and the contortions the writers have to go through to unmask Spidey. In Spidey 1 his mask is blown off by an explosion courtesy of the Green Goblin and in Spidey 2, after maybe the finest superhero action sequence ever filmed, he is forced to unmask by an exploding train control panel! In fact explosions to remove masks is a standard trope in the genre.

While good writers create a compelling story that combines both sides of the heroes identity sharing the tale it takes a great writer to unmask the hero in ways that are creative and organic to the tale.

Marvel has a policy of no secret identities and this is no accident, and heroes without masks, be they Doctor Strange or Wolverine, are much coveted because the unmask problem is a non issue.

So when you sit down to watch Ant-Man or Black Panther or Deadpool or any of the full mask movies spare a thought for the unmasking scenes and admire the skill or sneer at the ham fisted way it's brought off.

Thanks for reading this article, any thoughts or comments are welcome,please feel free to share.


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