So, the new trailer for Captain America: Civil War dropped and it was amazing! It gave us a better perspective of the conflict and the superb dialogue that we have been hearing ever since the first trailer came out continues here: “I was wrong about you,” Iron Man says. “The whole world was wrong about you.” Damn, that's powerful.
The cherry on top of this delicious cup cake came when Spider-Man finally showed up and, boy, did it cause a whirlwind of emotions and reactions.
Personally, I liked it:
The reason I liked it (besides the eyes of course) is because it reminds me of artist Alex Ross design:
But I don't want to create a debate within this article. I want to talk about the positive side of things and what better way to stay positive than by saying: "Well, it could have been worse." Comic books tend to redesign characters to give them a fresh and modern look and keep up with the times or to match the tone of their stories, e.g., Spider-Man's black suit.
Oftentimes, this is not the case and comic book characters get an unnecessary makeover that cheapens the character or adds nothing of value.
With that being said, I want to share with you 5 comic book character redesigns that range from the "what were they thinking?" to the more colloquial "wtf?." But not everything should be bad, right? Believe or not, these redesigns had a positive takeaway.
5. Sue Storm
Sue Storm is one of the most beloved comic book characters ever. Not only because of her strong character development but also because she is one of the most important female characters in fiction. A mother figure for both her team and her children, she is the heart and soul of the Fantastic Four and is wildly respected within the super hero community, but of course that wasn't enough. Someone decided that for Sue to show that she was a strong woman, it was necessary to show some skin (you know, empowering stuff, blah blah) and what better way to show that she is a strong female super hero than by wearing nothing more than a cut out number 4 on her chest creating a boob window! All of a sudden staying invisible for an extended period of time didn't seem like a bad idea.
More often than not, comic book characters are aimed towards a male teenage audience and female characters are the ones that pay the price the most when it comes down to designing them and for them to be "more appealing." Sue Storm is already a beautiful and well crafted character so there is absolutely no need to change they way she is. Her leadership and strength makes her already sexy and showing a lot of skin doesn't empower the character, it cheapens her. Fortunately, the look didn't last and it showed comic book writers and artists that a powerful female presence is measured by her ability to contribute to the overall arc of the story and not how much cleavage she can show.
Where do I start? What do I do with this?! Someone. Please. Send. Help...
The Mighty Thor is a character that has existed since the 60s and obviously he couldn't exempt himself of going through image changes. The problem here is that he is portrayed as a mythological character and an image change doesn't make a lot of sense in terms of narrative. He is in essence a god and his overall appearance should stay constant and it shouldn't matter in what age he is currently in.
Fortunately, someone got the message and Thor's look has remained the classic one with just different variations. With a character like Thor, being consistent from the way he acts to the way he looks is key and that's what makes him an interesting character. Times change but Thor doesn't and exploring that dynamic is what has kept him relevant all these years.
Feral Wolverine was just a dumb idea. This abomination had a long story starting with Magneto ripping the adamantium out Wolverine's body and without it, Wolverine was actually regressing due to the fact that the adamantium was no longer holding his natural mutation back; his natural mutation was to turn Wolverine into a feral creature (what?) and when he tried to reattach the metal, the bonding process went South speeding up the de-evolution process (more what?), and that horrible Wolverine design wasn't the worst of the problems. The issue is that the writers and artists couldn't commit to it. One moment he didn't have a nose and in others, he was all good.
Wolverine is one of the most popular comic book and fictional characters ever created. So, in a way, I don't blame writers and artists to feel the pressure of keeping our favorite Canadian in the spotlight at all times. His ferocity has to be implied and not shown literally on every aspect. Showing him nothing more than a beast is kind of disrespectful to the character and it doesn't make him look cool, it makes him look dumb. I know it had to do with a plot device but the direction the character was going was wrong and the plot device seemed more arbitrary and contrived. The good thing about this is that we have seen "feral Wolverine" many times afterwards but we don't notice because that aspect of him is explored in other ways (mentally, emotionally) and that subtlety is what works with this type of character. His aggression has been redirected towards his character development and not the way he looks.
We all need to find our own identity and comic book characters are no different but when someone like Azrael decides to alter the whole look to its very core, it's time to speak up and stop the madness. Guns, claws and shoulder pads! Batman is already a bad-ass character but someone decided to send a message that Batman needed to look the part (literally). The idea of Azrael donning the mask and cowl wasn't a bad idea but the execution was terrible.
Azrael is a very interesting character and has a very intriguing background. As a character, he is already well-rounded and well developed so when he was chosen to don the cape and cowl, it was really an out-of-the-box choice and very appealing. The problem here is that Azrael's state of mind deterioration and escalation of his aggressive methods were explored through his appearance and not in terms of narrative. We, the readers, knew that Bruce Wayne would return sooner or later to suit up as Batman but Azrael's makeover seemed a little bit forced and lazy. If the writers and artists wanted us to hate Azrael, they definitely accomplished that but not in a good way. Azrael had good intentions and it was natural that we would have to see him fall from grace but when that concept is explored in corrupting the way he looks, it just felt like a huge cop out. Luckily, writers have since explored character dynamics like this one and have added more to the character's development. A great example would be when Dick Grayson became Batman. There was no need in changing his appearance and he honored Batman's suit by keeping the ideals intact while adding his own personality to it.
Is there nothing sacred? Not only did Superman die but when resurrected, he was given a complete makeover; new powers and a new design. This was just horrible even for 90s standards which, by the way, also gave us Mullet Superman. It's fine to give artists and writers a little bit of freedom to share their vision with the fans, but this character redesign was an act of war.
Less is more. Superman's look is universally known and is the perfect example when an iconic look is born. Spider-Man, Batman, Wolverine and Superman accomplished a look that people picture in their heads the moment you mention their name. This pushes artists to make them find a definitive look for other characters using a character like Superman as a template. The most positive thing about this re-imagining of Superman was that it showed DC how people can be really passionate about a character and sometimes their voices need to be heard.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
So, there you have it. The Spider-Man look is controversial for sure but honestly, it keeps this new Spider-Man grounded and giving him a classic look just means that moving forward, the suit has tons of room to evolve afterwards. What other characters can you think of that have horrible redesigns but at least something good came out of them?