One of the things that these superhero films just can’t get around is the issue of costumes. By necessity (or lack of imagination? Discuss), these films have grounded their superheroics in contemporary real-world concepts, providing function over form while eschewing the loud colors and theatrics of their contemporaries. With the Marvel films, it was easy to dial that down a bit: Iron Man needed his metal suit, Thor is the God Of Swag, Hulk is basically naked, and Black Widow and Hawkeye were special agents who just needed to be tactical. That wasn’t true for Captain America, however, as he came out proud to boast the red, white and blue, no matter how outdated.

Now that Cap is removed from the Avengers for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there’s no more pressure on his to be the "shiny one." In modern day, Cap now runs missions for SHIELD, and his traditional garb has changed. They seem to have gone heavy on the blue at the expense of red (cue FOX News commentators’ dopey rage) and the reasons are pretty simple. Talking to SFX, co-director Joe Russo elaborates:
"It was about a real world grounding approach to the character, in the spirit of Ed Brubaker's book, which is postmodern and deconstructionist and a grounded thriller. We wanted to put Cap in a space where he's a special forces operative for SHIELD who goes on missions around the world that are clandestine and sometimes require a certain level of anonymity or stealth. We wanted to use his Super Soldier outfit from the comic books as a way to represent, thematically, his place in the world of SHIELD and the difference between working for SHIELD and being Captain America. That's something that gets explored on a very concrete level in terms of what outfits are used in the film. We didn't feel like we were messing with the icon. People can say that they’re fans of the books if they're only loyal to the '60s and '70s version of the character – well, then you're a fan of that version of the character, but if you've been reading the books till the current runs then this is a journey that the character goes on and it’s a pretty explicit journey. We just felt like we were being faithful to the more recent issues of the books. The movie has a very thematic component in terms of the use of costumes. When you come to see the film I think you'll understand why we made the choice we made."

For those of you who have heard all this talk about the Brubaker run but haven’t read it, essentially it’s the recent collection of arcs that introduced the Winter Soldier into Cap’s story, fueled by Cold War-style spy skullduggery. It’s a pretty grounded run of stories, one that makes it seem like superpowers are miles away from the characters, not merely a phone call away. It’s well-worth a read – in fact, Cap’s been one of the better comics on the shelves in recent years, and a bizarre sci-fi tangent in last year’s issues, which found Cap trapped in an alternate dimension, was immensely rewarding for both longtime fans and newbies.

Of course, this begs the question: why the mask and costume at all? Shouldn’t he be wearing a SHIELD-issued outfit of some sort? Symbology is probably very important to these guys, so you could see a happy medium taking place between the filmmakers, who want to skew towards plausibility, and Marvel, who wants to keep their hero recognizable and toyetic, particularly for future sequels. Still, it’s a pretty cool look, and if we’re being rilly rilly honest, Chris Evans looks good in anything. Captain America: The Winter Soldier opens on April 4th.

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