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Warning: spoilers for Leigh Whannell’s The Invisible Man are in play. If you haven’t seen the film yet, now’s your chance to disappear from this article and return once you’ve watched it for yourself.
To paraphrase the philosophers known as the Insane Clown Posse, we’re here today to ask a very important question: invisibility, how does it work?! Well, that answer really depends on which story you consult, and since there’s been tons of interpretations and adaptations of author H.G. Wells’ iconic sci-fi classic, The Invisible Man, there are quite a few variants to consider.
As we’re about to see a brand new tale of horror most invisible, we’re offering this handy guide that goes over some of the most notable examples of science gone wrong. Be it by total accident, a failure to create an antidote or personal preference, here are several ways that characters of the past have made themselves invisible.
Develop An Active Camouflage Suit (The Invisible Man, 2020)
Obviously, this is a big fat spoiler for Leigh Whannell’s new spin on The Invisible Man, but as theorized, abusive genius Adrian Griffin was able to create himself an active camouflage suit for all his sick, gaslighting needs. It looks like those hints provided in the trailers were indeed the real deal, as the modern spin on the character created by H.G. Wells has the right suit for any occasion.
Using a suit made up of miniature cameras that film and transmit their surroundings, Griffin’s suit was revealed by Cecilia (Elizabeth Moss) during the events of her fateful trip to her supposedly dead partner’s residence. Seeing as Adrian was a leader in the world of optics, it’s pretty clear how his skills would have tipped him as a man that could turn invisible without resorting to more extreme methods seen in past films.
Create A Chemical Formula To Do The Job (The Invisible Man, 1933)
One could say that Universal’s original film version of The Invisible Man from 1933 was where it all started. Focused on the career of scientific genius Dr. Jack Griffin (Claude Rains), the film’s protagonist is driven mad by both his ambitions as a person who cannot be seen, and the key ingredient to his chemical formula that makes it all happen.
While Monocane, the bleaching agent that Griffin uses to create his invisibility formula, does indeed help make him invisible, it also causes him to lose his mind. Due to the drug’s penchant for causing aggressive and megalomaniacal behavior, Jack goes off the deep end and starts planning some pretty extreme stuff. Needless to say, we here at CinemaBlend do not approve of the use of Monocane, be it recreational, industrial or in the name of becoming invisible.
Become The Test Subject For An Invisibility Machine (The Invisible Woman, 1940)
Becoming invisible isn’t always something that a person seeks in the name of science and invention. Sometimes, if you’re like The Invisible Woman’s Kitty Carroll (Virginia Bruce), you volunteer for a scientific experiment that turns you into a person of total transparency. Thanks to Professor Gibbs’ seemingly magic machine, Kitty is able to kick around without anyone seeing her, and has probably the second best case of invisibility in this entire lineup.
The invisible state that Kitty is put into with The Invisible Woman eventually wears off, allowing her to be seen and live a normal life once again. However, if there’s a particular moment she doesn’t want to be seen, she can actually become transparent yet again. All she needs to do is use either alcohol or alcohol-based skin products, and she’s invisible once more.
Suffer An Industrial Accident While Hungover In A Sauna (Memoirs Of An Invisible Man, 1992)
As is with many things in life, sometimes invisibility isn’t sought after by a particular character, but rather, it’s thrust upon them. Just ask Chevy Chase’s character Nick Halloway, the protagonist of Memoirs of an Invisible Man. What was supposed to be a simple 10 minute sauna break to sleep off a hangover turned into a fateful industrial accident.
One errant cup of coffee spilled onto a control console at Magnascopic Laboratories triggered an accident in the lab that cause an event of molecular flux. In other words, thanks to a pretty big mistake, several layers of Nick’s whole being are invisible. Though, to his credit, you can still see some of his organ functions, like smoking or eating/drinking. So that’s something.
Creating Another Chemical Formula To Do The Job (Hollow Man, 2000)
Yes, the chemical process has been used more than once, with a lot of movies basically taking the same tactic as the original Invisible Man story. However, director Paul Verhoeven’s modern take on the material, adapted into the film Hollow Man, has a special key to its invisibility serum.
Not only is the serum irradiated before Kevin Bacon’s Sebastian Caine volunteers to test it on himself, it’s also built with an antidote in mind. Though, surprise of all surprises, Caine’s narcissism and aggressive behavior are enhanced by his seemingly irreversible condition. Cue a rampage of harm towards people and animals alike, and an explosive finale for this transparent menace that basically makes a case to smash together a proper Hollow Man sequel with that Nightmare On Elm Street reboot, something Kevin Bacon would be perfect for.
Steal Someone Else’s Chemical Formula To Do The Job (The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, 2003)
We’ll leave with yet another chestnut of conventional wisdom, tailored just for the purposes of discussing invisibility. As The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’s film adaptation taught us with Tony Curran’s Rodney Skinner, those who can’t create sometimes steal. In this case, Skinner’s sticky fingered pursuits lead him to pilfer the invisibility formula from his comic counterpart, only to realize that it’s not exactly temporary or reversible.
Rather than become a menace to society or harm anyone with the fruits of his labor in an unprovoked manner, Skinner actually maintains his playful personality while aiding The League as a member. Though he still knows how to take the enemy by surprise, should the moment require his assistance. Finally, someone uses these abilities for heroic means, rather than mere personal gain!
As you can see, there's a lot of ways to become invisible, with some yielding more manageable results than others. Each scenario provides the audience with a thrilling what if that forces them to ask just what they would do if granted those powers themselves, while also telling of the dangers those situations would bring along with those powers. Your next, best look at such a moral question lies with The Invisible Man, which is currently in a theater near you, and good luck spotting him without losing your liquid refreshments for the evening.