When you’re designing superhero suits, it all comes down to the crotch.
August 24, 2018 10:40 PM   Subscribe

Battle of the Bulge: Why We’re So Fascinated by Superhero Codpieces If you're into this topic, then you're probably REALLY into this topic. If not, then...not.
posted by jenfullmoon (35 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have a soft spot for Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin, which I enjoyed a lot back in the day. I haven’t seen it since it was in theaters, but after Christopher Nolan’s portentous trilogy, I bet it would be refreshing.
posted by Kattullus at 12:31 AM on August 25 [3 favorites]


Margot Kidder wins this article.
posted by mykescipark at 12:37 AM on August 25 [19 favorites]


Superman's costume looks stupid without trunks. And, without trunks you notice the bulge even more, because without the contrasting colors there's nothing for you to see except the contours.
posted by ckape at 12:48 AM on August 25 [2 favorites]


Just so we’re all clear, a codpiece points (!) upward (!!!). Not every jockstrap, thong, dancebelt, or speedo is a codpiece.

Because, seriously, there was a time when it was de rigueur for dudes to strut around with raging cloth boners jutting through their puffy culottes.

This is important. Those who don’t remember history something something something.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:48 AM on August 25 [19 favorites]


I remember on that film we had five different shapes and we gave them all names. For example, we had ‘the spider.’ We had ‘the donkey.’ We had all different shapes for different fellows.

Where is the annotated photo gallery of this, asking for a friend
posted by Mizu at 3:27 AM on August 25 [13 favorites]


MetaFilter: there was a time when it was de rigueur for dudes to strut around with raging cloth boners jutting through their puffy culottes

I would also like to draw attention to the user name possibilities.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:13 AM on August 25 [5 favorites]


Doom Patrol had some thoughts on the subject.
posted by delfin at 6:13 AM on August 25 [6 favorites]


And, without trunks you notice the bulge even more, because without the contrasting colors there's nothing for you to see except the contours.

Pretty sure Snyder saw that as a feature rather than a bug.
posted by straight at 6:14 AM on August 25


Metafilter: Those who don’t remember history are doomed to grind against it.
posted by Catblack at 6:30 AM on August 25 [5 favorites]


yeah, some links on codpieces and their history, with visuals, would have rounded off this FPP nicely.
posted by infini at 6:47 AM on August 25




Yeah, I remember it not just being the codpieces in Batman and Robin people found ridiculous. Even George Clooney still wonders aloud sometimes - "why the hell did the Batsuit have nipples?"

I saw Sigfried and Roy's act once - Roy really, really liked his codpieces. Apparently, this also caught the attention of that "Painter Of Light" guy Thomas Kincaide, who one time attended Sigfried & Roy's show and got blindingly drunk and had to be thrown out because he kept shouting "CODPIECE!" whenever he saw one.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:44 AM on August 25 [10 favorites]


I.. just assumed male superheroes wore athletic supporters under their costumes, like men who play strenuous contact sports.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:46 AM on August 25 [2 favorites]


this topic needs more 70s era Jethro Tull
posted by philip-random at 8:01 AM on August 25 [2 favorites]


The discussion of Batman's rubber sculpture costume reminded me of Blade, possibly the most ridiculously costumed superhero from this era. I mean he's basically wearing a bunch of luggage. But no particular crotch treatment, just some not-very-tight leather pants.

The article doesn't quite get what's going on with Dr. Manhattan and his Big Blue Schlong in the Watchmen. Snyder did not "decide to give him a thong for the most of the film"; the thong is in the comic books too. It's a major plot point in the books when Dr. Manhattan stops wearing it, a symbol of him no longer giving a fuck about what society thinks about him, his detachment from his humanity. (The article does get to that a couple of paragraphs down with quotes from the actor Crudup.) He was beautifully animated though, I think the film did as good a treatment as a movie could on the impossible psychology and presence of a giant blue god.
posted by Nelson at 8:08 AM on August 25 [4 favorites]


There were lots of things Watchmen the film got wrong, but the visual design of Dr. Manhattan was not one of them.
posted by bonehead at 8:32 AM on August 25 [2 favorites]


Not just codpieces, but also tucking (mildly nsfw).
posted by anem0ne at 8:35 AM on August 25 [3 favorites]


yeah, some links on codpieces and their history, with visuals, would have rounded off this FPP nicely.

I agree but I was also really afraid of what I was going to find if I looked for that.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:09 AM on August 25 [2 favorites]


Culture writer Maria Teresa Hart touched on this in a 2016 piece in The Atlantic in which she proposed that the evolution of the superhero costume operates in lockstep with our shifting views of the perfect male body.

Waiting for the superhero costume that recognizes the Dad bod.
posted by nubs at 9:11 AM on August 25 [1 favorite]


I think that the Marvel movies focus more on the chest, as in Iron Man and Dr. Strange, but also Drax, Starlord, and Spiderman. They also focus on arms: we get Bucky's metal one, shots of Hulk and Thanos, and Klaue's uncanny valley-esque prosthetic, all plasticine and fake on the outside.

Captain America's butt is famous.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:34 AM on August 25 [3 favorites]


Batman & Robin remains a terrible movie

Credit to those brave souls who periodically rewatch it for verification purposes. Presumably in a bunker in South Dakota.
posted by q*ben at 10:35 AM on August 25 [3 favorites]


From Volume 2 of The Steranko History of Comics:

"Somewhere along the way, the artists who really knew figure drawing decided Captain Marvel couldn't possibly wear those red tights without some bulge in the area of his groin unless...

Well, they liked to sing while they drew and somebody worked out an adaptation of a rowdy song popular in the army at that time. One afternoon, Ralph Daigh was escorting Larraine Day, the pretty Quaker girl of the movies, on a tour of the various magazines. They had just entered the comics editorial room when, from the art department next door, came a chorus of male voices lustily chanting:

'No b-lls, no b-lls, no b-lls at all!
Cap-i-tan Marvel has no b-lls at all!'"
posted by the sobsister at 10:52 AM on August 25 [2 favorites]


I don't remember which episode it was in, but one of my favorite MST3K jokes is, "His codpiece is made from actual cod!"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:55 AM on August 25 [6 favorites]


Waiting for the superhero costume that recognizes the Dad bod.

Watchmen is also your source for this: Nite Owl in the eighties (slightly NSFW for bare butt).

Also, WRT Dr. Manhattan's thong-tha-thong-thong (and big blue schlong-sha-long-schlong), his costume gradually shrinks over the years, from the full-length suit of 1960 (his introduction to the public) to the truncated suit that's kind of like a woman's one-piece swimsuit of 1966 (the failed Crimebusters group) to the trunks of 1971 (Vietnam) to the thong of 1977 (the anti-superhero riots) to nothing. He still puts on a formal business suit for public appearances, but those are pretty rare.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:07 AM on August 25 [3 favorites]


Waiting for the superhero costume that recognizes the Dad bod.
posted by nubs at 9:11 AM on August 25


So was Ted Kord at one point in his Blue Beetle career.

And no, Booster shouldn't be on Kyrpton. He and Ted need their own Blue and Gold show on the CW or they should both be palling around with the Legends.
posted by sardonyx at 11:33 AM on August 25 [3 favorites]


The owner of the ad agency that was my first real job is high school best friends with the dude that made Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman costume for Batman Forever.

He did a plaster cast of her naked body and built the leather suit around that. From what I remember from a night of (illegal as I was 18) drinks at the office with them, there was some “codpiece” improvisations that had to be done to the mold since it was that atomically correct, and being that skin tight in the pelvic area would have been unnecessary and extremely uncomfortable. I think that have been the time I learned the phrase “camel toe”.

Of course I was an 18 year old slightly drunk dumbass, so the costume dude could have just been fucking with me about how naked Michelle was when he made the mold.
posted by sideshow at 12:09 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


Superman's costume looks stupid without trunks. And, without trunks you notice the bulge even more, because without the contrasting colors there's nothing for you to see except the contours.

Seconded. Taking away Superman's trunks is one of modern DC's worst decisions. It's an outright betrayal of the character concept, every bit as much as taking away the molded wings on Captain America's cowl and painting wings flat on the sides instead.
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:25 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


I'll break my 7-year lurking streak to mention that superheroes, at least pre-Watchmen, were primarily about male puberty. A squirrelly, ineffectual teen-ager (or similar adult character) would put on a skin tight costume revealing bulging muscles and genitalia, and would suddenly have new powers which were primarily used to save helpless ladies from other, more diabolical powerful men.
posted by ba at 2:25 PM on August 25 [9 favorites]


Waiting for the superhero costume that recognizes the Dad bod.

the throbbing glow of a red telephone under a bell jar summons you
posted by Sys Rq at 4:24 PM on August 25 [3 favorites]


A squirrelly, ineffectual teen-ager (or similar adult character) would put on a skin tight costume revealing bulging muscles and genitalia,

Where does one obtain a bulging genitalia suit these days?

...Asking for a friend.

...who wants to Fight Crime.
posted by delfin at 4:29 PM on August 25


Of course I was an 18 year old slightly drunk dumbass, so the costume dude could have just been fucking with me about how naked Michelle was when he made the mold.

I'd suspect that there was at least a bodystocking between Pfeiffer and the cast; this video from cosplay costume makers shows them using a tight-fitting shirt with a thin layer of petroleum jelly to make the removal of the cast easier. (Without some sort of intervening layer, removing plaster, or whatever the mold material was, could be problematic; even with 100% body hair removal, there would be the potential for the mold material to, ah, creep into places.) Even with a base layer, though, there would be a lot of detail that you wouldn't necessarily want in the costume (unless you're Joel Schumacher and are all about the batnipples); the above video notes that the cast picks up a lot of detail regardless. An interview with the Catwoman costume maker notes that the costume was very tight, and Pfeiffer had to be covered with baby powder before putting it on.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:47 PM on August 25 [2 favorites]


I'll break my 7-year lurking streak to mention that superheroes, at least pre-Watchmen, were primarily about male puberty. A squirrelly, ineffectual teen-ager (or similar adult character) would put on a skin tight costume revealing bulging muscles and genitalia, and would suddenly have new powers which were primarily used to save helpless ladies from other, more diabolical powerful men.

Superman contemporary Captain Marvel, aka Shazam, is literally the above scenario. Now a major motion picture coming soon to a theatre near you.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:56 PM on August 25 [2 favorites]


What the codpiece/underpants apparatus seems to be broadcasting is two things: that the contents are alarming and need restraining, and that they are vulnerable and need protecting. The genitals are doubly highlighted but literally smoothed-over. See also dance belts. The article mentions ballet dancers as something that the superhero look contrasts with, but it seems very similar, only toned down a little.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 2:49 AM on August 26 [1 favorite]


I have a soft spot for Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin

You could cover that with a codpiece
posted by chavenet at 9:01 AM on August 26 [4 favorites]


I.. just assumed male superheroes wore athletic supporters under their costumes, like men who play strenuous contact sports.

That's up there with assuming that female superheroes would wear sports bras and high enough necklines to prevent pop-outs, like women who play strenuous contact sports.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:42 AM on August 27 [2 favorites]


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