We interrupt our scheduled posts in the wake of the brand new viral promo from CBS currently polarising comic fans across the globe – for the Maid of Might has taken to the airwaves once again.
In this unprecedented six-minutes of footage we see much of the established comic -canon has been given a contemporary makeover (for better or worse). While it may be galling to see a character as iconic as cub reporter Jimmy Olsen upgraded from ginger hair & freckles to tall black man, Kara Danvers (apparently not Linda Lee) thankfully seems to have most of her character traits intact.
Amid all the camp, teen angst and homages to The Devil Wears Prada, there does seem to be some compelling action, decent effects, great costume (courtesy of designer Colleen Attwood) and most importantly an acknowledgement of previous ‘Super’ stars – exemplified by the appearance of Dean Cain and Helen Slater in as yet unidentified roles (Earth Parents??).
And so in true SUPERMANIA fashion we go retro to 1984 to revisit and celebrate the Salkind’s mega-budget incarnation of Supergirl on the big screen with these scarce behind the scenes portraits above – firstly with a studio shot of Helen Slater perfectly cast as Kara Zor-El (top) and alongside her stunt double (Wendy Leech?) On location in Scotland with ‘cape wrangler’ to hand (If anybody can identify the crew here it would be appreciated!) and finally a magnificent front projection shot in-flight.
Supergirl will fly again in November…
With the unveiling of the latest live-action incarnation of the Maid of Might going viral faster than a speeding bullet, SUPERMANIA leaps ‘once upon a time-warp’ to compare Super-Fashions thru the ages.
While the new small-screen ensemble leans heavily to the modern trend of muted, almost blacked out colours (influenced by, and therefore canon with Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel) its interesting to observe that the basic format of the suit has transcended any excessive studio revisionism and still echoes the movie version years later.
Emerging from a decade where the Superhero costume in live action was considered passé and decidedly uncool (pioneered by the producers of Smallville and their ‘no flights, no tights’ rule) its refreshing have the source material embraced fully once again.
Indeed, given the creative freedom afforded to other recent DC Comics adaptations like Arrow and The Flash with their ultra-modern twist the fact the mini-skirt and even the classic ‘S’ shield survived intact signifies a welcome return to classic comic iconography.
The translation of a comic-book costume to screen is traditionally subject to infinitesimal changes as designer Emma Porteous discovered in creating Helen Slater’s look for Supergirl in 1984. Literally adapting the style seen in the comics of the era, early versions of the costume (as seen in the Making of Supergirl) had the young actress screentest in a baggy suit resplendent with red headband. Successive fittings would eventually realise a feminine version of the Superman costume worn by Christopher Reeve (even utilizing his production-used capes) with the subtle additions of yellow waistband and a two-tone skirt in place of red shorts.
In 2011 The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis was host to a multitude of screenused treasures in their ‘Incredible Costumes from Film & TV’ exhibition, where an original Supergirl costume (on loan from the Azerian collection) was paired with one of Lynda Carter’s surviving season 2 costumes from Wonder Woman (top pic). Exclusive images courtesy of their flickr album permit detailed inspection of the costume as it was prepared for display confirming the fabric used was indeed the same ‘Bridal weight spandex’ from the Superman series and that the capes were trimmed considerably (second pic).
As the boots were not present to complete the outfit its notable that the tights actually had boot-esque stockings attached to be worn beneath them in exactly the same design with the yellow trim. Construction-wise the suit retains the same patterns as the Superman costume with the exception of the chest shield, which in this instance is so small the complex method of inserting the negative shapes gave way to simply stitching the ‘S’ directly onto the yellow background.
With the new show debuting this year and rumours of Helen Slater making an appearance it seems the Supergirl fairytale is set to continue for years to come…
Another fascinating exhibit featured in the recent ‘Superheroes’ display at Indianapolis Children’s Hospital is this cape pertaining to be screen-used wardrobe from Superman: The Movie. Keen eyes will perhaps notice something strange about this particular piece in regard to the proportions and conclude that the distance between the shield and the hem appears short.
While it would be easy, then, to dismiss this as mere replica two things lead me to believe it is not and that its history may be even more colourful.
Firstly, thanks to SuperFan James Sawyer’s clear photography it becomes apparent in higher resolution the weave in both shield applique and cape body fabric are a match to other screen-used wardrobe and secondly, according to James there were slits in either side of the cape at waist level, the purpose of which he was unsure of.
All of which leads me to speculate that this probably started life as a Christopher Reeve worn ‘flying’ cape that had survived the original ’78-’83 trilogy only to have a quarter of its length hacked off for use in Supergirl, and in all probablility, SuperBoy.
As we know, all production-made Superman capes were catagorized for use by their state of degradation. Therefore what would start as a ‘Hero’ or ‘Walking’ cape would wind up being used as ‘Effects’ or ‘Stunt’ capes depending on their condition throughout filming. We also know they were maintained on-set and in many instances ‘remade’ to enure their longevity. This process was used throughout the Superman series and clearly later on in Supergirl where surviving examples were adjusted as noted above…
Many thanks to James for use of his pics and bringing this great discovery to my attention..!