Watchmen

Warning: contains some spoilers about character & motivation, but not plot.

The thing that struck me most about the film posters – and not just because I’m shallow – was the difference in the Silk Spectre’s costume between the book and the film. Everyone else is much the same, but Laurie’s totally different.

As background, Watchmen was written in 1986, and set in 1985 – Laurie Juspeczyk was born in 1949. There’s a timeline here. (Warning: spoileriffic.)

The costumes code much the same basic way, as supertart – Laurie comments on the costume’s stripperifficity in-universe, and of course it’s a development of the original Silk Spectre’s costume, which was designed specifically for Sally Jupiter to show off in with an eye to a post-heroing career.

The film version swaps cleavage for corsetry (yes, that’s a corset she’s wearing over the bodysuit) and soft floaty gauze for hard-edged skintight latex. She’s still got the crimefighting heels, but now they’re attached to long boots with, of all things, suspenders. If there’s a clothing element that codes “superhooker” more than visible suspenders, I’m not sure what it is. One particularly interesting aspect is her hair – the original Spectre’s hair is tucked back neatly showing that wonderful wry face and strong jaw, but the film version is practically hiding behind it, especially with that fringe. If you look at pictures of classic superheroines, they never do this – they’re always out & proud.

It’s the hard edges that get me, though – the costume’s uncompromising, buttoned-up, effectively armoured. There’s the statutory bare skin, but much less of it. She seems to project “snake” rather than the original’s “bird” – I’m not sure why I get “bird” from the original, but I do. Part of the appeal of the book costume, I think, is the contrast between her cynical, funny, hard-edged character and the soft floaty hooker gear, and the film one loses that.

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