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Infinity War Costume Design: The Unfamiliar Familiar


For anyone with an eye to costume, The Avengers: Infinity War (2018) seemingly takes few evolutionary leaps. This makes perfect sense when we consider the timeline following particularly significant events of Captain America: Civil War (2016) and Black Panther (2017). Infinity War costume designer Judianna Makovsky (previously on board for The Winter Soldier, 2014; Civil War and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, 2016) has crafted a combination of instantly familiar looks for a jam-packed canon of characters where nobody wants to be missed, but nobody should stick out above anyone else either. It’s a real balancing act, which is something we are should sure Thanos himself would appreciate.

Judianna Makovsky really had no choice but to keep the hero costumes worn by the Avengers and friends practically identical to their last incarnation. As a reference what we mean by hero costumes are those worn when going into battle or ‘suiting up’. So, Steve Rogers having a run around the Washington monuments? Civilian costume. Steve Rogers kicking arse in Edinburgh Waverly train station? Hero costume. Actually it’s only a costume for actor Chris Evans; for Rogers it’s just clothes, while his Captain America uniform is the costume. In Infinity War, Makovsky makes most of her stamp with the civilian attire. This is not a movie for civilian costume spotting in any overt way – with so much going on, it just needs to feel natural and a true reflection of character.

Wanda aka Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) wearing her very on trend high-waist jeans during an impromptu battle (she didn’t have time to properly ‘suit up’).

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is a great example of the familiarity concept. From movie to movie, his style outside of the Iron Man uniform has always been somewhat too young for his years. It’s almost like he is trying to look cool. This is not a criticism of the costume designers that have dressed the character, but a facet that accurately echoes Stark as someone who doesn’t do subtle. It’s not a leap to imagine Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) trying to get him to tone down the crisp leather dad jackets and chunky hi-tops that shriek of mid-life crisis. But this is Stark and this is why we love him. In Infinity War he is introduced wearing a boot-cut (!) tracksuit that resembles hi-vis cycling wear crossed with a designer sauna suit. It looks vaguely futuristic which feels correct in a film bursting with so much advanced tech it almost bears no relation to our own world anymore. Stark’s clothing is a natural extension of his Iron Man suit (here road-testing a new ‘nano’ version).

Scarlet Witch aka Wanda (Elizabeth Olson) is another character who we see plenty of outside of her hero attire. Wanda even sports high-waist jeans, a rather risky addition to the character’s wardrobe as they potentially date the movie in terms of fashion. Yet they work on another level – again this connecting of the Avengers world with our own. Difficult when we spend much of the film’s running time zipping around deep space (on occasion it feels more of a Guardians film than an Avengers one). Wanda’s civilian clothing is still the most décolletage revealing of the female Avengers, though this continues a look introduced in The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015, costume design by Alexandra Byrne). Before Infinity War, off duty Wanda was, generally, dressed in a short skirt, calf or knee-high boots and a cropped leather jacket. This youthful ensemble probably feels more a part of our world than any other. Stroll around the shops on a Saturday afternoon and you’ll see plenty of Wandas. She is ubiquitous in the best possible way.

The current costume worn by Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) for battle with Thanos’ underlings on Wakanda. It glows with purple. Along with black, purple is the character’s signature colour.

Looking specifically at the hero costumes, it is clear that in terms of colour they have become as muted as they can possibly get. Captain America’s uniform especially is now unrecognisable from his debut in The First Avenger (2011, costume design by Anna B. Sheppard). Indeed the only way to go for the character is a complete costume reset. However this muted palette is correct for the tone of Infinity War, and the beleaguered, inevitable situation the Avengers find themselves in. Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) does bring some colour to proceedings, both in Wakanda and his hero suit. Although all over black, when ‘active’ the suit glows with vibrant burst of purple – it absorbs energy, as demonstrated in the movie Black Panther (costume design by Ruth Carter). This colour does reference a recent comic book incarnation, but it also bestows a spiritual presence on Black Panther and alludes to the royal heritage of his alter ego, T’Challa. Beyond Black Panther, Spider-man (Tom Holland) finally wears his updated hybrid suit courtesy of Tony Stark (extra CGI legs), while outside of his decimated sports coat, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) dons the previously seen (and fully CGI) ‘Hulkbuster’ armour. Yet the focus in Infinity War is bringing characters together to fight rather than reboot the look of those we already know. That said it is nice to see Rhodey (Don Cheadle) back on his legs as War Machine, and now wearing pricey Belstaff trousers. Definitely a Stark funded addition to his wardrobe.

Where next in relation to costume for the Avengers is interesting to ponder. For Infinity War’s sequel, Judianna Makovsky is probably going to fill the screen with an intense amount of battle-worn distressing. Nonetheless with the hinted arrival of Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and her upcoming origin story being set during the 1990s (costume design by Sanja Milkovic Hays), a blast of vibrant, hopeful colour is likely. Plus if she sticks to Captain Marvel’s origin decade, perhaps a Global Hypercolour tee and buffalo boots too. Off duty only, of course.

The Avengers: Infinity War is currently on general release.

© 2018, Lord Christopher Laverty.