Why The Defenders Don't Wear Costumes, According To Costume Designer Stephanie Maslansky
If you're a Marvel fan, then you know the MCU's most recent collaboration with Netflix, The Defenders, brings together four of our favorite comic book heroes — Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Daredevil, and Jessica Jones — to the streets of New York City in an effort to neatly tie up their storylines from their individual series. What you might not know, though, is why The Defenders (and other MCU/Netflix collabs) decided to ditch the heroes' costumes and opted instead for more stripped down, realistic wardrobes for each of the main characters. Well, in a recent interview with TheWrap, costume designer Stephanie Maslansky explains why The Defenders don't wear costumes on the Netflix show.
Stephanie Maslansky has been working with Netflix and Marvel for years now. Indeed, she is responsible for the costumes on all four of the major Netflix/Marvel collabs that led to The Defenders, and is currently working on the second season of Luke Cage.
Certainly it's easier to dress a character when the show revolves around them, since their unique look is always a defining feature of the show (think Jessica Jones' gray, purple, and blue tones or Luke Cage's '70s feel). When working with such diverse characters for The Defenders, though, the challenge was to make sure each hero's individual personality was represented in a seamless way. Maslansky told TheWrap,
I mean, each hero has a very distinct look, and of course a very distinct backstory, and way that they got their abilities. To take them from the comic book illustrations to live action, and give them, you know, heart, soul and brain, and a life… the whole point was to make fans look at them differently and accept different realities for them based on the fact that they're now grounded in this gritty, authentic New York City as real human beings.
Part of accepting new realities for these characters is seeing them in different lights, which means seeing them without superhero outfits. Maslansky talked about the decision to keep the core four characters out of traditional superhero wardrobes for their shows and for The Defenders; she said,
We're working on something that needs to feel authentic and needs to feel modern, and so the costumes take on a different meaning or value. We're trying to evolve these people into the 21st century, and into live-action. Something that's very relatable on a different level than the comic book illustrations. So, therefore, they're not necessarily going to be wearing superhero costumes.
Aside from Daredevil's signature horned head mask, these characters' clothes are stripped down in a way that embodies the gritty reality of New Yorkers. Obviously the decision to dress the heroes in every day clothing represents the show's desire to make them less fictionalized and fresh for a contemporary audience, and, TBH, as risky as it is, I think it adds another dimension to their storylines.
Here's to looking forward to seeing what Stephanie Maslansky comes up with for Luke Cage Season 2.