13 Avengers: Age of Ultron – Costumes

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Academy Award®–winning costume designer Alexandra Byrne returns to the Marvel fold to dress The Avengers once again. This experience, though, brought some new challenges to the veteran costume designer. “I would say my biggest challenge on this one is the number of Super Heroes,” says Byrne. “Getting all the looks right, making the costumes work, the number of repeats, knowing who is doubling for who, how many stunts—it all becomes really complicated.”

Byrne adds, “They are also shooting on different continents, so there are logistics involved as well. I have the best team ever, so delegation is marvelous but it’s hard work to do so much shooting abroad.”

But as Byrne points out, there are also advantages inherent in making a sequel: “The joy of returning to a project is that you can take what you’ve learned and then you can move it on from there. So, for example, Thor has a big costume; it’s not jeans and T-shirts. There’s a lot of rigging, there’s a lot of movement, there’s a lot of metalwork. Metal doesn’t bend, so how do you make the costume behave? It’s my third time around on Thor and I think Chris looks great.”

In Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” audiences will see Thor in party clothes for the first time. Describing how she went about finding his night-on-the-town look, Byrne says, “Chris Hemsworth knows the character inside out; he is Thor. So we talked, looked at different pieces and he tried on some pieces I bought. We wanted references to Thor but keeping it in the world of clothes. It has to be kind of a contradiction. If you put Thor in one kind of themed look, he’s going to look like he’s fancy dressed because he’s a larger-than-life character, so it’s really about dressing Chris’ shape. He wanted jeans, so we thought about what works with jeans. We wanted a jacket, so how does that evolve? We balanced the coat with a very casual T-shirt so that it has that contradiction of looks.”

Robert Downey Jr. wanted a more sophisticated look this time around for Tony Stark and Byrne explains how they approached that request, saying, “Instead of making a suit, we went for proper Savile Row tailoring and that is about five fittings and a lot of work but that was the draw of being in London.”

One of the most interesting and practical costume changes was a pair of much-needed stretchy pants for The Hulk. Executive producer Jeremy Latcham expands on Hulk’s new strategic piece of wardrobe: “Banner is really scared of being The Hulk because he knows when he does there’s always the potential that something bad could happen. He also knows that Hulk’s a hero, so he goes with it. But one of the things that’s annoying about being The Hulk is when you’re done Hulking out, you’re just left in a pile of your shredded clothes that have fallen off, which can be embarrassing. So one of the things we’ve added is that Banner always wears a pair of stretchy pants under his pants. They fit Bruce Banner like a pair of really high tech, microfiber fabric pants and they just stretch with him. He’s now got a proper uniform that stays with him when he is The Hulk and Bruce Banner, which alleviates the less fortunate part of being The Hulk.”

Hawkeye got a new coat, specifically designed for the film, and some tweaks to his look as well. “The movie opens and The Avengers are all fighting out in the snowy forest and Hawkeye is in his classic uniform that we had in the first film, but we also wanted to change that up a bit so we did a little redesign of the armor and gave him sleeves and a whole different silhouette,” says Jeremy Latcham. “Our costume designer Alex Byrne and Ryan Meinerding, our concept artist, also collaborated on a great coat for him with really cool lines.”

Byrne had to start from scratch when it came to creating costumes for the two new characters, Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Byrne informs, “For both Pietro and Wanda, the point was that we needed to start them off in Sokovia, in Eastern Europe, and we needed to believe that they were orphan children living there. Then gradually we move them towards their Super Hero look, so that there were the roots of the Super Hero look in what they’re wearing in their ordinary clothes and there is an evolution.”

Byrne adds, “For Wanda, I looked at a lot of Eastern European fashion and more ethnic clothing. It was a very interesting mixture of clothing meets costume meets Super Hero and it was a great journey through her character.”

For Pietro aka Quicksilver, it’s all about speed and being aerodynamic, so his costume design needed to illustrate that. “Aaron brings an amazing physique and the way he moves is incredibly athletic and balletic. He’s very graceful, so you can really use lines down the body and streamline him.”

As Joss Whedon sums up, “Costumes in a Super Hero film pretty much make or break. In some places, we don’t want to rock the boat. We like what we like, but all the costumes changed in every film. In general, we just like to see something a little bit new but at the same time we want to know who those guys are.”

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