The Old Guard: immortal superheroes no longer wear costumes

Costume Designer Mary Vogt on the set of 'The Old Guard.'

By Luz Lancheros, MWN

One of the most iconic superhero costumes is of a Catwoman personified by Michelle Pfeiffer, which embodied the sexuality and power of both a villain and a femme fatale. It was the co-creation of legendary costume designer Mary Vogt, who in the new Netflix film called ‘The Old Guard’ re-evaluates the look of what a heroine (or in this case, an anti-heroine) should look like in an era when spectacularity has already become a formula rather than a burnout, at least in comic book superhero costumes. This is reflected in the group of four immortals who have fought for millennia for what they believe to be right and whose leader, Andy, played by Charlize Theron, shows that superheroes look like everyone else, although with “cool” elements and style.

Metro chatted with the designer about the creation of these superheroes for the film based on the famous graphic novel by Greg Rucka, Leandro Fernández and Daniela Miwa.

What elements of the comic strip did you use to create each of the characters’ looks? 

I did not want to make the comic more literal. There are comics that should and can be taken in such a rigorous sense. But in this case, we relate to it, but we don’t follow to the letter the universe that was presented graphically.

The look of Charlize Theron (Andy) is very “tomboy” and very sexy at the same time. How did you create that combination to make it look so powerful?

Well, that’s her. In some cases, we stuck to the comic. In it the heroine has dark hair, so Charlize wanted that but very short, it was her idea. And she looks really fabulous in it. And because she has this very tiny, graphic cut (pixie), we also had to make her clothes look like that, in a very minimalist way. In that sense, we created this very modern look. And, even though in a flashback she has long hair, she still uses sleeveless simple clothes, showing her arms. If you look at her character’s past and her present, it has the same look, just with a little more hi-tech and modern touches. And with that haircut, you couldn’t have such delicate or flashy clothes. The clothes had to be in line with that hairstyle, which also had to represent, together with the pieces, a pretty strong look. The hair definitely dictated the rest of the look for her.

Charlize Theron as Andy in ‘The Old Guard.’ Aimee Spinks/NETFLIX

How did you integrate the weapons into the looks to make them look realistic?

Well, that comes from the comic book, especially if we’re talking about medieval weapons. The axe that Andy has also obeys that graphic tone that I wanted to give to the character, which is also very minimalist and strong at the same time, with a very clean essence. And that gives her weapons and everything she has more focus. It’s a very beautiful design, same as in the comic. 

Did you have any influence other than the comic?

In Andy’s case, she comes from Scythia, an ancient town in Eurasia. She’s an ancient character, so I did a lot of research and it turned out that women at that time were wonderful warriors and fought as much as men. They also invented pants for women, because they rode horses and fought, so they created these pieces. And it seems totally untrue, because you don’t see women wearing pants in museums at that time. But by studying this, I was able to integrate that essence and feeling into Andy’s modern clothes.

How did you create the costumes for the other characters?

Nile (played by KiKi Layne) starts off as a marine. And she doesn’t do it in her own clothes, because even her uniform is given to her. And then Andy gives her something of hers, simple in appearance, like a T-shirt and some jeans. But we wanted to give her a little bit of what she liked, so we created this Janis Joplin T-shirt that you can see in the movie and that was from a concert that the singer used in 1968, which in turn suggested that Andy was there. She gets another kind of clothing because she’s the newest member of the group. We can see her with a baseball jacket, very utilitarian, which gave her that outsider look. Then she wears clothes that she would choose. As for men, we tried to integrate a little bit of their past, but it also had to be simple and it had to look realistic. We did it based it on the comic, but the characters also had to look real, so we used simple colors like black, white and blue. 

‘The Old Guard’ is streaming now on Netflix. 


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