Friday, February 6, 2015

My thoughts on Brandon Routh's Atom costume/armor

Brandon Routh has been a delightful addition to the third season of "Arrow."

Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) looks over the 3-D holographic schematic
for his A.T.O.M. armor/exosuit.
Needless to say, we fans have been looking forward to seeing Routh's Ray Palmer become Atom ever since Routh was added to the cast. And it seems like DC Entertainment and The CW officials have been equally excited as they just gave us the big Internet reveal of the Atom costume/armor. But more on that in a bit. …

This is the classic Atom costume in the comic books
as drawn by Alex Ross.
First, my take on Routh as Palmer and why he's so good at playing the billionaire scientist. Routh has more than enough charisma to be a leading man. For the fangirls, he's easy on the eyes and looks quite sharp in a suit. Routh's vaguely socially awkward Palmer gives off more than a bit of Routh's take on Clark Kent in the much maligned "Superman Returns" (which in itself sticks close to Christopher Reeve's iconic handling of the spineless, nerdy reporter).

Routh does quite the balancing act in his performance. Palmer doesn't quite know what to say to women, but he's ultra confident when it comes to science innovations, leading business meetings and certainly when he passionately discusses his conviction on what's good and necessary for Starling City.

Most importantly for "Arrow" fans, Routh doesn't just have chemistry with Emily Bett Rickards' Felicity Smoak; they have sexual tension that sizzles onscreen. Now where this relationship goes is anyone's guess. After all, Stephen Amell's Oliver Queen has decided Felicity is his true love, but there's no denying the connection between the computer whiz and Palmer. …

Anyone who is intimately familiar with the DC Comics Universe should know Palmer's superhero identity is Atom.


 Just before the winter finale of "Arrow," Palmer revealed to Felicity his plans for his A.T.O.M. (Advanced Technology Operating Mechanism) exosuit/armor. In the meantime, Felicity has been trying desperately to convince Palmer his plan to save Starling City is a suicide mission and until last week's episode, she refused to help him tweak the technology needed to make the suit ready to go.

The sneak peak at the costume in all its computer-generated schematic glory was a tease. … And finally, just a few days ago – tadaaaah!

Actor Brandon Routh wears the Atom costume
that Ray Palmer will wear.
 My gut instinct was mild surprise at how heavily armored the suit is, followed by an even milder surprise at how much black there is versus the red I'm used to seeing in the comic books. This Atom costume has absolutely no royal blue — or even any shades of blue. I guess the cinematic Stark Technology-like reveal of the schematic was homage enough to the classic costume.

On second look, I was astonished to how much the Atom armor resembles the cinematic Ant-Man costume. Would DC Entertainment and The CW be so bold and ridiculous — not to mention idiotic — not to see the similarities? Am I the only fan who sees Routh in the Atom armor and can't help but think of Paul Rudd's Ant-Man?

But it's not the parallels to Ant-Man that bothers "Arrow" executive producer Marc Guggenheim. He told XXXX there's another Marvel Comics character the costume designers were more worried about resembling too much: Iron Man.

"Our goal when we had an idea to do a super suit was ‘How do you do it in a way that’s not Iron Man?’ That’s the trick creatively because we don’t want to duplicate Iron Man; we want to do our own thing. So there’s a lot of practical elements to the costume that on Iron Man they have done with CG. We’re gonna do it practically," Guggenheim said, according to this Screen Rant story.

Granted, I can see where the similarity to Iron Man would be problematic. After all, both Palmer and Tony Stark are handsome, billionaire inventors who have created their own armor. But I find it hard to believe that the DCE Powers That Be and "Arrow" creative team weren't more worried about aping Ant-Man — especially since he and Atom are known for their shrinking abilities.
Is it just me or does Brandon Routh's
Atom exosuit look very similar
to this one worn by Paul Rudd's Ant-Man?

 Taking a longer look at the Atom costume, I can't shake the Ant-Man parallels. It's uncanny how much each get-up features black, steel gray and a deep red or cardinal red. … Just like Ant-Man's. Even Atom's visor is eerily similar to what Scott Lang wears. Looking at the two heroes side by side, I realized I'm not crazy: The color schemes are identical and one costume looks like concept art for the other.

When DCE and the "Arrow" crew were designing the Atom armor, had they not see the "Ant-Man" trailer like the rest of the world did a few weeks ago? Guess we'll have to strike it up to dumb luck (emphasis on the dumb part!) or a happy coincidence. (I reviewed the "Ant-Man" trailer last month, gave my thoughts on the challenges facing Rudd and speculated on what the film could be for the "Avengers" films.)

When it comes down to it, I'm going to side with Marvel since Marvel Studios released a sizzle reel to show off what Ant-Man would like like in live-action a year or more ago. "Ant-Man" had been in development for almost 10 years. So, DCE can't possibly claim ignorance that they didn't know what their Distinguished Competition was doing. …

But my fanboy sense tells me this is another example of the long-standing DC-Marvel competition. You know, the chicken-and-the-egg situation in which Marvel and DC grab, borrow and/or steal each other's ideas without ever acknowledging that's what they're doing — whether it's on the page, TV screen or silver screen. Oh well, I'll leave it up to their legal teams to hash it all out. Ultimately, I give the design a solid grade of B.

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