The psychology of film & TV, media, & work

9 changes to characters that enrage comic book fans

in Editor Pick/Film & TV Psychology by

The idea of nipples on the Batman suit sent fans into fury. There are countless discussions online about how the new Superman needs to put on the red underwear again after the recent costume update that occurred for the film, Man of Steel.

Fans of comicbooks are often susceptible to a phenomena called the ‘confirmation bias’. This bias makes us seek and support ideas that align with our preconceived notions.

It is believed that when ideas or changes conflict with these preconceived ideas, we experience ‘cognitive dissonance’, which means that we struggle to reconcile the difference in views, which can lead to an outright dismissal of the idea or person who creates the alternative.

More often than not, fans of comic books choose to reject alternative ideas and updates to their beloved characters. Here are seven changes that have enraged fans.

Joker’s tattoos in Suicide Squad


Fans praised the selection of Jared Leto as the Joker in the soon to be released Suicide Squad. But there was complete dismissal of the Joker sporting a suite of tattoos from head to toe. For many, the tattoos were out of character and overkill to an already over-the-top character.

Tiny Apocalypse in X-Men


He’s one of the most anticipated villains for X-Men fans. The comic book version is enormous in size and very alien-looking in design. Brian Singer has opted to tone the villain down in stature and appearance. This may make the villain slightly more believable but why bother trying to be realistic in a film where a man can shoot lasers from his eyes?

Bat nipples in Batman Forever/Batman and Robin


The infamous bat costume from the Joel Shumacher films included the bat muscles, bat cape, bad cod piece, and even nipples. Shumacher argues that the suit was modelled off the physique of Greek sculptures. Fans, however, used this particular quirky characteristic to define the moment the bat films of the 1990s crossed over to being campy and overtly sexualised.

X-Men wearing black leather in all the X-Men films


The flamboyant X-Men costumes from the comic book were always going to be difficult to translate on screen. Director Brian Singer answered the challenged by dressing everyone in black leather. It was a trend that continued across most of the X-Men films, even though we’ve seen ridiculous costumes translate fairly well in other comic book films, such as Thor and Captain America.




Joker wears make-up in The Dark Knight


It’s hard to nail the Joker. In the comic books, the villainous Joker is permanently scared with his skin bleached white after toppling into acid (don’t you hate it when that happens?). The idea of a man falling into acid and miraculously coming out looking like a clown is fairly unbelievable. This is why director Christopher Nolan depicting Health Ledger’s Joker with white make-up. Still, there is a vocal fanbase who still disregard this Joker for not being truly ‘jokerised’.

The Mandarin red herring in Iron Man 3


It’s the anti-climax that gets some chuckles but subsequently robs Iron Man 3 of any tension in the final act. The evil, sadistic mastermind, called The Mandarin, is revealed to be an actor called Trevor. One of the comic book’s best villains is, therefore, only realised as a joke leaving fans enraged.

Batman retires in The Dark Knight Rises


Nothing angers fans more than actually finishing a comic book story. The comics go on and on endlessly telling stories where superheros live to fight another day. There were many problems with the Dark Knight Rises but nothing irritated fans more than Christopher Nolan making Batman hang up the cape at the end and having a happy ending. Fans want to see poor old Batman miserable for eternity.

Superman kills in Man of Steel


Through convenient writing, superheroes rarely face difficult decisions where they must choose between killing to prevent the needless death of innocents. They usually find a way to incarcerate or concuss the bad guy. In Man of Steel, director Zak Snyder has Superman snap the neck of a villain who was intent on killing everyone on the planet. It’s the choice that anyone would have to make but nobody liked seeing the man of steel actually make that choice.

The Joker killed Bruce Wayne’s parents

Jack Napier

Yeah, it really is hard to get the Joker right. In Tim Burton’s Batman, the Joker is the one who murders Bruce Wayne’s parents causing Bruce to become Batman. This, of course, changes the dynamic between Batman and the Joker making the ideological conflict a personal one.

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