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Geek Spasm: Good Guys Wear Red White & Blue

Written by Steve Segal

Independence Day is upon us once more, so as we prepare to kick back with a six pack and watch some fireworks, let’s take a moment to celebrate the guys (and gals) whose wardrobe style is based on the Star Spangled Banner.

Rocky/Rocky III/Rocky IV (1976/1982/1985)

The original Rocky was released in 1976 as the nation celebrated its Bicentennial, and it’s with a none-too-subtle touch of national pride and self-promotional panache that Rocky’s opponent Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) sports a set of American flag boxer shorts for their climactic bout. The star-spangled shorts reappear again in Rocky III when nemesis-turned-trainer Creed loans them to Rocky as a good luck charm to clobber Clubber Lang (Mr. T).

Hopefully Rock remembered to launder them before he returned them. He dons the famous trunks once again for the U.S.A. vs Russia showdown in Rocky IV, a movie so wrapped up in its own jingoism Sylvester Stallone is literally draped by Old Glory during the finale—an image that was turned into the film’s iconic theatrical poster.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) 

Cap wears a muted uniform for most of the modern-day sequel, but for his WWII-set first movie, he’s decked out in full flag regalia: stars and stripes with bright red white and blue. The vintage Cap costume is emblematic of our hero’s unquestioned patriotism and can-do idealism.

Naturally, Cap’s conflict over the murky morality of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the sequel The Winter Soldier is represented by his darker and dingier duds.

Wonder Woman (TV series 1975–1979)

Can anyone ever touch the statuesque fabulousness of Lynda Carter on television’s joyously campy series? We’ll find out soon enough when the new incarnation of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) debuts in DC’s Batman v Superman pic in 2016. She’s got some big red boots to fill. Hopefully the filmmakers haven’t radically changed the outfit—her glorious bouffant along with those shimmering star-spangled panties, golden accessories and surprise accoutrements are as essential to the character as are her lasso and invisible plane.

Iron Man 3 (2013)

In the first Iron Man, Tony Stark’s buddy Rhodey (Don Cheadle) absconds with a spare suit. In Iron Man 2, Rhodey flies it for the military as War Machine. In Iron Man 3, we learn that “War Machine” has been rebranded “Iron Patriot” and boasts a brand new star-spangled paint job to match.

Clear and Present Danger (1994)

While nobody wears Old Glory in this taut Tom Clancy political thriller, the flag is a frequent motif throughout the film—it’s the first image we see in the movie—and its stalwart hero Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) is draped by one on the poster. Underscored by the tag-line “Truth needs a soldier,” the symbolism is obvious, even if the foreign and domestic villains depicted in the movie aren’t so clear-cut.

The Shining (1980)

Make of this what you will: In practically every scene of The Shining, little Danny Torrance is dressed up in red, white and blue. Considering the meticulous, perfectionist nature of director Stanley Kubrick, this little symbolic bit of artistic license surely means something—if not a dozen somethings.

Insert your own conspiracy theories about Native American history, WWII and staged moon landings here.

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