The Cast of Avengers: Endgame Rendered in Traditional Japanese Ukiyo‑e Style

Wher­ev­er in the world you live, you’ve heard of Avengers: Endgame, and may well have seen it already — or, depend­ing on your enthu­si­asm for super­heroes, may well have seen it more than a few times. It comes, as fans need not be remind­ed, as the cul­mi­na­tion of a 22-film series in the Mar­vel Cin­e­mat­ic Uni­verse that began with 2008’s Iron Man. The $356 mil­lion pic­ture (which has already earned, as of this writ­ing, more than $1.2 bil­lion) uses, of course, only the lat­est and most high-tech visu­al effects, and a great deal of them, which does get one won­der­ing: how would these super­heroic (and supervil­lianous) char­ac­ters, all of them larg­er than life, come through a trans­plan­ta­tion to anoth­er art form, from an entire­ly dif­fer­ent cul­ture, and a much less overt­ly spec­tac­u­lar one at that?

A Japan­ese illus­tra­tor who goes by the name Taku­mi has tak­en on that chal­lenge. “To com­mem­o­rate the film’s release, the artist has cre­at­ed a series of illus­tra­tions that ren­der char­ac­ters from the film in Ukiyo‑e style,” writes Spoon & Tam­ago’s John­ny Wald­man.

Taku­mi’s task of trans­lat­ing these Amer­i­can-made char­ac­ters to that Japan­ese wood­block print form (which does have a his­to­ry of por­tray­ing actors) includ­ed “a lot of time think­ing about the unique pat­terns and kan­ji names for each char­ac­ter. Thor is pro­nounced tooru in Japan­ese, so he assigned the Japan­ese equiv­a­lent, which is 徹(とおる). Thanos’ 6 infin­i­ty stones served as the inspi­ra­tion behind that name, which ref­er­ences the 6 realms of Bud­dhism.” And all of the Avengers char­ac­ters Taku­mi has ren­dered in this fash­ion wear cos­tumes with “tra­di­tion­al Japan­ese designs and each ref­er­ences cer­tain traits of the char­ac­ters.”

Cap­tain America’s pants, for instance, “use the ship­po (七宝) pat­tern of lay­ered cir­cles, which ref­er­ences the shape of his shield. Thor’s pat­tern is pret­ty straight­for­ward: the tra­di­tion­al cloud (雲) pat­tern. Iron Man uses the com­plex bisha­mon kikko (毘沙門亀甲) pat­tern, which mim­ics the look of a cir­cuit board.”

Taku­mi pre­vi­ous­ly made a splash by cre­at­ing “Ghi­b­li Land,” a hypo­thet­i­cal ver­sion of Dis­ney Land themed entire­ly around the ani­mat­ed films of Stu­dio Ghi­b­li. (The idea turns out to be less hypo­thet­i­cal than it once sound­ed: Stu­dio Ghi­b­li, as we’ve pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture, plans to open its own theme park in 2022.) Just as the stag­ger­ing suc­cess of the Mar­vel Cin­e­mat­ic Uni­verse movies proves the pop­u­lar via­bil­i­ty of the kind of super­hero sto­ries assumed not so long ago to be the domain of obses­sive fans alone, Taku­mi’s ukiyo‑e Avengers cast, all of which you can see at Spoon & Tam­a­go, shows how ver­sa­tile this tra­di­tion­al art form remains.

via Spoon & Tam­a­go

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The 1982 DC Comics Style Guide Is Online: A Blue­print for Super­man, Bat­man & Your Oth­er Favorite Super­heroes

R.I.P. Stan Lee: Take His Free Online Course “The Rise of Super­heroes and Their Impact On Pop Cul­ture”

Stu­dio Ghi­b­li Releas­es Tan­ta­liz­ing Con­cept Art for Its New Theme Park, Open­ing in Japan in 2022

Japan­ese Kabu­ki Actors Cap­tured in 18th-Cen­tu­ry Wood­block Prints by the Mys­te­ri­ous & Mas­ter­ful Artist Sharaku

David Bowie Memo­ri­al­ized in Tra­di­tion­al Japan­ese Wood­block Prints

The Reli­gious Affil­i­a­tion of Com­ic Book Heroes

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­tureand writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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