Ghostbusters: Afterlife Costume Designer Recreated The Iconic Ghostbusters Patch With Painstaking Detail

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When Jason Reitman rolled out his own "Ghostbusters" film in 2021, he didn't breathe new life into his father Ivan Reitman's seminal 1984 comedy as much as dust off his old work.

While director Paul Feig aimed to revitalize the old franchise with a female cast in his 2016 "Ghostbusters," critics panned "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" as a soulless cash grab that mined memories from the elder Reitman's film. The 2021 film also capitalized on a wave of '80s nostalgia brought on by the popular Netflix series "Stranger Things," which itself harkens back to the 1984 "Ghostbusters" with the four boys in that show donning proton packs and singing Ray Parker Jr. 's theme song. Thus audiences are caught in an endless loop of movies starring precocious preteens in Ghostbusters suits mimicking TV series starring precocious preteens in Ghostbusters suits mimicking grown men in Ghostbusters suits.

But if Hollywood wants to sell a retread to younger audiences, they have to produce what Gen Z craves: Authenticity. Enter Academy Award-winning costume designer Danny Glicker, whose work on the film "Milk" showcased his attention to detail and historical accuracy.

Paranormal placement

Though "Ghostbusters" is set in a fictional world, Glicker intended to reproduce exact replicas of the iconic suits — even down to their stitches. In "Ghostbusters: Afterlife: The Art and Making of the Movie," author Ozzy Inguanzo details how Glicker inspected an original costume and found that the "no ghost" patch was embroidered onto a rare moleskin fabric. He visited a source that sold vintage fabric and while looking in the wrong section, came upon a bolt of white British moleskin that happened to be the same fabric as the original patch base.

"'It was right in front of my eye-line, just sitting there, staring at me. I couldn't believe it! It was as if it was placed there by the paranormal,' he jokes. Glicker thinks it's even feasible that the original patches were made from that last remaining bolt, which he immediately purchased. The costume department then worked obsessively to replicate the handcrafted look and feel of the patches and the way in which they were sewn onto the suits in the 1984 film — even recreating a small embroidery anomaly on the ghost's thumb."

Glicker showed off handiwork in an interview with Adam Savage on the set of "Afterlife." Working with the dimensions of the original suit, Glicker created several versions of the suit in different sizes for both the actors and stunt performers. Though the Egon Spengler suit is meant to look baggy on the young actors, Glicker eschewed a full adult-size suit so that actress Mckenna Grace wouldn't be swimming in the jumpsuit. Glicker also imagined what the suit would have looked like over the years if ectoplasm, or ghost slime, never washed off and distressed the costumes by hand to reflect those supernatural stains.

"So much of what I think makes the Ghostbusters suit special is people have very emotional connections to it. And I think that when you see the suit you see a suit that people all over the world identify with, that they're a part of. It's unlike a superhero suit which you look at and you think is untouchable, I think when you see a Ghostbusters suit you see a suit that's very tactile, a ghostbusters suit is something we all have this emotional connection to and it looks human scale, it doesn't look otherworldly. And so part of my job was to recreate the ghostbusters suit exactly as it was in number one and to do so in a way that shows the passage of time."

Subtle hints

Besides the iconic janitor suits from the original Ghostbusters team, there are more subtle winks to the first film in Glicker's costumes. In an interview with The Wrap, writer and director Jason Reitman pointed out a detail on a T-shirt worn by Phoebe, Egon Spengler's granddaughter. The shirt's pattern of squiggly lines, stars, circles, squares and Xs are a reference to the images on the cards that Bill Murray's Dr. Peter Venkman used to test two students for ESP.

'"Isn't that amazing? It's just an example of everyone's passion for the film. That was not my idea. That was our costume designer, Danny Glicker, who surprised me one day is like, 'What do you think of this?' And it was a T-shirt and he goes, 'Look closer.' I was like, 'Oh my God.'"

The meticulous attention to detail that Glicker brought to "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" seems laborious, particularly compared to the work of Suzy Benzinger and Theoni V. Aldredge, who designed the costumes for the original film. Aldredge, who passed away in 2011, enjoyed a celebrated career marked by a Tony and Oscar win, while Benzinger has continued to dazzle Hollywood in films such as "Blue Jasmine." But for all those accolades, the Ghostbusters' leather jackets were not the work of fastidious research. Director Ivan Reitman gave the costume duo one hour to come up with weathered leather jackets, according to Benzinger. ”I went down to Eighth Street and bought them right off people's backs,” she told The New York Times.

Sometimes it's little details like those that really give a movie its soul. And when it comes to "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," that movie needed all the soul it could get.