Is The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen Steampunk?

Is The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen Steampunk? Let’s have a look at some of the key elements of the movie in order to decide whether it meets the criteria in order to be classified as steampunk or not. If not, does it fit into one of the other punk aesthetics? Let’s find out. 

Before we get into whether League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen is steampunk or not, let’s look at what the film is about to get a flavor as to whether it is steampunk or not. 

Movie Title: The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Studio: Angry Films, International Production Company, JD Productions

Director: Stephen Norrington

Story By: Alan Moore, Kevin O’Neill, James Robinson

Release Date: July 11, 2003 (United States)

Main Actors: Sean Connery, Stuart Townsend, Peta Wilson

Synopsis: Renowned, protected adventurer Allan Quatermain leads a team of extraordinary figures with legendary powers to battle a mad man known as “The Fantom” who is set on destroying Europe. This “League” comprises inventor Captain Nemo, vampire Mina Harker, the Invisible Man, Rodney Skinner, the ageless immortal, Dorian Grey, the dangerous split personality of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,.and American Secret Service Agent Tom Sawyer.

There are several twists and turns that this League has to overcome.

What Makes a Movie Steampunk?

Before we answer the question, is The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen steampunk? Let’s have a look at some of the key characteristics of a steampunk movie.

There are a number of elements that need to combine in order to classify a movie as steampunk. 

Check out our in-depth guide as to what makes a movie steampunk for more information on this. Whether something fits into the steampunk genre or not is a topic that is always up for hot debate in the forums. 

As steampunk sadly never existed, there is no history to check the validity against, however, there is some faux pas that means that something is clearly not steampunk. 

Things such as this we would class as being ‘steampunk inspired’, i.e. they don’t traditionally conform to the steampunk genre, but they have taken elements from it to inspire them

As a quick recap, we’ve lined up our top 10 elements to look out for in a steampunk movie.

If you’re interested in learning more about steampunk, check out our article, ‘What is Steampunk?’, which will take you through the history, influences, fashions, gadgets, and much more. 

Top 10 Things to Look Out for In a Steampunk Movie

  1. The Use of Steam – In steampunk, electricity has never been invented, everything is mechanical and powered by steam. This means that if you can see digital machinery in a movie, it isn’t traditional steampunk, therefore it may be classified as ‘steampunk inspires’  
  2. Steam Powered Vehicles – In steampunk movies, as with the above, you will only see vehicles powered by steam, cars, ships, and even submarines.
  3. Airships – Airships are popular within the steampunk genre – again, mechanically powered.  
  4. Set In Victorian Era or an Alternative History – Steampunk is set in either the Victorian Era (19th Century), or in an alternative, future, occasionally depicted as a ‘wild west’ setting. 
  5. The Clothing – Clothing can vary, but is normally focused around the fashions of Victorian England, or that of a colonial explorer. 
  6. Augmented Mechanical Humans – In steampunk, persons can normally be seen with mechanically replaced elements to their body, sometimes these are full replacements, other times, a mechanical exoskeleton.
  7. Gadgets & Gears – futuristic (mechanical) gadgets are common place in the steampunk genre. A personal favorite is a gun that mechanically springs from up a sleeve to the user’s hand, ready and poised for use. Gears can be seen throughout the steampunk genre, emphasizing the mechanical theme that is central to the aesthetic.  
  8. Time Travel – Time travel is no an essential component of steampunk, however, it can be seen in some steampunk works. Just remember that the time travel device needs to be mechanical and not digital/ electronic.
  9. The Paranormal – The paranormal is not traditional steampunk, however, the crossover between the genres is common. The villain in steampunk is normally a man made creation as opposed to being a mythical creature, demon, vampire, etc. 
  10. Advanced Technology – Technology that is advanced for its time is a standard theme throughout steampunk. The technology must be mechanical in nature, such as the analog computer.

If you’re interested in steampunk movies, why not check out our guide to the best steampunk movies, and see if you can find a new favorite?

So, let’s take a look, is The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen steampunk?

What Elements of The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen Are Steampunk?

The movie is set in 1989, placing it right in the Victorian era.

This time period can be seen in the clothing of the characters. The characters of Alan Quatermain, Dr. Jekyll, and Tom Swayer are dressed in typical clothing of the era. Alan Quatermain’s outfits also have that non of colonial explorer, after all, he is an explorer.

Dorian Gray has a more flamboyant style, but it is still in keeping with the Victorian era with the wide lapel suits and the white frill shirts. Then there is Mina Harke, with her very vampish (literally) Victorian-style dresses, impeccably tailored. This film has oodles of steampunk style running right through it.

Let’s get to the best bit – Captian Nemo and the Nautilus, right out of the Jules Vern novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. We never know what fuel the Nautilis runs off in the movie, but during the attack by Grey (spoiler alert!) on the vessel, steam can be seen spilling out, I really hope that it was powered by steam. The Nautilis itself is everything we expect from steampunk beauty, it is retro, but very futuristic, with tracking systems and tech that was unheard of for the era, but somehow, very plausible. The vessel itself is a piece of steampunk art.

Then there is the car that is launched out of the Nautilis, again, we do not know the fuel source for this vehicle, but I’m not sure I ever care, all of the adornments on the car are a perfect example of steampunk design.

The Invisible Man and Hyde are ‘different’ at the hands of humans (i.e they are creations of science), they are not mythical creatures.

The weapons used are either of the Victorian era, or are retro-futuristic to appear that they belonged in that time.

The whole vibe of the movie is one of hope, which is synonymous with the steampunk agenda, but still tells a story that has undertones about the risks of advances in technology and how we need to be careful as to who controls that technology.

What Elements of The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen Are NOT Steampunk?

I’ve watched this film a handful of times, and I’m still struggling to find an argument that it is not steampunk.

If steampunk vampire movies are your thing, check out our article on the best steampunk vampire movies.

So, Overall Is The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen Steampunk?

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen fits perfectly into the steampunk aesthetic. This can be seen through the fashions, inventions, weapons, vehicles and so much more. Definitely a steampunk film not to be missed.

What are your thoughts? Is the movie The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen steampunk? Let us know in the comments below what your opinion is and why.

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