There are already hundreds of articles floating around bitching about impracticalities in the costumes of superheroes, and while we’re not so high and mighty that we’d refuse to add more to the pile, we at least want something to make ours a little bit more unique.
For starters, we don’t care about impracticalities in male superhero costumes. If all of those home videos of men riding a BMX bike from the roof straight into a pool prove anything – it’s that men don’t value practicality or common sense as much as their need to show off. So there’s nothing to improve in men’s superhero costumes – as long as it attracts attention and they think they look badass, it will suffice.
So ours will be focused on female heroes, and will offer improvement advice instead of just ragging on the impracticalities of their costumes. Because hey, constructive criticism and all that shit, right?
Black Canary: Pants
Black Canary is kind of a melting pot of contradictions. On the one hand, she prefers hand to hand combat (and is actually one of the best in the field, regardless of gender) but on the other hand, she doesn’t need to prioritize melee fighting because she has an actual super power that can take out foes from a distance.
With regard to her costume, she certainly had the right idea in mind when she wore a leather jacket and a pair of biker gloves, those certainly help a little bit against scrapes and knicks, and the thick-heeled boots will really do a number on some guy’s jaws but the fishnet stockings have got to go. It provides no protection from cold weather nor physical harm, and whether it looks good or not will differ from person to person (in fact, fishnet stockings are prone to rips and tears especially if you’re fighting, so even if it looks good chances are it’s not going to stay that way for long).
What Dinah needs is a pair of pants. Doesn’t need to be skintight to be sexy. In fact, she could make do with cargo pants, then she’d have pockets for small gadgets and weapons.
Huntress: More Batman, Less Midriff
Not meant as a disrespect to Helena Wayne, but she is basically a female version of Batman. So her costume should be as functional as Bruce’s. I’ve mentioned a little earlier that male superheroes usually have highly impractical costumes meant to show off instead of help optimize their combat efficiency, but Batman is one of the exceptions. Everything from the cape, the bat ears, and even the goddamn emblem has its use (which is either intimidation, stealth, or distraction) and as the movies and some of the comics show, the costume itself offers a little bit of protection against blunt force and piercing.
Huntress’ costume, on the other hand doesn’t look intimidating and doesn’t represent any animal that preys on primal fear. The cape doesn’t provide any stealth either, because it’s too small and has white borders. What’s worse, she’s got that exposed midriff that completely goes against the principle of Batman’s emblem, which is to give enemies something easy to target instead of his head, and hides either a steel plate or a kevlar. Huntress’s exposed midriff gives enemies something soft, fleshy, and near the proximity of vital organs to target.
For Huntress, we’d recommend something more akin to Nightwing’s costume. No exposed body parts, no capes, and again – put some goddamn pants on. You can be revealing after the criminals have been apprehended but while you’re fighting, you need to be more punchy than skin-showy.
Valkyrie: Japan, Man.
Lest somebody accuse us of picking on poor DC, we have a representative from Marvel – the Asgardian female warrior who’s so badass she can actually go toe to toe with Hulk, Valkyrie.
While it can be argued that the primitive armoring and weaponry that male Viking warriors use are nowhere near elegant themselves, they do serve practical purposes based on their fighting style. Heavy, scary armor meant to intimidate foes and large unweildy weapons designed for brute strength instead of finesse. Valkyrie’s armor, on the other hand is neither practical nor good-looking.
For instance: those metal breast cups. They don’t look good, as it looks like she’s got croissants on her chest, and it’s the complete opposite of protective because a good whack at that and she just got her chest either pierced or pounded by metal.
Next is the lack of shoulders, leg, knee, and shin protection. Exposed flesh means something vulnerable and easy to target for really short opponents like me. I mean, if we need to improve Valkyrie’s costume, all that you need to do is look at Valkyrie Profile’s Lenneth – full on armor, bitches. In fact, that kinda underlines the problem a bit: when Japan’s version of a female warrior has less skin showing than yours, there’s something wrong with your design.
Exceptions: Starfire and Zatanna
These two characters usually end up being included in lists of superheroes with highly impractical costumes, but they should be treated as exceptions because their poor (or excellent?) choice in clothing doesn’t hinder their efficiency in combat.
In Zatanna’s case, she’s perfectly in line with her theme – which is to look like a female magician, so it’s not that silly. And when it comes to combat, she doesn’t really do melee because there’s no need. All she needs to do is say “Fuck You In Nebraska!” backwards and you’ll immediately find yourself transported to the Midwest, completely fucked up.
For Starfire, most casual comic book readers don’t know that she’s actually super-strong and has enough martial arts ability to take down the much stronger Donna Troy, but her main powers are her “star bolts” and the ability to fly, so she can fight people without getting close so the point about her costume being impractical is moot. Additionally, she also becomes an exception because we’re not entirely sure if she’s really wearing a costume or just a pair of long ribbons wrapped elegantly around her chest.