The 5 Most Impractical Aspects of Superhero Costumes
Ruby Rocket is a professional cosplay model, which means she gets to dress up like a super hero for a living. In case you're wondering how she snagged your dream job, first of all she looks like this:
The one standing outside of the car.
Also, Ms. Rocket hand makes each of the costumes that she is hired to wear at conventions. The amount of time she's spent making and wearing super hero costumes has given her unique insight into parts of a costumed crime fighter's life that you might have taken for granted. Below, she and Cracked writer Jacopo della Quercia give you a privileged look at what it would actually be like to wear the unnecessarily tight pants of some of our favorite superheroes.
You Don't Want Your Costume to Be Too Cool
What They Tell Us:
Look, the entire point of a superhero costume is to look cool. Kick some criminal's ass in jeans and an undershirt and you're Dog the Bounty Hunter. Kick the same criminal's ass with a boomerang that matches your animal mask, and you're the goddamned Batman.
Ruby as Loki, the Norse godess of memorable superhero costumes.
Why It's Bullshit:
Making your own superhero costume is an enormous pain in the ass, and the difficulty level goes up proportionately to how flamboyant your alter ego is. To quote Ruby:
"I've gotten requests where a client wants exactly 10,000 rhinestones on a costume. Or where they want 50+ hours worth of beading work to be done in 36 hours."
Yes, that was a 50 in there. As in more work than most of you put into your job this week counting time spent trolling Facebook. Of course, when you're a real superhero, you're not designing your costume for a bunch of guys whose dicks have OCD. But if you're looking to maintain any sort of secret identity, you are going to be making it by hand just like Ruby--even Bruce Wayne had to put his own first suit together. So every hole in your costume is going to cost you hours at the sewing machine.
"Can we move our epic showdown back a few weeks, I've got some mending to do."
Also, just because comic book fans tend to be ripe with three days worth of ball sweat (According to Ruby, "It's a known entity called 'con funk.'") doesn't mean their favorite superheroes are fighting crime in the same body suit they sweat through the night before. Assuming you're not as plot-hole spacklingly rich as Bruce Wayne, that means every little creative flourish costs you however much time it takes to execute by hand multiplied by however many costumes you need to keep from smelling like a taint.
To create that Loki costume up there, "took hours to assemble all of the scale mail. And anything like the horns that involves more than just sewing is really difficult."
The awesome horns would probably stop seeming worth it somewhere around the second time you had to carve them by hand.
After speaking with Ms. Rocket, we're pretty convinced that the only costume that makes sense for a serious crime fighter is, "Thrift Store Man." Otherwise, you're working a full-time job by day, fighting crime by night and doing 50 hours of beading work every time you run into a guard dog, all because you thought it'd be cool to look shimmery when you first designed your costume.
Another day, another goddamn horned super hero costume.
What They Tell Us:
If you're a female superhero, what better way to intimidate male adversaries than footwear that adds "will make your junk look like a spent banana peel" to the reasons you don't want to get kicked in the balls. And fortunately for Barb Wire and both Silk Spectres, there's no move in Ju-Jitsu that can't be pulled off in six-inch platforms.
Outside of the Marvel and Sex in the City universes, women usually need a damn good reason to redistribute their weight between their toes and mini-heel-stilts. However, when you take the solemn oath to fight crime while giving it a boner, that dynamic is reversed. If a female crime fighter is wearing flats, they usually have a damn good excuse...
Based on a male character who almost never wears high heels.
...or because they are the no-nonsense tomboy alternative to the galaxy of high heeled sex vixens in the X-Men universe.
Oh Jubilee, why can't you dress like a normal girl.
On the subject of X-Men, we might wonder why adding a few inches of height would be so important to a woman who can, you know, fly.
But that's just because we're men, and thus lack the experience or capacity for imagining how the agonizing pains of child birth and foot binding could ever be deeply rewarding.
Why It's Bullshit:
Ms. Rocket has walked in the shoes of many an artificially heightened super heroine. She donned giant platform heeled knee high boots as Dawn, goddess of birth and rebirth, guardian of all witches and also apparently a wicked Napoleon complex.
Here she is, getting as close to jumping around kicking ass as is possible in her knee high, high heeled clod boots.
Seriously, what the fuck is this comic about?
According to Ruby, the super heroine's footwear of choice is good for leaving your "feet throbbing with pain after an eight hour day pounding the con floor." But hey, nobody's suggesting they should replace those orthopedic shoes nurses wear. We're talking short bursts of fury here. Surely Ms. Rocket wouldn't mind them for a 15 minute spree of ass-kicking girl pow...
"You can not run in six-inch platform heels, never mind kick some serious ass in them."
There are a few problems here. You're redistributing your weight between a few of your toes and miniature stilts at the back of your foot. Not only does this leave you off balance, but it also cuts down on the amount of friction keeping your body stuck to the ground. The higher the heels, the less of your toe that hits the ground, the less likely you are to keep your ass from violently striking any tile floor you happen to cross. Forget about those terrifying, spiked heel jump kicks. According to pretty much every woman outside of a comic book universe, the ability to fight crime in heels is as completely made up as the superheroine's ability to not be trailed by a oil slick of nerdgasming fanboys.
What They Tell Us:
If you plan on fighting crime while sporting a pair of boobs, you can find whatever you need at the same fetish shop that outfits half the Matrix. We can't tell you why this is the case, just like we can't tell you why blind people shop for sneakers at the same place as priests and basketball referees. Nor are we complaining. Be it leather, latex, PVC or rubber, if it's skin-tight and it's shiny you are apparently required to fight crime in it.
In Iron Man 2, Black Widow is revealed to be Scarlett Johansson after her gimp mask comes off in a fight.
Why It's Bullshit:
Ms. Rocket's sampled the full range of fabrics available to superheroes, and has pretty convincing arguments as to how you'd be just as well served in Velcro parachute pants. "Leather is warm and doesn't move easily. Latex is very warm, doesn't breath at all and people have been known to pass out while wearing it."
Also not helping: the corset.
"Why the crap would I wear either of those if I wanted to kick someone's ass?"
Can it stop traffic, yes. Can it foil a bank robbery? Only if the bank is air conditioned, and I don't have to sneak up on anyone without my boobs making a squeaking noise.
We suppose there's probably a reason most competitive sports don't outfit their players in full body leather or latex suits. But that still leaves us with spandex. It's what track stars wear when they want to move as fast as humanly possible. It's what people from the future wear to match their aerodynamic bald heads. It's what musicians wear when they want to let you know that the 80s was a ridiculous decade.
"Yes, spandex definitely moves with you but first of all, you have to deal with panty lines, and nobody wants that. More importantly, a splinter could put a hole in it." We suppose that when "fighting knife wielding people wearing pointy costumes" is your job description, you'd want a fabric that is a little more resilient than extra-strength panty hose.
Especially when every square-inch of that fabric is being pushed to the very brink of its tensile strength by your heaving flesh. Hell, one well placed head butt from Batman, and we'd imagine it might just vanish like a burst balloon.
Just one tiny rip and poof. Gone.
And then we'd keep imagining it over and over again.
Where Am I Supposed to Put That...?
What They Tell Us:
If a female character is going to have a trademark weapon, it had better be one that she can carry in one hand and has no risk of dropping at any time.
Extra whip? That's... that's just crazy. Hey, look at my junk!
Who the hell cares where they stuff all their gear? Whatever it is, they can probably just tote it along in a purse. Besides, Rogue's got a leather jacket and Jean Grey has pockets which she never uses. Isn't that enough cargo space for a female superhero?
We assume that little sash has a special place for her cell phone.
Why It's Bullshit:
Batman has his utility belt. Gambit has a huge trench coat loaded with pockets. Punisher has a mobile command unit. And why? Because it's helpful to have weapons when fighting crime. Batman spent years training on a mountain side so that he can kill anyone he comes across with his bare hands and even he needs more gadgets than any non-magical utility belt can hold without utilizing extra storage space.
We'll stop showing you how Batman's utility belt works when he admits it's true.
Meanwhile, female crime fighters and villains are asked to get by on their feminine wiles and distracting promises of partial nudity. You don't need to be fighting crime for skin tight clothing without pockets to start being a pain in the ass.
"These costumes are tight... very tight... and I don't have any pockets. I have nowhere to put my wallet, never mind a two-way communicator, or any of the other gadgets I might need."
For an example of what Ruby's talking about, here she is in the costume she made for building-scaling burglar Black Cat:
Somewhere in there, she's sporting rope and grappling hooks.
"More fashionable utility belts please!"
Keeping Your Identity Secret Is Probably More Important Than Letting The World Know You're Hot
What They Tell Us:
Not all superheroes try to hide their identity, but if they choose to be open about who they are, there's usually a reason for it. For the ladies though, keeping ones identity secret is rarely even a consideration. No Watchwoman ever wore a mask.
The walking stalker bate is probably fine, but Dr. Manhattan might want to cover up like the rest of the guys.
At the end of the first Iron Man, Tony Stark makes the (we would argue, strategically poor) decision to tell the world he's Iron Man and it's considered a huge deal. But Black Widow, knowing it'd be a shame to let such a pretty face go to waste, shows up on the scene without a mask.
You must be at least this hot to join the Avengers.
As far as the laws of just about every comic book universe are concerned, masks are overblown for superheroines even if they patrol the same streets as masked men.
Why It's Bullshit:"I totally understand wanting to look good all the time. And I totally understand that artists like drawing distinct, pretty ladies, but... people tend to remember a pretty face... so, throw a mask on! Or, if you have a very distinct color hair (cough FeliciaHardy cough) wear a wig!
Yeah... we're pretty sure we'd know a silver mane if we saw one.
Plus there are all those pesky reporters snapping pictures of you. It's easier to keep your secret identity if you actually try!"
This brings us to the saddest realization of all. Mopping up the mean streets of comic book universes with henchmen is made no easier if said henchmen are partially aroused. Ruby refused to comment on this specific point, presumably because she'd never have to fight a man who didn't have a boner.
But whether it's mastering the textile arts, wearing sexy heels, painting on a costume that can't fit a single extra weapon and shows the outlines of your circulatory system - none of the flourishes that fanboys go crazy for are even close to realistic.
We asked what she'd prefer to wear for a night on the town fighting crime:
"If I'm going for comfort, I know my yoga pants and sports bra isn't the most impressive or fearsome outfit out there... but damn, I'm comfy."
If any of our female readers ever do go into crime fighting, going into your garage and piecing together something more befitting Lord Humongous from Mad Max is probably the best way to go. At least you'll be protected.
Like this, with yoga pants and boobs.
And as for our male readers, when you really think about it, there are far less sexy ways to get your ass kicked.
Continue getting your superhero fix with 6 Superheroes Who Completely Lost Their Shit and 5 Superheroes Rendered Ridiculous by Gritty Reboots.