Costumes, what works, what doesnt

This issue: The Major Spoilers Crew share their views on superhero costumes, what works, what doesn’t and what really doesn’t.


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About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...


  1. If I was a superhero, I’d try set a good example for the kids. I’d wear a motorcycle helmet. I’d wear elbow-pads and knee-pads outside my coat and pants. And I’d wear one of those reflective orange road-worker vests. Underneath it all, I’d wear all leather, like a biker. As Matthew pointed out, it’s not that easy to just find crimes being committed, so in the meantime I’d go around neighbourhoods handing out bicycle helmets to kids.

  2. Just listened to the podcast and as always, it was greatly entertaining and I will probably listen to it again on my way to work next week. I did have one thing to share with Matthew though.

    My mom is Canadian and we often talk about the differences between the US and Canada so that I understand why I use phrases that none of my friends understand. One topic that we discuss every so often is the way Canadians view their flag. It isn’t the same kind of symbol to them that it is to US citizens from her experience. She always asked me when I was younger why they would have us pledge allegiance to the flag instead of just the country every morning at school. It just isn’t as sacred of a symbol up North. So a Canadian super-hero that wraps him/herself in the flag isn’t being disrespectful to his country like an American super-hero would be.

    Again this is the limited experience of my mother and extended family that I’m drawing upon, so any Canadians that have a different experience please correct me.

    • I’m not sure if this is the case in Canada, but most countries have laws against using their flags as anything but flags, I think that Matthew’s point stands, at least in the sense that, as an American comic, X-men (and Wolverine and Alpha Flight) is doing something disrespectful, even if no actual individual Canadian actually cares.

      • Canadians don’t really care about the use of the flag (you can burt it in public if you feel like it, not cool but you wont go to prison), the only way a super hero costume with the Canadian flag in it will cause controversy is if the hero is from Quebec. Most french speaking people from Quebec are Quebecois first and Canadian second (if at all).

        Concerning costumes, I hate any costume with a trench coat or a leather duster. I own a leather duster and those type of coats are too heavy and constrictive to move correctly in them, let alone fight.

      • I understand why Matthew feels it is disrespectful, and I also can see why it is probably a bad idea for a character to be draped in a flag. I don’t however agree that it is disrespectful because the group who is supposed to find it disrespectful (Canadians) don’t, and the artist’s intent was not to be disrespectful (I hope).

        • I doubt it was meant to be offencif, personaly I think it looks like something a Canadian olympic bobsleigh team would wear.

          Matthew: Does Union Jack’s costume bother you as well? I ask because like Cap’s costume it has special circumstances attached to it’s existance.

        • Rodrigo, not only douse it look like like something we would wear at the Olympias but I think we did have something like it at an winter Olympics complete with cape. As for our flag its a piece of nylon, our flag is a minor symbol of our country. I can no moue love or hate the maple leaf thet the beaver on nickel.

  3. Yeah, I heard the rant. Very convicted.

    But the costume was designed by John Byrne, right? Byrne is Canadian and is all about Canada.

    Kinda doubt he’d design the leader of his team with a costume all his fellow countrymen would hate.

  4. I loved this episode, as I do all of them.

    I have to say when I think about bad costumes what comes to mind is Mesmero, in that green and purple looking getup, he looked real bad, even for a X-Men villain.
    As for a bad hero costume, the Wiz, the Kingdom Come son of Captain Marvel Jr. and Mary Marvel is a pointy and weird looking Spiderman rip off, and blatant too, it just sticks in my mind how bad it is.

    So I guess my two characters would tick off Matthew then.

  5. Favorite costumes:
    1) Rorschack (mostly for the mask and hat)
    2) Mr. Sinister (I love the weird tassle cape and recurring diamonds for some reason)
    3) Black Panther (stealthy with deadly claws)
    4) Iron Man (functional and iconic)
    5) The Flash (simple and memorable)

    1) Wonder Woman (no self respecting lady would ever wear that)
    2) Iceman (why would he even wear clothes)
    3) Invisible woman (see above)
    4) Hawkeye (just always hated the mask, colors, everything)
    5) PlasticMan (really!?! that’s what you go out in? At least put on some pants, dude!)

  6. I’m surprised nobody brought up The Incredibles’ take on costume design. Great episode, as usual!

    Great costumes:

    Cyclops (X-Factor costume)
    Daredevil (Red)
    Blue Beetle (Kord)

  7. Great episode. But I wanted to give you a different point of view on the whole thing. Being a gay comic nerd in a straight man’s world blows.

    I’m so sick of seeing things like the female costumes of Power Girl, Super Girl, Wonder Woman, Black Canary, Starfire, Witchblade, etc. etc. And then on the other side we have men completely covered, like Superman, Batman, Aquaman! (who’s in water?!), GL, etc. etc. again.

    I understand it’s mostly a hetero male world, but it gets really annoying all the scantly clad female icons. Then, a few years back they were going to have Aquaman’s new look as shirtless with the green pants and some orange coral and the water hand, and people went nuts saying no way! And they put him back in the stupid orange shirt. Why anyone ever thought someone who swims needed a full body suit is beyond me.

    Anyway, needless to say, I was not happy.

    So, it was nice to see Wonder Woman get some clothes put back on her. I say take that hetero comic boys!

    I had a point at one time, but I’ve lost it now. :D But it was along the lines of costumes are meant to be fun and striking. And I have no problem with that, I just wish more of the guys got the same treatment that the women do. We need equal opportunity objectifying, please.

  8. Just catching up on Major Spoilers, I fell behind a tiny bit, but I love that Rodrigo’s choice of costume is pretty much Tuxedo Mask from Sailormoon… true a fine tailored suit is not a tuxedo, but it’s close. (There is also no sarcasm in that last sentence… I have the pictures to prove it.)

  9. Loved the podcast. So far as film costumes go, Fantastic Four good, Batman, booooring. In these days of CGI I say the producers should go all-out and make the characters as comic booky as possible. It’s not like they’re not called ‘comic book movies’ so why not embrace the nuttiness of the artform?

    As regards the FF costumes generally, I don’t see Matthew’s point that they’re not costumes – sure, they’re modelled on the original spaceship jumpsuits, but they’re ridiculously/wonderfully skintight, with superheroic motifs. They’re hardly like baggy overalls a mechanic would wear.

    I was going to argue against the idea that wearing a costume based on a flag is somehow disrespectful, but I can’t even begin to approach the mindset of a patriot. You’re born where you’re born, it’s madly random. Maybe it’s an English thing …

    A few fave costumes: Captain Marvel (with tunic) – strong and sexy; Seventies Supergirl – super-cute; original Firebrand – how can you not love a diaphanous pink shirt?; Zatanna – perfect for work, play and personality; Ace the Bathound – barking mad.

    Worst costumes: Paul Ryan’s Sue Storm – ugly and wildly out of character; Wasp’s one-legged concoction – George Perez having a larf; the Black Racer – someone fell backwards into the sports equipment cupboard; Valkyrie’s golden boob tube; Jericho – he’s supposed to be mute, not blind.

  10. on the guardian/Vindicator side I’d say most canadians wouldn’T care. Our flag isn’t the major symbol the star spagled banner is for the americans. What about Captain Britain. this one always make my girlfriend laugh when she sees it.

    favorites costumes
    Spiderman – it is so iconic. It makes the character come out of the pages.
    Black Panther – really fits the character
    Iron Man – Another Icon, great mix of function and style
    Batman(Animated series) – It screams Guardian of the night in every shot.

    Hate List
    Arana – also known as spiderman copycat #3453 with a lot less personality
    Black Spiderman – it really doesn’t fit. You wouldn’T see superman putting a black costume to show he’s gone ruthless (might work in the original story though just not anymore)
    Every Hero of the country wrapped in the coulours of his flag after captain America – it’s just lazyness.

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