Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What's with the spandex?

I get Superman.

I just thought I should get that out of the way before we begin.  I mean, he's Superman. He flies around wearing a big, bright suit and as a result he inspires people to do better.  To be better. Maybe I can even understand the situation for Captain America, who is a designated national symbol.

But everybody else?

Why do the Fantastic Four, who are essentially an adventuring family, wear matching uniforms?  Why don't people laugh at them and make fun of them? I mean aside from the whole, that guy turns into fire and if you piss him off... My point is that despite the idea that super-heroes were created in an era when we could only envision them as gaudily clad mystery men and women, why haven't we evolved?  As writers, and artists, why haven't we figured out that running around in what loosely passes for a Halloween costume is infantile and a desperate cry for attention?

Is it simply tradition?

If that's the answer, then what was Bendis' excuse when he brought together Marvel's Ultimate line, in which they reinvented marvel with a crisper, more modern interpretation of everyone's origin story? Did Spider-Man really need to dress up as a red and blue (seriously?!?! what spider is red and blue?) spider in order to fulfill his potential?  With great power comes great responsibility, but apparently no sense of discretion or style. Batman would make more sense without a uniform  as well.  The idea that he shows up and instantly people are like 'Oh, crap!  It's Batman' is a little bit scary.  The idea that he is a master of disguise and he could be anyone, at any time?  That is waaaaaay scarier.  A man in his line of work would be best served with a more clandestine approach to combating crime, as the mythology he creates is almost as effective as his actual presence. So why then does he wear tights (and yes, I know they aren't actually spandex, but I think you're missing the point.)

Green Arrow and Hawkeye are both superior marksmen.  What's with the bows, and why the Robin Hood complex?  Ignore for a moment that Ollie is way cooler than Clint, and set aside the rejoicing you did when Bendis first killed Hawkeye (a moment he 'corrected' much to my disappointment) and just consider for a moment who these guys are. We see Arrow standing on a room overlooking an alley in Star City, but do we ever ask, 'how the hell did he get on that roof without somebody asking why he was dressed like an idiot?' Wouldn't it be easier for him to go everywhere incognito and carry some form of weapon that he could use to greater effectiveness than a bow? How that guy ever ended up in the JLA is beyond me.  And Hawkeye as an Avenger?  Please.  Next thing you know they'll have some guy who can shrink and talk to ants.

I'll give Wonder Woman a pass for her costume, because she's the hottest woman alive. Same goes for any of the Asgardians, because they are culturally motivated. But not the X-Men. Their presence has served only to fuel the very fires of racism that they are struggling to extinguish, and every time they act overtly, it tends to backfire.  Their field leader (normally Cyclops) is clearly a slow learner who took fifteen years to get out of Grade ten english, if he hasn't figure that out by now.  Maybe less overt action would equal less mass hysteria and hatred of the X-Men?  Just a thought.  Spandex only draws attention, and isn't the whole point to save lives?  Does that require that you make sure all eyes are on you?

Heroes at least have some defenses to this.  They're heroes.  They wear a uniform as a means of being identified by the public, and giving them something to look up to.  What defense do villains have?

Victor Von Doom is the ruler of a sovereign nation. Do you think maybe he can afford a nice custom tailored business suit for his next trip to the U.N.?  I think walking into the room dressed in the attire of a killing machine is probably not appropriate. Also, how do the b-grade villains like Bane (who is in a downward spiral that I don't understand in terms of his status) or Whiplash (really?  As the second Iron Man movie's villain?  WRONG CHOICE!) even consider walking around in ridiculous costumes?  When Whiplash walks into a bank in an effort to rob it, wouldn't it be smarter to slip in discreetly?  Kind of hard to do when you wear a costume.

Plus these guys have all been arrested.  They have no secret identity to protect, so why the ornate regalia? I feel like every villain should almost certainly fail an IQ test.

Question 1:

You are intending to break into the United Nations and hold its members hostage.  In order to gain entry without alerting a superior power like, say, Thor, do you:

a) Arrive at the main entrance in full costumed splendor and announce your presence like a raging idiot?
b) Unnecessarily harm security guards who are no threat to you, just to prove your machismo, before waiting for Thor to show up and make you look like his girlfriend Nancy?
c) Decide that you're tired of always getting your ass kicked, and go in civvies today.  Gain entry to the building using expensive but effective false identification, and carefully position yourself to take everyone by surprise, thereby increasing the chances of your success by three thousand percent?

I feel like no villain has ever chosen c), and none of them ever will.

Ultimately, I know I'm going on about something that isn't going to change.  We're never going to see a comic series by Marvel about a group of six super-powered mutants who go out for a nice dinner on the town, and when they stumble on a villain realize that they didn't bring any spandex with them. Somehow nobody leaves home without it.  Don't they get hot running around with spandex under their clothes?  Doesn't it put a crimp on any impromptu romantic interludes?

"Hey, you're hot!"

"Sorry beautiful, not tonight.  I'm wearing spandex."

And on that note...........I'm out.


Cam said...

You get my vote for no costumes. Or, if you've just got to put a costume on somebody, at the very least make it both functional and appropriate.
You're right about Spiderman. His is one of the poorest choices for a costume ever.

Nyarlathotep said...

Well in all fairness Spidey designed his costume when he was a science-nerd in High School. I imagine his only exposure to fashion design was beating his meat to one of Aunt May's issues of Glamor magazine.

As for everyone else, unless the costume does something useful, like Doom's armor, its all a sexual fetish.