Superhero costumes usually emphasize their athleticism through the clear illustration of their unrealistically perfect body features. In particular, in the comics, one can see an open highlighting of physiological gender differences, especially with the example of female characters. Undoubtedly, the costumes reinforce gender and sexuality, as they are usually tight-fitting and extremely revealing. Gablaski (2020) notes that this is true since the original superhero comics were created for young white men, which fueled the interest of the audience. Female and male superheroes have a set of mandatory attributes that differentiate how genders are portrayed. Women have slender bodies, long legs, and pronounced curves, while men have developed muscles, tall stature, and masculine facial features. In general, the portrayal of genders in comics can be called stereotypical, as female superheroes are extremely feminine, while males are the exemplification of masculinity.
There are very few superheroes who challenge this notion, and they often belong to non-major universes. For example, Faith is a character in the Harbinger Renegades series but later acquired a solo comic series (Faith (ongoing), n.d). She can fly, but she is also an example of a plus-size female superhero since she has a body shape atypical for comics. Faith has a closed costume, which, although it emphasizes her body, does not reveal certain parts and does not sexualize her. It is also worth noting that the Harbinger Renegades is more recent than the classic comics, and the solo Faith series is currently ongoing, which may be a sign of the industry’s development towards inclusiveness.
For the design of a superhero costume, which challenges contemporary binary gender and sexuality conceptions, I would pay more attention to emphasizing the comfort of the movement. In modern superhero films, one can often see the costumes become more closed but still tight-fitting. I do not think this is convenient for real people to move. In my opinion, the costumes should be made looser, as well as the focus on the individuality of the character’s abilities, and not on his or her sexualization.
Faith (ongoing). (n.d). Valiant. Web.
Gablaski, J. (2020). Super or sexist? The evolution of female superheroes in comics and film. Honors Theses, 84, 1-92. Web.