Uniform / ControversyPosted: July 16, 2010
As costume controversy has swirled around recent redesigns and movie revelations, I’ve said a few time that if it were up to me and realism all superheroes would wear uniforms, like the military. And I’d like to clarify that a little. I would hope it is very clear that I L-O-V-E-LOVE superhero and comic book fashion. This blog should be proof of that, right? So what am I talking about calling for “uniforms”, right?
My first point is found in the word “realism”. I realize speaking of superheroes and superhumans in terms of realism is a bit silly. Real people don’t have supernatural abilities or machines that can replicate them — the ones who claim they do are met with skepticism at best and ridicule at worst. But it is my contention that if superhumans were proven to exist and if they wanted to act as “superheroes” the only way we would accept it is through a program, more than likely government sponsored and run, similar to the military — or The Initiative. Mutant Registration and Superhuman Registration are absolutely realistic outcomes in the USA, look at the Registration laws we actually have. Look at the draft. Look at the immigration controversy. Etc. Now, I happen to like to read (and discuss) how different comic book storylines deal with this idea — Batman, Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, Kick Ass — every comic book superhero has to deal with it a bit. I’m not saying they’re doing it wrong, not at all. I’m just saying if the Avengers or the Justice League, for example, really existed as an entity working alongside (sometimes within) the US government it is more realistic to assume a uniform than a superhero costume.
My second point is that such a uniform would introduce more balance to the controversy. Switching to uniforms would be EXTREMELY controversial and I expect derided, but the idea of a uniform itself should make things more …. uniform! Military organizations, civil police organizations, private schools, Starfleet — they have uniforms. If Wonder Woman and Superman wore the same jumpsuit the sexism argument would be turned on its head. Uniforms don’t erase that controversy (I mentioned Starfleet for a reason — hello, miniskirts!) but it makes it so you CAN compare the outfits in a more reasonable manner. How can we compare the sexy-ness and/or sexist-ness of Ms. Marvel’s thigh high boots versus Captain America’s skintight pants? They are wholly different entities, the only thing binding them together is the idea they are both superhero costumes. If they both wore uniform boots and Ms. Marvel’s had 6 inch heels but Cap’s were flats THAT would be a clear argument for sexism.
[Aside: There is an ongoing discussion of Natasha’s boots in Iron Man 2 in the cosplay/movie replication community: In promo stills where she is posing pretty, they are heels. In shots where she is flipping around kicking bad guy butt, they are flats. The implication is clear, Scarjo and her stunt double can’t DO (or do safely) the flipping around kicking bad guy butt in heels. That said, I love to death Ms. Marvel’s boots and would cry if they were changed.]
So that’s what I mean when I speak of uniforms for superheroes. I don’t actually expect or want superhero comics to adopt uniforms but I do appreciate the costumes in the X-Men films, for example. They look like a TEAM. Boot controversy aside, I like that Natasha’s SHIELD jumpsuit looks more like a uniform than a costume but I don’t mind that Nick Fury’s clothes don’t exactly match her. And I think a lot of superhero costumes are really, really silly and impractical and I love them all the same. I L-O-V-E-LOVE superhero and comic book fashion.