According to definition, a Femme Fatale is “a seductive woman who lures men into dangerous or compromising situations” or “a woman who attracts men by an aura of charm and mystery.” Many characters from comics fit the bill for one or both of these definitions, from Catwoman’s cat and mouse routine with Batman all the way to how Poison Ivy uses a combination of her powers and feminine whiles to lure people into bending to her will.
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One piece in the arsenal of a Femme Fatale is the character’s attire. The way a character dresses can help sway someone to helping them or following their lead. Some of the most famous costumes used by Femme Fatale characters are looked at as being exceedingly sexy and sometimes border on the NSFW category. We are going to be focusing on what brought these costumes to the popularity that has made them the most recognizable for their particular character.
15 JESSICA RABBIT
Originally in the novel “Who Censored Roger Rabbit?” and then in the film “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” Jessica Rabbit appeared in comic books alongside her husband as well. The character’s major claim to fame came from the film, in which she helps Eddie Valiant clear her husband Roger of the murder of Marvin Acme. Although seemingly untrustworthy at the start, Jessica proves she would do anything to protect her husband, including smacking him on the head with a frying pan and shoving him in the trunk. You know, so he wouldn’t get hurt.
Jessica Rabbit makes the grand entrance to our list because no one else can make patty cake so seductive that people can be blackmailed with the photos. With a simple musical number and a dress that leaves little to the imagination, no one stands a chance against the siren song of the red-haired beauty. It’s lucky for her husband Roger that she only has eyes for one rabbit.
Raven is on of the most mysterious characters to grace the pages of "Teen Titans," among other titles. Raven has never been the most open character because her past is something that, in most of her incarnations, she is trying to get away from. The daughter of the demon Trigon, Raven uses everything she was taught in the alternate dimension of Azarath to control her emotions and keep her demonic powers at bay, but that just makes her all that more appealing. Should she lose control and feel any form of strong emotion, Raven runs the risks of becoming possessed by her father.
Raven’s most famous costume is a solid black leotard with full-length sleeves, usually adorned with a belt. To match, she almost always wears a flowing cape with a large hood. The air of mystery that surrounds Raven because of her need to always keep her emotions in check is what helps solidify her place on the list, and if further proof is needed, just look at Beast Boy.
13 BLACK CANARY
A card carrying member of the Justice League and an avid fighter, Black Canary is as dangerous as she is smart. She not only knows that she’s the best fighter in the room, she knows that people are morons and will try to take advantage based on how she’s dressed. Although she is more often than not involved with Oliver Queen (whose superhero alter-ego is the star of the titular "Green Arrow" series), Dinah Lance doesn’t need anyone to fight her battles or stick up for her. She doesn’t take disrespect from anybody, and those that don’t already know that usually learn very quickly and very painfully.
Black Canary’s most famous costume is her black leotard with fishnet stockings that usually also come with a leather jacket and gloves. Sometimes there will be a mask thrown into the equation, but more often than not, she goes without one. When in a fight, Canary doesn’t usually use weapons, but she is adept at using them, choosing more often to use hand-to-hand combat and her Canary Call when needed.
Psylocke has had to deal with a lot of loss in her life, including everything from family to lovers and friends. She has even lost her own mind to the control of others on a couple of different occasions, but one thing that always remained consistent with her was her need to help people. She shared a deep connection with her brother Brian, and has even teamed up with her brother (better known as the superhero called Captain Britain) after she gained her own powers. You can usually find her in the pages of one or more "X-Men" comics.
While not as mysterious or prone to using seduction in order to go after her targets as some of our other entries are, Psylocke has become one of the more popular X-Men in recent years. Her powers dazzle the eyes of readers and the purple leotard she wears has become her most popular look. With varying hair colors of purple to black as well as varying eye colors from blue to purple, Psylocke constantly grabs attention.
11 HARLEY QUINN
Dr. Harleen Quinzel was a young, ambitious psychologist who took her first job in the field at Arkham Asylum. The patient she wanted to get her hands on the most? The Joker. Of course, while she was trying to get into the Joker's head, he was turning her own mind into a puddle of mush, eventually turning her into a love-sick puppy who would do anything for him; including dress up like a jester and break him out of Arkham.
Her most famous costume by far is the red and black harlequin costume that came into being at the same time as the character herself in "Batman: The Animated Series." While Harley Quinn is not what most would consider the Femme Fatale to be, she has been shown to be a playful, dangerous flirt over the years, as well as had her costume revamped several times since the dawn of the New 52 continuity into being much more adult-oriented and revealing.
10 EMMA FROST
Emma Frost is a blonde bombshell with psychic power that almost rivals Jean Grey and Prof. X himself. Starting as the White Queen of the Hellfire Club, Emma eventually found her way to the X-Men and into the mind of Scott Summers a.k.a. Cyclops, and the two started a short-lived telepathic affair that came to an abrupt end when Jean Grey found out.
Emma’s most famous costumes is a white bustier with no straps that laces up in the front, resulting in a lot of skin being shown, with the only extra coverage coming from the cape she wears more often than not which clasps together with an X-men insignia. With Emma though, this is used as a tool. She knows how good she looks and uses this to her advantage. If she thinks that her looks will win someone to her side of an argument, then she has no issues pushing them that direction. If she feels she needs a bit more leverage, that’s when she’ll use her power.
Mystique has a varied background that includes the titles of terrorist, founder of the third Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and some form of mother figure to characters such as Graydon Creed, Nightcrawler and Rogue. She has shown herself to mostly be the enemy of the X-Men, but at times has also been an ally.
Mystique has two costumes that could be seen as her most popular. The first is her classic white unitard that covered her neck and torso while leaving her limbs bared to be covered by matching long, white gloves that would reach to the top of her bicep, while matching long, white high-heeled boots covered most of her legs. The second is the look popularized by the “X-Men” movies where Mystique had a darker blue hue to her skin than her comic book counterpart did and even darker blue scaling around different parts of her body. While her choice of wardrobe definitely draws the eye, what drops Mystique into the Femme Fatale category is her ability to change into anyone she wants, therefore making it very easy to bend people to her will.
8 LADY DEATH
While originally created to be the Femme Fatale who gave Evil Ernie his incentive to kill everyone on the planet, Lady Death was eventually able to distance herself from the "Evil Ernie" title and got her own series, which actually gave her a backstory and cause for why she does things. With her original incarnation being simply to be eye-candy and with her promise to love Ernie forever if he promised to kill everyone, she falls solidly into the Femme Fatale category. In more recent iterations, she has shed her villainous origin and has retained the heroic roots that her previous backstory had given her.
Lady Death’s most famous costume is basically a black leather bikini, a matching bottom piece that attaches to her mid-thigh high black leather boots, almost arm-length gloves and the outfit is topped off with a cape the clasps around her neck. The entire thing was made by Lucifer himself.
7 BLACK WIDOW
There have been multiple people to bear the mantle of Black Widow, including Natasha Romanova and Yelena Belova. The most popular incarnation is, unsurprisingly, Natasha. The Russian spy turned Avenger is one of the most highly trained members of the team, and is more than a match against most opponents. She has proven her fighting ability against some of the most decorated characters of the Marvel Universe, and has been trained to the point where she can infiltrate any location, get her job done, and be out before anyone even had an idea that she was there.
Black Widow wears a full leather tactical spy suit usually adorned with a belt of either red or yellow which clasps in the center where her insignia is displayed. Armed with her own fighting prowess, a pair of handguns, sometimes electrified escrima sticks and always her trademark Widow’s Bites around her wrists, the reason she is called the Black Widow is apparent.
Catwoman didn’t have the easiest time growing up. From a young age, she learned that the only person she could rely on was herself, and that she had a knack for theft. While Selena has been on different sides of the law at different points in her history, she usually winds up making the right choice and helping someone who has it worse than she. Selena Kyle is not only one of the best thieves in the DCU, she is also part of the Gotham City Sirens alongside Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy.
Catwoman’s skin-tight leather jumpsuit, complete with cat ear cowl and cat’s eye lenses, has become her most famous costume, having a few slightly different variations over the years. In tandem with the supermodel strut Selena uses and her personality which is straight catty, she can make anyone including Batman give her what she wants with little more than a passing glance.
5 BLACK CAT
Felicia Hardy started out as a small-time cat burglar, then her greed made her go for bigger and bigger scores. The thrill of the theft was an adrenaline rush to Felicia and the bigger the score, the more excited she got. Debuting in the pages of "The Amazing Spider-Man," when Spider-Man started to get involved in trying to stop the crime spree, she became enamored with him and tried to win him over to be with her. The Femme Fatale was able to make Spider-Man fall in love with her, but when he reveals himself to be Peter Parker underneath the mask, Hardy rejects him.
The most classic and popular costume that covers Black Cat is her skin-tight leather jumpsuit which covers her entire body from shoulders to feet. The costume always has a white mane around the collar to match Hardy’s own mane of platinum blonde hair, as well as white fur cuffs around the wrists. She likes to keep the front of the suit unzipped down to her belly button.
4 RED SONJA
Depending on which version of "Red Sonja" getting looked at, there are different stories for how she became the She-Devil with a Sword known today. In her original incarnation, just after turning 17, mercenaries killed her entire family and the leader of the gang brutally raped her. She then was given extraordinary skill by a goddess, but at the cost of never laying with a man unless they could defeat her in single combat; a deal she happily accepted. A more recent incarnation of Sonja written by Gail Simone removed the rape and supernatural elements from her origin, making her a fighter of skill because of her own intense training, this time having a lust and humor previously unseen in the character.
The chainmail bikini that Red Sonja wears is her most famous costume. While she did originally use a more modest chain mail tunic when she made her first appearance alongside Conan the Barbarian, the bikini which debuted soon after became so popular among fans that it has remained with the character to this day, save a random turn here or there.
Created by Frank Miller in "Daredevil" #168, Elektra Natchios, daughter of a Greek ambassador, traveled with her father to the U.S. and, once she was there, she started to study political science at Columbia University where she met none other than Matt Murdock. A time later, after Murdock had revealed his abilities to her and the pair had fallen in love, a group of terrorists kidnapped Elektra and her father. Though Murdock was able to stop the terrorists with Elektra’s help, a policeman had mistaken her father for a terrorist and shot him dead. This caused Elektra to lose all faith in the justice system and set her on the path to becoming the ninja we all know and love.
While Natchios doesn’t use her infamous red ninja outfit for the sole reason of distracting her opponents, it works none-the-less. The costume consists of a red one-piece that attaches to itself over Elektra’s left shoulder. It then wraps around her torso and drops to the floor. To complete the ensemble, Elektra also uses bands of fabric in the same color as the rest of the outfit as holsters for her trademark sais, as well as usually a headband or bandana.
Being one of the original “bad-girls” of comics and being inspired by the campy sci-fi movies of the 1960’s is what led to the choice of this character. Vampirella has had a couple of different origin stories, one of which portrayed her as a vampire-esque alien from the planet Drakulon, while the other retconned that backstory into only being a set of false memories, instead establishing her as a being much closer to the vampires of myth. Vampirella has the abilities of a vampire, including the ability to mesmerize opponents and control them to an extent when close.
Vampirella’s most famous costume is her red sling bikini. The best way to describe the costume is a one-piece bathing suit that connects to itself via the collar around her neck, and missing a large diamond shape of material from the neck down past her naval. The costume has been used since inception and has been a staple for many cosplayers over the decades.
1 POISON IVY
Dr. Pamela Isley is the world’s foremost researcher of all things plant related. More than anything, she has always wanted the world to be reclaimed by the flora that once ruled the world. When she had started studying botanical biochemistry under Dr. Jason Woodrue, she became seduced by him and became the subject of human experimentation, using different poisons and toxins which led to her transformation into the eco-terrorist known today.
Poison Ivy’s most popular outfit by far is the green leotard which is either made up of leaves and different plant life, or at the very least covered in the same material. She is recognizable aside from this by her flowing red hair and, depending on the iteration, green skin. Ivy uses her powers and an array of pheromones in conjunction with her looks to bend anyone she wishes to do her bidding. No one is safe, from Catwoman to Superman (as seen in the "Hush" storyline), when it comes to Poison Ivy’s charms.
Which Femme Fatale has the most iconic costume in your opinion? Be sure to let us know in the comments!