Comic books have had a stigma for a long time of depicting females in outfits that aren’t practical and serve nothing more than to show more skin. The sad part is that it’s mostly true. A trend that began in the ’80s and ’90s has permeated through today. Now that superheroes are dominating the media for general audiences, this is an issue that is more prevalent. Not all female superheroes and villains are designed in this manner, but a large number of them certainly are. The moment you see their cover art, you can immediately tell what type of “image” the artists were going for. Considering how modern culture is moving toward a more “equal” social standing, this trend has started to change for the better.
That said, we still have plenty of history where artists redesigned a character to have a more, shall we say, natural costume that they use to fight crime. It certainly didn’t help comic book fans feel confident about the stories they read. As a matter of fact, these redesigns embarrassed them above all else, as it conveyed a message that all comic readers supported that depiction. With that in mind, here are 15 revealing costume changes that embarrassed comic book fans.
15. EMMA FROST
One of the few superheroes/villains to embrace their wild side is Emma Frost. Debuting as an X-Men villain who could use the power of telepathy to incapacitate her foes, she later switched to the good side and worked with Xavier and his students. That said, her allegiance did little to change her tendency to not leave much to imagination.
Her original design wasn’t too revealing, but it certainly made a statement. Even when she took the name of the White Queen, she had a revealing outfit, and it wasn’t the most immodest thing she wore. It was once she made the jump from Generation X to the X-Men that she sported a costume that left little to the imagination. People who want to cosplay this interpretation need only go to their local lingerie store.
14. BLACK CANARY
Black Canary is a character known for her power and her fishnet stockings. When she first debuted long before she would ever become a series regular on Arrow, the Black Canary had a very modest design. She wore her trademark fishnet stockings, but there was other material underneath them that made it look like she was wearing a stylish set of pants.
As time went on, DC experimented with her costume. It got to the point that we often recognize today, where she just has that revealing one piece suit and the fishnet stockings. Even when she got married, she wore an extremely revealing dress that was arguably more well-suited to the wedding night. Let’s just say that there’s a reason this costume hasn’t been shown on the CW.
Elektra was trained to be a ruthless assassin, and it’s a marvel that she manages to do it in that skimpy outfit. When Elektra first appeared in Marvel Comics, she wasn’t the most modest character on the planet, but her design became more revealing as time went on. She started out with that signature one piece suit, but later upgraded to a two piece. It’s crazy to think that someone who killed people for a living would wear so little protection.
Elektra is also the source of a fairly big controversy in Marvel Comics, where the artists drew a little bit too much of her in one panel. Her later designs seem to be more practical and less one-sided. Thankfully, Netflix’s Daredevil took inspiration from her later costume designs rather than her older ones.
The cousin of Kal-El was famous for bringing girl power to the Superman mythos. Having a classic design from the very start, Kara Zor-El of Earth-1 was destined to be iconic for all time. This classic interpretation is actually what inspired the design seen on the CW’s Supergirl TV show. That said, DC has experimented several times with Kara’s costume. Starting in Supergirl #51, she wore a crop top with a mini skirt on the bottom. She looked more like an average teenage girl than she did a superhero.
Later on, this design philosophy would return when she sported her classic design, but with the entire midsection gone. She would only wear a top with an “S” logo on it and a mini skirt over her legs. For someone who flies, it doesn’t seem like a smart wardrobe choice.
Catwoman is synonymous with attractiveness. Constantly dawdling on the line of hero and villain, she has a lot of tension with Batman and the outfit to go with it. While she started out with a laughable cat head, she would later be given a black leather design and her iconic goggles and cat ears.
Where her design took a drastic turn was in the 1999 Catwoman movie starring Halle Berry. While she had the skin tight leather pants, this version of Catwoman was sporting nothing more than a bra for her top. Catwoman has been known to show a little skin in the past, but her design in this film is beyond ridiculous. Thankfully, the film was one of the worst movies ever created, and that design has never been seen again.
Mystique has gone through a few costume changes in her lifespan, and many of them ended up showing more of her skin off. She debuted wearing the white suit that has now been forever related to her character, but that slowly changed as time went on. She went through wearing a sports bra and leather pants to being covered in scales and wearing nothing at all.
When it comes to changes in the costume, none were more drastically or more revealing than her film interpretation. Instead of giving Mystique an outfit, the artists decided to have Mystique wear nothing at all. This became a serious component to her character, as she would not wear a traditional costume until the end of X-Men: Apocalypse. Until then, viewers were given a shocking new take on the shapeshifting villain.
9. INVISIBLE WOMAN
It’s hard to think that such a brilliant, independent, powerful woman would wear a costume that was very revealing. After all, doesn’t Susan Storm wear the blue Fantastic Four suit that everyone except for the Thing wears as well? For the most part, that’s true. However, there was a time where she decided to wear something a bit more alluring.
In the ’90s, Storm stated that she felt that she was wearing a costume that was horribly outdated. Because of this, she decided to “modernize” her getup a little. She wore something that looked more like a swimsuit, featuring no pants or sleeves. What has us scratching our heads the most is how she cut out the number “4” from her chest instead of having the Fantastic Four logo that the other members of her team wore.
8. SCARLET WITCH
Scarlet Witch is one of the most powerful mutants in the Marvel Universe. Debuting as a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, she would later become an Avenger, despite being emotionally unstable. Her costume is typically full of reds and purples, as well as a classic headdress that would look awful in film.
However, Scarlet Witch has had some very scantily clad outfits in the past. One of her outfits in the Ultimates saga would be extremely skimpy. She was basically wearing a two piece with the cape in the back. In Ultimates 3, Captain America actually said something to her about her outfit. After all, they were a beacon to the people and should set the example rather than encourage them to dress provocatively.
When Psylocke was first introduced, it wasn’t as the mutant we all know and love. As a matter of fact, she originally debuted as Captain Britain. Her brother was the real Captain Britain, and she simply took over the mantle for a time. After that, she developed more mutant powers and became a primary character in the X-Men lore.
She took the name Psylocke and, with it, a flowing pink dress. Not much to gawk at there. However, as time went on, her costume became more slimmed down to the point where we have the tight one-piece bathing suit that we recognize today. That suit itself isn’t the most revealing design in the world, but certain artists make it appear that way.
6. HARLEY QUINN
Harley Quinn was first introduced in Batman: The Animated Series and has a thematically appropriate jumpsuit that references a harlequin above anything else. Sure, it was skin tight, but it all worked to create a memorable design that would go on to define for character for years to come. Then came the New 52.
The artists as DC wanted to give a lot of their characters new designs for their big relaunch, and Harley Quinn was one of them. However, her design was much more revealing this time around, ditching the jumpsuit entirely. She wore a corset on the front that didn’t cover much, and some swimsuit bottoms as well. As if it couldn’t get any worse, her costume in the Suicide Squad movie was equally as revealing at points. However, fan response to either of these designs hasn’t been good.
5. POWER GIRL
The Kara Zor-El from Earth-2 is drastically different from the Kara Zor-El from Earth-1 for one very simple reason: the costume. While Supergirl has sported some revealing designs over the years, Power Girl was almost entirely designed around it. Even when she debuted, there was room to question her costume choice.
Nowadays, DC has fully embraced her unique outfit. Notorious for having the opening right on her chest, Power Girl has been the subject of a lot of criticism for having one of the most impractical costumes to ever be drawn in a comic book. She would later be given some more modest redesigns, but after some backlash regarding how downright ugly they were, DC returned to a more classic interpretation, complete with that view of her chest.
Starfire has never been a character known for her modesty. When she was introduced as a member of the Teen Titans, she wasn’t wearing a whole lot, but it wasn’t too bad in the grand scheme of things. As the Tamaranian was further incorporated into DC lore, she went through several costume changes that were either simple redesigns or attempts to make her more modest.
Then came the New 52. When Starfire appeared for DC’s relaunch of its entire universe, she was wearing something that made all of her previous costumes look like conservative clothing. Not leaving much to the imagination, Starfire was sporting little more than just a bikini that was probably the bare minimum of what was allowed to be distributed to the public.
3. RED SONJA
Men have Conan the Barbarian. Women have Red Sonja. When this powerful warrior was first introduced, she wore a fur coat and decent armor that would protect her against enemy weapons. She was an intense fighter and didn’t take no for an answer. Often working with Conan, she would rarely back down from a fight.
It seems that her ego got the best of her, though. When she was redesigned, she was given an outfit that was nothing more than a bikini made out of chain mail. She likely thought she wasn’t going to get hit and wanted more freedom of movement. What motivated the artists to go with something so provocative is anyone’s guess, but this design has gone to define Red Sonja. She’ll need some new threads if she gets a new movie.
When Greer Grant became the superhero known as Tigra, she sported a more thematic costume. Featuring a very cat-like appearance and full body suit, it was likely that her design was going to be changed. Little did the readers know that it would be changed to something so non-creative and scandalous.
If we had to describe Tigra’s costume in two words, it would be: black bikini. Sure, her skin is very reminiscent of a tiger, but it looks like nothing more than just body paint. Tigra has been involved with a few characters, but she had a quite interesting connection to Hank Pym. If you’re wondering what happened to her old costume, someone else picked it up for use. After all, she wouldn’t have any more need for it.
1. STAR SAPPHIRE
When it was revealed that there were other Lantern Corps besides the Green and Yellow Lanterns, DC decided to get a little creative. One of the new Lantern Corps that was shown off was the Star Sapphires. These pink and purple soldiers were motivated by the power of love above all else. The leader of the Star Sapphires, Star Sapphire, sported a fairly classic Silver Age design when she first debuted. It was fairly modest and colorful.
When DC was leading up to the events of Blackest Night, though, things started to change. Star Sapphire essentially lost the entire midsection of her costume, leaving very little of her torso to the imagination. Going down in history as one of the most revealing costume changes in comic book history, it’s clear that Geoff Johns was trying something new.
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