Superhero costumes have always been ridiculous, Superman’s outfit was based on circus strongmen and wrestlers, meant to evoke a sense of strength and ridiculous showmanship. Fast forward a couple of decades and superhero costumes have gotten a lot crazier. Though modern costumes try to have a sense of realism to them, they still tend to stick to age-old thematic choices and gimmicks that make them goofy. Of course, that’s half the fun of superheroes, super-powered beings that are doing good for people while dressed like weirdos. However, there have been some costumes in comics history that are straight up impossible.
Everything from the spandex with the tightest of form-fitting qualities to physics-defying masks, superhero costumes are full of impossibilities. Some of the strangest ones have some sort of cumbersome aspect that somehow always works out for the hero. Capes and cowls are so impractical but they never seem to bother superheroes. Then again, defying the laws of physics with clothing seems to be the one power that every superhero has in common. Or maybe, physics work differently in superhero universe; it’s never really clear. Regardless, we decided to sift through superhero comic book history and dig up some of the most ridiculously impossible superhero costumes out there.
16. POWER GIRL
When a bird or a plane or even Superman is moving through the air, they are pushing against air currents. In other words, as a flying superhero pushes through the air, something pushes back. Now, this isn’t a problem for Power Girl, since she’s indestructible, but her clothes are a different story. Power Girl’s costume, notoriously known for it’s “boob window,” would would be impossible while flying.
Writers have tried to explain the boob window by saying she left the space open for a logo, but never thought of one. Right. The biggest problem with this, besides sexism, is the fact that it would cause her costume to slide right down her when she’s flying. When Power Girl is flying, the air currents she is pushing against would push through the costume opening and pull her costume down her body, now that’s a wardrobe malfunction!
15. EMMA FROST
Speaking of sexist costumes, Emma Frost is the (White) Queen of unnecessarily revealing costumes. Emma has had a lot of ridiculous costumes in her time, but one is straight up impossible. We are of course talking about the “flesh X” costume, aka the New X-Men (2001-2004) costume. This outfit, designed by Frank Quietly, fits the X-Men motif by using the negative space of Frost’s body to form an X… with her skin.
Yeah, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and is pretty much there just to show off Emma’s body. It is also pretty darn impossible, since there’s no clear explanation for how it stays on her or why she doesn’t freeze to death. Some cosplayers have succeeded in recreating this costume, but with the help of see-through straps and skin-tape, the like of which would definitely not stay on in battle.
14. WONDER WOMAN
Sometimes Wonder Woman can fly; sometimes she can’t. The Wonder Woman film didn’t really help answer that question, since the end of the film doesn’t make it clear if she’s jumping or flying. What does this have to do with her costume you ask? Well, whenever Wonder Woman’s costume is depicted with a low, low cut, she runs into the same problem as Power Girl, and her outfit would come right off past a certain flying speed.
Even if the costume is a more heavyweight armor, there are still some problems. For one, the whole “boob armor” thing could kill her. Sure, she might be durable, but the divide in the center of her chest (in some iterations) would amplify the force of any attack directed at it, causing massive damage to her sternum. Plus, her armor tends to only cover her torso and pelvis, which is not exactly practical.
Anyone remember that scene in Spider-Man 2 after he saves the train? The people he saved promise to keep his secret and give him his mask back. Spidey puts it on before clever edits are used to hide the fact that the full costume is one piece rather than a suit and a mask. It’s kind of an awkward cut and points out one of the seemingly magic qualities about Spider-Man’s costume.
Spider-Man’s costume is always drawn as a onesie with separate mask, boots and gloves. Yet, when he’s wearing the costume, it appears like one piece. Another thing, until Spider-Man: Homecoming, there was no explanation for how the eyes on Spider-Man’s mask moved. Also, how do his wall-crawling abilities work through his suit? Do the hairs stick out? Seriously, as great as Spider-Man’s costume is, it’s essentially impossible.
12. STAR SAPPHIRE
In most iterations of the Green Lantern Corps, the GL uniform is some sort of energy-based second skin formed from pure willpower; one works with the Green Lantern aura to protect the user from the cold vacuum of space. It’s a cool concept that we can also apply to the other emotional spectrum lanterns, including Star Sapphires, which is where we run into some problems.
Yes yes, suspension of disbelief and all that, but why would a highly-advanced weapon create a second-skin armor that doesn’t cover any vital spots? Besides the obvious answer of eye candy, there doesn’t seem to be a purpose for this. Yes, their aura and constructs can protect them, but why wouldn’t there also be a layer of armor as well? Then again, maybe some aliens don’t have vital organs in the same places as humans, but that doesn’t explain Carol Ferris’s suit.
11. ALL THE SPANDEX
We don’t really have time to list every single superhero who wears spandex, so we’re gonna have to generalize a bit. The properties of spandex are not quite as impressive or reality-bending as comics might have you believe. Sure, they’re form-fitting, but not that form-fitting! It’s not a material that can nestle and mold itself perfectly into and around every crevice and muscle on your body. So the whole “boob sock” effect you see in female superhero’s costume wouldn’t actually happen.
That’s not all that’s wrong with spandex — have you ever worn the stuff? Not only is it hard to clean, it holds on to smells with a vice-like grip. That doesn’t combine well with the fact that spandex can also make you sweat like crazy in the heat, especially if it’s a full-body suit. Then again, maybe superheroes use a fictional material that solves these problems. Insert “unstable molecules” argument here.
Much like Emma Frost, Starfire’s costumes have never not been ridiculous or overly revealing. Seriously, every one of Starfire’s suit has something about it that’s impossible for clothing to do. Let’s start with her first appearance costume, it’s basically a purple version of Vampirella’s bikini with no explanation as to how her breasts stay in place. Starfire kept this outfit for a while with a bit of variation over the years, but nothing compares to the New 52 costume.
Writers explained that since Starfire’s abilities are solar-powered, she exposes more skin to absorb more power. If that were true, then shouldn’t Superman dress the same way? Regardless, this “explanation” might give reason for showing so much skin, but it doesn’t cover how exactly this costume works. Whatever those things on her chest are, how are they staying on? And what exactly is it made of? Metallic armor or shiny spandex? The world may never know.
9. THE HULK’S PANTS
In recent Hulk comics and movies, he’s been given a pair of shorts that grows with him, rather than rocking his ripped jeans. It’s great that comics have moved on to a much more efficient form of clothing for the big green fella, but it still doesn’t explain how his old pants worked. Wait, are they technically cut-offs or are they rip-offs? Whatever.
Any way you look at this, The Hulk’s pants should rip completely off every time he transforms from Bruce Banner. Sure, everything past his knees seems to rip off, but logically, that’s the only part that would stay on besides maybe the waistband. Thighs are a lot bigger and more muscular than calves, so why don’t those burst through the Hulk’s pants when they double in size? Sure, it’s so The Hulk isn’t smashing around naked, but it’s not very realistic.
In modern versions of Catwoman, the thief is depicted wearing some kind of literal or figurative cat-suit. Selina Kyle usually wears something that lets her move easily and stealthily, a skin-tight black suit that is filled with various gadgets to help her get the jewels. But she didn’t always wear outfits that made sense, she used to wear much more theme-heavy costumes that just wouldn’t work for a thief.
Catwoman started out wearing dresses with capes and skimpy corsets, which she further paired with fishnets, purple suits and cumbersome fake tails; none of these exactly scream “stealthy thief” to us. How exactly did she sneak past security in her early days? Flirt with them? Or did she use her nine-tails to severely beat them since, ya know, that’s what those are designed for. Thank goodness for the Darwyn Cooke design.
7. IRON FIST
This one is more impractical than impossible, but it still seems pretty hard for Iron Fist to fight with that giant collar in the way. Ignoring the super hipster DEEP v-neck that Danny Rand rocks — which somehow stays perfectly in place — Iron Fist’s original costume brings up the question of peripheral vision. Seriously can he even see to his sides or does the collar completely block his view?
We have a lot of questions about this collar, so strap in, folks. How does it stay perfectly up? Does it fold down or is it always popped like a frat boy? Does the wind ever blow it into his face? Is there wire in there to keep it up? Where did he even get a costume like that? Seriously how is it staying up? Forgive us for so many questions about a freaking collar, but it’s just so mysterious!
6. COSMIC BOY
What… It— but… how… We are at a loss here, people, seriously, what’s going on here, is Cosmic Boy just the biggest Rocky Horror fan? Apparently, when fans wrote letters to DC in response to all the girls with revealing costumes, DC decided to switch things up and give one of the guys some half-naked threads.
It’s kind of a noble response when you think about it, they tried to level the playing field so to speak, but they should have at least designed it a bit better. It looks like they just removed the purple on one of his other costumes. Like the costumes on the women of the legion, this raises the question of how exactly it stays on Cosmic Boy. Well, he does have magnet powers, so maybe there’s metal in the suit? At least that’s better than body tape!
5. BATMAN BEYOND
Batman Beyond did an awesome job of adding to the lore of the DCAU by creating a futuristic Gotham that needed the help a new Batman, one that was much higher tech than the original. The suit that Terry wore was one of the coolest parts of the show, as it was basically Iron Man Armor built into a spandex-like material. As cool as it was, however, there was one thing we never quite understood about it, how does the mouth work?
It’s not just an open slit that fit’s Terry’s mouth, it’s like a mechanical piece that matches his mouth movements. But that’s not all, it also covers his mouth at the same time, showing just white when he speaks. Maybe it’s just the ol’ Bruce Timm stylization, but we can’t quite wrap our heads around the mouthpiece of this Bat-suit.
As ridiculous as Dazzler’s outfights might be, they’re pretty well-designed and fit with the character’s side-career as a singer who has gone through various popular styles of each decade. The mutant superhero definitely sports some extravagant and wonderfully eccentric costumes, but they’re still relatively practical and possible to a certain extent. Then again, there are a few issues we have with her disco costume.
There is, of course, the low cut of her top, which we won’t go into again lest we sound like a broken record, but the main issue with her disco suit has to be the roller skates. It’s not always clear if the X-Men member wore the skates all the time or not, but holy hell those would be impossible to fight in. Sure, they’re more stable than roller blades, but they don’t seem like the best thing to wear in a fight… well, unless you’re super into roller derby.
Aside form the obvious problems having to do with spandex, Superman’s costume has got one major flaw: his cape. But before we get into that, we have to talk about The New 52 costume. It was never clear if it was armor or overly-detailed spandex. If it was armor, then how did he move his wrists without bending those hand-cover things? And why would he need armor at all? He’s freaking Superman!
Anyway, let’s talk about the biggest issue with nearly every Superman costume. The cape is an issue with every flying hero who chooses to rock the flowing look, but how is that thing not more of a hassle? Every time Superman would stop short when flying or even when it’s windy, that damn thing would be slapping him in the face. Yet, it flows perfectly every time. BUT HOW!?
Once again we have to question why a powerful weapon would completely fail to protect its user. Well, that’s not entirely true, the Witchblade armor does protect Sara Pezzini from being naked, but not by much, and it seemingly does nothing to protect her body directly. To be fair, it does give its wearer nigh-invulnerability and super healing, but why does it barely cover them?
At the very least, the fact that the gauntlet is magic explains why the user doesn’t “fall out” of it constantly. Look, there’s nothing wrong with eye-candy per se, but when Sara first used the armor, it probably didn’t instill confidence in her that she was barely covered by it. The payoff to being mostly naked is amazing superpowers, but still…
1. PRETTY MUCH EVERY DOMINO MASK
Domino masks are such a staple of superhero comics because, let’s be real, they’re pretty awesome. Sure, there are more-complicated disguises with more detailed designs, but there’s something to love about the simple domino mask and white eyes. Speaking of that, there never used to be an explanation for the white eyes effect, but Batman comics tend say that they’re lenses, but how do they see out of pure-white?
Eh, whatever, we’ll give that one a pass since it makes superheroes look so cool. What we’re more concerned with is how exactly these masks stay on! Cosplayers usually solve this problem with spirit gum, a skin adhesive, but that would be such an annoying process to through every day for a superhero, wouldn’t it? Not to mention the fact that mask tan lines would be a dead giveaway for secret identities.
Which other superhero costumes do you think are downright impossible? Let us know in the comments!
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