Supergirl Costume: The Many Looks of the Kyptonian Hero, Explained

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With a 60 year history in the DC Universe, Supergirl has proven herself time and time again as more than worthy of following in the footsteps of her cousin Superman as one of the greatest superheroes on Earth. While maintaining her civilian guise as Kara Danvers, the Kryptonian woman Kara Zor-El joins the planet's superhero community to protect it from various threats as the Girl of Steel.

With such a lengthy history, the character has undergone numerous costume changes across her extensive crime-fighting career, both in comics and on the big and small screen. Now, CBR is taking a look back at Supergirl's long, varied costume history.

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Supergirl Silver Age

First created in 1959's Action Comics #252 by Otto Binder and Al Plastino, Supergirl revealed herself as Superman's teenage cousin from Argo City; a piece of Krypton that survived the planet's destruction. Promising to keep from being a burden to her cousin, Kara takes on the alias Linda Lee and initially makes her home at Midvale Orphanage, occasionally helping the Man of Steel while growing accustomed to life on Earth.

In her original Silver Age design, Supergirl wore a costume with an incredibly similar design to her cousin, with the biggest noticeable different being a short blue skirt rather than blue leggings and red trunks.


Supergirl Bronze Age costume

By the Bronze Age, Kara had very much become her own woman, living and working in Metropolis as Linda Lee Danvers after her adoption by Fred and Edna Danvers several years after her debut. As a firm supporter of contemporary feminist movements, Kara also changed her costume from its initial appearance.

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The blue skirt she had first come to Earth wearing was replaced by red shorts while her outfit was given a plunging V-neck with the iconic crest of the House of El moved above her heart. By the 80s, Kara would add a red headband instead to hold back her permed hair while replacing the plunging V-neck with the familiar House of El crest. This costume swap would take place shortly before the character's eventual death fighting the Anti-Monitor during the Crisis on Infinite Earths.


While other Supergirls would appear following the Crisis and merging of the DC Multiverse, they were all genetic experiments, clones rather than Clark Kent's cousin from his ill-fated home world. In the interim, a new version of Supergirl appeared on Superman: The Animated Series as Kara In-Ze. Hailing from Krypton's sister planet Argos, Krypton's destruction at the hands of Brainiac results in Kara nearly freezing to death only to be rescued by Superman and raised on Earth as one of his family.

Just as Superboy would eventually sport a black t-shirt with the Superman logo, the animated Supergirl would wear a white t-shirt and the Superman logo, while also wearing the familiar red cape with blue shorts. During the follow-up series, Justice League Unlimited, Kara would fall in love with Brainiac 5 and decide to join the Legionnaire in the future.


Michael Turner Supergirl

In 2004, Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner would bring back Kara Zor-El into post-Crisis continuity when a kryptonite meteor was revealed to house a spaceship containing Superman's cousin. Cryogenically frozen for decades, this version of Kara was sent by her uncle to protect the infant Kal-El and veered off course, arriving years later. Despite being chronologically older than her cousin, Kara's lengthy cryosleep makes her a physical teenager when she is first revived.

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Turner's redesign of the character controversially bared her entire midriff despite her age and brought back the skirt. This design would be revised constantly over the years, from changing the color of the skirt, adding shorts underneath, and returning the midriff portion of the costume.


Portrayed by Melissa Benoist, the Arrowverse's Supergirl  also traveled from Krypton to Earth as a little girl to accompany Kal-El. However, she arrived years later after her cousin had already become the Earth's greatest champion, Superman. Raised by scientists Eliza and Jeremiah Danvers with her cousin looking after her, Kara travels to National City, working in the news industry before deciding to become her own superhero, Supergirl, after rescuing a crashing airliner.

An amalgamation of the several of the comic book costumes, Supergirl's Arrowverse outfit has the familiar red cape, blue suit, House of El crest emblazoned across the chest, and knee high red boots but also a bright red skirt. Additionally, the sleeves match her current comic book counterpart coming up to her hands and looping around each thumb.

Saving the day for six decades, Supergirl has been a fan-favorite staple in DC Comics superhero library. Growing from an occasional supporting character to Superman to a full-fledged hero in her own right, Kara Zor-El proves that more than one Kryptonian can inspire others to do the right thing and save the day.

Airing Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW, Supergirl stars Melissa Benoist as Kara Danvers, David Harewood as Martian Manhunter, Mehcad Brooks as Jimmy Olsen and Chyler Leigh as Alex Danvers.

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