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Art of the Genre: Why don’t they change their clothes?

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 | Posted by Scott Taylor

It would have been great... you have to admit.

It would have been great... you have to admit.

There’s an argument brewing again here at Black Gate’s L.A. offices, and yes, it’s about the Avengers. Ryan Harvey, Mr. Captain America himself, seems to think it’s ok that Black Widow is the token female member of the Avengers in the upcoming movie, while I ardently believe that Wasp should have gotten the nod.

Now that’s not to say there’s anything wrong with Black Widow, or Scarlet Johansson for that matter, but Wasp WAS a founding member of the team and she’s certainly one of my favorite comic book heroines.

There are several reason for this, primarily because she was the very first comic book heroine I had a crush on when I bought my first comic, Avengers #195. But putting first crushes aside, there is another reason I love Wasp, and that’s because she isn’t static.

In the world of animation, be it on TV or in comic books, there is a static formula for most characters involved, the basis of which is uniform. It’s rare that a character gets to change their clothes, and for some reason that always rubbed me that wrong way.

Wasp, however, has certainly had the most uniform changes of any comic book hero ever, and I truly dig that about here because it makes her more human.

I remember watching the G.I. Joe cartoon when I was a kid and thinking, “You know, Cover Girl was a freaking super model and she’s always in the same damn outfit!” And don’t get me started on Scarlet, bless her, because she had to wear the same stupid unitard on every assault. Then there was Lady Jaye who looked great in her army gear but you’d think she might change it up a bit once in a while.


I mean, it’s the same deal for guys too, the Joe grunts always wearing the same stuff day after day after day. I mean can Gung Ho put on a T-shirt once in a while?

Ok, so I was in love with Sheila as well... and this image by Santi Ikari is unreal!

Ok, so I was in love with Sheila as well... and this image by Santi Ikari is unreal!

And look at Captain America, he’s worn the same costume since WWII, and Superman since a decade before that! I mean seriously, do you see guys walking the streets capped with a fedora and sporting zoot suits these days? [Well other than Ryan Harvey that is]

Change it up a little, people. Take a page from Wasp!

I think one of my Top 10 Uncanny X-men comics is #244 where the ladies of the group go for a girl’s night out in a Beverly Hills Mall. Sure, if you read it today its way over the top 80s fashion and hair, but it’s still a change up!

You ever watch Thundar the Barbarian? The guy is walking around an apocalyptic Earth with a fabulous sun sword and yet he wears a fur wrestler’s thong. Are you telling me he can’t find a suit of tactical armor in all his travels or at least a pair of Mad Max shoulder pads? I mean the year is 3994 A.D., someone created a sun sword, and this guy can’t find pants! And don’t get me started on Princess Ariel [no relation to Disney’s redhead who actually has a couple costume changes in the movie] because she wears a one piece bathing suit through the entire series.

Oh, oh, and the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon is the worst of them all! Why? Because I play Dungeons & Dragons and honestly a primary purpose in gaming is GETTING NEW EQUIPMENT! Now I’m all for these kids sticking with their gifted weapons and armor, that’s great, but you’d think in all their adventures that Eric the Cavalier could rustle up a suit of plate, or for that matter how about a friggin horse! I swear to you, if I played a cavalier that carried a shield, no weapon, and no armor save a pair of shin guards I wouldn’t last through the first encounter because even if my shield did protect me from all frontal attacks whoever was playing Sheila the Thief would stick me in the back and put me and the rest of the party out of the collective misery.

And don’t you think it would be great if Albert, aka ‘Presto the Wizard’, might stop pulling rabbits out of his hat and I don’t know, pick up a spell book with Fireball in it, or heaven forbid a Staff of Power or something.

I swore if I ever got to make a series of anything, be it comic or animation, I’d demand that characters actually evolve with costume changes as the series progressed. I guess lucky for Hollywood that’s never happened, but I’m still trying!

Anyway, I’m still upset about Wasp, but even if she was in this new movie I doubt they’d let her wear three different uniforms before it was done so it’s probably best Joss Whedon kept her out of the story. Otherwise, I’m sure I’d find it lacking, just as I do so many of my most nostalgic comics and animation.

6 Comments »

  1. *lol* When I was reading the various Xman comics and Thor I noticed that too. It disappointed me, they did have a lot of wardrobe variety. Though for the xmen, to give it a fair shake, they were supposed to be wearing uniform when training or on missions. Don’t know what excuse Thor’s reason would have been. I just kept picturing a closet full of identical clothing because the alternative was horrifying. I mean *gasp* didn’t they shower and consider hygene? *lol* Of course, I went from comics to Japanese Manga and Anime eventually. Though I am still a fan of Xmen and Thor :)

    Comment by Shadowfox13 - February 22, 2012 3:32 am

  2. Captain America has gone through a number of uniforms. The recent movie did call backs to some of the most popular and a couple of the wackier variants. I did like how they had him wearing vintage suits during his off hours in The Ultimates. Superman has been re-imagined numerous times, he just keeps going back to the old costume like an old comfortable sweatshirt. Though I have high hopes for Jim Lee’s redesigns (for both him and Wonder Woman) in the New 52.

    I completely agree about G.I. Joe. When I was young I thought it was very strange that Snow Job would wear a parka at Joe Headquarters. Even though it appeared to be in the desert. And don’t get me started on Deep Six…

    Comment by darangrissom - February 22, 2012 5:33 am

  3. I remember that at a couple of points during Peter David’s fantastic run on “Hulk” he did reference the purple pants thing.

    He also did a great take-off of the Superman/Clark Kent “secret identity”, by at one point having the Hulk wearing glasses, and Rick Jones pretending not to recognise him until he took them off… one of the greatest comics moments ever.

    I was always a big Avengers fan and did love Janet van Dyne/The Wasp. I think she got through about twelve or thirteen costumes in a ten-year period while most of the others wore the same outfit (Iron Man updated his armour fairly regularly though he kept the same basic red/gold pattern the great majority of the time).

    I figure they didn’t want to have to add completely new characters to the Avengers movie, or have to explain any more superpowers (Black Widow and Hawkeye have already appeared and are pretty much established as non-powered characters).

    Comment by tchernabyelo - February 22, 2012 11:48 am

  4. ShadowFox: Yep, they do change once in a while, but for me, I guess I wanted additional equipment.

    Comment by Scott Taylor - February 23, 2012 12:56 am

  5. Daran: Sure, I paint with a broad brush, but it’s funnier that way. You know, during the mid-80s I think Thor put on plate armor so he could do unfettered might with his hammer. That was a pretty cool change.

    Comment by Scott Taylor - February 23, 2012 12:58 am

  6. Tchernabyelo: Makes sense about Wasp, but it doesn’t make it easier since I’m such a fan 😉

    Comment by Scott Taylor - February 23, 2012 12:59 am


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