Beauology 101: Crimes Of Fashion


Beau Smith and Melanie Scrofano (Wynonna Earp) One Wrote This Column And The Other Is Just Really Well Dressed.

Beau Smith and Melanie Scrofano (Wynonna Earp) One Wrote This Column And The Other Is Just Really Well Dressed.


by Beau Smith

As a kid I knew that most of the costumes that superheroes wore in comic books would never work in real life. I didn’t care.

The reason I didn’t care was because I was 12 years old and these folks in four color print were mashing the mucus out of each other and busting up buildings like Godzilla on a tour of Japan. You can see my envy. As a kid, I dreamed of doing this kinda stuff every day.

The Invisible Girl-Pretty Practical.

The Invisible Girl-Pretty Practical.


For the most part, there’s not a lot of true stealth and practicality for superheroes and villains. The Invisible Girl/Woman is about the only hero with any true sneakiness about her, and she doesn’t really have to worry about what her costume looks like, although in the 1960s that was about all she seemed to fret about.

In my opinion, I think the costuming is a part of the reason that there weren’t many superhero movies made pre-1980. (Budget and technology were also HUGE reasons.) Back then, there wasn’t much of a way of pulling off gaudy garments and making the viewers believe this stuff could happen. I remember being in 6th grade and watching the famous 1966 BATMAN TV series with Adam West and Burt Ward. I was SO glad to finally have a superhero TV show and I was more than happy to overlook the campy feel, the jokes, and yes, even the look of the costumes.

You Wear It Well. A Little Old Fashioned, But That’s Alright. Batman and Robin, Burt Ward and Adam West 1966 Batman TV Series.

You Wear It Well. A Little Old Fashioned, But That’s Alright. Batman and Robin, Burt Ward and Adam West 1966 Batman TV Series.


I’ll never forget the first time actor, Burt Ward, showed up on screen in his Robin outfit, I thought to myself, “If he was on our school playground in that outfit, he wouldn’t be leaving with his lunch money, only a black eye and a wedgie.” (Remember, this was 1966. Bullying and body shaming didn’t have quite the cultural weight they have today.) Being on TV in the flesh was eyeball proof that Robin wears, and always has worn, an Elf outfit that would embarrass the tree dwelling elves of Keebler.

The Fantastic Four Unity In Uniforms.

The Fantastic Four Unity In Uniforms.


Once again, in my opinion, the most realistic and functional costumes were those of The Fantastic Four. Super-brain, Reed Richards-Mister Fantastic, figured not to waste time and effort with any secret identities, no hassles looking for phone booths to change clothes in and risk being arrested for public exposure. So Reed created costumes/uniforms out of unstable molecules so they could adapt and form any shape the owner found themselves in, such as Mister Fantastic stretching nearly a mile, Invisible Girl turning transparent and her wardrobe with her. The Human Torch could ignite into flames, and The Thing could get by wearing swimming trunks! Not a bad idea at all. I’d sing up with that company uniform.

So, let’s run down a few well-known superhero costumes and see how they rate:

Superman: No mask, skin tight outfit, not a bad idea when you look like he does. The skink tight uniform makes it hard for anyone to grab a hold of you and use it against you. Colors are a bit flashy, but then when you can do all the things Superman can do, who’s to knock your color scheme? My gripe is the cape. You’re just begging for trouble. Someone is gonna grab it, choke you with it, cover your head with it and rain down punches on you like it was a hockey fight in the NHL.

Batman: He roams around mostly at night, so the color scheme is great. Utility belt is very smart! Batman was a Prepper before there was prepping. He can and does carry loads of high-tech weapons as well as some walking around cash. He thinks of everything. The cowl is a bit of a bust. Hard to turn your head, you lack side vision. Needs some flexible changes there. Cape, that’s gotta go, like Superman, it’s a problem waiting to happen.

Captain America. Timeless Togs.

Captain America. Timeless Togs.


Captain America: If you’re gonna wear flashy colors then you can’t go wrong with the Red, White and Blue. It’s never out of style and the design of the costume is flat out brilliant. Protective gloves and boots, high-tech chainmail is all a huge plus against punches, bullets and rough outings in hostile territories. The gloves help sling and catch the shield, which is an amazing piece of gear. Again, the design of his outfit is pure genius.

The Incredible Hulk-Go Ahead, YOU Tell Him His Socks Don’t Match.

The Incredible Hulk-Go Ahead, YOU Tell Him His Socks Don’t Match.


The Incredible Hulk: Come on, when you’re THAT big and THAT strong, who’s gonna argue with purple pants?

Iron Man: In reality, you wouldn’t be able to move well enough in this super suit to really work well. You’d be more of a flying missile or rocket launching tank. The films have shown how it could work and also have made it easier to suspend disbelief.

Doctor Doom-No….Really….I Like Your Cape……

Doctor Doom-No….Really….I Like Your Cape……


Doctor Doom: As much as I love the iconic look, Doctor Doom’s costume is one of the worst in the real world, Clanky, Clunky, and extremely hard to see out of. It also has the much hated cape…with a hood as well. Then again, Doctor Doom is such a badass he could deal with it and make it work.

Wonder Woman WARdrobe

Wonder Woman WARdrobe


Wonder Woman: Although it would be great to see the best looking woman in all comics wearing this outfit, let’s face it, if she got in a tussle with Doomsday costume malfunctions would be a constant. This character deserves better.

Daredevil Team Yellow.

Daredevil Team Yellow.


Daredevil: Original costume was yellow, red and black. That right there tells you that a blind guy made that outfit. Second and current all red costume, still a blind man at the sewing machine. Design is great, but it should be all black.

Power Girl: Her costume IS her weapon…a Weapon Of Mass Distraction!

The bottom of the boot is that most non-super powered heroes like Batman and Daredevil would be dead or maimed a long time ago in a real world. With all the people taking shots at them in chaotic gunfights, snipers, and battles, it would only talk one spray of a 12 gauge shotgun to put these guys in the dirt for good, or lose the use of a limb. I think that’s why some writers are running into problems these days because they are trying way too hard to mix their favorite ultra violent films with the pure suspended belief world of superheroes. If they don’t watch it, sooner or later they will start to lose readers. Things will become so real, the reader is will be reminded that it could never BE real and lose their willingness to suspend disbelief. Today’s grumpy and gritty Batman will become tomorrow’s campy Batman. (Maybe that’s not a bad thing.) Remember, it’s the clothes that make the man, not the superhero.

Dressed for success,

Beau Smith

The Flying Fist Ranch

@BeauSmithRanch at Twitter and Instagram