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Costume Drama: The Highs and Lows of Superhero Uniforms

  • October 22, 2020

Marvel, the other longtime comics juggernaut, had a renaissance in the 1960s, bringing with it flawed heroes and sartorial innovation. Lanky Peter Parker, before he became Spider-Man, initially wore a disguise to save himself from teasing when he accepted a challenge to win $100 if he could survive three minutes in the ring against a beefy wrestler.

Peter soon fashioned his famous costume, which looks like a seamless, full-body suit (think footie pajamas) but is actually separates. In 1984, during an adventure in space, Spider-Man famously donned a black-and-white costume, which turned out to be alive.

The ’60s also brought a sense of egalitarianism in team uniforms. Susan Richards, the Fantastic Four’s Invisible Girl, and Jean Grey, Marvel Girl of the X-Men, wore similar unisex duds as their male teammates.

Hail to their comic book creators, Jack Kirby, for drawing the women as attractive, but not cheesecake (that would come later, by others), and Stan Lee, for coining “unstable molecules,” the material that allows costumes to shrink, burn, stretch and transform as needed.

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