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Female superheroes and villains costumes aren’t always practical

Walking in heels is difficult enough, so fighting villains in heels seems impossible.

Many female comic book characters, such as Wonder Woman, Hela and Harley Quinn have taken to wearing heels in their film adaptations despite not wearing heels in their comic book versions.

Costume directors have been questioned about the outfit choices and how that would affect the performances of the characters. 

“Few people I know would choose Wonder Woman's wardrobe for a morning run, let alone an encounter with local villains,” Julie White, an associate professor of political science and  director of women’s, gender and sexuality studies, said in an email.

Part of the reason why female superheroes and villains are wearing heels in movies is to sexualize the character, White said.

“Its harder to figure out why Wonder Woman's outfit for any other reason than it sexualizes her,” White said in an email. 

Jack Wallace, an employee at the Wizard’s Guild on 19 W. Washington St., believes having female superheroes and villains wear heels is a part of meeting expectations. 

“I think (wearing heels) definitely sexualizes the characters,” Wallace said. “It stems back to expectations in (the movie industry). There’s a status quo.”

Female characters wearing heels also stems from what people associate with what looks good, Wallace said. 

There are other reasons why costume designers choose to have female superheroes and villains wear heels other than sexualization. 

“I think it’s understandable to view wearing heels for these characters as a possible way to sexualize woman, but I think it’s important for creators of these characters to emphasize the femininity of the characters,” Elizabeth Miller, a sophomore studying media arts and studies, said.

Wallace also believes there is more to wearing heels than the sexualization aspect. 

“At the best, it’s shows a strong character,” Wallace said. “It’s more of a presence and a bonus in height.”

Additional height also gives an advantage to the superheroines and villains, Miller said.

“I think people often see taller people as a stronger presence,” Miller said. 

When it comes to creating costumes for comic book characters, Wallace explained the clothing is all up to the author’s preference. He also believes it is probably harder to draw heels which is another reason why the female characters don’t typically wear them in the books.

“In comic books, you can make a character look however you want,” Wallace said. 

Despite the majority of female comic book characters wearing heels in movies and TV shows, there are a few that do not. 

“I also think that characters like Jessica Jones do a different kind of work, offer a different kind of challenge and make possible different ways of imagining both superheros and femininity,” White said in an email.

With comics, the creators are more focused on making their characters are real as possible, Wallace said. 

“Comics are in a world of practicalism and are more realistic, movies don’t do that,” Wallace said. 


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