Thursday, July 11, 2013

Six of one: Gender-swapped teams

A couple years back, a group of world-class cosplayers went to San Diego as The Gender-Swapped Justice League and created a bit of a storm. Now, there can certainly be political motivations behind gender-bending and cross-dressing in the superhero world; projects like The Hawkeye Initiative are a great way to point out the objectification of women in current superhero comics. Today, though, I just want to look at these from a design perspective; switching sexes gives us an opportunity to view familiar costumes with new eyes.

Most of the costumes in the real-life version stuck pretty close to the originals, with just a nod to the gender-swap. I thought Superwoman here captured the essence of the character better than anyone since Chris Reeve.

In the wake of the real-life event, a Parsons student created this illustrated rendition. Vixen (Reynard?) comes off a lot better, as does Wonder Man, with magic comic-book fabric. Interesting that the artist did a little race-switching to match the traditional, non-gender-swapped characters. Oh, and Huntress (Hunter?) and Green Arrow are missing.

Now here's an all-imagination gender-swapped Justice League. Superwoman's cape and emblem look cool, but I am not sure what's up with the petal-skirt; on the other hand, Wonder Man has no skirt, and I liked the look of the Roman pteruges that the real-life character had. Batwoman looks too Batman Beyond, but I really like the track-star Flash. And when did it become convention that all female Martians have red hair? By StockmanArt at deviantArt.

The same artist gave the treatment to The Avengers as well. None of these really work for me, except for Ant-Woman and The Wasp. Cap hardly looks different, Thor is bit too shiny (but there's the pteruges!), Spider-Woman's pony tail looks odd, Hulk looks like She-Hulk on steroids... maybe it's just me.

Young Justice gets the treatment: This illustration is less developed, more a preliminary sketch. A couple of these are funny: gender-swapping Arrowette and Martian Maid is just irony. I like the girl Robin a lot. By another dA, orangyorange.

And here's everyone's favorite mutants. I think this rendition best captures the spirit of the characters: Bobbi's exuberance, McCoy's thoughtfulness,  Scotty's determination - and I just love the way Marvel Boy is posing! The costumes themselves seem to be pretty sweet modifications of the Neal Adams era outfits - I'm not sure about that long skirt on Professor X, but maybe it's just the way she is sitting. This is from Snareser on Project: Rooftop.

1 comment:

  1. Of the gender swapped JLAers in the top photo, Aqualass is the friend of a friend and I'm absolutely taken by how cool the costume looks regardless of gender, but the one that delights me most is Tat Zee as Plastic Lass. ("Ella O'Brien" perhaps? And I'd prefer her hero name be "Plastic Ma'am" but that's not what she went with.)

    The male Vixen is called "Fox" but not depicted here is the bravest gent in the group: the fellow who went topless as Power Boy.

    Funnily enough, DC itself used a gender swapped JLA trope a couple of times, seemingly without any awareness of the fan appeal. A wiser company would seize on this as an opportunity to branch off a new franchise...but DC being what it is, that would be asking a terminally ill doctor to treat himself.