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Off My Mind: Should Supervillains Wear Costumes?

When they're arrested, their secret identity is revealed so what's the point?

In comic books, a costume can mean everything. For superheroes, it serves as their symbol in fighting evil and sometimes provides them with the anonymity they need to protect their private lives and families. For supervillains, a costume typically serves the same purpose as a ski mask for a regular bank robber. It hides their identity when committing a crime. But when supervillains are apprehended by the heroes and go into custody, their identities become known. What is the point in trying to hide who they are when everyone will already know? 

There are some case where the costume serves as part of the supervillains' schtick like with Rhino or Mr. Freeze. If the world knows than Norman Osborn was the Green Goblin, would it make any sense for him to bother putting on the costume again? 
 == TEASER == 
In a lot of cases, a villains costume is meant to instill fear in their victims. That could be why Hobgoblin is still using his outfit. But when a lesser villain is constantly getting nabbed by the heroes, you would think they'd try to keep a lower profile. There have been stories where a villain has been skulking around only to get grabbed before they can even commit a crime. If a costumed criminal like the walks into a bank in costume, everyone will know what their intentions are. To deal with this, some villains will even try wearing a trench coat over their costume to make it to the front of the bank teller's line. That doesn't always work since their legs and footwear still show and can be a give-away. 
 
I do like the visual of heroes and villains wearing costumes. I think it's come to the point where a costume just isn't practical for the smaller villains. If they have been arrested a few times, their best bet for a costume would be to dress as a normal civilian. Unless they're someone like Vulture, it should be all about subtly. If a villain wants to be successful, they have to stop trying to have a flashy look to act as their trademark. All it's doing is asking for someone to bust them and take them to prison. 
 
Is the day of the costume for villains over or should they wear their outfits with pride?
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Edited by NightFang

Nothing says I'm the villain, then a kick-ass costume!

Posted by Vendel

What's the point in being a super-villain if you are not going to wear a costume? Then you are just a bank robber, not  "THE BANK ROBBER".

Posted by InnerVenom123

That first picture wouldn't last so long with that pose, the rest would have to stop Venom and Carnage from trying to kill each other. 
 
That being said, a cool costume is necessary for any super powered character. . . not to say some can have powers and pull off using just street clothes (Luke Cage, who coincidentally, has a name far more epic than his codename).

Posted by InnerVenom123
@InnerVenom123 said:
" That first picture wouldn't last so long with that pose, the rest would have to stop Venom and Carnage from trying to kill each other.   That being said, a cool costume is necessary for any super powered character. . . not to say some can have powers and pull off using just street clothes (Luke Cage, who coincidentally, has a name far more epic than his codename). "
Also, WTF is Deadpool doing there????
Posted by Sidestep

I think a villain can do whatever they feel like or want.  Some really dont need a costume others probly saves on cleaning bill :)
Posted by FoxxFireArt

I would think it would be akin to branding. The villain gets the rush of seeing how scared people are when they see that costume and know right away who it is. If you weren't an egocentric lunatic, why wear such elaborate costumes to begin with?
 
Could you really call Mr. Freeze's outfit a costume since he needs it to survive. That's more of a necessity issue.
 
This discussion always reminds me of  the campy 60's Batman TV shows starring Adam West. Even at a young age. I thought it was so odd how a villain could walk in somewhere in full costume, surrounded by all their costumed henchmen; and no one reacts to them at all until they start commiting crimes. Suddenly, everyone would get all shocked and scared.
 
Sometimes a masked costume can serve a story purpose. Such as when a villain is thought to be dead, but someone shows up in that costume. It makes you wonder, is that the real ??? or is it someone new behind the mask?

Posted by ComiCCloseup

The villains costumes are for us I mean who's going to be interested in just some dude wearing jeans and a t-shirt NOBODY!!!! The creative design is what draws us in but they must have a deeper meaning behind their madness to keep us coming back for more.
Posted by Inevitable
What are comics characters without costumes ? Nothing. Nobody wants to read a comic book with similar people doing mumbo jambo.
Edited by Illyana Rasputin

They don't want to lose thier street cred.
Posted by Dr. Detfink

Always wanted to see the Green Goblin in a Brooks brothers polo and khakis when throwing bombs.

Posted by Mighty Thorion

Maybe for some Villains putting on their costume gives them the "dutch courage" they need to carry out their ingenious schemes. Perhaps they wouldn't feel comfortable committing their crimes in a regular suit & tie. And how could we tell who the villain was meant to be if he / she had no costume. At least if a costume is worn, the reader can identify the villain - whoever the artist is. If the villain is just dressed as John or Jane Doe, then how is the casual reader supposed to identify him / her?

Posted by kitsuneconundrum

It can all be attributed to psychology. Many villains use their costumes to slip into their bizarre criminal mindset much like how batman is two-faced while in and out of costume. It doesn't really matter if the external viewers know of their identity, all that matters is within the mind of the villain himself. A symbol for them to instill fear, their calling card, an excuse to mask their actions or the subconscious need to hide their faces when they do their thing among many other reasons. These apply for both heroes and villains alike.

Posted by NightFang
@Illyana Rasputin said:
" They don't want to lose thier street cred. "
Yeah and its also the first rule about being a villain. Always have a costume, people well fear you more!
Posted by weapon154

I think it depends on their dignity.

Posted by Theodore
@ComiCCloseup said:
" The villains costumes are for us I mean who's going to be interested in just some dude wearing jeans and a t-shirt NOBODY!!!! The creative design is what draws us in but they must have a deeper meaning behind their madness to keep us coming back for more. "
It works for Lex Luthor, except he wears a suit.
Posted by Mumbles

like when they draw villians in a big group

Posted by Tara_Q

yes, yes they should! for a lot of villains it's what sets them apart from the "common criminal" , at least in the case of the bigger villains. Also, it's part of role for a lot of the crazies, it helps make them the character (not that people like joker and two face really need any help doing that, but they don't wear masks anyway). Even for the smaller villains, it makes them more memorable, I mean really, a guy in a hokey mask isn't going to make much of an impression (at least not in a place like gotham), but someone comes in decked out in a flamboyant costume, they're going to be remembered.

Posted by ComiCCloseup
@Theodore:
In general most have outlandish costumes though.  Superman is also from another planet so a better balance would be someone from Earth who is more normal in dress anyway
Posted by Doctor!!!!!

A villians costume needs to have a function... 
Like sustaining their powers, or amplifying their powers.  
Sometimes their costumes make them more famous over time.
 
P.S. I also love when Villians when they are in a group....

Posted by CosmicSpiral

Most, if not all, supervillains have suger-egos to go with their powers. Costumes are a way of asserting their unique identity and putting that into other people's heads. The smart villains who don't care about making people recognize them don't wear costumes. 

Posted by buhssuht

if they dont have the costume, they r just another thug with some superpower, like some random mutant from x-men.

Posted by CATMANEXE

everyone should wear a costume whenever possible. period.
let your phreak flag fly bay-bays, woooooooowoot!

Posted by Mr. Dead Pool
@InnerVenom123:
Well Deadpool can be a hero or villain just depends on what he's being paid to do.
Edited by IIDEADxPOOLII
@InnerVenom123:
Well Deadpool was seen as a villian at first but after Rob Lifeld was gone he became as an anti-hero.
Posted by N7_Normandy

Tough to identify them without their costume

Posted by FireFlare153
@Doctor!!!!!: I agree. Villians need  costumes to stand a chance against the heroes.
Edited by Moomin123

Supervillains wear costumes because they know they look awesome in them.
Posted by Decept-O

Villains will continue wear their costumes because it makes them feel "special".   
 
Posted by karrob
@NightFang said:
" Nothing says I'm the villain, then a kick-ass costume! "
Yep!
Posted by Video_Martian
@Moomin123 said:
"Supervillains wear costumes because they know they look awesome in them. "
Posted by RaydelFuego
@NightFang:  I whole-heartedly agree.
Posted by thedez

Osborn and Golbin are two diffent personas.  Osborn BECOMES Golbin when he wears the suit (the Symbiotes also fit in this category).   Some Costumes have gadgets or life support (Scorpian, Mr. Freeze, Rhino).  Some hide their identity or to look more menacing (Taskmaster, Cobra Commander).  And some just look cool (Joker).  Some don't even really have costumes per se, just the the same clothes (like Sand and Hydro Man or Poison Ivy). 
 But then there are some that are just dumb looking (Bullseye, Electro, Brainiac)

Posted by Omarfish

I think Taskmaster needs an update on those tighty whities. 

Posted by staceydillon

how would you know they are menacing with out a evil costume. I would not take a normal looking guy in a t-shirt and joggers as a serious villain.

                 VS.
 which of these two man would 
you not let babysit your child ?
Posted by The_Martian

I think the point of the costume is not just from dramatics and sometimes fear, but also just for recognition. If you saw say...Shocker without his mask on, I doubt that most of society would know him by face. But with the mask on, civilians run in fear because they know shocker. It's the same reason why someone like Reed Richards has the alias Mr. Fantastic.

Posted by brc2000

It doesn't always make sense and is usually only for aesthetic reasons, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Posted by Sobe Cin
@staceydillon:  
    The guy on the left. Yeah he may be a smiling and happy go lucky go- but he's the one with the mysterious past. At least with Dr. Doom you know where you stand, the guy outside of Latveria is a bit of jerk, but he at least takes care of the people in his home country.  But I get your point. Rhino, Sandman, Carnage, Lex Luthor, Joker- these are definitily people who should not be around children. Although in the recent Amazing Spider-Man book (where Big Time started) Doc Ock was trying to destroy Manhattan, Sandman was pretty pissed and didn't really want to help because his own kid lives in the city. Such a major conflict in interest, you'd think he'd turn around a become a hero again.
 

@Nobody:  
    When this discussion started, I had a flashback of Shocker during the deadly foes of Spider-man mini series. You saw him several times with out his costume scared out of his mind that either Spider-Man or Scourge (which dates this story) was out to get him. But the moment he put on the suit, he was a whole different man.  
 
As for the rest. I'd actually be interested in reading a comic where the heroes and villains weren't in costume. This of course I think was what made Heroes (the first season) so great, was the lack of costumes on both sides. You could connect with it better.
Posted by AskaniSon295

The costumes and colours of the Villans in comics is what make them interesting If a new villian stops wearing there costume after thier  second appearance than I most likely will forget who the villian is, I would like to see a villian that changes his costume more than the wasp creating the idea that he is several villians not just one.

Posted by The_Warlord

Where can i get a copy of that picture in large?

Posted by Bruce Vain

They should wear their costumes with pride.
Posted by brc2000

If the Average Joe's suspension of disbelief gets to the point where costumed villains no longer cut it, that will probably be the end of superhero comics for me. It seems like a small thing, but interesting villains are what makes be keep reading superhero books. If we only had villains dressed as common mobsters and thugs, then no matter what kind of powers the supervillain had I wouldn't care. Sure I like normal garbed villains like Lex Luthor, Kingpin and Justin Hammer, but it would be boring without our Tricksters, Jokers, Baron Zemos  and Bullseyes.

Posted by Astroknot

i say... whatever makes them feel pretty.

Posted by thelegendred

Some villains are more appropriately portrayed wearing a costume - a prime example would be the Joker. Although on the other hand there are some other villains where a cosume donesn't fit their personality or their caracter like Sabretooth. 
Posted by Fantasgasmic

I think villains wearing a costume is a must. You don't have the same level of fear for "the Green Goblin" as you do for "Norm." It's the difference between villainy and SUPER villainy.  Aside from making the villain a symbol, a costume could be the source of powers, or serve as armor/protection, and it shows the villain's bravado. Obviously, the villain wants to protect his identity from the police, but even if his identity has been discovered, there's plausible deniability; Norman Osborn wasn't the ONLY Green Goblin after all.
 
Granted, I do think costumes should be less garish. Did Sabertooth need the fuzzy collar all through the 90s, and Electro's mask makes a villain with potentially terrifying powers look like something  a child designed... before it developed fine motor skills?

Posted by greenenvy

Even if people now his or her identity it is still there trademark that made them to be and always will be cause it does have to no longer mean there hiding there identity.  I ts still there symbol especially if there still an active super villain. Same thing goes with superheroes etc. Its a superhero/comic fantasy of course they should have costumes still because it would be a turn off or boring to have none costumed heroes and villains. 

Posted by Dark Walker

Would any villain be just as threatening in plain clothes, say like Mirror Master, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Killer Moth, or Magneto.  No, then they'd be just that dude *insert real name here*.  Plus the media likes to put tags on these villains, even in real life.  Jack the Ripper, The Barefoot Bandit.

Posted by Gold Dust Boi

There was a period back in the late 90's-early 2000's where it seemed like they were getting away from the costumes.  Perfect example, right around the time of Onslaught, Thor and Enchantress were sorta seeing each and at the time she wasnt wearing her classic green costume.  Now according to Avengers: Prime shes back wearing it but I find her (and a lot of villains) more convincing when they change their clothes once in a while.  At least with heroes you see them in civilian clothes a lot and then they change to their costumes.

Posted by Deih

Villains shouldn't 'give up' their costume, it's what makes them who they are. It's what makes a villain feared, the recognition in the costume.
 
Nothing sends terror down innocents' spines like the Green Goblin, fully armoured, on his Goblin Glider.
Never..ever get rid of costumes on villains.

Edited by brc2000

 
@Gold Dust Boi said:

" There was a period back in the late 90's-early 2000's where it seemed like they were getting away from the costumes.  Perfect example, right around the time of Onslaught, Thor and Enchantress were sorta seeing each and at the time she wasnt wearing her classic green costume.  Now according to Avengers: Prime shes back wearing it but I find her (and a lot of villains) more convincing when they change their clothes once in a while.  At least with heroes you see them in civilian clothes a lot and then they change to their costumes. "

 
That's because the books usually focus on the heroes. It doesn't mean that they stay in their costumes 24/7. When I read a Batman book I don't want to see Riddler watching TV in pajamas. When the books are focused on villains you see them in civilian clothes.
Posted by Seraphim84

I think most writers are getting better about legitimizing things like costumes and aliases.  I especially liked Spider-man's gauntlet arc for that reason.  In revisiting alotta those villains, we got to see how they had to accept what they were (Rhino) or reinvented themselves while keeping a lot of the same (Electro, Kraven).  And those guys are big enough to not have a costume but still be the threat they always were.
 
I'm sure most everyone would agree that the unshaven, out-of-uniform and sorta unkempt mohawk Gladiator is the best Gladiator.

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