Caped Crusaders: Re-'fashioning' Superheroes in the Twenty-first Century (Panel)


Cultural Studies and Media Studies / Interdisciplinary Humanities

Forrest Johnson (York University)

Whether in print, film, or other media, the superhero costume invites audiences into another world. From Batman’s cowl to Wonder Woman’s tiara, a superhero's costume creates an ethos that cultivates collective imaginaries of a particular character’s power, their reputation, and their iconography. While heroic dress does not always define the hero, it does play a certain part in constructing the identities of characters throughout time. This panel seeks to investigate and dissect the aesthetics of superhero dress and how their costumes have been adapted for the 21st century. Participants are invited to reflect on the following questions: What role does fashion play in the adaptation and re-imagining of heroes? What current developments, values, fears, and movements are reflected in superhero dress? Is superhero fashion mobilized as an embodied practice? What role does technology play in fashion and costuming?

Through a detailed and specific focus on the costume, panelists are asked to consider the possible topics:

Sexuality and Gender

Queer Studies

Globalization

Nationalism

Identity Politics

Adaptation

Power Dynamics

Construction and Functionality

Papers might focus on comic book adaptations on big and small screens or comic book characters' revival in print.

This panel seeks to investigate and dissect how the aesthetics of superhero dress and heroes' costumes have been adapted for the 21st century. Participants are invited to reflect on the following questions: What role does fashion play in adaptation and cultural translation? What current developments, values, fears, and movements are reflected in superhero dress? How does superhero fashion as an embodied practice work with or against overarching contemporary narratives?