Before I start this list, a few qualifiers: First, this list looks at female superhero costumes (and female villain costumes) specifically. If you want to see our deep dive into horrible superhero fashion, check out the companion article here.
Second, I’m not including costumes that are considered too skimpy or impractical, as we’re talking about characters who fly and lift buses over their heads. The “impractical” ship has sailed. Plus, if we’re being honest with ourselves, we have to recognize that many superheroines started out as nerd-projected sexual fantasies. It’s not something to be proud of, it’s just reality.
Now, here they are, in no particular order, the worst female superhero costumes in comic book history:
1. Wonder Woman’s Bicycle Shorts Costume
Oh, the ’90s … you’re going to be so well-represented on this list. There was a time when Wonder Woman lost her title in a trial by combat to fellow amazon Artemis. So Diana swapped out the iconic bird-bra for a number that looked like a cross between a dominatrix and the toughest girl on the Tour de France.
Gone is the red, white and blue. Instead we have bangs, straps, buckles, bike shorts (yep) and combat boots. Thankfully she regained her Wonder Woman privileges after Artemis was killed in combat. (Don’t worry, she’s fine now.)
2. The Savage She-Hulk
Right out of the box, Marvel Comics’ Savage She-Hulk #1 (1980) features Jennifer Walters turning green and busting through her clothes after a transfusion of her cousin Bruce’s (Bruce Banner aka the Incredible Hulk) blood. During the entire 2-issue run of her initial series, She-Hulk rocks her torn-white-shirt-skirt.
That means that every time Jennifer transforms she just happens to be wearing a white shirt that also happens to be long enough to cover her big, green booty. She must have bought in bulk at the same store where her cousin bought all of his stretchy purple pants.
3. The ‘New 52’ Raven
DC’s ‘New 52’ big relaunch gave us lots of new looks for our beloved classic superheroes. Some were subtle changes (Batman and Superman lost their colored panties), some were improvements (Flash and Green Lantern got some cool armor-esque details) and some were real groaners. Enter Teen Titans’ Raven, one of the worst female superhero costumes of all time.
Instead of the classic, sorceress elegance of her original costume — or even the goth-girl costume from Teen Titans Go! — we have a white (What!? If you call yourself Raven, your color options are black or a navy blue that is so black you can’t tell whether it’s black or navy blue) bodysuit covered with light blue (sigh) feathered armor details, a feather cape and a weird, white feather mask/helmet that covers the top half of her face. Oh, and did I mention permanently bloody, clawed gloves?!
4. Squirrel Girl (First Appearance)
Don’t get me wrong, I like the character of Squirrel Girl and the positive energy she injects into a storyline, but that first costume? Oh, girl, no.
She popped up in Marvel Super Heroes Winter Special in 1991, teamed up with Iron Man and singlehandedly defeated Doctor Doom (yep). Unfortunately she did it in a shapeless gray jumpsuit with brown fur cuffs, leg warmers and a vest. (I always question a hero’s choice to wear the fur of the animal they represent. I feel like it sends mixed signals.)
Oh! She also sports questionable eye makeup and has an orange belt with pouches … filled with … sigh … acorns.
5. Black Canary ’90s Biker Look
This one just kills me. The ’90s strike again when they strip everything iconic away from the original Blond Bombshell of DC comics. No more blond hair, no more fishnet stockings, no more pirate boots and bolero jacket.
She’s transformed from a legendary member of both the Justice Society and Justice League to the angriest hooker at the Shakey’s Pizza on Santa Monica Boulevard. Damn you, ’90s! I spit in your eye!
6. Scarlet Witch Mullet Costume
Another of my personal favorites shat upon by the ’90s. When you think Scarlet Witch, you think iconic pointed headdress, flowing auburn hair and a pink-and-red eye-catching costume. And yet here we have what looks like a slutty cocktail dress over a bathing suit, wrist gloves (with points?!), fold-down ankle boots and a mullet.
Is she a world-famous Avenger or a cocktail waitress at the second shittiest casino in Laughlin, Nevada? Either way, it’s one of the worst female superhero costumes ever.
7. Mutated Wasp
So, in Avengers #393 (1995, of course) an evil, time-traveling, teenaged Tony Stark fatally wounds Janet Van Dyne with an energy blast. Her ex, Hank Pym, rushes her to his lab to try and save her, and she is encased in a mysterious cocoon. The very next issue she emerges in a completely mutated, insect-like body. Even her street clothes had mutated into a fully realized (and hideous) costume.
We’ve got magenta hair in what can only be called a Patti LaBelle-level style. She also has extended finger claws, permanent wings and eyebrow antennae. Her new costume seems to change from panel to panel, but it seems to be a pink, sleeveless body suit with purple armored pieces, an armlet and thigh decoration. Calling it “an eyesore” is a compliment.
8. Original Costume Psylocke
OK, so back before Psylocke was the kick-ass Japanese psychic ninja we all know and love, her original body was that of Betsy Braddock, English society maven. She first joined the X-Men sporting the “Hello Kitty” of superhero costumes.
We’ve got a loosely pulled back schoolmarm “hair don’t” with a pink jumpsuit featuring hip cutouts, puffy off-the-shoulder sleeves with ribbons dangling from the cuffs, similar drapery decorating her calves and a recurring trapezoid symbol/logo/decoration. The whole things says “What not to wear in a combat situation.”
9. Invisible Woman Malice Costume
What happens when the mother of the Marvel Universe gets possessed by an evil entity? This monstrosity, one of the worst female superhero costumes to ever appear on the comic book page.
We’re given a turtleneck that is somehow also a V-neck. We’ve got a “4”-shaped keyhole over her cleavage, not to mention the cutout exposing her stomach. Then there’s the French-cut bathing suit, and to top it all off she’s sporting opera-length gloves and thigh-high boots. All I can think is, “How long does it take her to line up the separated arm and leg straps to match up sooooo perfectly with her gloves and boots? Like, an hour?”
10. Princess Projectra ’70s Costume
Now, this one is my favorite of the category. It’s almost so bad it’s good but still bad (but also awesome). I’m a big fan of the ’70s era of the Legion of Superheroes, so maybe I can’t be objective about Projectra. (See what I did there?)
For starters, the entire front of the red costume is missing and has to be “stitched” together just to keep it on her body, and it features gold trim. Then there’s a series of circular cutouts going down both sleeves also trimmed in gold. She’s got red thigh boots with gold crown symbols — she is a princess, after all — and gold stripes down the middle. All topped off with a hot-pink cape.
She. Is. Letting. You. Have. It.