On Batgirl costume redesign and the validity of “batkevlar”




Okay, see now what I don’t get is people who say they love Babs’ redesign because “finally a practical female costume in comics!!”

Because it’s absolutely true that impractical costumes are a problem that plague superheroines, but this is what Babs’ New 52 costume looked like before they redesigned it:


I’m purposefully using a picture that has her next to Batman – her costume was just as “practical” as his. Full body suit, sturdy-looking flat-heeled boots, no unnecessary details beyond the Bat symbol and cape (both of which Batman has too) – what exactly was so “impractical” about this?

For that matter, this is what Babs’ original Batgirl costume looked like:


That’s from the 1970’s, and her costume looks as practical as can be. Actually, I’d argue that Dick’s the one with the impractical costume, here.

So why are we acting like this is such a big deal that Babs “finally” has a practical costume?! She’s had one since practically the very beginning (once they stopped drawing her original costume with high heels, anyway).

Superheroine costumes are certainly lacking practicality on the whole, but Babs was never really an issue there. So giving her a practical redesign doesn’t really do anything to change the status quo – it just “fixes” what wasn’t broken to start with. Why not give Starfire a redesign where I don’t have to wonder how her top stays on, instead? 

Also they made a huge deal about her new costume not being spandex, but I thought the whole batfam wore kevlar.

It’s not, it was never identified by name, but it’s apparently some sort of next gen bulletproof material, even BETTER than kevlar.


why they would choose to replace that with a cheap $20 leather jacket is beyond me

I don’t think anyone argued Barbara’s current costume was specifically one in a desperate need of redesign (let’s face it, she’s always been the one DC superheroine with consistently full body-covering suit: no cleavage, no 5-inch heels, not even bared midriff).

Her new costume is a breath of fresh air compared to the DC/Marvel female design STANDARDS, not compared to what she wore before.

But as far as the kevlar (or rather “batkevlar”) argument goes, it doesn’t really hold ground when the artist’s attempts at conveying her suit to be armor are so half-assed and inconsistent that the chest piece looks either painted on or too small to wear, let alone breathe in (see: middle images here).


We have a writeup on real-life kevlar armors queued  for sometime later, but, briefly, the point in this context is: you can’t just name it “batkevlar” and expect that no rules of reality should apply to how it looks and works.

Also, what Batgirl’s new outfit is praised for is how it’s not sexualized and how it actually resembles the materials it’s supposed to be made of, not how objectively good in combat those customized boutique clothes will be compared to Wayne Industry’s patented armor.

As for the practicality/protection issue in-story, the creators themselves addressed it best already: the only way she gets stabbed through leather jacket or trips on her laces is if they write her that way, and they won’t.

Does it make sense that after losing her old costume she assembles a new, cheap one, instead of asking Bruce to give her another armor? Yeah, probably not. Especially since she’s a regular human, not a superpowered alien or an Amazon or a magic user that can wear even a skimpy costume without caring for consequences.
But that’s the issue of pulling it off with writing, no different than pulling of the existence of miraculous better-than-kevlar material.

For what it’s supposed to be, the new costume is designed awesomely.