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Female Superheroes Under the Costume by JohnRaptor Female Superheroes Under the Costume by JohnRaptor
If superheroes really existed, I don't think the female ones would look anything like they're usually depicted in comics. I mean we're talking about women who've dedicated their lives to violent conflict with extremely dangerous people (and aliens, and robots and monsters).

In discussions on this topic, one counter point that is often made is that female superheroes don't need big muscles because their strength is supernatural. That may be the case, but then why does Superman have big muscles?

The scars, of course, wouldn't be there if she had Superman-like invulnerability, but whenever Batman is seen with his shirt off in the comics, he's shown as being completely covered in scars, but I've never seen Catwoman (for example) depicted that way, even though she has a similar history of injuries.

Line art is ink. Color and text is digital (vector).

PS I'm happy to debate the issues raised by this piece, but childish name-calling will get you blocked.

PPS It's been pointed out that my "Chest like a stripper" vs. "Chest like an athlete" comments are a false dichotomy, i.e. some athletes have large breasts and some strippers have small breasts, as well as being disrespectful to strippers. If I were to redo it, I'd replace those comments with something like "Magical anti-gravity breasts" vs. "Breasts that obey the laws of physics."
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:iconhro-talak2:
Hro-Talak2 Featured By Owner May 21, 2018  Hobbyist Artist
Using a hair dryer and flesh-toned make-up can cover up the scars, while a pedicure would remove imperfections on her feet.
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:icondestroyerlove:
destroyerlove Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2018
Damn bitch totally on point.
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:iconwasichuwitko:
Wasichuwitko Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2017
I've seen photos of woman athletes. Some do look quite feminine (as the culture defines it) while being obviously toned. It's too bad that some artists just don't have the time to properly work on panels because they're paid per page.
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:icontoxiczombiespy:
toxiczombiespy Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2017
May I ask why the thousand yard stare I get the bedroom eyes thing but why must she have the dead eyes
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:iconjohnraptor:
JohnRaptor Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2017   General Artist
I figure superheroes see a lot of violence and some pretty horrific stuff in their line of work, so there's bound to be some psychological trauma.
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:icongrisador:
grisador Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2017
To the point that the female hero looks more manly than most :D
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:iconhoney-bunn-boi:
Honey-Bunn-Boi Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2017  Student Digital Artist
This makes a valid point xD
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:iconmechagrim:
mechagrim Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2017
Interesting picture with valid points. But I've seen wave after wave of female super heroes with the muscles of the one on the right combined with the hair and breasts of the one on the left. Most of them I think. In fact, I'd deliberately give her muscles to add to sex appeal and then decide she was a super hero as an excuse to justify it. You're absolutely right about the battle scars though. The short hair, maybe if she's ex army. Aren't superheroes just self appointed thrill seekers rather than disciplined professionals. 1 in 10 female superheroes would have the short hair maybe.
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:iconshane-crown:
Shane-Crown Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
Are we really arguing the realism of superheroes? I get the feminist aspect of making them less sexualized, but 1.) it's not one sided, male superheroes are models too, 2.) superheroes are super, they're supposed to be the next level, of course they look like gods! I dunno, it's just a little irritating when I argue for women's rights and see dumb stuff like this.
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:iconjohnraptor:
JohnRaptor Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2017   General Artist
This cartoon is meant to be more "good for thought," not a commandment of how things need to be done. I'm not arguing that all superhero stories need to be more realistic, but there's room in all sci-fi and fantasy genres for a range of degrees of realism. Compare The Dark Knight to The Avengers, for example, or Game of Thrones to Lord of the Rings. I love them all. Personally, I think that drawing female superheroes to look more like athletes is peak physical shape makes them look more super and next level, not less.
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:iconshane-crown:
Shane-Crown Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
I guess in a sense that makes sense, but in my opinion, I only get upset at characters when what they are is a bad example, not what they look like. Like a damsel in distress (though it is possible to work around that by making the character interesting) or a male meathead. Like, it all depends on certain elements like character and the setting. Something can come off as mean spirited and wrong if you do these elements incorrectly. Like, let's say there's maybe a fan service-y girl in an anime, but then they make her a badass and fun character, then I would defend her. But if she was boring and had no purpose besides fan service, then I would feel that it's wrong. That's just my take on it. But I understand your point.
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:iconjohnraptor:
JohnRaptor Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2017   General Artist
I completely agree that a character's personality and how they're used in the story is more important than what they look like.
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:iconmacabrebeautyrose:
MacabreBeautyRose Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I would point out that most "traditional" male superheroes arn't really covered in scars (though that is mostly a "to taste" thing), same thing on the issue of hair since it is possible to cover and control hair

But to ask a question, should it possible for a realistic female superhero to be "traditionally" beautiful, in your opinion. (Artemis from Young Justice springs to mind).

I bring this up because I prefer lean muscle to bodybuilder physique, even in males.
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:iconjohnraptor:
JohnRaptor Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2017   General Artist
Their powers would determine whether a super hero would get lots of scars or not, if they were real, male or female.

I don't see any reason why a super hero couldn't be traditionally beautiful. There are lots of beautiful female athletes, so clearly being in peak physical condition doesn't preclude beauty.
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:iconmacabrebeautyrose:
MacabreBeautyRose Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
And I agree. Cool beans.
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:iconmadcrazymee:
MadCrazyMee Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2016
so true, same goes with anime, i seen alot of times where the chick has boobs that don't comply to logic but then it fine for males bodies to be logic.
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:iconforester10:
forester10 Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2016
I like the Reality one, just saying.
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:iconjohnraptor:
JohnRaptor Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2016   General Artist
Me too.
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:iconkrontriolle:
Krontriolle Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2016
Because realism exists in stories where people can just hand-beam out ice and fire, without stabbing themselves with the ice, or getting burned by the fire, and all have powers that defy gravity. 10/10.
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:iconjohnraptor:
JohnRaptor Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2016   General Artist
Just because an aspect of a story is fantastical, doesn't mean there can't be realism, or that realism doesn't matter. And there are different degrees of fantasy and realism in sci-fi, fantasy, and even superhero stories. Compare Lord of the Rings to Game of Thrones, for example.
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:iconkrontriolle:
Krontriolle Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2016
But what you don't understand is that more realistic bodies wouldn't make sense, if everything else already resists to be realistic.
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:iconjohnraptor:
JohnRaptor Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2016   General Artist
Not everything else resists realism though. In fact I would say that most aspects of most superhero stories tend towards realism.

Like I said, too, there are different degrees and styles. Take Batman for example. Some versions stick pretty close to reality, eschewing any magical or overtly sci-fi elements, while other have batman battling aliens, ghosts, and mystic monsters, and traveling to other planets and dimensions. And there's room and value for both.
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:iconkrontriolle:
Krontriolle Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2016
True, but the sexy bodies or unrealistic bodies aren't important, when they're kicking asses and saving the day, with power. Wonderwoman's design in JL/JLU, and her strength/how Bruce Timm draws her shows an powerful women, with an showing body. It's all artist interpretation; some artist have covered, some make them stay. But the best female superhero is one that shows skin, but can kick your ass; it shows that, even if she was naked, she's powerful; covered up or not.
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:iconjohnraptor:
JohnRaptor Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2016   General Artist
It may not be important to you, but it's important to some. (Also, if it's not important, why do you care if they aren't sexy or unrealistic?)

In your opinion, the best female superhero is one who shows skin and can kick ass. In my opinion, the best female superhero is one who's relatable, but admirable, with a believable personality, interesting depth, and character development. Depending on the character, that might mean a sexy costume and showing some skin, or it might not.

But this cartoon isn't about costume, primarily. It's about what's under it. It seems to me that a body more like an athlete/fighter would be more realistic, although as some other commenters have pointed out, athletes can have very different physiques depending on their sport.
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:iconkrontriolle:
Krontriolle Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2016
(I never said I care; if anything, the one that seems to care is YOU.)

I was just pointing out that you're trying to find realism in stories full of fantasy. Yes, realism does need to balance out, but not in bodies and outfits. That's the least important. My problem is that you seem to focus on the body, ignoring all character-traits or development, as if fixing the body changes the impact, which is NOT true.
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:iconjohnraptor:
JohnRaptor Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2016   General Artist
You never said you care, but the fact that you're bothering to argue the point at length indicates that you do.

I am trying to find realism in stories full of fantasy, because even the most fantastical stories need to be grounded in reality. Why are bodies and outfits exempt? And I am focusing on the body in this particular cartoon. That doesn't mean it's all I care about, just that it's what this particular piece happens to be about. Also, I disagree that visuals, including body type, don't affect the impact of the story. Of course the stylistic choices in the visuals of a largely visual medium affect the impact.

But go back and look at the cartoon again, and the description below it. I don't actually say anything about changing the way comics are drawn. Rather, I'm showing what I thing female superheroes would look like if they actually existed. Whether or not an artist wants to incorporate that aspect of realism into their work is up to them.
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(1 Reply)
:icongazelam:
Gazelam Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2016
Thanks for the dose of reality! My wife and I cracked up! Personally, I always think of Vasquez from Aliens (Carrie Henn) When I think of a superhero type female. 
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:iconjohnraptor:
JohnRaptor Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2016   General Artist
I love Vasquez!
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:iconheluvzher:
HELUVZHER Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2016
Good thing it's fantasy and not reality then huh.
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:iconjohnraptor:
JohnRaptor Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2016   General Artist
Personally, I'd prefer a little more reality.
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:iconcountrybear316:
CountryBear316 Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2016
I really do like this alot it can be pretty accurate although I will defend comics a little they've been alot better with that the high heels look has pretty much been retired(for the most part thankfully) . And alot not women have been changing to short hai I.e captain marvel, cat woman, wasp eat. Breasts like you said in the description depends soon the woman, along with the eyes but that's more of a if it makes sense for the character thing. But I'll defend the scars thing cause it's not so much a problem with the comics themselves but the artists like I've read bat girls comics where she's both had alot of scars and none it depends on the artists style, time and another reason people don't do scars is if you have to draw the body multiple times you have to match up the scars not only from the new adventures but the old adventures and blah blah blah. But all of this is pretty damn accurate and comics have gotten better with time. P.s. thank you for not being super mean BTW if seen people tear comics apart over this and just trash on them thanks for being nice and respectful.
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:iconjohnraptor:
JohnRaptor Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2016   General Artist
No problem. I'm not mean about it because I like comics too. I agree that it's better than it used to be and depends on the artist.
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:iconokyma:
Okyma Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2016
This is the truth! I'm so happy right now :D
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:iconpogneur:
pogneur Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2016
accurate comparison ! congratulation
i love the both !i 'm a happy man ^^
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:iconselfdefencegirls:
Selfdefencegirls Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2016
I like the fantasy lol...
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:iconarmcannos34:
ArmCannos34 Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wow this is amazing. I'm actually using this as reference for my drawling of a fighter woman. You see I wanted to draw a what-if scenario, where Bulla (Dbz) was a fighter. Of course I new that their went any women who wasn't dainty and I would have to search up one. And it took me a while to find this. It's sad If I think about it, all I wanted to do was to draw a proper superhero of my gender. Of course not only have you helped me, but also my brother in the future as he also getting into drawling fighters. So I thank you. :)
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:iconjohnraptor:
JohnRaptor Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2016   General Artist
This makes me very happy. I'm so glad that my art could help/inspire you. For more good references, you might want to look up female MMA fighters like Gina Carano, Rhonda Rousey, and Holly Holm, especially from just before or during a fight, when they're in peak condition.
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:iconarmcannos34:
ArmCannos34 Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I mean I might try that, but I probably end up just using this. The reason is simple, this is easier to convert to a more anime like style. But that doesn't mean I will ignore you advice, I'll still try but I'm not sure if I will be able to fully use the potential to of this pictures compared to this. Converting stuff from real life can be hard. But anyway, I'm glad your glad.
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:iconraggedyandrew:
raggedyandrew Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2016
Interesting Concept to to think about in regard to female superheroes, thanks
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:iconwhipping-b0y:
WhIppIng-b0y Featured By Owner May 18, 2016  Hobbyist
I like how you made the realistic one to have muscle and appropriate appearance while still looking very much like a female. Some people act like females can only ever look like the fantasy lady there otherwise they'd look like Dwayne Johnson and therefore the fantasy image is the only option available. I've always hated how the females in comics always had the super model "zero waist" bodytype while still supposed to be an athletic heroine.

Even if they have supernatural strength it still looks onesided since every male hero/villain has muscles that make Dwayne Johnson look wimpy (unless they're powers are something else like super genius or something but even then they still have muscles sometimes)

Imagine if all the males in comics were skinny average sized guys while still being all super strong or whatnot; that'd be pretty funny looking seeing someone the size of Orlando Bloom or Tom Hiddleston pick up a car.

Also, what's the difference in their eyes? I've looked at them both and I don't see much difference between them personally :shrug: Also, nothing you put up there is offensive to strippers; anyone who takes offense is just being overly sensitive to nothing.
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:iconjohnraptor:
JohnRaptor Featured By Owner May 18, 2016   General Artist
Thank you. There's not much difference in the eyes as they're drawn. That note is really more of a comment about attitude. I probably could have illustrated it better in a close up, but in a full body picture, they were just too small.
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:iconwhipping-b0y:
WhIppIng-b0y Featured By Owner May 18, 2016  Hobbyist
Ah, I see :D
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:iconsebastianssire:
SebastiansSire Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
This is the truth and she will kick some ass and win hearts. Because she can do her job correctly. 
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:iconjohnraptor:
JohnRaptor Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2016   General Artist
Yup!
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:iconlightsonamara:
LightsOnAmara Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
It is kind of disrespectful to strippers, yeah. But you know that so I'm not going to harp on it.

I love this though! Aside from stripping, I also do ballet among other dance styles and gymnastics and I always tell people that if your super heroine doesn't at least have a body like a dancer than she's not drawn right. Dancers have leg muscles for days, hair that is either short or easily pulled back (none of this prettily framing the face BS), and feet covered in scars and calluses. I approve of this so much!
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:iconjohnraptor:
JohnRaptor Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2016   General Artist
Thank you so much. And yeah, there's a few things I'd change if I were to redo it.
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:iconslyflyspyguy:
SlyFlySpyGuy Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
That's what makes it fantasy.
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:iconjohnraptor:
JohnRaptor Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2016   General Artist
Superpowers are what make superhero stories fantasy. Everything else is optional. Some fantasy is more reality based, with only one or two fantastical elements and everything else being treated realistically, while others are more liberal in their reality-bending.
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:iconslyflyspyguy:
SlyFlySpyGuy Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
True. But many consider Batman a super hero. You place a guy like him in a fantasy setting, the powers don't make the super hero 'fantasy'.  But I wasn't entirely serious with my post.
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:iconjohnraptor:
JohnRaptor Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2016   General Artist
Depending on the depiction, I may or may not call Batman a fantasy. He doesn't have supernatural powers, but some of his friends and enemies do.
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