Friday, November 9, 2018

Bold Fashion Choices--What's With The Masks, Super-Villains?

So, why do super-villains wear masks?

No, seriously.

I mean, heroes I get. You still have secret identities, loved ones to protect, etc.

But villains? Part of the premise of comics--reinforced by the Comics Code--is that the hero wins. Which means the villains lose. And are usually incarcerated.

Which means they're arrested. And fingerprinted. And tried. And jailed (or committed). And even if they're found not guilty, all of that is still part of the public record!

Which means their "secret identities" are public knowledge. Everyone--especially the police and the super-heroes--already knows who they are.

So, for example:

Poor Eddie Nigma has been arrested about a million times. He's been sent to prison and/or Arkham more times than we can count. Everyone knows who he is already. So why the mask?

Ditto Selina Kyle.

She almost always wears a mask.Yet it's no mystery who she is. In the Golden/Silver Age, she was caught and sent to jail quite often. Batman knows who she is. The police know who she is. So what's the point of the mask...other than fashion? Does she really think that Batman will go, "Robin, we can't be sure who that feline-attired burglar is behind the mask this time?"

Sure, sometimes there are utilitarian reasons why you wear the mask. I'm sure Captain Cold would tell you the glasses protect his eyes from the cold he's always projecting.

I'm sure Scarecrow would tell you his mask is doubly utilitarian, both to project fear, and to protect himself from the latest version of fear gas he's spewing.

Of course, there's always the case of villains who haven't been publicly unmasked yet--they still have identities to maintain. Hell, they can still try to maintain plausible deniability, even after Pulitzer Prize reporting identified them! So, yeah, masks make sense, then.

Not to mention, of course, that when others subsequently adopt the identity, it allows for confusion and mystery...

Of course, there are the guys trying to cover up...umm...appearance problems, not identities.

But these 12 time losers?

What's their excuse?

I suppose you could give us a 21st century excuse that technology--cybernetic circuitry in their mask/headgear--allows them to operate their stuff, I guess...?

Or maybe they just think it looks really cool.

As for this guy? Why he wears a mask?

You've gotta ask Kirby...


George Chambers said...

Depends on the character, I suppose. Eddie Nygma without the hideous green question-mark ensemble is just some random guy, and the domino mask is part of that. But Electro would be Electro, regardless of whether he ditched the ridiculous mask or not. Partly brand recognition, partly just holding on to the tropes, and maybe a pinch of cultural inertia, perhaps.

CalvinPitt said...

Maybe it's an attempt for plausible deniability? Riddler can say, "Wasn't me, it was someone else in that mask!" Plenty of dark-haired white guys in Gotham.

Little trickier with someone like Electro who has powers, but even then, there are other villains with electricity powers. Maybe one of them is trying to be clever.

I know Captain Boomerang tried that in Suicide Squad, pulling crimes dressed as Mirror Master.