We’re in the golden age of the superhero movie, with comic book inspired films on track to become the most popular—and profitable—genre that Hollywood has ever produced. With up to six superhero movies hitting theaters every year, from Suicide Squad and Justice League to the Avengers and X-Men, their influence on pop culture is arguably stronger than ever. Not surprisingly, comic book art has been rippling through fashion as well, appearing in the collections of famous designers as well as top streetwear brands.
There’s a natural synergy between the graphic art origins of comic books and streetwear’s inclination toward bold and visually arresting graphic statements. As industry experts have noted, “comics and superheroes have become a perennial source of print and pattern inspiration in fashion, revisited season after season and acting as a complement to core items such as whimsical polka dots, logos, and graffiti art.”
Examples of this influence abound. Suicide Squad fans yearning to rock supervillain Harley Quinn’s style need look no further than Hot Topic’s complete line of clothing and swag including bomber jackets, ballcaps, snapback hats, hoodies, cosplay belts, hair bows, and knee socks. Meanwhile, Stussy and Marvel have teamed up on a series of streetwear collections featuring superheroes such as Captain America, Punisher, Wolverine, Ghost Rider, and the Silver Surfer.
Pop stars have even played a role in the trend. Rita Ora turned heads last year when she stepped out in her latest superhero-inspired streetwear. Her graphic hoodie for Adidas, showcasing lines and bold colors, packed an energetic punch. She was even seen swooping around Paris in an eye-catching crimson outfit, sporting a full red cape reminiscent of Superman’s iconic costume.
The bonds between comic book culture and street culture are also deepening. Last year, Marvel released a series of hip-hop variant covers honoring the greatest hip-hop albums of all time, bringing the storied comic book franchise closer to street culture. Not long after, fans started drawing sketches of what Marvel superheroes would look like if they dressed in streetwear, bringing the relationship between comic book superheroes and street fashion full circle.
San Diego Comic-Con, the nexus of comic book fans worldwide, just wrapped up a few weeks ago. As expected, the big film studios announced a slate of new superhero movies including Justice League, Wonder Woman, Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, and Luke Cage. As this next bumper crop of comic book flicks begins arriving in theaters, it will be exciting to get a glimpse at the new superhero-inspired streetwear creations that appear alongside them.