Here at Costume Discounters, we ask the hard questions. And so today, on National Nude Day, we tackle a burning issue on the minds of comic book fans everywhere: Are shapeshifters technically always naked? Mystique. Hulkling. ALL of the Skrulls. They never carry a spare set of clothes for their transformation du jour; the clothes are part of the transformation. What does that mean?
We’ve all seen the X-Men movies. Whether it’s Rebecca Romijn or Jennifer Lawrence playing the ever-captivating Mystique, the powers stay the same: blue scale-like skin turns into dresses, seventies-era pants suits, belts, hats, sunglasses, makeup, and any other piece of clothing or accessory you can think of. As this is the way most shape shifters operate, we can use Mystique as our case study. So are the clothes a part of her, some sort of silk-like skin that’s still attached, or is she, in essence, shedding her skin and forming it into clothes?
First thing’s first: the former idea—still-attached, clothing-like skin—is just plain gross. Under that assumption, layered outfits become billowing folds of skin, and all of the appeal of shape shifting is gone in one fell swoop.
Luckily, we’ve seen shape shifters remove some of the items they’ve crafted for themselves, such as jackets and scarves, which disproves this unsettling theory. Unfortunately, the alternative isn’t much more glamorous.
Shape shifters are still going from a technically nude state to a clothed state. And they’re not conjuring those clothes from the 5th dimension. Which leaves us with one alternative: shape shifters shed their skin to create clothing. Suddenly the snake-like scales of movie screen Mystique make more sense.
“But wait,” you’re saying, “that doesn’t fit with their powers! Shape shifters manipulate their organic matter; they don’t create inorganic objects!” I mean, maybe that’s what some of you are saying? We’re not the only ones who have these conversations, right? Anyway, while the skin shedding theory may seem out of place at first, it fits with the idea of secondary super powers—those abilities that allow a super powered individual to properly cope with and utilize their main power set.
For an example of secondary super powers, let’s look at Johnny Storm (right). His super power is the ability to light on fire. But generating fire is only part of the story. If you or I were surrounded by flame, of our own creation or otherwise, it would burn us up. But Johnny doesn’t just create fire—he’s fire proof. And that extends to every organ and fluid inside his body, seeing as how he doesn’t succumb to dehydration or starvation after a long battle.
Perhaps a more illustrative example is the Flash. In the comics, a villain once nearly killed the Flash not by tampering with his speed, but by removing the force field that protects him. “But the Flash has no force field,” you might be saying. And if we were talking about a conventional, bullet and laser beam deflecting force field, you’d be right. But Flash’s force field is a bit different, serving to protect him from the effects of his own super speed. At the speeds he runs, every bit of dust , dirt, sand, and debris floating through the air would tear the Flash to pieces. His secondary power, his force field, protects him from that.
Which brings us back to our snake-like shape shifters. Their power is to disguise themselves. To do that—to use their powers to their fullest extent—they need to do more than change their skin. They need the clothes to match. This ability to shape and shed skin allows them to truly disguise themselves.
So in short, while shape shifters are likely wearing their own discarded skin, they are not, technically speaking, nude. And if you’re looking for a second skin of your own to wear in celebration of National Nude Day, we’ve got you covered with skin suits for adults and children.
Trust us, it beats shedding.