Amid superhero film diversity, exceptional costume design shines. Explore ten superhero suits that outclass their cinematic homes.
In the expansive universe of superhero films, not every cinematic endeavor has managed to earn unanimous acclaim. However, even within the ranks of less celebrated Marvel and DC productions, certain gems emerge in the form of visually striking superhero suits. These suits, donned by characters ranging from stalwarts like Batman to newcomers like Doctor Fate, transcend the films they inhabit, capturing the imagination and leaving a lasting impact. In this exploration, we delve into ten remarkable instances where the costume designers’ artistry has outshone the cinematic backdrop, turning these superhero ensembles into stars in their own right.
Supergirl’s Suit in The Flash
In her brief appearance in “The Flash,” Kara Zor-El, also known as Supergirl, stood out not only for her role but also for her stunning super-suit. The suit featured a striking contrast between red and blue and a sleek rendition of the Kryptonian symbol for “hope,” making it a visually impressive ensemble. What set it apart was the fact that it wasn’t burdened by CGI, emphasizing the value of practical effects over computer-generated outfits.
While “The Flash” had its share of CGI sequences and even an uncanny DCEU cameo from Nicolas Cage, the film’s overall messiness detracted from its potential. It remains uncertain whether Sasha Calle will reprise her role as Supergirl in the DC Extended Universe, but in a multiverse, possibilities abound.
Batman’s Armored Suit in Batman v Superman
One of the most impressive renditions of Batman’s iconic suit came from a film often criticized in the DC Extended Universe, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Despite its mixed reception, the movie featured a memorable sequence where Batman donned an impressive and comic-accurate armored Batsuit. Complete with menacing glowing eyes and lead-lined armor, this suit paid homage to the classic “The Dark Knight Returns” storyline from the comics. While comic accuracy isn’t always the most critical aspect of a film, it was satisfying to see Batman’s suit from the source material adapted so effectively.
The Mighty Thor’s Suit in Thor: Love & Thunder
“Thor: Love & Thunder,” the fourth solo outing for Thor, embraced a comedic tone but sometimes struggled to find the right balance between humor and emotional depth. Jane Foster’s transformation into The Mighty Thor was a bittersweet element of the film, but her character’s superhero suit was undeniably impressive.
The suit featured the classic winged helmet, a more subdued version of Thor’s body armor, a billowing red cloak, and the iconic Mjölnir. Jane’s transition into the Thor mantle was a significant moment in the movie, and Natalie Portman’s portrayal did justice to the character, despite some of the film’s tonal challenges.
Katana’s Design in Suicide Squad
Despite the mixed reception of the first Suicide Squad movie, Karen Fukuhara’s portrayal of Katana and her visually striking costume design left a lasting impression. Katana, a highly skilled hand-to-hand combatant, wields a katana that contains the soul of her deceased husband. Her costume in the film features a sleek red-and-black ensemble, complemented by a menacing mask painted in the style of the Japanese flag. The design effectively captures her character’s unique presence, adding to her appeal even in a relatively minor role.
Red Guardian’s Costume in Black Widow
“Black Widow” may not have been a standout MCU film, but it introduced significant characters like Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova and David Harbour’s Alexei Shostakov, known as “Red Guardian.” Red Guardian is the Soviet Union’s counterpart to Captain America, and his costume in the film reflects his role and origin. The suit is dominated by the distinctive red associated with the Soviet identity and features a white star on the chest, reminiscent of Captain America’s iconic shield. Despite the lack of a Vibranium shield, David Harbour’s portrayal adds depth to the character, presenting a grittier and more ruthless version of the super soldier concept as envisioned by the Soviets.
War Machine’s Suit in Iron Man 2
“Iron Man 2” faced criticism as it navigated the early days of the interconnected MCU. However, one of its highlights was the introduction of War Machine, the militaristic counterpart to Iron Man, worn by James Rhodes. This suit, loaded with weaponry and augmentations, justifies Rhodes’ chosen moniker. War Machine’s initial appearance was teased in the first “Iron Man” film, making his full debut in “Iron Man 2.” The suit’s design may lack a vibrant color palette, but its utility and firepower more than compensate. Notably, the addition of War Machine’s signature shoulder-mounted turret added to the character’s formidable presence in the MCU. Despite the film’s flaws, the introduction of the War Machine suit remains one of its standout moments.
Peter Parker’s Symbiote Suit in Spider-Man 3
Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 3” introduced a unique take on Peter Parker’s character as he grappled with the influence of the Venom symbiote. While this aspect of the film received mixed reviews, one standout element was the transformation of Spider-Man’s suit. The Venom symbiote exchanged the iconic bright red and blue for a darker and edgier black-and-gray color scheme. This new suit, although symbolizing Peter’s “dark side” in a somewhat overt manner, stole the show from the movie’s convoluted plot. It added a visually striking and memorable aspect to the film, helping solidify Tobey Maguire’s legacy as the original Spider-Man, a status he continues to receive respect for, especially after his appearance in “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”
Wonder Woman’s Suit in Justice League
The DCEU’s “Justice League” aimed to bring together its most iconic heroes, similar to Marvel’s “The Avengers.” However, it faced production challenges, leading to mixed reviews and a somewhat unfavorable reception. Despite this, Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Wonder Woman and her iconic superhero suit remained a standout element in the film. The suit, faithful to its comic book counterpart, contributed to the character’s enduring popularity. While “Justice League” faced its share of issues, the wardrobe department succeeded in creating an iconic look for Wonder Woman, adding to the film’s positive aspects, particularly in Zack Snyder’s later cut.
Doctor Fate’s Costume in Black Adam
“Black Adam” was positioned as a film to rejuvenate the DCEU with an anti-hero story. While the film had its shortcomings, the introduction of the Justice Society, including Doctor Fate, was a highlight. Piers Brosnan’s portrayal of Doctor Fate, combined with the sleek and ethereal design of his costume, added a visually captivating element to the movie. Doctor Fate’s blue-and-gold ensemble, complete with the iconic Helmet of Fate, made a strong impression. When Doctor Fate wore his helmet, showcased his powers, and his golden cloak billowed, it created a sense of otherworldly mystique. Despite the film’s issues, Doctor Fate’s costume design and presence helped elevate his character in the eyes of the audience.
Tony Stark’s Hulkbuster Suit in Avengers: Age of Ultron
“Avengers: Age of Ultron” had its share of script and pacing issues, which led to mixed reviews and placed it lower in the ranking of Avengers movies. However, the film did feature a standout moment that stole the show: the introduction of Tony Stark’s Hulkbuster suit.
The movie explored the dangers that the Hulk posed to Earth and his fellow Avengers, which became a central plot thread. This anticipation and buildup led to the highly satisfying arrival of the Hulkbuster suit in Johannesburg. Tony Stark’s genius was on full display as he donned the Mark XLIV armor to confront and subdue the rampaging Hulk. This showdown became one of the movie’s strongest scenes, not only for its action but also for the sheer spectacle of the Hulkbuster suit in action. Despite the film’s issues, this moment showcased Stark’s engineering prowess and the suit’s impressive design, leaving a lasting impression on audiences.