Here, we will take a look at the very best of the best when it comes to superhero design. Do note that we are working with at least one major caveat, that the superheroes in question have iconic costumes. It does not do you much good to have a really cool costume if no one knows who you are. As a result, we are heavily weighing in the cultural impact of the costume design when we rank them. Where does a costume stand, historically, within the medium itself? That is one of the most important questions that we address when we start our ranking of the best superhero costumes of all-time.
Namor might go down in history as the male hero with the most revealing costume. Wearing only the tiniest green speedo, Namor is the very attractive mutant who rules the seas. He is maybe the very first comic book “bad boy” dating back to his first appearance in 1939. Now, almost 80 years later, he is still known for his sex appeal, in the real world and the fictional world alike.
Similarly, Gil Kane going for a sleek sort of flight suit look for the Green Lantern Corps costume was a brilliant decision in the late 1950s. Kane's simple but striking design has been so good that it continues to be used by Green Lanterns over five decades later and no one seems prepared to go to a different design any time soon, at least as the base look (many lanterns diversify and personalize their looks now). Scientists and test pilots might not be treated like the heroes they were in the 1950s, but this costume remains timeless.
Pick a random issue of “Witchblade” prior to the last year or so of its run and you’d be hard-pressed to find a cover that didn’t feature the main character sexualized. Obviously, the biggest reason for the sexual nature of the covers is the fact that the character’s costume is basically the most unrealistic armor ever seen. Basically just enough armor to cover her arm, her nipples and only the bare minimum below the belt, Sara Pezzini’s costume is pretty ridiculous. It’s no surprise when most people would define the character based on her appearance than on her actual heroics.
As noted earlier, patriotic-themed heroes were hot in the early 1940s. America was going through a strange period of both isolationism and nationalism at the same time. Americans were really proud of their country, but also didn't want to get involved in the war in Europe. Patriotic-themed heroes captured that feel, by having noble American heroes defeat villains who dared to come over here to mess with us. Things got bolder, though, when Timely Comics introduced Captain America, who broke out of the isolationist viewpoints by having the lead character punch out Adolf Hitler on the cover of the first issue, a full year before the United States actually went to war with Nazi Germany!

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Captain America and Iron Man have no trouble teaming up to save the day, but as we found out in Captain America Civil War , sometimes they find themselves at odds, too. When the threat to humanity is real though, Captain Steve Rogers and billionaire Tony Stark are sure to set aside their differences and suit up to defeat the bad guys. The only question is, are your children ready to do the same? Will they pass muster when they put on their hero costume? Let’s find out by decking them out in one of these red hot Avengers costumes. When Iron Man and Cap hit the scene, they’ll be ready to recreate all of their favorite action sequences. With the Captain boldly holding his shield, and Iron Man ready to fire his repulsor blasts at the baddies, these two are suited and ready. Have them stand in this pose for a really great photo!
Soon, other artists streamlined Shuster's original design and made it look more like spandex. Thus, the classic Superman look was born. This was not just the ideal Superman look, but it became the ideal look for superhero costumes period. The success of this design informed essentially every superhero costume ever to follow after it. For a character as popular as Superman, who has been adapted into so many different forms of media, it is an amazing testament to how good his first costume was that when Action Comics hit #1000, Superman was wearing essentially the same costume that he wore 999 issues earlier.

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When the Silver Age began, there were two particular types of characters who were seen as really cool that no longer get treated the same way in popular fiction -- scientists and test pilots. Scientists were the heroes of every other science fiction comic book from DC and Marvel in the 1950s and 1960s. Reed Richards being a cool scientist was a totally normal thing at the time. Similarly, test pilot Chuck Yeager was one of the most admired heroes in the United States in the 1950s due to his skills as a test pilot. You need to keep those things in mind when you realize how modeling Hal Jordan after guys like Yeager defined the character so much in the late 1950s.
Soon, other artists streamlined Shuster's original design and made it look more like spandex. Thus, the classic Superman look was born. This was not just the ideal Superman look, but it became the ideal look for superhero costumes period. The success of this design informed essentially every superhero costume ever to follow after it. For a character as popular as Superman, who has been adapted into so many different forms of media, it is an amazing testament to how good his first costume was that when Action Comics hit #1000, Superman was wearing essentially the same costume that he wore 999 issues earlier.

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Vampirella is a character that is almost entirely defined by her looks. While she has been in comic book series regularly since her debut in “Vampirella” #1 in 1969, the character has largely been known for her incredibly skimpy outfit. Even in her very first comic, the cover is drawn by the legendary Frank Frazetta and shows Vampirella front and center with her legs spread and one hand placed suggestively on her hip.
When the Fantastic Four were introduced, Marvel was unsure if it was really prepared to transition from doing science fiction and horror comics to doing superhero comics, so the Fantastic Four originally wore just normal clothes. Even in their second issue, the team is decked out in normal outdoor wear. When the series received a tremendous response from the fans, though, Marvel knew that it had a superhero hit on their hands and so with the third issue, so creators and execs decided to give them costumes. However, they wanted to stick with the basic idea that these were not ordinary superheroes. These were sort of explorers more than traditional superheroes, and as a result, Jack Kirby came up with an awesome sort of utilitarian design for their jumpsuits. Famously, the costumes originally had masks but they decided to drop them.

Having played Buffy Summers to an entire generation, Sarah Michelle Gellar is a high school cheerleader (in Buffy the Vampire Slayer ) who is gifted and can fight demons and vampires. For which she won six Teen Choice Awards and the Saturn Award for Best Genre TV Actress and received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actress – Television Series Drama.
Every guy dreams of being a superhero when he grows up, but thankfully there's one day a year you can dress up as one and not look crazy. Finding a kick-ass superhero costume in time for Halloween can sometimes be challenging, but we've hunted high and low to find options that won't leave you looking like a fool at your Halloween get-together. Bam!
Shay Mitchell is an actress from Canada, who is also into modeling, entrepreneurship, and writing. We fell in love with her in her role in Pretty Little Liars as Emily Fields. In Mother's Day, the 2016 film, she played the role of Tina, Henry's very young and good-looking second wife. At first, we wanted to hate her in the movie but we end up falling in love with her.

We might be partial to the Ninja Turtles as our favorite superheroes (it must be the mutual love of pizza), but Michelangelo is definitely one of the best turtles in the gang for his fun-loving and easygoing vibes. Not only does this costume come with the padded shirt, stylish AF shorts, bandana, eye mask, and mock sweatshirt, but they even include the turtle shell backpack! Dude, this costume is seriously awesome. Cowabunga! 
Mystique is one of the most impressive characters in X-Men lore. Hardly is there any other character in DC or Marvel who can match up to her shape-shifting abilities. All mutants in the X-Men movies, cartoons, and publications are special, and although we have labeled Magneto's mutants as the villains, we can all accept that their actions are as a result of human hostility towards them.
Similarly, Gil Kane going for a sleek sort of flight suit look for the Green Lantern Corps costume was a brilliant decision in the late 1950s. Kane's simple but striking design has been so good that it continues to be used by Green Lanterns over five decades later and no one seems prepared to go to a different design any time soon, at least as the base look (many lanterns diversify and personalize their looks now). Scientists and test pilots might not be treated like the heroes they were in the 1950s, but this costume remains timeless.
However, when Wolverine was then chosen as one of the main characters in the All-New, All-Different X-Men to debut in Giant Size X-Men #1, Marvel turned to Gil Kane, who had become a go-to cover artist for Marvel in the mid-1970s, to draw their cover debut. Kane looked at Wolverine's costume and decided to add a cowl to his face mask rather than the whisker look that Romita had on the original costume. Dave Cockrum had drawn the original costume throughout the issue, but after he saw the Kane re-design, he liked it so much that he went back and re-drew it all the way throughout the issue. Almost five decades later, that Romita/Kane design still stands out as Wolverine's most commonly used costume.
When Frank Quitely redesigned the character for “New X-Men,” her costume consisted of an impossibly constructed top that had a huge “X” cut out in the front. The exact physics of the costume were never explained, but it’s clear that the artist was trying to emphasize her sexuality. The costume has since been updated, thankfully, but her sex appeal is still front and center, even today. Just searching “Emma Frost” in Google Images shows you exactly how she’s viewed. There aren’t any panels from her appearances in years of comics. Instead, it’s all sexually suggestive pictures.

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Like most things in this world, superhero costumes did not just pop into this world out of thin air. There was a long history of costumes that predated them and influenced their creation. There was the colorful armor that knights wore in the Middle Ages. There were the fantastical outfits that some of the characters in pulp fiction novels and adventure comic strips wore. Perhaps most notably, there was the over-the-top attire that circus performers wore in the many traveling shows of the early 20th century. All of these previous ideals helped to influence the direction of superhero costumes in comic book history.
Mystique is one of the most impressive characters in X-Men lore. Hardly is there any other character in DC or Marvel who can match up to her shape-shifting abilities. All mutants in the X-Men movies, cartoons, and publications are special, and although we have labeled Magneto's mutants as the villains, we can all accept that their actions are as a result of human hostility towards them.
Harley is one of the most entertaining villains Batman has to fight occasionally, second only to the Joker. She is the Joker's lover and partner in crime, although their relationship is weird on so many levels. Harley used to be a normal psychiatric intern in Arkham Asylum, where she met the Joker and then turned into the crazy person she is today.

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But some female heroes haven’t been so lucky as to get more practical makeovers. Take for example Elizabeth Olsen's cleavage-baring Avengers: Infinity War look, which Olsen says isn't exactly her personal cup of tea for a character wading into battle with Mad Titans. Even she'll admit it's a step up from Wanda's comic book look, but in her words costumes like hers aren't "representing the average woman."
If you ask a comic book fan to name the first thing they would say to describe Emma Frost, odds are it’ll be a physical attribute. Emma Frost’s sexuality has been at the forefront of the character since her early appearances. Before she turned hero and became one of the central X-Men, her stint as the White Queen featured the character in very revealing white lingerie. Even when the character joined the good guys, her “assets” were still on display for all to see.

Witchblade first appeared in Top Cow Comics – an imprint of Image Comics – in 1995. Witchblade isn't actually a character in itself, so to speak - it's actually a sentient supernatural artifact, in the form of a gauntlet, which bonds to its (strictly) female host (the most well-known being NYPD homicide detective Sara Pezzini), providing said host with a variety of powers and a very skimpy costume (in essence, they become the Witchblade as a result).
Harry George Peter was already 61 years old when he came up with the design for the new female superhero that William Marston was planning for All-American Comics, then called Suprema. This was 1941, when patriotic characters were a big hit in comics, so Wonder Woman definitely had a strong Star Spangled Banner take on her design. In the early 1980s, DC Comics helped create a short-lived Wonder Woman charity, the logo of which was the double W's, which led to Wonder Woman adapting the "WW" on her chest emblem. Other than the emblem, the only thing different from her classic look than in Peter's original design is that he had Wonder Woman wearing a skirt instead of short pants.

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In the late 1960s, Marvel wanted to make sure it got control of the name "Captain Marvel" for trademark purposes, so Stan Lee and Gene Colan quickly came up with a character to go with the name. For the costume, creators had him wear a literal Kree captain's uniform, which in this case was a green and white outfit with a little flair to it. It was a decent enough costume for a rank and file character, but it was a weak design for a superhero. Unsurprisingly, the Captain Marvel series was a hard sell for Marvel. Marvel needed to keep it going, though, so the company brought in Roy Thomas and Gil Kane to revamp the series.


There are so many Captain America costumes to choose from, but we say go with the latest and greatest from Avengers: Infinity War. This muscle-chested costume comes with a belt, cool mask, and even 3D boot-tops! You can buy the shield separately, but you know you won't want to lug that around while hitting Halloween parties (unless you're hosting and it doubles as a serving tray). 

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It's debatable whether Brandon Lee's portrayal of James O'Barr's tragic anti-hero would have gone down in history as quite so legendary if the young actor hadn't lost his life during filming, but The Crow's visual influence can never be denied. Translating O'Barr's striking make-up pattern and leather-clad intensity almost directly off the page, The Crow's look was simply so effective as to be almost shocking.
The character of Dawn, as drawn by Joseph Michael Linsner, oozes sex appeal. She’s the goddess of birth and rebirth as seen in various comics since the late ‘80s, but many comic book readers probably recognize her by her sexy clothing and red hair. Almost every cover featuring the character depicts her in assorted lingerie with an emphasis placed on her breasts. Similar to Lady Death, Dawn is probably more recognized from ads in Wizard Magazine than in her actual comic series.
Over the years, though, in an attempt to lighten the character up, the black of Batman's costume became bluer and bluer and during the 1960s, DC even added a yellow oval behind Batman's bat symbol on his chest. In the 21st Century, however, artists have re-embraced that classic design and gone in the direction that Jim Lee took the costume during "Hush," which is to make it dark and have the chest symbol return to just a black one without the yellow oval, which brought a little too much lightness to the design. Frank Miller famously was initially stuck with the yellow oval look in Dark Knight Returns, but then had Batman shot in the chest. When he fixed the costume, the yellow oval was gone for the rest of the series!

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