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.
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.
Not only are they unnecessarily sexualised, they are also extremely impractical in most cases. For instance, why would a female character with no superhuman durability to speak of go into battle with heavily armoured and massively powered opponents wearing what is essentially a bikini? It shouldn't happen, but it does happen in comic books - and it happens a lot. Of course, there are characters whose durability is such that they don't necessarily need to wear full body armour in battle but, even so, revealing 90% of their body is still unnecessary.
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This version of Poison Ivy by Shay Mitchell looks so good that DC should really think of auditioning her for the role if it comes up in any of their future films. She even has the right color of hair and the right type of shoes for this character. The only difference between Mitchell and the Poison Ivy in the comics and animated series is she is more decently dressed. With her beautiful face and stunning figure, she would find it easy to seduce Batman, even if it were just for a brief moment.
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.
While the X-Men's film uniforms may largely be a snooze, Hugh Jackman's Wolverine is about as dead on as Logan could appear on film. Sure, he donned the same plain black leather as everyone else, but before that, Jackman captured Wolverine's logic defying hair, his old-man sideburns, and even his sneer in a way that comic fans could only dream about.
Mike Zeck came up with the actual look and it is a stunning piece of design. All black except for the prominent white spider. Rick Leonardi also did some tweaks to the costume and it soon became the most controversial, yet surprisingly popular costume change in comic book history. Fans were aghast at first but then really started to enjoy the new look. Eventually, the design was adapted for the villain Venom, with Spider-Man returning to his classic look. It is popular enough, though, that it still makes occasional comebacks.
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.
Comic book artists quite often have the same sort of elements pop up in their costume designs. Jim Lee, for instance, is well known for how much he likes to use collars, either high collars or chokers. One of the all-time great costume designers, Dave Cockrum, used so many sashes on his costume designs that he even ended up drawing a cartoon mocking his own overuse of sashes by having a few of his characters pointing out the similarity in their costumes.
Choosing a superhero costume for yourself is always great, but when you can team up with a friend or partner to form a dynamic duo couple’s costume, that’s even better. And when you have a whole group to form a superhero group theme? Well, that’s what we call a force multiplier! If you have a gang ready to unite to save the world (or just to conquer the party) check out these ultimate superhero team looks for a group. When you combine a great costume with great powers, your night is sure to be a success!
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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Hathaway played sly, morally ambiguous cat burglar Selina Kyle (Catwoman) in The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan’s final instalment in his Batman film trilogy. She described the role as being the most physically demanding she had ever played, and confessed that while she thought of herself as being fit she had to redouble her efforts in the gym to keep up with the demands of the role. Hathaway trained extensively in martial arts for the role, and looked to Hedy Lamarr—who was the inspiration for the Catwoman character—in developing her performance.
Oddly enough, this is the second entry on this countdown where a writer came up with a basic design and then John Romita turned it into a classic costume. When he was working on a new character to be a sort of villain (more like an anti-hero) in his run on Amazing Spider-Man, Gerry Conway came up with the design of the character having a skull on his chest. Marvel Art Director, John Romita, who had been working closely with Conway on Amazing Spider-Man, despite Romita no longer actively drawing the series anymore, took that idea and turned it into the famous Punisher skull costume. No matter what else you may think about the Punisher, that skull design is amazing.
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.
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