Part of the appeal of the character was his awesome costume, which was designed by C.C. Beck. Fawcett's attempt to make Captain Marvel different from Superman was to try to work the magic angle more with their character, as Billy Batson says a magic word, "Shazam!" to transform into Captain Marvel, Earth's Mightiest Mortal. As a result, Beck went for a more ornate costume than Superman's, with a lot of flair thrown into the design. Elvis Presley would later mimic a lot of the elements of Captain Marvel's costume for his Las Vegas show outfits. If your superhero costume is cool enough that the King of Rock 'n' Roll works it into his stage outfits, then we think that merits a high spot on this countdown.
You probably don’t remember the 1974 Sean Connery film “Zardoz.” No one can blame you because the film was a massive flop for the actor. However, the outfit worn by Connery in the film will go down as one of the most ridiculous in cinema history. Coincidentally, that same year, DC Comics decided to debut a new character named Vartox, who looked an awful lot like Sean Connery, probably thinking that sexuality would carry over to comics.
Superman soon had lots of company and lots of competition! What do they have in common? All superheroes have some type of extraordinary power or ability. Their "superpower" can be something they're born with: Superman, Wonder Woman, Thor. It can be the result of an accident or mutation: Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Wolverine. Or, it can be simply a skill they have learned, honed and perfected beyond the average: Batman, Hawkeye. They all have a strong moral code and a motivation to rid the world of some menace.
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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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Just what is a superhero? Before 1917, there was no such thing; or, at any rate, there was no such word. But there have always been heroes, and some of them have had extraordinary powers or abilities. Ancient mythology has tales of Hercules, Perseus, and Gilgamesh. Medieval folklore has Robin Hood, Beowulf and the knights of King Arthur's Round Table. Then came swashbuckling tales such as The Three Musketeers. The common thread was that the main characters battled against the forces of evil. The evil could take the form of monsters, corrupt or criminal humans, or forces of nature.
Sure, critics might say that her barely-there costume was a product of the time. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, comic book fans responded to female characters that were dressed in next to nothing. However, when DC began the “New 52” relaunch, they came under fire from readers with their new version of Starfire. Her already skimpy costume was reduced even more to being almost non-existent. She appeared in a bikini and nude in scenes, and it was almost as if readers were transported back to the mid-‘90s “Marvel Swimsuit Special.” It wasn’t until recently that the character has received a much more appropriate costume.
When he was originally working on Batman for National Comics, artist Bob Kane was thinking of the character as being a brighter hero, with a costume that would have bat-wings. Eventually, Kane brought in writer Bill Finger to work on the character idea and Finger explained to him that they should go the other direction. Finger was a big fan of the shadowy pulp fiction hero, the Shadow, and Finger felt that they should take the character into the shadows with a dark costume and a cape and a cowl to make him look more like a bat. Kane agreed and Batman was born.
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.
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.
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Years later, with Wolfman and Wein now working for Marvel Comics, Wolfman brought the character to Marvel's Art Director, John Romita, who took Wolfman's original design and adapted it into the character that would be known as Nova. Romita reduced the starbursts on the chest to three and added a bit of a starburst onto the helmet. Using bold, primary colors, the Nova armor design was often the most notable thing about the character for years. Even as other characters took over the identity as the main Nova at Marvel, the costume itself remained the same, as it was near impossible to improve on that basic design of Romita/Wolfman. If/when Nova shows up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you can bet that this is the costume we will see.
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.