The comic book version of Thor has never really been a sex symbol. Sure, he’s incredibly good looking, as the God of Thunder probably should be, but he’s never been viewed as sexier than, say, Wolverine. However, when Thor debuted on the big screen, anyone with eyes saw that Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is most definitely a sex symbol. It’s become so much of an issue that the recent Thor shorts directed by Taika Waititi even poked fun at Thor’s big muscly physique. His looks are so vital to the character that when fans saw his new look in “Thor: Ragnarok,” they obsessed over his haircut more than anything else.

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The former former fashion model and actress, Rebecca Alie Romijn, best known for her role as Mystique in the X-Men films, and for her recurring role as Alexis Meade on the television series Ugly Betty. In 2000’s X-Men Romijn had her first major movie role as Mystique; she returned to the role in 2003’s sequel X2: X-Men United, and again for X-Men: The Last Stand (2006). In these movies her costume consisted of blue wakeup and some strategically placed prosthetics on her otherwise nude body. In X2: X-Men United she shows up in a bar in one scene in her “normal” look, and also in X-Men: The Last Stand, she appears as a dark-haired “de-powered” Mystique.

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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.
Much of the success of the film's visuals owes to the physical performances of the actors in the suits, but even more of it is thanks to the atmosphere and carefully crafted darkness of the film's entire look. Of course, as more live-action Turtles films debuted, their visual language began to skew ever closer to the hugely popular films, cutting their effectiveness. The Turtles received updated looks in the recent Michael Bay produced reboot to wildly mixed reactions.

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It’s hard to believe that a hero that's usually shown not even have normal flesh would be known for his sex appeal, but Colossus definitely is. While he’s been a longstanding member of the X-Men, Colossus has always been known for his massive frame and surprisingly skimpy costume. Unlike other “sexy” heroes known for their bad boy qualities, people are drawn to Colossus because he’s generally really sweet and caring, not only with his affection towards Kitty Pryde but also with his sister Illyana. Even with his sweet personality, comic book fans will probably never forget his “centerfolds” from those old swimsuit issues.
By the end of the 1940s, superheroes had lost a lot of their appeal to the public. National Comics (now DC Comics) went from having dozens of superhero titles to only having a handful. Most of the members of the Justice Society of America fell out of sight in the world of National. Flash and Green Lantern went from appearing in multiple titles to not appearing in any books at all!
Once Superman became a massive success, other comic book companies were quickly trying to do their own versions of the Man of Steel. National Comics (now DC Comics) was quick to litigate, though, when execs felt their character was being infringed on. One knockoff character, Wonder Man, was quickly dropped after National sued. Captain Marvel, however, fared better. While clearly created as an attempt to do its own version of Superman, Fawcett's superhero grew so popular that by 1944, he was outselling Superman even!
Vampirella - a vampire (or at least the alien equivalent), if you hadn't already guessed - is a heroic character who came to Earth when her own planet was dying (at least in her original origin story) and, upon her arrival, sought to protect it from the forces of evil. She first appeared on panel way back in 1969 in a self-titled comic strip in Warren Publishing’s black-and-white horror comics magazine and has gone on to appear in comics published by both Harris Publications and Dynamite Entertainment.

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Everyone, especially in America, loves Captain America. This character, unlike all others in Marvel, was created during the Second World War period to fight against the Axis powers in the comics. Towards the end of the war, Captain America fell through ice and remained trapped and in suspended animation until the military found and revived him decades later. Captain America is one of the leaders of the Avengers and is an amazing soldier, disciplined, and committed to protecting human beings at all costs.
Emma Frost is a mutant in Marvel comic books who first appeared on panel in 1980. Originally presented as a villain, she has evolved into a superheroine over the years. Her powers include telepathy and the ability to turn her body into a diamond form, which obviously makes her incredibly durable and also grants her superhuman strength (though she can't use her telepathy whilst in that form).
Vampirella - a vampire (or at least the alien equivalent), if you hadn't already guessed - is a heroic character who came to Earth when her own planet was dying (at least in her original origin story) and, upon her arrival, sought to protect it from the forces of evil. She first appeared on panel way back in 1969 in a self-titled comic strip in Warren Publishing’s black-and-white horror comics magazine and has gone on to appear in comics published by both Harris Publications and Dynamite Entertainment.
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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Not coincidentally, it also featured the best bat-suit yet on film. It may not have looked quite as definitive in close ups as Michael Keaton's outfit, but it moved more fluidly, owing largely to the suit's increased mobility, and especially coupled with its flowing, shadowy cape, cut the best silhouette of any of Batman's onscreen looks -- sorry, Batfleck.
Artist Dave Cockrum had already famously re-designed most of the members of the Legion of Super-Heroes, giving them modern revamps to their rather staid older costumes. His Lightning Lad re-design was particularly good, as while many of the character got later revamps over the years, Cockrum's Lightning Lad look became a standard one for the character for decades. Essentially, Cockrum was so far ahead of the game that when the team was revamped in the 1990s, his early 1970s design fit right in. While working on the Legion, Cockrum designed a new team of heroes called the Outsiders who were set to team up with the Legion. DC passed on the concept.

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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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