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.
In the mid 1950s, DC had a book called Showcase, which was designed to try out new characters. The first three issues had normal heroes like a fireman and a Navy "frogman." They sold terribly, so DC decided to mix things up and try to bring back superheroes. Artist Carmine Infantino was to design a new look for the Flash and he came up with an amazing look that likely made the book a sellout before people even cracked open the front cover! The sleek, lightning-themed red, yellow and white costume would become so popular that it remains one of the few superhero costumes to simply be brought over into television without massive overhauls to the design. It is just that good. There have been tweaks over the years, like altering the logo on the chest or adding lenses to the eyes in the mask, but generally, the costume remains the same today as it did back in 1956.

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In the mid 1950s, DC had a book called Showcase, which was designed to try out new characters. The first three issues had normal heroes like a fireman and a Navy "frogman." They sold terribly, so DC decided to mix things up and try to bring back superheroes. Artist Carmine Infantino was to design a new look for the Flash and he came up with an amazing look that likely made the book a sellout before people even cracked open the front cover! The sleek, lightning-themed red, yellow and white costume would become so popular that it remains one of the few superhero costumes to simply be brought over into television without massive overhauls to the design. It is just that good. There have been tweaks over the years, like altering the logo on the chest or adding lenses to the eyes in the mask, but generally, the costume remains the same today as it did back in 1956.

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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. 

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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!

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