We found out in a hurry after the hit films, Iron Man and Captain America: The First Avenger, that our brand new cinematic heroes were going to need a little help saving the world. That’s why fans were prepared when The Avengers took the world by storm! With a bevy of films under the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this group has become a fan favorite for those watching and wanting to pay homage to them by going in costume. When you can find a friend to go in a Hulk costume or Thor costume we think you’re going to find that your group has the chops to get the job done. And if you have a femme fatale to be the Black Widow? Well, then you’re going to be downright unstoppable in your Marvel costumes!
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For a character who has been such a major part of Batman's comic book history, Catwoman has had a surprisingly unimpressive list of comic book costumes over the years. When she debuted, she was simply dressed in normal clothes, as the name "The Cat" was more general for a thief than anything, and not something that was actually a costume motif. When she then started to reappear as a villain, she went through a few different uninspiring outfits. Then, due to the Comics Code, she stopped appearing in Batman comics period for over a decade.
If you talk to many comic book fans that entered puberty in the ‘90s, they might list Gambit as the cause of their sexual awakening. Maybe it was the Cajun accent? Or perhaps it’s the dark, red eyes? Either way, Gambit will go down as one of the all-time sexiest characters in the Marvel Universe. The character is one of the few on this list with a costume that covers almost his entire body, down to just leaving his face and hair exposed. This modesty doesn’t stop Gambit from being a character that’s known for his sex appeal.
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.
In the late 1960s, Marv Wolfman and Len Wein were two young aspiring comic book creators who self-published their own comic books. In one of them, there was a character named Black Nova, who spun out of one of the stories that they were telling at the time (Wolfman and Wein would trade off issues during their series). They came up with a basic design for the character, including five starbursts on the chest of the character.
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.
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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.
The 1960s Batman TV series helped to identify the fact that a black leather outfit was her best look, but that did not last too long in the comics themselves. Her most famous costume for years was a tight purple outfit designed by Jim Balent. The late, great Darwyn Cooke, however, came up with this brilliant mixture of a functional,black leather outfit that she wore on the Batman TV series and the film, Batman Returns. The use of the goggle mask was also a great touch. Jim Lee was wary of changing looks during his "Hush" series on Batman, but he adopted the Cooke Catwoman design entirely, that's how good it was.
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.
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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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 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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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!