I am a casual sports fan but a die-hard nerd. So, while watching a few games this past week (Go Kings, go!), I noticed the change in jersey designs of some of the teams across various sports. I really began to think about the things I liked and did not like and why they irked me so much, or why they were so cool. Of course, my mind naturally wandered away from sports and back to its normal domain of nerdom and I thought, “which superhero has the best costume? And why?”
Sports teams bank much of their public identity on their merch and the “persona of the costume,” so to speak. In the arena of sport, the uniform really doesn’t do much aside from rally the fans for support and differentiate the players. But in an art-heavy industry like comics, TV, and movies, getting the look to match the character is a key element in that character’s likability and ultimately, success! The costume is as much a part of the hero as the superpowers and personality.
I understand that taste and are is subjective but these are, I think, the best superhero costumes! It may be because of the colors, the pattern, the best representation of the hero, or simply that it looks really damn cool! So without further ado, let’s begin!
Flash is a classic hero with a classic look. I love this costume because it epitomizes what it is to be a comic book superhero. It’s not fancy or over-complicated, has bold colors, simple designs and symbols, and retains some of that comic book fun. Bright red and yellow just convey speed and set a great backdrop for the classic lightning bolt symbol. Yes, it is a little bit silly looking with the lighting bolt ears and the mouth and eye cutouts, but that’s what makes it fun! Lastly, and most importantly, it fits exactly what Flash is – fast!
#5 CAPTAIN MARVEL (new, female)
Captain Marvel has undergone a few looks but I have to say that the new look for female Captain Marvel is absolutely badass. The design is reminiscent of the classic superhero looks of Superman and Captain America while still having some new interesting features. Specifically, the gloves and sash across the waist do a good job to put some functionality and substitute for the classic cape look, while still being bold and a bit needlessly showy. The star nova design in the chest adds just enough to Captain Marvel’s presence and complements her superpowers well.
As for the colors – deep blue, red, and gold simply look great, especially broken up the way they are across her physique. On that note, this costume lets Captain Marvel look extremely powerful and never needlessly over-exposes her feminine features. It strikes a great balance of power, kickass, and female.
#4 IRON MAN
Iron Man is constantly undergoing changes to his look but the base concept hasremained the same – have a really cool suit of powered armor. The red armor plates, the gold, and the glowing chest just give this sense of speed, high-tech gadgetry, and indestructibility that makes Iron Man one of the coolest superheroes out there. As boring as it is to say, it’s pretty hard to not find Iron Man really damn cool. I mean, who doesn’t want an Iron Man suit?
The one downside to his look is the fact that you cannot see his face. It remains stoic and robotic. This is fitting for the high-tech nature of the hero, but it can take away from his personality, which, as we all know, Tony Stark has an abundance of!
#3 CAPTAIN AMERICA
I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of Captain America. However, it is hard to deny that his look is timeless, classic, and probably epitomizes his persona better than any other hero. Sure his costume is a little cheesy and overdone with the patriotism but isn’t that kind of the point? Captain America isn’t just a hero, he is a symbol. He is American pride and heroics personified and his suit lends itself perfectly.
The fact that Cap uses a shield as his “weapon” (yeah I know he uses guns too but hush) perfectly lends itself to his personality. He is about unity, protection, and being a guardian of the helpless and a champion of justice, not vengeance. Overall the ensemble just screams AMERICA as loud and as proud as it can. It’s in your face and it knows it and it’s not afraid… how very American… for better or for worse.
Spider-Man’s costume has a lot going on, but that’s what makes it so great. It looks like the type of thing that a high-schooler would make if they were to come up with a superhero… which just so happens to be perfect! Spider-Man has the right blend of colors, symbols, and character identity which has pushed Spidey’s costume to be among the best.
Again, red and blue just make a really great combo, especially when combined with dark black lines and white accent features. The placement of blue along the legs and arms separates Spider Man from the likes of other red costumes like those from Flash, Daredevil, and Deadpool, which is important in forging his identity and unique look. He gets the effect of having gloves and boots ala many classic heroes but still has a sleek agile silhouette.
Spidey’s mask is another great selling point on his character. It makes him look much more sinister than he really is by excluding his natural mouth and eyes and adding the steep triangular eyes. We know Peter Parker is a fun teenager but when he dons the mask his identity is simply Spider Man.
Most importantly though, is the webbing across his entire suit. This feature puts Spider Man among the top coolest costumes ever simply because it is so immediately recognizable. You could take a screenshot of almost anywhere on Spidey’s costume and be able to to identify it as him with 100% certainty. As for creating an identity on the page, that can’t be beat.
#1 BATMAN & BATMAN BEYOND
Classic Batman is one of those superheroes that just nails it on every level. He’s got the superhero essentials pack: cape, cowl, the utility belt, the chest symbol, and the undies on the outside – and I’ll be damned if he doesn’t look kickass!
Batman is one of those characters that has no superpowers so he has to make up for it in other ways. I think this is why Batman’s costume is so key to his success. He could go for a practical and functional look and essentially just be a vigilante ninja. But a hero is more than his actions. He is a symbol, and his costume helps him accomplish this. His classic outfit epitomizes what it is to be the Dark Knight. He is scary and heroic. He is also dark and brooding. He is a savior to the people of Gotham.
Now, this brings up the Batman Beyond version of his suit which, to me, is probably the coolest superhero look of all time. It cranks up the Dark Knight identity to eleven. He almost looks villainous with his pure black outfit, blood red cape, and red chest symbol. This suit is simple, sexy, and terrifying.
In the show, Terry McGinnins dons the new Batsuit and takes up the mantle as Batman. This little change in personality and physique adds to the effect of the costume, changing Batman’s look from a jacked up old-school bruiser to a sleek, young, and stealthy hero ready to dispense justice throughout the streets of Gotham.
The final good word to say about this version is that it hearkens and respects the original. It keeps the “superhero essentials” and updates them to create something truly badass.
Black Bolt just looks super damn cool. However, he has gone under the radar by many comic book fans. It may just be a little bit too old-school Jack Kirby for audiences at the moment. Not that that’s a bad thing, he just doesn’t have that POW! in your face identity that some others do.
Wonder Woman is about as classic as you can get. However, again, she falls into that old-school look. The boots, the star undies, and the headband. It’s recognizable for sure, but just a little too silly.
Wolverine is always hit or miss. Similar to the other honorable mentions his costume is just a little bit silly. The biggest flaw I find with it is that it seems a little too out-there for someone with a personality like Logan’s. I see the crazy wild appeal of it, with exposed bulging muscles and bestial stripes, but deep down, I don’t think Logan would really wear something like that. As one of my personal favorite superheroes it’s hard so say, but despite the iconic imagery of his look, it is just not quite right for Wolverine.