- The article ranks the top ten live-action superhero movie costumes ever.
- Captain Marvel's suit design remained faithful to the comic and was visually striking.
- Captain America's stealth suit from Captain America: The Winter Soldier is sleek and perfect for stealth missions.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the most iconic and breathtaking live-action superhero movie costumes ever to grace the big screen.
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What Makes A Great Superhero Costume?
A great costume conveys identity, meaning and purpose. Superhero films have become very popular, and without a fantastic suit, fans will easily dismiss a film. Art directors and costume designers agonize over the tiniest detail to meet fan expectations and deliver a stunning ensemble for their heroes and villains.
Film is a visual medium, and an eye-catching suit, whether dark or popping with colour, is essential to film aesthetics in superhero movies. Fans often rage amongst themselves and against filmmakers, debating feverishly for or against a particular costume. Specific creators sometimes reinterpret suits from the comics and remake the film adaptations differently, while others stay true to the original.
A good suit is a brand for a particular hero, and a great suit helps people identify a character, and the unique qualities of that character are embodied in their costume. With these thoughts in mind, let’s rank some of the best live-action superhero movie costumes ever.
10. Captain Marvel
Whether you like her or not, Brie Larson looked good in her suit as Captain Marvel. The suit design remained faithful to the comic, which was a big hit with fans. Early on set photos of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel in her suit worried a few, but by the time we saw her in the feature film, all concern had faded. Captain Marvel’s suit was visually striking with a shiny metallic finish, and seeing the colour change from the colours of the Kree Starforce to the familiar red and blue was quite an enjoyable moment in the film.
9. Captain America: The First Avenger
Some would argue that Captain America’s suit in Avengers: Endgame is his best suit, but we prefer the suit worn in Captain America: The Winter Soldier – known as the stealth suit. The stealth suit is the sleekest of the Captain America costumes, and with its dark navy blue colour, muted silver star and stripes across the chest, it acts as the perfect camouflage for stealth missions.
Cap has a grittier, get-down-to-business look in this suit, and he can get the job done without drawing much attention to himself. The suit captures the “Commander Rogers” persona from Marvel Comics, a time when Rogers was in charge of SHIELD. Rogers also wore this suit in the opening scenes of Avengers: Endgame when the Avengers went to find their formidable foe, Thanos.
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8. Black Panther
The late Chadwick Boseman first wore the iconic suit in Civil War, and what a fantastic debut it was. The suit looked spectacular, all black with Wakandan Vibranium technology infused into it and the ingenious feature of the Claw Necklace that can contain the entire suit as well as cover T’Challa in the Black Panther suit in an instant.
7. Spider-Man 2
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films were groundbreaking in the comic book film genre. As great as they were, they were primarily helped by Peter Parker’s fantastic Spidey suits. The mix of textures combining spandex with more textured fabrics blended classic and modern. Peter’s suit was also a reflection of the character. It was bright and conveyed hope and lightheartedness. It looked flexible and exuded a playfulness and sense of adventure.
Amber Heard may have been drowning in legal woes with her ex-husband Johnny Depp, but appearing as Mera in Aquaman, she looked like the epitome of Xebel Royalty. Fans were initially confused about whether the suit was green, blue, or turquoise, which has to do with how the suit reflects light.
Director James Wan clarified in a Twitter post, “The incredible Kym Barrett designed it with iridescent properties, so the colour shifts with movements and the way the light hits it (from emerald/turquoise green to deep blue). But it’s predominantly green-ish in natural light. ” The suit is stunning, and when paired with her red hair and tiara, the Xebel princess is wearing one of the best superhero suits in comic book films.
Say what you like about Amber Heard’s Mera but she has one of the coolest superhero movie costumes of all time.
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5. Man of Steel
According to designer Michael Wilkinson, Henry Cavill’s Superman suit in Man of Steel is a “wonder of engineering. It (the suit) involves multiple layers: a sculpted chrome muscle suit (because a compression body suit actually flattens out an actor’s pumped-up muscles), then a thin, sheer and 3D-printed chainmail-like blue mesh overlaid with foam-latex shapes. It’s all about building up layers and creating depth,” Wilkinson explains. “It felt like some alien metal, something very strong and powerful,” the proud designer continued.
One look at Superman’s suit shows a lot of thought and work went into its design. The classic colours of red and blue are there but in much deeper tones than in previous iterations. With its clever design, Cavill can display the strength and rippling muscles of the Man of Steel. It is a worthy suit as a modern take on a classic and well-loved character in the comic book universe.
4. Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman’s first theatrical film appearance was one of the most comic-accurate versions of the character. Similarly, her suit is the best we’ve seen worn by any Wonder Woman throughout the lifespan of the character. Gal Gadot looked iconic in her suit, which cleverly blended the classic comic look with the outfit of an Ancient Greek Hoplite. The suit, of course, retains the red and blue colour scheme and eagle emblem but adds knee and shin guards, as well as holsters for Wonder Woman’s shield, sword and lasso.
Wonder Woman has typically been depicted as wearing heeled boots, but director Patty Jenkins felt this did not fit the Greek theme of an Amazon warrior. Therefore, she opted instead to dress her in heeled sandals and leg armour. And to finish off the look, Wonder Woman wears her tiara, which symbolizes her royal status in Themyscira.
3. The Dark Knight Trilogy
Costume designer Lindy Hemming was praised for her incredible Batman suits in Christopher Nolan’s seminal trilogy. Speaking on Batman’s suit in the first film, Batman Begins, Hemming told Empire Magazine that she and Nolan “wanted to make a different kind of Batsuit for Batman Begins.”
Hemming and Nolan took inspiration from military hardware, but the designer also wanted to make a more modern costume.
Hemming improved Batman’s neckpiece in The Dark Knight to make it much more moveable and less stiff. Overall, Hemming’s design is a masterful blend of modern, militaristic design that conveys Batman’s tactical superiority.
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2. Iron Man
In the first Iron Man film, Tony’s Mark III suit is a standout. While Iron Man has had many different suits, this Mark III, with its vibrant red and gold, is one of the best. It symbolizes Stark’s engineering genius and his growing confidence as a superhero. The shiny metallic features are mesmerizing and offer a striking display of functionality and flawless design. More than anything, the armour was a symbol of the MCU and Iron Man and would be the template for all other future designs. As far as superhero movie costumes go, this is one of the best of all time.
1. Batman in Batman v Superman-Dawn of Justice
You can’t talk about the best superhero costumes without mentioning Ben Affleck’s Batman attire in the DCEU. Batman has had many different costumes across multiple films and television series. Batman v Superman took the Batsuit to another level, mimicking Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel. Affleck’s imposing physique is encased in a burly costume that conveys power and grit. Some may not like the bulky costume, but it reflects an older battle-weary Batman perfectly.
Costume designer Michael Wilkinson, who created Affleck’s suits in BvS and Justice League, spoke to Fashionista about their choice for Batman’s costume in Justice League, “We wanted to honour the idea of a grey Batsuit as opposed to a black Batsuit. Batman in the graphic novels is usually drawn with a grey suit with a black cape as opposed to all in black.” The lighter grey in Justice League has a more textured feel than in BvS, but both are outstanding.
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What do you think about the list? Which superhero movie costumes should we have included instead?