Second only to casting choice in the hierarchy of movie anticipation, judgment and general fanboy buzz is the look of a comic book character. Art is always subject to the interpretations of those involved and sometimes the translation of a comic book character’s look from its pages to the big screen are judged harshly. Are movie studios obligated to be exact to the comic book in every way, for every character? If the costume has been changed in certain storylines or events, which one should be used? As the years have gone by, there have been various adaptations of the same comic book characters on the big (and small) screen. Some looks are considered to be timeless, while others are brought to the drawing board again and again, with varying results. While the list is heavy with DC characters, because they insist on continuing to alter their very classic superheroes for their movies, we’ve also included some Marvel favorites. Read on to find out how their costumes have transformed over the years, from their original iteration in the comics to the most recent version on screen.
While Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Matt Murdock is not very widely accepted as having done justice to the badass character, the suit he wore was very similar to how Daredevil is drawn in the comics, with only minor differences like the sizing of the letters on his chest. The Netflix series took a different story approach than the film, using the first season to establish Murdock as a character by closely tracking his journey from a vigilante in plain clothes to becoming the Daredevil superhero in a well-equipped suit. This version of the suit also hasn’t strayed far from the look in the comics, but it has a more tactical look, like the way Batman’s did in The Dark Knight series. Although they’re currently sticking with the famous red color as the suit’s basis, the look will likely continue evolve as the series goes on.
11. Iron Man
Iron Man is yet another superhero whose suit is very similar to the way it’s drawn in the comics. And because he has, in both the comics and movies, various suits with different purposes and appearances, there are no real grounds to say any of them are inaccurate. Robert Downey Jr. even took on Tony Stark’s goatee from the comics to replicate the look. And as the movie budgets increase, so too does the complex movements and capabilities of each suit, including, as a visual treat, the Hulkbuster, which also appeared exactly as it’s drawn in the comics. Unfortunately, the same can’t exactly be said for all of Iron Man’s villains, like Whiplash, for instance (at least in the movie, we have yet to see this character appear in the show). His appearance missed the mark just a little.
10. Captain America
Steve Rogers gets a new look for every solo movie and Avengers appearance he has. In The First Avenger, he sported a suit that was an homage to the original brightly colored stars and stripes costume he wore in the older comics, which touches on his time as part of the USO. After that movie, the suit transformed into a more modernized and tactical look on screen, losing most of the red from the uniform and saving it for the Vibranium shield. The primary difference between the Captain America uniform from the comic books and his look on the silver screen is how little time he spends wearing the hood in the films. In the comics, artists have played around with texture of Captain America’s suits as well as the shades of blue that he dons, but overall the look from the comics to their movie adaptations has been consistent and complimentary.
At no point on screen has Wolverine’s attire resembled that of his old school brown and yellow suit from the comics, or even the classic yellow, black and blue uniform that was featured in the comics and animated series. The X-Men movies, at first look, attempted to modernize the uniforms, going with a black and yellow color block look for X-Men: Days of Future Past, but somehow Wolverine escapes the uniform after only a brief stint. The Internet has been abuzz over the “leaked” images of what Wolverine’s suit could be like in the upcoming Wolverine 3, a possible throwback to the underappreciated yellow and brown. But with Logan being his own man, his time even in that suit might be limited as well. After all, we suffered through a whole blood-less origin story where he wore little else than a staple white tank top, leather jacket and jeans. Wolverine on screen has yet to look the way he is drawn, aside from the resemblance of Hugh Jackman to the original character, and even that is a bit of a stretch.
Supergirl’s look seems to have changed at the same pace on paper as on screen, with the classic red and yellow “S” on on her chest, along with a blue top of varying shirt lengths, and a red skirt remaining fairly consistent. In the New 52, however, Supergirl loses the skirt for a more streamlined bodysuit, but in the Supergirl series that recently premiered, she’s still sporting the skirt and has added texture to the blue portion of the suit, which adds depth on camera. This is a very similar look to that of what she wore in the TV series Smallville, with the one main difference being that, in Smallville, her costume omitted the “S” on her chest. Perhaps the biggest deviation from Supergirl’s classic suit was in the animated versions of her character, which had her in a white crop shirt sporting the “S” symbol and a blue mini skirt. Overall, though, her look has never radically changed from the comics to the silver screen.
Debuting on the big screen a year apart in Avengers: Age of Ultron and X-Men: Days of Future Past, Quicksilver is the first real character tug-of-war between Marvel Studios and Twentieth Century Fox. His appearance is completely different in each film, mainly because they take place in different eras, but the closest look to that of how he is most often drawn in the comics is in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Like many comic costumes, the Quicksilver suit from the comic books doesn’t fit well into modern times, which is why neither of the films copies the costume exactly. The comic look varies between color block designs, but the signature features of Quicksilver’s appearance are his silver hair and a silver lightning bolt, of which only his hair was adopted for the films.
6. The Hulk
A misunderstood character who is bound to a giant Gamma ray-fuelled muscular figure, the Hulk has benefited over the years from having a minimalist look, or costume, so to speak. He has always appeared the same in the comic books, while movies over the years have altered the original tattered pants from purple to shades of blue or denim. But no matter what the color, there’s no mistaking him when he shows up, from the days when Lou Ferrigno played his impressive muscular self painted green in the TV series, to the CGI versions that followed in movies. Hulk’s look is the only superhero to not only stay consistent on screen, but to stay extremely close to how he’s drawn in the comics.
Halle Berry’s Catwoman had arguably the worst iteration of the character’s costume, especially when compared to that of to Michelle Pfeiffer and Anne Hathaway’s versions (although Hathaway’s character was never explicitly called that.) Catwoman has had various looks in the comic books, including visible stitches in her attire, similar to her appearance in Batman Returns, but generally she wears the tight black suit with the hood and cat ears. Some artists also add thigh-high boots in her modern interpretations, but in the early days of Catwoman she wore a purple double slit dress with a green cape. There was even a green suit once upon a time, which no movie has dare tried to replicate. The popularity of each movie, even Halle Berry’s Catwoman, has solidified her popularity, and because of that no major variations to her costumes have been made.
4. The Joker
Except, perhaps, the finished product of Jared Leto for Suicide Squad, the Joker’s other two major appearances in film have been quite different: Jack Nicholson in Batman and Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. But even though their costumes were different, both nailed the looks and mannerisms of the character and fit in perfectly with their movies. Also, these iterations of the character very closely coincided with modern day Joker, who took on a more serious role after the Adam West Batman days in the 1960s where each character was more slapstick comedy-based. The look of the Joker in the comic books has very often included the purple suit with accents of green in various cuts and styles, sometimes with a yellow vest or shirt and a gag flower, as well as the stark white clown makeup and green hair. While many of these costume elements have been adopted over the years into various versions of the Joker, the one constant element of his appearance on both the comic book pages and on screen is that he is always sharply dressed.
3. Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman is a unique case because she hasn’t seen a lot of real screen time since the Wonder Woman series that ran from 1975-79. There have been plenty of abandoned projects based on her character, but for the most part Wonder Woman has starred in animated series, that is, until the upcoming Superman v Batman: Dawn of Justice movie. In the comics, she’s been drawn consistently with a red and gold strapless top, star spangled briefs, knee-high red boots, gold cuffs and her signature tiara, and has appeared this way in all of her on screen time thus far. But the early images released from Superman v Batman: Dawn of Justice suggest that the movie will do away with the star-patterned bikini briefs for more of a Grecian goddess inspired look.
Like Superman, the Caped Crusader has gone through many revisions for the big screen. His comic book look started out simple and became more complex over time, transforming from gray tights with a black cape and cowl to black tights with a black cape and cowl. And after Adam West’s Batman movie, where he donned a grey tights suit with blue accents, the character’s on screen suit was changed to black and has stayed that way ever since, with the addition and subtraction of accent colors and, for some reason, nipples. Batman’s look varies only slightly in the comics, while his movie costumes have been all over the board with capes being the only thing every suit has had in common.
Aside from Batman, no other superhero has been adapted to screen as many times as Superman. In all of his screen adaptations, Superman’s costume doesn’t stray far from the original design in the comic book: tight blue suit, red ‘S’ on a yellow field, red boots and a red cape. It’s the rest of the smaller details that end up being varied. Even the appearance of the actors who are cast in the role fall in line with the comic version of the character, including the black hair, strong square jaw and, if it can be done, blue eyes. George Reeves practically jumped out of the screen with his red briefs and yellow belt in the 1950s TV series Adventures of Superman. That look stayed consistent through Christopher Reeve’s iteration of Superman in 1970s and 1980s, complete with the signature rebellious curl from the comics, to the not entirely awesome Superman Returns with Brandon Routh in 2006. Henry Cavill’s version of the character in 2013’s Man of Steel is perhaps the biggest variation in Superman’s look to-date, as his suit features a much darker shade of blue with a textured appearance, and does away with the yellow belt and red briefs of old. It’s a more modern look that helps to embody the superhuman strength he is known for.