Change is good, especially when dealing with comic book characters that have been around for decades. Cultures evolve, concepts become outdated, people get bored hearing the same stories about same character over and over – adjustments are needed in all those cases. But change for the sake of change is not always well-received. A certain saying comes to mind: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” This certainly applies to some revisions DC and Marvel have made over the years. Whenever a character is reimagined or revamped, it is accompanied with a new costume to symbolize the differences. Some of those tweaks were the beginning of a new era. But some changes were so completely illogical that it is hard to figure out what the creators were thinking. No matter how big or small the change, if you are messing with someone’s favorite character than you better have a good reason why. These are the 15 Most Pointless Costume Changes.
15. Supergirl’s Knee Cutouts
In 2011, DC Comics relaunched with the “New 52” event in order to help attract new readers. Characters had their backstories, personalities, and appearances altered. When it comes to revamping their female characters’ costumes, more often than not this means one thing: CUTOUTS! Women love cutouts. Just snip a little window out around the cleavage area, and maybe take out some fabric on the sides, or better yet have the entire midriff exposed. In real life having vital organs completely unprotected would be dangerously unpractical for a warrior, but if they have super strength and invulnerability, it’s okay, right? These are strong women in charge of their sexuality, that’s kinda feminist when you think about it, yeah? Okay, one can try to make that argument in some cases. But for Supergirl’s knee cutouts… there are no redeeming qualities. Not only it is unpractical, it is not remotely sexy. What woman wants to show off their knees? Who sees an attractive woman walk by and think “Wow, the knees on that one.” There might be someone out there who does – no judgements intended – but for the most part knees are a thoroughly unsexy body part.
14. Magneto with a Capital M
Magneto’s look is constantly changing, but most of the time he has a few traits that make him identifiable: his helmet, his belief that mutants are superior and must replace humans as the dominant species, and he likes purple – except for a brief, wild time in the ’80s. Marvel was pushing for Magneto to be more of a sympathetic hero. It finally dawns on him that he is a terrorist and he runs off to have an existential crisis. He returns as an ally to the X-Men with a much softer stance on humanity. He agrees to go on trial for his crimes and is cleared because, apparently, the old Magneto was dead. In case that cheesy scene was not obvious enough, Marvel also changed his costume to show that he was a good guy now. They removed his helmet – unnecessary but not too outlandish, he has been without his helmet before. But they also put a giant M on his chest. Maybe because even they had trouble remembering who this was supposed to be and needed a constant reminder that this was, in fact, Magneto. At least they kept the purple though. That’s what matters.
13. Mod Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman’s classic costume remains a hotly debated topic to this day. Some argue that it is demeaning to women, others counter that it is empowering. There have been countless attempts to change up her look. While some were nice and stuck around for a while, she always ends up going back to the classic costume people recognize. During the 60s, the creative team wanted to make Diana more relevant to the decade. She left her Amazonian roots – and costume – behind in favor of a simple dress and black tights/boots. Her crown and wrist cuffs were also nowhere to be seen. Instead of her flashy superpowers, she trained as a martial artist and took on more covert operations. No one would have recognized her on the cover without the title. It proved to be too many changes at once. Fans were not pleased with the changes and she was quickly changed back.
12. Cyclops’ X Visor
Similar to Magneto, Cyclops has gone through several radical costume changes. But there is one thing that had always remained consistent and was used to identify him: the visor he wears over his eyes to prevent energy beams from randomly discharging. The visor did have a fatal flaw – if it fell off or someone managed to grab it off his face – which depended on how secure they were, a few of them were literally like glasses – he had to keep his eyes closed and was rendered helpless like Velma from Scooby Doo. It did not happen very often…but it happened more than it should have. Nevertheless, it was a key aspect of the character so it was left untouched for years. When Cyclops was reimagined as the leader of Uncanny X-Men, the familiar, horizontal visor was gone. In its place was an X-shaped one that crossed over his eyes but managed to shoot beams through the center. At least it was more secured, but it does not make sense. Plus he kind of looks like a Power Ranger.
11. Tim Drake’s Wannabe Falcon Ensemble
Tim Drake was the first Robin to have his own monthly solo series. When he was replaced by Damian Wayne, the character was able to smoothly transition into another ongoing title. In total he had about 20 years of stable monthly titles, relatively consistent characterization, and a solid, loyal fanbase. But it all came to an end during the New 52. Instead of getting a solo title, he was made the leader of the revamped Teen Titans – written by Scott Lobdell. Every single thing about the character was unnecessarily changed: his origin story, his abilities, his personality traits, his relationship with Batman. At one point Lobdell announced that Tim was never actually a Robin, much to the confusion of the fans. But the absolute worst, most unforgivable change was the costume. The name Red Robin was taken as literally as possible and the character was given mechanical wings. Perhaps the intention was to make the character more unique, but it ended up looking like a cheap knockoff of Marvel’s Falcon/a Vegas showgirl reject. He was unrecognizable as a former Robin and looked out of place whenever he stood next to the rest of the Bat-family.
10. The Mighty Thor With His Hammer and… Crop Top
This version of Thor’s costume was a travesty that could only come from the 90s, a tragic time for superhero costumes. The Son of Odin evidently could not commit to going out shirtless or wearing a full shirt, so he compromised by displaying a sliver of his midriff to show off his abs. He was rocking the crop top and high waisted look long before it became the trend among basic girls everywhere. What a fashion icon. Though his shoulder and chest are so broad that it also resembles a sports bra. Then there are the giant shoulder pads on top of that. Not to mention the numerous, random leather straps across his chest, on his forearms, and up his legs. And the chain attached to Mjolnir seems excessive considering he is the only one who can lift it. But the long, glorious, flowing, golden mane is what pulls the whole thing together. Alas, readers were only blessed with this look once before the character rebooted.
9. Black Mass Solstice
Diversity in the comic book industry is a touchy subject. There has been increasing pressure to add more characters with a variety of backgrounds in race, ethnicity, and gender. Unfortunately, attempts to force diversity can end up being just as harmful if they are not written properly and instead fall into old stereotypes and tropes. In 2010, DC introduced South Asian female character Kiran Singh, who could generate strong beams of light and energy from her hands. She took on the identity Solstice and was set to become a regular member of the Teen Titans. Solstice’s personality and powers were fueled by positivity and she seemed to be a great fit for the team. But she had the bad luck of being created right before the New 52. She did appear in the relaunched version of Teen Titans as a living black cloud creature, diminishing the potential impact of her ethnicity. The decision to alter her appearance killed any possibility for her character to develop and wasted a great opportunity. Take some notes from Marvel’s Kamala Khan, DC.
8. Biker Wonder Woman
This was another attempt at “modernizing” Diana Prince during the 90s. But instead of covering her up, they somehow managed to make her outfit even more scandalous. Of all the Wonder Woman revisions, this was probably the most unforgivable of them all. A fellow Amazon, Artemis, was somehow allowed to steal the Wonder Woman title from Diana in a duel; the laws of Themyscira are super inconsistent. As a result, Diana abandoned everything that made her…her, like her costume. She was allowed to keep the wrist cuffs, but there was not a trace of red, white, or blue. It was all black because she was edgy now. She did not fight mythical beings or foreign threats, now she took on street crime. At least the 60s mod version tried to make sense with the decade. This look is straight out of a fanboy fantasy. Luckily, this disaster only lasted six months.
7. Nightwing’s Red Symbol
Compared to the others this may not seem so bad. But it is not about bad costume changes – it is about pointless ones. And altering Nightwing’s signature look for no apparent reason was the definition of pointless. First of all, why change the blue symbol to red? Maybe to make him look more like the rest of the Robins in the Bat-family, since they all wear red…but the point of Nightwing was to make his own identity beyond Robin and independent from Batman. After years of wearing those tiny green shorts and pixie boots, he really needed to reinvent his look. There was a rough patch – such as that disco suit and feathered atrocity he wore in The New Teen Titans – before he blossomed into the Nightwing we all know and all the ladies love. Also why take out the fingerstripes? It is a small detail but the fans definitely noticied it.
6. Superboy’s Tron Bodysuit
Kon-el/Connor Kent was introduced in the 90s, so he had no chance of getting a normal costume. His original look can be used as to define the era. Leather jacket, check. One earring, check. Tiny, round sunglasses, check. Once the world came to its senses, DC decided that Superboy could not be trusted with a costume and had him fight crime in a t-shirt and jeans. Other than the occasional jab from Tim Drake no one seemed to mind. It helped distinguish him as his own character rather than Superman’s clone. It is the look Young Justice chose for their version of Connor Kent – who explicitly states “No capes. No tights. No offense.” But Lobdell threw that out the window when he took over Teen Titans. He insisted that Superboy was not the t-shirt and jeans kind of guy, despite all the evidence to the contrary. It would have been somewhat understandable if Lobdell wanted to make his costume fit in better with the House of El. But he forced Superboy into some weird Tron-esque body suit with red shoulder pads and other random lines running down his body.
5. Emo Superman
It is no wonder Kara and Conner have had such unfortunate costumes. Look at who they have as an example. Superman has been around for a long time and has gone through many radical changes over the decades – which also came with his fair share of terrible costume revisions. Normally the writers at least attempt to come up with some flimsy explanation for the change. This one is arguably the most pointless. His black and silver suit was not for an evil or dark version of Superman like one may assume. It debuted during the iconic Death and Return of Superman storyline. Once he was resurrected, he returned wearing a full black leotard because…death made him somber? The cape was also gone, but he made up for it by adding wristbands, some random utility belt/garter things, and toe armor. He also came back with a mullet. Because 90s.
4. Invisible Woman’s 4 Shaped Cleavage Window
Of all the most pointless cutouts that have ever existed, this may be the worst offender. As the first female superhero created by Marvel Comics, Sue Storm has experienced a long history of sexism. Originally, she was more of a damsel in distress. Over the years her character developed into an active leader and a hero in her own right. However, this took years and had some major bumps along the way. One of the revolutionary things about Sue’s original character was that she wore the exact same blue jumpsuits for nearly 20 years. Until the 90s when, in her own words, she felt like “an old frump” and hacked her costume to pieces. She also became more outspoken against her husband, more assertive as a leader, and more aggressive in battle. The sudden change in her demeanor was because she was possessed by a dark version of herself called Malice. Which begs the question, why did she have to become evil in order to become a more assertive woman? But the more important question is: why in the world did she cut a cleavage window in the shape of a four?
3. Starfire’s Practically Naked Look
The alien princess Koriand’r has never modest. Even the more kid-friendly, innocent version of Starfire in Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans sports a crop top and mini skirt. It is part of her character is to be free and open in all aspects of life. If she finds a man attractive, she makes it known. When she gets emotional, she lets it all out in the moment. Whenever she faced backlash, Kori often criticized earthlings for being too controlled, conservative, and not being genuine to their real feelings. She also mentions how nice the yellow sun of Earth feels on her skin and likes to soak up as much of it as possible; plus, she is quite strong and invulnerable. Following that logic, Starfire’s original risqué costume can be justified. Her redesign in Red Hood and the Outlaws proved that there is such a thing as too sexy. She might as well have walked out naked – that actually would have made more sense than this travesty. Kori was already pushing the boundaries with her original costume, there was no need to push it even further. Fun fact: this was also the work of Lobdell.
2. Remember When Harley Quinn Was a Clown?
Like a harlequin…that was the point of her name, wasn’t it? It’s getting harder to remember. Since her introduction in Batman the Animated Series, Harley Quinn has become one of the most popular characters. DC took note and began using her more often. While this has some positive effects – such creating a character independent from the Joker and, at times, more heroic – other times her character is twisted beyond recognition. Her costume has progressively gotten skimpier over the years. Her resemblance to the clown that inspired her design has also diminished over time, whereas the Joker’s inspiration is generally pretty clear. For many fans, the limit was crossed with the relaunched Suicide Squad. Giant, dyed pigtails replaced her classic tassels. Her skin is pale all over instead of having her white clown makeup contrast with her real skin. She walked around in a ridiculous corset and underwear/shorts outfit that left nothing to the imagination. Even when it snowed. They also made her hammer smaller. Not that a mallet is the most practical weapon in the first place, but it at least made sense with the theme of her classic look.
1. Hawkeye’s Eye Horns
If you have not heard of the Hawkeye Initiative, Google it now – you’re welcome.
Hawkeye is the reigning king of ridiculous costume changes. It gets so bad that at times, it is hard to focus on the story or the character. Was it Coco Chanel who said before leaving the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory? Well whoever designed this outfit needs to take that advice. But rather than removing one accessory, they should take away three. First, the giant H can go; it is easy enough to spot Hawkeye in that eyesore, he does not need a logo. Second, the eye horns on his mask. It is hard to imagine a practical use for those, so they must be purely for the aesthetic. And finally, the halfway attempt at a war skirt. What is the point of an extra scrap of cloth between his legs on top of pants?
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