For any comic book fans, there is an undeniable thrill of seeing some of your favorite characters brought to life on the big screen. How closely a movie character resembles their comic book source can depend on things like the actor who plays the character or the quality of the visual effects. But sometimes, getting the costume right can make all the difference.
It’s not always easy adapting some of the more outlandish comic book costumes to the big screen. The MCU seems to be willing to take the risk in embracing those original character designs and has done a great job creating some classic looks. Check out some of the best comic book costumes brought to life in the MCU so far.
10 The Vulture – Spider-Man: Homecoming
Spider-Man has the best rogues' gallery in the Marvel Universe, and it includes some pretty ridiculous looking bad guys. The thought of bringing the Vulture—an old man in a bird costume—to life in a way that could be taken seriously seemed impossible.
For the villain's design in Spider-Man: Homecoming, they wisely decided to do a mix of realistic updates and nods to the original look. They replaced the bird-like wings with a tech-based concept while finding a reason to keep the feathery neck-warmer. Somehow, this managed to accomplish an effectively frightening look.
9 Black Panther – Captain America: Civil War
The Black Panther costume is a bit unique compared to other outfits. It is not just something the hero wears, but also an ancient and important symbol for Wakanda. There was a lot of pressure for them to get this one right. From the first look we get at T’Challa in his Black Panther glory, it was clear they nailed it.
What could have easily looked like a rip-off of the Batsuit, manages to be its own thing entirely. The suit is cool, intimidating, and regal all at once. Although, we are hoping we’ll get to see him don the costume's cape at some point.
8 Crossbones – Captain America: Civil War
Sometimes the biggest hurdle to overcome with bringing a comic book look to life is answering the question “Why would someone wear that?” Crossbones' look in the comics is a cool look for a villain. But when we first meet his alter ego, Brock Rumlow in Captain America: The Winter Solider, there’s no reason for him to be wearing such a get-up.
When Rumlow is reintroduced in Captain America: Civil War, we get to see a version of the costume that is actually justified. Presenting the design as combat gear with some creative spray paint alterations, it looks great and makes sense.
7 Doctor Strange – Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange’s look is one of the riskiest to pull off out of any of Marvel’s heroes. He inhabits a world of mysticism, so some outlandish costumes are to be expected. But if his look doesn’t make the live-action transition well enough, then we could be stuck with a hero that looks like a children’s magician.
Luckily, Marvel was wise enough to just go for it and recreate the costume quite faithfully. Yes, it looks “out there,” but it's suitable to the world. Also, they had the ingenious idea to make Strange’s cape sentient adding a great layer to the look.
6 Hela – Thor: Ragnarok
While it can be daunting to bring such bold character designs to life, they can also offer some interesting opportunities for filmmakers. Some directors know how to use the strange visuals of these designs to amazing effect. Such is the case with Taika Waititi’s use of the villain Hela.
While Hela has a few different looks in the film, the sight of her in her full antler-helmet costume is unforgettable. This is on full display in the battle sequence between the Valkyries and Hela. It is both beautiful and horrifying at the same time.
5 Captain America – Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America’s costume is one of the most over-the-top of all the Avengers. It doesn’t help that he is also probably the most earnest of the heroes. There must have been a lot of debate as to how to present this design, but in order to do it right, they needed just embrace it.
The costume may look out of place in certain moments, but it works surprisingly well. The movies have been clever in making the costume a symbol rather than a practical battle outfit. And indeed, there's something very special about seeing that costume appear each time.
4 Loki – Thor
Like Doctor Strange and the world of magic, the Asgard realm offers some benefits and challenges with their costumes. The more outrageous looks can be explained, but if something looks inauthentic, the whole world that was created can fall apart. It’s hard to say where the biggest challenge lies, but it’s likely Loki.
The God of Mischief wears the typical Asgardian garbs, which are a cross between cosmic and Medieval. But the helmet is the real test. Those massive horns could have been a distraction, but instead, they help make Loki appear more sinister and powerful.
3 Spider-Man – Captain America: Civil War
The MCU waited a long time to get to play with Spider-Man in their own universe. When the time finally came with Captain America: Civil War, all eyes were on how they would handle yet another rebooted look.
Brilliantly, Marvel went with a classic look, channeling the Steve Ditko era of Spider-Man. The result is a beautiful and fun throwback design that pleased many fans. Some complained about the costume’s reliance on CGI, but that seems to be the norm these days. Plus, they are the first ones to bring the adjustable mask eyes to live action and it’s a welcome inclusion.
2 Vision – Avengers: Age of Ultron
The concept of Vision is hard enough to bring to the big screen, let alone his unusual look. Director Joss Whedon seems to be a fan of sticking as close to the original looks as possible, so he deserves a lot of credit for how good it came out.
What could have been a lifeless CGI creation is made so much more compelling thanks to the practical approach to the android. A lot of this is thanks to the genius idea of having him be played by Paul Bettany, expanding on his voice role as Jarvis. And thanks to a simple sight gag, they even explained the cape.
1 Iron Man – Iron Man
The hero who started it all is appropriately the gold-standard for the MCU’s costume design. It’s easy to forget that the design of Iron Man was very different for big-screen heroes. His robot-like suit could have easily made him look like a Power Ranger if done poorly.
To ensure the design is top-notch, Marvel turned to the genius Stan Winston, the creator of some of the best practical creature and character designs in movie history. The result was a pitch-perfect look that felt real and lifted right out of the comics. Luckily, even through the many Iron Man designs over the years, the look has always remained grounded in the source material.