Despite the DC Extended Universe's divisive critical reception, it manages to distinguish itself with an infamously dark and gritty visual aesthetic. Not every film in the franchise looks this way, but in comparison to the Marvel Cinematic Universe — their biggest competitor — the DCEU is the visually edgier superhero brand.
Regardless of whether or not we agree with the DCEU's mixed to negative reception, we're willing to admit that the character designs aren't always that great. Sometimes they are absolutely stunning, and sometimes they leave us scratching our heads. Thankfully though, for every visual disappointment, there is a creative and talented fan to provide an alternative. For this list, we've compiled some of the best DC fan art out there - specifically some wild character redesigns for some of the most popular DC heroes and villains.
We're not saying the visuals in DCEU films are necessarily the "wrong" choices. We're simply looking to spotlight some talented artists and DC fans that have unique interpretations of these legendary characters. Like we said, sometimes the visual designs are stunning... but it wouldn't hurt DC to give some of these artists a call.
Here are 17 Crazy DC Fan Redesigns Better Than The Movies.
17 The Bat-Exosuit
One of the best costume designs in the DCEU is Ben Affleck's Bat-armor. Regardless of how you may feel about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the armored batsuit looks pretty fantastic. However, if the slow, hulking suit didn't work for you (or if you aren't a fan of The Dark Knight Returns), this redesign by ISIKOL is a cool twist on the concept. The artists dubs it "Batman 2046."
This vibrant, hi-tech take on armored Batman is reminiscent of a run from the New 52, where Commissioner Gordon took up the Bat-mantle in giant robotic blue suit. It's certainly not a traditional look for the Caped Crusader, but it's a bit more state-of-the-art than the Frank Miller-inspired suit in Batman v Superman. It would provide the protection Batman would need from a Kryptonian enemy, and it even comes with huge gun — so the excessively murderous DCEU Batman should feel right at home.
16 Cyberpunk Wonder Woman
We should start off by saying that Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman costume is amazing — the Amazonian armor has never been realized so well on-screen before, and we can't say that we'd be happy replacing it. However, if she ever needed an upgrade, artist Tyler Ryan might have the right idea with his redesign of Diana Prince.
Created with the Injustice: Gods Among Us comic and video game in mind, this is a more modern, streamlined interpretation of Diana's classic costume with some sci-fi influences. Here, she wears a bodysuit underneath the sleeker armor, as well as some protective padding on her legs and abdomen. Of course, it still bears her red, blue, and gold color scheme as well as her iconic gauntlets and tiara.
It might be a bit divergent from her fantasy roots, but it's a refreshing update to her design and perfect for a fighting game like Injustice. We highly suggest checking out the artist's link as well for more variations on this design, including one with some Tron-like neon accents.
15 Truth, Justice, and Saturation
Like the franchise itself, Man of Steel left audiences divided — largely because of its surprisingly grim tone for a film about the world's greatest hero. This was reflected in the cold color palette and costume design, specifically with Henry Cavill's dull suit. Since the DCEU's Superman didn't offer much hope (visually or narratively), this redesign by Ogi Grujic might restore your faith in the blue boy scout.
Simple yet effective, this suit is reflects Superman's classic look with slight twists. Much like the New 52 design, it sports a collar and trades the red underwear for red body accents. It also redesigns his symbol, making it slightly offset from its background. Most importantly though, it actually has some color to it!
It may not gel with Zack Snyder's gloomy visuals, but it certainly resembles Superman more than the outfit in Man of Steel. While Justice League decided to brighten up his costume (and everything else), the change seems reactionary and way too late. At least he's finally the Superman we know and love?
14 Authentic Flash
Ezra Miller's portrayal of the Flash is still new to superheroism. In Justice League, he's barely an adept runner — even tripping over his own feet. While a comic-accurate skintight suit might look a bit out-of-place this early in Flash's career, this redesign by Guy Borraine Jr. is even better than Barry Allen's homemade NASA suit.
It's slimmer, sleeker, and a bit more reminiscent of comic book Flash than a patchwork costume of space shuttle paneling. Plus, that visor would make perfect sense — we wouldn't want any squashed bugs on our face either. Admittedly, the narrative justification for his NASA suit to look the way it does is a nice touch, but it still seems off. It works for Justice League, but we wouldn't be surprised if Flash's next suit looked something like this — especially since his solo film will involve the Flashpoint story arc.
13 Bronze Age Cyborg
Cyborg has had quite a few looks over the years; each one differing in the amount and prominence of his technological enhancements. The DCEU has always portrayed him with lots of large, jagged metal pieces. If the CGI metal seems a bit excessive, (and at times, it does), then Lewis Fischer's redesigns are just the right amount of retro.
Resembling many of Cyborg's early comic book appearances, the full metal body is swapped for a dark bodysuit/tank top that both simplifies the armor's intricacies and retains the signature look of the character. This could also allow for a physical costume with practical effects, instead of a CGI one that risks being a distracting eyesore. This simpler look has stood the test of time, and it may have even lightened the weight of Justice League's inflated budget issues.
12 Aquaman's Aqua-netic Arm
Jason Momoa may not have much screen time in Justice League, but his edgy look and fun dude-bro personality have revitalized Aquaman's image. He looks great, and we don't have that many complaints. With that said, this mostly similar design by Grailee has one great addition, and that's the aquatic-prosthetic arm.
Although the physics of a water-hand are hard to imagine, the concept itself is intriguing. Not only does this give Aquaman an interesting gimmick, but it's both a nice nod to the comics and a glimpse at the potential wonderment of Atlantis and their technology.
Nobody knows much about this new version of Aquaman. His new personality doesn't line up with any mainstream comic interpretations, and most audiences only know of the superhero as a punchline. DC Entertainment could effectively do whatever they please with the character, in an effort to make him cooler. This weird Atlantean prosthetic could be a nice addition.
How would it work? We have no idea. Is it cool to look at? Hell yeah.
11 Not Hot Topic's Harley
As if she wasn't popular enough, Suicide Squad has successfully reinforced Harley Quinn's mainstream appeal. It's almost like we can't escape her, especially if you've been to a convention or costume party since the film's release. It isn't just any Harley, though — it's specifically Margot Robbie's look: the brightly-colored "Daddy's Little Monster" that seems more ubiquitous than popcorn in a movie theater. If you've also suffered from Harley-fatigue, artist Federica Porpora Anastasio has created a solution.
This back-to-basics fan art of Harley Quinn does away with the neon hair dye and whimsy for a more comic-accurate feel. It's edgier than Daddy's Little Monster or her full harlequin suit, but it retains her comic book color scheme. The design feels like a return to form, and would serve as a nice replacement for her scene girl getup in Suicide Squad 2, or Gotham City Sirens, or Birds of Prey — or whenever we see Harley again.
10 Streamlined Batman
Ben Affleck has had several Batman suits in the DCEU; two "casual" suits, one armored suit, and Justice League's slightly upgraded tactical outfit. Since the armored one is surely for emergencies (or special occasions), why not consolidate the others? This Batman redesign by artist Dan Mora is a great blend of old and new, and boasts better protection than most of what we've seen him wear — other than that bulletproof cowl from Batman v Superman. Still scratching our heads at that one.
While his two casual suits are easily penetrated by knives, this outfit at least has armor in the form of what looks like metal gauntlets and boots. Its overall visual design is also a nice middle ground between retro Batman designs (like Batfleck's) or newer, more hi-tech ones. It's clean, practical, and emblematic of modern-day Batman.
If The Batman ever releases, maybe they'll go this route with his next costume — whether it's on Ben Affleck or not.
9 Dafoe's Joker?
Jared Leto might be a talented actor, but his celebrity-mobster interpretation of the Joker hasn't won everybody over. Not only was his initial reveal met with skepticism, but he was mostly cut from Suicide Squad anyway, making all that hype fall flat. With that said, this what-if art by Vessling is a wonderful palate cleanser.
Is it fair that this fan art calls for a recast? Probably not, but Willem Dafoe's fit is hard to deny. Dafoe has the appropriate facial resemblance, unsettling voice talents, and is capable of the sinister demeanor required to play the Joker. If his portrayal of Norman Osborn is any indication, this would have near-perfect casting.
Sadly, like Leto's Joker, Dafoe's role as Vulko was cut from Justice League (completely), so fans can't even experience that. Regardless, for the choice of actor, the retro Joker look, and a solid photoshop job, this entry easily makes our list.
8 Kryptonian Armor Kal
We hate to further criticize Cavill's early Superman suit, but with designs like these out there, it's hard to resist. This armored redesign by Kyle Brown is a radical change from your typical man of tomorrow. It has a distinct look that doesn't quite match the aesthetic of Kryptonian clothes from Man of Steel, but it still looks unusual enough to feel otherworldly.
The armor almost seems regal with its high collar and shimmering texture, and the gold accents only reinforce this. It also manages to keep the colors vibrant, and look more like Superman than his drab DCEU counterpart. This one might not work for everybody — after all, it is rare for Superman to wear any kind of armor, but it lands a spot on this list for its sheer originality.
7 Comic-Accurate Doomsday
Doomsday's appearance in Batman v Superman was controversial, both for being unnecessary and his uninspired physical appearance. Who knew DC would want to imitate Marvel's successes so closely that they would also maintain the same low standard for their villains - most of which are visually bland, gray monsters usually surrounded by smoke and fire? The worst part was that it didn't even look much like Doomsday in the first place.
This piece by Raul Eduardo Sanchez Osorio is a great 3D rendering of Doomsday that is loyal to the source material, and it manages to look more like the villain than he actually does in the film. His defining features — the bone-like spikes — were largely omitted from his DCEU design, making this a clear improvement over what we got. Here, he looks much more intimidating and less like a generic Orc-monster.
6 Humanoid Steppenwolf
We're aware that this piece of art by by Tiago Ribeiro doesn't diverge too greatly from Steppenwolf's design in Justice League, but it would have made much more sense for the film on so many levels. Steppenwolf was brought to life using CGI and voice work by actor Ciarián Hinds... but was that even necessary?
Not only is a fully-digital character more expensive than putting an actor in a costume, but it's even more pointless because Steppenwolf is supposed to look human. In the comics, he looks like a regular guy in a suit of armor with a big helmet. Why not just do that? Why add to an already expensive budget and complicate the filmmaking process with an entirely CGI character?
For what its worth, Hinds delivered a solid performance despite the material he was given. Ultimately, Steppenwolf is a minor issue but this redesign presents a welcome aesthetic alternative to rubbery CGI, and would have simplified the movie's already troubled production.
5 Youthful Cyborg
Although Cyborg isn't in Justice League very much, his arc mainly involves Victor Stone coming to terms with his new body. He feels like a monster, and does not yet see the bright side to his cybernetic enhancements. It's an intimate, darker-than-usual interpretation of the character, but the fans of the Teen Titans animated series might find it lacking.
If you're among them, this redesign by Kevin Eleventh is upbeat and a bit more in line with the fun-loving Cyborg you may remember. It consists of less bulk and more accent colors than his design in the film, and shows off a totally different, especially trendy hairstyle than even his comic appearances. Fans of the more serious Cyborg may hate this design, but it's refreshing enough to lock a spot on the list.
4 Black Suit Superman
Alright, since we've trashed his dark suit enough, here's one for the fans on the other side of the spectrum. This redesign of Henry Cavill's Superman by Aiko Aiham features the fan-favorite black suit and long hair — his famous look during the iconic comic story arc, The Death of Superman. Since DC was going to kill the Man of Steel anyway, we probably should have gotten a suit like this. Unfortunately, that didn't come to fruition.
As many already know, Superman was resurrected in Justice League. Rumors were dispelled and hopeful fans were immediately disappointed by the reveal of a shirtless and angry Clark Kent instead of the black suit. It's a shame, especially given DC's predisposition to his darker outfit in the first place. This '90s throwback might have fit nicely in the DCEU, but it seems as they've failed to seize the moment.
3 Amazonian Warrior Diana
She already looks awesome, but this exceptional redesign by Razzah is a fiery modernization for Wonder Woman. While her outfits have always exhibited a balance between her beauty and strength, beauty now takes a backseat as her warrior-princess personality is stressed through less revealing armor and a more menacing visual design.
Her hair is cut much shorter, her expression is colder, and more determined, and her posture seems slightly hunched as she walks — almost like she's preying on a downed enemy. The entire piece makes her feel more aggressive and imposing, which is perfectly in-line with that of the typical Amazonian soldier seen in her comics and solo film. Diana is supposed to possess some heroic and graceful sensibilities too, but this edgy interpretation is all about her prowess as a warrior and that's just plain badass.
2 The Faceless Crusader
The Dark Knight is supposed to strike fear into his enemies, but this subtle redesign by artist Anthony Jones adds another layer of terror to the Batman: an armored, mostly featureless cowl.
Bruce Wayne revels in the mythological reputation he's built up for his vigilante alter ego. A redesign like this would not only offer more physical protection, but further emphasize the mysteriousness of the Batman. The expressionless face makes his costume design even eerier, which makes us wonder why Bruce rarely wears something along these lines.
The unknown and unseen fear is always the strongest source of terror, and it's surprising that Bruce Wayne wouldn't use that to his advantage. It's amazing how much humanity he loses when the chin under his cowl is no longer visible.
1 Knight Of Tomorrow
This high fantasy variant of Superman would actually fit perfectly in the DCEU. Why wasn't there a set of Kryptonian armor for Clark aboard the Fortress of Solitude in Man of Steel? It seemed to be a common choice of attire on Krypton; Jor-El wore one with the El family crest on it, and even General Zod had a unique set of his own.
If Clark were ever to don a set of El family armor, he would likely look similar to this redesign by Omar Samy. The shine of the silver metal creates that signature heroic look, but blue and red are still incorporated into the outfit for some traditional visual consistency. The fantasy elements might need to be toned down (or toned up depending on how you feel about Kryptonian fashion sense), but it works quite nicely overall.
Bonus points to the artist for including the long hair and beard from The Death of Superman — great addition to an already cool design!
What do you think of the characters designs in the DC Extended Universe films? What about some DC art that you enjoy? Feel free to share some DC fan art of your own in the comments.