The white battle armor of the Stormtrooper is among the most recognizable costumes in movie history. Even people with little to no knowledge of Star Wars (they exist?) would find the outfit familiar.
While the armor is used for battle, there are no labels of rank on the exterior of the outfit. Instead, the clean, white exterior of the uniform acknowledges the clone aspect of the Stormtroopers.
There is one major problem with the armor. While it looks nice - especially in a formation of Stormtroopers - it doesn't protect them very well. Although the awful aim of Stormtroopers is a flaw of the clones inside them, one shot to the chest seems to disable a Stormtrooper. It may have been a financial decision by the Empire to cut down on costs after a hefty price tag on cloning.
One design that has served the Stormtroopers well is the helmet. While it is just as recognizable on its own, it also has a practical use. For instance, when a Stormtrooper bumped his head on a door frame in Star Wars, he went on unharmed.
7. Captain America
[Update: Do to popular reprimand, Captain America has been demoted a few spots from #2 to #7. The movie may still be filming, but our first looks at the costume prove it belongs.]
Like Batman, Captain America lacks superpowers. But where he fails in special abilities, he makes up for in his perfect strength and his legendary costume.
Wikipedia does a stand-up job of explaining the technical aspects of the costume:
Captain America's uniform is made of a fire-retardant material, and he wears a lightweight, bulletproof "duralumin" scale armor beneath his uniform for added protection, Originally, Rogers' mask was a separate piece of material, but an early engagement had it dislodged, thus almost exposing his identity. To prevent a recurrence of the situation, Rogers modified the mask with connecting material to his uniform, an added benefit of which was extending his armor to cover his previously exposed neck.
Captain America's bulletproof suit is not only ahead of its time, but also a flashy piece of fabric. Discussions raged on the potential look of Captain America's outfit in the upcoming Captain America movie. Within minutes of Chris Evans' announcement as the next Steve Rogers, fans were on Photoshop putting his face in various versions of the costume.
Besides its practical nature, the key to Captain America's costume is the iconic shield. While costumes vary between interpretations and evolve over time, this costume prop has stayed constant ever since it went from triangular shape to circular. The red, white and blue shield is more weapon than cover. It is made of indestructible adamantium and can be thrown with a boomerang return thanks to a vibranum element.
Depending on how you look at Captain America's costume, it is either extremely cool or tremendously frustrating. I personally love it, but my background is not in the comics on which it is based. Expect to see this costume everywhere starting next year, when Captain America: The First Avenger hits theaters.
If there is one costume that always gets a laugh in the real world, it is the Ghostbusters uniform. Officially named the CWU-27p Flight Suit, the outfits bring beige back into the mainstream.
They were actually designed to resemble the look of exterminators. Considering that is what the Ghostbusters do, it is a fitting inspiration. The general appearance of the Flight Suits is funny in the context of the film, but it has become a common presence in fanboy reunions like Comic-Con.
The No-Ghost logo of the Ghostbusters sits on the shoulder and regular accessories like work gloves and boots add to the overall aesthetic of the Flight Suit. But the Proton Pack is what makes it iconic.
The Ghostbusters would be nothing without their Proton Packs. Without it, they really do just look like janitors. It's the pack that sets these three scientists apart from the rest of the world's superheroes.
Although two other DC Comics characters surpass Spider-Man on this list, his costume is iconic nonetheless. The red and blue body suit is more than just a cover for Peter Parker's true identity.
When he wears the suit, Parker truly transforms into Spider-Man, even if his powers exist without it. You could argue the suit is more iconic because it makes Spider-Man powerful in a psychological sense. But in reality, the world knows Spider-Man as the teen in the skin-tight costume with a spider logo.
It is fascinating that the costume's main purpose is to engage Peter Parker's inner hero. This is further proven when Parker is possessed in Spider-Man 3 and his entire personality changes to match the black suit that has transformed him.
The suit has no physical powers and hardly protects Parker from enemy fire, but without it he is just a frustrated boy with superpowers. Then again, if Peter Parker would just get over his problems, the suit wouldn't matter :-).
4. Indiana Jones
Dr. Jones may be a part-time teacher, but Indiana Jones is a bona fide adventurer. In many of the cases on this list, the clothes truly make the man. Indiana Jones is yet another example. The hat and bullwhip have become cultural staples, instantly linked to Indiana Jones.
The Indiana Jones outfit is made of everyday items, not customized materials like a superhero. Certain parts make Indy truly unique - the bullwhip, the jacket, the satchel and the fedora. Director Steven Spielberg knew the power of Indy's fedora when he constantly referenced it in word and image. Just take the introduction in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull for example, when the shot opens on Indy's hat and continues to its shadow.
The fedora and whip may be the stars of Indy's outfit, but the color scheme should not go unmentioned. How many legendary heroes actually go with brown for their main color? You sure won't see many superheroes sporting brown capes. It makes sense, considering Indiana Jones' work in the field with tombs and caves.
Indiana Jones has one of the most recognizable costumes in entertainment. The accessories and the overall look of his outfit make him a superhero with no powers at all. Dr. Jones' teaching persona gives off a Clark Kent vibe against his adventurous side that sports a fedora and bullwhip.