Top 10 Marvel Comics Costume Changes
Today, we’re digging through the comic book closet to bring you our list of the Top 10 Costume Changes in Marvel Comics. These outfit updates are mostly practical and extremely fashionable- whether upgrading a hero’s artillery or just fixing an unfortunate costume faux pas. Fashion is always changing, and so are these stylish comic characters.
Read along to find out which Marvel superhumans took their looks from zero to hero with a quick costume change. Let’s get started!
10. Squirrel Girl
Squirrel Girl first debuted in Marvel Super-Heroes #8, created by Will Murray and Steve Ditko in 1991. A superhero hopeful, Squirrel Girl’s original look was more clownish side-villain than leading lady material. In her debut, she wore a grey bodysuit with a fur vest, fur leg warmers, fur gloves, a utility belt, black 4-pointed stars over her eyes- and of course, her tail.
Most fans considered her a joke character, and she did disappear from Marvel Comics for a decade, until getting a fun and redesign in 2014 that included a brown bomber jacket, a lot less fur, a new utility belt, and a headband with squirrel ears on it.
Elektra’s classic costume, while stylish and in-theme with her introduction in Daredevil, has quite a few impracticalities when you consider her profession. As an assassin, her bright red attire, numerous flowing ribbons, large hoop earrings, and high-heeled boots present quite a few hazards to stealth, movement, and safety in general. While she’s extremely skilled in the martial arts, that’s not enough to override the logic of her overly flashy fashion.
One of the best modernizations of Elektra’s look was in the Daredevil Season 2 Netflix series- which reflected in the 2017 comics with an updated suit consisting of a black unitard, integrated shoes, a red mask that covers the lower part of her face, and red gloves, leg bands, and a sash that can hold her sai weapons. Her hair is often pulled back in a low ponytail, eliminating many of the loose object hazards that made her original look rather impractical.
8. Luke Cage
Sometimes, you can’t beat a classic superhero costume- however, fashion fades and times change, leading to some necessary updates. Luke Cage’s original Power Man costume is well-loved by fans for what are dubbed the “tiara and bracelets”, along with his ‘fro, flare-top yellow boots, yellow open-chest shirt with the popped collar, and chain belt.
These accessories fit better against the backdrop of the Blaxsploitation media era, and were streamlined for the modern day- Luke oftentimes still sports silver gauntlets, but now he rocks a bald head, a yellow shirt- not always bulletproof- and black pants and boots. The Netflix show took this a step further and gave him his a Carhartt hoodie- a very symbolic move for the live-action Luke Cage, which has resounded with fans everywhere.
Spider-Man- Peter Parker, specifically- has had numerous costume changes throughout the years. His most famous of these is perhaps the Black Suit symbiote upgrade, while the recent Spider-Man PS4 video game introduced even more original costumes as well as some of his most popular (or infamous) looks. The Adi Granov-designed Velocity Suit and the Advanced Suit with white accents were among the more popular styles introduced.
Here, we wanted to highlight the Iron Spider suit from Comics, although it was adapted for screen in Avengers: Infinity War. In 2006, Peter Parker wore this suit to show his alignment during the Civil War conflict, and since then, the suit has been duplicated and modified for The Initiative and Aaron Davis, respectively. It’s also been worn by Mary Jane Watson on several occasions.
For a full rundown of our favorite Spider-Man costumes, check out the Top 10 Spider-Man Suits Geek Culture Countdown!
6. Jessica Jones
Fans can actually catch a glimpse of Jessica Jones’ original costume in the Netflix series, but you won’t catch her dead wearing that thing. As a young woman, Jessica Jones was inspired by her classmate Spider-Man to become a hero after a car accident involving chemicals and a coma gave her superpowers.
As Jewel, she briefly fought crime in a white strapless bodysuit with a blue sash, blue trim, and blue gloves. Her hair was pink, and she wore a Jewel insignia at her hip. Post-Killgrave, though, she traded her bright colors for her famous black leather jacket, oversized scarf, ripped jeans, combat boots, and perpetual frown. She often accessorizes with a messenger bag, a camera, and a flask of whiskey kept close at all times.
When Silk was first introduced to the Spider-Man mythos, she did what many rookie heroes do and created her own costume. As someone with the ability to spin silk webbing from her fingertips, naturally she made her first heroic look out of that very same silk. While some people find this costume visually appealing, it’s uneven, impractical, and not that safe- she’s running around barefoot!
Her upgraded costume swaps the silk for more practical threads, matching the rest of the Spider-Verse very well. She has a black and white suit with red webbing and fingertips, along with a red bandana to hide her identity. In some crossover events, she has gotten minor outfit changes, but she always comes back to the black, red, and white.
4. Captain Marvel
Carol Danvers has gone through a number of notable costume changes over the years- her costume has evolved as her codename has, accompanying changes in her powers and her rank as a superhero. Her original Ms. Marvel look was heavily inspired by her predecessor Mar-Vell, except with a majorly bare midriff and bikini briefs.
Dave Cockrum was responsible for modifying that original red and blue, then designing the black costume with a yellow bolt and red sash that’s most famously identified with her Warbird codename. Cockrum took her cosmic with the Binary costume, which incorporated living flames into her extremely powered-up form, but the most famous and popular of her costumes is the Captain Marvel suit, designed by Jamie McKelvie.
Incorporating the Hala star and the red sash, the suit reverses the blue and red of Mar-Vell’s original look into a fully functional super suit for the new captain. One of the most celebrated aspects of this update, though, is undoubtedly her now-iconic mohawk helmet
For his first few appearances, daredevil had one of the most atrocious costumes in all of comics- a yellow unitard with a black leotard over it, marked with a big red ‘D’ on the chest. Just in case you didn’t know who he was. Granted, while Matt Murdock himself is blind, the artists who created his exceedingly bright and bizarre look were not. The suit disappeared but was brought back in the Daredevil: Yellow story.
Nearly any costume upgrade would have been better than this, and thankfully Daredevil has had a few notable changes- most famously his red suit, in keeping with his devil motif, and then his Shadowland black suit with red accents. The Netflix series took this a step further by blending aesthetics of both the red and black suits, giving Daredevil practical armor upgrades while retaining his form and functionality. Now, he’s better suited (eh?) for his brooding vigilante antics instead of reckless daytime acrobatics.
You can take the man out of the circus, but sometimes you just can’t take the circus out of the man. Hawkeye, who debuted as an Iron Man villain, has been through quite an astounding number of regrettable costume changes. While many consider his original costume to be a classic- sporting a blue and purple bodysuit with the winged mask- the Marvel sharp-shooter has had some less fashionable styles- taking Hank Pym’s mantle as Goliath, he rocked a blue belt and body harness that left him mostly shirtless as he transformed into a giant. And after that, he went back to being Hawkeye- in a purple miniskirt, open vest shirt, and a mullet with a headband. Seriously.
The look most fans tend to associate with Hawkeye now is the Ultimate Comics design, which gave him a sleek black sleeveless suit with reddish-purple accents, sunglasses, and a compound bow with lasers for accuracy, much more fitting for the former carnie turned covert archer. This look most inspired his Avengers costume in the MCU.
1. Iron Man
There was no other option for #1 on our list than Iron Man- if for no other reason, every single costume of his is a literal upgrade. When your costume is an armored suit with software, evolution and upgrade is inevitable. From the Mark I to the Mark L in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, to complete iron legions in the Marvel comics, Iron Man is constantly looking to make himself better.
Many of his suits in the comics are based on the necessity of the situation, leading to smart innovation and really cool aesthetic- from the Extremis Armor to the classic looking Silver Centurion. Many of these suits have nicknames like the Hulkbuster, the Thorbuster, the Stealth Suit, the Hydro Suit, the War Machine, Bleeding Edge, and more. Whatever Mark number, each and every new Iron Man suit represents an advancement from the previous armor, making Iron Man the king for Marvel Comics costume changes.
So, was our list perfectly accessorized? Or should we hang this one in the back of the closet and start again? If we missed someone that you think should be on the list, be sure to send us your opinions.