Poll Position: The Greatest Super-Hero Costume EVER?!

HeroMachine is all about making cool looking characters in even cooler looking costumes, so I thought it would be appropriate for us to talk about which iconic characters do the duds the best:


Deciding who should be on this list was tough. I felt like the character had to have achieved a certain level of awareness in the general cultural consciousness. A devastatingly awesome costume worn by a one-off character in a third-tier comic isn't going to make the grade to be considered one of the greats.

Second, I felt like the costume should say something about who the character is, or what their powers are, or what they stand for, or something about the general universe and publishing house they inhabit, or even all of the above. As someone who put together a similar list a few years ago said, you ought to be able to hand someone who knows virtually nothing about comics a list of character names and a list of pictures, and they should be able to put them together.

Finally, and this is much more nebulous, they have to look good.

And with that, we're off!

  1. Batman: Clearly Batman's costume is instantly identifiable with the character -- there's a big ol' bat on his chest. But the costume says a lot more about him than just his name. From the blue (or black in some cases) and gray color scheme we know he's used to working in the shadows, or at night. From the scalloped cape we get a hint of Gothic horror, indicating he relies on fear and mystique to some degree. And from the bewildering array of gadgets in his belt we know he's innovative. I also love the way the very simple elements can be combined by a talented artist in bewildering varieties, from just the eerie white eye slits to the shape of the cowl silhouetted against a moon to the brilliant shapes caused by the cape, it's a costume that can dominate a scene all on its own. And that's darned impressive.

  2. Captain America: I've chosen the Ultimate Cap as the representative here, because I love everything Hitch did to it, from the seams to the scale-mail versus chain-mail look to the WWII style belt pouches. And I know it's controversial, but I love that those stupid head wings aren't on there. Seriously, with those I don't think I put the costume on the list.

    Namor wings aside, Cap's costume is the iconic "patriotic" American outfit. I love the way the stripes are only halfway down the torso, and how the one big star becomes a logo. The red, white, and blue color scheme of course is vital. I also like that part of his costume is armor, which reinforces the idea that he's not a Superman style bulletproof hero, but just a (very powerful) soldier.

    Looking at this design, you'd know that this is a character who stands for America, that he's someone who's about shielding more than shooting, and that he's a bold leader. I mean come on, anyone not bold would never leave the house with a giant "A" painted on his forehead!

  3. Captain Marvel: Captain Marvel has had the same costume with virtually no changes to it since his inception. There aren't a whole lot of things from 1940 you can say that about, which I think is a testament to its strong and striking design. Red, white, and gold make for a powerful combination, especially the vast swathe of red the Big Red Cheese commands. The big, bold lightning bolt streaking down his chest suggests the magical strike that transforms him into Captain Marvel, and the dashing half-cape with braid and gold ornamentation combines with the saucy sash to hint at the non-American pantheon giving him his powers.

    I also love how his cape is always slung over one shoulder instead of being precisely hemmed to hang symmetrically. He's a bit of an off-kilter kind of character in the first place, and this simple device really helps reinforce that. The gold arm bands and boots just seal the deal, giving him a flair and flippancy that again really tells you something about the kind of guy he is.

  4. Flash (Silver Age): One of my all-time favorite costumes and characters. How can you look at this guy and NOT get that he runs really, really fast?! From the sleek, form-fitting racing tights to the vaguely hood-ornamental gold head wings to the lightning bolts at wrists and waist to the insignia to the boot wings to the subtle little jiggedy-jag in his mask, this guy is all about speed. I love the way Carmine Infantino used to draw the lightning bolts streaking out behind him as he ran, too. His whole look is a wonderful blend of Art Deco and sleek science. They really boiled Flash down to his bare essence, with nothing extraneous or insipid in the design at all.

  5. Flash (Golden Age): Unlike his later update, Jay Garrick's Flash has a loose sweatshirt, big ol' dish-like helmet, floppy boots, and what must be some variety of blue jean. And yet, it still totally works. Instead of several lightning bolts adorning the outfit, we have just the one huge Captain Marvel like symbol streaking up his chest. I love that it starts from the belt and cuts across diagonally. I also love the red, blue, and gold color scheme, adding a little variety that the Silver Age Flash did away with; I think it adds some visual interest.

    The clincher for me, though, has always been that helmet, one of my all-time favorite costuming elements. It's so stylish! The color, the wings, the Hermes-like shape, it all just combines the best of Greek mythology with classic 1940s doughboy style. I'm willing to overlook the question of how it stays on his head at supersonic speeds without a strap, and that alone should tell you how cool it looks.

  6. Green Lantern: Another all-time favorite of mine. I like the striking shapes this costume makes by scooping in and out of the shoulders and hips, taking what is essentially just a body stocking and turning into something both martial and stylish at the same time. The shade of green they chose goes so well with the black, and combined with the startling white of the gloves always gives your eye something to fasten on. The chest insignia is a marvel of simplicity. You can't look at him and not think "Green Lantern".

    I also like the symbolism of the costume, bringing in the black of space with the green of life and the white of light. The mask seals the deal. I love that shape.

  7. Invincible: While not the commercial or cultural success of some of the other entrants, Invincible nonetheless anchors one of the most successful independent comics in the world. What I like most about his costume (besides the yellow, blue, and black color scheme) is how they've incorporated the insignia into the costume itself. It's not shunted into a circle or square, but is part of the design itself, completely integrated with the flow of line and shape. I also appreciate how Kirkman treats the costume in the series itself, always willing to tweak and change it while never losing the essence of the character.

    The only drawback is that I don't know that it quite says anything about the character other than "snazzy dresser".

  8. Iron Man: I've chosen the classic red and gold combination here, which for my money is "The" comics Iron Man armor. I actually like the movie version better, but since we're not talking about anything but comics here that's out of consideration.

    Again, the designers managed to boil the character down to his pure essence in this costume. Clearly it's a human in a powered armor suit, but there's nothing clunky or clumsy about it. He looks agile and lithe while still unquestionably strong. I love the banded armor on the shins, loins, and gloves; they make a great contrast with the smooth, shiny metal of the legs and arms. Then you've got the more heavily armored chest with the simple round unibeam. He has no logo or insignia, and yet that one circle clearly strikes your eye first.

    My favorite part of this armor is the helmet. Those rectangular eyes and mouth are twisted into showing so much emotion and character it's unreal. The human face and head are stripped of all ornamentation and presented as starkly as possible. An intimidating, distinctive, and powerful approach.

  9. Phoenix: I'll be up front, and admit that this isn't my favorite costume ever. But it is nifty looking, and in person (as I can attest from several Dragon*Cons) it's simply devastating. Plus you have to admire anyone who can pull off green and gold without looking like a Mardi Gras float.

  10. Spawn: Again, not a personal favorite, but I think he was arguably the best of the Image Nineties designs. On any other character, the chains and the cloak and the hoo and the haaa would be way, way too much. But you have to remember this is a guy from Hell. Like Batman's costume, Spawn's reaches out and commands the environment, and that's key to the demonic, frenzied, all-out helter skelter vibe that makes him so distinctive. So this is sort of a placeholder for all those wild and crazy Nineties costumes I usually make fun of -- at least with this one, all the over-the-top hype has a purpose.

  11. Spider-Man: Again, any costume that can survive five decades is pretty remarkable. Yes, he's gone through many (many!) changes, from the Black Spidey days to Tony Stark's Civil War remake, but you always have to come back to the red and blue tights. A great blend of creepy and awesome, from the webs to the awesome spider insignia to the best part of all -- the mask. The way the webs start at the bridge of the nose and wrap around the head, setting off those awesome bug eyes, is just classic.

  12. Superman: You can't have a list of super-hero costumes and not include Superman. He literally set the standard for the genre in ways that continue to echo down to this very day. The colored briefs, the tights, the flaring cape, the big chest insignia, the high colorful boots, the primary color scheme -- all of these are hallmarks of the Superman design.

    And yet, having said that, the costume itself is, honestly, kind of dull. Yes, it's the granddaddy of all super-hero costumes and absolutely iconic, but I think the basics it introduced were improved on and perfected in the ensuing years. Still a great outfit, but just based purely on the design, I don't think I could call it the greatest ever.

This is a tough choice; all of these are classic, beloved, and awesome outfits. The gut instinct is to go for Superman because, as I said, he started it all, but I can't get away from thinking it's basically a little on the boring side. Spider-Man is a little too creepy for me, Cap sometimes looks like an ambulatory circus, and Invincible just isn't well known enough.

Both of the Flashes, I think, nail the essence of the character better than anyone else, and both costumes are just straight-up fun to look at.

The others all have good arguments to be made on their behalf, but I think ultimately I would have to go with Batman. Like the character himself, the costume is infinitely flexible, capable of going from the insane camp of the TV series to the grim and gruesome Frank Miller Dark Knight era to the sleek and martial Jim Aparo era, all without losing the core of the character. The bat insignia is instantly recognizable, easy to draw, and beautifully designed. The cowl and the cape complete the outfit, and as I said make the whole character a blast to draw in all kinds of settings.

But by all means, please chime in below with people I left out and shouldn't have, or people I included and shouldn't have, or why one of the other nominees would be a clearly better choice. I look forward to hearing from you!

45 Responses to Poll Position: The Greatest Super-Hero Costume EVER?!

  1. cavalier says:

    Went with Iron Man since, even with the various styles and types, you could always tell it was him and literally reflects his abilities. Not fond of the chosen image, tho, as I’ve never liked seeing flexing muscles on armor :).

  2. Joshua says:

    Talk about good timing, Jeff– a recent discussion was brought up in my Art 110 class regarding iconography, and my presentation was on Superman’s “S” logo; how it’s an American cultural symbol and instantly recognizable. Though you’re asking our vote for the greatest costume, I think you can’t have Superman’s red, blue, and yellow without his “crest”, and that crest is arguably the most renown symbol in all of comicdom. Have to go with Superman.

  3. X-stacy says:

    I went with Captain Marvel, even though I’m not terribly fond of his comics. I like that it doesn’t look like a leotard with a pair of underwear on top and a curtain stitched to the neck. I think I’d prefer a somewhat longer cape, but otherwise couldn’t think of a way to improve it.

  4. Myro says:

    Spider-Man is “creepy,” and yet you’ll go with Batman? I’m sensing an inherent contradiction to your argument, Jeff. Besides, I had never found Spider-Man creepy since I first
    saw him, let’s say since I was 5. I’m estimating.
    So, no, I’m going with Steve Ditko-designed, red-and-blue Spider-Man FTW.

  5. Billy says:

    what about this spider-man costume from the new movie


  6. Danny Beaty says:

    I have to do a special shout-out for the original Shadowhawk costume, which is awesome.

  7. Nick Hentschel says:

    SUPERMAN!!! In costume, as well as in concept, he was the model for every other hero who followed, including the over-hyped Dark Knight..

  8. Nicholas/GtaMythMaster43 says:

    I choose Spawn, I always like that stupid outfit…

    And hello everyone! Long time no see.
    I missed you all! 🙁
    Feels good to be back. I want to give Jeff a virtual hug, sonsidering he is the least douchy, coolest site owner ever. 🙂
    HeroMachine is the best UGO site….

  9. Dennis says:

    As much as I adore Batman, and I would have probably chosen the latest movie costume if it was put up, I’m afraid the underwear on the outside of the costume costs him dearly- the same goes for Superman. I’ve always detested superhero costumes with that sort of feature, it creeps me out.

    Captain Marvel’s costume does emphasise his power, but it’s just not to my taste. I’m afraid I must say the same about Silver Age Flash, Green Lantern, Spawn, Invincible and Phoenix- the costumes are all good in their own ways, but they aren’t my favourites.

    Golden Age Flash’s helmet kinda ruins it for me. Unlike you, Jeff, I cannot overlook something like that. If that helmet had straps, it would be one of my favourites, which is a bit of a shame.

    Captain America’s costume is great. It’s much more practical-looking than the other costumes, and represents the character well. However, because I’m not American, the costume design doesn’t inspire the same patriotic feelings in me.

    Iron Man’s colour scheme makes him stand out from all other characters with power armour, and as Jeff mentioned, the helmet is brilliant at conveying human emotion, despite being a piece of metal.

    However, I must go with Spiderman. I’ve always loved everything about that costume, from the colour scheme to the bug eyes, and it would be a personal blasphemy to choose otherwise.

  10. EnderX says:

    Best? Not sure, I’m no critic. Personal favorite? Of those listed here, Jay Garrick’s Flash. It’s not exactly a costume in the sense the others’ outfits are.

    Think about it. I don’t know enough about Spawn, and the image isn’t quite that clear on him, so I can’t speak there. But for the other characters you’ve got listed here (except for Captain America and Iron Man), they’re basically wearing long johns. I’m serious – go take a look at Capt. Marvel’s outfit and you’ll see it best, but that’s how they register to me. Iron Man’s outfit still qualifies as a costume, despite being the source of his power, as does Captain America’s outfit (although it isn’t a ‘costume’ exactly, more of an absurdly stylized uniform).

    Jay, though? As you pointed out, it looks like he’s wearing jeans (or sweatpants, probably – they don’t appear to have pockets) and a sweatshirt – the hat and the logo are really the only things really ‘costumey’ about it. It’s a bit closer to ‘reality’ (whatever that means in a world shared by Zatanna, the Legion, and whole enormous [insert color here] Lantern deal) than any of the others.

    Ironically, I think I like it because it doesn’t really look like thought was put into it – unlike the other heroes, who were clearly going for ‘costume’ for some reason, and disregarding those two minor elements mentioned above, Jay’s outfit looks like something he just happened to throw on before rushing out the first time he realized what his powers could be used for.

    And on a side note, was that pun in the Iron Man description intentional, or accidental?

  11. EnderX says:

    The ‘underwear on the outside’ look has a valid reason behind it – trust me, you’d have a better chance of being creeped out the other way. (Of course, properly, those aren’t underwear; they’d really be a form of shorts.)

  12. Jeff Hebert says:

    Myro: I find Batman scary, not creepy. As in, intimidating. Spider-Man wouldn’t frighten me if I saw him, I’d just be a little skeeved out.

  13. Gero says:

    I added Deathstroke as a choice. He may not be a “hero” per se, but he is an anti-hero in a lot of comics, and has had his own stories before, so I think he counts. Plus, he has a very cool look, in my opinion…

  14. Timespike says:

    It was a toss-up between Batman and Spider-man. On the one hand, plastic man has put down a riot in a supers prison by mimicking Batman’s silhouette on top of a guard tower. And on the other hand, we’ve got one of the only superhero costumes to ever look in-place in every decade since its creation. That’s pretty tough. I went with Spider-man.

  15. Jeff Hebert says:

    Billy, this is just about comics, not movies.

  16. Green Lantern. All the other superheroes, except Phoenix, sport primary colors. Which adds to his otherworldliness. It really sets him apart from the other DC standards.

    (Though I’m still not terribly enthusiastic about the upcoming GL movie. As is said, have to wait and see.)

  17. Nicholas/GtaMythMaster43 says:

    I don’t know. Maybe I should have voted for Bats.
    what do you think Jeff? What’s you favourtite?

  18. The Imp says:

    Some of those write-in choices… errrr…

    I flip-flopped between Batman and Cap, but ultimately went with Bats. They both instantly put out a vibe that’s totally in synch with their character, but Bats has got that extra little something that I dig.

  19. Connor S. says:

    Proof that Batman’s completely and utterly beastly.

  20. Jeff Hebert says:

    Yeah, the quality of most of those additional poll entries was pretty awful. Apologies to the several valid entries people put in, but I thought it was best to just prune it back to the original 12.

  21. zaheelee says:

    Being a HUGE Batman fan (which I have mentioned in almost every “greatest ever” poll), my immediate instinct was to vote for the dark knight. Then, after remembering how I told myself that I would actually read Jeff’s comments before I made my decision, I realized that I love Spidey’s costume just as much (even though I have never read a single Marvel comic). After a few minutes of pondering all the ups and downs of each costume, I finally ended up choosing Batman for one reason alone: the cape. It’s the one thing the Spidey costume doesn’t have (and it never should have a cape, in my opinion, it looks great just the way it is, a cape would just ruin it), and I personally feel that the cape expresses so much about who Batman is.

    I have a feeling a good many of you have already seen this picture at least once before (or maybe you haven’t, who knows?), but I just want to use it to show the awesomeness of Batman’s truly iconic cape :

  22. Jeff Hebert says:

    Nicholas (18): I’ve left a very carefully disguised and hidden clue as to who I’d pick overall in the body of the main post, see if you can find it!

  23. Jeff Hebert says:

    zaheelee (22): I was this close to using that image for the discussion in the main post! That’s a really great one.

  24. MScat says:

    I am a sucker for a full body costume. To me a costume has to exist in the real world. Plus a costumes not really a good costume if it doesn’t hide your true identity (Something a simple mask couldn’t do) So my favorite is Spider-man. He could literally be ANYONE under that mask. Any race, any age, anyONE!

    I also love costumes with stories behind them. Batman’s costume came about for a reason. He wanted to show the villians the kind of fear their victims feel. He was always afraid of bats so he chose a bat! In the limited comic series “Superman: Last Family of Krypton” they kind of explained a little the colors chosen for Superman’s suit. Red: For Krypton’s Sun (Rao) Blue: For Earth (His new home) and a little Yellow: For our Sun (The source of his powers) I thought that was interesting.

    The Iron Man movie tried to explain why he went from Silver, to Gold, to RED and Gold. But I don’t think the coics ever discussed that.

    I still think the Spider-man is the best one for a person who’s going to be fighting crime and STILL maintain a secret identity. Honestly if you knew Superman and Clark Kent you should be able to tell they are the same person. If you were a friend of Invincible’s you’d be able to tell that its really HIM under that mask. Same goes for GL. Sorry but no matter how cool the mask is you can still tell its Hal Jorden there. When Spider-man swings in you instantly start thinking: Is this guy young or old, black or white or asian or whatever, Who is this guy?!?!?! Same with Batman, even though you can tell relative age and ethnicity because of his mouth and chin showing. His cowl covers enough of his face to keep you guessing.

  25. MScat says:

    zaheelee (22): one of my ALL TIME FAV Batman pics! It really shows what that character is all about. Quiet, brooding, and borderline stalkerish!

  26. Worf says:

    Ah, some great choices here… but here are my comments (in no particular order:

    Phoenix: good.. I’d have picked the dark phoenix outfit to put on the list though…

    Spawn: Yeah, the costume does sell the hellspawn concept, but its always been a little over the top for me.

    Iron Man: I’d prefer some of the later renditions of the armor where, to me, he seems more powerful. NONE of the ones with white though. That whole series just tanked.

    Captain Marvel: He always came off to me as just a superman ripoff, and the recurring theme that he beats supes by just yelling shazam over and over bugs me to no end. The costume is good enough, I guess, I just can’t vote for a character that doesn’t inspire me.

    Flash: For me, growing up there was only one Flash. Barry Allen. And even though I like the character, somehow (I’m accessing my kid memory here) the costume always seemed a bit silly… maybe it was his happy go lucky style, or the “costume popping out of a ring” thing…. But I associated that with some silliness and I guess it brushed off on my take on the costume.

    Spider-man: Same as the flash, I guess the happy, jokester style, always with a comeback has colored my take on the costume. Not that it doesn’t immediately say spider-man, but, you know….

    The Darkness/Deadpool: Really? Someone has gone mental here and it’s definitely not me!

    Rorschach: The mask is exactly what the name says, a Rorschach test. Having said that, it doesn’t tell me WHO the guy is, except that he’s probably somewhat mental, but what kind? nope, can’t be the greatest costume if it leaves you questioning who the guy is… (except if we’re talking “The Question” here 😉 )

    Deathstroke: Cool enough concept. A little too flashy for me, specially considering the “assassin” job he’s supposed to be good at (a little more black or camo would be good for that). And even though I always love me a good sword-wielding character, let’s face it, he may be mean, but he’s no Darkseid.

    Green Arrow: So so on the outfit, even though he does sell the green, and the bowman(arrow) part of the costume. The Robin Hood hat and the domino mask never sat too good with me, but my biggest pet peeve with the whole ensemble (and I know it’s not technically part of the outfit) is the goatee.

    Invincible: No opinion.

    The Joker: Yeah, he does put across very well the idea of mad clown. The purple always irked me jut a tad too much for it to get my vote though.

    Captain America: Besides the controversial wings I actually like the classic outfit better than any other rendition of it. I’m not sure I could be convinced that it’s the best outfit out there, but it’s a darn good one.

    Green Lantern: I like how this basic design has worked even when worn by non-humanoids (a certain planet comes to mind) and almost always feels right (G’nort being an exception here). The symbol also reminds us of a badge, bringing to mind the space-police aspect of it. Great all the way around. (side note: really hope the movie does it justice)

    Superman: Basic colors? Yeah. Iconic symbol? Yeah. “Basically” hasn’t changed in 70 years? Yeah. Greatest ever Costume? Nah!

    Batman: I think Jeff has pretty much made the case here. I mean there’s no doubt this costume just screams “I’ll kick your ass 100 ways from here to Sunday”. So Batman it is. 😉

    (Hey it’s my post and I can do what I want with it) 😉

  27. Whit says:

    Some tough choices up there. I ended up going with Silver-Age Flash. It’s as Art Deco as you can get, but still manages to not look dated. I also just have a general weakness for Silver-Age design.

  28. Nicholas/GtaMythMaster43 says:

    Hmmm, Iron man? You sure gave it praise. I do love it.
    But for some reason I like Batman’s urban-ninja mixed with a soldier and a bat. It just looks so neat. Though IronMan is awesome, and I quite like Spidey’s suit….I dunno, I always like Spawn’s suit, it works for what it wants and it looks cool with a hat. Can Spiderman or Batman OR ironman wear a top hat? Well yes, but it’d be hilarious. xD

  29. B. Clouser says:

    For me two of the best designed costumes ever are between Batman and Spiderman and Superman is close for sure.

    They are iconic, timeless, totally right for the character they cover.

    If Batman and Superman set a standard for classic heroes, spider-man upped the ante for the new age of heroes.

    So touch choice. I went with Batman in the end after thinking of all the different takes on Batman by different artists over the years and how well the costume believably morphed into these different versions. Spiderman’s costume is still amazing though, because no matter how much an artist tries to change it in the end it is the same iconic classic version.

    While Batman can be all over the place – still awesome and Batman like, but his ears, his bat logo, his utility belt, his cape, his coloring, etc, can all be shifted. Spidey really can’t escape his own classic design no matter how many artists try to change it. A good example are the pics of the new spider-man movie on the way – a new costume was designed for the reboot – it’s got cute little lines in places and swishes but over all – same ol’ costume. And that’s aweshome.

    Now that I think of it…I shouldda gone with Spidey for these reasons…wow. Good one, B.

  30. spidercow2010 says:

    I don’t care that there’s no way to put it on. It doesn’t bother me that it pops out of a ring. I have no problem with the toilet flush handles on the sides of his head. I just think SA Flash’s costume is sleek, elegantly expressive, economically designed and hella cool. I prefer Wally’s discontinuous belt-line lightning, but Barry’s works too. It may be that I’m just a sucker for Art Deco, but yeah, it reeks of speed.
    That said, I was never much of a Flash fan. Go figure.

  31. TopHat says:

    I’d take mainstream Captain America’s design over his Ultimate version.Because everything in the Ultimate universe is absolutely freaking terrible compared to the mainstream versions.

    You’d only be scared of Batman if he was attacking you. He just looks…weird otherise.

    Superman embodies what a Superhero should look like. It’s the most iconic costume ever, and just about every superhero owes something to Superman and his costume.

    The version of Iron Man up there is cool and retro and all, but it wouldn’t be my favourite variant on the armour.

    Spawn iscool andall but…Well,let’s be honest he just looks like Dr.Strange posessed by Venom.

    Spidey well…He pulls off the look pretty damn well. He doesn’t have that stupid face window that Batman has, you’re looking only at that mask, and those creepy bug eyes. That makes his a much more frightening IMO, because there’s nothing human when you look at that mask. That’s why I gotta’ go with Ditko’s own Spiderman.

  32. Dan says:

    Wait, Cap’s wings are dumb, but Flash’s are cool? In tearms of pure general awareness, you’ve got it down to Spidey, Batman and Superman. I guess now Iron Man can go into that category now to. The rest on this list, not so much. Yes, comics fans will know them, but general public? Nope. I’m really suprised by “Shazam” Captain Marvel being on a best costume list. I understand your reasons, but I’ve always thought it was one of the worst costumes. I would have gone for classic Cap, but you went with Ultimate Cap, which doesn’t rate. All in all, gotta give it to Spider-man, with Batman a close second.

  33. CPrime says:

    What about Wolverine? His costumes are by far one of the most iconic costumes in superhero history.

  34. Jeff Hebert says:

    Dan said:

    Wait, Cap’s wings are dumb, but Flash’s are cool?

    To which I reply in the words of Mr. Walt Whitman: “Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)”

    More seriously, the Flash “wings” are an homage to the Golden Age Flash, and are reminiscent of the Greek god Hermes on whom they’re all based. The wings themselves are sleek and streamlined and bring to mind the fins of a fast car.

    Cap’s wings have actual feathers, like they were ripped off a chicken and slapped onto his mask. And they’re so tiny, like they’re vestigial leftovers of something that used to be relevant. I sort of get that they’re supposed to recall the bald eagle, but come on — them ain’t eagle wings. It’s not that there are wings on his head that bugs me, it’s that the wings he has look ridiculous.

  35. Jeff Hebert says:

    I would agree that WOLVERINE is iconic, but not his outfit. The mask/helmet is pretty cool, especially since it’s carefully crafted to match his hair exactly, but overall it’s not very distinctive. You remember it because he’s wearing it and he’s Wolverine, but it’s not much to look at just on its own.

    Plus, it says nothing about him as a character. You wouldn’t pick that costume out of a lineup if all you had to go on was the name “Wolverine”. And once you were told “It’s that one”, you wouldn’t have any other insights as to what he’s like or what he’s about.

  36. B. Clouser says:

    Yeah, Spawn for me is spider man with some spikes, chains and a cape. They tried to make the cape huge and iconic and it seemed kinda cool, but over all I don’t care much for it.

    Mcfarlane seems to be stuck in his old spiderman mold with designing new characters. Anyone see his character Haunt? It’s Spiderman in black with white jizz all over him and his teeth are showing. Instead of shooting webs he shoots white jizz all over the place. It’s…unnerving every time I see a cover for that book: A guy doing a perfect spiderman pose, shooting web-like stuff, but he’s covered in cream and shooting stuff off his hand like a teenager who just finished taking one of those loooooong showers. Great character, Toddy.

  37. Dan says:

    Fair enough, sir, fair enough. I actually like both of their looks. I loved in Justice League Year One when Black Canary used Flash’s head wings to twist his hood. I think Cap’s wings are a little silly, but I think he looks wierd w/o them. Kinda like Supes red undies.They serve no purpose, but it’s just part of the classic look.

  38. EnderX says:


    1) Batman’s scared of bats? Since what storyline, please? Everything I’ve seen on the issue indicates he chose the motif because criminals would be scared, being a ‘superstitious’ and ‘cowardly’ lot.

    2) I haven’t read enough of the comics, so I can’t say if they’ve got an explanation for the Red/gold combo, but the ‘Bright Gold Golem’ version began because he got tired of everyone he was trying to save being just as frightend of him (in the original, ‘iron gray’ armor) as of the criminals he was stopping. I’m not sure layering the whole thing under a gilt complex did too much for his image, though.

    3) You’d never know Clark was Superman. Clark Kent wears glasses. Superman doesn’t wear glasses. It’s that simple.

    (Or, if you really want to go off the deep end, there was a once-canonical ‘super-hypnosis’ power he used, without realizing it, to make everyone think Clark was much frailer than he really was. Supes only discovered this when it got briefly shut down for Metropolis (long story) and nobody believed Superman’s story about ‘Clark asked me to look into something dangerous for him’ (after finding him pulling on Clark’s clothes) – on the specific grounds that the two looked nothing alike.)


    They’re shorts, not ‘undies’. (Oh, sure, now they look like that, but that’s not what they originally were.)

  39. B. Clouser says:

    @EnderX 39

    Batman was scared of the bat that flew through his window – which inspired his choice. Now I’m sure he feels a natural kinship for the animal which shaped his persona.

  40. zaheelee says:

    EnderX(39): the reason people cant tell clark from superman is because he wars suits two sizes too big, hunches over, seems weaker, changes his dimeanor, wears glasses AND raises his voice and octive. and if you dont believe me, it is explained by green arrow in Identity Crisis, so i am definetally not making this stuff up.

  41. Me, Myself & I says:

    What I like about Spiderman is that he is the only hero (other then in the The Incredibles movie) which I’ve seen the origin of his costume. Its pretty good considering he made it himself.

    It even inspired two of my contest entries so it can’t be that bad.

  42. I’d have to say Spiderman has the best costume. At least, it was the most practical. I can’t imagine a cape in Santa Monica being any what practical these days. It was the most fitting to his powers and versatile around the city.

  43. Steve M. says:

    I love Spider-Man’s costume, mainly just because it’s just so classic. I also really love the minor tweak Ethan Van Sciver did to the classic Hal Jordan Green Lantern costume in Green Lantern: Rebirth, stopping the green torso at the belt line instead of making it a unitard. But I had to vote Batman. Other than Spawn and maybe the Flashes, he’s the only character on this list that can be absolutely identified from silhouette alone.

  44. Patrick Longworth says:

    Another hero I would mention is “Hawkeye” in the period when he left the Avengers to work for Cross Enterprises. He’s among my favorites from Marvel. Darkhawk was never a major character but his armor is pretty intimidating.

    Nova, Ant Man, Yellow Jacket, Hawkman, Atom, and many others could have been on the list but I agree with the choices that you gave us (aside from one or two that is).