A superhero’s outfit is like the cover of a book. It has to be eye-catching, easy on the eyes, and capture all who gaze at it. If a hero sports a terrible costume, they’ve essentially ruined their career in the eyes of the public. That’s why it’s important for the artists to create the best design possible for all of their heroes.
With that said, it’s impressive that there are hundreds if not thousands of different superheroes, all with different getups that distinguish them from the rest of their universe. From the simplistic take on the X-Men to the more sophisticated threads of the Justice Society. What’s even more impressive is that costumes are not even limited to one per character. Most heroes actually have multiple costumes, that either add or take away from their overall look. It seems that with each new artist, they never run out of ideas.
While many of these costumes result in some of the most amazing sets of spandex that have ever been worn, it seems that the designers never stopped to think how these outfits would function in real life. Is it feasible to be worn? Would it hinder their crusade against crime?
Some superhero costumes are just plain awful, some look great, others just aren’t practical. That’s what we’re looking at today; 15 of the most useless superhero suits in Marvel and DC.
15. The Mask Of Grifter
Grifter is one of those military expert heroes that belong in the same realm as Deathstroke and The Punisher. As a former member of the US Special Forces, he has the training, firearm knowledge, and expertise to get him through all of his missions against crime itself. His skills were so valuable that he was asked to become a member of the WildCats, one of DC’s famed superhero teams, even being their leader for some time. For those of you that have seen Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox, in the alternate universe, Grifter was the head honcho of the United Kingdom’s Resistance when waging war with the Amazons.
All in all, Grifter is a pretty cool guy. He’s got everything you would want in a street level superhero: looks, sweet armor, knows his way around a gun, etc. Unfortunately, for someone so adept in military combat, you’d think he would have chosen for a better mask. While the mask itself is cool in appearance, it does absolutely nothing to protect him from a blow to the head. Not only that, but any bad guy could just lift up his mask to see his secret identity, then putting him and everyone he loves in grave danger. He’d be a near perfect hero if it weren’t for that mask.
14. The Vision’s Cape
This was never something that really caught my attention until I saw Avengers: Age of Ultron. Don’t get me wrong, The Vision is a great character, has an astounding set of powers, and was one of the highlights of the second Avengers film (for me that is). What caught my eye was the scene where he is born and speaks with the Avengers for the first time. While he is talking, he magically grows a sparkly yellow cape to accent his suit. It’s not practical at all (and I’m speaking for the comics as well). Vision is an incredibly powerful android/human mix that can fly, shoot lasers out of his head, phase through things and so much more. However, just like Edna explained in The Incredibles, capes are a hindrance. NO CAPES! While it adds something aesthetically to Vision’s look, it could overall give the enemies just the advantage they need to bring him down. He tries to fly away from Thanos? He just has to stretch his hand and grab that cape. Eventually The Vision is going to have to fight Thanos because of the Infinity Stone that sits in his head, and it’d be best for him to lose the cape for that fight.
13. Hawkeye’s Colorful Costume
Hawkeye is now a beloved character in the Marvel canon, and there is much debate as to whether he or Green Arrow are the better archer. Well before the Marvel movies came out, that debate wasn’t even a thing for those who had a good look at Hawkeye’s costume. It’s pretty awful to say the least. The horns, the bright purple color scheme, and lack of decent armor really make one question what the artists were thinking when they drew this up. What’s even worse than the design is the practicality of the suit. It’s practically nonexistent. It won’t protect him from gunfire, and will make it more awkward when he gets in close combat situations. Not to mention that if he wants to hide in the shadows, he won’t be able to hide for very long considering that the entire suit is a bright purple. Luckily for old Clint, the purple has since been done away with and in its place a military-grade archer’s suit complete with an arsenal of different arrows and slick goggles to help him see long distances.
12. Daredevil’s Yellow Suit
I love Daredevil. He is my third favorite superhero of all time, and I can’t wait to see him in action again when The Defenders comes out. Unlike his Netflix run however, Daredevil hasn’t had it very easy when it came to his comics. When the character was first created, he didn’t wear his classic red duds or even the black suit that became so popular in Frank Miller’s incarnation. What did he wear then? You’ll be sorry you asked. Daredevil wore a bright yellow costume with a big red D in the middle of it. The name Daredevil is supposed to cause fear in criminals’ minds (being the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen and all that), but once they get a good look at him, they’ll think of him as nothing more than a carny who took a wrong turn. Perhaps the biggest problem with Daredevil’s original suit is that he does most of his work at night, so he would need to be able to remain stealthy. Unfortunately, anybody with eyes could see that costume coming from a mile away, especially if he was swinging from the rooftops via his billy club.
11. Elektra’s Threads
That’s 2 for 2 in the Daredevil universe. Elektra Natchios is as hardened and psychotic and assassin as they come. While she may still have feelings for old Matt Murdock, she is an undeniable killer and does her job very well (she is also not completely a villain either, as she has a conscience and moral code), which is something that Murdock can’t live with. You would think that being such an impressive hitman, Elektra would have one of the most practical and awesome costumes in the entire comic book world, right? Well, you thought wrong. It ranges from a red suit that covers her torso to some weird swimsuit that she wears while taking names off of her list. Let’s go by this again. Elektra is an assassin, so naturally she would have some pretty tough names to cross off on her list, so she would have to be prepared for those battles. However her outfit garners her no protection whatsoever. To be honest, it seems more like an attempt to make her more “easy on the eyes” if you know what I mean. If it distracts the bad guys, great, but somehow, I don’t think that’s the case.
10. Penance’s Spiky Armor
You’ve probably never heard of Penance. You’ve probably never seen his costume either. You see, his alter identity Robbie Baldwin was originally the hero Speedball, you know, the one that helped cause the Stanford Incident that ignited a Civil War between all of Marvel’s heroes? Apparently, he didn’t die in that explosion and was later found, but without his speed powers. Unfortunately, the government decided to make an example out of him and was abused by many of the guards and criminals while he was thrown in prison. Eventually he discovered that this pain caused him to regain his powers. He decided to agree to the Superhero Registration Act and be a hero who worked for the government, albeit donning a new costume. This costume was armor covered with spikes that even pierced his body so that he would constantly feel pain. You can see why his suit is on this list. Not only is the suit constantly tearing his flesh, but the mask is ridiculous. How does one even see out of such a thick mask? I doubt even Daredevil would be able to wear anything like that without having trouble of some kind. I just hope Penance takes the suit off before hugging someone.
9. Hangman’s “Scarf”
A doctor in the American Civil War, Dr. Bob Bickering was amazing at what he did. He valued all life and viewed all as worthy to live. This led him to save a blind enemy soldier from the battlefield, but this got him labeled as a spy and traitor. For this label, he was hung alive. However, during death, he was approached by a supernatural being that would restore his life only if Bob would track down and kill all the evil men of the world. Bob agreed and was turned into the vigilante Hangman. This sounds like an incredibly cool story, doesn’t it? And with a cool story comes a cool costume, right? While the Hangman’s outfit is cool, resembling something of a modern executioner, there is one piece of the outfit that doesn’t make much sense. Around his neck sits a noose that he wears like a fashionable scarf. All a bad guy would have to do is grab the end of the noose and pull it tight in order for Hangman to fall. If a supernatural being gave you powers and a second chance at life, you’d think one would come up with a better costume.
8. Hawkman and Hawkgirl’s Helmets
Hawkman and Hawkgirl haven’t exactly been the most beloved superheroes as of late (especially thanks to their live action incarnations in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow). It’s quite unfortunate as both of these characters are quite awesome in the comics, the latter more so. Hawkgirl does as she pleases, and has even been so questionable as to betray the entire Justice League at one point. Both characters are rough, but in their hearts still want to do what’s right. The one thing that doesn’t make sense are their helmets. While I get that it’s reflective of their namesakes, what do the helmets do that actually benefit them? Absolutely nothing. The helmets, in practical terms, are more of a hindrance than a protection. A helmet like that would be difficult to keep on straight, let alone see out of. And while we’re on that subject, Hawkman’s outfit also dictates that he doesn’t wear a shirt. What kind of practicality does that offer? If Hawkman gets shot or stabbed, he’s done for, and if either of them get a good bonk on their helmets, they’ll be disoriented long enough to be taken down.
7. Superman’s Modern Getup
DC has always been known to experiment with Superman storylines, and that has resulted in some of the best comics in history, but other times, it resulted in storylines that weren’t quite as exciting. In the New 52, DC has Superman lose his powers and realize what it was like to be an everyday guy. That didn’t stop him from displaying heroics though, and he had to get a new costume to go with it. Unfortunately, the costume looked like something you could buy at Wal-Mart, and offered no practical protection whatsoever. Heck, if saved anybody from a burning building he would instantly need a new costume. It’s definitely not hard to see where the writers were going with this design, but the execution of said design could have used some work. He looked more like the star quarterback of Smallville High than the Last Son of Krypton. It’s a good thing that he does have his new costume back just in time for DC Rebirth, and it’s much easier to look at than a Superman T-Shirt and a pair of blue jeans.
6. Green Arrow’s Robin Hood Cosplay
Green Arrow is the best archer in the entire DC Universe, and my second favorite superhero of all time. Each of his costumes are unique, eye catching, and contrast well with the dark streets of Star City without looking too out of place (Rebirth happens to my absolute favorite outfit of his). That is until you see the outfit he was given when he debuted. Ollie didn’t always use the slick hood that has become his trademark, but instead he was given a suit that was heavily inspired by the character Robin Hood. While people go back and forth on whether they like the design, there’s no denying that it has no practicality whatsoever. A Robin Hood costume may offer good camo in the forest, but not in a big city, and a hat with a feather will offer little protection when bad guys start shooting at your head. It’s no wonder Oliver had to arm himself to the teeth with trick arrows, because he had to make sure he could get a shot off before criminals started firing at him. Let’s all just take a moment and be thankful that the CW opted for a much more modern look for Stephen Amell‘s version of Green Arrow.
5. Starfire’s Swimsuit
Before the Teen Titans show aired on Cartoon Network, like most people, I had no idea who Starfire was. After it finally was released, she was instantly brought to many peoples’ attention, and is currently a beloved member of the DC canon. Her powers of flight and energy make her a formidable foe, and anybody who chooses to get in her way will definitely have to think twice first. Despite her lovable personality and unique set of powers, there is one flaw with Starfire: her costume. Let’s ignore the TV show Starfire for this one, because I’m mostly referring to her look in the comics. One look, and you can see why she would be on this list. Her outfit covers hardly anything, let alone protect her from any attackers. At first glance, it looks exactly like something that came out of an MMORPG. Perhaps she is just keeping the outfit because it has some of the best stats she has ever seen. If not, then she should reevaluate how her costume is designed, because if she was an ordinary human, she would be dead within a week. Nobody would want to see the Teen Titans take a hit like that.
4. Wolverine’s Spandex
Something that even the X-Men movies have made fun of are the outlandish costumes that the mutants wear in the comics. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of the uniform design that has been seen in the films; I’d much rather each of them have a unique outfit. However, one in particular, while iconic, wouldn’t offer much in the real world and is only there for looks. Of course, I’m talking about Wolverine’s yellow spandex. While it’s one of the most recognizable superhero costumes, and most of us would love to see Hugh Jackman don that suit at some point, it doesn’t help Old Logan very much at all. First off, Wolverine is a dynamic fighter- he needs to be able to move quickly and hit hard. Having spandex with muscles like his would only hinder his movements, if he didn’t rip the costume first. Also, how tightly the mask is designed would only hinder the use of his peripheral vision. Finally, no matter where he goes, he’ll stick out like a sore thumb and be spotted with little to no effort. Cue snarky Deadpool joke.
3. Multi-Colored Batman
Batman is my favorite superhero of all time, and any self-respecting Batman fan knows that the Dark Knight has had many different outfits over the years. There were many that were pretty useless such as the Zebra Batman outfit, but I think that another suit deserves a spot here just a bit more. That would be none other than Batman’s many different colored costumes. You see, in the comics, Robin once saved a citizen while out of costume and suffered an injury. Batman thought that observant criminals would see Robin’s injury and be able to make out his secret identity. So, Batman dropped his classic duds and put on a more colorful persona. The various colored suits have only one apparent purpose: to distract foes. Other than that, it’s useless. Batman is the king of working at night, and donning a rainbow suit would out his position faster than you could say Joker. While Rainbow Batman did fulfill its purpose of drawing attention away from Robin, it would definitely jeopardize their many adventures while trying to remain unseen. He is Batman though, so I guess he could make it happen. I would say to go with a monochrome suit, but that’s how Zebra Batman was born.
2. Robin’s Original Costume
Holy barracudas, Batman! When it was first shown that Batman would be getting a sidekick, much speculation happened over who that sidekick would be. Batman is the Dark Knight, the Caped Crusader, the one who strikes fear into the heart of Gotham’s Underground. You could imagine the surprise then that his sidekick would be the Boy Wonder: Robin. What’s even more ridiculous is Robin’s original costume. Getting the elephant out of the room right away, why exactly does he wear no pants? Did Batman run out of sewing material or something? On top of that, the color scheme is almost as attention grabbing as Rainbow Batman. You would think that Batman, the master of stealth, would have designed a suit that would be more tactically probable as opposed to something you’d wear at bedtime. A suit like that isn’t going to protect anyone. Thankfully, the writers and artists got with the times eventually and designed Robin’s suit much more practical and less colorful. It’s a wonder how that design for a superhero even got off the ground. He looks like he belongs more in a Superman panel, not in the dark streets of Gotham City.
1. Power Girl’s Threads
Power Girl has always been one of those controversial superheroes, and I definitely have a take on that controversy myself. However, we’ll ignore that aspect of her, and instead focus on the specifics of her costume. She is a powerful hero and definitely doesn’t have many things to fear when she fights the bad guys. Unfortunately, whoever put her costume together didn’t think practically for sure. The only thing practical about her costume is that she will distract some men as she beats them to a pulp. While I can’t speak for the thinking behind her design, it seems all but confirmed what their reasoning was. Intents aside, the costume does absolutely nothing when in combat. While you could easily argue that she doesn’t need a protective costume because of how powerful she is, that’s a very fair point. However, when it comes to moving fast and flying around, that costume is only going to impede her more than help her. Her costume will always be one of those that never quite makes sense to me. Perhaps it never will, but that’s okay; my superhero tastes lie elsewhere. If you’re a fan though, more power to you.