Superheroes’ costumes are their calling card. Their suits aren’t just practical but they can also be a part of their character. Superman gets instantly recognized for his blue suit and a red cape, and while it’s not too practical, it is an eye-catchy style decision. Batman is aptly dressed as a bat because it’s easier to blend with the night sky but also he had nothing else besides bats during his formation phase. Wolverine never goes without his black and yellow onesie… oh wait, he does. Forget him then. Now try to transfer those from comics and animated films into reality. Seems like a worthy challenge for a talented costume designer, doesn’t it? Well, the costumes on this list might appear as malevolently cheap, poorly realized, or downright disrespectful to the characters. And not all of them are from the 60s and 90s.
It’s great to see more and more creators get at least the costumes right. If you’re not watching the new DC cash-grab movies, you can at least enjoy the promo style shots.
While some of these may be bad due to budget restrictions, there is never a good excuse to dress Cyborg into raggedy “futurist”-style clothes or strip Harley of any decent garments. Style over substance is never a good thing, but, you know what, there are limits. Take a look at the most WTF comic book costumes on TV and the big screen. You can barely recognize some of these heroes.
20. Adam West’s Grey Batman Body Glove (Batman 1966-1968)
Adam West’s Batman will not be soon forgotten thanks to the series’ unholy wackiness and, of course, the costumes. The grey body glove the actor wears in concert with navy satin pants and cowl are priceless.
Short and smooth, West’s Batman is the definition of ‘men in tights’. Well, actually Robin is even more of that ‘cause he appears to be wearing actual tights under those short shorts. But it’s not even the funniest part. Batman’s eyebrows— that’s the funniest thing about this whole thing. Drawn on the mask, these two arches could make Marlene Dietrich jealous. But why do this? Maybe they thought that the mask was too expressionless?
19. Men And Women In Black (X-Men 2000)
If a superhero’s costume is part of his or her character, the X-Men, being a more charismatic bunch, need those especially. The 2000 film turned them into a homogenized group of dull shades with those stupid black leather suits of theirs. Why? Oh, it’s a group thing?
Come on, X-Men don’t need uniforms, it’s stupid. They all have their own personalities and powers right? Why do they need to look the same? To spot each other in the crowd, or what?
There is nothing more recognizable than Wolverine’s yellow vest and mask ears. And while Hugh Jackman can pull off all kinds of hair, it looks no less ridiculous than a Wolverine mask would. You could also put him in more than a few lines of credits to make sure people know that it’s him under that mask.
18. Adrianne Palicki’s Costume Shop Corset (Wonder Woman 2011)
You may not know this, but NBC tried to start a Wonder Woman series starring Adrianne Palicki back in 2011. The show didn’t take off, and it could be, at least in part, because of the suit. No, really, it’s just bad.
It’s as if they went to the Halloween costume shop, and picked the cheapest option they could afford. It’s shiny, it’s plastic, and, simply put, cheap AF.
Palicki is no Gal Gadot, but even she doesn’t look nearly close to being a proper Wonder Woman. There is just something very Kelly Clarkson about her. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not a WW type.
17. Elektra’s Sexy Time Corset (Daredevil 2003)
Full disclosure: Elektra’s original costume kinda sucks, but at least it doesn’t look like the cheap designer corset knock-off that Jennifer Garner sports in Daredevil. It looks constrictive, let alone stupid and dated. It’s like when fashion tries to bring back the lingerie trend. In theory, it should look good and sometimes it will be a hit on the runway, but in reality it just doesn’t work.
The problem with her original costume is that she doesn’t wear pants of any kind, which is like “whatever makes you happy, girl”, but really how efficient is that?
They gave her pants in the movie, but it’s just too “early 2000s”, you know? Semi-shiny satin just doesn’t age well. Then there’s this corset element that looks half-assed. If you want to give a superhero a corset, at least make it a cool one, not this lingerie-style sexy time corset.
16. Harley seQuinn In A Bomber (Suicide Squad 2016)
Speaking of sexy, Harley Quinn’s got a cool original costume that was given quite a few modernized sexy twists in Arkham video games (not all of them worked by the way). The costume designers for Suicide Squad apparently thought they knew better and came up with a new “costume”. They, unsurprisingly, weren’t creative with it. They went with the reliable (not) short shorts, fishnet tights, and a ripped white tee, completing it all with a satin gold-trimmed bomber jacket. Wow, that looks bad.
They, then, thought that something was missing, and decided to throw in more fake gold jewelry and a Hot Topic studded belt. The only thing they did themselves, it seems, was picking new colors— red and blue instead of the classic red and black.
What the actual frick? Why do you have to go and ruin Harley’s image? She might be in love with a criminal, but she still has some inexplicable innocence to her. This costume doesn’t reflect that at all.
15. Nip Town (Batman & Robin 1997)
Joel Schumacher has shown other directors how it’s done, namely how to make a bunch of high profile actors dress funny and act like a bunch of idiots. A lot of them (directors) took notes, and implemented this successfully.
This bunch looks so ridiculous, the movie almost comes full circle to become cool, but alas fails in all the other departments.
One of the things people will remember about this movie is Batman and Robin’s nipple suit. What? Nipples need some breathing space too, although for some reason this pic shows only Batgirl and Robin enjoying some extra room. There’re also plenty of whacky silver elements that accentuate Batman and Robin’s other sexy regions.
14. Cap In Shiny Blue… Spandex (Captain America 2 1979)
You gotta concede that Captain America’s costume is pretty funny on its own, but not as funny as this 1979 film’s spandex suit. Look at it. It’s adorable! Shiny sky blue goes all the way up to his helmet-head, which makes it look like a turtleneck. And there’s only one guy who can pull off the tactileneck.
The blue Spandex isn’t the only problematic part of the old Cap’s suit, though. Those stripes may not be shaped as a corset, but they aren’t doing this outfit any favors either. Red gloves and matching boots are just amazing, meaning those look like Russian red boots, and overall leave a funny impression.
13. Catwoman Without A Catsuit (Catwoman 2004)
Catwoman is sexy. It doesn’t mean she has to run around half-naked. If you think about it, it’s exactly the opposite, because her sexiness is in her demeanor, natural body language, and voice. Also Catwoman is probably the best character to pull off a catsuit, isn’t she?
This is where Halle Berry’s Catwoman costume fails miserably. It’s too open, too crudely made, too try-hard. How on Earth is she climbing buildings with her back and stomach skin all exposed? How do her torn leather pants hold together after a fight?
It’s not to say that other Catwoman costumes in film were great. Michelle Pfeiffer’s sewn latex looked quite bad, and even Anne Hathaway’s black catsuit wasn’t all that great, but that just might be because of Anne Hathaway.
12. Billy Zane In A Onesie (Phantom 1996)
Oh, Billy Zane. You managed to outdo Batman and Robin, at least in the costume department. How did that ever happen? Well, back in 1996, director Simon Wincer decided to make a flick about The Phantom, and it only went downhill from there. The 90s, huh?
Starring along Kristy Swanson and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Billy Zane prances around in a purple onesie with an imperturbable face, looking quite silly. He looks even funnier mounted on a white horse in this garb. What is going on in that movie?
It should be noted that this costume is not that far from the original thing. It’s purple, it leaves the face open, which is why he has to wear a small black mask. The only thing that’s missing are the navy briefs. Instead, Billy Zane wears a leather garter belt to carry his guns around.
11. Riddler With David Bowie Hair (Batman Forever 1995)
Another Schumacher’s masterpiece Batman Forever was quite rich in bad costumes. Sure, Riddler can’t dress but not to the point of wearing onesies. Seriously, that’s just absurd. In one scene, Jim Carrey dons a white onesie encrusted with rhinestones. How crazy is that? For the promo photoshoot, they chose the green one, ridden with question marks, though. Fun!
As if it wasn’t enough, they also gave him orange David Bowie hair, which looks completely fantastic. No, really, if there’s anyone that can pull off that hair aside from the music legend, it’s Jim Carrey.
But, seriously, what is going on here? Why does Nigma look and behave like the Joker and dress like a complete lunatic? If you want more WTF costumes from Riddler, watch the movie. There’s also a stone-embroidered pimp jacket somewhere.
10. Goblin Ninja (Spider-Man 3 2007)
Green Goblin is a weird character. Originally he made some sense, being a demon and all. After being reimagined as a human, though, not so much. After what they did to him in Spider-Man 3, he stopped making any sense whatsoever. He’s not even green at this point.
You absolutely have to cover up James Franco’s face in order to perceive him as somewhat villain-y. And this is probably the only thing that this costume succeeds at. All the rest has nothing to do with goblins or even the color green. Maybe it’s a state of mind?
9. Black Canary’s Itty-Bitty Shorts (Smallville 2001-2011)
Smallville is one of those shows that started as something promising, but then quickly went on with the same TV tropes as other non-superhero shows so often do. Superman goes rogue, then he turns into an a-hole, then a slew of other superheroes come to take away all that screen time from him. ‘Cause what? He’s boring?
Anyway, this is Black Canary. Dressed in cheap leather shorts and fishnet tights, she carries knives on her thighs and wears her hair short. There isn’t a shred of glamour left in the bird.
This bad Halloween costume is completed with mask-like makeup that looks positively fun for a carnival but would be a pain to draw on every time there is a crime in progress. Everything about it just screams “wrong!”
8. Quicksilver X-Meh (Days of Future Past 2014)
Aside from being overpowered and having stupid motivations, 2014 X-Men’s Quicksilver looks… well, stupid. It’s not anything in particular, but rather all the things that come together to make his “costume”. The silver jacket is about as subtle as an elephant, like his
ashy silver hair isn’t enough. His pants, shirts, and goggles… you know what, you’re right, not all superheroes need to wear Spanx. It’s just that Quicksilver could use some wardrobe change.
It’s not that Quicksilver’s costume in Avengers was great either, but if it were made to look less sporty, it’d be way better than a freaking silver jacket. What? It looks inexplicably dumb.
7. Poison Ivy’s Hair A La Madonna (Batman & Robin 1997)
It’s not only the costumes that make Batman & Robin so out of whack. Hair plays a great part, at least in Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy costume. Her red locks look like Madonna’s boobs. Not like her actual boobs, mind you, but those bold cones Jean Paul Gaultier added to her Blonde Ambition Tour costume.
It’s a weird stylistic decision indeed because one would think that Poison Ivy, who’s unhealthily into plants, wouldn’t want to wear horns on her head. Those should look more like roses or something. The kind of hair she sports in Arkham Knight.
6. Metal Scrap Rhino (The Amazing Spider-Man 2 2014)
Don’t you just hate when they use gimmicks to give superheroes or villains their “powers”. This is what happened to Rhino in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in 2014. They gave him a power suit with heavy machine guns and rockets. Oh, and a red star on his right shoulder. What the… ?
It’s bad enough that he is just sitting there with his bald head and a wifebeater sticking out, his power suit looks like a metal junk yard school project fixed together in a hurry. And what is up with all the heavy-on-the-eyes CGI?
5. Bullseye’s Bullseye (Daredevil 2003)
Another questionable costume is also from Daredevil the movie. Bullseye is not the most fashionable guy, but he’s also not going around sporting a croc pimp trench and a douchebag buckle. Like many, he dons a body-conscious suit with a bullseye on his forehead that complements other white elements in his catsuit.
Daredevil the movie was rich in bad stuff, and Colin Farrell‘s Bullseye costume, unfortunately, made the list. There isn’t even a single redeeming thing about this whole get-up. He’s bald, he has a bullseye-shaped scar on his forehead, and he dresses like a douchey rockstar pimp. Wow!
Let’s assume they decided to give Colin Farrell’s glorious hair a cut to imitate the original costume, but what made them choose that horrendous trench and leather pants? Why? It’s definitely one of the most WTF costumes out there.
4. Cyborg Made Of Cloth (Smallville 2001-2011)
Cyborg is not completely a man, but rather part machine, part man. Not in Smallville, of course. Lack of money (or interest) turned Cyborg into a guy who’s into futuristic wear and metallic sneakers.
Cyborg’s cool metallic body parts, transforming limbs, and gadgets are a huge part of his ‘superherodom’. These don’t just give him a way to live a full life, but they also enable him to fight the bad guys, and help other superheroes save the world every now and again. Bottom line is, it’s not so much of a costume as it’s a literal part of him.
3. There’s No Deadpool Without A Mouth (X-Men Origins 2009)
Deadpool is known for his red suit. He wears it so bad guys couldn’t see him bleed, although why would his immortal meatsack care about that? Anyway, it’s weird to see Deadpool without that stylish red leather in X-Men Origins. It’s even weirder that they had his mouth sewn shut (though Wolverine probably liked the idea).
Aside from totally wasting the moment of having Deadpool and Wolverine together in one scene, Fox also forgot that Wade Wilson is one horribly disfigured sumbitch, and it’s not only affecting his face. Here, it looks like they’ve pressed his mug with a fishnet stocking, and given him some red eyeshadow. Not cool!
2. Aquaman’s Running Suit (Smallville 2001-2011)
Smallville is definitely the winner in the worst superhero costumes category. This time the victim is Aquaman. Dressed in some kind of Nike jacket knock-off, Alan Ritchson looks like he is ready to run his first marathon, but for some reason is embarrassed of his body.
Seriously, the guy even wears trainers and tights. What’s up with that? The supposed king of the ocean couldn’t look more surface dweller-like.
Costume budget seems to be the main problem in Smallville . There are too many superheroes to dress everyone properly. Though, it didn’t stop the creators to try and capitalize on every favorite DC character they could find and somehow cram into the series.
1. Green Lantern’s Naked (Green Lantern 2011)
After finding himself in this situation a second time, Ryan Reynolds simply owed it to himself to play a superhero (or Deadpool), and do it right this time. Green Lantern wasn’t just a bad film, Reynolds’ costume wasn’t even a real costume. It was some sort of green CGI slime that vaguely resembled something, but ultimately fell way too short. Not even Reynolds’ perfect physique could save that awfulness.
Aside from the suit, he was given a hideous oddly-shaped mask that just looks weird. Maybe that’s because of those pale blue eyes the CG guys decided to give Reynolds, who, unfortunately, cannot pull them off.
Like it or not, but practical effects as well as real, well-made costumes still look much better than anything computer graphics can offer.
Superheroes may look wacky in comics, but they always look believable. This is the power of that media. A movie has to uphold all the rules of the world in order to make wacky costumes work. This is supposed to be liberating for directors and other creators, yet they always feel the need to make things “their” way, and, somehow, it almost always looks worse or just dull.