Bringing admittedly silly comic book costumes to life is no easy task. After all, these colorful outfits weren’t exactly made to be on the big screen. It’s for this reason that superhero movies — especially those in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — changed their comics’ costumes to better fit the live-action medium.
For the most part, the MCU did a great job of translating and transforming Marvel Comics’ eccentric costumes for their movies and TV shows. However, for every great live-action costume, there’s a lackluster or downright terrible one. Some designs stood out too much from the others, while others simply didn’t fit their respective story’s theme or style.
Updated on January 18, 2023 by Angelo Delos Trinos: With each addition to the larger story, the MCU continues to grow and improve its interpretations of classic comic book costumes. That still doesn’t mean the MCU is above making the occasional mistake. This list was updated to acknowledge some questionable costumes from the MCU’s movies and TV series.
10 Ultron Looked Like A Transformers Reject
Avengers: Age of Ultron
A strong case could be made that Ultron possesses one of, if not, the most distinct and iconic designs for an evil robot in all comics. With his perpetually open “mouth” and small red eyes, Ultron instantly struck fear in his enemies and amazed readers. In the MCU, Ultron looked more like a leftover android from the Transformers movies.
Age of Ultronwas made during the Transformers movies’ peak. It isn’t unfounded to assume that the filmmakers ditched Ultron’s iconic comic visage to emulate the live-action Transformers’ uncannily humanoid and lifelike designs. As a result, the MCU Ultron looked too much like an Autobot, and was creepy for the wrong reasons.
9 Bullseye Simply Stole Daredevil’s Costume
Netflix’s version of Bullseye was clearly inspired by his appearance in the Marvel MAX imprint. Like what MAX Bullseye did after becoming obsessed with Frank Castle, Benjamin Pointdexter stole Daredevil’s identity (i.e., his costume) to “understand” him. Unlike MAX Bullseye, Pointdexter didn’t bother distinguishing himself from his idol.
Pointdexter just wore Daredevil’s red and black suit, and then he framed Matt Murdock for various crimes. The season kept teasing the arrival of a comics-accurate Bullseye, but it never happened. Comic fans were disappointed and frustrated by the endless teasing. Meanwhile, newcomers only remembered Pointdexter as “Evil Daredevil.”
8 Whiplash’s Second Form Was A Lesser Iron Monger
Iron Man 2
The MCU’s Whiplash combined of all of his different comics incarnations. Ivan Vanko’s energized whips and lack of armor hearkened back to the Silver Age Whiplash. His later upgrade reflected his more modern interpretations. As divisive as his shirtless appearance may be, Vanko’s armored version was just unimaginative.
Vanko’s armored self simply looked like a bigger Iron Monger from Iron Man. Not helping matters was how his final fight against Tony Stark Jr. felt too similar in tactics and themes to Tony’s clash with Obadiah Stane. Vanko’s armor lacked the personality his original costume had. His whips were the only elements setting him apart.
7 Sam Wilson’s First Falcon Suit Was Lifeless
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
To be fair, the EXO-7 Falcon was an experimental airforce suit. Appearance and style weren’t major concerns. Regardless, the first time Sam Wilson dons the wings in Captain America: The Winter Soldier wasn’t very impressive. This was mostly due to the flight suit’s lack of color and flair.
The black and gray scheme coupled with Sam’s casual clothes was boring. It was evident that the suit’s designers emphasized tactical utility over creativity. This dourness was emphasized whenever Sam stood next to Captain America. Thankfully, Sam’s later suits struck a balance between the MCU’s realism and the comics’ style.
6 Diamondback’s Power Suit Was Hard To Take Seriously
Marvel’s Netflix era didn’t exactly have the biggest budgets. That said, Luke Cage should have spent a bit more on Diamondback’s power suit. The cheap-looking outfit was designed to resemble Willis Stryker’s green and yellow scaled suit in the comics. While it was a nice homage, it wasn’t great to look at in live-action.
The suit was apparently made of a material that could absorb and fire kinetic energy, but it looked more like a flimsy boiler suit. Diamondback resembled a cheesy sci-fi villain who somehow wound up in Luke Cage’s modern and grounded gangland setting. Diamondback was fun, but he stood out for the wrong reasons.
5 Deathlok Looked Ridiculously Lazy & Low-Budget
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
In the comics, Deathlok was a literal walking weapon. Half of Deathlok’s body was literally rotting, and most of his flesh was replaced by robotic limbs and weapons. His live-action counterpart comprised actor J. August Richards in a dull suit. Worse, Deathlok’s burn scars weren’t too disgusting, and his cyborg parts were internal implants.
Compared to other MCU projects, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.obviously had a limited budget. That said, Deathlok was egregiously cheap. At best, Deathlok’s costume looked as bad as those used in superhero TV shows made in the ’90s or 2000s. At worst, Deathlok was negatively compared to a henchman from an early Power Rangersseason.
4 Jigsaw Became A Generic Evil Ex-Soldier
The Punisher Season 2
With his scarred face and sharp suits, Jigsaw became one of The Punisher’s most recognizable and stylish enemies. Jigsaw was changed from a monstrous gangster to a twisted combat veteran in live-action. His costume was also affected by this switch. Unfortunately, the new Jigsaw lost all sense of style and personality.
Jigsaw’s facial scars were barely noticeable, and he wore a generic ballistic mask most of the time. Whenever he actually showed his face, Jigsaw donned dour tactical gear or casual clothes. Since Netflix’s The Punisherwas more of a self-serious drama than a comic adaptation, Jigsaw’s uninspired look fit the dour setting.
3 Danny Rand Kept Finding Excuses Not To Wear His Costume
Iron Fist & The Defenders
One of the strangest creative decisions behind Iron Fist was the choice to not put Danny Rand in a costume. Showrunner Scott Buck explained Danny was still finding his place in the world, so he didn’t need the costume yet. At best, Danny wore ordinary clothes that followed his comic costume’s color scheme.
Even in The Defenders, Danny Rand still didn’t wear a costume. Although there was an in-story justification for the absence of Danny’s costume, it still felt like a pretentious rejection of Iron Fist’s comic roots. If not for his chest tattoo and his glowing fists, it would be impossible to realize that Danny was actually The Immortal Iron Fist.
2 The Clandestine Didn’t Even Bother With Costumes
One of Ms. Marvel’s biggest surprises was its introduction of The Clandestines: a long-forgotten family of superhumans. The Clandestines were reimagined into exiled Djinn from the Noor dimension. That said, this was only evident whenever they activated their powers, because The Clandestine didn’t even have costumes.
Although it made sense that The Clandestine did their best to hide in plain sight, they could’ve at least reflected even a bit of their original counterparts’ distinct style and personality. The MCU’s Clandestine would’ve fit better in an older and more dour superhero show like Heroes, not something as colorful and vibrant as Ms. Marvel.
1 Finn Cooley Looked Like A Disposable Henchman
In The Punisher’s MAX run, Finn Cooley was known and feared for his burned face and medical mask. It was literally impossible to mistake him for anyone else. In Daredevil’s second season, Cooley blended too well with the other Kitchen Irish gangsters. If not for his name, Cooley was just another bearded henchman.
Cooley’s unimaginative incarnation perfectly summarized the problem with the aesthetics of Marvel’s Netflix era. These shows excised their comics’ artifice and creativity under the guise of “realism.” The closest that Cooley came to resembling his comic counterpart was when Frank Castle fired a shotgun at his face at point-blank range.
NEXT: 10 Best Marvel Characters Ruined By Their Popularity