The superhero genre has never had more momentum, and comic fans have all sorts of reasons to be excited for what's coming down the pike. Still, that doesn't mean they can't have an appreciation for what's come before, and despite not having all the technology available to them as films do now it is quite amazing to see what past superhero films have accomplished. That includes the work in costume design, and many of the best incarnations of famous characters have delivered some stellar costumes without the help of extensive CGI.
From icons like Superman, Iron Man, and Spider-Man to lesser known but still beloved characters like Hellboy and The Crow, studios have managed to bring many pop culture favorites to the big screen in compelling ways. These costumes are held quite dear by fans, so it
Fans have plenty of things to look forward to in the genre as well, including DC's Justice League and Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 You can find the synopsis' for both movies below.
In Justice League, fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.
DC and Warner Bros. have a full slate ahead, with Teen Titans: The Judas Contract coming first on April 4, 2017. After that it's time for Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017, followed by Justice League on November 17, 2017. The Batman is expected sometime in 2018, with The Flash debuting on March 23, 2018. Aquaman is set for October 5, 2018, and Nightwing's solo feature is due sometime in 2019.
Next up for Marvel is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 on May 5, 2017. Spider-Man: Homecoming lands on July 7, 2017, followed by Thor: Ragnarok on November 3, 2017. After that Black Panther debuts on February 16, 2018, while Avengers: Infinity War hits theaters on May 4, 2018. Ant-Man and the Wasp
The Crow (1994)
The Crow is one of the best examples of a comic adaptation done right, and a big part of that was the studio's perfect capturing of the book's atmosphere, including a costume that accurately embodied the dreariness of James O’Barr’s series. The black leather trenchcoat, all black suit, and spooky white makeup made for an unshakeable image and even inspired many to adopt similar looks in all sorts of media, including professional wrestlers (Sting) and future franchises like The Matrix. You can watch the suit in action here.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have continued to be a powerhouse in pop culture since their big film debut, but for many, the other interpretations pale in comparison to the origins 1990 version (and it's accompanying sequels).
The use of practical costume and makeup effects holds up even now, and some of Jim Henson’s best work was bringing the TMNT to life. The turtles looked about as realistic as pizza-loving ninja turtles can, and Henson's work allowed them a unique amount of expressiveness while still composing costumes that looked fantastic in motion. Sometimes the first is the best.
Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance
Fans got a very different Ghost Rider this year in Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, though the supernatural hero's second foray into film was arguably his best incarnation. Nicholas Cage reprised his role in the sequel and got a few upgrades for his second go-round, including a much darker, cooler costume than compared to the first film.
The film wasn't perfect of course, but it's hard to argue against how slick Ghost Rider and his trademark flaming motorcycle looked in action. The darker aesthetic really helped the character fulfill his potential onscreen, and future incarnations would be wise to learn from the film's successes (and failures).
There's a need in Hollywood to constantly infuse iconic properties with modern elements and sensibilities. In some instances that works, but in others, it seems to take away from what makes the property or character work in the first place. That's how many perceived Christopher Reeves' Superman, which captured the essence of what makes Superman great. The suit is uncluttered and iconic, proving that sometimes simpler is better.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Marvel had to hit a homerun with Captain America: The First Avenger, as the character isn't one who could easily absorb a failure. The good news is that they delivered one of their best films period, including a picture-perfect costume that was practical and believable in the World War 2 setting. It also didn't hurt that it looked phenomenal in motion, and paired with Chris Evans stellar take on the character finally delivered the star-spangled Avenger to a completely new audience.
Rorschach (Watchmen 2009)
Zack Snyder is a true comics fan, evident to anyone who's seen what many called an unfilmable project in 2009's Watchmen. There are those who have issues with the film of course, but Snyder masterfully captured the book's tone and feel, including his depiction of characters like Nite Owl, Dr. Manhattan, and Rorschach.
Fans were treated to a visually stunning version of the character, who looked as if he walked straight out of the graphic novel and featured an inkblot mask that constantly shifted and moved. As if the character needed any addition reasons to be a fan favorite, this just added even more to his appeal.
Spider-Man (Amazing Spider-Man 2)
The original Amazing Spider-Man had a lot going for it, but it perhaps took the costume redesign a bit too far. For the sequel the studio decided to reign that in and implement the changes that worked into a costume most could recognize, and it resulted in the most comic accurate costume of the Wall Crawler to date.
The bright red and blue? Check. The large McFarlane-sized eyes? Check. Add some flair with the more modern Spider-symbol? Check. The jury is still out on Tom Holland's new costume, but it will truly hard to top Amazing Spider-Man 2's.
Has there ever been someone as perfect for a part as Ron Pearlman in Hellboy? If you answered no, you're correct, and a major part of that was the outstanding makeup and costume design. In fact, the make-up in the film comes as close to Mike Mignola’s art as you can get. From the red weathered skin to the broken horns to that massive right hand of doom, everything was recreated down to the letter. That's why Hellboy will always have a special place in fan's hearts.
Iron Man (2008)
There wouldn't be a Captain America, Guardians of the Galaxy, or an Avengers without Robert Downey Jr's Iron Man, which brought the popular comic hero to the big screen in a monumental way. An engaging origin story and a pitch-perfect characterization of Tony Star helped the hero reach an all-new audience, but the dazzling spectacle of the Iron Man armor also played a huge part of the hero's appeal.
The suit was visually stunning, and the CGI to make the suit believable was ground breaking, featuring all sorts of small details allowed audiences to invest fully into this Marvel icon. Of all the armors that have come since the classic red and gold is still by far the most popular, and it's easy to see why.
Batman (Batman V Superman 2016)
Zack Snyder's favoring of a darker tone can sometimes be received lukewarmly, and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice certainly had that in spades. What it also had though was a Batman unlike any other, finally delivering a cinematic Batman who looked straight out of a comic book.
This Batman encompassed the "Dark Knight" label, and in action, he hit even harder. His costume was a harken back to more comic book roots, with much less focus on making it look like armor. It actually looks like a costume, though with a certain amount of modern flair. Affleck delivered one of the best Batman's on film, and the costume only made that performance better.