Superhero films have become huge cash cows for the movie studios over the last 20 years or so. Some of them have been very faithful to the source material, while some have suffered from directors, producers, and studio execs whipping out their junk and pissing all over them (in a metaphorical sense, of course). One of the biggest problems with making comic book films is translating the ornate, brightly-colored, and sometimes gaudy costumes the heroes wear to the silver screen in a way that won’t shatter the dreaded “suspension of belief” for the audience. In some cases, the changes made to the costumes make sense and still do justice to the character, but every so often, you end up with complete abomionations that look utterly ludicrous. Here then, are my Top Ten Worst Superhero Movie Costumes of All-Time: 

10.) Elektra (from Daredevil, 2002): Aside from delivering a shitty, poorly planned movie, the geniuses behind Daredevil made a lot of key mistakes. Chief among them was the decision to cast the vanilla, plain-jane Jennifer Garner as the exotic, Greek assassin Elektra, and matters were made ten times worse with this abysmal excuse for a costume. Black leather pants and a black bustier? Really? Could this get up be any more pedestrian? Actually, it does have some nice white design accents that lend the outfit a certain Three Amigos quality. sigh…

9.) Catwoman (2004): You’ve got to be kidding me. For most of her history, Catwoman has had a very simple costume. A one-piece (usually black) catsuit, and a mask with pointy cat ears. That’s it. Simple, but classic. This looks like Lady Gaga raided an S&M store, then had a night of rough sex with Wolverine.

8.) The Punisher (1990 version): Sweet Lord, the Punisher costume is almost impossible to screw up. Just throw a halfway decent tough-guy actor into a black suit with a giant white skull on the front, strap an arsenal of machine guns to it, and you’re done. Simple, right? Apparently not for the clueless asshats in charge of the 1990, low budget, straight-to-video Punisher flick starring none other than Ivan Drago himself as the titular character.

Now in all fairness, with greasy black hair Dolph Lundgren actually made a pretty imposing Punisher. However, the most iconic part of the character was inexplicably left by the wayside with this God-Awful excuse for a costume. It’s all there, but NO SKULL. Totally idiotic. Fifteen years later the Thomas Jane and Ray Stevenson versions got the Punisher costume right, but the movies themselves were still lacking.


7.) Mr. Freeze (Batman & Robin, 1997): Ugh. Absolutely ludicrous. Let’s not even get into how horribly mis-cast the Governator is in this role. It’s probably the worst casting in the history of superhero movies period, so we’ll leave it at that. Aside from that fact, this costume is just utterly insane. A jumbled mass of chrome and neon blue lights, the darned thing weighed about 80 lbs. and looked like the hideous love-child of a 1950’s jukebox and an Imperial AT-AT walker. And let’s not leave out the metallic blue paint slathered generously all over Arnold’s bald noggin, transforming Conan the Barbarian into the world’s largest and scariest Smurf.

6.) Superman (Superman Returns, 2006): When it was announced that Bryan Singer, the director responsible for delivering two excellent X-Men adaptations was going to be bringing the Man of Steel back to the big screen, it was a day of celebration and relief for the geek community. Superman fans dodged numerous bullets, (Kevin Smith’s Superman Lives or Nicolas Cage as Superman, anyone?) and suffered through a 17-year wait to see their beloved big blue boy scout back on the big screen. With a track record of success in the costume department for the previous four Christopher Reeve Superman films, surely Bryan Singer’s production would carry on the tradition of flawless, iconic Superman costumes, right? Uhhh…not so much.

The first problem with this suit is the color scheme, it’s just way too dark. Superman’s costume should be a glorious primary blue and primary red, no excuses. I don’t care what lighting scheme or cinematography Singer was going for. Secondly, there should be a yellow “S” shield on the back of the cape. Putting it on the belt buckle was unnecessary. And speaking of the belt region, the shorts were just wayyy too skimpy. Superman is not a Calvin Klein model, for Pete’s sake! Finally, the front of the costume is all wrong. The neckline is much too high, and when you couple that with the tighty-whities (or tighty-reddies in this case), it elongated the torso a bit too much, making The Last Son of Krypton look much too thin and lanky. And the biggest problem of all? THE “S” SHIELD IS TOO SMALL!!! Way, way too small. I would have loved to see an epic, massive “S” Shield, revelaing Supes in all of his heroic grandeur.

5.) Juggernaut (X-Men 3, 2006): Wow. I don’t know what’s worse here; the laughably bad painted foam helmet, or the Ricardo Montalban-style fake rubber chest. The only thing worse than this costume is the painfully horrific acting performance by the usually awesome Vinnie Jones. X-Men 3 was a trainwreck on so many levels, but the script and Jones’ portrayal reduced a character rich in Marvel lore with family ties to Professor Xavier (completely ignored by the script), to a one-note thug spouting cringe-worthy one-liners. “I’m the Juggernaut, b**ch!” Ummm…no.

4.) Captain America (1990): Two words: Rubber Ears. Oh, and that guy Cap’s fighting in the pic? That’s the Red Skull after undergoing reconstructive surgery. No, I’m not making that up. That should tell you all you need to know about this movie. Thank God Cap’s finally getting the big-budget,  Summer tentpole treatment he deserves with Captain America: The First Avenger starring Chris Evans in June, 2011.

3.) Batman & Friends (Batman & Robin, 1997): Pay attention kids. This is what happens when you stick Joel Shit-maker in a room with marketing cretins and toy company executives. You end up with a two-hour toy commercial that completley eschews acting, plot, and character development, and these multi-colored, rubber-nippled nightmares. Yikes.

2.) Green Goblin (Spider-Man, 2002): This one is really frustrating. Everything, and I mean everything in this production was near flawless. The cast, which included Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, J.K. Simmons, James Franco, and Willem Dafoe was outstanding. The script was well-written and perfectly balanced the action set pieces with the humor and the compelling human element. Sam Raimi was an inspired choice to direct Spider-Man, bringing a fresh energy and a unique shooting style to a big-budget superhero pic. Why then, when they had all this going for them, did they drop the ball so badly on the Green goblin suit? It’s truly perplexing.

The fatal flaw is the one piece mask/helmet, which completely removes any ability for the brilliant Willem Dafoe to emote. Why on Earth would you hide one of the most evil, expressive faces behind one stoic visage? This problem was compounded by the fact that Spider-Man’s mask also did not allow for facial expression, so you had two characters talking to each other on the screen through one piece masks and it produced some awkward scenes with some over-the-top head bobbing. I have seen several different unused concept masks and facial appliances for the Green Goblin and all of them were light years better than the final product. The completely green “high-tech military” jumpsuit was also really lame. In action, it looked like Spider-Man was battling with a cast-off from the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. One of the biggest mis-cues in comic book movie history and one that is really going to hurt this film as time goes on.

1.) Steel (1997): BWAH-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Oh jeez…oh man…I’m sorry. -Ahem- HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!


About Jeff Carter

Jeff began his path towards Geek destiny at the age of four, at a drive-in screening of Star Wars. Since then, he's had a love affair with all things nerdy. In the mid to late 90's, Jeff was a staff writer for EchoStation.Com, interviewing Star Wars heavyweights like Timothy Zahn and Drew Struzan. He then went on to review films and write editorial pieces for several blogs in the mid 2000's, wrote and co-created a webcomic strip that ran from 2007-2010, and is currently co-founder of Dead Henchmen Productions, an independent film company based in New England.

Posted on November 18, 2010, in LaserCola Lists and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Superheroes almost always look dumb, just deal with it.

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