For the longest time, Hollywood struggled with getting superhero costumes right. More often than not, studios would shy away from comic accurate looks for these iconic characters, but Marvel Studios and their talented concept artists changed all of that with 2008's Iron Man.
Since then, we've seen them bring costumes to the big (and small) screen that we never dreamed would make the leap from the pages of our favorite comic books.
Unfortunately, not even Marvel Studios has a perfect track record, and there are some poorly designed efforts that failed to do the source material justice and, honestly, just looked terrible in live-action. Why these outfits couldn't be cracked is hard to say, but we're attempting to figure that out in this look at 12 of the worst offenders in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
We're sure some of you love these, but we're not sure why...
12. Green Goblin (Spider-Man: No Way Home)
Look, we're aware that Green Goblin's Spider-Man suit isn't exactly a favorite for fans, but the MCU's overhauled take didn't look much better.
We appreciated the purple hood as a way of paying homage to the comic books, but all those random additions to the suit didn't achieve much beyond making it look overly busy, and neither did those extra weapons that failed to serve much of a purpose. Ditching the mask for goggles was similarly disappointing, though it did allow us to see more of Willem Dafoe's performance.
If Marvel Studios' plan was to overhaul the Green Goblin, it feels like there were better ways to do so.
It's not a disaster by any means, but we can't help but wonder whether embracing the comic books and doing something really crazy with this villain in Spider-Man: No Way Home would have benefited him significantly.
11. Ant-Man (Ant-Man)
We get that the suit Scott Lang wore in 2015's Ant-Man was the same one Hank Pym donned during the Cold War, but a story reason for it looking so crummy didn't do much to help matters.
The leathery look of the material doesn't do this one any favors, while that helmet design is undeniably ugly. Now, we're happy to admit that this costume looks 100% Ant-Man, but when you turn to the comics, we're sure you'll agree that there are better ideas Marvel Studios could have gone with.
If it was always the plan to use a retro costume, why not embrace that original helmet and a more colorful design?
The sequel improved upon this outfit, though an argument could be made that Marvel still hasn't cracked this hero.
10. Iron Man (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
A new Marvel movie means that Iron Man needs to get a different suit of armor. We're sure the Disney-owned studio would never admit this, but the reason for that is cold, hard cash and the merchandise sales associated with the Armored Avenger.
So, when Spider-Man: Homecoming rolled around in 2017, no one was surprised to see Iron Man decked out in another new suit.
Despite taking inspiration from The Ultimates, it didn't really do the Bryan Hitch-designed suit justice. In fact, it was just unpleasant to look at, with no real reason for a silver torso beyond a desire to shake things up and create yet another pricey Hot Toys action figure that could be sold in stores.
It's boring, uninspired, and Tony Stark's worst MCU armor.
9. Hawkeye (The Avengers)
No one was ever expecting Hawkeye to wear a bright purple costume in the MCU, and when The Avengers was being developed, the only other place Marvel Studios could really pull from was The Ultimates.
We appreciate the addition of some purple in his S.H.I.E.L.D. uniform, but beyond that, it was about as exciting as watching paint dry. The costumes that followed for Jeremy Renner's Clint Barton weren't much better, and it wouldn't be until Disney+'s Hawkeye landed that this hero's look was done justice in live-action.
There, he finally donned the same costume his comic book counterpart did in Matt Fraction's Hawkeye run, and we just wish that had been around when The Avengers was being made.
At least the only place to go from here was up for the archer!
8. The Eternals
So, yeah, we're including ten characters in one slide here, but that's because their costumes were all equally underwhelming.
We applaud Marvel Studios for doing something different and the intricate details on each suit are something of a sight to behold. However, we'd have loved to see simpler, Jack Kirby designs that made these characters jump off the page, as what we got just feels overly complicated and busy.
Hopefully, changes can be made as these heroes make an impact throughout the MCU, because there's a good reason the appearance of these ten immortals has been compared to characters you might see in a Zack Snyder DC film.
They're ultimately not the worst, but are thoroughly average.
7. Deathlok (Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
We're not sure Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is even canon at this point, but it would be a disservice not to mention this abomination of a costume.
While there’s no denying that this is a character that needed some changes in the transition from page to screen, the costume he ended up with just looked like cheap rubbish. The rubbery material and unnecessary lights mean it would have been a better fit for an old Power Rangers episode from the 1990s.
It's not difficult to appreciate that developing superhero costumes on a TV budget is no easy feat, but whoever came up with this...well, have they ever even seen a picture of Deathlok?
The ABC series improved as time went on, but this was an unforgettable low point.
6. Ghost (Ant-Man And The Wasp)
Making Ghost a female villain in Ant-Man and The Wasp wasn't a bad idea, and choosing Hannah John-Kamen to play the character was a genius move on Marvel's part.
It's just a shame both the movie itself and the costume the villain wore were so underwhelming.
There's a creepy quality to Ghost in the comics that was completely lacking here with this sterile, plasticky effort that looked beyond generic on screen. The mask was a real miss, while the addition to the hood ensured that pretty much nothing we saw here actually worked.
We're hoping to see more of Ghost in the MCU given how her story ended, but if it does happen, it's essential that she get a new look because the ball was dropped in a major way back in 2019.
5. Captain America (The Avengers)
Captain America has worn a lot of different costumes in the MCU since being introduced in 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger, but when he was brought into the present day, things went horribly, horribly wrong.
Created in storyline by Agent Coulson, this goofy suit made Chris Evans look like a weed, and was way too busy.
Covered in zips, pockets, and lines (so many lines), this poor excuse of a modern-day look for Captain America was a total disappointment, and the fact that it was so heavily redesigned for Avengers: Age of Ultron makes it clear that Marvel Studios was all too aware that they'd made a mistake.
Chris Evans hated this suit, too, and we're not sure how it ever made it to the big screen.
4. Spider-Man (Avengers: Infinity War)
Marvel Studios giving Spider-Man a new costume for Avengers: Infinity War made sense from a storytelling perspective, and the Iron Spider was a fitting choice seeing as Peter Parker was heading into outer space.
Unfortunately, the execution wasn't great, and we can't pretend to have enjoyed watching this Spidey in action. Sure, he looked pretty great in motion, but there were much better options here. Why not follow the color scheme from the comics? We know this was considered based on concept art that has since been released.
Honestly, we'd have been happier seeing a black costume that paid homage to what Spider-Man wore during Secret Wars, but that's probably wishful thinking on our part.
We're hoping that after Spider-Man: Far From Home, this costume is retired.
3. Whiplash (Iron Man 2)
Whiplash – who was a weird mashup of both that villain and Crimson Dynamo – had a couple of different looks in Iron Man 2, but they both disappointed.
The first might have been the worst, though, and while his use of Tony Stark’s arc reactor technology played a key role in the sequel’s plot, it just looks like a lazy Iron Man knock-off and comes across as uninspired as a result.
His final appearance (which received a laughably short amount of screentime) is so generic that it’s hard to remember what Whiplash even looked like when he finally donned his own suit of armour.
Trust us when we say it was bad, though, because there was nothing in this movie that redeemed Mickey Rourke's underwhelming big bad.
2. Shocker (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Before we conclude this feature, we have to mention another forgettable villain who deserved so much better.
An action figure confirmed that Marvel Studios once considered a comic accurate design for Shocker, but that was abandoned, and he ended up looking like a generic thug with some pretty boring gauntlets rather than a memorable supervillain. Honestly, it's one of Spider-Man: Homecoming's biggest failings.
The Vulture looked great, so we don't really know what went wrong here.
There's been no sign of Shocker (or Scorpion) since, so perhaps Marvel Studios hopes to redeem them down the line. For now, though, we'll continue to struggle to accept that this is how Shocker looked for his live-action debut.
1. Taskmaster (Black Widow)
Taskmaster made her MCU debut in Black Widow, and it's safe to say that the villain's big screen look completely and utterly sucked.
Not having her wear a literal skull on her head is an easy decision to understand on Marvel's part, and the attempt to include the blue, white, and orange color scheme we're used to seeing in the comics is appreciated. However, the way it's combined for the MCU does not work and looks pretty silly.
The entire helmet design is a disappointment, and looks no better when the hood goes up.
Taskmaster in Marvel's Spider-Man doesn't look that much different to this take on the villain, but there are enough differences to show what the studio should have done to properly pay homage to the comics.