Superheroes are a pillar of American culture. And who comes to mind at the mention of “superhero” if not Earth’s Mightiest Heroes — the Avengers. While the Avengers are often the only people that stand between life and death for the entirety of the Marvel Universe, they aren’t always the best dressed. Like any normal person, superheroes sometimes try and change things up, fashion-wise. Over the course of each member of the Avengers often decades-long crime fighting career, heroes often go through a handful of costume changes. And some of them? Yeesh.
If you consider yourself a fan of any of the costumes on this list, well, my friend, you’re in the minority. We don’t know how any of the heroes on this list managed to work up the courage to leave the house, let alone fight crime. The Avengers are known for their heroism, and occasionally their spandex. However, the costumes on this list are more than fashion faux-pas, they are downright evil. This list is a collection of what we here at CBR consider to be some of the most heinous, unappealing and poorly designed costumes to ever slither their way past the editorial teams at the House of Ideas.
15. HAWKEYE LOSES HIS PANTS
For a brief period of time, Hawkeye, aka Clint Barton, hung up the bow and arrow in favor of Hank Pym’s growth serum in order to become the giant-sized hero Goliath. While Clint Barton soon reverted back to his origins as Hawkeye, it seems as if the serum might’ve had some lasting effects on his thought process.
We can’t think up another explanation for why he’d think an all-purple outfit of a headband, vest, skirt and boots would pass for a superhero costume. Thankfully, the costume (designed by Barry Windsor-Smith) only appeared in a handful of issues before the archer wizened up and reverted to a design more reminiscent of his classic outfit. Sadly, this one isn’t even the worst costume Hawkeye has worn over the years.
14. THOR STRAPS ON THE LEATHER
Hercules isn’t the only one to get a completely ridiculous costume out of “The Crossing”. While Herc’s costume was strange, Thor’s is flat out horrendous. The God of Thunder enters the fray all decked out in butt-length hair, fingerless gloves, a crop top and wrist wraps— the material? Skintight black leather. This would be bad enough as is, but he ends up with some unnecessary chains and thigh spikes.
Combined with a flowing red cape, Thor ends up looking like the unholy cross between himself, Spawn, and a go-go dancer. Thor’s sporting so much unnecessary black leather and metal accessories that we think his costume is a bit more suited to a BDSM dungeon than a high stakes superhero battle. Wouldn’t he like…chafe? Fans might hate it…but we love it.
13. IRON MAN NOSE THIS IS A BAD IDEA
While there is not anything wildly wrong with this Iron Man suit, there’s one glaring problem — and it’s staring us right in the face. More specifically, it’s his face. Yes, we’re talking about Iron Man’s infamous “nose armor”. The year was 1974, and Marvel was in a bit of an editorial slump. Stan Lee wasn’t as present around the office, and his comments were being misconstrued fairly often.
Lee apparently thought that the head drawn was Iron Man’s face, leading him to say something along the lines of, “Shouldn’t there be a nose?” This is the misunderstanding that led to the travesty that was Iron Man’s nose armor. Luckily, fans weren’t too into it, and it only ran from Iron Man #72 to Iron Man #85.
12. THE HULK BECOMES JOE FIXIT
Regardless of the nuance that Joe Fixit brought to Bruce Banner’s character, consider this: someone woke up one morning and said, “You know what readers want? The Hulk, but as a mob enforcer and wearing a suit.” When Joe Fixit hit the scene back in the ’80s, he was a novel addition to the characterization of the Banner/Hulk dynamic.
However, at the end of the day, he’s the Hulk in a nice suit. A nice suit, that if the Hulk does what the Hulk is supposed to do, is going to be in tatters about two panels from the start of the issue. It’s a fun little blip on the Hulk’s decades-long Marvel legacy, but we’d rather not hear from Joe Fixit again. Let the Hulk be the Hulk.
11. BLACK KNIGHT, BROWN LEATHER
The Black Knight (aka Dane Whitman) is one of Marvel’s most formidable characters and earliest Avengers. Unfortunately for him, the whole “super intimidating armored swordsman” thing kind of goes out the door when you swap the armor for a…wait for it…leather jacket. We get it — it was the ’90s, aka the peak era of comic book characters sporting leather.
The Avengers had decided to wear uniforms like the X-Men, so why wouldn’t leather jackets be their identifier of choice? Uniformed Avengers never really caught on, and as such faded into distant memory. Sadly, the Black Knight didn’t shed his helmet, leading him to live out his leather-dressed days as a reminder that medieval armor and leather jackets, while cool and intimidating on their own, don’t mix.
10. ORANGE AND GREEN FALCON
After taking a second look at this costume, you know what? There really isn’t anything wrong with it…if you’re colorblind. While the Falcon (aka Sam Wilson) has never really been one of the more fashion-conscience Avengers (aside from Wilson’s time as Captain America— that suit was amazing!), this one really takes the cake.
Though it is not a whole lot different design-wise from the winged Avenger’s more well-known costume, the color swap on this costume is an honest to goodness travesty. The Falcon’s green and orange costume doesn’t even match itself! We here at CBR are not really sure what the reasoning behind this palette swap was, but we hope it had something to do with Redwing being able to see his pal a bit more clearly…otherwise, there’s no excuse.
9. ALL HAIL HYDRA CAP
When Steve Rogers returned as Captain America during 2016’s Marvel NOW! initiative, it was revealed not only that he wouldn’t take the shield back from Sam Wilson, but that he’d be rocking a whole new uniform. His first appearance in the new suit however (Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 by Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz) would destroy any potential success that Steve might have while wearing it. Why? Two words: “Hail Hydra.”
The suit was much less flashy, and much more functional than any of its previous iterations. However, it soon became associated with the name “Hydra Cap”, reflecting Steve Roger’s role as Hydra Supreme. Now that “Secret Empire” is over, we wager we’ll be leaving all the bad memories we have of this get-up in the past where they forever belong.
8. HERCULES GOES THROUGH THE CROSSING
Hercules is one of the oldest heroes to ever be a card-carrying member of the Avengers. The son of Zeus can trade blows with the best of them — he’s one of the strongest around, which is probably why he shared a fair amount of on-panel time with the Incredible Hulk and later, Amadeus Cho. Though Hercules has been around for thousands of years, his fashion sense never really left Herc’s young adulthood.
That’s why it was all the more confusing when Hercules suddenly brought his wardrobe into the 20th century. Herc’s costume in “The Crossing” is reminiscent of a late ’80s clubbing outfit, which is weird because it was published in late 1995. The Prince of Power is best portrayed in his classic garb — not a tank top.
7. HAWKEYE BECOMES BROWNEYE
Though it draws from Hawkeye’s (aka Clint Barton) classic garb, it does so very sparingly. In fact, Hawkeye’s “Heroes Reborn” costume bears more of a resemblance to Wolverine’s classic costume than it does to the archer’s. Complete with tan sleeveless spandex, a winged Wolverine-esque full facial mask and a couple of metal armbands, this monstrosity was neither functional, nor aesthetically pleasing.
In fact, his “Heroes Reborn” garb takes the title of “Worst Hawkeye Costume Ever” away from the costume he wore after shedding the title of Goliath that he’d been using. We’re not sure if Clint’s “Heroes Reborn” costume was an attempt at cashing in on Wolverine’s iconic look, or if this was just a very very unfortunate coincidence. All we know is, we’re glad it’s gone.
6. FAST FORWARD QUICKSILVER
Quicksilver (aka Pietro Maximoff) was one of the first members of the Avengers outside of the team’s initial roster. Along with his sister Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye, Quicksilver rounded out the ranks of Cap’s kooky quartet starting in 1965’s Avengers #16. Despite having an extremely long tenure in the Marvel Universe, both as a hero and a villain, Quicksilver’s suits have always been fairly run-of-the-mill spandex, nothing too ridiculous. That is until his most recent costume change.
In Quicksilver’s more recent appearances such as in Uncanny Avengers, he’s been sporting a purple and white spandex bodysuit with an incredibly misleading fast forward sign on the costume’s chest. Why is it misleading? He’s not The Flash, Quicksilver isn’t messing with the timestream! He’s just going fast!
5. THE SCARLET GYPSY
While every costume on this list offends the senses, this is the only one that is inherently offensive. Scarlet Witch’s “gypsy” costume, despite the character’s disputed Romani origins, reduces the culture to little more than what appears to be a belly dancing outfit. Aside from that, this costume is just purely not functional.
Scarlet Witch (aka Wanda Maximoff) is constantly on the move, floating through the air, or fighting bad guys. The flowing yet revealing nature of this costume would mean that her underwear would be on near-constant display. With a trenchcoat-like cape and arm length gloves, Scarlet Witch looks like she is much more prepared for a night on the town than she is for fighting villains. For how little fabric this costume uses, it manages to be as cumbersome as possible.
4. THUNDER STRIKES OUT
The ’90s were a dark time for all comic book characters, but some got it worse than others. Amongst those who were hit the hardest by the drive to look as ridiculously edgy as possible was Thor. One-time architect Eric Masterson has been lucky (or unlucky) enough to have held the titles of both “Thor” and “Thunderstrike”.
After Masterson’s time as Thor came to a close, Odin crafted him a mace called “Thunderstrike”. The character was essentially just a questionably hipper, edgier version of Thor, but without too many bells and whistles. The knock-off hero’s design looked like a cross between Thor and Crocodile Dundee. Even though the character’s self-titled series sold fairly well, Marvel capped it at 24, meaning we don’t have to look at Thunderstrike’s step-dad-esque ponytail very often.
3. THE VISION WHITES OUT
A little known fact about the Vision: the character was originally intended to be completely white, but the printing limitations at the time of his introduction would’ve led him to look more like a blend of the background colors. Luckily, his iconic green/yellow/red color pallette looked amazing, so it stuck. That is, until he was captured, dismantled and had to be reassembled by Hank Pym.
This led to Vision spending his time as a West Coast Avenger, and during “Infitnity Gauntlet”, in a body colored entirely white. It was his first redesign in 21 years, and it left a lot to be desired. A monochromatic costume doesn’t work for many characters, and with the all-white costume looking too similar to Moon Knight, it makes sense why Vision soon returned to his original color scheme.
2. THE IRON GORILLA
Not only is it probably the worst Iron Man suit, but it is one of the worst costumes of all-time. The gold parts of the suit are actually hard-light holograms made by the red parts of the suit. Even so, that doesn’t make it look any less stupid. Somehow, a robotic suit has illustrated all the problems with hypermasculinity in comics more succinctly than any flesh and blood body could.
There is no end to the number of jokes that can be told about the Model YT1, so we’ll just give you one and let you put your own together: The Iron Man Armor Model YT1 is a gorilla suit. All that’s missing is the fur. And one final observation: it’s pretty much just the letter ‘V’.
1. CAP IN A HOT TIN SUIT
Comic book fans all have their own unique and nuanced opinions about characters, their actions and designs. However, there is one thing that pretty much all of them have in common: they hate the short-lived Captain America exoskeleton suit. Introduced in Captain America #438, the exoskeleton suit was meant to keep Cap in action during his bout of Super Soldier Serum-induced paralysis.
The suit was built by Tony Stark with Cap’s disruptive, rather than destructive crime fighting tendencies in mind. Though it was well thought out, and would eventually be revisited in the “Axis” event two decades later, fans were vehemently opposed to seeing the Star-Spangled Avenger cooped up in a suit of armor. Luckily for them, tin can Cap didn’t stick around too long.
Do you like any of these redesigned Avengers outfits? Let us know in the comments!
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