Superhero TV shows grapple with a very delicate balancing act. Unlike their cinematic counterparts, the masked vigilantes of the small screen have significantly fewer resources at their disposal. There's the smaller production team, the limited budget, the fixed set locations, and network regulations. At the same time, fans still expect high-quality content that honors canon and the characters they love. Yet time and again industry executives, showrunners, and unknown stars all prove they can handle this near-Herculean challenge. Even when they don't quite get things right, fans are appreciative enough to take up the slack.
Take DC's Legends of Tomorrow, for example. The zany, surprisingly heartfelt time travel caper is the gem of the CW Arrowverse. If asked about the show's shortcomings, fans usually have very few criticisms -- except for the show's costumes. Their superhero suits are often critiqued for their canon divergence, lack of unique features, paltry action aesthetic, the list is endless. But rather than harp too viciously about it, fans enact the change they want to see through the magic of cosplay. The construction hours are long, and the expenses are daunting, but the reward is an incredible homage. Legends of Tomorrow may be nearly flawless, but these 15 impressive cosplays definitely help elevate the show to greatness.
15 WHITE CANARY (WITH BLACK CANARY)
From her bad-girl personality to her take-no-prisoners prowess on the field, Sara Lance is a fan favorite among Legends of Tomorrow's motley cast of characters. Coming off the heels of an explosive love triangle and several hellish years of training with the League of Assassins, Sara entered the world of Legends ready to turn her life around. Fans have had the pleasure of seeing her mature into her own woman, willing to open herself more to the complicated world around her.
A symbol of her independence came with an alias change. Sara adopted the mantle of White Canary in homage to her sister, and now sports an off-white full leather ensemble. When not in motion, however, the suit looks a little misshapen. A better fitting alternative would be what cosplayer Shmuberry wears in her photoshoots. Plus, it's more recognizably modeled after the Black Canary while still maintaining a unique identity.
14 REVERSE FLASH
As an arch nemesis to Star City's favorite speedster, Reverse Flash stands as a formidable antithesis to our hero in the Arrowverse. Viewers can instantly see this contrast thanks to his costume: whereas the Flash speeds around in a pristine ruby red, tight-fitting spandex suit with accompanying flashes of yellow lightning, the Reverse Flash is beefier, yellow, and heralded by an eerie red glow. He is one of the most visually stunning villains the Flash has ever faced.
Unfortunately, his intense looks haven't translated as well in the Arrowverse. The bulk and coloring are right, but the suit as worn by Eobard Thawne is a little too... plastic to be as impressive as it is in the comics. We like Jasong72483's rendition of the Reverse Flash because it captures the features of the suit in a realistic way without resorting to pleather. This villain is appropriately scary as a result.
Vixen is a relatively new addition to the world of DC TV, but the character has graced comic book pages and animated shows for decades. Fans know her best as the animal-themed superhero who works a glamorous orange or yellow jumpsuit, though the New52 has introduced a bit of black to her overall outfit. Legends of Tomorrow clearly took is inspiration from this latest interpretation, as Amaya Jiwe's ensemble is all muted yellow and all-consuming black.
But just like with Reverse Flash -- and just about every single costume on the show, really -- the biggest drawback with Vixen's costume is its over-reliance on leather. It's definitely not as bad as some of the other examples on this list, but it's distracting enough to be a problem. Cosplayer sun_z stuns in her interpretation of the suit, proving how vibrant, cool, and functional the suit can still be with a few minor tweaks.
In a comic universe populated by heroes well into the early years of middle age, sometimes it's refreshing to have some young blood thrown into the mix. For Legends of Tomorrow, our usual ragtag bunch of misfits encountered a team of young super-soldiers from the 1940s. The Justice Society of America reigned supreme in the world of heroics, and overall their makeshift costumes were good adaptations of their comic counterparts. And then there was Stargirl.
There really is no explanation for the Party City knockoff that was Courtney's outfit. It's worse than any USO outfit in Captain America: The First Avenger, and that includes Steve's own ensemble. At least this unknown cosplayer shows a more mature version of the outfit directly tied to the character's comic book past, and even reminiscent of the boxer costumes of the era that inspired the outfits of so many other superheroes. (#TheTrunksAreBack, anyone?)
11 CAPTAIN COLD
If we had to pick the true star of Legends of Tomorrow, we'd throw Leonard Snart's name into the ring -- and we bet most fans would do the same. Ever since his first appearance on The Flash, Captain Cold has stolen every single scene he's been in with his charm, sarcastic retorts, and surprisingly nuanced morality. With that being said, his costume left something to be desired.
It's not every day you get a character as shamelessly hammy as Miller's Captain Cold, after all. One would hope that his villainous costume would mirror his larger-than-life personality, but it looked like Snart spent most of his stolen goods on a really durable coat from Eddie Bauer. It makes some fans long for his more classic comic costume, which cosplayer nycprinnc3 delivers on in all its glory. Hopefully, Snart returns in this outfit at least once before the show ends.
Supergirl is the star of her own show on the CW, but her wonderful appearances during the Arrowverse's epic crossovers basically make her an honorary member of Team Tomorrow. At the very least, she certainly qualifies for this list. Kara's Arrowverse costume is perhaps one of the greatest superhero TV adaptations ever created. It's sleek, it's stylish, it's cosplay-friendly, and it holds up pretty well against the DCEU's own Kryptonian super suit.
It's hard to think of any way it could be improved, to be honest. And even with the plethora of gorgeous Supergirl cosplay out there, it's even harder to just choose one that enhances the outfit in an aesthetically interesting way. This writer will give serious kudos to CaptainIrachka, though. Her cosplay is consistently bright and dynamic, and her canon-inspired suit is just beautiful beyond words.
9 THE ATOM
Brandon Routh is guaranteed to bring wholesome hotness to whatever role he plays, and his depiction of Ray Palmer on Legends of Tomorrow is just one of the many great examples. The resident engineering genius has gone through a few different identities on the show, most notably a brief stint as the Captain Cold replacement hero Colonel Cold. But fans know him best as the Atom... which is a little unfortunate because the exosuit is not the most pleasant costume to look at.
Blame Iron Man for doing it better. The Arrowverse interpretation of the Atom suit looks bulky and uncomfortable, and its attempts to adhere to its comic color scheme make it look downright goofy. Daniel Hague thankfully offers a much better version of the suit that maintains the Atom costume's structural and aesthetic integrity in a sleeker and more streamlined upgrade.
8 RA'S AL GHUL
Compared to most other villains in DC's expansive roster, the Demon's Head definitely deserves some respect. His presence in the DC universe is as pervasive as it is consistently malevolent, and his destructive international schemes are only rivaled by the Joker in their long-lasting consequences. He is the Grandfather of Gotham's future son, the leader of the eternal League of Assassins, the gatekeeper of life itself, and thus one of Batman's greatest foes.
Yet his many adaptations have been pretty disappointing thus far. The Nolanverse whitewashed version was laughable at best and Gotham's version is only marginally better. The Arrowverse version falls somewhere in the middle of this strange melee; at least his costume isn't all that bad. Still, cosplayers like BlizzardTerrak do it better by sticking with the lavishness and strange, almost intimidating appeal that an ancient like Al Ghul should exude in spades.
7 CAPTAIN COLD AND HEAT WAVE
When it comes to dynamic duos, there are few in superhero TV more iconic than Captain Cold and Heave Wave. Considering their actors -- Prison Break brothers Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell -- it's basically a given that these two characters would be nearly inseparable partners in crime. They stormed through The Flash in a blaze of icy-hot glory and matured into great heroes on Legends of Tomorrow, and fans will always cherish their time together.
Personally, this writer would have enjoyed seeing this villainous pair on the small screen if their costumes were a little more interesting. Captain Cold's stylish winter coat is distinct enough to be easily associated with him thematically, but it would have been amazing if Heat Wave's costume called back to his pyro-capabilities as well. Cosplayer crimsondomingo and her husband's fireman-inspired outfit perfectly depict how great these contrasting visual themes would look together.
6 HEAT WAVE
Unfortunately for Mick, his character often fades into the background in many fans' minds. It's understandable, given how easily his gruff and reclusive nature is overshadowed by his flamboyant partner and more expressive teammates on the show. But at the same time, it does prevent many fans from seeing him as anything other than a comic relief supporting character in the lives of more dynamic main characters.
His nondescript costume might be to blame for his comparative obscurity. As a former career criminal camouflage is key, so dark colored working man's outfits fit the bill of boring pretty well. But as cosplayer serpouncealott shows, there's nothing wrong with adding a little bit of flare to his villain outfit when he's out on the job. It still has those down-to-earth sensibilities, just morphed into a more distinct identity. You can still clearly see that this Heat Wave is totally hardcore.
5 JOHN CONSTANTINE
Legends of Tomorrow fans have a lot to celebrate these days. Not only has the show just been renewed for its fourth season, but a new special guest is also becoming a regular cast member: the seductive hot mess of an occultist, John Constantine. It's a long overdue opportunity, since the character has been through far too many canceled TV shows and poor movie adaptations to count. But the age of the Hellblazer finally seems to be upon us.
In the meantime, fans have been entertaining themselves with Constantine's cosplay-friendly wardrobe. Anyone can throw on a rumpled button down and a long trench coat, but it takes someone really special to capture the air of tortured loneliness, wariness, and minor regret over a hangover that characterizes the magical conman. From his atmospheric photoshoots to his striking resemblance to Matt Ryan, Ardent Cosplay is the obvious man for the job.
4 KID FLASH
One of the more pleasant surprises to grace Legends of Tomorrow comes in the form of another new cast member: Wally West, the Arrowverse's unique adaptation of Kid Flash. He was initially an integral part of Team Flash, slowly learning to love his family and support his allies after luck granted him superpowers. Fans were worried when it was first announced he was leaving The Flash, but it looks like his time will be better spent among his new teammates on Legends.
However, a lot of fans wished a new costume came as a housewarming present at the new show. Like Barry Allen's Flash costume, Kid Flash suffers from the same pleather onesie look in his costume. While it fits the more athletic Wally better, the bright yellow coloring and the awful headgear don't really work out. Cosplayer aquariustaughtme easily fixes these issues with a more sophisticated and tactical costume.
In many ways, Hawkman feels like a strangely missed opportunity for Legends of Tomorrow. It seems like an unusual assessment. The first season of the show was evenly split between Rip Hunter's revenge plot and the twisted reincarnation love dodecahedron between Carter Hall, the villainous Vandal Savage, his amnesiac lover Kendra Saunders, and her miscellaneous suitors at any given time. Hawkman's adventures should have been an exciting epic, but the overall execution fell a bit short.
His costume definitely lost Carter some points on the coolness scale. It was an uninspiring muddy brown contraption too obsessed with leather straps to focus on refining any of its other features, such as its easily forgettable wings. Cosplayer Keith Kelley's brighter, minimalist costume proves superior for two reasons: it perfectly puts his assets on display, and it allowed him to focus on creating the most beautiful cosplay wings this writer has ever seen. Kudos!
2 GORILLA GRODD
If you told any of us a few years ago that Gorilla Grodd would be the most enduring feature of the Arrowverse, we would have laughed. Sure, he's been around in comics for nearly 60 years, but comics are a notoriously weird landscape. To think he would be translated so well onto TV was a funny dream... and yet here we are, watching him periodically get into gladiator fights on his gorilla island and going back in time to kill college-aged versions of our presidents. What a time to be alive.
A Grodd cosplay is not totally impossible, but it's an undeniably difficult design to get right. After all, it's just a giant gorilla costume. Yet cosplayer Ruby Rinekso somehow achieved the impossible with this stunning personal construction. From the expressive face mask to the notable accessories, this Grodd looks like he stepped straight into our world... which would be terrifying.
If Carter Hall's outfit was a leather fetishist's dream, you can probably guess that Kendra Saunders also got the short end of the stick when it came to the show's early costumes. The much more enjoyable hawk-themed superhero first premiered on The Flash as a potential love interest for Cisco Ramon, but it soon became clear that her story was more supernatural than previously believed. She is a reincarnated Egyptian princess, doomed to fight her murderer and try to reconnect with her lover across time and space.
And for some reason, this centuries'-long journey ended up with Hawkgirl joining Team Legend and immediately becoming a lover of extremely boring, strangely constructed leather outfits. Considering her unique situation, why wouldn't her costume be more distinct in design? Thankfully, cosplayer spring-steel took up the missed opportunity with an absolutely incredible, mystical, and clearly battle-ready costume. DCEU, take notes on this one.