Comic book-based TV shows did not always look as good as they do today. Not so long ago, shows like Smallville showcased some rather humorous costumes. But as we all know, much has changed since the days of Smallville. Today, comic book-based TV series, such as The Flash, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Gotham, look pretty amazing and can go head-to-head against high budget movies of the MCU and DCEU. Naturally, with so many movies and TV series, it is bound to happen that a certain character appears both on TV and the big screen. Sometimes even at the same time. Movies obviously have a much higher budget, but money isn't all that matters. In fact, a number of characters look much better on TV than they do in the movies.
Details such as casting choices, costumes and makeup can make or break a character. And while staying true to the original material does matter, comic book accuracy does not always work out for the best. Both movie and TV characters usually require a certain amount of adjustments to be made, preferably in a reasonable fashion. We did a little research and found 8 TV characters that look better than they do on the big screen and 7 that look worse.
15 BETTER: DAREDEVIL
After the 2003 Daredevil movie debacle many were skeptical about Matt Murdock’s return to live action media. The movie starred Ben Affleck as the titular hero in a very poorly designed costume. While neither Affleck’s performance nor the script were of award-winning quality, a quite literal red light was the slick red leather costume, which had an S&M look.
On the other hand, the suit Charlie Cox is sporting now on Netflix’s critically acclaimed Daredevil series, is one of the best-looking superhero costumes on both television and the big screen. The costume design is loosely based on Daredevil’s costume from the "Secret Wars" storyline. The darker shade of red combined with black and the non-shiny material work better for live-action. Charlie Cox's Daredevil suit has a clean, functional design and it looks appealing.
14 WORSE: BATMAN
Back in 1966, the Dark Knight had his own TV show which lasted for 120 episodes. The series starred Adam West as Bruce Wayne, aka Batman and Burt Ward as Dick Grayson, aka Robin. Both in very simplified Halloween-like costumes. While this live-action version of the Caped Crusader is still very dear to a lot of fans, we can all agree that it can’t compete with the Batman we have now.
For years, Christian Bale was the Batman and he probably always will be. However, DCEU’s controversial casting of Ben Affleck in the role of Bruce Wayne worked surprisingly well. Affleck’s Batman is one of the best things to come out of Batman v. Superman. In fact, Affleck looks so awesome in his Batman suit that we’re almost able to forget about Daredevil. But hey, you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become another hero.
13 BETTER: THE PUNISHER
Recent casting controversies aside, Marvel is doing an amazing job when it comes to developing their Netflix corner of the MCU. The second season of Daredevil introduced us to a fan-favorite comic book anti-hero Frank Castle, aka Punisher. Jon Bernthal’s performance is to the point and his Punisher costume looks awesome.
Compared to this Punisher, previous live-action adaptations of the character look ridiculous. The 1989 movie starring Dolph Lundgern didn’t even bother to put the iconic skull on Punisher’s chest, while in Punisher: War Zone, Frank Castle had a very pale skull on his bulletproof vest. But the award for the worst Punisher costume goes to the 2004 Punisher movie, where Thomas Jane wore the same Punisher T-shirt you can buy in any comic book store.
12 WORSE: THE HULK
Way before Marvel started developing the MCU, Hulk had his own TV show titled The Incredible Hulk. The show starred Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk and ran for five seasons. Back in the day, there was no CGI and the only way for an actor to look like Hulk was if he had some serious muscle and was painted green. Ferrigno was a famous body builder and thus the obvious choice to portray the Hulk.
Still, as impressive as '70s special effects are, there is no argument that the MCU Hulk, played by Mark Ruffalo, looks notably superior. The advances of technology have made it possible to bring the Hulk out of comic book pages in all of his glory. But kudos to the '70s Hulk for having the courage and skill to pull off what is still a very impressive achievement.
11 BETTER: LEX LUTHOR
Smallville got many things wrong, but what it did get right is Lex Luthor. Actor Michael Rosenbaum will forever be remembered as Lex Luthor because of his uncanny resemblance to the comic book character. Rosenbaum owned the role in every possible way, which is why Smallville’s Lex Luthor can run circles around the one we saw in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor seemed to share more with The Joker than with his actual comic book counterpart. The whole hair issue aside, the way Eisenberg carried himself and how he portrayed the character with eccentric body language and facial expressions didn’t really coincide with Lex Luthor's persona. DCEU gambled with their edgy take on Lex, but it completely missed the mark and quite frankly ruined the character.
10 WORSE: AQUAMAN
Before Jason Momoa took on the role of Aquaman, Arthur Curry “AC” appeared on Smallville portrayed by Alan Ritchson. Smallville’s Aquaman wore a customized wetsuit, which truth be told looks like something a Netherlands’ Olympic swimmer would wear. While the influence of Aquaman's comic book look is evident, everything else about this costume is unbearable.
Luckily, the DCEU version of the character looks incomparably better. Jason Momoa's Aquaman strikes an imposing figure. His costume comes across modest, yet detailed enough to give Aquaman a very distinctive look. Because, let's face it, not even Jason Momoa could pull off the orange wetsuit. DCEU’s different take on the character might actually work. Not only with regards to the hero’s new and upgraded look but also with regards to his more cheerful and wisecracking nature.
9 BETTER: ELEKTRA
One of the worst superhero movies in existence is undoubtedly the 2005 Rob Bowman's Elektra movie, starring Jennifer Garner as the assassin-for-hire, Elektra Natchios. The movie was a complete and utter disaster, as was Elektra’s red zircon-decorated costume. In a way, this costume embodies everything the early 2000s represents in fashion, which is far from being a compliment. But seriously though, what’s the deal with the zircons?
Luckily, Elektra came back better and stronger. Played by Elodie Young, Elektra first appeared on Daredevil in an almost all-black suit, which actually looked like something an assassin/ninja would wear. Her outfit in the Defenders added a bit more red into the mix, but still gave off a stealth assassin vibe, rather than exotic dancer, as is the case of Garner’s Elektra.
8 WORSE: HARLEY QUINN
The short-lived Warner Bros. TV show titled Birds of Prey revolved around Catwoman, Black Canary and Oracle, aka the Birds of Prey. However, it featured yet another female member of the DC family, Harley Quinn. Harley was played by actress Mia Sara, whose outfit made her look like a member of the Spice Girls. The typical early 2000s mother-of-two haircut did little to improve her overall underwhelming appearance.
It seems almost unfair to be comparing this version of Harley Quinn to her Suicide Squad counterpart. Suicide Squad made a lot of mistakes, but credit should be given where credit is due, and Harley Quinn’s appearance is one of the things the movie got right. Regardless of the changes made to her costume, Margot Robbie's Harley looks pretty awesome and easily blows the TV version out of the water.
7 BETTER: KINGPIN
Casting a suitable actor for the role of Kingpin cannot be an easy task. Not only does the actor have to be of rather large proportions, he must also be able to pull off being a sadistic monster while remaining perfectly calm and classy. While Michael Clarke Duncan, who played Kingpin in the 2003 Daredevil movie, was certainly an amazing actor and a very hefty one, he did not have what it takes for this particular part.
On the other hand, Vincent D’Onofrio, who plays Wilson Fisk on Netflix’s Daredevil, turned out to be the perfect fit. Not only does he look the part, D’Onofrio portrayed Fisk with class, gravitas and menace. Through the use of unsettling idiosyncrasies, unique diction and defining character traits, D’Onofrio gave birth to one of the best MCU villains.
6 WORSE: WONDER WOMAN
In the year 1975, ABC and Warner Bros. developed Wonder Woman. A TV series based on the DC Comics series and set in the '40s. Lynda Carter was cast as the titular hero and portrayed the character for three seasons. While the '70s Wonder Woman did look good and at the time had a rather comic book-accurate costume, we still have to give the advantage to the 2017 movie version of the character.
DCEU’s Wonder Woman is easily among the best movies of 2017 so far. Gal Gadot finally got her big break and shined in all of her glory. Her portrayal of the Goddess of Truth was absolutely flawless and her costume looked pretty impressive. Wonder Woman's movie costume even inspired her new look in the DC Comics’ Rebirth.
5 BETTER: RIDDLER
One of Gotham's most intriguing characters is Cory Michael Smith’s Edward Nygma. Over the course of three seasons we witnessed Nygma’s gradual transformation into one of the best Batman villains, the Riddler. Last season on Gotham, Nygma finally assumed his new identity and donned on his trademark green suit. Both the actor and the costume make this Riddler look perfect.
However, there is another less successful live-action version of this iconic comic book character. Back in 1995, Warner Bros. made the godawful movie Batman Forever with Jim Carrey as the Riddler. The movie, which was a complete dumpster fire, was almost as bad as the Riddler’s costume. The green spandex adorned with hundreds of question marks stands as one of the worst costumes in movie history.
4 WORSE: CYBORG
Low-budget TV costumes may be a thing of past. However, not so long ago Smallville paraded a number of major DC Comics characters in very unfortunate outfits. One such example is Cyborg, who is seen above, apparently wearing his silver jumpsuit from the faraway future. All jokes aside, as unbelievable as it may seem, that Cyborg appeared on TV about a decade ago.
The good thing is, this year we’ll be getting a new and vastly improved Cyborg in the upcoming Justice League movie. DCEU’s Cyborg is played by Ray Fisher and looks unrealistically awesome. Even though we didn’t get to see a whole lot from Cyborg yet, he made quite the first impression. Not that Smallville's costume-party Cyborg was ever really a serious competitor.
3 BETTER: GHOST RIDER
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn't get nearly enough credit, which is a real shame because the show keeps getting better and better. Season four of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had some of last year’s best television moments. The season started with the introduction of the Ghost Rider. Gabriel Luna plays Robbie Reyes and his Ghost Rider form is a mind-blowing and daunting sight.
Comparing the awesome MCU Ghost Rider to the one from the Ghost Rider movie series seems almost unfair. Even though the costume itself wasn’t a disaster, Cage managed to utterly butcher the character. Clearly, the person in charge of casting the movie was under the influence of alcohol, because it’s hard to find any other explanation for casting Nicholas Cage as Ghost Rider.
2 WORSE: SUPERMAN
As much as we love Kara and Supergirl, we just can’t make peace with her cousin. Something about the Arrowverse version of Superman just doesn’t seem right. Perhaps it’s the suit, or just misguided casting, but the CW’s Superman isn't quite the best live-action version of the character. Out of the two current Superman versions, the DCEU Superman looks way better.
But, before Henry Cavill put on the red and blue suit, Christopher Reeves was, and for some generations still is, the one and only Man of Steel. While, the art of costumography has fortunately come a long way since the '70s, Hollywood still hasn’t produced an actor as perfect for the role of Superman as was Reeves. The man genuinely looked as if he had just walked straight out of comic book pages.
1 BETTER: THE FLASH
The casting of the relatively inexperienced and brown-haired Grant Gustin as Barry Allen did not sit right with everyone. However, once he put on the red suit and sped off in a streak of yellow lightning, Grant Gustin easily became the Flash. Although his suit is a bit darker than the one Flash wears in the comics, the CW's Flash still looks amazing and keeps getting better every season.
Gustin’s movie rival is portrayed by Ezra Miller, who briefly appeared as Barry Allen in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. While the DCEU Flash is not horrible by any standard, he just doesn’t look as good the Arrowverse Flash we've come to love. Ezra Miller's Flash suit looks weird and robot-like, which notably diverges from Flash’s usual costume. Besides, Gustin managed to make the role of Flash his own and it’s hard to imagine anyone else as Barry Allen.
What TV characters do you think look better than they do on the big screen? As always let us know in the comments!