When Marvel Studios introduced the Marvel Cinematic Universe to comic book fans and moviegoers everywhere, they also gave us a look at what superhero costumes could look like in live action, if the studio actually embraced the right aesthetic. Instead of putting its characters in black leather jackets or black rubber suits, Marvel instead gave us the perfect combination of style and function. It made its characters recognizable but also able to be taken seriously by a wide audience. That, of course, doesn’t mean that every costume design in a Marvel movie is perfect, but at least the attempt was there.
While we have seen our fair share of concept art that gave us a sense of what could have been, fans around the world have given us a look at what never was. Many talented artists have used their abilities to create new looks for some of the most popular superhero characters in existence, and on a few occasions, these artists managed to create a look that was better than what even Marvel Studios could conjure up. In specific regards to the heroes who make up the Avengers in the MCU, fans have created some impressive costumes. Here are 15 fan-designed Avengers costumes that were better than what we got.
15 SCI-FI ANT-MAN
Ant-Man’s costume in the Marvel Cinematic Universe certainly works for the way the character is presented. Scott Lang is a low-level crook who gains possession of Hank Pym’s shrinking suit. Considering it was developed for use in a lab, it makes sense that it’s basically a jumpsuit, but Marvel could have done a lot better by just looking at the comics.
Freelance artist Dan Wood developed a great alternative for Project Rooftop a few years back. While his design was completed before Ant-Man ever saw release, it still fits the cinematic world Marvel has been building. Wood’s design incorporates the red costume from the comics with a little sci-fi flare in the helmet and jetpack/wings on the back. Imagine Paul Rudd wearing this bad boy.
14 MAGE SCARLET WITCH
One of the lamest decisions that Marvel ever made was to leave Wanda Maximoff without a real costume in the movies. Instead of her trademark scarlet attire with the iconic tiara, she simply wears some reddish clothing and calls it a day. Fans deserved better than that, and artist Daniel Kamarudin managed to create something special for Wanda.
He actually designed a series of images featuring the Avengers reimagined as magical beings. It just so happens that his vision for Scarlet Witch actually looks like what the character could look like in live action. It’s not as revealing as her comic book outfit, but the robes help to define her powers as more magical than the psionic abilities she has in any of the films.
13 IRON MAN MARK I
When Tony Stark created his first Iron Man suit, he was locked in a cave and only had access to rudimentary tools. He managed to make it work, but it’s understandable why the Mark I was so big and clunky. Just like in the original comics, Tony Stark was a man in a big metal hunk of armor, and the sleek suit would come later, when he had more time to perfect the science.
According to artist Nagy Norbert, his original armor didn’t have to look so bulky and awkward after all. He designed a look that was meant to be a steampunk version of Iron Man, but considering the Mark I is already pretty steampunk-y, it really works well as an alternate design. This suit is likely just as dangerous, but it also looks infinitely more menacing.
12 MODERN CAPTAIN AMERICA
Out of all the superheroes in Marvel movies, Captain America might have the MCU’s most iconic costume, or at least he’s supposed to. After a great debut in Captain America: The First Avenger, he was brought into the present day and given something closer to a blue leotard than anything Captain America would actually wear.
Professional illustrator and concept artist Derek Toye developed an incredible look for Captain America that won him second place in Project Rooftop’s 2010 Cap competition. The overall design looks similar to what he wore in The Avengers, but everything about it is far more practical and battle-worn. The combination of armor and fabric, militarism and streetwear, makes this one perfect for the big screen. Toye also does a much better job rendering the helmet than Marvel was able to do.
11 QUICKSILVER’S TRACKSUIT
Quicksilver’s dead, and he’s not coming back, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look back on one of the worst live-action superhero costumes of all time. Remember that blue compression shirt he wore in Age of Ultron? It’s like Marvel wanted us to think that his superpower was being a professional jogger. Based on his costume in the comics, the character could have looked a lot better before his demise.
Artist Emily Doyle developed a new look for Quicksilver that is one part padded body suit, another part fashionable tracksuit. She made it aerodynamic to work with his powers, and instead of giving him boots, she equipped him with silver running shoes. The lightning bolt down the sides of the suit make this look more like a costume and less like what he wore to the gym.
10 FALCON’S FLIGHT SUIT
One of the biggest deviations Marvel took from the comic book source was the costume Falcon wears in the films. The studio chose to go with real-world practicality by giving him military technology in the form of a prototype jetpack with wings. Instead of being able to communicate with birds, Falcon has a robotic Redwing companion that’s really just an advanced drone.
Artist John Gallagher tried to bridge the gap between the superhero costume from the comics and the military garb he wears in the movies. This shows Marvel could have given Falcon a more classic look and it still would have worked out well. The hand controls for the wings are a nice touch and would have helped make the high-tech wings more believable.
9 HULK ARMOR
Considering the Hulk doesn’t actually wear a costume, it’s really hard to say someone has designed a Hulk costume "better" than the movie. The Hulk is usually the guy busting out of his own pants, and that’s it. While it’s easy to say that maybe the Hulk should have some kind of expandable universe, the idea just doesn’t really fit with who the character is supposed to be.
Artist RansomGetty agrees with this sentiment, as he is very against the idea of the Hulk ever having an official costume, but that doesn’t mean Marvel couldn’t have done something better. RansomGetty envisioned a Hulk that is a little more self-aware and had the capacity to use debris around him to create weapons and body armor. Maybe he doesn’t need it, but it’s a cool step away from the mindless brute.
8 BLACK PANTHER’S TACTICAL SUIT
Marvel did a really good job making Black Panther’s bodysuit into an incredible piece of technology worthy of Wakanda. The only problem is that it felt like they did too good of a job, and his costume looked lightyears ahead of anyone else in the MCU. Yes, he comes from an advanced civilization, but the overly sleek and immaculate bodysuit was distracting against the other more rugged and battle-worn characters.
The thing is, T'Challa should have an advanced look, but Marvel could have done that while still maintaining the aesthetic of the universe. Artist Anjin Anhut created an interesting new look for Black Panther that is both advanced and practical at the same time. The visible body armor and belt make the character feel more plausible, and the slender mask makes him look like a brand new man.
7 THOR’S LEISUREWEAR
When fans saw the character designs for the Asgardians in Thor, people were left disappointed with what were thought to be dreary, unimaginative costumes. Despite all that, Marvel did a good job putting together a believable Thor costume, even if he doesn’t ever wear the helmet. Unfortunately for some, it’s still a little too Shakespearean theater for a big budget movie.
Artist Franco Spagnolo has a solution for that, by giving him a robed costume that still looks like Thor, but also has a stronger link to Norse style of dress. Simply put, the Odinson doesn’t need armor, because he’s a nigh-invulnerable god, so something that looks like it could actually move in a strong breeze feels like a nice touch. It might be different from his traditional costume, but this is a change that could work.
6 BLACK WIDOW’S COMBAT SUIT
When you’re more superspy than superhero, you don’t get much of a costume. This might work just fine in the comics, but in the movies it can look a little boring when you’re just up there in a black body suit. That’s the problem Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow has run into over the years, and as much as Marvel tries to make her look more interesting, it just never seems to work as well as it should.
Remember the blue glow-in-the-dark lighting effects she wore in Avengers: Age of Ultron? It might have looked cool, but it made no practical sense. Artist Nicholas Patrick Holmes attempted to rectify this by creating a new combat suit that has red lining instead of blue LEDs. He added elements to the suit that made it feel functional while still looking cooler than a simple body suit.
5 A WHOLE NEW VISION
The Vision’s origin story in Age of Ultron is a little weird. Not only is he built on Tony Stark’s AI, he was also created by Ultron (and the Mind Stone) and suddenly appeared as a fully grown superhero. The bright colors of his costume/face only make the character harder to take seriously. It’s probably why they decided to put him in human clothes for Civil War, because it was hilarious.
Artist Shawn McGuan found a way to improve the Vision on a visual level, and his first step was to ditch the cape. It just doesn’t make much sense for an artificially created to be sporting a cape that serves no real purpose. By adding more armor to the costume and making him less human-like, we ultimately get a much more believable character.
4 VIGILANTE HAWKEYE
Hawkeye has never had the best costumes in the comics, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe didn’t do any better giving him a practical bodysuit for a uniform. It’s hard to imagine putting the character in purple on the big screen, but it definitely needs to make a comeback in some way if anyone is going to remember that Hawkeye is actually in any of the scenes.
Artist Johnson Ting put together a costume for Clint that incorporates some of the comic book aesthetic while trying to maintain the general look of the MCU costumes. It might seem overly dark at first, but considering Hawkeye is going full Ronin in Infinity War, fans would love seeing the mask too. Imagine him beating up a bunch of bad guys in that thing.
3 WAR MACHINE DELUXE
War Machine’s armor was built by Tony Stark, but it doesn’t mean the two characters have to basically look the same. Rhodey certainly has a more militarized version of the Iron Man suit, but he should look a little different than a black and white version of his friend. Given War Machine’s preference to have bigger, stronger weapons, maybe his armor just needs a full overhaul.
Artist Serg Shamaev did just that by creating a bigger, bulkier War Machine armor that looks like it could actually go to war. He designed the new look off of the character Potemkin from the Guilty Gear series, but it works in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as an alternate version of the Hulkbuster armor. This new armor looks like it could do some serious damage.
2 A BETTER HOMEMADE SPIDER-MAN
Peter Parker’s original homemade suit in Spider-Man: Homecoming is laughably horrendous, but even though Marvel was looking for laughs there, it becomes questionable how realistic the whole thing is. Peter’s a smart kid, yet for some reason he thinks running around in a loose-fitting hoodie is a good idea? A 15-year-old kid wouldn’t be caught dead in that thing.
Artist Albert Hulm has been creating real-world versions of popular superheroes for years now. His version of Spider-Man wears a simple T-shirt with sweatpants, Converse, and kneepads, which seems like the perfect look for a teenager who is trying to be a superhero. The MCU’s Peter Parker would have had an easier time putting this together, and it would have been more believable too.
1 PATRIOTIC BUCKY BARNES
Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes has been a runaway hit for Marvel, but it’s gotten to the point where he kind of needs a full makeover. He was menacing in Winter Soldier as an ex-KGB super assassin, but by the time Civil War rolled around, he’s just... dirty looking. The hair and the costume combine to make him look kind of gross, and maybe that’s intentional, but it’s about time for him to clean his act up.
A fan artist by the name of Gina seems to agree, and she designed a whole new look for him that Marvel hopefully runs with once Bucky returns from hibernation. She gave him a Captain America-themed outfit that speaks to his relationship with Steve Rogers, but also allows him to continue as his own man.
Have you spotted other fan art that is better than what we got in the movies? Let us know about it in the comments.