Many of our favorite mutants and superheroes from Marvel and DC have had numerous costume changes over the years. We often cringe when we see those costumes, wondering what the character designers were thinking. A few of our favorites typically stick to the same formula, because if it ain’t broke, why fix it? Characters like Superman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Iron Man… these “old faithful” characters are usually ones we don’t have to worry about but with future timelines, everything gets thrown for a loop. Not only are the characters usually in a race to save the planet’s past from this dystopian future, but they’re often in crazy costumes while they do it... you know, just to show that they’re different than their present-day counterparts. How many Spider-Man costumes are out there? 20? 30? How about Iron Man suits (though admittedly, Iron Man is one of the only characters whose suit changes actually make practical sense -- technology advances, and so does much of his armor)?
Regardless of the reasons why, Marvel and DC can often get on the bad side of fans just by garbing their favorite heroes in something ridiculous. On the other side of the coin, however, sometimes those changes are awesome looking, and we’re bummed when they eventually revert back to their original suits (usually because of a retcon or some other glitch in the matrix). The future is a weird place in Marvel and DC. No two futures are alike and so, no two future costumes are created equal. Here are a couple superhero costumes from the future that are better than the original, and some that are much worse.
17 WORSE: AGE OF APOCALYPSE SABRETOOTH
An iconic villain in the Marvel Universe wrecked by Age of Apocalypse’s dismal character design, Sabretooth is best known as Wolverine’s arch-nemesis. His most common attire is the brown-on-yellow suit, complete with the fur surrounding his neck and the band around his head, keeping his wild blond hair out of his eyes.
In the Age of Apocalypse timeline, Victor Creed has changed suits and become something much less cool. Gone is the iconic fur -- his most recognizable feature -- and instead his neck is surrounded by a simple bronze collar. He wears an orange tank-top, has bulging muscles, and long, pony-tailed hair.
16 BETTER: SPIDER-MAN 2099
Spider-Man 2099 is from the Marvel 2099 comic book line, a futuristic imagining that compliments Spider-Man well. The man under the mask is Miguel O’Hara, a brilliant geneticist living in New York, who is attempting to recreate the abilities of the original Spider-Man. O’Hara suffers an accident that causes half his DNA to be rewritten with a spider’s genetic code.
He is also the first Latino character to assume the identity of Spider-Man. O’Hara doesn’t possess the “spider-sense,” but instead has enhanced hearing, vision, an increased vitality, and resistance to injury. His suit is awesome, and so is the “white” Spider-Man suit from the alternate timeline Earth-TRN588.
15 WORSE: IRON MAN 2099 HYPERPULSE MARK IX ARMOR
Unlike the Spider-Man 2099 revamp that looks similar to Spider-Man but more futuristic, Iron Man’s 2099 suit just looks silly and cartoonish. Andros Stark is the man inside the suit, and he is the grandson of Tony Stark and the great-grandson of Howard Stark.
Andros is from a future where his grandfather created Vortex, an artificial intelligence that was supposed to better humanity but instead infected the computers of S.H.I.E.L.D. and took control of the entire internet. Vortex judged that humanity was evil and caused the extermination of all human life on Earth. Andros travels back to the past to prevent this future from happening, while dressed in his grandfather’s Hyperpulse Mark IX Armor.
14 BETTER: AGE OF APOCALYPSE WOLVERINE
The Age of Apocalypse takes place in a twisted future world in the alternate universe of Earth-295. In this world, Legion, Professor X’s son, had traveled back in time to end Magneto before he can commit crimes against humanity, but accidentally kills his father. The demise of Professor X leads Apocalypse to attack 10 years sooner, and Magneto takes up the fight instead of Professor X.
Wolverine took the name of Weapon X when recruited by Magneto, and later he became Weapon Omega. He lost his left hand during a battle with Cyclops, but not before cutting out one of the Prelate’s eyes. His suit in this series looks rugged and mean, complete with red facial markings, a unique hairstyle, and a cannon where his hand used to be.
13 WORSE: THOR 2099
Thor 2099 is another unfortunate result of Marvel’s 2099 revamping. In Earth-928, Cecil McAdams is a cleric of the Church of Thor. He often appears dressed as a classic-costumed Thor, but with glasses. After he was part of Alchemax’s false Aesir Project, where people were chosen to become the Norse gods, he became Thor.
The true Thunder God never returned to Earth in the 2099 timeline, though Miguel O’Hara was hailed as the Harbinger of Thor by some, due to his connection with the original Spider-Man and Thor in the Heroic Age. Unfortunately, McAdams’ costume during this time was completely bonkers, with yellow tights and armband, red boots and cloak, and blue body. He looks like half a rainbow, which is unfortunate.
12 BETTER: KINGDOM COME WONDER WOMAN
In DC Comics’ Earth-22, Diana of Themyscira was created from the clay of Paradise Island. She became Wonder Woman and was an active hero for humanity, serving alongside Superman, Batman, and the Justice League. After Superman retired, and the world became more violent, she, in turn, became more violent and bitter, and lost her moral center.
Her outfit is spectacular in the Kingdom Come timeline, with her star-spangled trunks transformed into a loincloth, her golden wings, and her awesome bald eagle (golden eagle?) helmet. Plus, her spear is pretty sweet. Creator Alex Ross said he didn’t do as much with Wonder Woman as he did in designing the other characters from Kingdom Come, but apparently he didn’t need to.
11 WORSE: BATMAN BEYOND
Batman has had many iconic suits and outfits over the years, but one of the least memorable, perhaps, is his suit from the animated TV series, Batman Beyond. It ran for 52 episodes, from 1999 to 2001, had one direct-to-video movie, and was then put on hold for the new Justice League animated series. Set in 2019, an aging Batman has a heart attack and retires from the Batman persona, and Terry McGinnis becomes Batman in 2039.
The new, high-tech Batsuit gives him augmented abilities, fires Batarangs from the wrists, it flies using jets fired from the feet, is has camouflage abilities, and allows eavesdropping through a hypersensitive touch microphone. But for all that, it just looks a bit lazy.
10 BETTER: THE FUTURE FLASH
Bartholomew Henry Allen, or Barry Allen, is The Flash from 20 years in the future. His black suit and blue lightning bolts surrounding him is quite stunning and eye-popping. Allen blames himself for the demise of Wally West and, trying to make it right, he goes off killing his enemies. Doing this will allow him to gain enough speed to travel back in time, so he can fix his mistake and save Wally.
The Future Flash was also able to best The Reverse-Flash, Wally West with speed empowerment, and even the original Flash, in battle. So it helps that not only is he fast and awesome looking, but he’s also more skilled than the original.
9 WORSE: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST WOLVERINE
The Days of Future Past storyline is one of the most famous in the Marvel canon. Published in 1981, it deals with a dystopian future where mutants are incarcerated in internment camps -- with the exception of Kitty Pryde and Wolverine, who travel into the past to change the terrible future.
While the Age of Apocalypse Wolverine looks menacing and tough, the Days of Future Past Wolverine just looks a bit old, tired, and uncreative. He sports a leather jacket, has tufts of white hair sprouting from his hair, and that’s about it. It’s understandable that Wolverine IS supposed to be older in this story, but that doesn’t excuse his poor garb choice.
8 BETTER: GHOST RIDER 2099
Ghost Rider 2099 looks possibly cooler than the original. He is Kenshiro “Zero” Cochrane, a hacker who was killed but resurrected as Ghost Rider. Zero’s mind controls the powerful, well-armed Cybertek 101 robot, which is what Ghost Rider has become in this future storyline. The Ghost Rider 2099 series was heavily influence by cyberpunk science fiction.
He’s made of reinforced carbon-steel silicone composite, has superhuman strength, endurance, and durability, and both hands can transform -- the right into a ceramic graphite composite bladed chainsaw that blasts energy bursts, and the left into a polymimetic nanometer alloy claw that can cut on a submolecular level.
7 WORSE: AGE OF APOCALYPSE APOCALYPSE
Apocalypse is typically seen as a monstrously big, bald, steel gray and dark blue-colored mutant, with tubes connecting to his back. He’s one of the strongest mutants out there, and is a constant threat to humanity. In the Age of Apocalypse, much of his menace is thrown aside: he gains a blue cloak, looks absurdly buff and odd, the tubes are gone, he’s now totally blue (like, The Beast blue), has some red shoes and bracers, and he also has less feats than the original Earth-616 Apocalypse, making him weaker.
In all, Marvel sort of turned Apocalypse into a bit of a B-tier mutant, which is even more blasphemous considering the storyline he’s featured in has his NAME in the title!
6 BETTER: AGE OF APOCALYPSE NIGHTCRAWLER
Even if the primary antagonist in Age of Apocalypse looks a bit laughable, many of the protagonists (like Wolverine) look awesome. Nightcrawler is no exception. Kurt Darkholme had a strenuous relationship with his mother Mystique, on Earth-295, and ultimately joined Magneto’s X-Men group to stop Apocalypse’s dominion of the world.
He typically wields two swords in this storyline, has a red tattoo covering his left eye, has yellow, pupil-less eyes, and his suit is black with red shoulder pads, bracers, and shinguards. He looks like a grown-up Nightcrawler, honestly, and much more menacing than his original costume (the swords help that, but it’s also his facial expressions).
5 WORSE: AGE OF APOCALYPSE JEAN GREY
Age of Apocalypse did a pretty good job of reworking many of our favorite heroes’ outfits. Jean Grey didn’t escape the slaughter, and her new suit was questionable from the get-go. We’re used to either the Phoenix Force Jean Grey (gold-on-red suit), or the classic gold-on-green suit Jean Grey wears, with her flowing red hair to match.
They’re iconic, and the gold-on-green suit is one of the most highly cosplayed suits around. The Age of Apocalypse suit looks terrible and unoriginal: it features a low-cut red torso and blue pants and arms -- looking more like a skin-suit than actual armor -- and her hair is cut short, taking away all of the appeal she once had.
4 BETTER: KINGDOM COME GREEN LANTERN
Kingdom Come Wonder Woman and Kingdom Come Green Lantern look awesome, whereas the Superman and Batman counterparts are just sort of “meh.” Just like how Wonder Woman has a full suit of golden armor, gold wings, and a spear, so too does Green Lantern in this future timeline.
His armor is, of course, neon green, he has a billowing green cloak, and perhaps the greatest addition to his suit: he wields a translucent, shiny-green energy sword. It looks to be a Scottish Claymore, but in energy form. He has a short crop of blond hair and a Zorro-esque green mask over his eyes. In all, he looks much more medieval than his normal Green Lantern counterpart, and much more majestic and regal in that sense.
3 WORSE: EARTH-X SPIDER-MAN
On Earth-9997, the life of Peter Parker has deviated from that of his Earth-616 counterpart, in a big, BIG way. First, at some point, Peter’s identity as Spider-Man was revealed, and the Daily Bugle went out of business for having the “greatest menace ever” on the company payroll. His relationship with his adult daughter May is strained, and worst of all, he’s out of shape.
In fact, he’s a bit of a joke: his belly shows underneath his suit, and instead of the cool spider symbol on his chest, he just has a cardboard-cutout, basically, that says “Peter Parker Spider-Man.” All in all, he’s a laughingstock of the superhero world, and he’s fallen very far, very fast.
2 BETTER: AGE OF APOCALYPSE MAGNETO
As one of the strongest mutants out there, and the leader of the X-Men in the Age of Apocalypse storyline, we’re so happy that he looks awesome in this timeline. Apocalypse might look goofy, but Magneto looks awesome. Not a whole lot has changed on him, but the changes he has are powerful: instead of showing his face, his helmet is now closed off in a Spartan warrior-looking way, showing only the slits of his eyes.
He has long, white hair, making him look wise and kingly. He’s well-muscled, like most of his other Age of Apocalypse counterparts, and when he takes his helmet off, he looks like Gandalf! That’s right, he has a white beard that reaches his chest, on top of that hair. This is one of the coolest iterations of Magneto out there.
1 WORSE: KINGDOM COME RED ROBIN
First off, Robin never had that great of a costume to begin with. He always looked a bit silly, with his red torso, his green pants (or no pants at all!), his green gauntlets and shoulder pads, and yellow cloak. He looks, well, like a bird. But with the Kingdom Come storyline, he just looks like foolish.
He looks like a petty criminal, really, with a black bag over his face, some kind of bullet-belt over his chest, a black Zorro cape… that’s what he looks like, really: Zorro, but without all the finesse and awesome sauce. It’s a shame that DC can’t come up with a good Robin costume, and a bigger shame that we ended up seeing this in the regular DCU.