Because the CW is one of the leading producers of small screen superhero content, they’re constantly innovating and finding new ways to introduce more DC heroes into their various shows. As they bring more heroes into the mix, they know that they must also create unique yet iconic costumes that fit with the continuity of the Arrowverse while still being echoes of their comic book counterparts. This has led to many costumes that are off the charts awesome. When done well, the CW really captures the look of their heroes and goes above and beyond what we would normally expect from a small budget corporation. There are examples of this across all four shows.
That said, there are many times where they made some design choices that didn’t quite make sense to us. When done poorly, the CW creates some costumes that look horrible on screen and still rub us the wrong way. Some of them have been fixed, but others remain just as ugly as ever, still appearing in their respective shows. With so many designs to go through, we have chosen eight Arrowverse costumes that are better than their comic counterparts and seven that are way worse (and even kind of insulting).
15. BETTER: SAVITAR
Savitar was a speedster who took his name from the Hindu god of motion. As the name might entail, he is an extremely powerful villain. Then you get one look at his costume from the comics, and the results are fairly underwhelming. He looks goofy, to be honest. The ancient costume doesn’t blend well when he fights the other speedsters, putting him into the realm of obscurity.
Thankfully, many creative liberties were made when bringing Savitar to The Flash. This time around, he was portrayed as a monster fully empowered by the Speed Force. While the costume didn’t always look good on screen, the design alone factored into a terrifying presence for a villain who was hellbent on killing Iris West. There’s no secret which costume prevailed.
14. WORSE: THE FLASH (SEASON ONE)
When the Flash was first revealed as the second big hero to come to the Arrowverse, we all anxiously awaited what his famous costume would look like. The costume design was released and we all hedged a little bit the moment we saw it. When compared to the sleek, lightning-fueled design of the comics, Grant Gustin’s outfit felt cheap at best.
During season one, it seemed that his cowl didn’t always completely fit his head, and looked off when he was wearing the suit. The warm red was also not the best shade they could’ve used for the costume. Thankfully, some improvements were made in subsequent seasons, including a white border around the Flash logo and a bit of a brighter red on the outfit.
13. BETTER: DEATHSTROKE
This is another one of those entries where neither of his interpretations is bad. Deathstroke has a very specific design that requires certain elements be intact. Because of this, it’s hard to get the design wrong. In just every incarnation, his outfit has demanded the audience’s attention while striking fear into their hearts.
Despite their small budget, we have to give props to the CW for creating such an excellent costume for Slade Wilson. The mask remains the standout part of the suit, but there are other details that make it come together. He is armed to the teeth with weapons and has touches of blue to contrast with the black. We enjoy seeing Deathstroke whip out his blade as he gets ready to mow down goons once again.
12. WORSE: BLACK CANARY (LAUREL LANCE)
There are three people who held the mantle of Black Canary in Arrow. In terms of costume quality, we like to think of them as bookends. Sara Lance was the first Black Canary and had a costume that was fundamentally similar to the character from the comics, and Dinah Drake, the newest Black Canary, features a more classic look that fits more in-line with the Arrowverse (but is still fairly iconic).
Then, right in the middle is Laurel Lance. Despite being the most iconic character name to be the Black Canary, her costume doesn’t reflect that. This time around, she’s given a full leather outfit that feels bulky rather than sleek as it should. It doesn’t blend well together, and that includes the hair and the mask.
11. BETTER: PROMETHEUS
Moving towards the newest villain to come out of Arrow, Prometheus was naturally going to need some changes. In the comics, he was originally an anti-Batman. Yet, despite that, he was given a flamboyant purple costume with a weird cape and helmet that didn’t fit well with the noir theme of Gotham City.
He had his appearance changed when he appeared on Arrow, this time being an anti-Green Arrow who has a personal vendetta against the vigilante. Because of this, he was given a costume to reflect that. While there was concern that the outfit would be laughable on screen, this was not the case. Prometheus chewed up every scene that he was in, and it was partly due to how intimidating he was in that tattered cloth outfit.
10. WORSE: THE ATOM
In our opinion, the Atom’s design in the Arrowverse has to be one of the worst ones to date. We don’t mind Brandon Routh’s performance as Ray Palmer, but his costume needs some big changes. In the comics, he boasted a sleeker suit that likely wouldn’t translate well on the screen, but effectively communicated what he could do as a superhero.
Fast forward to the show, and we don’t get the same vibe. The Atom this time around is built like a poor man’s Iron Man, complete with a clunky suit of armor and lasers that shoot out of his fists. The entire suit is also made a little more ridiculous by the fact that the visor only covers half of his face. If they’re going to go with this interpretation of the suit, they should at least try to improve it.
9. BETTER: CITIZEN STEEL
Nathan Heywood has a lot of differences between his comic interpretation and the one seen in Legends of Tomorrow. However, most of these differences are of his origin and the struggles that he had to overcome. While there are some significant changes made to the costume, the overall theme is still present. In the comics, he was much more like a classic spandex hero.
In the show, he needed an ample improvement for the platform. His suit was designed by Ray Palmer to be an echo of the work his grandfather did as well as go along with the values he upheld. It was bright, colorful, and a pleasure to see on screen. If only Ray could’ve created a good costume for himself.
8. WORSE: CAPTAIN COLD & HEAT WAVE
Captain Cold and Heat Wave are characters based on ice and fire respectively. As such, they needed to have costumes that reflected that. In the comics, this has ranged from exaggerated outfits to more practical designs. While not always great, they worked for the goal that DC was pushing to achieve with these two rogues.
In the Arrowverse, a similar approach was taken, but it didn’t translate as well from page to the screen. Captain Cold’s puffy winter coat and Heat Wave’s pyromaniac style are as ridiculous as you’d expect, but stand out poorly in the shows that they’re in. Both Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell also portray their characters with a lot of personality that is almost a bit too much at times as well.
7. BETTER: GREEN ARROW (SEASON FIVE)
The Green Arrow was the first superhero to appear in the Arrowverse (hence the name). In that time, the designers have played around with his look and modified it to reflect the tone of the show. Of all the entries, this one was arguably the most similar to its comic book counterpart.
However, when it came to his costume in season five, we have to give the show credit here. It combined everything that was good about all of the seasons prior while still being functional. The sleeves returned to the outfit, making the entire design that much better. Once again, it’s very similar to his look in the comics, and while it comes close, the artists and showrunners did a great job with Stephen Amell’s costume.
6. WORSE: FIRESTORM (RONNIE RAYMOND)
While the costume design of Firestorm would get better (more on that later), but it wasn’t without some major course correction. When first bringing Firestorm into The Flash, the main character was Ronnie Raymond, Caitlin Snow’s late husband. After returning to S.TA.R. Labs, Ronnie was given a suit that looked more like a prototype than anything that could be taken seriously. He was pretty much given a nuclear device that wrapped around his chest (and was slightly ridiculous).
Couple that with the blacks of his costume, and you have a design that is largely forgettable. In a show that embraces the crazier aspects of superheroes and metahumans, it’s a shame that the first iteration of Firestorm wasn’t given as much care, but thankfully that was remedied.
5. BETTER: ZOOM
Another Flash villain that we have to point out is Zoom. This was a much different take on the Zoom from the comics, who was more or less a carbon copy of the Reverse-Flash’s design (making it easy to confuse the two). The showrunners knew that they had to come up with a different design to distinguish Zoom from Eobard Thawne.
Believe it or not, they nailed it. Zoom was given a black and blue design that contrasted Barry’s look and appeared more frightening than the villain from the previous season. The mask completed the costume and gave Zoom the appearance of a powerful Speed Force monster rather than a man behind a cowl. His outfit was later repurposed into the Arrowverse’s version of the Black Flash.
4. WORSE: HAWKMAN & HAWKGIRL
Hawkman and Hawkgirl aren’t the biggest name characters in the DC Universe, but they do have an interesting backstory and some powerful costumes on top of that, which both make reference to their Egyptian inspiration and their Thanagarian heritage. While it’s clear these costumes wouldn’t work for TV, the designs that we received weren’t a great alternative to what we’ve been accustomed to see.
This time around, Hawkman and Hawkgirl are sporting costumes that look like they bought them from the nearest Halloween USA. It’s also important to mention that their maces this time around are incredibly small and don’t look like they could deal serious damage when swung at someone. They’re laughable at best, and it’s a darn shame because their looks from the source material are some of the most unique in all of comics.
3. BETTER: FIRESTORM (JEFFERSON JACKSON)
When it was revealed that there was going to be another Firestorm after Ronnie Raymond met his tragic end with the singularity, there wasn’t too much excitement. After all, did we really need someone else to take over the mantle? As it turns out, this proved to benefit the character rather than hinder him.
While Firestorm’s depiction in The Flash didn’t include an excellent costume, there were many needed alterations made for his design in Legends of Tomorrow. Gone were the deep blacks and long pants. In their place was a fiery red and yellow suit that perfectly communicated the nuclear aspect of the character while looking great when juxtaposed to the other heroes. It’s very similar to Firestorm’s outfit in the New 52, and it translates even better on screen.
2. WORSE: VIXEN (MARI MCCABE)
Vixen is a cool character. Period. Coming from a long line of warriors who all held the Anansi Totem, she holds the power of all creatures in the Animal Kingdom. Couple that with her gold costume that both reflects her animalistic side as well as her tribal roots, and she is a superhero ready for action.
While we certainly appreciate her cameo appearance on Arrow and her starring role in Legends of Tomorrow, Vixen doesn’t have the best design. Taking the “leather is best” approach, she has a suit that looks more like a cosplay than a superhero outfit. On top of that, the effects surrounding her character are generally pretty bad (especially during her appearance in Arrow). Thankfully, her outfit was slightly improved in her more current role.
1. BETTER: SUPERGIRL
Female representation in pop culture is always a touchy subject, and needless to say, comic books haven’t exactly gotten it all figured out. Often times, their female superheroes are portrayed in skimpy and impractically costumes that make just as about as much sense as high-level MMORPG equipment. These same criticisms can be applied to Supergirl’s comic book design, featuring a mini skirt and cut-off shirt.
This is why it was so important for the people in charge of Supergirl to give Kara a better outfit that felt empowering rather than insulting. Luckily for us, they pulled it off extremely well, and Supergirl’s costume has become a staple of the character. It’s still modern enough to look good, but doesn’t draw your attention to all the wrong places.
Which are your favorite Arrowverse costumes are your favorite? Let us know in the comments!
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