DC has a tumultuous history of video games. On one hand, Superman 64 and Young Justice: Legacy. On the other hand, the Arkham and Injustice games. However, the Injustice games, a fighting series with a deliberately plotted story about an alternate dimension Superman’s turn to the dark side and his clashes with a definitively righteous Batman, had the additional benefit of getting a companion comic series. With only a few limitations put on them, comic writers were able to explore the creative potential of the Injustice world in the years leading up to the events of the games. These new narrative avenues included making the deceased Dick Grayson the new Deadman, turning Hal Jordan into a member of the Sinestro Corps, Harley Quinn developing a genuine friendship with Shazam, Black Canary, and Green Arrow, killing off numerous popular characters Game of Thrones style, and several changes to some of the most enduring comic book outfits in the medium’s history.
As with any significant alteration to the characters’ iconic costumes, some of these changes were good and some were bad. Because of the historic status of many of the characters’ designs, the only real template the new looks can be measured against is the ones that most people are familiar with. As such, it’s worth taking a critical look at the designs used in the Injustice comics and seeing which ones are good enough to be adapted into the regular DC universe and which ones were so heinous that they should never be allowed near the more mainstream comics.
18 DON'T WANT: REGIME SUPERMAN
The design for Superman’s Regime outfit had to be villainous in nature, evoking the fascist imagery and aesthetic that his government was based on. To be fair, the artists did a pretty good job, making his shoulder pads more angular, his cape more decorative, and his symbol larger.
But they probably didn’t intend for his new, jagged insignia to be an arrow pointing eyes towards his crotch. Nor did they think through putting the awkward splotches of red on his waist. Things weren’t helped by the disproportionate armor plating, which made sure to emphasize the space between his muscles rather than his full physique.
17 WANT: YELLOW LANTERN SUPERMAN
Superman has worn the same colors for so long that it’s legitimately refreshing to see him a different palate. The closest glimpse we got to seeing Superman in the gold, yellow, and black scheme of the Yellow Lanterns is when Superboy-Prime took the ring pre-Flashpoint.
The Injustice comics takes that look and amplifies it, giving Superman an intimidating yellow chest piece, flowing cape, and a bold pair of shoulder pads that make his stature even greater. The best part though? His black body suit base which gave gorgeous contrast to the rest of the look.
16 DON'T WANT: FLASH
If your superpower is super speed, then your outfit needs to be sleek, aerodynamic, and ergonomic. Armor is obviously required for super heroics, but it must be minimal and unrestrictive. Apparently, the artist of Flash’s outfit in Injustice didn’t recognize these facts and instead gave him a multi-layered, bulky armored look. While this is fitting for Flash’s quasi-villainous role as a member of Superman’s Regime, it generally looks hard to move in.
The attention to detail hurts the overall aesthetic and makes Barry seem slower than he reasonably should be, even though he’s moving at breakneck speeds. It honestly would have looked batter if they’d just borrowed his look from the regular DCU with no alterations
15 WANT: KILLER CROC
Killer Croc didn’t so much have a new costume in the Injustice comics as he had a whole new look. And boy-howdy did it suit him. Croc has always been large and reptilian, but Injustice upped the ante by giving him a more flat-faced, brutal design. Jagged horns along his jawline, retracted lips, and an elongated spine made him look all the more vicious and animalistic.
His costume, what little of it there was, also emphasized his aggressive nature, with leather wrist bands, torn pants, and metal cuffs left over from his Arkham days. His look in the DCU recently changed, but this look makes for a fantastic alternative.
14 DON'T WANT: BLACK CANARY
Though she didn’t appear in the first Injustice game, Black Canary has played a vital role in the accompanying comic line as a member of Batman’s Insurgency. Though she had a fairly complete storyline where she was motivated by the death of her husband but tempered by her son’s birth, her range in the comic was limited by her poor costume design.
She wore her usual fishnet stockings and black leotard, but then artist gave her awkwardly shaped arm guards in place of her traditional leather jacket. Her design improved drastically in the subsequent game and comic line, but mostly because she borrowed her look wholesale from her regular DCU counterpart.
13 WANT: RAVEN
Raven has always had a killer costume design, except for that one time she wore a weird, jagged shell on her face but we don’t talk about that around these parts. In Injustice, she served as a veritable Deus Ex Machina for Superman’s Regime, and with her demonic heel turn came a substantial costume change.
Her dark blue leotard was decorated with black and silver runes. She added limited but effective armor including short black arm guards, a hip-hugging belt, and thigh-high metal boots. Her signature hood became exceptionally jagged and she was drawn with darker lighting to contrast with her pale skin.
12 DON'T WANT: CATWOMAN
One of Catwoman’s most obvious character traits is her costume’s emphasis on her sensuality. As Batman’s primary romantic foil, all she really needs to convey her personality is her skin-tight black one-piece, angled goggles, cat ears, and her signature bullwhip. Artists for the Injustice comics knew that she and Batman were going to break up so they must have figured this would be an opportunity to experiment with her costume.
A smart idea, but adding a bulky brown harness, gray padding, and even cutting out some sections of the one-piece entirely were not the right direction to take it in.
11 WANT: HARLEY QUINN
The whole Injustice storyline is arguably one of the best Harley Quinn stories of all time. Without the Joker’s direct influence, she expanded her horizons and found her potential as a character beyond just being a one-joke gimmick. Though she never looked bad in the Injustice comics, two looks in particular stand out.
In the first Injustice series, she wore her hair down in two loose tails and donned an open jacket, small bustier, and thigh-high stockings. By the second comic line, she’d let her hair go back to it’s natural blonde, which she wore tighter than before, and switched to a leather jacket, corset, and matching combat pants and boots.
10 DON'T WANT: SHAZAM
Shazam has one of the simplest sub-texts of any hero over. He’s the ultimate power fantasy of a ten-year old boy; being able to turn into not just an adult but a super powered, ultimate adult at will. As such, his costume is supposed to be as simple as possible, based on a child’s idea of what a military hero with lightning powers would look like.
In Injustice, Shazam’s outfit is too complex and subtle. It includes laced armor lines across his torso, a raised lighting insignia, and jagged armor up his legs. His golden armbands were redrawn to be bulky and ornate.
9 WANT: BATGIRL
Batgirl has almost always had a great look. The original Barbara Gordon was generic but novel, Stephanie Brown was the first to incorporate purple padding into the design, Cassandra Cain’s all-black outfit was sleek and deadly, and Barbara’s current outfit with the separate cowl are all interesting. Her costume in Injustice was no different.
All-purple, heavily plated, and featuring a golden bat symbol that stretched to her matching shoulder pads, Batgirl’s outfit boosted her defense and intimidation without sacrificing her lethal agility. Considering she was one of the only surviving members of Batman’s Insurgency by the end of the first comic line, this look might eventually transfer over to the regular DCU.
8 DON'T WANT: DAMIAN WAYNE
The interesting point of Nightwing’s costume has always been the subtle gender equality it implies. More often than not, it’s just a skin-tight jumpsuit worn by one of DC’s most notorious playboys, providing both a unique look and critique of over-sexualized female outfits of the same fashion.
But when Damian Wayne took over the mantle, he added several layers of bulky armor and plating. Not only does it look unreasonably heavy and restricting, it takes away from the whole secretly-capitalizing-on- the-female-gaze shtick that Dick Grayson has been pulling off for decades. Obviously, Damian’s different upbringing would give him different fashion priorities, but this outfit makes him look like a very vulnerable tank, not a deadly assassin.
7 WANT: JASON TODD
Jason Todd made waves when he was revealed as the identity of the fake, gun-wielding Batman in the Injustice 2 comics. It was made even more astounding because the fake Batman had been using a noticeably cooler outfit than the regular Batman. His cowl was slightly more angular and had glowing red eyes. He had black, rectangular padding on his legs and arms that made his look more militaristic, aided by the crossed machine gun holsters on his back.
The most intimidating outfit change Jason made was the bat insignia. It was more jagged and reached both of his shoulders. In combat, the insignia glowed red and sparked lightning because Jason Todd doesn’t do anything without looking like an utter boss.
6 DON'T WANT: BLUE BEETLE
Jaime Reyes’s costume design is intentionally unscrupulous due to the nature of his gimmick. The Scarab he draws power from was intended to turn him into an alien shock troop but made him a hero instead, so giving him a too villainous or heroic an appearance would disrupt his personality. The Injustice comics double down on this phenomenon by making him ugly as sin and his armor bulkier.
His gray helmet clashed awkwardly with the blue linings of his armor, his neck plating looked oddly stiff, and his jetpack was so large that he looked top-heavy and embarrassingly unbalanced. At least in the DCU he had a streamlined look that made his flight seem possible.
5 WANT: HAL JORDAN
Green Lantern’s outfit has almost always been a bit awkward. He’s essentially a space cop armed with a weapon that makes light constructs and he wears a one-piece leotard? In Injustice, he trades this look in for a more armored, combat-ready outfit befitting of a cosmic police officer, all emphasized by glowing green energy lines.
This was made all the more powerful a look when he was adopted into the Sinestro Corps. His armor became more angular and sharp, befitting of a more militaristic, fascist appearance. Not saying it was a good motivation for his character, but it was a terrific look.
4 DON'T WANT: GREEN ARROW
It’s never a good sign of thing to come when the Arrowverse Green Arrow cameo skin in the game looks better than the actual costume design in the game. Unfortunately, the game’s outfit didn’t look better in the comic line. The biggest problem was the lattice pattern that cris-crossed over Ollie’s hood and pants.
It made him look like he was wearing a quilt. His bow was also kinda-stupid looking with its awkward knife attachment His yellow shin guards and armless jacket didn’t help proceedings. This cacophony of terrible fashion choices is topped off by a series of unsightly belts that all serve some unseen but likely unnecessary purpose.
3 WANT: GREEN LANTERN LOBO
One of the more recent additions to this list, the alien bounty hunter Lobo was deputized by the Green Lantern Corps to help deal with the invading Red Lanterns. He normally looked pretty much like his DCU equivalent, but his costume transformed with the power of a Green Lantern ring and became emphatically more awesome.
He wore his insignia on his new green, spiked shoulder pad, attached in place by emerald chains. Other additions include a Green Lantern boots, arm guards, and belt buckle. The green contrasts beautifully with his white skin and black fashion, something we want to see in the DCU ASAP.
2 DON'T WANT: BATMAN
Despite how objectively silly it looks, it’s hard to mess up Batman’s iconic armor. But somehow, the Injustice comics found a way, namely by giving him a concave, plated look. It worked in the Arkham games, but in Injustice and the accompanying comics, he just looked silly, like an inverted Owlman.
This was especially prominent in his sectioned cowl, which looked like a bulky headdress rather than seamless part of his uniform. The heavily armored Batman look has always had an air of counter-intuition to it, after all how can one be a ninja if they’re built like Iron Man, and the Injustice look is the epitome of this phenomenon.
1 WANT: SUPERGIRL
There is little doubt that Supergirl has never looked as good as she did in the Injustice comics. Everything about her was a huge change from previous incarnations and just about every aesthetical decision worked. Her shortened blonde hair paired wonderfully with her new yellow and gold overlays, her semi-bulky shoulder pads and wide cape made her sleeveless top stand out more. And by Rao, who could have figured how good she’d look in pants.
A one-piece outfit uninterrupted by forced sensuality, illogical additions, or unnecessary accoutrements is something that the regular, mainstream DCU Kara Zor-El could and should adopt.