8 Marvel Heroes That Looked Better Then (And 7 That Look Better Now)

There has been a great deal of drama surrounding the reception of Marvel Comics lately. It seems as if everyone’s got a strong opinion Recently, "Generations" looked to set the course right by sending current iterations of characters back to the past, forcing them to interact with others who once operated under the same mantle. Though the poster teasing the series featured a number of characters with their past iterations, only ten pairs made the final cut. As such, we’ve expanded this list beyond the characters who appeared in “Generations” to other heroes.

“Generations” served to set the stage for Marvel “Legacy”, a one-shot that kickstarted a soft relaunch of the publisher’s entire line. Now that “Legacy” has come out and “Generations” came and went, we've had time to digest everything and we think it's time to talk about legacy, and what it means. In this case, we are referring to what legacy looks like. In this list, we’re not going to be talking about who we think was better under certain superhero mantles, but who LOOKED better doing their heroics. That’s right, this list is not about who did the best, but about whose crime-fighting costumes brought the most glory to the mantle.


Jean Grey is a tough one. Why? Because the current Jean Grey isn’t a different character, she’s just a time displaced version of the one fans loved in classic X-Men books. Even though we know that Jean Grey is coming back in the forthcoming “Phoenix Resurrection” (by writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Leinil Francis Yu), the current iteration of Jean Grey that is bouncing around the Marvel Universe leaves a bit to be desired.

All-in-all it comes down to a matter of preference. We miss the phoenix emblem being more prominent on Jean. Her iconic flowing red hair added to the character’s fiery terror as well. However, they’ve both got their place in the Marvel Universe, at least for now. It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out.


We definitely can’t be the only people who hate Hawkeye’s original costume. All of it looks bizarre, and doesn’t seem to fit his personality in the slightest. Clint Barton strikes us as a minimalist kinda guy -- but maybe that is because we think Matt Fraction and David Aja had the best run on the character.

You know whose look has taken some inspiration from that “Hawkeye” run? Hawkeye. And by ‘Hawkeye’ we mean Kate Bishop. The Hawkeyes issue of “Generations” (written by Kelly Thompson and drawn by Stefano Raffaele) showcased Bishop’s very functional costume in action. Juxtaposed with Clint Barton’s very over-the-top purple and black getup, Kate Bishop’s looks all the better. We like Hawkeye best as a street level hero, and in an outfit that reflects that.



Don’t take this the wrong way: we love Amadeus Cho. He’s great as himself, and as the Hulk -- even if his retained intellect while hulked-out makes him a bit overpowered. What we can’t get behind are his looks. The Hulk is at his best as a monstrous, rampaging beast. Amadeus Cho’s fashion-friendly expanding compression pants can’t hold a candle to Banner’s frayed purple shorts. Plus, what’s up with the one wrist guard? A Hulk that is able to remain cognizant enough to accessorize doesn’t really vibe with us.

The one thing about Amadeus Cho’s Totally Awesome Hulk that we really can’t look past is his hair. Banner’s Hulk rocked a cropped, disheveled mop fit for a raging beast. On the other hand, Cho’s Hulk is sporting a perfectly coiffed faux-hawk. We’ve gotta know: what gel can tame the hair of a Hulk?


You know what? There are a couple of reasons that we prefer the look of Carol Danvers’ Captain Marvel over the original Mar-Vell look. First, the inverted color scheme really does a great deal to draw the eye to points of action, such as Carol’s hands and shoulders. Mar-Vell’s mostly-red suit is just a bit too garish for us. Another reason we prefer the current Captain Marvel’s look is that it is maskless.

Carol doesn’t have an identity to hide -- after all, she’s still considered military personnel. Without a mask, Carol Danvers is a much more commanding presence -- she positively exudes the authority that she represents. Plus, between her exposed face and the new haircut, Carol Danvers embodies the aesthetic of a war hero.



Now that Reed Richards and Sue Storm are off gallivanting about the galaxy creating new planets and whatnot, we guess it makes sense for the Human Torch (aka Johnny Storm) to be sporting something other than his Fantastic Four spandex. That doesn’t mean we have to like it, though. As of late, he’s been flying around in a bright yellow bodysuit with black trim. It’s loud, sleek, and garish -- just like Johnny Storm.

Now that the Human Torch is going to be starring in Marvel Two-In One (written by Chip Zdarsky and drawn by Jim Cheung) alongside fellow Fantastic Four member, The Thing, hopefully we will see the two of them don their iconic, blue spandex suits -- along with the reintroduction of the Fantastic Four to the Marvel Universe.


It has probably been said before, but we’re totally going to say it again -- shoulder pads are SO out. We hate ‘em, you hate ‘em -- and it is one of the most compelling arguments for our claim that Sam Alexander’s Nova looks way better than Richard Rider’s. Richard Rider has not been a part of the Marvel Universe for a hot second. This may or may not have played a role in the two Novas being included on the Generations poster, but not getting their own Generations one-shot.

We are also a big fan of the sleekness of Alexander’s costume versus the rigidity of Rider’s. The younger Nova’s suit looks much more suited to space travel to us, and for that reason, we’re bigger fans of Marvel’s newest human rocket.



Sam Wilson’s Captain America costume was awesome. It was modern costume for a modern era. But despite having all the right colors and accessories, there’s one thing it lacked in comparison to the suit we got to see Steve Rogers sport during “Generations” -- the symbolism. Let’s face it, even though we loved a winged Cap, no Captain America suit will ever be as iconic as the character’s introduction on a cover that showed him punching Hitler.

Even though that Captain America suit makes use of chainmail as one of its primary elements, it is probably the most important costume worn by one of the most important superheroes of all time -- the one who proves time and time again that comics have always been a political medium.


We know, we know -- Peter Parker’s costume is iconic. And yeah, we know that we’ll probably get some hate for this one. Why? Spider-Man is one of the most recognizable heroes of all time, in part due to his bold red and blue spandex costume. While that costume has helped solidify Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s creation as one of the most loved Marvel characters, you’ve got to admit, it IS a bit mild, at least compared to the Miles Morales’ suit.

Originally introduced into the Ultimate Universe by Brian Michael Bendis in 2011, Miles Morales has quickly become a fan favorite. His costume is almost identical to Peter’s, except in terms of color scheme. We don’t know, there’s just something about the black and red that brings an edge to a teenaged Spider-Man that we wish we’d been seeing all along.



Darkhawk is getting his own title in Marvel Legacy, but don’t get too excited -- like the already announced Dazzler, Silver Sable, and Power Pack books, it’s only going to be a one shot. Not a whole lot is known about what will come next for Darkhawk, but it’s likely we’ll see him pop up in some cosmic Marvel stuff moving forward. Unfortunately, Darkhawk’s redesign is not the best.

Even though the '90s were completely outrageous, this Darkhawk redesign somehow topped it. There is not a whole lot of new stuff added onto the costume. In fact, it looks pretty much the same aside from one key difference: it’s a whole lot spikier. Somehow it looks even more '90s than the original '90s design and we aren’t about that at all.


Ironheart (aka Riri Williams) is a 15 year old genius enrolled at MIT. Currently, she’s filling the shoes of the comatose Tony Stark, and is acting as the de facto Iron Man of the Marvel Universe. After reading the Iron Man issue of “Generations” we’ve gotta say, we totally prefer Riri’s suit to the old school one Tony wears in the issue.

Not only does Riri’s suit look like it utilizes the full range of tech available in this day and age, it doesn’t make her look like a wind-up toy robot from the ‘50s, which isn’t exactly a look we look for in our tech-based heroes. Riri’s suit is super similar to what Tony has been wearing in recent comics. The Iron-suits have certainly gotten better as time has gone on -- and at least Riri is keeping that in mind.



First off, the Wolverine/All-New Wolverine issue of “Generations” is one of the best one-shots out this year, period. But it is going to be ushering in a new era of Laura Kinney as Wolverine -- she’ll be rocking the gray costume we saw Logan wear during Remender’s Uncanny X-Force. Laura’s been killing it as Wolverine, literally. But though we love her, the yellow suit is just the way to go. Hopefully, she’ll get it back after a while, but with Logan coming back to life in the pages of Marvel Legacy, we aren’t too sure.

Hopefully, we’ll see the father/daughter duo in the pages of a team-up book sometime soon. But for now, let’s just hope that Logan’s reintroduction to the Marvel Universe doesn’t bring Laura’s time as Wolverine to an end. The yellow costume for the win, though.


Thank goodness that bizarre Space Knight stint is over. After Marvel was purchased by Disney, Venom underwent some design changes to make him a bit more ‘palatable’ to children -- meaning Disney got rid of the character’s iconic teeth and tongue so that he wouldn’t scare kids in an upcoming video game. Venom: Space Knight took the hulking symbiotic anti-hero, and turned him into a sleek, muscular, spaceman type thing.

Now that Eddie Brock has bonded with the Venom symbiote once more, things have gone back to basics, aesthetic-wise. Venom is the Lethal Protector once more, complete with fangs and all. We definitely prefer the character’s current design to any of the looks Venom has sported in recent years. But will it last through the “Venom, Inc.” event?



Jason Aaron’s The Mighty Thor has been one of the best comics in the last few years. Jane Foster was an excellent candidate to take over the mantle of Thor. And hey -- she’s worthy! She’s got one of the most fantastic designs at Marvel today, but it’s a bit too intricate for us. Because of that, we have got to give this one to the original design of Thor.

Thor’s original design is minimalist enough to fit the simple tastes of the God of Thunder. The simplicity of his helmet and the functional nature of the blue tights make this a timeless costume -- one that we are all totally about. The Kirby creation has and always will be the the God of Thunder’s greatest garb.


This was certainly an impactful “Generations” issue, if only because the former Ms. Marvel is one of the current Ms. Marvel’s personal heroes. Or at least, she was. During Civil War II a rift grew between the two that has yet to heal completely. While Carol Danvers was the first Ms. Marvel, it isn’t her first costume that became the character’s ‘iconic’ look. Her most recent costume as Ms. Marvel, was a fan favorite -- a spot it’s losing to the current costume of G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel (aka Kamala Khan).

Kamala Khan’s costume is pretty impressive, especially considering that it’s homemade. While her costume pays homage to Carol’s later costume via lightning bolt, and utilizes the sash and use of red of Carol’s first costume, Kamala’s is solidly her own. It’s an updated look, one that we greatly prefer over Carol’s original.



No one has gotten a worse redesign with Marvel Legacy than Frank Castle (aka The Punisher). After the death of War Machine in Civil War II it was unclear what was going to be the fate of James Rhodes’ suit. Solicitations have confirmed, that it will be going to Frank Castle. The Punisher is already a veritable killing machine. Putting him in a Stark-tech suit containing an entire arsenal of insane weaponry is just overkill. Pun intended.

The Punisher doesn’t need the War Machine suit to be a formidable opponent. But to remain as intimidating as he’s always been, he does need one thing: to not be in a damn robot suit. The Punisher is frightening because he can go toe-to-toe with Marvel’s mightiest and survive, just on instinct and training. He doesn’t need Stark-level weapons, just give him a machete and let him gouge someone’s eyes out.


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