It takes a lot to adapt a comic book to the big screen -- years of writing, shooting, editing, and thousands of people coming together to make one two-hour experience. It’s no surprise that TV therefore presents some entirely original challenges. As a result, some of our favorite characters are not always presented in quite the way that we’d like, but how are the Marvel TV shows doing? Marvel has quite a few TV shows, and this is where they’ve been the most experimental, using some villains and characters that many have never heard of. However, we here at CBR have, and we’ve been keeping an eye on these characters, and honestly, some of these costumes are amazing. Others are horrible. And others? Well, they’re so far off the mark, the resemblance to their namesake is flimsy at best.
From Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to Inhumans, from Daredevil to The Punisher, there is no shortage of characters from the comic books, but not all of them are recognizable. One thing is for sure, Marvel isn’t afraid to take any chances on TV. The only downside is that their gambles don’t always pay off. Click on to read about some of the best and worst costumes on Marvel’s TV shows!
15 WORSE: BLACK BOLT
An iconic character from the comics, Black Bolt is the leader of the Inhumans. His voice is so powerful it can level mountains, so he never speaks. The costume, mostly black, has wings, but the most iconic part is likely the small tuning fork decoration on the forehead of Blackbolt’s mask.
We could have done an entire article about how bad the costumes for the Inhumans TV show were, but Black Bolt’s was by far the worst. There was no attempt at a mask or wings. It was just another disappointment in what had already been a long series of letdowns for fans of the Inhumans comics. There’s been no announcement of a continuation for the series, making it one of Marvel’s few real flops at the moment. It’s anyone’s guess what will happen with the Inhumans now, but it’ll probably be some time before we see them again.
14 BETTER: DAREDEVIL
Daredevil has had several costumes, both on the Marvel Netflix TV series, Daredevil, and in his various comic titles. Comparing Daredevil’s season two outfit to his red costumes in the comics is perhaps the closest real comparison we can make, but the costumes are so similar, it’s honestly very difficult to make such a comparison without showing significant bias.
Daredevil fans might remember that, in the early comics, his costume was comprised mostly of a skin-tight yellow suit covered by a red leotard. Needless to say, the flashiness didn’t make for a very threatening hero and it was hard to take him seriously. Compare that first outfit to the solid black that Daredevil wears throughout most of season one of the Netflix series, and you can immediately see the improvement. He’s sleek, he’s stealthy, and he’s more of a threat than ever before.
13 WORSE: NUKE
A Captain America villain from the comics who was supposed to be his own generation’s Super Soldier, the comic character finds himself addicted to the pills that give him his special abilities. He paints his face to look like an American flag and runs in, guns blazing, all for the glory of the country that he loves.
In season one of Jessica Jones, the character Will Simpson is given the same backstory. It’s clear to see that he’s going to be the character we know as “Nuke”, but unfortunately, he doesn’t have quite the look of the character. Perhaps he’ll have bulked up between seasons, and maybe he’ll start painting his face with some kind of warpaint, but otherwise, this would be a “Nuke” in name only.
12 BETTER: GHOST RIDER
Ghost Rider, unlike most characters on this list, had had two solo films. However, the Ghost Rider of those films was Johnny Blaze, stunt bike driver extraordinaire. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gave us Robbie Reyes, a lesser-known Ghost Rider, who inherited the Spirit of Vengeance and rode around in a car instead of on a motorcycle.
One thing that was always an interesting stylistic choice from artist to artist was the portrayal of the iconic skull that makes up the head of the Ghost Rider. In many cases, the new, sleek, sporty Ghost Rider got a skull that matched, looking almost like a helmet. On Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. we got a straight-up skull, making Robbie Reyes a realistic and threatening spirit indeed. Unfortunately, the budget for the character was too steep, so we probably won’t see much of him in the future.
11 WORSE: THE PURPLE MAN
This one would have been tough to put on camera and stay accurate to the comics, admittedly. And let’s say right away that David Tennant played Kilgrave perfectly. He’s one of the slimiest villains that you hate to love. He almost makes you feel bad for him, and that’s what makes him so effective as an abuser. He toys with the heads of the audience, just like he does with Jessica Jones.
In the comics, Kilgrave is known as the Purple Man. He is so named due to his purple-hued skin. It would be tough to really make the Purple Man not distracting, and Netflix opted to keep him in purple clothes and purple rooms. It still worked, but was a pretty big deviation from a character who is named for his purple skin color.
10 BETTER: LUKE CAGE
This one is a bit obvious. Though the Luke Cage in the comics has worn several different outfits, there’s really only been one costume he’s ever worn, when he briefly went by the name “Power Man”. The costume, straight out of the 70’s, included a silver headband of sorts. It was certainly dated.
The Luke Cage we see on the Netflix series, however, is very much a normal guy -- he never even goes by “Power Man”. That said, he does find himself in circumstances that give him a silver headband for a moment. It’s a very brief easter egg, but fans of the comics will love it. It’s easy to see how the costume works better as a one-off joke than as a serious crime-fighting get-up.
9 WORSE: DIAMONDBACK
Though mostly true to the spirit of the comic character, the costume was anything but. In the comics, Diamondback is a master of knives and poison, and his appearance is thus snakelike, but not overly so. He wore a striped shirt, pants, and a jacket. It wouldn’t have been too difficult to stay true to this, but Netflix went a different direction with the character on Luke Cage.
To fight Luke Cage in the final battle, Diamondback needed to even the odds, and put on a supersuit of some kind, granting him superior strength and armor. Not only was this a deviation from the character, but the suit looked ridiculous. It was hard to take the fight seriously for several reasons, including a severely underdeveloped villain, but the costume was probably the worst part.
8 BETTER: THE PUNISHER
If you read the comics, the Frank Castle that you see is much more of a gung-ho Rambo-style soldier. He looks and fights like an action figure, complete with missile launchers, machine guns, a hugely noticeable skull, and a headband. It’s so over the top, it’s hard to take seriously in this day and age.
In Netflix’s The Punisher series, they made the character more grounded, more gritty, and more realistic. The skull on the armor is less pronounced, the guns are less celebrated than they are necessary, and there’s no headband. Frank Castle looks and feels like a real killer, as anyone who’s seen the full first season will tell you. The differences are subtle, but they work to make The Punisher one of the best characters Marvel has on Netflix.
7 WORSE: COTTONMOUTH
Another snakelike Luke Cage villain (and not to be confused with the Serpent Society member who goes by the same name in the comics), Cottonmouth stole the show for the first half of season one. He was charismatic, likeable, well-dressed, suave, smart, and talented. He was also nothing like the comic book character. Sure, both were gangsters working in Harlem, but there are a few key differences between the Netflix character and his comic counterpart.
Cottonmouth in the comics has superior strength, particularly in his jaw, and sharpened teeth. He can even bite through Luke Cage’s skin! Much of this may have been difficult to put into the show in a completely realistic way, but the sharp teeth wouldn’t have been too much to ask, and super strength could have made for an interesting fight for Luke.
6 BETTER: ELEKTRA
This one may divide the fans a bit, but let’s get one thing straight: the costume Elektra wears in the comics is essentially just lingerie, and there’s no way they’re going to put that into a TV show. That said, the Netflix series gives us a costume for Elektra that is true to the character in a way that the previous Daredevil and Elektra movies did not.
The costumes in Netflix’s Daredevil and The Defenders are much less of the sporty leather look from the movies and more of the kind of style and fabric one might expect from a group of ninja fanatics. Keeping the casting a bit more true to character also helped complete the look of Elektra, one of the Marvel Universe’s most deadly assassins.
5 WORSE: MR. HYDE
Our next entry on the list comes from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. once more. Mr. Hyde is a villain in season two who reveals that he is Daisy’s father. At first, we’re unaware of the Mr. Hyde aspect of his personality, but once the chemicals start flying we see that he has a more dangerous side to him.
It’s an extremely underwhelming one, though. In the comics, Mr. Hyde is massive. He could rival the Hulk. In the TV show, due perhaps to a limited budget, Mr. Hyde is much smaller. The special effects leave a lot to be desired, and it is another waste of a perfectly good character. It’s a good thing that Mr. Hyde is a lesser known villain, or more people would have cared.
4 BETTER: KINGPIN
In the comics, the Kingpin of crime is a massive, imposing presence, whose size is misleading. One might assume his body mass is mostly fat, but you’d be thinking about Blob, the enemy of the X-Men. No, Kingpin’s body mass is solid muscle. He’s all power, whether we’re talking about his crime empire or his physique.
Let’s be honest, though, it would be impossible to adequately and realistically represent that body type in a live action setting. Michael Clarke Duncan did one heck of a job in the Daredevil movie from the early '00s, but when Netflix took their stab at the character, they chose Vincent D'Onofrio, whose imposing presence comes from his unsettling portrayal. We’re still very afraid of the Kingpin, but now it’s for different reasons.
3 WORSE: MOCKINGBIRD
A spy for S.H.I.E.L.D., Bobbi Morse is one of their better agents. On Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., she is a pretty normal agent, basically the TV show’s equivalent of Black Widow. She wears a standard tight outfit, and goes by her name more often than her code name.
In the comics, where everyone is known by an alias, Mockingbird has a more recognizable white outfit with a mask. While the TV show retained her fighting abilities with batons and staffs, they really didn’t do much at all to play up the fact that we were watching Mockingbird on screen. Really, it was kind of a wasted opportunity. Even worse, she’s been gone for some time now, so it doesn’t seem like there’s much of a plan for Mockingbird in the future of the MCU, either.
2 BETTER: DEATHLOK
Deathlok isn’t a character that too many people are familiar with outside of the comics. Even in the comics, he isn’t often featured. His skillset is similar to that of DC Comics’ Cyborg, a character who is much more popular. Perhaps Marvel decided it wasn’t worth competing too heavily. Whatever the reason, Deathlok, who resembled a hybrid of the Cryptkeeper and the Terminator, wore a red unitard and was seldom to be seen.
In a surprising move, Marvel made Deathlok a major part of the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Gone was the red unitard, but added was a traumatic backstory, a bit of body horror, and some solid special effects. Deathlok was a welcome addition to the cast of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and we hope to see much more of him again sometime!
1 WORSE: IRON FIST
Most people didn’t care much for Netflix’s take on Iron Fist. From a character whose origin story rubbed people the wrong way due to its appearance of the “white savior” trope to the unfortunate comparisons between Danny Rand and Donald Trump, people were ready to hate the show before it aired. Unfortunately, Iron Fist wasn’t a great enough show to quiet the haters, and one of those reasons was that there was never a reference to the Iron Fist’s classic costume.
He wears a bright green outfit in the comics with a yellow hood that covers his eyes. It’s a look that’s quite similar to the costume Daredevil wears in season one of Daredevil. It wouldn’t have been too tough to make the costume work on camera either, with some darker and subtler shades. Perhaps this is something we’ll see in the upcoming Netflix shows.