Often when we discuss comic book movie villains we focus on how the character is written, how they're developed, what their motivations are, how compelling they are, and so on. All of these things are important, of course, but us comic book fans also like our bad guys to look good, which is why costumes are hotly discussed whenever there's a new comic book-based movie or TV series coming out. As devoted fans we want the on-screen adaptations of our beloved heroes and villains to look every bit as awesome as they do on the page. When it comes to Marvel's on-screen adaptations, their track record with supervillain costumes is rather good, especially in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, not every villain that Marvel has put on the screen looked as good as Hela or Winter Soldier.
And while some of these missteps may have occurred due to budgetary restrictions, other were entirely creative choices that haven't exactly paid off as was intended. Offenders in the villain costume department come from all Marvel properties, including the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Sony's Spider-Man, the television series and, yes, even the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We trust that as you're reading this you can probably think of some villains that didn't look their best on the screen despite having an awesome costume and being a pretty big deal in the comics. So, with that in mind we complied a list of 25 Marvel villains whose on-screen costumes didn't do them justice and hope if they ever come around again, things look better.
25 ELECTRO (THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2)
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 suffered from the same disease as its predecessor’s third film, known in the industry as the villain oversaturation. Ambitiously and foolishly, Marc Webb decided to have three main villains in his second Spider-Man movie -- Electro, Green Goblin and Rhino. Big mistake.
Jamie Foxx’ Electro started out promising but got boring halfway through. While the special effects for Electro were at an admirable level, the costume was a bit disappointing. A nod to the comics would have gone a long way.
24 THE RUSSIAN (THE PUNISHER 2004)
There’s Waldo! Wait, nope. We’re being told that’s Kevin Nash in The Punisher and he’s supposed to playing the Russian. Alright. Seriously though, the guy’s costume is literally a white-red striped shirt -- the margin of error is very slim here.
Yet, somehow the people behind Nash’s costume managed to mess it up. You had one job, make the stripes more far apart, so he looks less like Waldo. Was that really hard to do? But, as long as you were changing stuff, why not go all the way and give the guy something less silly to wear.
23 WHIPLASH (IRON MAN 2)
Iron Man 2 saw Tony dealing with the aftermath of the Battle of New York and his PTSD. On his path to recovery, Tony faced many obstacles, including Whiplash. Holding Howard Stark responsible for his father’s demise, Ivan Vanko came to seek revenge against Tony Stark.
Using his father’s research, Vanko built an arc reactor and energy whips to exact his revenge. Portrayed by Mickey Rourke with messy long hair and covered with tattoos head to toe, Whiplash looked more like a member of a motorcycle gang than a physicist-turned supervillain.
22 DOCTOR DOOM (FANTASTIC FOUR 2005)
More than a decade before he would get cast as Jonah in Marvel’s Runaways, Julian McMahon played a different Marvel villain. In the 2005 movie Fantastic Four, McMahon donned on the green cloak and portrayed Victor Von Doom.
It is clear that the costume designers attempted to make Doctor Doom’s costume comic book-accurate. However, his armor looked like a cheap plastic Halloween costume. Even worse, instead of finally doing Doctor Doom justice, the 2015 Fantastic Four reboot tarnished the character even more.
21 DIAMONDBACK (LUKE CAGE)
What the heck happened here, Marvel? We know that the TV shows don’t have the big budget the movies do, but still… this is just pitiful. While the Diamondback costume we saw in Luke Cage bore resemblance to the comic book outfit, it wasn’t a successful adaptation in the slightest.
For a suit that’s supposed to be able to absorb and store kinetic energy, the green fabric used here looks kind of cheap. The ridiculous helmet, designed supposedly to resemble a snake’s head, only makes the whole thing even sillier.
20 DARK PHOENIX (X-MEN: THE LAST STAND)
The original X-Men trilogy will forever hold a special place in our hearts, despite all of its undeniable flaws. The appalling costumes, which in part were a product of its era, usually come up on lists like this one. But, hey it was the early '00s, it was either all-leather or all-denim. Or whatever this is.
Famke Janssen’s Dark Phoenix costume is one of the least impressive costumes we’ve ever seen in a comic book movie. X-Men: The Last Stand chose to ignore everything that makes the comics costume iconic, including the Phoenix symbol, opting instead for this weird corset/trench coat.
19 HELMUT ZEMO (CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR)
Helmut Zemo is without a doubt one of the more compelling and efficient villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Seeking revenge on the Avengers after having lost his family in the Battle of Sokovia, Zemo caused the heroes to go to war against each other.
However, when it comes to his costume, it’s one of the least inspired designs the MCU has put on the screen. Compared to his memorable comic book look, the on-screen costume just doesn’t hold up. There’s hardly a costume to even talk about.
18 GREEN GOBLIN (SPIDER-MAN)
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man is one of the most beloved superhero movies and deservedly so. However, there are some things that the movie could have, and should have, done better. Green Goblin’s costume is certainly one of them.
The green monstrosity Willem Dafoe wore in the movie is like a blast from the past -- the '90s to be more precise. It’s impossible to take the Green Goblin as a serious threat when he’s wearing this campy, ridiculous outfit. Instead of scaring us, Green Goblin’s mask cracks us up.
17 DOCTOR DOOM (FANTASTIC FOUR 2015)
The original Fantastic Four movies are hardly the best comic book movie adaptations have to offer. It’s a franchise that was begging to be rebooted and finally in 2015 our prayers were answered. Wait, what? Oh, the reboot was even worse than the sum of the horrible parts from the first two films. Cool.
All the costumes in this abomination of a film were outstandingly awful, but the award for the worst costume goes to Doctor Doom. In the scrappy armor and the dreadful rags, Victor Von Doom looked utterly ridiculous and at least ten times worse than in the 2005 movie.
16 JIGSAW (PUNISHER: WAR ZONE)
The first season of Punisher introduced us to Billy Russo, Frank Castle’s nemesis better known as Jigsaw. In the finale, Billy’s deformed face was teased, but we have yet to see what Jigsaw will finally look like. Our only hope is that they do a much better job than the 2008 film Punisher: War Zone.
Jigsaw’s deformed face was undoubtedly intended to be unnerving, but it was so poorly done that poor Dominic West ended up looking laughable instead. But hey, points for trying.
15 NEW GOBLIN (SPIDER-MAN 3)
In Sam Raimi’s third and final Spider-Man movie, Harry Osborn took on the mantle of Green Goblin after witnessing the death of his father Norman Osborn, seemingly at the hands of Spider-Man. The new Green Goblin got a whole new costume. Sadly, new is not always better.
James Franco’s Green Goblin sported what looked like a generic S.W.A.T. uniform and soared the skies on an enhanced snowboard. And we’re not even gonna talk about the ridiculous ski mask. What even was that?
14 APOCALYPSE (X-MEN: APOCALYPSE)
X-Men: Apocalypse is definitely not the strongest movie in the X-Men franchise and the titular villain was one of the most disappointing aspects of the film. Despite being played by the talented Oscar Isaac, Apocalypse couldn’t live up to expectations.
For starters, Apocalypse looked nothing like the mutant we know from the comics. Instead of looking menacing, the first mutant with access to all kinds of powers, looked puny and ridiculous on-screen. The live-action version of Apocalypse resembled an alien with a weird paint job.
13 RED SKULL (CAPTAIN AMERICA 1990)
In Avengers: Infinity War we witnessed the return of a familiar face from Captain America’s past -- Red Skull. The head of HYDRA was portrayed in Captain America: The First Avenger by Hugo Weaving and Ross Marquand in Infinity War. Both versions looked absolutely perfect.
What didn’t look perfect is Scott Paulin’s Red Skull from the 1990 Captain America film. To call this a bad cosplay is an insult to cosplayers. An atrocity such as this one can only be found in the Power Rangers television series.
12 BLACKHEART (GHOST RIDER)
Blackheart is the all-powerful demon who has control of the armies of Hell and possesses powers like super speed, strength and telekinesis. What he doesn’t possess is a soul, which makes him one of Ghost Rider’s most daring nemesis.
In the comics, Blackheart appears as a muscular, scary demon with piercing red eyes and spikey head. However, when he made a live-action appearance in Ghost Rider, Blackheart spent most of the movie in his human form, in which he looked like a vampire from Twilight. His demon shape wasn’t much better either.
11 GREEN GOBLIN (THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2)
In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, we got the third adaptation of Green Goblin in ten years. Dane DeHaan portrayed Peter’s best friend Harry Osborn, who became Green Goblin after unsuccessfully procuring the cure for his illness.
Due to his disease, Green Goblin’s skin and teeth looked as if rotting away. DeHaan was unsettling, but not in the way Green Goblin’s supposed to be. This slightly green, decomposing creature wasn’t even close to the comic book appearance of one of Spidey’s greatest rivals.
10 MALEKITH (THOR: THE DARK KNIGHT)
Forgettable. Unfortunately, Thor: The Dark World, just like its villain Malekith, can be summed up in one word: forgettable. Hailed by many as the worst film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Dark World suffered greatly from having such a weak and uninteresting villain, who on top of all dressed poorly.
The costume for Malekith was just plain boring. There’s virtually nothing about this outfit that would make Malekith stand out from the other Dark Elves. Like Malekith himself, the costume is bland.
9 VENOM (SPIDER-MAN 3)
Thus far, Sony’s solo Venom movie has given us a lot to look forward to. Tom Hardy is the perfect man for the job, Venom looks great and the plot has us hooked already. This will mark Venom’s second live-action appearance, after the disastrous first attempt in Spider-Man 3.
The Venom from the third Spider-Man film was a complete failure on every level. Eddie Brock was changed from a hulking bodybuilder to a scrawny Peter Parker clone and the costume was a CGI monstrosity straight out of a bad horror flick.
8 JUGGERNAUT (X-MEN: THE LAST STAND)
The Unstoppable Juggernaut recently made an appearance in Deadpool 2 and thankfully, he was a vast improvement over the Juggernaut we got in X-Men: The Last Stand. Vinnie Jones was cast to portray Juggernaut in Last Stand, then fitted into a body suit and CGI-altered to look more robust.
The costume itself was an even bigger disappointment. The helmet looked sillier than the one from the comics, while the upper armor made Juggernaut look like an extra from a gladiator movie.
7 DRAKE (BLADE: TRINITY)
Recognize this handsome face? Yes, that is Dominic Purcell who’s currently playing Mick Rory, aka Heat Wave on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Back in 2004, Purcell appeared in Blade: Trinity as the villain Dracula, whose name for whatever reason was changed to Drake.
The slick and deadly vampire was very poorly adapted for the big screen and Purcell looked absurd. Draped in a sleeveless leather vest and an armor that protects just one arm -- apparently, he doesn’t really need the other one -- Drake was a far cry from his comic book counterpart.
6 SABERTOOTH (X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE)
For a movie that was supposed to revive a struggling franchise, X-Men Origins: Wolverine did the complete opposite. The movie was planned to be the first in a series of origin movies, yet it ended up being the one and only.
The story, the characters, the costumes, the CGI -- everything about this movie was subpar, to say the least. The villain Sabertooth, who’s expected to strike fear with his beast-like appearance, was turned into a generic thug with claws, fangs and a weird beard.
5 RHINO (THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2)
History teaches us nothing. The disastrous consequences of overcrowding a superhero movie with way too many villains that have befallen Spider-Man 3 did nothing to discourage Marc Webb from putting three villains in his Spider-Man film. Unsurprisingly, the result was more or less the same.
Out of the three villains the movie presented -- all of which were rather disappointing, Paul Giamatti’s Rhino was undoubtedly the most detestable. In the comics, Rhino is a half-man, half-rhino hybrid, yet Sony opted to make him a man in a massive Oscorp rhino suit.
4 BULLSEYE (DAREDEVIL 2003)
Before Charlie Cox got to portray the Man without Fear in Netflix’s amazing series Daredevil, the current Batman, Ben Affleck, had the honors. In the 2003 Daredevil film, Affleck’s Matt Murdock faced off against his iconic comic book nemesis -- Bullseye.
Bullseye was portrayed by Collin Farrell, who decided to go for the over-the-top approach, making the villain mediocre at best. The costume did nothing to help make Bullseye any more imposing. With an engraved bullseye on his forehead and a snakeskin trench coat, Bullseye is easily one of the worst-looking on-screen villains ever.
3 SILVER SAMURAI (THE WOLVERINE)
Before he made the critically acclaimed Logan, director James Mangold made the less favored 2013 X-Men film The Wolverine. According to most critics, the movie went off the rails in the final act which saw Wolverine face off against the Silver Samurai.
Only this was not the Silver Samurai we know from the comics. In The Wolverine, Silver Samurai was a giant robot created with adamantium that looked like a Japanese armor. And instead of an epic showdown with katanas we got around three minutes of bad CGI.
2 DEADPOOL (X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE)
It would be interesting to know what was going through the heads of the people who decided to give Deadpool this atrocious makeover. Why and how did anyone think this would work is beyond comprehension.
Deadpool’s live-action debut in X-Men Origins: Wolverine went down in history as one of the worst on-screen adaptations of comic book characters. The Merc with a Mouth was stripped of his iconic costume and most importantly his mouth. There’s nothing we can say about this costume that hasn’t been said before. Simply put, it was a train wreck.
1 GALACTUS (FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER)
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Fox meeting with Tim Story. Fox: Say Mr. Story, how are we supposed to make a character like Galactus? Tim Story: Oh, what a stupid question. We’ll just make it look like a giant cloud is trying to vacuum in the Earth. That’s… close enough, right?
Well... no, no, it really isn’t. A giant, planet-eating cosmic being with a horned helmet does not equal a planet-vacuuming giant cloud. Devoid of any personality, distinguishing features and comic book likeness, Galactus can best be described as a giant mistake.