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First Impressions: 10 MCU Characters That Work Better As Concept Art (And 10 That Work Better On-Screen)

So far, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has pumped out 20 movies as well as numerous television series. Loads and loads of actors, directors, writers, and other crew members have worked on creating these films and TV shows we love so much. Before a movie hits the theaters and we get to enjoy it, and after eagerly awaiting it for months and sometimes years, there's an entire process that goes around behind the scenes. A part of that process is concept design, wherein concept artists create and submit various concepts for a given character's look in the movie. Marvel then has to choose the best one from the large pool of concept art. Sometimes they get it right, other times not so much. But, most of their decisions work out for the best in the end.

As for the concept art that doesn't make the cut, it remains out on the world wide web for all of us to admire and discuss. Given the extent of the Marvel Cinematic Universe there's a ton of unused concept art for all the heroes, villains and supporting characters. Although, the MCU has a pretty solid track record when it comes to costumes they put on the screen, sometimes it happens that a better version gets discarded. We're sure you too can think of an MCU costume that you simply aren't really fond of and wish another design was used. We looked through heaps of MCU character concept art and found both better and worse versions of official costumes. So, check them out.

20 BETTER AS CONCEPT ART: HAWKEYE

Hawkeye has never been a sharp dresser. Even in the comics, his costumes never seem to really hit the mark. Nevertheless, his purple comic book attire is stylish and cool compared to the many costumes actor Jeremy Renner has worn in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

While there was nothing horrible about Hawkeye’s costumes, none of them had any personality. They were all kind of boring. On the other hand, this concept art by Andy Park looks exciting and fresh. The design incorporates Hawkeye’s trademark purple, includes a revamped mask and looks like something a former S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent on the run would wear, since this concept was done for Captain America: Civil War.

19 BETTER ON-SCREEN: HULKBUSTER

One of the most amazing moments in Avengers: Age of Ultron and the MCU in general, was Tony Stark summoning the Hulkbuster and proceeding to fight the Hulk. It was an epic moment to see the iconic comic book Iron Man armor, designed specifically to take care of the big green guy on the silver screen.

And it certainly didn’t hurt that the Hulkbuster looked insanely awesome and accurate. However, this alternate design by Josh Nizzi shows us a very different take on the legendary armor. It’s not a terrible concept, but it’s just not what we expect and want to see from the Hulkbuster.

18 BETTER AS CONCEPT ART: DOCTOR STRANGE

Unlike most MCU heroes, Doctor Strange doesn’t have a classic superhero suit. Then again, Doctor Strange is no conventional hero and there’s really no reason why the Sorcerer Supreme should be wearing spandex.

Instead, Benedict Cumberbatch’s costume is an Asian-influenced, layered kimono tunic coupled with the Cloak of Levitation. And while the costume we got to see on the screen looks good enough, we can’t help but feel disappointed that Andy Park’s alternate design didn’t make the cut. It’s sleeker, more functional and just looks cool. Hopefully, there is still a chance for this costume to appear in a future film.

17 BETTER ON-SCREEN: ULTRON

In Avengers: Age of Ultron, the science bros Stark and Banner accidentally created a real monster. The sentient AI spent about five seconds learning about the human race and decided it was done with us. Designed and determined to maintain peace, Ultron decides that genocide is the way to go.

And while all this sounds villainous enough to any sane person, Ultron also spoke with the kind of rich smooth voice and long drawls only James Spader is capable of, which made him even more scary. Plus, he had an appropriately scary body. However, concept artist Josh Nizzi felt it wasn't enough. Hence, whatever this is.

16 BETTER AS CONCEPT ART: SCARLET WITCH

Scarlet Witch really hasn’t had the best of luck when it comes to on-screen costumes. Making her first official appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Wanda Maximoff wore regular clothes anyone could buy in a clothing store. She’s had a couple of costumes since, but none have really made an impact. It’s obvious that something is missing from the design.

We’re not arguing for the questionable leotard she sports in the comics to cross over to the big screen, but perhaps some kind of a headband would do the trick. Andy Park’s design looks amazing and we’d really love to see it in the movies.

15 BETTER ON-SCREEN: GAMORA

The green-skinned assassin Gamora quickly became a fan-favorite much like her Guardians of the Galaxy companions. Portrayed by Zoe Saldana, the most dangerous woman in the Universe looks incredibly comic book-accurate, all things considered. What you may not have known, is that Gamora could have looked entirely different. As in, purple instead of green.

Concept artist Andy Park has created numerous designs for Gamora, including this very different early version. Not that there’s anything wrong with the color purple, but we prefer our Gamora green. Besides, a purple Gamora would just look too much like her adoptive, villainous father Thanos.

14 BETTER AS CONCEPT ART: QUICKSILVER

Quicksilver’s time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe ended abruptly with the silver-haired speedster heroically sacrificing himself after only one movie. The character was portrayed by Aaron Taylor-Johnson who looked pretty handsome with silver hair. Unfortunately, his costume didn’t quite meet our expectations.

Dressed in what appeared to be regular sportswear, Quicksilver looked more like a professional sprinter than a superhero. The sad thing is, he could have had a much better costume had Marvel picked this design by Andy Park. Sure, it’s still not the best suit ever, but at least it does indeed resemble a proper costume.

13 BETTER ON-SCREEN: ROCKET RACCOON

Rocket Raccoon is one of the most adorable creations to ever grace the big screen. Voiced by the hilarious Bradley Cooper, Rocket Raccoon instantly became a fan-favorite character. In Avengers: Infinity War this sweet rabbit was one of the biggest scene-stealers.

The lovable Rocket Raccoon gets the funniest lines, he gets to do all kinds of crazy stuff, and his scenes are always absolutely hilarious. But, we can’t help but wonder if the character would have become such an immense hit if he had looked like this weird thing Justin Sweet designed. Honestly, we doubt that he would.

12 BETTER AS CONCEPT ART: NOVA CORPS

In Avengers: Infinity War, the planet Xandar was destroyed by the mad titan Thanos. The home planet of the Nova Corps played an important role in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, and the Nova Corps were instrumental in the fight against Ego in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

We loved the inclusion of both Xandar and Nova Corps in both movies but we do have to make one small complaint: The Nova Corps uniforms, not that they’re utterly horrible, are not all that awesome. Even though, they could have been. Anthony Francisco designed this cool costume, but Marvel decided not to use it.

11 BETTER ON-SCREEN: RED SKULL

Avengers: Infinity War included the surprise return of one of MCU’s first villains -- Red Skull. Johann Schmidt, former head of HYDRA, was consumed by the Tesseract at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger and hasn’t been seen until the events of Infinity War.

Though portrayed by two different actors, Hugo Weaving and Ross Marquand respectively, Red Skull looked equally awesome in both films. However, back when the character was still in the development phase, concept artist Ian Joyner had a very different idea what Red Skull should look like. Luckily, Marvel made the smart decision to pass on this nightmare fuel design.

10 BETTER AS CONCEPT ART: ARNIM ZOLA

Arnim Zola is one of the characters who underwent some pretty substantial changes on his way from the page to the big screen. In the comics, an ESP box is mounted on top of the robotic body that Zola controls with his mind. The movie, however, went with a much simpler design.

The Arnim Zola we saw in the MCU, had a camera perched on top of an old computer monitor hooked up to a bunch of supercomputers in the background. Concept artist Josh Nizzi created a design that is closer to the robot body from the comics and it looks incredibly cool and creepy.

9 BETTER ON-SCREEN: THOR

Thor: Ragnarok revamped the God of Thunder in the best possible way. The new haircut, the new suit, and the new attitude made the character all that more interesting and likable. Reactions to the new and upgraded Thor were mostly positive. However, things could have taken a very different turn had this concept been accepted.

The costume featured above was designed by concept artist Aleksi Briclot and, luckily, it was passed over by Marvel Studios. It’s just really weird and unbecoming. Not even Chris Hemsworth could pull off this ridiculous look. What even is this supposed to be? Doesn’t really look like a gladiator outfit.

8 BETTER AS CONCEPT ART: HELMUT ZEMO

Helmut Zemo is often underappreciated in the villain community of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, despite the fact that he was the one who essentially disassembled the Avengers -- a sizable accomplishment no matter how you look at it. But maybe the reason Zemo often falls into the background is his rather unmemorable physical appearance.

Instead of sporting his usual purple onesie, in Captain America: Civil War, Zemo looked like a regular guy. The worst part is, Andy Park designed a more comic book-accurate costume that Marvel didn’t want to use. We would have loved to see this costume on the big screen.

7 BETTER ON-SCREEN: VALKYRIE

Whenever we go digging through these unused concept art pieces we come across designs that range from astonishing to baffling, and the one you’re looking at now falls within the latter category. The Valkyrie Scrapper costume was designed by Aleksi Briclot, and it’s unlike any other Valkyrie design we have seen.

The body armor itself doesn’t look bad at all. However, the skull-shaped knee guards and the headgear might be just a tad too much. The artist drew inspiration from Jack Kirby’s unique art style, which definitely shows, but we’re not sure we’d enjoy seeing this costume on the big screen.

6 BETTER AS CONCEPT ART: DAREDEVIL

Daredevil’s first season was met with wide critical acclaim, and rightfully so. The performances across the board were outstanding, the plot was exciting and engaging, and the whole thing was just well put together. But, there was a group of fans who had a problem with Matt’s on-screen costume.

Unlike Daredevil’s comic book costume, the suit Charlie Cox wears on the show is a bit bulky, kind of like a tactical suit. On top of that, it is more black than red, which is also muted. This alternate concept by Josh Nizzi is much closer to the comics. We can only hope that one day we get to see this costume on the small screen.

5 BETTER ON-SCREEN: FALCON

The version of Falcon we know and love from the MCU movies differs considerably form his comic book counterpart. Falcon’s origin story, as well as appearance, were altered for the big screen. Mostly, for the better. It would feel a bit out of place in the MCU if Sam Wilson came soaring through the sky in a red-white leotard with a real falcon at his wing, with whom he communicates telepathically.

The new origin story and the winged jetpack that came with it work much better in live-action. They even managed to throw in a couple of nods to the comics. Unlike, with this odd design by Josh Nizzi that looks overly robotic.

4 BETTER AS CONCEPT ART: MALEKITH

Whenever Thor: The Dark World comes up in a discussion, one of the first aspects of it to get panned will certainly be the villain Malekith. While most criticism focuses on poor writing, Malekith’s character design barely gets a pass. And if we're being honest, there really wasn’t anything about Malekith that stood out. His appearance wasn’t that much different from any other Dark Elf. Which is to say, he looked boring.

However, Malekith could have looked much better and more comics-accurate had Marvel gone with this concept created by Andy Park. Why this wasn’t used as the final design, we may never know.

3 BETTER ON-SCREEN: SPIDER-MAN

Spidey’s costume is one of our favorite MCU costumes ever -- it’s simple, it’s faithful to the source material, it’s practical, and it makes Tom Holland look as if he jumped out of a comic book page. It’s just perfect. But before Marvel settled on that beautiful costume, they were looking at all kinds of options.

Ryan Meinerding created a couple of different versions of the Spidey suit with the large spider symbol on the front, including this rather dark one. While we don’t think either of these designs were particularly horrible, we prefer the design that ended up getting the green light.

2 BETTER AS CONCEPT ART: ANT-MAN

In the MCU, the way Ant-Man’s and therefore the Wasp’s suits work is that they require the wearer to be entirely contained inside of the suit. Every inch of the wearer must be covered, including the mouth. Even though, in the comics, Ant-Man’s helmet has an opening over the mouth.

Concept artist Andy Park, who drew up a bunch of Ant-Man suits and helmets, created a helmet with an open mouth, but due to the above-mentioned reasons this design couldn’t make it into the movie. And it’s really a shame because Ant-Man looks ten times cooler with this helmet.

1 BETTER ON-SCREEN: YELLOWJACKET

Yellowjacket probably won’t go down in history books as one of the best on-screen superviallains of all time. However, when it comes to costumes, Yellowjacket had one of the coolest looking costumes in the MCU. With the honeycomb-patterned yellow stripes on the black suit and the stingers emerging from the back Yellowjacket looked incredibly bee-like.

But, before Marvel said yes to the costume, concept artist Andy Park showed them lots of different designs, including the one you see above. The blue stripes feel kind of out of place on an outfit that’s supposed to remind us of a bee.

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