To be honest, superhero costumes are weird. They’re bright, colorful and often times, completely impractical. Long flowing capes and masks that block the wearer’s peripheral vision aren’t good design choices for fighting outfits, after all. Despite all of this, they’re also one of the most important aspects of a comic book character. Often times, the design of a character’s costume has more to do with their popularity than anything else. If a character looks cool, they tend to be more popular. It’s not a coincidence that the most popular era of the X-Men comics is the one whose lead designer was Jim Lee.
Superhero costumes often present the characters in a hyper-sexualized manner. Skin tight outfits that show off fit bodies is the norm. That being the case, it’s pretty often that a designer goes to far and an outfit just becomes trashy. Obviously, some of these costumes are trashy on purpose. Sometimes, it fits the character, or the specific storyline. Also, this isn’t just a list of people showing a lot of skin, so we’re not here to shame. For a costume to be trashy, it has have a certain quality to it. Wonder Woman wears a revealing outfit, but it’s classic and classy. Witchblade was… well, decidedly less so. Here, then, are the 15 trashiest superhero costumes ever!
15. INVISIBLE WOMAN
Since almost the beginning, the Fantastic Four have had a fairly consistent costume scheme. Blue body suits, black or white gloves and boots, and the number four in a circle. There have been some variations, but for the most part, this team has stayed fairly consistent. Except, of course, in the ’90s, when Sue Storm decided to wear a lot less clothing.
First premiering in Fantastic Four #371 (1992) by Tom Defalco and Paul Ryan, this costume polarized fans immediately. While she kept the white boots and gloves, she basically got rid everything else. The worst part of this design is that the four logo is cut out, revealing her cleavage. This redesign was explained as being an effect from her merging with Malice, her evil persona brought about by Psycho-Man. Luckily, this one wasn’t permanent.
Hawkeye has a perfect comic book costume. In real life, his purple finned mask and matching outfit would look ridiculous. In a comic, however, it’s a fan favorite. Clint Barton has changed his look many times, most likely in an attempt to give him a more “realistic” look. Recently, this meant that his costume was basically “purple sunglasses and a purple shirt.” While simple, it’s much better than his worst outfit.
Premiering in Avengers #98 by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith, Hawkeye just isn’t wearing enough clothes here. He had recently been using the Goliath identity, so when he returned to being Hawkeye, he decided to update his costume. By that, we mean he decided to grab a tunic and ignore pants altogether. Apparently, he wasn’t planning on ever fighting crime anywhere cold… which actually seems kind of sensible. This costume, however, was the opposite.
13. ULTIMATE VALKYRIE
While the Ultimate Marvel universe provided fans with modernized versions of popular characters, not all of the updates were improvements. In The Ultimates 2 #6 (2005) by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, the Ultimate Defenders were introduced. Basically, Mark Millar took a bunch of less well known characters (and, surprisingly, Luke Cage) and turned them into jokes. This version of the team was a group of people who only pretended to have super-powers, and initially failed to actually fight any crime.
Valkyrie was a member of the team, and she wore a suit obviously inspired by Thor. It’s also barely a costume. Obviously, the skimpiness was supposed to be part of the joke. Luckily, Ultimate Valkyrie would later be revamped to be closer to her classic Marvel 616 look, leaving the Thor-kini in the past.
Unlike many of the entries on this list, Namor’s costume isn’t a redesign. This is his classic appearance. Namor is one of the first Marvel characters, debuting in Motion Picture Funnies Weekly (1939) by Bill Everett. In fact, the company was still called Timely Comics during that time period, making him older than Marvel. And for most of that time, he’s been strutting around in a speedo.
Obviously, Namor spends a lot of time in the water, so swimwear makes sense (even then, he has other options than just a speedo). The problem is, he also spends plenty of time not in the water. Also, he’s worn other outfits, so he knows how clothes work. He’s just an incredibly vain character, and chooses to spend much of his time walking around wearing an unnecessarily revealing outfit. Now that’s trashy.
11. POWER GIRL
Yet another survivor of Krypton’s destruction, Power Girl has a fairly complicated backstory. She first appeared in All Star Comics #58 (1976) by Gerry Conway and Ric Estrada, and like many DC heroes, her origin has gone through several changes. Basically, she’s the Supergirl from an alternate Earth (Earth-2) that ended up in the main DC Universe. She took up the mantle of Power Girl since there was already a Supergirl on her new home.
Also, her costume is infamously impractical. She wears a white top, blue gloves and boots, a red cape and, instead of a Superman ‘S’ shield, a big open patch for her cleavage. Having a hole there serves no purpose other than to show off her bosom. There’s nothing wrong with showing off what you got, but there’s also nothing wrong with a little bit of subtlety, which her creators apparently chose not to employ.
10. HARLEY QUINN
When she first appeared in the Batman: The Animated Series episode “Joker’s Favor,” Harley Quinn appeared in her now classic jester’s outfit. As the character grew in popularity, she was eventually introduced in the comic books during No Man’s Land (1999). Initially, she wore the same jester costume from the animated series, and everything was great.
Of course, comics being comics, she eventually went through several redesigns. The main change was that instead of wearing a jester’s hat, she kept her hair in pigtails (dyed red and black). She also started wearing what can best be described as jester-themed-lingerie. By the time the character appeared in the live action Suicide Squad (2016) film, she had gone full “Hot Topic,” with very little regard for function, and all of the focus being expended on her form.
9. KA-ZAR AND SHANNA
Just because someone lives in a dinosaur world, that doesn’t give them an excuse to dress poorly. Hidden in the antarctic, the Savage Land is a tropical forest that was created by aliens. It’s a literal blast from the past, and two of its most famous occupants are Ka-Zar and Shanna, the She Devil. Granted, they live in a prehistoric land, so they don’t have the same access to clothes that everyone else does.
Still, they’re going a little overboard with the jungle person look. Ka-Zar switches between a loincloth and a fur speedo. Shanna has stayed somewhat consistent with a fur bikini. They’re also both regularly shown wearing random leather straps and, in Shanna’s case, jewelry. If they can accessorize, then they can make some pants. That’s not too much to ask.
8. BLACK CAT
While she might have a lot in common with Catwoman, there’s one area where Black Cat just can’t compete: the costume. While Catwoman is known for her form fitting cat costume, Felicia Hardy often takes things much further. When she first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #194 (1979) by Marv Wolfman and Keith Pollard, Black Cat wore a black bodysuit, with a slight v-cut around the neck, which was accented by white fur.
At first, there wasn’t anything crazy about her look. Sure, it doesn’t make sense for a cat burglar to wear a bunch of white, but she’s not the first the comic book character to care more about look over function. As time went on, however, the v-cut kept getting lower and lower. At one point, it reached past her belly button, which definitely doesn’t make sense for someone trying to not get noticed.
The ’90s was a weird time for superheroes. Some characters, like many of the X-Men, saw some of their most popular costume designs. Other heroes, like Thor, were forced to wear outfits that nobody would ever willingly wear. Thor typically wears a costume designed by Jack Kirby, or at least something inspired by the Kirby look (feathered helmet, red cape and circular plates on his chest piece).
Thor’s ’90s redesign was typical of the era in many ways. There were random straps across his legs, giant shoulder pads and long flowing hair. What earned this costume a spot on this list, however, is the crop top. Thor is technically wearing a shirt, but it stops just under his pecs. He looks less like a hero and more like a jerk that wants to make sure that everyone knows how sick his abs look.
In 2011, DC Comics rebooted its entire line of comics. The publisher called it the New 52, and it attempted to modernize many DC characters without completely throwing away years of continuity. Some characters remained relatively unchanged, just with minor changes to their timelines. Others, like Starfire, were drastically different, and in ways that fans were happy about.
Starfire went from an alien that didn’t understand human modesty to a sexed-up alien vixen. While Starfire usually wore revealing outfits, her new costume took things to a new level. Curiously, the skimpy outfit kept her shoulders and neck covered up while leaving almost nothing else to the imagination. Luckily, this outfit wasn’t used in the “Teen Titans Go!” cartoon, where Starfire wore something closer to her original comic book costume.
At first glance, Colossus’ costume probably seems just fine. While he’s gone through several designs, they’ve all basically followed the same theme: red and yellow, with lots of metal. Colossus first appeared in Giant Size X-Men #1 (1975) by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum. Hailing from Russia, Piotr Rasputin has the mutant ability to turn his skin into organic metal, making him a valuable ally in a fight.
Of course, the problem with his costume is that all of that metal showing is his skin. So, while he’s powered up, it looks fine. When he powers down, however, he’s basically just wearing underpants and, at most, half a shirt. Later costume updates added pants, which means that Colossus can power down in public and not worry about getting an indecent exposure charge.
4. STAR SAPPHIRE
Carol Ferris first became Star Sapphire in Green Lantern #16 (1962) by John Broome and Gil Kane. She had been chosen by an alien race known as the Zamarons due to her close connection with Hal Jordan, Earth’s Green Lantern. When Hal became the Spectre, he was able to permanently cure Carol of the Star Sapphire. Carol would eventually receive a violet power ring and become a member of the Star Sapphire Corps, and then eventually, its leader.
While her original costumes weren’t anything unusual for a comic book, things got out of hand when she became the leader. She’s got big boots, long sleeves, and basically nothing in covering the middle of her chest. At least she’s got a big collar, because that’ll help protect her in a fight.
During the early days of Todd McFarlane’s Spawn comics, he hired several of the industry’s most celebrated writers to write a few issues of the series. Neil Gaiman wrote Spawn #9 (1993), which introduced Angela, an angel that hunted hellspawn. After a lengthy legal dispute, Gaiman eventually obtained the full rights to Angela in 2012. Gaiman then gave Marvel permission to use the character, and she quickly began appearing as a cast member in the Guardians of the Galaxy comics.
While the character went through several changes when she jumped companies (changing from an angel to an Asgardian), one thing remained constant: her outfit is not appropriate for battle in any way at all. Especially confusing is her giant belt, which she seems to use to hold her sword (but in no way needs to have a giant buckle).
It’s not that Moondragon’s costume didn’t have enough fabric, it’s that it used it in the wrong places. When she first appeared in Iron Man #54 (1973) by Bill Everett, Mike Friedrich, George Tuska, she went by Madame MacEvil. Luckily, that name was only a temporary moniker, and she soon revealed herself to be Moondragon. Her family had been killed by Thanos when she was just a child (although her father was resurrected as Drax), and she was out for revenge.
While taking on Thanos is a good thing, her costume was not. She essentially wore a barely-there swimsuit, which by itself wouldn’t have been that big of a deal. Her giant collared cape, on the other hand, just makes the revealing nature of the outfit more apparent.
When New York City detective Sara Pezzini came across the Witchblade gauntlet, she became its host. First appearing in Witchblade #1 (1995) by Michael Turner, the gauntlet grants the user supernatural powers, so that she can fight evil. The Witchblade itself is a large, armored glove and it covers its host with a similarly designed armor. Well, “covers” might be a strong word.
While the armor covers Sara’s arms pretty thoroughly, it’s essentially a swimsuit; an armored swimsuit, sure, but it still leaves a lot of skin exposed. Over the years, the design has changed, and at some points, Sara Pezzini actually looks like she’s wearing clothes. Still, the Witchblade’s most iconic and recognizable look makes it look more like underwear than battle armor.
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