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Entertaining action sequences and character development are great things to have in a well-made superhero movie, but one especially important aspect of translating this type of property to the big screen is the costume. Many of these characters have existed for more than 50 years on the printed page, which is why it’s important that the designers on these movies create costumes that are faithful to the source material while also adapting them enough to give something unique to both general moviegoers and hardcore comic book fans. Sometimes they’re successful. Other times they’re not.
While most of the superhero movie costumes nowadays have are vast improvements, the genre has been around long enough that there have been plenty of duds over the years. Whether the movie itself was excellent or horrible, there have been plenty of instances where a hero or villain’s costume was either an eyesore or completely opposite of the character’s look from the comics. Here are the 10 characters that wore the ugliest costumes in all of superhero movie history.
JuggernautX-Men: The Last Stand decided to ignore Juggernaut’s connection to Charles Xavier and the mystical origin of his powers in favor of making him nothing more than hired muscle. Granted, they got his powers right, and not being related to Xavier wasn’t a terrible loss (though still disappointing), but they fell short on his look. He had the armor and a helmet, but it looked nothing remotely close to what he dons in the comics. The least they could have done is made the helmet cover his entire face and not have him take it off.
Sabretooth (X-Men Origins: Wolverine)There’s no denying that Liev Schreiber gave a much better performance as Sabretooth in X-Men Origins: Wolverine than Tyler Mane did in X-Men, but in the costume department, Mane has the edge. For Schreiber, the production decided to have him wear a simple black trench coat, black shirt and black pants. No flair whatsoever. This version of Sabertooth may have retained the speed, claws and ferocity, but his outfit would have fit in better in The Matrix.
The Thing (Fantastic Four)Michael Chiklis arguably gave the best performance in the 2005 Fantastic Four movie, but his post-transformation look didn’t measure up to his comic book incarnation. Compared to the massive rock monster that fought the likes of Doctor Doom and the Mole Man, this version is a pale imitation that looks more synthetic than natural. Admittedly, CGI wasn’t quite as as sophisticated as what we have nowadays, but there had been enough progress that the filmmakers could have at least combined VFX with practical effects to give us something more realistic, if not less plastic-y.
Daredevil (2003)Matt Murdock may be the Man Without Fear, but that costume he’s wearing while fighting crime won’t be intimidating any bad guys in real life. Giving credit where its due, the suit was crimson, although a darker shade than in the comics. Still, it was not a good idea to make the whole thing leather, the zippers were unnecessary, and that mask looked awkward the way it fit over Ben Affleck’s face. Let’s take solace in the fact that the crimson costume he’ll get later on in the Netflix series can only been an improvement from what we got in the 2003 movie.
Green Goblin (Spider-Man)No one would blame you if you thought Green Goblin’s costume in the comics looked goofy, but the fact is that despite its outlandishness, it’s still terrifying as hell while still being colorful. So when the 2002 Spider-Man movie had Norman Osborn putting on a metallic green military suit, fans were enraged. Weird Al Yankovic described one aspect of the costume best in his song "Ode to a Superhero," calling it a dumb Power Rangers mask. This version of Norman Osborn definitely had the same insanity, but his choice in battle wear was disappointing.
Two-Face (Batman Forever)Duality is the essence of Two-Face, so it’s understandable that his costume represents his battling personalities. That being said, there’s such a thing as going too far, and Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face look in Batman Forever exemplifies that perfectly. After half of Harvey Dent’s face was scarred, he decided to wear half a suit made with four kinds of animal print, the studded shoe and fingerless glove. It was a bizarre look in the ‘90s and it’s fared much worse upon the movie’s rewatch 20 years later.
New GoblinWillem Dafoe’s Spider-Man costume may have been subpar, but at least it looked goblin-ish. Not so for James Franco. When Harry Osborn used his father’s weaponry to try to kill Peter Parker, he opted for looking like a high-tech snowboarder rather than a goblin. Seriously, the glider was a flying snowboard and the mask looked like something one would wear while shredding down the slope. Combined with the tight-fitting outfit and absolutely no goblin apparel, this is a far cry from the Harry Osborn who actually donned the actual Green Goblin costume in the comics, or in the case of the Ultimate universe actually transforming into the monstrous Hobgoblin.
Catwoman (2004)It’s bad enough that this 2004 movie had nothing to do with the Batman mythos and was an absolute train wreck, but to top it all off, her costume is ridiculous! All of it is leather, she’s wearing a bra as a top, the pants have weird-looking scratches and that mask is more cumbersome than effective at hiding an identity. I challenge any woman to try to fight crime like this…actually, don’t bother, you’ll just end up making a fool of yourself.
SteelEssentially, Shaquille O’Neal’s Steel costume looks like a poor man’s Iron Man. Sure they kept the hammer (which also doubled as a laser cannon), but his armor in the 1997 flop looked like something that was assembled from a garbage dump, nothing nearly as heroic as what the character wore in his debut in the comics four years earlier. It’s hard to imagine this version of Steel going up against an actual super villain when it looked like Shaq could barely fit in it while fighting normal criminals.
Batman (Batman & Robin)Yes, when it comes to the worst superhero costumes, what better way to finish off the list than what George Clooney was wearing in Batman and Robin. The Caped Crusader started his film series as a menacing figure covered in black, and by the time Joel Schumacher finished off that iteration of the series, he was covered in blue chrome that had ‘shudder’ nipples. And that’s not even mentioning the snow-suit he wore later in the film that screamed toy commercial. Neither of these were a good look for Gotham City’s protector.
You know what? We’re going to cheat a little here and say that ALL the costumes in Batman and Robin were horrible. Mr. Freeze’s bulky cryo-suit, Poison Ivy’s green leotard, Bane’s inflated muscles and bizarre mask, Batgirl’s protruding boob costume, every attempt at a comic book-style costume in this movie failed miserably.