Creating a good look for a character on a comic book TV show can be tricky. While they have a distinctive appearance in the original source material, that doesn’t mean it will necessarily translate well onto the small screen. There’s also the issue that TV productions don’t have as big of a budget as movies, meaning not as much money can be poured into costume design. As a result, appearances often need to be changed for the adaptation. Luckily, if something about the main character’s costume doesn’t work, it it is often adjusted, since the costumes are important to the show and need to look their best. The same treatment doesn’t always apply to the villains.
There have been many supervillains seen on TV throughout the years, and most of them have worn great costumes. The following do not fall into that category. This is a list of supervillain looks that the costume designers should have glanced at and said, “Scratch this, let’s try again.” Whether it was poor design or minimal effort put in, these costumes had no business appearing on our TV screens. Without further ado, here are the worst 10 supervillain costumes in history, starting with number 10.
10. Isabel Rochev, Arrow
Slade Wilson was intimidating when he wore the orange and black mask, but the same can’t be said for Isabel Rochev. Adapting the Ravager look from the comics, it was an unusual departure not just from Deathstroke’s look, but his Mirakuru-powered soldiers. Obviously they were trying to distinguish her from the rest of Slade’s army, but viewers were well acquainted with Isabel that her wearing a mask wasn’t necessary. Luckily, she didn’t have it on for too long.
9. Icicle, Smallville
When someone in the comic books gains ice powers, chances are they’re going to turn blue. Smallville got that part right with Icicle, but they couldn’t bother to give the guy an actual costume. Instead, they just had him wearing a plain T-shirt. If you’re going to have an ice villain, at least give them a unique look. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but anything is better than just pulling out the first shirt you find in the drawer.
8. Royal Flush Gang, Arrow
In the world of Arrow, it’s obvious you can’t have people riding giant flying cards or decking themselves out as the characters on said cards. That being said, putting card suits on hockey masks was a poor way of adapting the Royal Flush Gang. It’s almost as if imprinting those symbols was an afterthought. They could have at least given the family of robbers customized jackets to sell the appearance.
7. Firefly, Arrow
How did they dress one of the most famous pyromaniacs from DC Comics? Not in a fire-retardant battlesuit like he usually wears, but in a plain fireman’s uniform. Sure, the guy might have been a former firefighter, but if he’s going around killing his former partners, he might go for a distinctive appearance. The fireman’s outfit is scary in its own way, but for a comic book show, the look just doesn’t cut it.
6. Maxima, Smallville
Maxima came to Earth to seek to seek a Kryptonian mate, meaning she had to look appealing to Clark. While her outfit certainly attractive, it’s too skimpy for an alien just wanting to impress. Less isn’t always better, and as a queen from another planet, she should wear clothing more befitting a woman of her status, not something one of her dancers might wear.
5. Captain Cold, The Flash 1990
Once again we have an ice villain with a blue color scheme, which, to be fair, Captain Cold does have in the comics. However, for the 1990 series, the costume team decided to make Cold an albino hitman wearing all blue clothing. Yeah, not necessary. If you’re going to do Captain Cold in live-action, just give him the parka and goggle. Suit and tie, trench coat, giant gloves, none of this is Captain Cold. They even changed his name from Leonard Snart to Leonard Wynters. Not cool. Fortunately we have the Captain Cold in the new Flash series, who looks amazing!
4. Mr. Freeze, Batman ’66
While the 1960s Batman TV series didn’t have the production value that today’s superhero shows have, most of its supervillains had great looking costumes. However, the same can’t be said for Mr. Freeze, who in his later two appearances (each time played by a different actor) essentially wore a bland colored hazmat suit with a metal collar they dug out of a dumpster. Admittedly it looks better than his comic book costume at the time, but the producers could have spent a little more time making it look like they hadn’t assembled the outfit at the last minute. Also, big mistake getting rid of the helmet after his first appearance.
3. Harley Quinn, Birds of Prey
Dr. Harleen Quinzel served as the main antagonist of Birds of Prey, but unlike her “Mistah J,” who briefly appeared in a flashback wearing his trademark purple suit, she never rocked her comic book look. Instead, the show just gave her a red and black sweater as a callback to her jester outfit. If Joker can have his classic look, why can’t she? Granted, as a psychiatrist she had to maintain a normal appearance, but she was still insane, so it would have made sense if she wore her kooky clothes in the privacy of her home to pay tribute to her disappeared lover.
2. Deadshot, Smallville
He may have worn the trademark cybernetic eye, but that’s no excuse for making Deadshot dress like a cowboy. If you’re going to bring one of the greatest assassins from the DC Universe onto your show, make an effort to emulate his comic book appearance. He’s not supposed to be the anonymous gunslinger who rides into town looking for trouble, he’s a killer-for-hire packing all sorts of weaponry. Go modern!
1. Silver Banshee, Smallville
Gah! Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed. While it’s true that Silver Banshee already looks weird in the comics, this is the definition of overkill. It looks like they took one of the cast members from Cats, overdid the mascara, tried to give her a zombie/mummy vibe and set her loose. She’s creepy looking, but for all the wrong reasons, landing her at the top of our list.
Are there any other egregious TV misses you can remember? Let us know in the comments, below.
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Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.