32 Of The Best DC Costume Adaptations Ever

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Comic books thrive on bright colors, exciting action, and awesome costumes. You can tell a lot about a hero or a villain by their super garb.

It’s especially hard to translate that 2D skill to 3D, and even harder when it has to be moving at 24 frames per second.

We all know the design and illustrations that go into making up our favorite comic heroes is truly an art form. Likewise, the costume designers who construct tangible, wearable, designs from their own imaginations is also an art. 

These people have to somehow make men in tights believable. We have to believe a big blue glowing naked guy might just hang out with a dude that has an ink blot test on his face. We have to believe in a Batman. A Bat. Man.

These are those impressive feats in costume design, those artists who create magic with their hands and sewing machines, these are the best adaptations of DC Comics costumes!

Rorschach – Watchmen
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A tricky look to get right, Watchmen nailed all of their costumes, but Rorschach’s was especially well done. The trench coat and slacks somehow didn’t look cliché, and that mask was so real, it was like you could find one for yourself.

The Joker – the Dark Knight
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This costume is extremely different from the comics. He is, however, a perfect embodiment of the energy and personality of the character. They made a punk rock, clockwork Joker instead of interpreting the comics to a T. This costume is believable and speaks VOLUMES for exactly who the Joker is.

The costume was so iconic that The Joker looked a lot more like this in the comics for a while after the film dropped.

Photo: Metaweb/GNU Free Documentation License

Iconic, badass, intense, foreboding, and practical. V’s suit and mask in V for Vendetta nailed the book and the attitude of the character.

Dr. Manhattan – Watchmen
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This is a (usually) naked, blue, glowing, perfect physique’d, god-like entity, and we believed every moment he was on screen.

Photo: Metaweb/GNU Free Documentation License

A moveable neck! Appropriate length ears, a tactical feel, and no bat-nipples! A stealthy believable bat-suit.

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This costume… all of that detail, the layers, the improbability of it, that mask. But they made it work, and it looks great.

Zatanna – Smallville
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You could totally see that girl walking around Vegas. That’s the beauty of this costume, they leaned in to the over the top nature of it, they embraced it. With beautiful results.

The Joker – Batman
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The costume felt right out of the comics and had a great POP of color juxtaposed with Burton’s dark and gloomy world.

Green Arrow – Arrow
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY

CW is finally learning not everything needs be pleather. This suit (especially when compared to the “Smallville” Arrow suit) is top notch. Practical, badass, dark, menacing, and almost believable in day to day life (though, not sure how he can see anything with that hood on, but we’re not complaining!).

Silk Spectre – Watchmen
Photo: Metaweb/GNU Free Documentation License

Classic pin-up styling, meet tried and true superhero tropes. This suit is classy, stylish, wonderful.

Penguin – Batman Returns
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So disgusting you could almost smell him through the screen and so clearly (and unbelievably believably) a fricken penguin. DeVito and the wardrobe/make up team did great work on this hard-to-translate character.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY

Frank Miller’s art come to life! We haven’t seen any of this yet, but if nothing else, Batman will look incredible. And the suit of armor in the comic-con footage looked even more incredible.

The Flash – Flash
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They went with the “mute the color to make it more socially acceptable” route, but admittedly, it does help here. A non-spandex but flexible-looking suit that has some solid branding and still seems almost believable.

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Sexy, flexible, cat burglar-y and almost believably homemade. This suit is not only almost practical, it’s also the best adaptation of the character’s costume that we’re likely to ever get.

Silk Spectre II – Watchmen
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY

Modifying a few fabrics to make it more cinematic (and probably easier to move in) this Silk Spectre suit was sexy, shiny, spandex-y, but still oddly believable in the stylized Watchmen universe they created.

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The first Superhero movie to really get it right, and arguably no Superman suit since has improved upon it.

Sinestro – Green Lantern
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There was something good in Green Lantern? Yes. Mark Strong’s Sinestro was intense, scary, and somehow real. He seems damn near tangible, and that’s not an easy look to translate.

Nite Owl – Watchmen
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY

Not as direct a translation as many of the other suits (they seemed to make him a little… cooler? More Batman-like), but still a great 3D version of a hard to visually wrap your head around 2D character.

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A cat burglar needs to move, non-spandex flexible fabric, plus a reason for “Cat” ears. Great suit.

Lex Luthor – Smallville
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The best part of “Smallville,” period. Lex Luthor was charming and ruthless and cunning, and every outfit and look reflected that beautifully. Also hard to translate those clothes to that age range, but they did a great job.

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Reverse-Flash/Prof. Zoom has a costume that pretty much is the reverse colors of The Flash’s costume. Here, it’s no different for “The Flash” TV series.

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The look, the attitude, the exact facial hair, hair and glasses. Jensen could not have been embodied better.

Michael Sullivan – Road to Perdition
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This time period either looks amazing or cheap on film ,and this adaptation, luckily, falls into the former. The attention to detail here was fantastic. These aren’t just any suits and guns – they tuned into every detail and color to adapt this great graphic novel.

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A hard suit to translate, but as far as direct adaptations go, this nailed it. The right shade of green, the zany font of the ?’s, the cane. Madness!

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As close to the original Superman costume with modern technology as we’re likely to get. The suit was clean, iconic, and classy. (Though, a bit too dark, and the shield was so itty bitty.)

Ozymandias – Watchmen
Photo: Metaweb/GNU Free Documentation License

That collar, we can’t believe they got away with that bulky, block-y, almost lego, suit. But they managed. This was probably the weakest of the Watchmen suits, but it still translated nicely.

Booster Gold – Smallville
Photo: Metaweb/GNU Free Documentation License

A fan-favorite character that’s really hard to pull off. Not only does he have all of the trademark absurd coloring and linework in the suit, but they also added decals like those on a NASCAR driver to further sell his sell out persona. Pure gold.

Metallo – Smallville
Photo: Metaweb/GNU Free Documentation License

It makes the cut because of how hard, especially on a budget, this character is to translate. This costume has 99% certainty of looking just ridiculous, but they made a passable Metallo, against all odds.

Supergirl – Smallville
Photo: Metaweb/GNU Free Documentation License

They (somewhat) sneakily gave her the iconic red skirt, yellow belt, blue top look without needing her to be wearing that in every episode. Love the undershirt as belt nod.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY

I know, right? Something positive about Batman & Robin. But if you think about it the glowing eyes and mech suit, the painted skin, the whole look – Mr. Freeze looked pretty awesome, casting and script choices aside…

Cosmic Boy – Smallville
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The shoulder medallions, the sneaky purple/black color tone, the collar. Great, subtle work.

Aquaman – Smallville
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Aquaman, he’s Aquaman. How do you possibly make Aquaman cool (other than casting Jason Mamoa)? You give him a tactical outfit, suited for the ocean, in his trademark colors, and cast an actor with the confidence to rock the above look. Somehow, nailed it.

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