Whether you’re Team Cap or Team Iron Man, there’s one thing we can all agree on: when it comes to super-suits, black leather costumes are boring AF.
Luckily, the recent explosion of blockbuster superhero movies have meant a bigger, better variety of on-screen costumes — when you’re getting eight comic book movies a year, audiences need a quick, easy way to tell everyone apart.
Which means we’re long removed from the days of super-teams fighting bad guys in interchangeable black suits (unless, uh, you’re talking about the X-Men. In which case, please disregard). And nowhere is this diversity more clearly on display than in Marvel’s upcoming superhero royal rumble, Captain America: Civil War, which pits Earth’s mightiest heroes against one another. So we did the same thing, only with their costumes. Here’s how the team fared.
With Thor and his winged helmet conspicuously MIA in Civil War, Paul Bettany’s Vision easily takes the crown for the Avengers’ goofiest costume. There’s just something about that flowing cape and all that clashing purple, yellow and green that makes it tough to take the guy seriously. And unfortunately, his civvies aren’t much better. Vision catches some flack from his fellow Avengers for his penchant for walking through walls unannounced, but honestly, we’re more disturbed by seeing the purple android wearing a sweater over a button-down like he’s some kind of sentient J. Crew mannequin. On second thought, maybe that costume’s not so bad after all…
12. Scarlet Witch
Of all the Avengers, Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch got a pretty raw deal in the super-suit department; this is her second Marvel movie, but she still has to head into battle dressed like she just came from shopping at a Hot Topic. Still, we’ve got to admit Olsen’s probably a lot more comfortable fighting bad guys in a red leather jacket than she would be in Scarlet Witch’s original costume in the comics.
The least-respected Avenger got a much-needed uniform upgrade for Civil War (no offense to Jeremy Renner, but he can’t pull off a tank top quite as well as Chris Hemsworth). But we can’t for the life of us figure out why his new purple digs only come with a single sleeve instead of a full set. Is that supposed to make him look more bad-ass? Does Team Cap pay by the sleeve? Is it an archery thing? And yet, it’s somehow still cooler than his last costume. Somebody get this guy a new agent.
Considering Civil War mostly pits hero against hero, Frank Grillo’s Crossbones — aka the former S.H.I.E.L.D. double-agent who somehow survived having an entire office building dropped on him in the last Captain America movie — is one of the lone bad guys that actually gets to suit up in the flick. And he’s got the digs to match, with a pair of pneumatic gloves that prove useful for opening doors and/or holes in people’s chests. Add in the creepy mask and the skull and crossbones paint job, and it’s all pretty menacing, which is a good look for any self-styled supervillain.
9. Black Panther
It’s probably safe to say that a black onesie with cat ears isn’t the most intimidating superhero costume around. But while dressing up like a jungle cat gets Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther made fun of by his super-friends, we’ll admit that the fact that his suit is bulletproof without being bulky is a nice touch, and appropriately badass. That its signature weapon is a set of retractable cat claws? Yeah, not so much.
This one’s all about the functionality — because there’s no way that clunky metal ant helmet would be comfortable to wear in a fist fight. And while the ability to shrink to the size of a bug might not sound very practical either, without that costume, the best defence mechanism Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man has is a killer sense of humor. With it? He more than holds his own in Civil War’s super-sized superhero throwdown. ‘Nuff said.
7. Captain America
Let’s be honest: it’s tough to look fashion-forward when your costume is literally 70-year-old WWII propaganda. But Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers is somehow able to make the red-white-and-blue look work, proving that the man makes the clothes, not the other way around. Still, when it comes to style, it’s hard to get around the fact that he’s basically wearing the American flag in jumpsuit form. At least we knew those colours don’t run. Here’s hoping the same is true in the wash.
6. Black Widow
Pretty sure we’ve already established that the ladies get the short end of the straw when it comes to inventive Avengers costumes, right? And Black Widow’s no different. The two most interesting things about this boring black jumpsuit are those taser-thingies on her wrists, and the fact that Scarlett Johansson’s the one wearing it. That said, it still ranks relatively high for being one of the few costumes an Avenger could wear out on the street without drawing a crowd. Which, for a former secret agent, is probably fitting.
5. The Winter Soldier
Question: does that metal arm technically count as part of his costume? Because otherwise, the bad guy formerly known as the Winter Solider dresses like your garden-variety henchman — all black leather and gun holsters. Either way, his signature red star isn’t such a great look these days, especially when you’re trying to convince everyone you’re actually a good guy now and not a brainwashed Soviet super-assassin. Just sayin’. At least he ditched the freaky mask and eye black, though. Wise move.
4. War Machine
War Machine’s never going to get points for originality, considering it’s essentially the Iron Man suit, only with a less flashy paint job and way, way more guns. We’re also betting all that added firepower makes Rhodey’s suit a lot heavier to wear into battle. But really, with a name like War Machine, what else would you expect? If the Iron Man suit is a Lamborghini, this is more like a Ford F150: it’s built for performance first, looks second.
When you think about it, Anthony Mackie’s Falcon probably has the one suit we’d most want to take out for a test drive, considering it’s basically just a jetpack with wings. A couple red accents act as a nod to Falcon’s more colourful costume from the comics, and while those goggles don’t exactly make for the most stylish eyewear, they do help the winged Avenger track bad guys through buildings and crowds — plus, they probably keep the bugs out. So, he’s got that going for him, which is nice.
We definitely don’t need to see Spider-Man’s origin story again — twice in 10 years was enough, thanks — but Civil War does offer a very satisfying explanation for how a high school kid from Queens gets his hands on such a bad-ass suit. (Don’t worry, we won’t spoil it.) Spidey’s red-and-blue duds have long been one of Marvel’s most iconic costumes, and the much-hyped debut of the squad’s newest member comes with a cleaner, more modern look that’s also a nice throwback to the original comics. Apparently the third time’s the charm. Well, technically, it’s the sixth time. But you get the idea.
1. Iron Man
Ever the tinkerer, Tony Stark’s gone through tons of iterations of the Iron Man suit over the years, from the bulky Mark I he built in an Afghan cave to the new-and-improved Mark XLVI (that’s 46, if you don’t do Roman numerals). The dude goes through suits faster than Apple puts out new iPhones. His latest is the very definition of functional wear, and while having to spend all day in a metal can dings Tony slightly from a comfort standpoint, you just know that thing comes standard with AC. Sorry Cap, but this round goes to Iron Man.