Insight on the Costume Evolution of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

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Insight on the Costume Evolution of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel Studios has done a fantastic job at bringing our favorite superheroes to life on the big screen.

Those in the costuming department and CGI artists are who we are looking at today. We have seen them create some truly wonderful costumes for the heroes and villains of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Let’s compare the suits from the characters first appearance in their full super suit to their latests film. (Side note: I am ignoring the end of Avenger’s: Infinity War for some of this content, you have been warned!)

1.) Steve Rogers/Captain America/Nomad

Cap has gone through A LOT and his suits have really shown it. Surprisingly the suit that has stepped the furthest away from the iconic comic style suit has been the voiced favorite among fans. That being “The Winter Soldier” suit, also known as Cap’s Stealth Suit. We saw the return of the Red and White stripes starting in Capain America: Civil War, and only some minor alterations since then, including the deterioration of his suit in Avengers: Infinity War as Captain America has transitioned into “Nomad”. Fighting for what he feels is right, despite what the world view is. Hopefully, Shuri will create a new suit for him in Avengers: Endgame.

2.) Tony Stark/Iron Man

No one can even begin to compete with Iron Man. At least in the necessity for more closet space! There are Mark 50+ Iron Man suits to date in the MCU. Not to mentions Tony never repeats an outfit throughout the series. I guess when you have that kind of money and the space for it you don’t need to repeat an outfit. Without Tony’s ‘generosity’ though, most of these characters would be wearing some fairly worn out suits. Just look at the Nomad Costume. That suit definitely needs some extra TLC. With his creation of the nano tech suit though the possibilities are endless!

3.) Thor Odinson

Thor is protector of the 9 realms and he proudly adorns his status within his super suits deign. Though he has lost his sleeves for a few of the films, the overall look has been generally the same. This is actually a great decision by the design teams. Thor is a representative of his people and his oath. He needs to be recognizable to strangers and wearing an iconic styled armor is a great way to do that. One of the biggest changes, and one that truly affected Thor more than people realize, was the decision to have his hair cut. Never the less, our favorite Asgardian has persevered and has lived to tell another tale.

4.) Bruce Banner/The Hulk

Okay, so Hulk doesn’t really have a super suit, and I don’t want to demean the big guy and say he is Banner’s “Suit”, because that isn’t right either, but Hulk has gone thorough some serious transformations through the year. For one, there was an actor change in Phase 1 of the MCU so that altered some of his facial features. Hulk has also beefed up a bit since his time on Sakaar. One thing that hasn’t changed, and more than likely never will, is his shredded ‘shorts’. Though they have not been the iconic comic book purple, they have been the most seen item of clothing the hulk has worn. Although he did rock a white and red tunic and beaded necklace in Ragnarok for a bit. That outfit is a homage to Ultimate Hulk in the comics.

5.) Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow

You would think there are ways to run out of ideas for a black body suit, until you see Black Widow’s attire. She manages to kick some major bad guy booty while doing so in style. You could say it’s “shocking”, get it? Well one of her repeated weapons is an electric-static energy blast built into the bracers and batons she wields. Natasha has also changed her hairstyles, but when you are a well known assassin with super friends it’s probably a good idea to change up your look so it is harder to be found by your enemies.

6.) Clint Barton/Hawkeye

Speaking of super friends, Hawkeye and Black Widow go way back. Turns out so do Hawkeye and Thor. Yup, that’s right! Hawkeye made an appearance, that went mostly unnoticed by fans, in the film, Thor. Hawkeye, like Black Widow, is a master assassin, despite having a hearing disability. Unlike his super powered compatriots, Hawkeye’s look changes based off location, weather, and terrain. We even got a sneak peak of his hair in Avengers: Endgame and it looks like he means business. When he decides to actually retire from super hero business he should look into becoming a recruiter, because he has been responsible for finding two of the MCU’s strongest female characters.

7.) Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch

With encouragement from Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch went from fighting the Avengers to becoming one in one of the strongest characters in the MCU fighting along side the Avengers. Wanda has one of the saddest redemption stories with the loss of her brother Pietro and finding her place as a member of the family in the Avengers team. Despite the tragedy and guilt she has been through she remains optimistic for the future and seems grounded in who she is. Her costume doesn’t alter much between appearances but it is very different from her suit in the comics. It also looks like she took a hint from Black Widow and decided to change up her hair a bit while she is technically in hiding.

8.) T’Challa/Black Panther

Though we have not seen as much of the Black Panther as we would like, it would be amiss if we did not include T’Challa in our line up. His sister Shuri is the one responsible for creating his super suits and I love her philosophy of “Just because something works, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be improved.” With the addition of a kinetic energy storage and release in his suit T’Challa is a much more formidable foe to the threats to Wakanda and the galaxy. Both Shuri and Tony Stark use nano tech to store super suits in a more discrete fashion. The Black Panther suit resides within T’Challa’s Necklace, which makes it easy to hide in plain sight.

9.) Colonel James Rhodes/War Machine/Iron Patriot

Despite Rhodey stealing the Mark 2 Iron Man suit and having it converted into War Machine, Tony has created a Mark 3 and Mark 4 for him as well. War Machine gets a new name from the US Government called The Iron Patriot to seem less threatening to the general public. That soon get revoked after the Iron Patroit suit is stolen by an enemy and used in an attempt to kill the president! In the films following Iron Man 3 the name goes back to War Machine. Rhodey suffered a major injury in Captain America: Civil War, and Tony even created a pair of bionic leg braces to help Rhodey walk again.

10.) James Buchanan Barnes/The Winter Soldier/Bucky/The White Wolf

One of the biggest personal evolution has happened to one James Buchanan Barnes. He lost his arm in a tragic accident in Captain America: The First Avenger, was repaired and brainwashed by Hydra, tried to break through his brainwashing, and went through treatment in Wakanda to help put him back together. Though he went from hero to villain, then back to hero Bucky has held a special place in the hearts of Marvel fans since his first appearance. Though he is missing an arm his suit has progressed from hometown hero to dark assassin, and back to a shell of his former self. His world will never be the same, but at least he has his best friend Steve Rogers to make it through the day.

11.) Sam Wilson/Falcon

Sam has mostly been a background character in the MCU but this man deserves some much earned appreciation and attention. Sam Wilson has been one of the most selfless characters in the MCU. Despite losing some of the closest people to him he remains chipper and humorous even in the darkest moments. He helped Cap when he had no cause to other than Captain America needed his help, so he offered. He also got back onto his wings so to speak even after losing his best friend and flight pal in the military. His carbon fiber wings have changed in shape and design due to battle damage, but his overall look stays mostly the same.

12.)Peter Parker/Spider-Man

Peter has had some major improvements courtesy of Tony Stark. So far, all of his super suits have come from the genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. The newest Avenger has kept with the iconic Red, Black, and Blue suits though and has been earning his legs, so to speak, while fighting bad guys from both his friendly neighborhood and not-so-friendly galaxy. His suit becomes much darker in Avengers: Infinity War and remains a dark blue in the upcoming film Spider-Man: Far From Home.

13.) Dr. Stephen Strange/Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange has the least suit modification out of all the heroes in the MCU. The most notable was the appearance and swift disappearance of Doctor Strange’s Gloves from Thor: Ragnarok. Though Strange only wore those earlier on in the comics, fans were delighted to see him in a ‘full’ costume in the film. When you have a look that works there is no reason to change it. I’m sure he has much more to worry about that his clothes anyway. I mean protecting a sanctum from unimaginable horrors is hard work!

14.) Scott Lang/Ant Man and Hope Van Dyne/The Wasp

Hank Pym is credited with the suits for the Ant Man portion of the MCU. He has designed costumes for himself, his wife, his daughter Hope, and Scott Lang. The designs for Scott’s suits has changed in all three films. Going from the original suit Hank had created for himself, to more user friendly designs for Scott. These suits are even more unique that the other suits in the MCU as they can shrink, fly, and enlarge. With the ending of Avengers: Infinity War and Ant Man and The Wasp, we will see if there are any more upgrades in future films by Marvel Studios.

15.) Guardians of the Galaxy: Peter Quill/Starlord, Gamora, Groot, Rocket Raccoon, Drax, Mantis, Nebula, Yondu

The Guardians have not changed their look too much, but there has been a significant jump in the number of team members! Although, it’s easy to reduce the changes needed when one character is made of wood and another goes shirtless through out the series.The biggest change in uniform would be Gamora’s outfit after leaving Thanos and joining The Guardians. She looks much more relaxed, but just as deadly.

Which character had the best or worst costume change? Tell us what you think in the comment section of our social media accounts! We would love to hear your thoughts. Until next time, I will be counting down the days til the premiere of Captain Marvel on March 8th and Avengers:Endgame on April 26th…and well, all the future MCU Films!

Photo Credit:Disney/Marvel Studios


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Kaitlyn is a writer, painter, and artist based just north of Baltimore, Maryland. She is a previous participant in the Disney College Program and has years of experience with Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts and with Universal Orlando Resort. Her and her big 'Ohana are frequent visitors to the parks and resorts and she is always up for another trip to visit her favorite castles! Kaitlyn is the News & Entertainment Writer for Chip and Company and is passionate about writing and storytelling.
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