DC EXTENDED UNIVERSE: 9 Superhero And Villain Costumes That The Franchise Nailed
The DC Extended Universe has a solid track record when it comes to superhero and villain costumes. Let's take a look at 9 costumes that the franchise nailed.
The DC Extended Universe had a rocky start in its early years. Despite finding some financial success, the franchise encountered a few obstacles when it came to its critical reception, as audiences criticized some of its storylines and characters. Fortunately, the franchise started finding its footing a few years ago, and has gradually established itself as a strong brand since.
There is a lot to love about the DCEU (especially now), but one particular area the series has excelled at since its inception has been its costumes. The DCEU has arguably delivered some of the most impressive live-action outfits (for both superheroes and villains) we’ve seen over the past two decades. Because of that, let’s take a look at nine costumes the DC Extended Universe nailed.
Note: Keep in mind that, if a costume isn’t on this list, it doesn’t mean that it’s not good. These are just nine that stood out among the rest.
9. Peacemaker (The Suicide Squad)
It feels weird to praise Peacemaker’s attire given how much it was used as the butt of a joke in The Suicide Squad. However, there’s no denying that his costume was a near-perfect recreation of the character’s comic-book look. Does it look a little silly? Yes. Does it make you want to burst out laughing every time you see John Cena chopping up people or fighting for his life against Rick Flag? Kind of. The thing is, the costume’s comedic nature was intentional, which is what makes the greatness of its design all the more impressive.
We would go as far as to say that the suit is not only a contender for DC’s top live-action costumes, but also one of the best live-action superhero suits in general. Peacemaker was already a standout in The Suicide Squad thanks to his characterization, but it was his uniform’s colorfulness, impressively on-point design and blinding helmet that made the island-cleaning maniac a visual standout as well.
8. Deadshot (Suicide Squad)
Suicide Squad took a relatively grounded approach to its cast’s aesthetic. One of the only characters that got a comic-book-inspired costume was Will Smith’s Floyd Lawton, a.k.a. Deadshot. The suit wasn’t exactly a faithful recreation of the character’s look in the comics, but it did retain its essence. The film’s designers cleverly molded the assassin’s comic-book look into something that would fit the visual style the DCEU was going for at the time.
The costume was sleek and practical, but it retained its larger-than-life flair. The classic Deadshot colors (minus the yellow) were there, and it made him stand out from the rest of the Squad. The ensemble’s already impressive design was complemented by the full-face mask, which added to the character’s menacing nature. Lawton didn’t wear it much throughout the film, but the times he did made watching him in action all the more exciting.
7. Aquaman (Aquaman)
A big worry for fans when it came to adapting Aquaman for the big screen was the possibility of the character’s world, powers, and (especially) his look being too silly for live-action. When the hero got his own film, though, James Wan and co. said “Why not?” and embraced Arthur Curry’s whimsicalness — costume included.
The suit in the film was a remarkable adaptation of its printed-page counterpart. Its colors were vibrant, and the small design patterns present throughout the suit were striking. What made the costume more impressive was that it retained the relatively slim look from the comics, while still feeling like a functional armor.
6. Armored Batman (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice)
Many elements of Batman v Superman were taken from Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns,” including Bruce Wayne’s armored, Superman-fighting suit. The armor in the comics is challenging to adapt for live-action. It’s bulky, blocky and relatively simple. While the design works great on the printed page, one small miscalculation when bringing it to the big screen could have been detrimental to Batman v Superman. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. The armor was almost an entirely faithful adaptation of its comic-book counterpart, but with clever live-action twists.
The suit was striking. It looked bulky and heavy, yet felt like something Batman could move in. More importantly, it looked like it had the firepower necessary to go toe-to-toe with the Man of Steel. Another smart design choice for the armor was the fact that Bruce Wayne wore it on top of his regular Batman outfit. This made it seem like a more believable and practical suit (since Wayne didn’t have to build a full-body piece of equipment), while also avoiding direct comparisons to Iron Man.
5. The Flash (Justice League)
The Flash’s dystopian garb in the “Knightmare” scenario shown in Zack Snyder’s Justice League perfectly captured the character. It was heavy-duty, aggressive, and made it clear that Barry could kill you with the tap of a finger if you crossed him in any way. We’re kidding - this entry, is, of course, referring to Barry Allen’s present suit.
The costume’s design was modern, high-tech and exciting. Its armored nature also made it clear that it had been made for a runner that needed to travel at unimaginable speeds. Even with the armor sections, however, the costume was still slim, properly representing the physical appearance of an individual who forgoes the bus every day in favor of using his own feet.
4. Batman (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice)
We couldn’t have this list without including this gem of a costume. As mentioned, Batman v Superman took heavy inspiration from “The Dark Knight Returns.” The graphic novel had the World’s Greatest Detective clad in a tight, fully gray suit. Adapting such a costume is difficult, because the nature of the design makes it easy for a full-on adaptation of it look cheap. Luckily, Zack Snyder and the film’s designers took on that challenge and came out triumphant.
The suit was a remarkable take on Batman’s classic appearance. The fabric felt flexible yet strong, and it was easy to buy it withstanding a point-blank shot and several stabbing attempts. Moreover, Batman looked intimidating in it. Padding was a big part of the costume, but it didn’t feel like it in the film. It made Batman look like an imposing wall of muscles capable of taking out a room full of highly trained killers on his own. The suit was, sadly, only used in one movie, but it will likely remain one of Batman’s best-designed live-action costumes for a long time.
3. Mera (Aquaman)
Another great costume to come out of Aquaman was Mera’s. The Atlantean warrior donned her signature green-and-gold suit from the comics, and it was arguably one of the film’s biggest visual standouts. The suit was a near-perfect recreation of the character’s suit on the printed page, but it never felt fake or out of place. The texture felt realistic and the design fit into the overall Atlantean look established throughout the film.
Most importantly, much like Arthur’s suit, the colors were vibrant. The green and gold popped off the screen and forced the eye to focus on the character, regardless of how chaotic a scene was. Seeing Mera clad in her suit fighting alongside Arthur during the movie’s final battle was a treat that elevated the movie’s already impressive aesthetic.
2. Ocean Master (Aquaman)
When you have your two main superheroes looking like they were taken straight out of a comic-book page, your villain has some expectations to live up to. Luckily, Orm lived up to them in an impressive fashion. To battle his half-brother at the end of the film, Orm put on his signature purple armor and silver helmet, and the costume was… well, great. It honored its look from the source material while feeling like real armor. To top things off, the villain was able to emote through his helmet. How was that possible? We have no idea, but it was great, and added to the fantastical nature of Atlantean technology.
Orm wasn’t a lighthearted fella. He was menacing, had a chip on his shoulder, and was on a mission to destroy surface-dwellers. Yet, the colorfulness of his costume never detracted from his performance. He was fearsome and commanded respect, and the suit actually had a part to play in that. Ocean Master is a good example of how being faithful to a character’s comic-book aesthetic does not inherently jeopardize their dramatic potential.
1. Superman (Man of Steel)
Superman’s costume is so recognizable and straightforward that it’s easy to bring it to live-action — its simplicity makes it almost unnecessary to change much about it. With those qualities, creating a live-action Superman suit that stands out without changing it drastically can be tricky. Man of Steel, though, struck such perfect balance, delivering a costume that was elegant and modern while also honoring its comic-book iconography. To put it plainly, the suit was imposing. Henry Cavill inherently looks like Superman, but he fully became the Man of Steel when he put on the costume.
The “S” design was also flawless, and its look made it easy to buy as a symbol from an advanced alien civilization. Furthermore, the suit didn’t shy away from Superman’s signature colorfulness. Yes, the colors were muted to give the film a more grounded look, but they were still clearly there. We could probably talk about this costume for hours, but let’s stop by saying that everything about its design made it a memorable representation of what Superman would look like in the modern world.