The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a pretty well-established and respectable costume design history. I previously looked at some awesome villain designs and alternate designs used for MCU films so far, but here, I (mostly) want to look at some of the heroes’ costumes.
Since Black Panther is now confirmed as the first MCU film to win an Oscar (or three), and because the costumes in this movie are freaking badass, I had to throw in a few from this film. The first costumes I would like to give props to are the Dora Milaje costumes, brought to life by costume designer Ruth E. Carter from the concept art by Anthony Francisco. The Dora in the comics usually wore sleek dresses, or occasional red suits somewhat similar to what’s seen in this film and Avengers: Infinity War. So there is a clear comic inspiration but the film design adds much more detail, deriving from inspiration from African and even Japanese armor.
Even more appealing to me is Shuri’s costume, which is almost entirely original, and I’m fine with that. Because look at how striking it is. The only real inspiration I see from the comics are 3 small details. The first being her panther gauntlets, which are a reference to her time in the comics as the Black Panther. Another being the use of purple throughout her suit, echoing the purple cape she wore as said panther. The last being the tribal necklace design that’s built in around the neck area on her suit. She didn’t have really any iconic looks from the comics, if I’m not mistaken, and I really like the choices made here.
Even more so than Shuri’s purple Wakandan suit, Erik Killmonger’s tactical suit that he wore for much of his part in the first half of the film is pretty much entirely original. I take a look at Killmonger and all I see is a more militaristic version of his look from the comics, in some strange way. When Erik is shirtless and has his dreaded hair with the golden panther/jaguar necklace, he does resemble some of his comic appearances. In the comics, Killmonger often wears a mask that vaguely resembles the tribal mask he had in the film. But his look, as with his military origin in the film, is mostly original.
In some absolutely beautiful concept art by Rodney Fuentebella for Black Panther, we see an alternate design for Killmonger. In all honesty, I like this a lot more than any look Erik had in the film, as cool as he did look. This design looks more similar to his comic book counterpart, with just enough design change to give him a cinematic edge. I can see why they didn’t go with this costume, as his final origin ended up being more militaristic. However, if he were to return in the future, possibly even as T’Challa’s spirit guide through the dark side of the ancestral plane or something, I would like to see a version of this look.
Though possibly the most secretive film ever made and the marketing being super unrevealing so far for Endgame, there have been some leaked costume designs that are pretty divisive. The first of which would be the red and white armored suits, presumably used by the Avengers to battle in space or the Quantum Realm. While some of the characters, such as Iron Man and Cap, look a bit hokey, I feel that Rocket, Nebula, Widow, and Scott look pretty snazzy in these. We’ll see if they end up in the final film, which doesn’t look quite as bright as these suits so far.
However, our first official look at the original six members back together looks delightfully colorful. Iron Man is in an upgraded nano-suit, this time with yellow thighs and upper arms, as he tends to have in the comics. Finally, Cap has scales on his suit, as was originally teased in Captain America: Civil War promo art. Hulk is in a spandex full body suit, and the whole team looks great together. I really love the “Ronin” Hawkeye look as well. It is pretty much ripped from the comics. Early trailer descriptions claimed Clint/Ronin would have glowing white eyes, but we’ll see if that ends up being the case.
Far From Home Stealth Suit
In another yet-to-be-released movie on this list, I have to commend Marvel for taking inspiration from the comics in some capacity while also going in a new direction. Spider-Man, when meeting Nick Fury a la the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, dons a new stealth suit, presumably given to him by S.H.I.E.L.D. It is yet to be seen if Peter actually becomes a full-on Agent, as that seems a bit out of character and him declining to be an agent could be this film’s counterpart to the Spider-Man: Homecoming end. One detail some have noticed is that Spidey’s stealth tech suit does not actually have a S.H.I.E.L.D. logo. Perhaps his mission fighting the elementals/Mysterio is his mission to earn him the badge and title of Agent. The suit does seem partially inspired by the “Noir” version of Peter Parker from the Spider-Verse comics.
While nearly all of Black Widow’s costumes in the MCU so far have been top-notch and extremely comics accurate, they went a bit of a different route with her look in Infinity War. She wears a green vest and dons a light blonde hairstyle. While Nat’s regular Widow suit is under it, the vest and hair are quite off-putting, but she and Cap were in hiding, which explains the strange getups.
With Avengers: Endgame now out and with tons of characters left unannounced, I’m sure there will be plenty more costumes to discuss very soon. The MCU is filled to the brim with artistic wonder, from costume design to sets, makeup, and cinematography. The costumes here are just a portion of the fantastically imaginative designs these beautiful movies have to offer. Andy Park and all the other talented MCU concept artists should be commended for bringing these comics to life in brilliant fashion.