Bringing a character with decades of comic history from page to screen is no easy task, but fortunately, Marvel Studios has proven rather consistently successful over the years. Heroes like Captain America and Iron Man have been faithfully adapted in terms of their suits, personas, and occasionally stories. Meanwhile, characters such as the Guardians of the Galaxy have been overhauled on such a great scale that those changes have spilled onto the page.
Among the toughest tasks in porting a Marvel legend to the screen comes in the costume. After all, many of these characters have existed for a long time and sported countless looks, some looked upon more favorably than others. But some heroes with the most ridiculous of suits have required drastic changes to avoid looking out of place.
The MCU has undeniably had its ups and downs in this area, with Drax and Wanda Maximoff (until WandaVision at least) having been considered among the worst. Although Marvel Studios has been on a roll as of late, an increasing number of heroes begin to don more comic-accurate attire.
But since not all comic suits are great, the MCU has gone above and beyond to make drastic and needed overhauls to some of its characters, even surpassing their original designs in quality.
Many Marvel Comics characters have seen a great evolution in design over the years to reflect changing storylines and keep them up to speed with modern times. Loki is one perfect example of this; having debuted with a laughable green and yellow aesthetic, he now sports a more regal Asgardian design.
From the beginning of Loki's time in the MCU, Tom Hiddleston's God of Mischief has donned a stylish outfit that reflects his status as Asgardian royalty. The Loki Disney+ series paid homage to the original comic design, with Richard E. Grant making his Marvel debut as Classic Loki, a Variant of Hiddleston's character with a costume that closely resembles his original cringe-worthy look.
Despite the dated look of the original costume, Marvel Studios managed to translate the colorful outfit and horned helmet to live-action in a way that looked retro but greatly improved on the comic design.
More than any other hero, Captain America has faced countless ups and downs in costume quality. The Avengers undeniably featured his worst look, as he simply looked a little ridiculous in his first 21st-century threads. Although, many of his more recent appearances - most notably Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Endgame - excel beyond the levels shown in the comics.
Steve Rogers' stealth suit, worn throughout the majority of The Winter Soldier, is recognized by most to be Captain America's greatest MCU design, even according to Chris Evans himself. The spy-friendly costume ditches the red elements in favor of an all-navy design with thin silver strips and some texturing, and it's a great look.
This iconic suit has appeared in the comics in the past, but it wasn't quite as popular there as it was in the MCU. On the page, the suit lacked the tactical texturing and featured a more prominent symbol and stripes, which simply doesn't fit the stealth-centric design.
Beyond the popular stealth suit, Steve Rogers' final attire, worn in Avengers: Endgame, was undeniably the best of his standard costumes. The suit perfectly encompasses the hero's patriotism, emphasizes the star on his chest, and even includes visible chain mail scales, something he has often sported in comics.
At its worst, the MCU matches the quality of Captain America's best comics appearances; at its best, it exceeds them to deliver some of the best heroic costumes put to screen.
Despite being depicted in the MCU as a Ravager, Yondu in Marvel Comics, at least up until his surge in popularity thanks to the movies, was a Guardian of the Galaxy himself. His whistling-controlled arrow was always present, and he was always blue with a red fin atop his head, but his overall comic aesthetic was drastically different.
In historic comics, Yondu was shown to have blue skin, a head fin, long boots, and a minimalist red and yellow outfit. As a whole, this costume looked somewhat tribal and a little ridiculous overall due to how naked the majority of his body was, as well as the excessive length of his fin.
The MCU greatly improved on this design as he made the jump from Guardian to Ravager. Michael Rooker's live-action Yondu covered up and put on an outlaw-esque jacket, fitting for his character's status in the galaxy. Most importantly, his fin was shrunk down greatly and is now a head-mounted cyborg upgrade used to control his arrow, as opposed to genetic.
Much like Yondu, Star-Lord's MCU design perfectly matches his roots as a Ravager and outlaw, as opposed to the intergalactic police officer he has been portrayed as on the comic side.
His most famous pre-MCU design emphasized the police-like side of his character, with the costume almost resembling a uniform - this included a navy and red color scheme, a yellow symbol on the chest, and a helmet.
That's not to say by any means this design was bad, but the MCU modified his suit greatly to better reflect the changes it made to the character, which in turn made him more interesting. His leather jacket and everyday guy aesthetic suit exactly what Chris Pratt's Star-Lord is: the unlikely hero.
Anthony Mackie's Falcon may be no more, as Sam Wilson takes a leap into the mantle of Captain America, but his wingsuit was certainly an improvement on his comic design; it may even have a future to come in the MCU.
The Marvel Comics Falcon similarly uses mechanical wings, typically with a red and white suit and goggles. Marvel Studios has moved gradually closer to this design over the years, starting out with a standard gray design and gradually moving closer to his vibrant comic design, fittingly evolving with his character from veteran to Avenger.
However, all of these have proven to be a drastic improvement on the comics as it maintains the red and white - albeit less vibrant - while mixing in some darker colors. Not only does this allow Wilson to be taken more seriously, as he is in the MCU, but also helps him fit in with his common comrades like Captain America and the Winter Soldier.
Anthony Mackie's Falcon isn't the only winged character to have seen a greatly improved design for his big-screen debut, as Michael Keaton's Vulture thankfully looks nothing like his comic counterpart. Marvel Studios clearly has an aversion to bright-colored winged characters, and it might be for the best.
The bird-inspired Spider-Man villain has always gotten his flying abilities through a mechanical suit, although the said suit is a vibrant green and yellow (or white) with a feathered design, topped off with Adrian Toomes' bald scalp.
Fortunately, his MCU suit is a complete departure from this, trading out the colorful wings for a practical, and almost realistic, exo-suit, with an Iron Man-esque helmet to help him breathe and protect his face at higher altitudes.
While Vulture's comic attire may match the comics he features in, the MCU translated him to the big screen in a way that makes him menacing and better conveys the technological origins of his suit.
It's not out of character for a Spider-Man villain to sport a truly ridiculous design, but Mysterio takes things to another level. The master of illusion famously dons a fishbowl helmet, a purple cape, and a green-scaled suit, something which looks truly bizarre, even on the page.
Fortunately, the MCU made some key changes for Jake Gyllenhaal's adaptation of the villain, all while maintaining the overall essence of the look. The live-action Mysterio holds onto the fishbowl, purple cape, and green suit, but adds gold armored plating around the torso, along with some high-tech blue lights.
Obviously, this suit turned out to be the product of nothing more than an illusion in Spider-Man: Far From Home, but it was still a remarkable improvement on the comic design that allows the character to be taken more seriously.
As a whole, Marvel Studios and Sony have developed a strong track record of delivering live-action Spider-Man villain designs that greatly improve from the comics. Just like Vulture and Mysterio, the same could be said for almost every villain in No Way Home, but where would the fun be in a list entirely encompassing wall-crawler villains.
Based on the name alone, it's a little hard to take Ant-Man seriously as a hero, and yet Hank Pym is among the greatest minds in the Marvel universe. His most iconic comic look places the genius hero in a red and black spandex suit on top of a shiny ant-inspired helmet to facilitate his shrinking abilities (with an opening to expose some of his face).
The MCU took the basic concept of this suit and greatly enhanced it to make the hero much easier to take seriously, even with Paul Rudd's slapstick comedy. The bodysuit has a much more intricate red and black design, the helmet ditched the face opening and added some red detailing, and his powers now come from a shiny silver belt.
Simplicity in aesthetics can often be a good thing for heroes to give them an instantly recognizable design. But in this case, the additional detail added to Ant-Man's suit makes it a significant improvement on his comic counterpart.
All of these heroic and villainous suits - except those which come from the MCU's Spider-Man movies - are streaming now on Disney+.