Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

10 Best Costume Makeovers In The MCU Ranked Worst To Best

Among the many staples of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is how often its various superheroes upgrade or otherwise tweak their crime-fighting costumes. Nobody stays stagnant forever, especially in their fashion choices, and that's just as true for the Avengers as it would be for anyone else. As the various characters in this franchise are overseen by different directors, transition to unique tones, or even shift to different time periods, their costumes can reflect the larger changes in a character's life. Plus, these upgrades can also be used to correct significant shortcomings in the costume design of earlier MCU projects. The possibilities behind changing the costume of a Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero are truly endless.

The very best costume makeovers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe reflect the most thoughtful ways superhero outfits can reflect the internal lives of the people wearing them, as well as the creative instincts of the assorted people in charge of the various MCU movies. Best of all, the way some of these costumes so drastically altered the norms for what certain characters were expected to wear reflects how well the Marvel Cinematic Universe allows its characters to grow and evolve. Put on your own finest superhero outfit, or whatever clothes are closest to you, and let's explore the 10 best costume upgrades in this sprawling franchise, ranking them from okay to great.

10. Hawkeye

While in the comics Clint Barton walks around fighting crime in an elaborate purple outfit, complete with a flamboyant mask, his Marvel Cinematic Universe incarnation (played by Jeremy Renner) opts for more restrained clothing. Even while Captain America unabashedly wears the red-white-and-blue or Iron Man looks like he walked right out of the pages of a comic, Hawkeye is usually adorned in black leather. For "Avengers: Age of Ultron," his costume got upgraded to include some dark red flourishes. "Captain America: Civil War" got things a bit closer to his comic book roots with a dark blue outfit, but it was still something that looked like a practical spy outfit rather than a superhero costume.

But for his solo Disney+ TV show, "Hawkeye," the archer finally got an outfit meant to evoke his classic comic book attire, with new mentee Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) even doodling up a prospective costume for Barton that looked like his classic outfit. For the show's finale, Barton suited up in a leather costume with purple accents on its sleeves and chest. It was a much better upgrade from his prior costumes, especially in terms of color. However, it was a disappointment not to see it more draped in purple, while the more enjoyably ridiculous touches of Hawkeye's traditional outfit (like big purple boots and that mask) were nowhere to be seen. Hawkeye finally got closer to having a real superhero outfit here, but there was still noticeable room for improvement.

9. Black Panther

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." So goes the old motto, which the designers behind Black Panther's costume in his second Marvel Cinematic Universe appearance seemed to take to heart. This character, played by Chadwick Boseman, already got to show off his superhero outfit in "Captain America: Civil War," and it looked great. The textures popped, and it looked recognizably like the beloved Black Panther costume from the comics. There weren't drastic shortcomings in dire need of fixing so the overall outfit looked pretty much the same in "Black Panther." However, the costume designers did make a few key adjustments.

For his solo title, King T'Challa's attire gained the ability to take on purple streaks. A flourish from his inventor sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), this is meant to indicate when the Black Panther is absorbing the energy of his combatants, with the wearer of the suit eventually being powerful enough to unleash that energy on nearby foes. The purple accents, then, are justified as a way of signaling a new superpower for this character rather than just being a way to ensure different Black Panther toys can be sold. Though not a drastic change from the "Civil War" outfit, this new Black Panther attire still looked nifty, particularly in how the bright purple popped against the black fabric of the costume. Plus, the justification for the purple flourishes showed how malleable this suit can be, and it was also a nice nod to T'Challa's royalty.

8. Rocket Raccoon

In his first time extensively interacting with other Marvel Cinematic Universe superheroes in "Avengers: Infinity War," Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) was adorned with his traditional outfit from his "Guardians of the Galaxy" solo movies. Considering how his normal, space-adventuring existence was abruptly upended once Thor crashed into their ship, it makes sense why Rocket wouldn't get a massively unique costume for this adventure. After all, how could he have predicted that he'd soon be engaging in a cosmic quest that would end in the destruction of half of all life in the universe (and almost all of his Guardian buddies)?

But once "Infinity War's" sequel, "Avengers: Endgame," jumps five years into the future after the events of its predecessor, Rocket has had time to adjust his costume to respond to the big changes in his life. Now, he's wearing a noticeably different outfit, one colored in a dark blue hue that covers his entire body and is topped off with a red scarf around his neck. This may be a wildly different look compared to the one he rocked in the solo "Guardians of the Galaxy" movies, but it's a familiar outfit to those who've read Rocket's comic book exploits. With "Avengers: Endgame," Rocket is finally wearing his classic comic book attire. Granted, it's hard to notice that since nobody in the movie comments on his new outfit, but seeing a nod to the character's roots is still a welcome sight.

7. Hulk

"I don't wear a suit ... I'm exposed like a nerve." So says Bruce Banner in "The Avengers" about his big green alter ego, the Hulk. Audiences get to see this for themselves in the film's finale where the Hulk fights off hordes of alien invaders wearing only spandex shorts. It's a simple design harkening back to the look of this beast that everyone recognizes from the comics and the Bill Bixby TV show. But nothing stays static for long in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and eventually, the Hulk would need to get more complicated outfits to reflect his growing nuances as a person.

While "Thor: Ragnarok" featured the Hulk donning sparse bursts of gladiator armor to serve as a visual extension of how he now spoke in slightly longer sentences, the big costume upgrade for the character came in "Avengers: Endgame." In this title, Bruce Banner has merged his human form with his alter ego, creating a radically different version of the Hulk. This is reflected by how he's now wearing normal human clothes in everyday settings and eventually puts on a special suit to join his fellow Avengers in traveling through time. All these outfits are a massive departure from the stripped-down look the Hulk donned for most of his other Marvel Cinematic Universe appearances. Hulk's costume now reflects his relationship to Banner rather than being "exposed like a nerve."

6. Professor Xavier

The noticeable costume upgrade for Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) in "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" is a unique element since, unlike other costume upgrades in this franchise, it's not improving on an outfit from an earlier title in this series. 

Instead, Xavier's "Madness" attire is an upgrade from what he wore in the various "X-Men" movies released between 2000 and 2020 by 20th Century Fox. Whether he was portrayed by Stewart or James McAvoy, the leader of the mutants typically wore traditional fancy attire or, when going on superhero missions, a leather outfit. There wasn't much wrong with what Xavier wore in these films, it's just that these wardrobe touches didn't seem to be especially idiosyncratic. He looked like any other member of the original "X-Men" team, with little to distinguish his wardrobe from everybody else.

But then Xavier arrived in "Multiverse of Madness." This character got to make his debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with an outfit that was much more reminiscent of his garb from the 1990s TV program "X-Men: The Animated Series." Not only was he wearing a green suit, but Xavier was also moving around in an enormous yellow wheelchair. It was all a drastic change from his previous costumes on the big screen, with this attire suggesting more grandiose wardrobe ambitions than the muted outfits he'd worn before. This achievement is one of many reasons Xavier's costume upgrade for "Multiverse of Madness" is truly like no other in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

5. Iron Man

While many Marvel Cinematic Universe superheroes had to wait between movies for a significant costume overhaul, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) got to undergo a massive change in his crime-fighting attire throughout his first solo movie, "Iron Man." This evolution in wardrobe began with Tony being held captive by members of the Ten Rings organization. Needing drastic action to get himself out of his situation, the chunky but highly effective ramshackle Iron Man outfit was born. It could barely fly and looked homemade, but it could take out foes with ease and did the trick when it came time for Tony to escape his captors.

Once Tonay got back home to San Diego, California, he began working on a sleek new version of the Iron Man armor. No longer restricted by what tools he had at his disposal, Tony was able to make something incredibly powerful and top-of-the-line. The result was an instantly iconic outfit, one that benefited tremendously in real life from contributions via the Stan Winston Studio. It certainly didn't hurt that the Iron Man suit popped off the screen with a sleek and vibrant hue of red. Best of all, Tony's suit never stopped changing across the series, and the varying forms of the Iron Man costume represented how he was growing as a human being. In other words, this outfit was as effective on a deeply human level as it was in aiding superhero antics.

4. Thor

With "Thor: Ragnarok," director Taika Waititi wanted to overhaul the aesthetic of the solo "Thor" movies. What had previously been a stoic enough domain to inspire features titled "The Dark World" was now a landscape of unpredictable comic mayhem. As part of his approach to upending the conventions for "Thor" adventures, the titular lead character's costume also got a sizeable tweak. 

Shortly after Thor (Chris Hemsworth) lands on the alien planet Sakaar, the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) makes him fight for his freedom in a gladiator match. To prepare for this event, Thor is forcibly given a makeover that leaves him a noticeably pared-down wardrobe. Gone are his long blonde locks, and his arms more exposed than ever. Thor waltzes into the arena with an outfit that, with its random bursts of bright blue and red, seems cobbled together from the disparate parts of the costumes of prior competitors. He even gets a helmet that evokes his classic comic book helmet with the wings on its sides. Thor now has a fashion aesthetic that suggests a punk or brawler vibe. 

Though a massive departure from how Thor had dressed up to this point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, going to such an extremely different place with the God of Thunder's appearance was one of many ways Waititi successfully redefined what could happen in Thor's corner of the franchise.

3. Spider-Man

At the end of "Spider-Man: No Way Home," Peter Parker (Tom Holland) has been forgotten by everyone on the planet. But just because he's a stranger to former allies and friends like Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and MJ (Zendaya), that doesn't mean he's abandoning his Spider-Man duties. As the final scene of "No Way Home" begins, Peter moves into a dusty old apartment all by himself. He places a police radio scanner nearby so that he can keep his ears open for criminal activity. Most importantly, though, he's spent some time putting together a new super suit, one that reflects the character's earliest days in the comics.

Audiences only get to see this outfit briefly in "No Way Home's" final seconds thanks to its appearance occurring at night. However, it's immediately apparent that Peter is wearing a Spider-Man outfit designed to channel what he wore in his first comic book appearances. The black rings around his eyes are more apparent than ever while the prominent placement of blue, especially on his hips, immediately recalls illustrations by Steve Ditko. The suit looks great on-screen, but it's especially wonderful to see since it suggests that Peter is now becoming a classical version of Spider-Man. His costume may be a downgrade in terms of technological capacity, but it's a massive upgrade in reflecting this superhero's personality and roots.

2. Scarlet Witch

For the majority of her Marvel Cinematic Universe appearances, Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) had much more understated fashion aspirations than her fellow Avengers. She first showed up in "Avengers: Age of Ultron" wearing relatively normal street clothes, though they were adorned with red flourishes that harkened back to the hues on her classic comic book outfit. In subsequent appearances in "Captain America: Civil War" and "Avengers: Infinity War," the red hues on her outfits got a bit brighter, but Wanda largely stuck to attire that would be worn by anyone. Even when she was going on missions to save the world with other Avengers, she didn't have a superhero outfit to call her own.

That all changed in the final episode of "WandaVision," in which Wanda takes on the identity of the Scarlet Witch. In doing so, she finally gets a full-blown superhero costume evoking her comic book outfit. Decked out in a wardrobe that you wouldn't just find on a rack at a department store, Wanda even gets to wear her red crown, albeit drastically smaller in size than its comic book counterpart. The costume looks great, especially in terms of its texture and its unabashedly ridiculous nature. Plus, its quietly intimidating appearance also works wonderfully as symbolism for how dangerously powerful Wanda becomes in "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness." It took ages for Maximoff to get a superhero outfit, but once she did, it was something appropriately astonishing.

1. Captain America

When Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) finally comes out of the ice and is reintegrating into modern society, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) informs this man that his agency has created a new Captain America outfit for Rogers. Though Steve wonders if the stars and stripes might be hokey in the modern world, Coulson reassures him that, given all the chaos that's on the horizon, people need that "hokiness" now more than ever. It's not a bad sentiment, but unfortunately, the Captain America outfit in "The Avengers" doesn't look great. The fabric looks a little too soft, the white star just seems out of place on an entirely blue chest — it just doesn't click together.

Thankfully, once "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" rolled around, the character got a massive upgrade in his costume. Wearing an outfit evoking his attire in the "Steve Rogers: Super Soldier" comic book run, Captain America's costume here is a great mix of practicality and appropriate bombast. Though the muted color palette and textures on the suit make it look like something would wear on a stealth mission, this superhero still has that star on his chest, though now with silvery stripes on both sides to make it stick out less. He still looks recognizably like Captain America, even while sticking to the grounded tone of "The Winter Soldier." It's a great outfit on its own merits, but it's especially great when considering what he was wearing in his previous on-screen appearance.