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Secrets You Totally Missed In MCU Costumes

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, thousands of costumes have made an appearance, from hero suits to jogging outfits. Every one tells its own story, giving the audience additional insight into the character, perhaps even suggesting which deserves your rooting interests. Costume departments carefully consider what an ensemble is saying when they design it, thinking about how the audience will interpret it, color contrasts that will show up on screen and perhaps most importantly, what will make them look cool. That first glimpse at a hero or villain in their costume sets a significant tone, whether it's high concept (Doctor Strange) or simple street clothes (Jessica Jones).

With well-designed costumes come hidden secrets. There are plenty of Easter eggs, secret abilities and unique construction techniques in the outfits which adorn Marvel characters, some obvious, others that perhaps take a second to tease out. Once you're aware of the forethought behind them, however, you may never see these costumes the same way. 

Hulk's Purple Pants

The Hulk is known for his iconic purple pants, but when Hulk was introduced, they were actually orange. It wasn't until 1962's "Incredible Hulk #4" that he earned his Barney-tinted trousers.

Many depictions of the character in popular culture since have had him wearing the purple pants, likely because the color contrasts against his green skin so well. But Marvel films have largely shied away from having Bruce Banner wearing lavender-colored trousers because, well, when was the last time you saw a person wearing purple pants? 

Nevertheless, like Wolverine's X-Men outfit, Luke Cage's headband or Vision's green-and-yellow, Marvel has been open to making wink-wink jokes about the garish colors that look so good on the splash page but not on a cinema screen. 

In 2008's Edward Norton-starring "The Incredible Hulk," Banner (Edward Norton) and Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) are reunited and on the run from "Thunderbolt" Ross (William Hurt) when Betty buys some clothes for him, tossing a pair of purple pants in his direction. He holds them up in front of himself, then shoots her a disapproving look. It's a quick callback to the character's comic book roots, just enough to put a smile on the faces of knowing fans.

Insect Heads on Ant-Man and Wasp Suits

Fans of "Ant-Man and The Wasp" may have already noticed this fun costume secret. Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and Hope van Dyne/Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) spent the second "Ant-Man" film fighting Ava Starr/Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), with the film being Lilly's formal introduction as a hero. Ant-Man and Wasp are both obviously named after insects, and can shrink to their size for superheroic battling, alluded to by the costume department's crafting of their suits. 

As noted on Reddit, the head of a wasp can be seen on Lilly's suit, while the head of an ant is depicted in Rudd's duds. Both insects even have visible antennae, making them both fun and surprisingly accurate. 

Though some might not take notice of what appears to the untrained eye to be typical superhero costume paneling, both suits shift to a different shape after the pincher portions, making the details clearly intentional. It's a subtle callback to the insects these heroes are named after, and is always one of those things that once you become aware, you'll never be able to not see it.

WandaVision Halloween Costumes

The first Marvel Disney+ series, "WandaVision" was not only a lot of fun, but also subject to perhaps the highest degree of fan dissection. Viewers were looking for the tiniest hints in everything, whether it was the true intentions of Wanda's supposedly-revived brother, those weird commercials, or what Kathryn Hahn was all about.  Another moment that had fans talking was the Halloween costumes of Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany).

When Wanda and Vision showed off their Halloween costumes in "All-New Halloween Spooktacular!" (Season 1, Episode 6), sharp-eyed viewers recognized the nods to their traditional comic book appearance. Years before "WandaVision" became a reality, Olsen said on "Late Night with Seth Meyers" that when she was cast, she was told she'd never have to wear the comic book suit — which made her happy, because she didn't think she would feel confident in it. In a 2021 interview with Looper, however, producer Mary Livanos said Olsen was excited about the chance to include the costume in the series. 

In addition to Wanda and Vision wearing their comic book suits, Ralph Bohner/"Pietro" (Evan Peters), Wanda's reincarnated brother, wore Quicksilver's comic book look. Wanda and Vision's children in the sitcom universe, Billy (Julian Hilliard) and Tommy (Jett Klyne) also could be seen wearing Halloween costumes alluding to their comic book roots; like Pietro, Tommy has the power to run fast (calling himself Speed) while Billy has powers similar to Wanda (and is known as Wiccan). The inclusion of all five comic book looks as Halloween costumes was a whimsical thrill, a nod to the source material, and perhaps a microcosm of the entire series' unique comedic/unsettling/unapologetically enigmatic tone.

Bruce Banner's Shirt

As if his pants weren't enough, costume designers have also been known to hide Easter eggs in Bruce Banner's t-shirts. In 2017's "Thor: Ragnarok," Hulk/Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) learned some crucial info about where he's been and what's been going on in his life since he left the Avengers at the end of "Avengers: Age of Ultron." If he wanted to know more about himself, however, perhaps all he had to do was look down.

In the scene where Bruce is talking to Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Banner is wearing what appears to be a Duran Duran shirt. Remember, the character has been forced to wear Tony Stark's clothes now that he has reverted to human form. Not only is a tee-and-sportcoat combo something "Less Than Zero"-era Downey would have worn, but the shirt bears artwork from the band's 1982 album "Rio," which produced both the title hit and the classic "Hungry Like the Wolf." At first, it feels like a throwaway bit of character development, that Stark just happens to be a lover of early '80s British new wave; but the t-shirt actually isn't truly Duran Duran-related — it just bares the same Patrick Nagel artwork used on the album (looking at the image above, you can see there's no "Rio" across the woman's head).

What's the connection? You might recall that later in the film, Hulk has a key smackdown with Febris, the massive wolf who runs alongside the evil Hela (Cate Blanchett). Some Marvel fans have concluded that the Stark shirt foreshadows that confrontation.

But, not so fast. According to Ruffalo himself, he was allowed to select the Robert Downey Jr.-referencing wardrobe — and the tee is a reference to his real-life friend, not a "Ragnarok" plot point. 

"I picked the things I thought would be the most like him," Ruffalo said in 2017 of his RDJ-teasing wardrobe. "[Downey] loves Duran Duran; they played at his birthday party. So I was like 'Oh my god, I have to get the Duran Duran logo.' But I couldn't get it, so I got the Nagle instead."

Captain Marvel and Her Comic Book Looks

Wanda, Vision, and Hulk aren't the only ones who have been glimpsed in their comic book looks at some point in the MCU. In 2019's "Captain Marvel," Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) got a similar shout-out to her comic book look.

When Carol asks Monica Rambeau (Akira Akbar) for help deciding what colors she should wear (since she doesn't want a Kree-referencing visage anymore), several different colors are cycled through before the duo decide on the iconic red and blue suit. The fun comes in with three "rejected" color combinations spotted by eagle-eyed fans.

The first is a green and gray ensemble, reminiscent of the Mar-Vell suit in the comics. The next attempt is an all-red version of the suit, a callback to the red Ms. Marvel comic book outfit. Monica then changes the suit colors again to black and gold, reminiscent of another Ms. Marvel suit. 

Black Widow's Arrow Necklace

MCU Easter eggs don't have to reference old comic books; sometimes, they call back to beloved plot points from the other films. 

Comic book readers know that in the pages of Marvel Comics, there was a romantic relationship between Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff and Hawkeye/Clint Barton; MCU fans know the two characters had something more closely resembling a strong friendship. Either way works with this next costume egg.

As first glimpsed in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," Black Widow seems to be fond of an arrow necklace. Although never explained, the necklace points to (perhaps a gift from?) Hawkeye, resident archer of the Avengers. She can later be seen wearing the necklace in other films such as "Avengers: Endgame." 

The Easter egg was confirmed in 2021, when Marvel Studios honcho Kevin Feige held an online watch party for "Black Widow" and a fan on Twitter asked if the necklace was a reference to Jeremy Renner's character. Feige added that the jewelry was suggested by Scarlett Johansson herself.

"Yes, the arrow necklace was Scarlett's idea," read the tweet. "She's been wearing it since Captain America: The Winter Soldier."

Rocket, Peter Quill, and The Scarf

Friends love to share clothes, but it isn't often that you find yourself sharing an outfit with a raccoon. Unless, of course, you're both Guardians of the Galaxy.

Keep an eye on everyone's favorite interplanetary anti-heroes and you'll notice that Star-Lord/Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and Rocket the raccoon (Bradley Cooper) share a scarf between "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Avengers: Endgame." 

When Star-Lord was turned to dust via the Thanos snap in "Avengers: Infinity War," he was wearing a red scarf. The only "Guardians of the Galaxy" character to survive the snap was Rocket, so it makes for an especially touching nod when the snarling super raccoon pops up In "Avengers: Endgame" wearing the same scarf.

This acknowledgement of a fallen comrade carries even more weight because the pair traditionally have a somewhat antagonistic relationship; it also perhaps shows some character growth on behalf of Rocket, who was unapologetically self-centered in the original "Guardians" film. The scarf, combined with Rocket using his most well-known comic book suit in the big battle, were fun incorporations of comic book information in the film — and we can only assume that when Quill came back, Rocket was there to give him a big hug and his scarf back.

Steve Rogers and Roscoe Simons

Sometimes, the MCU even inserts hints of other comic book characters into its costumes. In "Avengers: Endgame," for instance, there's a little-known reference to someone else who briefly became Captain America ... at least, in the comics.

When "Endgame" Steve goes back in time to 1970 to get the Tesseract, you can see that the uniform he's wearing as a disguise bears the last name "Roscoe." This appears to be a reference to Roscoe Simons. In mid-'70s Captain America comics, Simons was presented as a youngster who was a huge fan of Cap. Later, Captain America would become Nomad, leaving his moniker up for grabs as several individuals attempted to fill the position. Trained by Falcon (albeit, somewhat reluctantly), Roscoe Simons was one of these wannabe warriors, although his story had a sad ending at the hands of the Red Skull

Steve using that name as his disguise in "Endgame" is a nice nod to the comic books, as well as other people that have served as Captain America, but there is one problem with it: the military lists last names on uniforms, not first names. So, the reference should read "Simons."

Steve Roger's Tan Jacket

Steve's Roscoe disguise isn't the only costume Easter egg in "Avengers: Endgame" that involves the first avenger. While fans may have been too distracted by an aged Steve Rogers at the end of the film to pick up on it right away, Steve was wearing a recognizable jacket. 

After going back in the timeline to replace all the infinity stones, it becomes clear that Captain America has altered the plan. Steve doesn't return at the end of Hulk's countdown, with Banner saying "he blew right past his time stamp." Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) then notices that Steve is sitting nearby, with the body of an old man, having lived the entirety of a life that had previously been stolen from the thawed-out super soldier. 

If the jacket this old man is wearing looks familiar, that's because it's similar in color and shape to the jacket he wore in "Captain America: The First Avenger." When audiences first saw him with this look, it was before he became Captain America, so it is meant to evoke a return to who he was in those early scenes. Bringing the jacket back, in what is likely the final appearance of Chris Evans' Cap in the MCU, helps his story come full circle. It's a subtle nod, but one that makes for a nice bookending of Rogers' entrance and exits from the MCU.

Black Panther and the Pan-African Flag

In "Black Panther," the costume department gave a less-than-subtle nod to the Pan-African flag. When T'Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Okoye (Danai Gurira), and Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) go to South Korea to try and intercept the sale of a Wakandan artifact by Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), the black market dealer some may recognize from "Avengers: Age of Ultron," their outfits stand out.

The outfits the three of them wear for the operation are the three colors of the Pan-African flag: T'Challa in black, Okoye in red, and Nakia in green. From right to left, the characters are even in the correct order of the stripes of the flag in one memorable shot. This isn't the only time it happens, either. Throughout the film T'Challa wears black, Okoye wears red, and Nakia wears green when the they're together, and if you watch closely, they're typically lined up to maintain the message.

The Pan-African flag was created by Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican journalist and political activist, in the 1920s. Garvey also founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and the African Communities League. The flag is used as a symbol of Black nationalism and was used as part of the Black Liberation movement in the 1960s. This nod to a flag that is important to Black Americans is an excellent touch, and isn't surprising coming from the team that won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design for their efforts with the film. 

Killmonger's Suit

The Pan-African flag isn't the only Easter egg hidden in "Black Panther." A comic book reference is present in one of the Black Panther suits shown in the film. Erik "Killmonger" Stevens/N'Jadaka (Michael B. Jordan) comes to Wakanda, where he fights against T'Challa for the Wakandan throne, as is his birthright. He wins, and T'Challa is presumed dead.

When it's discovered that T'Challa is not dead, and the Dora Milaje turns on Killmonger, he fights them in a special suit similar to Black Panther's. The suit he wears has a leopard print, though it's referred to as the Golden Jaguar, which to many may just seem like another African cat species represented, but there is more to it than that. 

In the comic books, Killmonger has a favorite pet leopard named Preyy. This cat is highly trained, with more speed and strength than a typical leopard. The suit may even foreshadow what happens to Killmonger in the film, as the pet is also killed in Wakanda. It's both a great nod to the source material, and looks really cool in the film. 

Loki's 1950s Pants in Loki

The Marvel costume department usually goes all out, and the "Loki" series was no exception. Audiences see Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in very different costumes than what they're accustomed to, and the costume department was particularly specific with how they made the TVA pants he wears for a majority of the series. 

In an interview with ScreenRant, costume designer Christine Wada said that they used sharkskin fabric from the 1950s to make the pants, adding to the authenticity of the show. This type of fabric has no give or stretch, which meant the costume department had to be ready in case Hiddleston tore them during action sequences. Wada says they made fifteen pairs of pants, and it was a "miracle" he made it through with just fifteen of them. While Wada confirms Loki's pants definitely ripped while they filmed, they made enough back-ups to get through. The use of time-period-accurate fabric makes sense, adds to the believability of the time the series takes place in, and shows just how much thought and consideration goes into Marvel costumes. 

Sylvie's Secret Zippers

Loki's pants weren't the only costume secret from "Loki." Sylvie's (Sophia Di Martino) costume was given some special features to help Di Martino while she filmed. She gave birth a few months before filming for the show began, meaning she needed to be able to breastfeed and pump while on set. Di Martino shared a photo of secret zippers in her costume on Instagram and thanked Christine Wada for the "genius" idea. 

In the same interview with ScreenRant, Wada discusses that she came up with the idea on her own, and that it was a part of her continued effort for the costumes she designs to be a "marriage between the costume and the actor." After a costume fitting, Wada and the team discussed how they could design the costume to make it easier for Di Martino to nurse and pump, but also in a way that no one would feel bad for holding up production. The answer was secret zippers. It was a challenge to place them so they wouldn't show up on screen but would be comfortable under the armor the character wears. 

Wada and the costume department successfully pulled off this addition to Di Martino's costume, which allowed her to do her job and simultaneously be a mother. It's great to see such considerations made in Hollywood, as Di Martino isn't the first nursing mother on a set and certainly won't be the last. 

Iron Spider Suit's Special Abilities

"Spiderman: Homecoming" hinted at an amazing new suit for Spider-Man (Tom Holland), but audiences didn't get to see its full potential until "Avengers: Infinity War." The Iron Spider suit is known for its cybernetic limbs and sleek appearance, but there are some hidden secrets as well.

The suit acts a composite of several, such as those worn by The Scarlet Spiders in the comics. These superheroes are thought to be clones of the deceased Michael van Patrick, a comic book character considered a great athlete and who was tested on by his dad. These clones were created by his dad after van Patrick's death during an accident. Several others use this suit in the comic book multiverse, though the Scarlet Spiders may be the most well-known.

In addition to being in the comics, the book "The Art of Spider-Man: Far From Home" reveals the concept art and other abilities of the suit. These abilities surround the bonus limbs of the suit. They can project sonic blasts toward people, boast lights to aid any of Spider-Man's nighttime navigation needs, and can block bullets. Hopefully, in future films, we will see these abilities in action.

Secret Wakandan Message in Black Panther's Suit

"Black Panther" director Ryan Coogler (or someone else involved with the film) may have left a sweet, hidden message to his mother in Black Panther's suit. in at least one scene where the suit glows with kinetic energy (as T'Challa tests it in the original "Black Panther" film), there is purple script visible on the suit, which led viewers to wonder what it meant.

The script is written in Xhosa, a real African language, which means an accurate translation of the text on the suit is possible. One user on Reddit claims to have translated the text as "I love you, mom," though it isn't clear whose mom this line refers to. Did Shuri (Letitia Wright) put this in as a message to their mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett)? Did she perhaps think it would give Ramonda and Black Panther strength in a time of need? Or is it a real-life message, inserted by Coogler or a VFX person in post production? 

There is additional text on the suit that has yet to be translated, so there could be additional messages that may give this one more context. If you're up on your Xhosa, hit that "pause" button and give it a shot.

Regardless of who put the message in there, it is a nice sentiment, particularly since it only says "I love you, mom" when the suit hits a high level of stored power — indicating the love, perhaps, that we all have for our moms.