Superheroes are known for their iconic costumes, but even the most beloved characters have undergone wardrobe changes over the years. Whether it’s a subtle tweak or a complete overhaul, a new costume can signal a fresh start for a superhero and often reflects changing times and trends. In the world of DC Comics, many superheroes have updated their looks to keep up with the ever-evolving world of superheroics.
In this article, we’ll look closer at the top 10 DC superheroes who have changed costumes. From the classic characters who have undergone major transformations to the newer heroes who have already had a few different looks, we’ll explore the reasons behind each costume change and see how they have affected the characters’ stories and popularity.
Unfortunately, for as powerful as Starfire is, she’s typically more known for her costume. I mean, Starfire is immensely powerful. She possesses superhuman strength, speed, durability, agility, reflexes, and stamina and is nearly invulnerable. She can also fly, is long-lived, has immunity to cold and heat, can survive in space, manipulate ultraviolet energy, absorb and project energy, and emit supernova-type energy.
Yet, she’s known for her skimpy and very revealing costume. The best thing DC could’ve done for her changed it…so they did. As a consequence, she ditched her cover-nothing top for a cover-more top. This simple (one of my favorite words) change allowed readers to appreciate how powerful she was and not her assets. More than that, readers could finally take her seriously as a character.
9. Harley Quinn
Harley Quinn of today looks nothing like Harley Quinn of old. First of all, she now has more makeup on than a teenage girl. Second, she wears her tie-dyed hair outside of her costume. And third, she no longer looks like a literal clown. As the years have gone by, Harley has aged in unexpected ways. Aside from exploring her relationship with Poison Ivy, she has also left the Joker (more than once) and teetered on the edge of anti-heroism.
None of this would’ve been possible if not for her costume. Shedding the original Joker-inspired costume for a more modern look catalyzed her change. Like the Mohawk that signified a change was on the horizon for Marvel’s Storm, Harley’s new costume signified that she was her own woman. Superhero? No. Anti-hero? Yes.
Technically the character responsible for Nightwing, Dick Grayson, has undergone numerous costume changes over the years. When we first met him, he was the original Sidekick of Batman, Robin. Regarding this list, I’m not too interested in his transformation from Robin to Nightwing. Nope.
I’m more interested in his costume transformation from the original Nightwing costume to the one he’s most known for. When Dick first became Nightwing, he wore what’s come to be known as his disco suit. The suit had a deep v-cut front with a high collar. It was both navy and baby blue with hints of yellow. I’m not saying the costume was bad, but it is widely considered one of his worst.
On the other hand, his best is his all-black suit with a simple blue v across the front. The costume is instantly recognizable, which is hard to do in the world of comic books. So, why does it work so well? Simple. It’s simple. The costume is simple. It doesn’t try to be over the top, nor does it try to do more than it should. It’s a simple design, and simplicity is very much welcomed in a world filled with intricacies.
7. Green Lantern
The original Green Lantern wore a costume right out of the era he was created in. He wore a red shirt with a lantern symbol, a green pair of pants, a face mask, red boots, and a green cape. Everything changed when Hal Jordon became the Green Lantern. Gone was the cape and red shirt. In its stead was a skintight green and black costume.
Hal Jordan introduced a costume so iconic that it became A) the uniform of the entire Green Lantern Corps and B) practically unchanged since its creation. This statement isn’t taking anything away from Alan Scott. Without him, the idea of the Green Lanterns wouldn’t exist. Instead, it’s referring to how great of a change it was. Of the many DC superheroes who have changed costumes, this is one of the best.
6. The Flash
Similar to the change that happened from Alan Scott to Hal Jordan, The Flash also changed costumes for the better. The original Flash, Jay Garrick, wore a costume that screamed outdated. It included a pair of blue pants, a red shirt, a silver hat, and red-winged boots. Both the shirt and pants had a lightning bolt running across them.
When Barry Allen became the Scarlet Speedster, the costume changed into a skintight red costume with yellow highlights and lightning bolts. Barry’s costume, like Hal’s, redefined the character. Not only did it give him a more believable amount of speed, but it also became the one that future Flash characters were modeled after. In fact, it’s so iconic that Barry’s costume has remained mostly unchanged over the last 60+ years.
Of all the DC superheroes who have changed costumes, arguably none have changed them as many times as Batman. Batman has had a tough time sticking to any one design. I suppose he can’t be faulted for it. After all, when money is no object, costumes are as disposable as toilet paper. Even with so many costumes, it’s easy to pick his best.
The New 52 costume. It’s definitely the New 52 costume. Say what you want about the relaunch, but the costume is spot on. It does exactly what it’s supposed to (strike fear into his opponents) without being gaudy or over the top. It’s simple (a theme you’ve seen here), timeless, and as classic as they come.
No different than Barry Allen and Hal Jordan, everything changed when Kate Kane took over the Batwoman moniker. The original Batwoman wore a costume that was better suited for a circus than fighting crime. I mean, for a character who’s supposed to be able to get the drop on her opponents, wearing yellow is probably the dumbest thing you could do. But not just any yellow. Her yellow was as bright as the sun on a mid-summer day.
Kate Kane, on the other hand, now there’s a great costume. Her costume strikes fear into her opponents. It’s the perfect blend of power, which is why her solo series in 2010 was so well received. Kate’s costume is all black with just the right amount of red. Where it really works is in her cape. When closed, the cape is all black. When opened, it’s a fear-inducing shade of red.
Like most other members of the Batfamily, Barbara Gordon has one of the most iconic costumes in all of the comics. Hers seamlessly blends style and sophistication while using colors like purple and yellow. For many, these two colors could present a flurry of aesthetic issues. For Barbara, they work.
The purple and yellow had never worked better than when it did during the New 52 run. Barbara’s costume incorporated everything that has made purple and yellow work while adding some new-age flare. It ditched the spandex look in favor of leather, zippers, buttons, and absolute durability. Durability, you ask? Yes, Durability. Imagine how different it’d feel taking a punch in spandex vs. taking a punch in leather. Barbara’s costume is both aesthetically pleasing and practical.
Although Superman has changed costumes as often as I’ve sneezed in my life, it’s not the costume I’m interested in. I’m actually interested in his iconic hair, which I guess is part of his look and costume. The 1990s brought about an interesting age of comic books. It saw the industry’s near-collapse, the creation of a new powerhouse (Image Comics), and drastic changes to characters. None of the many drastic changes were as drastic as Superman’s mullet.
Look, I can understand why Supes grew his hair into a waterfall. In case you don’t know, he was stuck inside a Kryptonian Animation Matrix after being killed by Doomsday. I can’t understand why he or DC wanted to keep a haircut more suited for Captain Planet. I mean, this was Superman, and he is the most highly regarded superhero ever. A character of this stature doesn’t deserve a lifetime of jokes at his expense. At the end of the day, what’s done is done.
Would you believe it took creators over 60 years to finally get Catwoman’s costume right? Catwoman is one of the most iconic characters in comic book history. She is the on and off again love interest of Batman, the villain who chooses to do good for the people, and one of the most copied characters ever created. Unfortunately, her success didn’t always translate into a great costume.
Catwoman has undergone costume changes that saw her dress in purple, wear a cat mask, and have a fake tail coming from her backside and have whiskers. She was the laughingstock of Batman’s rogue’s gallery for decades. That is, she was the laughing stock until Darwin Cooke redesigned everything about her.
His Catwoman wore a skintight leather outfit and goggles. While the leather outfit wasn’t all that new, the goggles were. And you know what? They worked and continue to work to this day.