Home Entertainment Top List Thursdays – Top ten comic book movies that nailed the look

Top List Thursdays – Top ten comic book movies that nailed the look

4 min read

It’s not easy filming a comic book movie. You’ve got high expectations, rabid fans and decades of history to live up to, and of course, trying to find a way to make those spandex outfits look believable on the big screen.

Here’s ten films that managed to make men in tights look manly.


While the original Sam Raimi directed films may not have aged too well over the last decade, there’s no denying that on the visual side, this original movie set a new benchmark for arachnid-themed heroes.

Iconic, patriotic and modern enough to actually look plausible, the duds that Peter Parker wore back in 2002 were something…amazing.


You will believe that a man can fly! And make wearing underoos on the outside of his pants serious business. Christopher Reeve didn’t just pull on some spandex and pretend to be the Man of Steel. He was the Man of Steel!

So breathtaking was his performance back in the late seventies when Superman arrived in movie theatres, that he practically changed the source material itself, creating a new standard for the man of steel.

And it’s a standard that still lives on today, as he set the bar high for all future actors who took on the role of the last son of Krypton.

Ghost Rider

Let’s be honest, the Ghost Rider films may not be the zenith of the genre, but when it comes to portraying a motorist with a head on fire, they didn’t skimp on the budget.

While setting a hobo on fire may have been a cheaper alternative, the CGI used to bring the spirit of vengeance to life was phenomenal back then, and visually, it’s one of the closest interpretations to the source material out there.

Even if it involve having Nic Cage run around in Voodoo face paint.

Batman (1989)

Batman is bad parenting, abandonment and vigilante justice all rolled up into one ball of well-trained psychotic obsessive anger. So naturally, the man needs to look like a beast.

When Michael Keaton was cast back in the late 1980s however, people were naturally skeptical. After all, the guy was as physically imposing as, well, me.

But then director Tim Burton dressed the actor in black body armour and a mask that look genuinely terrifying. And magic was born.


Director Zack Snyder created a film which was pretty much pure fan service when he took on Watchmen, but boy, did he hammer the looks down, and then some. From Nite-Owl’s more textured garb, Silk Spectre’s sexier ensemble and the ever-changing expressions of the mask that Rorschach wore, the results were phenomenal, making a goofy premise incredibly sombre and serious.


Big, strong and imposing. That’s the god of thunder. But until his film came out, he pretty much looked like he was dressed by a blind frost giant. That all changed in the Kenneth Branagh directed film though, as the Asgardians became a race of more regal demi-gods, wearing ornate armour that stayed true to their comic book origins, with the brothers Thor and Loki taking the cake here.

Although next time, it’d be cool to see some more of that iconic helmet make the cut in the sequel.

The Crow

“Dammit, I’m not a clown!” That’s one thing about Brandon Lee, as the initial impression of the Crow costume may be slightly bufoonish, but once he got moving and draped some fresh make-up on, the result was terrifying, haunting and supernatural.

Captain America: The First Avenger

What really worked in this film, to shut up the old fogies, was how Steve Rogers actually wore the original costume for the first part of the film, showing how dated it was, even back in the 1940s. Flash forward to a successful operation while decked in that gear and a stylish leather jacket, and Howard Stark is on hand to put the super in soldier.

And it sure looked a helluva lot better than that gear he wore later in The Avengers.


Chalk this one up more to prosthetics than clothing. But with Ron Perlman under all that make-up, chompin’ on a cigar and carrying around a big gun, I honestly can’t imagine anyone else handling that role.

It’s one thing to own a role, but to make it legendary? Well done Perlman, well done…

Iron Man

It’s one thing to translate a look from a long-running comic book, but to do so with a character that goes through costumes like fraudulent politicians go through BEE tenders? That takes something special.

But Stan Winston studios was up to the task, and when it came down to crafting the look for the armoured Avenger, they pulled out all the stops, coming up with several suits, a War Machine, and Iron Monger and a Crimson Dynamo in the process.

Hows that for nailing it?


Last Updated: November 15, 2012


  1. Apparently Adi Granov, the artist who drew Iron Man: Extremis was heavily involved in designing the Iron Man suits for the film.


  2. Kervyn Cloete

    November 15, 2012 at 16:05

    Were it not for the very impressive visuals of Ghost Rider himself, my review of Spirit of Vengeance would have garnered negative stars.


  3. James Francis

    November 15, 2012 at 18:27

    Tank Girl?


    • Darryn_Bonthuys

      November 16, 2012 at 07:12

      Quite true. Also honourable mentions to Fantastic Four and X-Men First Class. Not the biker leather fetish ones though.


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