It’s said that clothes make the man and this is as true in the fictional world of superheroes as it is in real life. A great costume can be enough to bring readers to the table. There are many characters in the history of the comic medium whose cool costume got people to pay attention to them long enough to love the character.
An iconic costume can make all the difference. Case in point- Captain America. In a time when patriotic superheroes were de riguer, Captain America’s great costume helped him stand out from the crowd and pulled eyes to the character. This list is going to look at some of the coolest costumes Captain America wore… and some of the lamest ones as well.
10 Cool: Falcon Cap’s Costume
Sam Wilson finally stepped into the big spotlight he deserved when he became Captain America in 2014. He would put his own spin on the costume, making it visually distinct but still keeping a classic feel.
Much like his Falcon costume, this costume incorporated wings and changed the mask from the full skull cap to something more reminiscent of the old costume. The costume looked great.
9 Lame: Bucky Cap Costume
Conversely, the costume worn by Bucky when he was Cap wasn’t as cool. It kept the mask and chest details of the original, but then just added a whole lot of black to the whole thing that doesn’t really work. Bucky was used to sneaking around the shadows and killing people as the Winter Soldier, but Captain America doesn’t do things like that.
Besides, if that was why Bucky added black to the costume, why keep the red, white, and blue details at all? The colors were even shiny. The whole thing was just a weird dichotomy.
8 Cool: World War II Ultimate Universe Costume
Ultimates #1 opened in World War II and showed the Captain America of that universe leading troops into battle. Unlike the 616 Cap, this Cap’s costume was much more reminiscent of an actual military uniform.
It still has the classic colors and a lot of the flourishes of the more traditional Captain America costume but it also looked more functional and like something that someone who was fighting a war would actually wear.
7 Lame: Debut Costume
The debut costume of Captain America is very much like the costume that the character would go on to wear for years, but there was a subtle difference between it and all the ones that came after it- the mask.
Everything else about the costume is great, but the skull cap mask that doesn’t connect to the rest of the costume is just weird and jarring to modern eyes. His neck is also exposed and the whole thing is just too strange for words. It’s one of those things where it shouldn’t feel weird, but it does.
6 Cool: The Ultimates 2 Costume
This costume combines everything that looks good about the best Captain America costumes with something new that made way too much sense- a helmet instead of a mask. It’s a simple tweak, but it made all the difference.
The helmet just makes a lot of sense when it comes right down to it. Protecting one’s head is smart whether a person has super soldier serum running through their veins or not. The helmeted look would go on to inspire the character’s look in both the movies and the comics down the road as well.
5 Lame: The Ultimates Costume
This costume doesn’t represent Bryan Hitch’s finest costume design moments. It attempted to modernize the classic Captain America superhero costume and while it did bring some changes into the table that future artists would use (the bigger pouches on the belt, for instance), there was just something off about the look.
The smooth wingless headpiece was weird. The stars on the shoulders were weird. The lack of the chain mail was weird. It’s just an all around lame design.
4 Cool: The Captain Costume
This costume would go on to become U.S.Agent’s costume, but Cap wore it first back during one of those times when he was disillusioned with the United States government. It traded black for blue and had a very different chest emblem- red and white stripes with a black star in the upper right corner.
The black in the Bucky Cap costume was weird because it still tried to invoke the classic costume; that costume wanted to have its cake and eat it too but didn’t deserve the cake. This one was still reminiscent of the classic look but just different enough and still looked great.
3 Lame: The MCU Avengers Costume
This costume debuted in 2012’s Avengers and thank God it stayed there. It took all the bad things about the Ultimates costume and somehow made them all worst.
The headpiece with the painted wings was worst than not having the wings. The white stripes on the shoulders and the white on the underside of the arms looked strange. There were weird lines in places and the baggy pants looked dumb. The gloves… what was going on there? For as much praise as the MCU gets for being comic accurate, this was such a failure.
2 Cool: The Classic Costume
After his debut, the mask would be changed to the one fans know and love and Cap’s costume would pretty much stay the same for decades afterwards and let’s be real- there was nothing that really needed to be changed.
This is a costume that looks like one that someone who was representing America would wear. It’s such a great design and even the parts that shouldn’t work, the wings on the mask and the swashbuckler boots, work perfectly. In recent years, the costume has been tweaked a little bit, adding the bigger pouches to the belt and making the mask more helmet like, but Jack Kirby’s design is just so good that little tweaks are all it needs.
1 Lame: The Nomad Costume
This is more of a Steve Rogers costume than a Cap costume, but it deserves all the hate i can get. This costume comes from the first time Captain America got mad at the US government and gave up his Captain America mantle. It’s so bad.
First off, plunging v neck. Then that cape and mask. The color scheme isn’t bad, but all in all this is a terrible costume and it’s good that it has been forgotten for so long. Well, until now. You’ll always remember it now.
Captain America has had some truly awesome costumes in Marvel Comics over the years… and some kinda lame ones.