People often think that superheroes look dumb in tights, and that armor looks more realistic. These people are often wrong, and we have the entire decade of the '90s as proof. For 10 years Marvel and DC traded in characters' traditional garb for ridiculous, over-designed armors which offered more shame than protection. Here are a dozen armors that prove that are worse things to wear than tights.
1) Daredevil’s Armor
Some superheroes made the change from tights to armor with grace. Ironically, renowned acrobat and martial artist Daredevil did not. When he put on this armor in 1993, it was to protect himself from more powerful bad guys (also because “The ‘90s”) but he looked more like a field hockey goalie than a superhero. The arrows pointing directly at his junk didn’t help either.
2) Booster Gold’s Armor
Also in 1993, time-traveling DC hero Booster Gold traded his normal togs for this Iron Man rip-off which left his blond locks (and the skull below it) hilariously exposed. About the best thing you can say for it is that it doesn’t have any pouches on it, but that’s mostly because he's committed to looking like a mid-'80s action figure.
3) Thor’s Armor
Right before Thor died in the "Onslaught" event in 1996, he decided to put this get-up on in his final regular issue. Whether this was Marvel’s idea of a cruel joke, or just an attempt to see how ‘90s they could make Thor without long-term repercussions, I don't know, but you can see the nightmare above. The ridiculously long hair and codpiece are bad enough, but the midriff-baring chest-piece? Ugh. If Thor were protesting about the impracticality of most superheroine costumes/armor, this would laudable. Alas, I think we all know he wasn’t.
4) Iron Man’s Thorbuster
Speaking of Thor, Iron Man is always worried his teammates might go rogue, hence his propensity to make “-buster armor” to battle them, just in case. This makes perfect sense for the Hulk, as Tony’s Hulkbuster armor is all about taking damage and dishing out. But the Thorbuster armor? First of all, it runs on magic. Think about that for a second. Tony Stark scientifically designed armor… to run on magic. But then he decided to model it after the Destroyer, the Norse god’s magical enforcer who has nearly killed Thor on several occasions. That would be like if Batman made “Superman-buster” armor, painted it purple and green and then stuck a big decal of Lex Luthor’s head on the front. Not cool.
5) Catwoman’s Armor
When Catwoman was attacked by someone calling herself Cyber-Cat — who, you’ll be shocked to learn, had a terrible cat-themed set of armor of her own — Selina was forced to order the above costume to fight her foe in 1997. You’ll note the extremely pervy Clutterbuck (whoever the hell he is) made sure to sculpt a bellybutton in the armor’s midriff, and polish the armor’s breasts until they shone like a J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movie. To Catwoman’s credit, after she defeated Cyber-Cat, she immediately ditched this piece of crap.
6) Spider-Man 3’s New Green Goblin
The first Green Goblin armor in the first Spider-Man movie had its problems, to be sure. But it was a masterpiece of form and function compared to James Franco/Harry Osborn’s outfit as the new Green Goblin in Spider-Man 3. Really, he’s less a supervillain than a morose snowboarder. It’s a shock that he doesn’t have emergency cans of Mountain Dew Code Red strapped around his belt.
7) Azrael’s Batman Outfit
Supposedly Azrael was DC’s attempt to make '90s comic readers realize they didn’t want a ‘90s-style Batman, no matter how much they thought they wanted it. Certainly the outfit Azrael wore when he took over the Bat-mantle in 1993 embodies every single ‘90s superhero comics cliché — random spiky bits, some parts still covered solely by tights, a multitude of pouches, shit strapped around the thighs, needless bits of tech, things that make zero sense like the utility belt which doesn’t connect and thus is possibly some kind of large snap-bracelet — and last, but certainly not least, some kind of arrow pointing directly at the hero’s crotch.
8) Iron Man's Camelot Armor
When Iron Man and Dr. Doom were zapped back to mythical medieval England, for a second time in 2008's "Legacy of Doom" (yes, how this isn't a '90s comic I'll never know) Dr. Doom grabbed Excalibur and Tony… uh… got the scabbard, which he then fused with his armor, because why the hell not. This turned his armor magic, but even more ridiculously it gave his armor a fucking ponytail. Not a plume, like a knight might put on his helmet, but a ponytail. Moving on.
There’s so much wrong with DC’s 1994 relaunch of Dr. Fate — titled Fate, because obviously doctors weren’t considered particularly rad or gnarly back then — that his armor is probably the least of his concerns. He has a mullet, a dyed-red part in his hair, pouch-covered bandoliers and zero crotch protection, and more importantly he’s melted Dr. Fate’s helmet, one of the most powerful magic artifacts in the DC universe, into a bunch of ankh-shaped daggers. Still, deciding to wear armor that protects his right shoulder and absolutely nothing else would also seem to be an extremely poor decision.
10) Captain America’s Exoskeleton
At a certain point in 1995, Cap’s Super-Soldier Serum started making him sick. The obvious solution was for Tony Stark to build him a suit of armor that would allow him to move and still fight bad guys. Okay, you’re Captain America, you need armor, wearing something inspired by U.S. football uniforms seems like it makes a lot of sense, at least on paper. But then you have to put it on and you realize you’re basically Marvel’s attempted relaunch of NFL Superpro, except stupider, which is really saying something. Look, if you're designing a set of armor and you're crafting metal into a completely needless fold-over boot, you have a problem.
11-12) Batman and Robin’s Batman and Robin
Bat-suits with nipples. NEVER FORGET.