->'''ComicBook/{{Wolverine}}:''' (''fidgeting with the collar of his leather suit'') You guys actually go out in these things?\\
'''ComicBook/{{Cyclops}}:''' Well, what would you prefer? Yellow Spandex?
-->-- ''Film/XMen1''

So, your comic book movie got greenlit, congratulations! Now comes the first big question: your SuperheroesWearTights, but which kind? Spandex, Latex, or Leather?

Costuming for a superhero movie is SeriousBusiness... or at least, it informs the audience how seriously the franchise takes itself. Spandex tends to say "camp" (the ''[[Film/SpiderManTrilogy Spider-Man]]'' movies seem to buck that trend, though), Latex is associated with gritty ''(Film/{{Batman}}'', ''Film/{{Watchmen}})'', and Leather implies "real world" (the ''Film/XMenFilmSeries'').

The reason is mostly because of the era associated with the heyday of each. Spandex, the form-fitting, brightly colored "tights", is most associated with old school Superheroes thanks to the 1930's ''Francise/{{Superman}}'' serials. The later use of spandex in the old ''Series/{{Batman}}'' TV show with Creator/AdamWest would also give it a campy, childish association.[[note]]The term "spandex" is an anachronism, as this synthetic fabric wasn't in wide use until well into the 1960s. Superman and Batman, like their TV counterparts, likely wore cotton.[[/note]] Latex, or hard rubber suits, is most remembered for Creator/TimBurton's relaunch of the ''Film/{{Batman}}'' franchise as a grim, Gothic and serious setting. Creator/JoelSchumacher attempted to shift this toward camp, but then Creator/ChristopherNolan [[Film/TheDarkKnightSaga shifted it even farther toward the "gritty" end than Burton did]]. Lastly, leather has been used in superhero movies since the beginning of the ''Film/XMenFilmSeries'', bringing with it a real world setting, implying these are "plausible" heroes who can and do exist in a world much like our own, behaving as real people do rather than people in tights. To each their tastes.

The choice can actually be quite complicated because -- of course -- the actors have to wear these things. In ''X-Men'', nobody could move in the leather. There was a scene as they are approaching the Statue of Liberty and they have to climb over a brick wall that's about two foot tall. It took them several takes because [[Creator/HughJackman Jackman]], [[Creator/HalleBerry Berry]] and Co. could [[InsurmountableWaistHeightFence barely]] [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3IFAjV2tvg clamber over it]]. Likewise, it wasn't until ''Film/BatmanBegins'' that any Batman actor could turn their head while in costume (Clooney lampshades this in a late show interview about how conversations between him and Creator/{{Arnold|Schwarzenegger}} would go), though how much of this is the latex and how much of it was costume design is unknown.

See also: FutureSpandex, NotWearingTights; HellBentForLeather and MovieSuperheroesWearBlack. Contrast the more civilian CoatHatMask.



* Dave Lizewski goes with a wetsuit as ''ComicBook/KickAss''. He gets harassed by two girls for looking like a gimp, before he comes across the beating that gets him famous.
* ComicBook/{{Empowered}} has a side job of cosplaying as her own superhero identity for public appearances. The cosplay version is PVC, as opposed to the hypermembrane her real suit is made of.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/{{Daredevil}}'': Leather, gritty.
* ''Film/MysteryMen'': Leather/Spandex, DeconstructiveParody.
* ''Film/SkyHigh2005'': Latex, Camp/Kid.
* ''Franchise/SpiderMan'': Spandex, regardless of whether it's the [[Film/SpiderManTrilogy original]], ''[[Film/TheAmazingSpiderManSeries Amazing]]'', or [[Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse MCU]] continuities; unique in that, since Spider-Man is explicitly very acrobatic, both leather and latex would be inappropriate.
* ''Franchise/{{Superman}}'' films:
** ''Film/{{Superman}}'': Spandex, in a costume true to both the comics and the strongmen inspiration.
** ''Film/SupermanReturns'': They had to choose something that could fit into the same world as the spandex of the 1970s films, looked impressive now and that the actor could reasonably wear. Well, two out of three ain't bad.
** ''Film/ManOfSteel'': A texturized latex/leather that seems more otherworldly but still has the skin tight quality of spandex (Justified, as it's actually a form of SpaceClothes, given that he is an alien after all). In real life, it's actually a black flexible bodysuit with silver colored muscle shaped pieces over it, with a semi-transparent blue silk-like material (with the tiny pattern printed onto it) stretched over that. This is actually a pretty cool fix to the problem of spandex (or any skintight material for that matter) not showing off muscle definition the way it does in the comics. This costume gave the illusion of comic book spandex without the camp factor.
* ''Film/{{Watchmen}}'': All three, actually, and more. The 1940s-vintage heroes mostly wore Spandex or its period equivalent (rather amusing are the realistic ''canvas'', silk or cotton home-made costumes, considering that the heroes in question were ordinary people having either a bout of schizophrenia or a surfacing vigilante streak); some of those that didn't -- like Silhouette -- wore leather. The later Comedian preferred leather body armor, and Silk Spectre II was in latex. (Malin Åkerman famously commented that her costume made her "smell like a giant condom". Please refrain from comment.) Beyond that we had [[CoatHatMask ordinary street wear]] for Rorschach (with a [[CoolMask special mask]] that reacted to pressure and heat), assorted varieties of body armor for almost everyone else, and a bright blue [[FullFrontalAssault birthday suit]] for Dr. Manhattan.
* Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse:
** ''Film/IronMan'': [[AvertedTrope Metal]] (any heroes/villains in PoweredArmor also avert this).
** ''Film/{{Thor}}'': Chris Hemsworth said his costume made use of chainmail and leather, but his chest armor looks to be latex and the clothes worn under the armor (seen briefly in the movie) appears to be fabric. So... all three? Creator/TomHiddleston, who played antagonist Loki, once referred to their costumes as "Leather and metal. That's how we like it in Asgard."
** ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheFirstAvenger'' has Cap wearing [[http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/square_medium/5/59326/1733858-firstvengeanceimage.jpg a utilitarian, heavy-duty variant of his comic outfit]] (explicitly stated to be made from carbon polymer) for most of the movie. He briefly wears [[http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/square_medium/3/39027/2417738-550612_10150875265906905_751633690_n.jpg a fabric, comic-accurate outfit]] as part of {{Camp}}y musical number.
** In ''Film/{{The Avengers|2012}}'', he wears [[http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/square_medium/8/80403/2260826-the_avengers_chris_evans_captain_america_image.jpg a brighter, sleeker outfit]] that is both closer to his comic look and explicitly stated to be tights.
** The DarkerAndEdgier sequel to the first film, ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheWinterSoldier'', has him in [[http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/square_medium/8/80111/3552016-23857.jpg a darker spy outfit]] for the first act, in [[NotWearingTights street clothes]] for the second act, and finally his outfit from the first movie in the third act. ComicBook/TheFalcon and Comicbook/BlackWidow also wear [[http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/square_medium/11/113509/3563785-mackie.png darker]] [[http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/square_medium/8/80111/3632453-captain-america.jpg outfits]] that resemble spy or military gear rather than superhero costumes.
** ''Film/GuardiansOfTheGalaxy'': Mostly leather -- jackets, vests, pants -- combined with street clothing (or some sort of kevlar in the case of Rocket). The exception is [[WhenTreesAttack Groot]], of course.
** ''Film/AvengersAgeOfUltron'', the DarkerAndEdgier sequel to ''Avengers'', has Cap in [[http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/square_medium/11/113509/3966419-0958462033-Capta.jpg a darker costume]] that's essentially a cross between the spy suit from ''The Winter Soldier'' and the utilitarian outfit from ''The First Avenger''.
** ''Film/DoctorStrange2016'': Averted with just fabric. The major characters are all sorcerers rather than superheroes and dress in mystic robes.
** ''Film/SpiderManHomecoming'': spandex, although his BetaOutfit is basically just street clothes. Creator/TomHolland has stated that the suit is so tight he has to wear a thong.
** ''Film/BlackPanther'': his first suit is made of super-strong Vibranium-infused body armor, and his second is made of nanobots.
** ''Film/CaptainMarvel'': from [[https://marvelstudiosnews.com/2018/02/16/kevin-feige-addresses-captain-marvel-set-photos-fan-reactions/ the set photos seen so far]], her first suit looks like leather and body armor.
* ''Film/JudgeDredd'': latex, gritty (even though he wore leather in the comic...)
* ''Film/{{Dredd}}'': leather, along with an armor similar to real-life special forces.
* ''Franchise/{{Batman}}'' films:
** ''Film/{{Batman}}'': latex, as it had to be protective (the comics version always seemed like regular fabric, a look which at least [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hjp0I_okX0w one]] FanFilm goes for).
** ''Film/BatmanBegins'' has Bruce use a prototype military suit made mostly from kevlar. ''Film/TheDarkKnight'' adds ceramic plating for even more protection, and a lampshade for movie Batmen being unable to turn their heads - his integrated mask and cowl is separated into lobstered neck protection and a mask that's reminiscent of a motorcycle helmet
* ''Film/XMenFilmSeries''
** ''Film/XMen1'' goes for leather, and it is the TropeCodifier for MovieSuperheroesWearBlack (as noted in the page quote). A seen in bloopers, the leather suits aren't very flexible (James Marsden and Hugh Jackman had difficulty scaling a short concrete wall) and Marsden himself said the cast didn't enjoy wearing them.
** In ''Film/XMenFirstClass'', however, the X-Men wear yellow suits made of fabric, inspired in equal part by the team's uniforms during their earliest comic appearances and the ''New X-Men'' suits. The only one in that movie to fit one of the three materials is [[http://www.caps.media/201/1-xmen-first-class/full/xmen-first-class-movie-screencaps.com-14772.jpg Magneto in the ending.]]
** In ''Film/XMenDaysOfFuturePast'', most of the heroes wear black costumes or [[NotWearingTights no costumes at all]], but the young Magneto wears [[http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/scale_super/11/113509/3868490-magneto.jpg a red outfit]] that is overall pretty close to his comic counterpart.
** ''[[Film/{{Deadpool 2016}} Deadpool]]'' lampshades this by having its title character mention that, as an OriginStory, it tells "how I got my ass into this spandex outfit". The villains and Colossus wear leather, and Negasonic Teenage Warhead wears a version of the ''First Class'' uniform underneath her leather coat.
* Deliberately averted in the ''Film/GreenLantern'' movie. The nature of the suit is a construct of the ring, after debating on a CG ''enhanced'' suit they decided to make the ''entire'' suit CG superimposed over Ryan Reynolds wearing a motion capture suit (the same process was in fact used with Robert Downey Jr. for ''Film/IronMan1''). The same goes for all human-performed Lanterns in the movie. The process was almost seamless, but fan reaction to the look varied.

* As an AffectionateParody of the Spandex of this trope, Literature/CaptainUnderpants flies around wearing only underwear and a cape (which is really a red curtain with black dots on it) since that's what most superheroes [[{{Stripperiffic}} kinda look like]].
* In ''Literature/WearingTheCape'', superheroes use all three plus other materials. Choice depends on body-type (latex and leather can "hold in" bulges spandex can't), sex, attitude, and superhero personae. Most men wear cotton or leather bodysuits, for example. One female character wears a spandex catsuit under a tailored kevlar vest-skirt.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Franchise/SuperSentai''/''Franchise/PowerRangers'' teams wear spandex and similar fabrics, firmly cementing them into the campy category they've always held (though in-universe it's supposed to be some kind of special armor that just happens to ''look'' like spandex).
** The first six installments (''Series/HimitsuSentaiGoranger'', ''Series/JAKQDengekitai'', ''Series/BattleFeverJ'', ''Series/DenshiSentaiDenziman'', ''Series/TaiyouSentaiSunVulcan'' and ''Series/DaiSentaiGoggleFive'') [[AvertedTrope averted]] this trope with the use of cloth.
** ''Power Rangers'' has thrice used latex: ''Film/MightyMorphinPowerRangersTheMovie'' replaced the spandex with latex armor entirely, ''Series/PowerRangersSamurai'' adds a latex armor variant that never existed in the ''Sentai'' original, and the reboot movie ''Film/PowerRangers2017'' uses heavily redesigned latex costumes.
** As just one of ''many'' {{Lampshade Hanging}}s in ''Series/PowerRangersRPM'', the resident MissionControl becomes [[BerserkButton highly offended]] if you refer to the suits as "spandex". ("Tights" seems to be fine, though.)
** Over time, Toei has gradually shifted towards a material more like the Superman costume from ''Film/SupermanReturns''. Compare the costumes from ''Series/TokusouSentaiDekaranger'' to the ones from ''Series/SamuraiSentaiShinkenger''. The difference is very obvious. Also, they've recently been using something that looks like a cross between pleather and mylar for EXTREMELY SHINY!! Rangers, as opposed to the old "shiny spandex" or "gold lame over padded nylon" they used for such things as [[Series/KyoryuSentaiZyuranger Dragon Ranger]]'s gold shoulderplate, or most of [[Series/ChourikiSentaiOhranger King Ranger]]'s accessories. Compare those two, [[Series/DenjiSentaiMegaranger Mega Silver]], and [[Series/HyakujuuSentaiGaoranger Gao Silver]] to [[Series/GoGoSentaiBoukenger Bouken Silver]] and [[Series/SamuraiSentaiShinkenger Shinken Gold]]. MAJOR difference in materials...
** It's been rumored that the ''Power Rangers'' team has been leaning on the ''Super Sentai'' team to switch to leather; a possible example of this is ''Series/TokumeiSentaiGobusters'', which features faux-leather costumes. However, since ''Go-Busters'' performed poorly, the following seasons went back to spandex and ''Power Rangers'' ironically skipped over adapting ''Go-Busters'' until ''Series/PowerRangersBeastMorphers'', where the show [[MerchandiseDriven switched toy manufacturers]].
** ''Series/HikoninSentaiAkibaranger'' used latex, though this is less about being gritty and more about playing up the {{Animesque}} aspects of the suits (apart from the AnimeHair molded into the helmets, there's the fact that the girls' suits have ''breasts''...)
* In comparison to ''Sentai'', ''Franchise/KamenRider'' ([[DarkerAndEdgier appropriately enough]]) had a much faster evolution.
** The older Showa series used spandex bodysuits with plastic armor, upgrading to fully latex suits around the time of ''Series/KamenRiderBlack'', then swapping over to vinyl with FRP[[note]]fiberglass-reinforced plastic[[/note]] or foam armor around ''Series/KamenRiderKuuga''.
** The divide is even more noticeable when old-school Riders are remade in the modern era, such as the revamped versions of [[Series/KamenRider Riders 1, 2]], and [[Series/KamenRiderV3 V3]] used in ''[[Film/KamenRiderTheFirst THE FIRST]]'' and ''[[Film/KamenRiderTheNext THE NEXT]]'', the updated [[Series/KamenRiderStronger Electro-Human Tackle]] suit from the ''Series/KamenRiderDecade'' finale movie[[note]]Reportedly, Toei also wanted to update Riderman for ''Decade'', but couldn't get the suit in time, which gave us Creator/{{Gackt}} in CivvieSpandex before changing into the old suit for the final battle[[/note]], and the Amazons from ''Series/KamenRiderAmazons''.
** However, the franchise still uses spandex on occasion, mainly for suits that see a lot of action and therefore will need to be repaired more. In ''Series/KamenRiderBlade'', the four Riders' suits are mostly elaborately-decorated vinyl, but the torso portion (mostly hidden beneath their breastplates) is spandex[[note]]this generally went unnoticed until the ''Blade'' cast returned in ''Series/KamenRiderDecade'', where it was obvious enough that it lead to fan rumors that Blade's old bodysuit was damaged and replaced with a "blue T-shirt"[[/note]]. Starting with ''Series/KamenRiderGhost'', spandex undersuits became more prominent presumably because it's easier to repair/replace and some of the fancier vinyl costumes have started showing their age; Series/KamenRiderDouble's suit, made in 2009, had visible signs of wear when it showed up in a ''Series/KamenRiderExAid'' bonus episode in 2016.
* ''Franchise/TheFlash''
** ''Series/{{The Flash|1990}}'', the live-action TV series from 1990, used a [[http://www.thereel-scoop.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Flash_zps7278b9f1.jpg thick suit]] for the Flash that may or may not have literally been latex (and looked like ''suede'' of all things), but was definitely similar. In-story it was based on a diving suit.
** The [[Series/TheFlash2014 2014 reboot]] uses a costume [[http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/scale_super/11/113509/4037758-4774109362-BvK_9.jpg made of a mixture of leather and fabric]]. In-universe, it's stated to be a special material designed to be used by firefighters. In both cases the costumes are a darker hue of red than the Flash's costume is usually colored in the comics.
* ''Series/LazyTown'' decided to go the spandex route, with both the hero Sportacus ''and'' the [[HarmlessVillain villain]] Robbie wearing tight outfits that [[{{Fanservice}} helps explain]] why so many of the show's fans are adult women.
* ''Series/{{Smallville}}'' does not have one set answer. Clark Kent wore [[NotWearingTights wear red and blue street clothes]] for most of the show, before settling on CivvieSpandex (usually a red leather jacket with an S logo or a BadassLongcoat worn over a black T-shirt with the S logo) in the final few seasons. Leather seemed to be the superhero outfit of choice, from the ComicBook/GreenArrow, to ComicBook/DoctorFate, to ComicBook/BoosterGold. Stargirl was the only hero seen in full spandex (save for her mask), though her mentor the Star-Spangled Kid was wearing his spandex top as part of a Civvie Spandex ensemble while on the run from Checkmate.
* ''[[Series/{{Supergirl2015}} Supergirl]]'', similar to ''Man Of Steel'' above, uses a textured yet flexible bodysuit with a leather cape. The show acknowledges the character's spandex (and {{Stripperific}}) roots during a montage in the pilot, with Supergirl rejecting the outfit immediately.
* ''Series/{{Arrow}}'': The heroes wear almost exclusively leather (though the suits have kevlar padding). Definitely "real world".

[[folder:Web Original]]
* As noted in a Website/{{Cracked}} [[http://www.cracked.com/article_18591_the-5-most-impractical-aspects-superhero-costumes.html article]], professional cosplayer Ruby Rocket has tried all three and finds all of them to be highly impractical choices.
* ''WebVideo/DoctorHorriblesSingAlongBlog'': Spandex, Musical/Gritty (often masquerading as Camp)
** Bad Horse, one assumes, goes au natural, as anyone who tries to put a saddle and/or blanket on him is likely to be trampled to death.
** Captain Hammer wears CivvieSpandex.
** And Loika wears her wedding dress.
* ''Literature/JusticeSquad'': Having had a large cast, all three have shown up on one character or another.
* ''WebVideo/FranceFive'': Spandex for the heroes, naturally, since the series tries to stick very closely to classic Sentai. The villains are a bit more varied, with leather, dominatrix-style, for [[TheDarkChick Extasy]], spandex shorts and little else for [[TheBrute Warduke]], and flowing robes for [[TheEvilGenius Cancrelax]] and [[BigBad Glou Man Chou]].