->'''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/XMen'' movies).

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/XMen'' film series, 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 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. Contrast the more civilian CoatHatMask.

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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Comics]]
* 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.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/{{Daredevil}}'': Leather, gritty.
* ''Film/IronMan'': [[AvertedTrope Metal]] (any heroes/villains in PoweredArmor also avert this).
* ''Film/MysteryMen'': Leather/Spandex, DeconstructiveParody.
* ''Film/SkyHigh'': Latex, Camp/Kid.
* ''Film/SpiderMan'': Spandex; unique in that, since Franchise/SpiderMan 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 outerworldly (Justified, as its actually a form of SpaceClothes, he is an alien after all).
* ''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/{{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/TheAvengers'', 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. 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/TheAvengersAgeOfUltron'', 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/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 a suit that is mostly made of some form of kevlar. ''Film/TheDarkKnight'' adds ceramic plating for even more protection, and a lampshade for movie Batmen being unable to turn their heads.
* ''Film/XMen'' goes for leather, and it is the TropeCodifier for MovieSuperheroesWearBlack (as noted in the page quote).
** On ''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://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20110805224916/marvelmovies/images/2/21/Vlcsnap-2011-07-07-21h16m56s173.png Magneto in the ending.]]
** In [[Film/XMenDaysOfFuturePast the sequel]], 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.
* 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/IronMan''). The same goes for all human-performed Lanterns in the movie. The process was almost seamless, but fan reaction to the look varied.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* 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]]

[[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 installment (''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 twice used latex: ''Film/MightyMorphinPowerRangersTheMovie'' replaced the spandex with latex armor entirely, and ''Series/PowerRangersSamurai'' adds a latex armor variant that never existed in the ''Sentai'' original.
** 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.)
** In recent years, Toei has been gradually shifting 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 Zyuranger]]'s SixthRanger'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...
** Rumor has it that there has been substantial pushback from the ''Power Rangers'' team toward ''Super Sentai'' in recent years to switch to leather. Whether it's related to these rumors or not, ''Series/TokumeiSentaiGobusters'' did make the switch (at least to faux-leather), but it didn't last. Since ''Go-Busters'' didn't do as well as Toei hoped, the following season ''Series/ZyudenSentaiKyoryuger'' went back to spandex.
** ''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 leather with FRP[[note]]fiberglass-reinforced plastic[[/note]] armor around ''Series/KamenRiderKuuga''.
** Even more noticeable with the remade costumes, 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]]'' and 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]].
* ''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 how, 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.
[[/folder]]

[[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]].
[[/folder]]

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