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Movie Superheroes Wear Black
My favorite is the one in black leather.

Wolverine: You actually go outside in these things?
Cyclops: Well, what would you prefer? Yellow spandex?
X-Men (2000 movie)

When superheroes get their chance in the big screen, there's usually someone who ends putting more black and/or leatherish texture in their attires, and often simplifying the design while they're at it. This isn't necessarily to make the characters Darker and Edgier (though it can), but simply because colorful superhero costumes don't always translate well in live action, unless you're not bothered about being serious. The most oft-cited example is Wolverine. Badass in the comics, but his standard yellow costume (or the brown one he wore for awhile) would look ridiculous in real life.

Usual justification is to make the suit actually practical or add a sense of realism to it, as spandex isn't known for stopping bullets or providing protection, so usually heroes, even ones whose suits are stated to be bullet proof, will be given something that could reasonably be protective. Sometimes though, it's just for the hell of it.

Sister Trope to Spandex, Latex, or Leather. Related to Civvie Spandex and Not Wearing Tights. For female characters, this can often lead to Adaptational Modesty. An example of Dark Is Not Evil. Related to Comic Book Movies Don't Use Codenames.

Contrast Evil Wears Black (and these tropes are mutually exclusive).

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 

  • Yes, this can happen in comics, too, as seen by The Ultimates, which gave several of the characters altered costumes to make them resemble a more realistic, movie-style version of their classic selves. Fitting, given that its written and designed as if its a movie adaptation of The Avengers, and likely why many of the examples in the film section draw from the Ultimates. Most notable examples are Hawkeye (goes from purple and blue suit with mask and loincloth, to a black and red sleeveless outfit that includes sunglasses), The Wasp (goes from a variety of different outfits that are usually brightly coloured, to a black and yellow two piece leather number, which she alters repeatedly over the course of the sequels), Ant-Man/Giant-Man (goes from a brightly coloured outifts that usually include red, black, yellow, or blue with a large helmet, to an orange/oxblood red outfit with a simple mask), and even Iron Man (who retains his colour scheme, but his suit is bulkier).
  • DC's New 52 and Marvel's Marvel NOW relaunch feature redesigns for most of the characters in both universes, usually along the lines of armored or leather suits designed to resemble film outfits (including Superman, whose outfit looks somewhat like segmented armor). Averted in some cases, such as Daredevil (who retains his usual red outfit due to the popularity of his ongoing series, which is intended to step away from Darker and Edgier territory), the X-Men (with exception of Cyclops' new Uncanny team, they all retain their usual outfits), Hawkeye (who already went through a redesign to be more film like), and a few other examples, usually ones whose outfits wouldn't need much altering to pass into films.
  • Jessica Jones, former Spider-Woman Jessica Drew and Luke Cage all wear plain clothes in the Marvel MAX Alias series. For action sequences, they tend to favor overcoats.
    Jessica Jones: Not wearing your costume?
    Jessica Drew: Made my ass look big.
    Jessica Jones: I hear you. Thank god for The Matrix huh?

    Luke Cage: I'm not about the tights and shit. Never was.
  • Very briefly after his return from the dead, Superman sported an all black spandex suit with a metallic S-shield, and a mullet. He went back to the trademark blue and red tights before the story's end, although the mullet remained for a couple of years. This led to some confusion (on both sides) when a time warp occurred in the mid-1990s and various Batmans from the character's then-55-year history began showing up in Metropolis. The first Batman that Superman comes across is the one from the 1970s, and at first he doesn't realize this isn't the modern Batman.
    Seventies Batman: [looking at Superman's mullet] Not going "hippie" on us, are you?
    Superman: "Hippie"?!

    Film 
  • The big-screen Batman is the Trope Maker, ditching the classic blue-and-gray comic/TV suit for the rubber-molded black one, although the final two sequels went with dark blue and silver.
    • Catwoman routinely wears black rubber or leather in all of her film incarnations. That includes Halle Berry, too. Prior to the first Tim Burton Batman movie, and for a while afterwards, comic book Catwoman tended towards purple spandex or dresses.
    • Chris O'Donnell's Robin wears a suit not dissimilar from Bruce's, with a slightly modified bat emblem (actually the Nightwing emblem from the comics) on the front. His first costume was somewhat inspired by the Tim Drake Robin suit, and would ironically be, sans nipples, the New 52 design for the default Robin attire.
    • The Dark Knight Saga Batsuits are also black but take things a step further in that they don't even have a yellow circle around the bat-symbol.note 
  • The Power Rangers movie didn't tone down the heroes' colors, but gave them padded, techier-looking suits. Interestingly, later series like Ninja Storm, SPD and Operation Overdrive would outfit the heroes in black leather when they weren't in full multicolored Ranger form.
  • Daredevil's movie outfit is oxblood red rather than its red comics counterpart. Elektra in the same movie wears an all-black leather ensemble rather than the red leotard from the comics. This even applies to the movie's version of Bullseye; even though Bullseye's costume is mostly black to begin with, here he doesn't have anything you'd call a costume at all. He apparently wants to get into wearing one though.
  • All the GI Joes in The Rise Of Cobra were put in black spy catsuits for the movie, rather than each having a distinct, unique, and colorful uniform as they have in other adaptations.
    • While each character did get a distinct look in previous versions, the default Joe uniform had always been an olive green army suit. The show's writers even referred to nameless extras as "greenshirts." Snake Eyes was the only guy who got to wear a black catsuit, until the movie.
  • Kevin Smith's and later Tim Burton's Superman Lives project from the nineties would've shown Supes in black and silver; early concepts, show it more of a bluish-silver because producer Jon Peters thought the blue-and-red suit was "too faggy". The comic book story on which it was based did have Superman wearing a black and silver outfit at the story's climax. It was the Nineties.
  • Superman Returns changed the suit color to a muted blue, with a burgundy cape. Supposedly, the bright red color would have interfered with the digital effects. Also, when we first see him in his space ship, he's got a silver uniform that looks black.
  • The Man of Steel movie sees Superman in a darker rendition of his classic suit. The trademark red trunks are also removed and some detailing is added to make the suit seem more "alien", though this ties with the current comics, where recently they've been ditched. Also, during an induced hallucination/dream/whatever, Superman wears a black costume with a silver S.
  • This is pretty obvious in the Watchmen movie, where Ozymandias' purple robes are replaced with a form fitting dark purple and gold body armor (that homaged/parodied the Batman nipple-suits). Silk Spectre and Nite Owl's costumes get a similar overhaul as well. However, The Comedian's outfit still has quite a bit of yellow in it.
  • Nick Fury wore a black uniform rather than his traditional blue in the Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD TV movie. His portrayal in the Marvel Cinematic Universe gives him a black leather trenchcoat which comes from his portrayal in The Ultimates where he was Samuel L. Jackson in Comic Book Fantasy Casting.
  • X-Men:
    • Lampshaded in X-Men (see quote at the top of the page). And while it isn't the first recorded instance of this, it's certainly the Trope Codifier and is generally what people immediately think of when this trope comes up. Notably, a short clip is on the first movie DVD in which Hugh Jackman runs around the set in a comic-accurate Wolverine costume, and absolutely nobody is taking it seriously.
      • The movie costumes still contain some subtle nods to the comics. Wolvie's outfit has yellow highlights, and Storm's has a cape and white highlights.
    • This an Averted Trope with X-Men: First Class which has the X-Men back in yellow suits, inspired in equal part by the team's uniforms during their earliest comic appearances and the New X-Men suits. Though, they're made of more practical material than the spandex/cloth look of the comics, and there are no masks. Magneto also appears at the end with his trademark red costume and helmet.
    • Averted and played straight in The Wolverine. Harada (Silver Samurai in the comics) wears a practical black outfit for most of the movie, but Yashida dons a suit of silver Powered Armor in the finale.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past:

      The Bad Future X-Men wear practical black body armor.

      Young Magneto wears a costume that's a cross between his red comic book outfit and the black suit Ian McKellen wore in the original trilogy.
  • Frank Miller's adaptation of The Spirit saw the titular hero swap his blue Coat, Hat, Mask from the comics for a black variation of the same ensemble. Then again, the entire world seemed to have made a swap of a black variation of their ensemble.
  • The Spider-Man Trilogy also averts this, although early designs had various black and red ensembles.
    • Of course, the third film obviously saw him in an all-black costume which was eventually worn by Venom. Unlike the black costume from the comics, it's literally just the regular Spider-Man costume but black — webs and all, not a trace of the white Venom symbol to be found.
      • Though if you look closely, the spider symbol does gradually grow more aggressive looking - while its still not the venom symbol at least they still stuck to the general interpretations (spidey symbol = good, changed spidey symbol on black suit = bad)
    • The third movie also has Harry Osborn as "the New Goblin." All black, no green to be seen.
    • The Amazing Spider-Man has Spidey wear a suit with darker shades of red and blue and made of a rougher material, as part of the film taking more cues from the Ultimate continuity. In its sequel, though, the colors become brighter and the eyes become larger.
    • In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Electro wears a black and blue outfit rather than his colorful green tights from the comics.
  • Iron Man averts this with Iron Man's armor being his usual gold and red. Explained by the suit being made out of a gold titanium alloy and Tony being an Attention Whore who doesn't mind looking outrageous.
    • Some of the villains and allies play with this trope. The Iron Patriot suit starts out grey in Iron Man 2 but Rhodey has it redesigned in red, white and blue, justified because he's essentially a mascot for the US Army.
    • The Mandarin has a deep green outfit, one that's a bit less eye catching than his comic book counterpart but not by much. It's deliberately invoked by Aldrich Killian, who hires an actor to play a Red Herring — we have yet to see how the real Mandarin dresses in this continuity.
  • Captain America: The First Avenger averts this, as Cap first wears a faithful translation of his comic counterpart's costume during the USO stage tour sequence, and then gets a more utilitarian version of the familiar costume (which is really just the 616 look and the Ultimate suit combined) later in the movie.
    • Also played straight. The HYDRA troops wear green and yellow uniforms in the comics, but had black body armor in the movie.
    • And of course, Bucky wears military gear instead of the colorful red-and-blue uniform and Domino Mask he wore in the Golden Age comics.
  • The Avengers movie is pretty faithful to the comics with the exception of Hawkeye who wears a dark leather suit with no mask as opposed to his purple Super Hero costume, though this is basically Ultimate Hawkeye's costume anyway. 616 Hawkeye started wearing something like the movie costume shortly before the movie's premiere, although it's still pretty purple. Also, while Thor wears a battle suit, it's still much darker than his comic costume and has the appearance of leather in some places.
    • Oddly enough, while Black Widow is wearing a costume faithful to her comic counterpart, she is still wearing an all black leather catsuit, making this a Justified Trope.
    • This trope is outright defied for Captain America. Rogers asks if his original stars-and-stripes costume is too old-fashioned. Coulson replies that with the current situation, people might need a little "old-fashioned". His new suit retains all its coloring, but is more armored than the comic counterpart. It also changes the buccaneer boots, and the head wings cling to the helmet's surface instead of extending from it.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier has Cap ditch his colorful costume from The Avengers in favor of a darker suit reminiscent of his Commander Rogers outfit from Secret Avengers. This eventually turns out to be subverted; the dark outfit was just for the nighttime stealth mission at the start of the movie and a later chase, and for the climactic battle, he steals a replica of his World War II outfit from a museum.
    • The Falcon wears a black and gray outfit similar to his Ultimate look, rather than his classic red and white costume (which Anthony Mackie who played Sam Wilson in the film was reportedly actually disappointed by. In a rare change, he was looking forward to wearing the red and white spandex). The Winter Soldier himself has a more practical face mask and goggles rather than his Domino Mask from the comics.
  • Captain America's new costume in The Avengers: Age of Ultron is similar to his Winter Soldier outfit, but reincorporates the patriotic imagery from the first Captain America movie. Overall, it looks more utilitarian than his first Avengers suit, and has a much darker shade of blue. The red gloves and boots are also replaced with brown leather.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy changes Ronan's robes from green to black. Star-Lord simply wears a Badass Longcoat and a helmet rather than anything resembling a costume.
    • Though the modern incarnation of the Guardians on which the film is based features most of the cast (barring Drax and Gamora) wearing pseudo-military uniforms rather than personalized outfits, so it's a bit less of a stretch.
  • The Gatchaman movie retained the basic elements of the costumes, but with very muted color schemes. Jun's pink skirt was also been replaced with a more practical-looking set of dark purple armor.
  • In Kamen Rider The Next, Kamen Rider V3's outfit goes from green to black, and gains a more leathery texture.
  • The Judge Dredd comic strip had the character in a fairly bright blue bodyglove accessorized with oversized yellow shoulder decorations and badge, along with lurid green boots, knee and elbow pads, gloves and utility belt (complete with a red, white and blue American Eagle buckle). Both movies keep the basic outfit (in a rather darker blue or black) but the accouterments are transformed into more realistically sized versions in silver metal or black leather. It's possible the accessories were downsized to avoid problems moving in the costume (see also: Batman).
  • Spectacularly averted by The Phantom.
    • He couldn't escape from the silk-screened skull motifs, though.
    • And he didn't wear the striped purple briefs.
    • The other thing about The Phantom's costume in the movie is that it's designed to "change" color depending on the lighting. It can shift from bright to dark purple, red, grey, or blue in a Shout-Out to how various publishers over the world change the color of his costume based on preference.
  • The Meteor Man features its hero wearing a black and green suit (made by his mother). Amazingly enough, it's a comedy. Allegedly.
  • Justified with Ghost Rider and Blade, both of whom were wearing black leather in the comics around the time the movies came out. Though, Blade's original costume was a hideous red and green ensemble, and Johnny Blaze's biker jacket was arguably blue.
  • The 90's live-action Cats Eye movie had the sisters wearing black vinyl outfits (influenced by Catwoman from Batman Returns) rather than their colorful leotards from the anime.
  • Averted by the Fantastic Four movies, where the costumes looked a great deal like the comics, only a bit darker.
  • Entirely averted by the Incredible Hulk in all his movie incarnations. Of course the Hulk rarely, if ever, wears any sort of costume in the comic books anyway, so there's really not much to change.
    • The purple britches only showed up as a single gag in the Continuity Reboot, and since then it's just been whatever pants Bruce had on when he hulked out; in the climaxes of both The Incredible Hulk and the The Avengers, they happened to be black.
  • Initial leaked photos from RoboCop (2014) have him in what appears to be a generic black suit of angular pads—the helmet even replaces the iconic slot-visor with a black droplet-shape that covers the top two-thirds of his face. A leaked script even claims that "Robocop 1.0" is shown to be pretty close to the original... but is scrapped after focus groups compare him to a "toy from the 80s". The newer trailers show that the costume design now hews much closer to the original RoboCop suit, but at some point in the film, it gets a redesign to become black with a glowing red visor slot, to make Robocop look "more tactical". The final film has it that he starts with a suit that is chrome blue and more like the original, but an In-Universe decision is made to turn it into the black redesign. At the end, they go back to the blue.
  • None of the characters wear their video game outfits in Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. Big Bad M. Bison even wears a black business suit instead of his red costume and cape from the games.
  • The Live-Action Adaptation of Speed Racer had Racer X wear a black leather suit in lieu of the white and red one he wore in the anime; in a move highly similar to the X-Men movies.
  • The Green Hornet averts this, since their original clothes are a green suit and a black chauffeur's outfit, but with masks.

    Literature 
  • This is discussed in the novel New Avengers: Breakout, which is partially inspired by the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man, and Spider-Woman all wear colorful outfits, while Black Widow, Luke Cage, and Hawkeye all either wear black leather or S.H.I.E.L.D. gear. When Black Widow sings the praises of black Spy Catsuits and wonders aloud why superheroes even bother with colorful costumes that make stealth impossible, Iron Man retorts by saying that the colors help with "branding"; the heroes want the bad guys to know exactly who is coming to kick their asses.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Smallville, Superman wore a black Badass Longcoat for a year or so, along with black pants & shirt with silver logo.
    • On the same series, Green Arrow wears a jade-colored vinyl hoodie and sunglasses instead of the usual tunic. It goes without saying that he wields a military-grade composite bow.
  • In Arrow, Deathstroke the Terminator has his trademark blue and orange costume changed to black body armor. His mask however keeps the orange markings.
    • Huntress also wears a black catsuit rather than her purple and white costume from the comic books. The purple is kept, and she is shown asking for it specifically when Ollie designs it.
    • Oliver himself still wears his iconic green outfit, but a it's a very dark shade of green.
  • The short-lived Birds of Prey TV series had Huntress wearing a black leather trench coat rather than an actual costume and mask.
  • Played with heavily in The Gerosha Chronicles. The series Blood Over Water inverts this. The videos have Sleet Mountain employees wearing some awfully civilian-like clothes. They are given more-standardized business-casual uniforms for the Cataclysmic Gerosha book adaptations, consisting of black tops and khaki pants with black shoes. Keep in mind...Sleet Mountain workers are the villains.
    • Ciem in Cataclysmic Horizons keeps the orange outfit, though orange hues are dimmed a bit from previous adaptations and the accent colors are given a little more emphasis.
    • Emeraldon's suit between adaptations goes from a near-all-green traditional Flying Brick suit to a tougher material that is black - with a sort of green "Matrix" pattern accenting it.
    • The Earwig is justified in this, as her outfit has always been black with red trims.
    • Mukade averts this, keeping her Japanese flag red-on-white scheme. (Even though she's moved to Toklisana from Japan, and has never been a Captain Patriotic.)
    • Jackrabbit normally hops around in civilian form. But his Cataclysmic Gerosha form has been shown to occasionally wear a black hat and sunglasses on more-dangerous missions.
  • The 60's Batman series had Catwoman in a black leather catsuit. In the comics at the time (and indeed for decades afterwards), the character usually favored purple outfits. It wasn't until the 21st century that she adopted black as her primary color scheme in the comics.
  • Mike Peterson, the only vaguely "superhero-ish" character in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., wears a black SHIELD-issued bodysuit.
    • Averted when he is maimed and rebuilt as Deathlok. His new design has a lot of red and blue coloring.
    • Blackout's "costume" is basically a black shirt with a black duster.

    Video Games 
  • In keeping with its attempts to look like a Hollywood movie, DMC Devil May Cry replaces Dante's classic white and red colors for his hair and trench coat with black. His classic color scheme does however return when he enters his Devil Trigger form.
  • Batman Arkham Series goes the way of the Dark Knight movies. No yellow anywhere...

    Web Original 
  • The DVD-only Strong Bad Email "comic book movie" refers to this as "Leatherquest 2000."
    "People may buy that our character has radioactive powers, or is from another planet, but a colorful spandex costume?! Are you crazy?! No audience will accept that! Nope, it's one color, head-to-toe leather for our hero!"

    Western Animation 
  • The Beware the Batman cartoon has taken a nod from the films and given Batman an armored black costume. Katana as well (though she has since adopted a black costume in the New 52 continuity. At the time the show began production however, she still had her old red and yellow color scheme).
  • Dick Grayson's Robin suit in Young Justice has all of the green parts colored black instead. This goes for Tim Drake as well, though he at least does have several red and black costumes in the comics.
  • Avengers Assemble has Hawkeye wearing his black leather outfit from the movie, rather than his traditional purple costume.
  • X-Men: Evolution had most of the cast in black or dark-blue uniforms. Justified though in that the X-Men usually go back and forth between dark uniforms and colorful costumes. Wolverine is notable for starting off in his classic orange costume and then transitioning to a black, maskless outfit in the later seasons. Magneto notably also sports a darker outfit. Instead of his traditional red and purple, he now has a mostly black outfit with red plates over the torso.


The Men In BlackCharacteristic Clothing ColorsPink Girl, Blue Boy
The Men in BlackTropes in BlackPaint It Black
Helmets Are Hardly HeroicGood Guys GarbNot Wearing Tights
My Suit Is Also SuperStandard Superhero SuitsNon-Powered Costumed Hero
The MovieMedia Adaptation TropesNamed by the Adaptation
Movie MultipackFilm TropesNo Talking Or Phones Warning
Most Common Super PowerSuperhero TropesMutant Draft Board
Monster ModestyCostume TropesMurderous Mask
X-Men: The Last StandImageSource/Live-Action FilmsX-Men Origins: Wolverine

alternative title(s): Darker And Edgier Costume
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