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Beta Outfit

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Karen Page: "I cannot believe this is the same guy who stopped that Union Allied nut from stabbing me in my apartment! That is a serious upgrade."note 

"Finger himself had said that Batman had been an idea of Bob Kane's, but the original ideas for the character were quite different. He only had a domino mask, red tights, no gloves, and bat-like wings instead of a cape."
Linkara reviewing "Detective Comics #27," the first appearance of Batman
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Often works will show that certain outfits, from Superhero costumes to military uniforms, have some prototype forms before one is finally chosen. The look and utilities will need to be hammered out. There could be practical reasons (the wrong color(s) are used for camouflage), or the reasons could be aesthetic (the early outfit(s) are considered Impossibly Tacky Clothes). Once those issues are solved, the final results may become an Iconic Outfit.

How the costume is developed could involve characters looking at models and sketches while debating the merits of the outfit. Or there could be a montage of the outfits. The latter is more likely to show up when this trope is Played for Laughs.

Often the unfinished outfits will vary wildly from the final design, and each other, even when they all have a common element.

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These even apply to character designs when a work is being planned, as a form of What Could Have Been.

A Sister Trope to Costume Evolution (finished costumes still change over time), Costume-Test Montage (when different clothes are tried on, but are usually finished clothes). Often, when a long-running series gets rebooted or adapted to a different medium, a costume or costumes from earlier eras might be used as the Beta Outfit(s) as a Mythology Gag.

See also Cheap Costume (a barely working outfit is thrown on at the last minute). It may intersect with an Early Installment Weirdness, when it's the creators the ones hammering out a design used in the pilot or first episodes.

Not to be confused with Your Costume Needs Work (when a proper costume is mistaken for Cosplay).


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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • My Hero Academia centers around a Superhero School, so naturally the students modify and upgrade their costumes over time to better synergize with their abilities, cover for weaknesses, etc. To give just one example, protagonist Izuku Midoriya's costume is initially a fairly basic jumpsuit based off of sketches he made when he was younger; after his powers threaten to cripple his arms permanently, he switches over to a kick-based fighting style and adds metal soles to his shoes (as well as supporters on his arms just in case), and later still he's given gauntlets that focus the power of his concussive air blasts. However, the overall design generally stays the same, since the original suit was a graduation gift from his mother and thus it has sentimental value.

    Comic Books 
  • In Batman: Year One, Bruce Wayne's first night out fighting crime had him dress in street clothes, only with a huge scar on his face, applied with makeup, to disguise himself. It goes horribly wrong.
  • Batman's outfit in Batman: Zero Year is cobbled together, including purple gloves as a Mythology Gag to their original color.
  • The Joker's flashback in The Killing Joke shows Batman with a wing-like cape and long-eared cowl more akin to his original 1930s appearance.
  • DC's New 52 reboot gave Superman two main costumes. The first was a regular T-shirt and jeans worn with his Kryptonian cape, which featured in the first arc of Action Comics. It was later replaced by Kryptonian armor.
  • The Alternate Continuity Superman: American Alien by Max Landis has Clark's first superhero outfit include an aviator helmet with goggles (to hide his face and keep bugs out of his eyes), a bulletproof vest (to hide his invulnerability), and one of Batman's capes (left behind after an altercation).
  • Spider-Man wore an improvised Professional Wrestling outfit before signing a contract as a full-fledged wrestler. Various Alternate Continuity retellings of the origin have their own spins on the improvised outfit. In Lee-Ditko's Spider-Man he makes the classic Spider-Man suit himself after signing up, while in Ultimate Spider-Man and other retellings his first real Spider-Man suit is provided by the company. Spider-Man: With Great Power even shows many variations of his Spider-man suit before settling on the classic one.
  • Superman & Batman: Generations, an Alternate Continuity Generational Saga, had Clark and Bruce dressed in their 1930s costumes in the actual 1930s, then adjusting their appearances through the decades which are copied by their successors.
  • Iron Man: The initial Iron Man armor is a huge, bulky thing, thanks to having been made in a hurry with what few supplies Tony Stark's captors had to hand. After getting back to the U.S., Tony initially swaps to a still-bulky gold number. It took several issues more for Tony to reach the iconic red and gold his armor is known for.
    • The "Rehab Armor", the first suit Tony built after he got out of the gutter and lost his original company to Obadiah Stane, resembled his original gray suit and was about as bulky, but had many internal improvements that would be incorporated into the Silver Centurion armor. It was never intended to be used as a combat suit, however, so the older red-and-gold suit still outclassed it in offensive power and flight speed.
  • The Alternate Continuity The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016) has Diana's first superhero outfit consist of her undergarments under the magical items her mother gave her under the outerwear of a US Army field kit including the helmet with an open jacket. This outfit configuration only lasts for one outing and Etta Candy designs her red and blue Wonder Woman suit when she gets back.
  • Batman: Knightgallery is basically Bruce Wayne's sketchbook of failed costume designs and his musings on each one.

    Fan Works 
  • In Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton, Asuka’s first superhero costume was a trial-and-error design based on Power Girl's costume. After a while she replaced it with her definitive Supergirl outfit.
  • In Amazing Fantasy, Izuku purchases a Spider-Man costume to psych himself up for training much like Miles before him. He realizes too late that the costume doesn't fit him well thanks to his new muscles. He can't zip up the back, the gloves and boot portions are too small to wear, and it's uncomfortably tight around his crotch and rear. Peter struggles not to laugh at the sight of it and Izuku gets rashes from wearing it without using baby powder to avoid chafing,

    Films — Animation 
  • Batman: Mask of the Phantasm shows Bruce Wayne's first shot at an "intimidating" costume for fighting crime, which causes more shrugs than fear. It is only after a lot of additional trauma and brooding that he comes up with the cowl in his last flashback.
  • In Minions, Scarlet Overkill never really got over her Princess Phase, and kept a childhood drawing of what she always wanted to look like as one. When she finally gets the chance, through a scheme involving becoming Queen of England, a stylist makes the mistake of treating her drawing like this (at least the hair she drew). She does not take this well.
  • In Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Miles Morales' first costume is literally a store-bought Spider-Man Halloween costume, complete with holes for eyes and visible laces in the back. He upgrades to a higher-quality hand-me-down from Peter via Aunt May spray-painted in his preferred color scheme near the climax.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy:
    • In Batman Begins, Bruce starts out with an armored ninja costume, which he transitions to a Mission Impossible-style burglar outfit, before settling on the bat motif.
    • In The Dark Knight, the batsuit is updated again into a less bulky costume that allowed for more mobility. This one had purpose both in and out of universe: the costume was so stiff and bulky that Batman/Bale had to turn almost completely around to look at something not in front of him. Michael Keaton had the same problem in the Tim Burton Batman films.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Iron Man: Tony Stark builds the first suit, Mark 1, "in a cave! With a box of scraps!", which is big and bulky due to both being a mechanical prototype, and as a nod to the original Iron Man suit in the comics. After getting back to the city he gets to work prototyping parts for what will eventually become the silver-colored Mark 2, before settling on Mark 3's coloration with gold-titanium alloy casing with red highlights, which becomes the coloration of the vast majority of other suits he most often uses. Mark 2 (basically the flight prototype) eventually becomes the basis for Rhodey's War Machine suit.

      The Iron Man program as a whole is a Perpetual Beta Outfit, as Tony is constantly improving and refining the suits. The suit in Infinity War is Tony's 12th general-purpose suit shown on screen. Including all the specialised suits (e.g. The Suitcase Armour (Mk V), 'Hulkbuster' (Mk XLIV) and 'Bones' (Mk XLI) suits), Infinity War features the Mark 50 version of the suit, with nothing to suggest this will be the last iteration.
    • Captain America: The First Avenger: Steve starts out in a just-for-show propaganda costume, and when he runs off on a real mission he augments it with actual military gear, including a stage helmet that just happens to be the right color and have an "A" on the forehead. It's only after he gets back that he gets his first for-real combat costume.
    • Captain America: Civil War's Spider-Man initially uses a very simple homemade outfit and modified welding goggles to cope with sensory overload, and if not for Tony Stark's assistance equipping him with the more familiar superhero suit, he probably would have stayed in that costume for quite a while — he works on a shoestring budget, after all. Though he did develop his own web shooters. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, he's forced to don the sweatsuit outfit again after Stark takes away the advanced suit.
  • In The Meteor Man Jefferson tries a number of outfits before settling on a superheroic variation of Space Clothes. One of the early outfits had a Polaroid camera on he shoulder to catch bad guys in the act.
  • In RoboCop (2014) several designs are shown for the suit (including a silver "heavy armor" version that resembles the original 1987 design) before the company settles on the sleek, black design. He goes back to silver at the end.
  • In Santa Claus: The Movie the elves make his suit, but Mrs. Claus doesn't think green works. When red is suggested, everyone enthusiastic, as it goes with Santa's rosy cheeks.
  • In Spider-Man, Peter Parker starts off with a red balaclava, a bulky red sweater with a spider symbol on it, gloves and blue jogging pants with a red stripe for a wrestling match before making his Spider-Man suit.
  • In The Amazing Spider-Man, Peter dons a red cloth mask with sunglasses, a black wool cap, and a black jacket and jeans when he starts out as a vigilante, and only later creates the Spider-Man suit.
  • The titular Merc with a Mouth in Deadpool (2016) starts his Roaring Rampage of Revenge with a white ski-mask and hoodie, then moves to a red costume after realizing he's regularly bleeding all over his clothes, then to the final spandex number when he realizes no-one can hear what the hell he's saying through a thick ski-mask colored in sharpie.
  • The Flash has two costumes in Justice League (2017); the first one he makes himself and the second with Batman's assistance. The second costume is more streamlined than the first.
  • Brightburn: Played for Horror with Brandon's home-made outfit. It's a red cloak and balaclava with the front stitched shut.

    Live-Action TV  
  • On Lois & Clark, Clark goes through a similar set of trial costumes (with and without masks and hats), but the S-shield isn't added until the end. Ma Kent jokes that the underwear means that nobody will be looking at his face. At one point he even puts on what is obviously a Captain America costume (at least the bodysuit portion), but using a Superman color scheme.
  • In the final seasons of Smallville, Clark dons two different Civvie Spandex costumes, red and blue and then black, as "the Blur" before finally wearing the Superman suit in the finale.
  • Arrow:
    • Oliver's first "Hood" outfit could be considered a prototype costume, where it only consists of his old mentor's green hood and face paint. His costume gets upgraded throughout the series, with a Domino Mask and more protective gear added to it.
    • When Roy Harper first joined Oliver in vigilante duty, he just wore a normal red hoodie, but got given a red Domino Mask in the season 2 finale. He later gets an official suit in season 3.
    • John Diggle spends the first 3 seasons wearing only civilian clothes with an occasional balaclava. In season 4 he's given a helmet with a V-shaped visor and a protective suit, along with the codename "Spartan".
  • The pilot for Supergirl has Kara and Wynn trying to make a proper outfit for Supergirl. Wynn first makes her a skimpy hot pants outfit similar to the controversial comics costume from the mid-2000s, which Kara immediately rejects. Then she goes for a Minidress of Power similar to the Silver Age comics Supergirl, and later finalizes it with the cape, boots, and Chest Insignia. Yet all those outfits still include the colors Superman uses.
  • Daredevil (pictured):
    • Matt Murdock spends most of the first season in a utilitarian, ninja-like outfit which includes a mask without eyeholes, highlighting his blindness. (This outfit is inspired by his early outfit in the "Man Without Fear" storyline) After serious injuries in several of his fights lead him to realize that he is too vulnerable in this outfit and inspired by his new nickname, "The Devil of Hell's Kitchen," he eventually gets Melvin Potter to build him a red and black suit of body armor and a red, horned helmet, in time for his final showdown with Wilson Fisk. A flashback in "Nelson v. Murdock" reveals that Matt had an even cruder outfit before the ninja look, which basically consisted of some dark, baggy clothes and a blindfold. Early in season 2, Melvin builds Matt a new helmet to replace the original one after it's damaged in a fight with Frank. Then in season 3, Matt goes back to the original ninja costume, as his red devil costume was destroyed in The Defenders during his climactic fight with Elektra under Midland Circle.
    • Elektra Natchios starts out with a black vest and pants and a red scarf for her face, and then in the season 2 finale, Melvin tailors a more ninja-esque red and black outfit for her. Then in The Defenders, she gets an updated version of her iconic comics costume as a reward for completing her Hand training under Alexandra's close eye, and sports a pair of katanas instead of sais. After encounters with Matt and Stick cause her to regain her old memories, she reverts back to her sais.
  • ThePunisher: Frank Castle wears a black tactical outfit for the first four and last four episodes of Daredevil season 2, but only gets his signature skull spray-painted onto his chest armor in the last few episodes, which he then carries over into the first episode of his own show. He ditches the skull after wiping out the last of the Kitchen Irish. He eventually once again spray-paints a skull onto his vest before facing off against 30 of Billy Russo's henchmen in David's hacker den.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40K: The helmets of older Space Marine suits of Power Armor had a distinct beak shape (known as Corvus-pattern armor officially, and as "beakies" to fans and orks). Receiving one of these suits to wear is a great honor, as they've been in the Chapter for centuries and have advanced auto-senses compared to the successor Aquila armor.

    Video Games 
  • The various heroes and villains in Avengers Academy start out with what can be considered Alpha Outfits; civilian clothing with elements of their hero identity. Upgrading them a few times will change them to Beta Outfits with more elaborate gear, and upgrading them all the way will give them their full superhero outfit. Oddly, War Machine's second outfit actually looks like the finished War Machine armor, while his third resembles the Hulkbuster more than any of the War Machine armors.
  • Batman: Arkham Origins has the Initiation DLC, which features an alternate costume for Batman dubbed "Vigilante Bruce Wayne." Ostensibly, the Dark Knight wore this function-over-fashion outfit in the earliest days of his career, before he devised the famous Batsuit.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has a nod in-game to Big Smoke's outfit from earlier in the game's development. On the statue of Smoke in the drug manufacturing factory in East Los Santos you see he's wearing a white jersey and black trousers.

    Webcomics 
  • Spinnerette's first costume is composed of three store-bought Venom costumes stitched together (well, one costume, plus the arms of two more, really). She changes it after Marvel sends her a Cease and Desist order.

    Web Original 
  • In Worm the Undersiders start out with basic costumes, with Grue and Bitch having the cheapest versions. After Leviathan attacks Taylor creates improved spidersilk outfits for everyone and begins making additions to her own costume.
    • Kid Win starts the story in a basic power armor, but by the final arcs he has built it into a juggernaut.

    Western Animation 
  • In the first episode of Static Shock, Virgil rummages through Richie's closet to come up with a costume. Two outfits are rejected for looking "like a battery commercial" before he settles on an outfit that includes a Chest Insignia and a white Domino Mask.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures spoofs this in "Batduck", where Plucky plays a Batman parody. He decides to dress as a bat, but he first puts on a baseball bat costume. Immediately following that, he's shown donning parodies of other iconic costumes, each one of them a failure — one with a massive cape which lead him to getting blown off a building, an Adam West-styled one that lead to him getting hit with his own sound effect, and a The Dark Knight Returns-styled version which ends up getting his massive muscles deflated before settling in on a Batman: The Animated Series-type.
  • Marvel's Spider-Man sees Peter's first Spider-Man costume being an outfit similar to the proto-costume of the MCU, cobbled together of googles, a hood, a ski mask, and Aunt May's sweatpants before making a new costume.

    Real Life 

Alternative Title(s): Costume Prototype

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