Follow TV Tropes


Civvie Spandex

Go To

"I'm not wearing one of those damnfool spandex body-condom things. I haven't got the bust for it."
Jenny Sparks, Stormwatch

Superheroes who couple a typical Cape's outfit with mundane clothes such as jeans and sneakers. This may also be an attempt to keep a classic design but update (or obscure) an otherwise flashy outfit.

The most prominent example is jackets, and most of the characters who wore them were originally the younger set created in the early 90s. Marvel Universe characters are especially notable for this, although the first popular character to do so may have been The DCU's Animal Man.

This page may also contain examples of characters who identify as superheroes but do not wear a typical costume of any kind, as Not Wearing Tights is a different trope entirely. (This type, such as the quoted Jenny Sparks, tend to have a set civilian outfit that does the same job.) See Coat, Hat, Mask for the minimum amount of spandex needed for this trope to apply. Also, Spandex, Latex, or Leather for other issues involving costuming. Compare Beta Outfit. Not to be confused with civilians who wear spandex.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Gantz, 8th grader Joichiro Nishi wears pants and a hooded sweatshirt over his black combat jumpsuit.
  • In Tentai Senshi Sunred, the titular hero, having largely given up the hero business, now wears only casual clothes and his helmet in most cases (though he does keep his full battle suit around in case of a potential serious battle). The other former members of the Weather Three are similar but go about it differently- Blue has reduced his helmet to a simple face mask, while Yellow just wears a jacket over his full suit.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Kaminari's and Jiro's costumes (made by the same designer) are dark jackets and pants paired with civilian-looking shirts, making them look more like they're going to a rock concert than superheroes in training.
    • All For One wears a mask and a suit, but his past attire is more towards Not Wearing Tights with only a suit as his main outfit.

    Comic Books 
  • One of the first such characters was actually The Spirit, who in most of his 60+ year run has worn a fairly ordinary business suit, trench coat, and fedora, with only a Domino Mask and gloves to even hint that he is in costume. Of course, he's not strictly a superhero, being more of a two-fisted pulp detective; creator Will Eisner only added the mask as a token submission to his publisher's belief that a comic book hero is always a costumed hero. See also Coat, Hat, Mask.
  • Similar attire was adopted by Mr. A and The Question in the late 1960s (both characters were created by the legendary Steve Ditko, and bear a few more similarities to each other besides their mode of dress), and later still by Rorschach of Watchmen (an Expy of the Question and Mr. A) and Greyshirt from Tomorrow Stories.
  • The DCU:
    • The Golden Age Superman replacement "Iron" Munro from the All-Star Squadron sequel series The Young All-Stars also wore an ordinary T-shirt and pants. He did try out a costume in one storyline, but it was promptly destroyed and he decided to go back to civvies.
    • Animal Man: When the obscure character was revived in 1988 in his own series, writer Grant Morrison changed his image by having him wear a denim jacket over his spandex costume. This not only gave him a distinctive look, but it was also practical as it allowed him to have pockets.
      • The pockets being for mainly carrying around his keys and notes from his wife.
      • It's generally accepted that Animal Man popularized the leather jacket motif for superheroes throughout the nineties (which is ironic because he'd never touch leather). It seemed like every superhero suddenly got the urge for a biker jacket after A-Man. If there is another reason for Black Knight sporting a jacket over his medieval armor, it is surely not a very good one.
      • Buddy Baker did temporarily switch to leather while hunting and culling those responsible for killing his wife and kids. Said wife and kids got better.
    • The Authority:
      • Jenny Quantum, successor to Jenny Sparks (below), also eschews spandex in favor of civilian clothing; however, her trademark combination of a yellow t-shirt and black leather jacket is a rather sweet callback to her parents' costumes. In the New 52 Stormwatch, she wears a Singapore flag hoodie.
      • Midnighter, in his WildStorm era, wore a civilianized costume derived from Batman's, usually consisting of a cowl mask with a black leather trench coat, logo T-shirt, black jeans or combats, and combat boots. After Wildstorm was fully absorbed into the DCU, his costumes became more superhero-like.
    • Batman:
      • Jason Todd's original Red Hood getup consisted of combat boots, cargo pants, a bomber jacket, and a motorcycle helmet. After the New 52, his costume was changed to incorporate an armored bodysuit and his helmet was upgraded, but he kept the jacket.
      • Barbara Gordon's Batgirl has retooled her look to more resemble this since moving to a trendy neighborhood of Burnside in Batgirl (Rebirth) #35.
      • Before becoming Batwoman, Kate Kane fought crime dressed in stolen military gear and other tactical clothing.
      • In Batman (Grant Morrison), the hero Legionary used to wear an outfit based on that of a Roman soldier, but now wears only his old cape and helmet over jeans, sneakers, and an "I ❤ Rome" T-shirt. Unlike most examples of this trope, it's intended to accentuate his status as a Fallen Hero, as if he's too fat or too resigned to bother squeezing into his old suit of armor.
      • Tim Drake: Robin: Darcy's first costume as Sparrow is just her smacking on a domino mask with her normal street clothes.
    • Birds of Prey: Misfit wears a cape, mask, and gloves, over a T-shirt, sneakers, and knee-length leggings. She also likes to shout 'Darrrrrk Vennngeannnce!' as she lands a foot upside some unsuspecting minion's head. The combined effect can be disconcerting.
    • While Animal Man popularized the trope, Black Canary was wearing a jacket in 1947, albeit a satin one. In her post-Flashpoint solo ongoing, she began wearing just her regular clothing and stage outfits to fight, rather than a costume. It still retains her classic look though, thanks to the fact her 'regular clothing' is exclusively made up of leather jackets, leather short-shorts and/or pants, fishnets, and boots. It works surprisingly well as a means to justify the Stripperific nature of her attire.
    • The Golden Age Blue Beetle originally wore a business suit and fedora, and only gained his iconic superhero costume later.
    • The Crimson Avenger and Wing, who were closely modeled on The Green Hornet and Kato, started out with the trench coat-and-fedora look, but quickly gained costumes to distinguish themselves, with a Chest Insignia resembling a sunburst. When the modern Crimson Avenger was introduced, she claimed the insignia was a stylized bullet hole and wore Civvie Spandex comprising leather pants, a Badass Longcoat, and a T-shirt with a real, blood-spattered bullet hole.
    • When Khalid Nassour starts out as Doctor Fate, he wears the helmet and amulet of Fate over a blue hoodie and trousers, a civvie version of the traditional Doctor Fate costume.
    • Jay Garrick — the very first to don the moniker of "The Flash" — doesn't wear the signature red and yellow bodysuits of his successors, instead opting for simple blue jeans, a red shirt with a lightning bolt logo, and a humble, yet surprisingly identifiable kettle helmet with wings on it.
    • The second Mister Terrific started out wearing ordinary clothes, including a leather jacket with his predecessor's "Fair Play" logo on the back. He now sports a full costume, including a stylized jacket with "Fair Play" on the sleeves and "Terrific" on the back.
    • In the '40s, the original Sandman's (no relation) original costume was a suit, long coat, fedora and gloves... with a gas mask.
    • Jack Knight of Starman (DC Comics) sported a bomber jacket ("it gets mighty cold up there") and a pair of goggles ("that staff gets really bright") over civilian clothes — this was in contrast with his father and brother, who as Starman wore the typical cape getup — complete with a green fin on the headpiece. (As The Rocketeer explained, the fin on the helmet helps you steer.)
    • Stormwatch: Jenny Sparks (with one or two exceptions in her hundred years) has never worn a costume, favoring a completely white trouser suit and vest (she's also associated with Union Jack T-shirts of varying designs). Jack Hawksmoor, her second-in-command, does the same with a black suit and white buttoned shirt.
    • Superman:
      • The Post-Crisis Superboy (Kon-El/Conner Kent) went through a number of uniform variants (mostly including leather jackets, like his original one, pictured above) before settling on a uniform (or lack thereof) that appeared to be a black t-shirt with a red Superman-style "S" Chest Insignia, blue jeans and work boots, which became his trademark since he first joined the Teen Titans.
      • Supergirl: Linda Danvers 's best-known costume consisted of shorts and a white belly shirt with the S-shield insignia on it.
      • In Action Comics (New 52), Superman himself starts his superhero career in an outfit that's similar to Superboy's pre-reboot costume — jeans and a blue t-shirt with the typical Chest Insignia. He still wears the iconic cape, as it's the only part of his outfit that shares his Nigh-Invulnerability. It's also the blanket he was found in when his adoptive parents found him as a baby, giving it sentimental value. Post-Convergence, he returns to this costume, but absent the cape.
      • Superboy Jon Kent, dresses in a similar outfit. He wears a cape over a Superman "S" shield shirt that he got from a secondhand store, and the rest of the outfit is just jeans and a pair of sneakers.
    • The Vigilante, Greg Saunders, wore a pair of jeans and normal clothes.
    • Grifter from Wild C.A.T.s (WildStorm) has the long coat, cargo pants, combat boots version, combined with a Cool Mask.
    • There is an obscure DC Comics Anti-Hero named Wild Dog, who wore Army pants, a football shirt, and a hockey mask. Max Allan Collins created Wild Dog in Amazing Heroes #119, as a modern version of The Shadow, The Green Hornet, Zorro and The Lone Ranger. Collins lampshades Wild Dog's not wearing spandex by having a young boy talking with some other youths and wondering why they thought that spandex and a cape made a sensible costume. Collins notes that "I don't see how any intelligent writer can approach a story about people in long underwear and capes without either removing their brain or putting their tongue in their cheek to a degree... [on (presumably) the Christopher Reeve Superman films] The Superman movies have all, as far as I'm concerned, fallen to a degree into the Batman (1966) TV show approach — maybe not quite as broad... And I think they did that because there's no other way you can play it. It just doesn't work. I mean, look at that costume".
    • In a deliberate homage to her fallen boyfriend, Wonder Girl's One Year Later costume consisted of jeans and a red tank top with her logo on it. Of course, most of her earlier outfits during the Young Justice era were not much different.
    • When the Wonder Twins became Canon Immigrants to The DCU, they wore purple jeans and logo-bearing shirts resembling their Superfriends uniforms.
    • Wonder Woman: In the "relevant" '70s, Wonder Woman lost her superpowers and became a Kung Fu fighter for Women's Lib in a white pantsuit. For a mercifully brief period in the '90s, her uniform included a jacket and bicycle shorts. (Her usual outfit had been co-opted, along with her title, by another Amazon.)
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Persuasion (Kara Killgrave), of Alpha Flight, initially dressed in punk clothes after her skin turned purple at puberty to try and pass off her appearance as a fashion choice.
    • The Avengers:
      • Wonder Man wore a red safari jacket over a black tee-shirt and jeans through the late 1970s and early 1980s. When he was a member of the Mighty Avengers he wore the red safari jacket, but in his own mini-series that largely took place in his own house, he walked around in his spandex uniform.
      • There was a point in the early '90s Audience-Alienating Era of The Avengers where every member wore a leather jacket. This includes the Black Knight. Yes, he wore a jacket over his armor. And you wonder why they did Onslaught...
      • Hank Pym, though still operating as Giant-Man, forgoes the costume when appearing in Avengers A.I.. He also went full civvies for his entire run with the West Coast Avengers, as he had officially retired from superhero-ing, and was working as a consultant to the team, though he did still see a bit of action (usually wearing a red jumpsuit).
    • Both Reptil and Mettle from Avengers Academy wear jeans and T-shirts rather than costumes, though Reptil at least has a shirt that resembles part of an actual costume.
    • Captain America: Nomad (formerly the third Bucky) wore a Badass Longcoat that was designed to resemble the cape sported by the original Nomad.
    • Black Knight started wearing a leather jacket again, in the pages of Captain Britain and MI13, but over ordinary clothes. He still wears his helmet, though.
    • Daredevil:
      • Matt's beta outfit, most notably appearing in Miller's Man Without Fear storyline, consists of a black hoodie, track pants, sneakers, and a piece of cloth tied around the top half of his face to hide his identity.
      • Waid's run unveiled an alternate costume designed by artist Chris Samnee in 2015. It's a dapper red suit with black dress shirt and no mask.
      • After dropping the identity of Daredevil in Zdarsky's run, he reverts to a cloth mask over various civvies. It starts out as a shirt, but later becomes a hoodie and sweatpants, reminiscent of his beta outfit. He also takes up some tactical gear for a short period.
    • Fantastic Four: The very first few issues of the series had the team working in regular clothing, as the entire premise of the book was to do away with superhero clichés like costumes and secret identities. The writing team was forced to add the now-iconic blue and black tights after numerous protests by fans.
    • Most versions of Ghost Rider wore standard biker clothes. They gave him a costume back in the late '90s, but... it didn't work out.
      • Robbie Reyes' Rider drives a car rather than a motorbike, so he wears a racing outfit instead.
    • The Incredible Hulk, in most incarnations, just wears a pair of pants. Some versions added a tank top or short-sleeved shirt. As Joe Fixit, he wore suits. It was only during his time on the planet Sakkar (and maybe during the Pantheon era) that he wore any sort of costume: gladiator armor.
    • Probably one of the most prominent users of this trope is Luke Cage, who has never worn a 'proper' costume, instead wearing normal civvies, usually ones with yellow. He did formerly wear a headband (*cough*Tiara*cough*) but has since abandoned it. He also sometimes wears a jacket, but mostly, he just wears whatever he was wearing at the moment he saw trouble. It helps that his ID is public, so he doesn't have to worry about any Secret Identity issues.
    • Nextwave's uniform is a duster over clothes. In the case of The Captain, it's a t-shirt and camouflage pants; for everyone else, it's spandex.
    • While he's usually portrayed with a full-body suit, The Punisher is shown as just wearing a T-shirt with a skull on it in his more "serious" outings, including most appearances in The Punisher MAX.
    • None of the Runaways wear any particular costume. They attempt to use code-names in their first major story arc, but quickly abandon them (except for the Cute Bruiser who likes calling herself "Princess Powerful").
    • The Sleepwalker villains Lullaby and Bookworm were examples of villains who didn't wear costumes, doing their nefarious deeds in their regular street clothes.
    • Daimon Hellstrom/Son of Satan's more recent appearances have just had him in dark jeans and a trench-coat (he goes shirtless to show off the pentagram mark on his chest). He also commonly wears sunglasses.
    • Spider-Man:
      • There was one time where Peter Parker didn't have his costume on hand, so he had to cobble together one by putting on the mask and gloves from his black suit over his civilian clothes.
      • Until he took over the Spider-Man title, Ben Reilly's costume was the standard spandex affair, all red, with a blue sleeveless hoodie with a spider on it. Though a lot of fans didn't realize it, the costume was actually supposed to look cheesy — the idea being that Ben didn't have time to make a real costume, but he ended up wearing it for so long that the justification stopped making sense.
      • Kris Anka's Spider-Woman redesign was meant to evoke this, with the idea being that the torso area of the costume is actually a reversible garment that can be disguised as an ordinary jacket for undercover missions.
      • Dr. Octopus' costume has traditionally consisted of a lab coat or sometimes just a plain suit. During the '70s and '80s, he wore green spandex, but otherwise, he stuck to civvies.
      • Subverted with Spider-Girl's Spider-Shoppe, where civilians can buy Spider-Girl costumes and clothes. It turns out that it was founded by the heroine's mom to pay for her college education. May's seen sporting Avengers and Fantastic Five gear sometimes, as well.
      • Spider-Man Noir's "costume" is a black bomber jacket and dark grey flight suit that his Uncle Ben wore in World War I, reinforced with some leather straps and coupled with a mask and opaque goggles. He also occasionally goes for a Coat, Hat, Mask ensemble when he's trying not to draw attention.
    • X-Factor (2006):
    • X-Men:
      • Rachel Summers, the alternate-future daughter of Scott Summers and Jean Grey, did her thing for a long time in a plain, unmarked Danskins leotard set (and she referred to it by that brand name). She only changed to a "real" costume when she formally took on the "Phoenix" sobriquet.
      • Gambit wears a long coat over muscle-molded body armor.
      • Rogue wore a leather bomber jacket over her tights for a good portion of the '90s. She also wore a trench coat similar to Gambit's over her uniform for a short period of time.
      • When Grant Morrison, who as mentioned below did a lot to popularize this trope, took over writing New X-Men, most of the team switched from skin-tight "body armor" to leather jackets and trousers... except for Emma Frost, who after years of actually wearing clothes in Generation X switched to her most minimalist outfit yet.
      • This happened for a while in most X-Men comics after the first movie, which had them in leather, as an intentional movie tie-in. Marvel later made an edict changing them back to costumes, because costumes are much better for merchandising.
      • Storm's initial definitive shift from her gentle Team Mom/Nature Goddess persona during the '80s was punctuated with both an Important Haircut and abandonment of her outfit for a black leather tube-top/vest/tight pants/boots ensemble. Some readers took it as her coming out as well, especially after her "night out" with Yukio.
      • Jubilee's signature look is a bright yellow coat worn over her uniform. Her original costume was just a magenta top and blue shorts with the yellow coat.
      • X-23 has spent almost as much time out of costume as she has in one.
      • Her first appearance saw her spend the entire book in a Stripperific ensemble of a miniskirt, fishnets, and coat over a corset/tank top (justified as she was a prostitute at the time). She spent some time in a variation of Wolverine's "wild" suit when she moved on to Uncanny X-Men, but most of New X-Men: Academy X was spent in what more or less amounted to leather Painted-On Pants and a sports bra, while sporting a similar outfit in Avengers Academy. She only wore what was, at the time, her official uniform twice during the Liu series, and spent the rest of the series in casual clothes.
      • Her second uniform during her time as Wolverine has shades of this, with her wearing what resembles a biker's protective jacket over it. That said, the jacket is actually part of the costume, and also happens to be bulletproof.
      • Almost literally with the costume designed by Mike Choi after she gave up the Wolverine name: After surveying a number of women Laura's age for what they would actually wear as superheroes, his final design ended up being strongly based on Lululemon-style athletic wear.
    • America Chavez from Young Avengers varies her outfits, but they usually include some kind of Stars-and-Stripes-inspired T-shirt, a hoodie, sneakers, and short-shorts.
      • The series' artist has mentioned that he explicitly designed Miss America's outfit with cosplayers in mind.
      • As a makeshift costume, Kate Bishop wore her bridesmaid dress with Mockingbird's Domino Mask along with a bunch of other equipment from the Avengers' locker room. In the second volume of Young Avengers, her costume is a mod-influenced catsuit.
  • Shadowman from Valiant Comics started out wearing a spandex costume. About a year and a half after his debut, he switched to wearing leather pants, boots, leather jacket, and a shirt with the logo he used for the spandex costume.
  • Crimebuster, a Golden Age teen superhero, started out wearing his school hockey uniform and a cape for a costume. Several years later, he traded it for a more mundane outfit, wearing jeans and practical shoes with his hockey jersey. At the very end of the feature's run, he switched to wearing various civilian outfits, but by that point (thanks to the Genre Shift), he was barely acting as a superhero anyway.
  • The Flaming Carrot wears just a white button-up shirt and purple pants. Oh, and a 4-foot-tall carrot mask (with a torch on the top). Also, a pair of flippers. The only function they serve is to keep things from being too easy for him.
  • In Johnny Saturn, Triops, tired of being tressed as a foppy stage magician, turns to wearing average clothing and a trench coat.
  • The Savage Dragon wears normal clothes unless he's in his police uniform. He went through one arc wearing a patriotic spandex costume after joining the superhero team SOS. It was torn apart in that story, which was okay with the Dragon since he hated wearing spandex anyway.
    • Since the Savage Dragon is a humanoid dragon (with green scaly skin and a fin/crest on his head), it doesn't really matter what he wears; everybody's going to recognize him anyway, kind of like Ben Grimm of the Fantastic Four (whose costume for much of the Silver Age was basically a pair of dark blue shorts).
  • Hellboy usually doesn't wear much and has a Utility Belt but his main feature is a big, brown coat.
  • In The Crow, Eric wears normal clothes with face paint. This tradition has been carried on to the comic sequels.
  • Doctor Mirage. The titular hero was zapped with magical energy while wearing his ski outfit. He had no choice but to 'wear' that for some time.
  • Madman sometimes wears a leather jacket over his costume. Additionally, his costume really is his civilian attire so in a way, he's always wearing civvie spandex.
  • Zenith usually wears a T-shirt with his "Z" lightning-bolt logo, jeans, a very wide-shouldered studded leather jacket, and a domino mask.
  • Robyn Hood wears an outfit that is identifiably a costume, but which looks like it could be put together in a sporting and hunting goods store (with maybe a little extra work with scissors and thread).

    Fan Works 
  • Cure Western from Pretty Cure Hollywood Stars is the first Cure, canon or fanfic, to wear a more normal-looking outfit as her battle attire. Pokémon: The Series fans will recognize the costume for both her Cure and Super Cure forms as being based largely on Misty's usual crop top and short-shorts from the first five seasons.
  • In The Last Daughter, Taylor's first costume simply consists of a shirt with her sigil sewn on, a pair of jeans, and her cape. She didn't have a lot of money for materials, and her superhero debut was a bit spur-of-the-moment, but she upgrades to something better as soon as she gets a chance.
  • In Colors and Capes, Xander's Flannel Man costume is a headscarf with eye holes cut in it. The actual flannel he's named for he just wears because Gotham is cold and foggy.
  • In Amazing Fantasy, Peter stops the Rocket Racer Gang while only wearing the top half of his Spider-Man costume. Everything below the waist is just sweatpants and shoes.
  • In Risk It All, Ren wears a skintight bodysuit with armor plating beneath a hooded vest and cargo shorts while going out to investigate Black Mask. This is largely out of necessity, as wearing body armor under his clothes would be suspicious and wearing pants and a jacket over it would be hot and cumbersome. Meanwhile, going out in just the spandex body armor would make him conspicuous to the mobsters he's trying to stop.
  • In Our Own League, Raven is notably the only Titan to never wear a costume. It could be chalked up to her not being an active hero yet, except Gar, her peer, eventually gets his own costume. However, her outfit—A shapeless purple dress with wide sleeves and clumpy boots—does well at invoking the image of a witch.

    Films — Animation 
  • Miles Morales eventually does this in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Most versions of Miles just wear the standard spider suit, but this Miles adds a black-and-red hoodie, basketball shorts, and Air Jordan 1 sneakers to his ensemble. The look has made its way back into the comics.
  • In Superman: Man of Tomorrow, Clark's Beta Outfit involves an aviator cap, a black leather jacket, and jeans which gets absolutely torn to shreds in his first fight with Lobo until he's in nothing but his birthday suit. He obtains his much more durable classic red and blue outfit complete with red trunks, constructed by his parents later in the film.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Used in the second and third films from the Spider-Man Trilogy. Doctor Octopus wears a leather trench coat, sunglasses, and sometimes a fedora. The Sandman, meanwhile, sticks to a pair of khakis and a green striped shirt while in Flint Marko form.
  • The leather suits from the X-Men Film Series.
    • Lampshaded in X-Men. "What did you expect, yellow spandex?"
    • In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Wolverine and Logan, Wolverine takes this even further by not even wearing the leather costume. He just fights bad guys while wearing ordinary street clothes usually consisting of jeans, boots, and white tank top.
    • However, X-Men: First Class does put them in blue and yellow outfits resembling the Silver Age costumes from the comics.
    • In X-Men: Days of Future Past, Quicksilver does not wear a costume but instead has a silver leather jacket and a pair of goggles.
    • In Dark Phoenix, Magneto no longer wears a costume at all, instead opting for black civilian clothing with his trademark helmet as the only real fantastic detail.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy:
    • Batman Begins has Jonathan Crane in a rather professional suit, dapper with a stitchy burlap sack and faux-noose.
    • In The Dark Knight, the fake Batmen wore hockey pads to battle crime, although they did have capes and masks as well.
  • The costumes from the two Tim Story Fantastic Four films straddle the line, being body-hugging but clearly not spandex. The funny part is that before they get their powers they wear these same suits under their spacesuits and the jumpsuits worn on the space station. That's right folks, they're literally wearing long underwear.
  • Sky High (2005): Will Stronghold wears red-white-and-blue civvies when in action. The rest of the kids in Sky High wear ordinary clothes but have some sort of recurring color motif that suggests uniforms.
  • Ghost Rider's biker gear in the Ghost Rider Duology, although of course that's how the comic character dresses as well.
  • The titular character of Hancock wears in the second half of the movie a leather suit similar to the ones the film versions of the X-Men wore, though it had small yellow stripes and an eagle emblem on the back. Lampshaded in the post-credits scene.
  • In Unbreakable, the main character's green rain poncho becomes his de facto superhero costume, as Mr. Glass's purple outfits become his supervillain costume.
  • The first and second film version of The Punisher had Frank Castle wearing civvies the entire time (Dolph Lundgren version) or threw on a black skull t-shirt over standard police Kevlar (Thomas Jane version). The third one gave him a more "superhero-y" costume.
  • Hellboy has a large coat and his movie counterpart covers up more than the comic version: boots, pants, and sometimes a black shirt.
  • The Crow and its sequels always have the protagonists essentially wear normal clothes with face paint.
  • The Mask is a slight variation. The film version creates normal clothes to wear, but they're usually clothes from The Forties or thereabouts.
  • The Rocketeer: Cliff Secord's "costume" consists of pretty standard '30s pilot's gear, a funny-looking helmet, and a jetpack.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Justified in Captain America: The First Avenger. Steve Rogers starts off wearing corny Captain Patriotic tights for USO propaganda shows because he's never meant to see combat. When he rushes off on an unauthorized mission to save some POWs, he puts on a leather jacket and other 'borrowed' military gear on top of the outfit. After this, he becomes a genuine Super Soldier and so designs a more practical uniform for combat but keeps the Captain Patriotic motif because he admits the shtick has grown on him (and because he's still being used for propaganda, albeit of a more genuine kind).
    • Sam Wilson's "Falcon" outfit in Captain America: The Winter Soldier consists of his trademark flight-pack, a shirt, a pair of military pants, gloves, knee pads, and some combat boots. However, in Avengers: Age of Ultron, he dons a more "costume" looking version, with red accents on the wings, after he joins the Avengers.
    • Star-Lord doesn't wear a proper costume in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), instead opting for a red Badass Long Coat and a metal helmet, which is the uniform of Yondu's faction of Ravagers. The comics version of Star-Lord quickly adopted the same look.
    • In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Wanda and Pietro wear ordinary clothes that resemble their comic book costumes instead of actual superhero duds, with blue and grey athletic gear for Pietro and a black dress and red leather jacket for Wanda. At the end of the film, Wanda dons a more traditional red leather costume with Badass Longcoat after she joins the new Avengers team, and eventually dons a modern update on her classic comics uniform, diadem included, starting in the Grand Finale of WandaVision.
    • The Vulture's outfit in Spider-Man: Homecoming consists of an advanced flight harness and helmet worn over a military-style bomber jacket.
    • Although Mysterio starts Spider-Man: Far From Home with a comic-accurate fishbowl-and-cape outfit, he spends his two fights with Spider-Man wearing a motion capture suit with eye symbols and a clear helmet; the comics suit is actually either an illusion or showpiece, depending on his needs.

  • The titular Captain Underpants has his own version... going around wearing only mundane underwear (of which the title is rather Exactly What It Says on the Tin). The kids who created him, George and Harold, reasoned that the usual spandex on superheroes looked like they were flying around in their underwear, so they wrote a comic about a hero that really is.
  • Of course, the ur-instance of this trope would be The Shadow, who dresses in a black and red suit, cape, and fedora with the only unusual garment being a silk mask over his lower face. The Shadow debuted in the pulps and on radio, not comic books or comic strips.
  • In Two Percent Power, most heroes wear a combination of tactical gear and more traditional superhero wear, in part due to superpowers not automatically conveying a Heroic Build and in part to allow them to carry gear into the field.

    Live-Action TV 
  • For almost two decades, the Riddler wore green spandex covered with question marks, a purple belt, and a purple "burglar" mask. When Frank Gorshin portrayed him in Batman (1966), he switched between the traditional outfit and a classy Civvie Spandex ensemble: green suit, purple shirt, bowler hat, and a tie with a prominent question mark on it. Rumor has it that Gorshin disliked the spandex so much that he designed the new outfit himself. The Gorshin ensemble eventually became a Canon Immigrant, and these days, you rarely see Edward wearing spandex in the comics.
  • Huntress in Birds of Prey (2002) wears black leather and, oddly, no mask. Somehow she still has a Secret Identity. Lampshaded by the others — her alter-ego barely stands up to scrutiny.
  • As originally conceived, Heroes was going to use spandex costumes, but was shot down by Executive Meddling. So instead we got Claire's cheerleader outfit in season 1... to very few complaints.
  • Kamen Rider Decade has an example brought about by Real Life Writes the Plot. During production of The Movie, the makers decided that they wanted to update the Riderman costume, especially since GACKT was signed on to play the character. Unfortunately they couldn't get the suit done in time, so during his cameo, Gackt simply wears a leather jacket, white T-shirt, and leather pants, while during the final battle Riderman is portrayed by a stuntman wearing the 35-year-old spandex suit.
  • Smallville:
    • The nascent Justice League members dress in either casual clothes with Cool Shades and hoodies that make them look like the League of Unabombers, or color-coded sports gear, viz. Clark always did his thing in red-and-blue civvies, until season 9.
    • Black Canary's look is pretty close to the comic version save shorter hair and facepaint shaped like a domino mask, though the fact that her costume consists of a rather Stripperiffic outfit with fishnets is most likely the cause.
    • Green Arrow goes full-out in this mode in the Season 10 episode "Beacon". Wisely, because at that point both his civilian AND his superhero identity were among the most-wanted by the Vigilante Registration Act officers. He adopts a basic hoodie in order to fight crime (as well as just to set foot outdoors in general).
  • Arrow
    • In the Season 2 finale, Roy Harper's "costume" is a red hoodie and Domino Mask. He begins wearing a proper, comic-accurate costume as Arsenal in Season 3. Later his girlfriend Thea Queen adapts the Arsenal costume when she becomes Speedy until she got Put on a Bus, but in Season 8 when The Bus Came Back Thea's just wearing dark jeans and jacket with a red hoodie, presumably to avoid fitting another superhero outfit for Willa Holland that would only be used in one episode.
    • A flashback to Oliver Queen's initial vigilante activities has him wearing the green hood he inherited from Shado with a green vest and pants. Likewise his vigilante efforts are less than impressive, showing he has not yet become "The Arrow".
  • In Gotham, the young Selina Kyle wears a black hoodie and a pair of goggles, serving as a bit of foreshadowing for her eventual role as Catwoman when she becomes an adult.
  • The Flash (2014):
    • Barry's costume is a bit less "spandexy" his comic book version or the 1990 version. According to Cisco, it was originally designed for a different purpose, but, being friction- and abrasion-resistant, it's perfect for Barry's use. Averted with Clyde Mardon (regular clothes) and the Multiplex (tactical black outfit), but played straight with Captain Cold, who wears his comic book version's blue parka with a thick fur-lined hood and Cool Shades (the latter being a necessity to protect his eyes from the Freeze Ray's glare). Basically, every beat of the comic costume is replicated with off-the-rack clothing.
    • Played with when Firestorm shows up. When he (they?) first wears the Quantum Splicer device that stabilizes his power (and looks almost exactly like his Chest Insignia from the comics), he is wearing a sweatshirt that resembles his costume in the comics, but when he starts doing superhero stuff, he simply wears a black jacket with the Splicer. Slightly more downplayed in Legends of Tomorrow, where the new Firestorm (Well, one half of him is new anyway) wears an orange and yellow jacket that looks much more like some of the other superhero outfits seen in the Arrowverse. The Legends often eschew superhero outfits as they try to minimize unwanted changes to history, but Firestorm can keep his because it only appears when his components actually fuse into him.
    • Cisco's outfit has resemblance to his comic book counterpart's outfit, but with long sleeves and more black. It's basically just a jacket and trousers with some shoes, and at one point he is even seen without the jacket on, showing that he wears a black t-shirt under it. At his most comic-book-y, when he officially begins using the identity of Vibe and taking the field with regularity, his costume is the same idea as Captain Cold's: all the beats of the comic character (his New 52 look, anyway) done with more realistic clothing. Spandex becomes leather, big goggles become Cool Shades (normal ones, not the Triangle Shades of Vibe's classic look).
    • Killer Frost's Good Costume Switch consists of a light blue jacket which, apart from having her insignia on it and being slightly longer, looks like a normal denim jacket. Due to the fact that she's a Split Personality of Caitlin, she probably uses it because it's quick and easy to change into unlike the outfit she wore in the third season.
  • Played with in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
    • When Mike Peterson first shows up, he's called "The Hooded Hero" because he wears a hoodie. After joining S.H.I.E.L.D. (briefly), he gets a jumpsuit. Then after he gets blown up and rebuilt as Deathlok, he starts wearing a suit of tactical body armor.
    • When Lady Sif shows up in Season 1, she wears her Asgardian battle armor like in the comics. However, when she makes a return appearance in Season 2, she sports a less conspicuous outfit consisting of jeans, a T-shirt, and a black leather jacket.

    Multiple Media 

    Video Games 


    Web Original 
  • Justice Squad: This shows up on various characters, ranging from a simple leather jacket over a full-body costume, to jeans and a blue t-shirt.
  • In Capes and Cowls, Johnny Quantum wears a spandex mask with a button-down and slacks, while Damocles dresses more-or-less normally, with the addition of a clockwork mask.
  • Society of Virtue has Black Badness, who mostly wears ordinary clothes and a domino mask.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Honorable mention goes to Launchpad McQuack of Darkwing Duck, who doesn't bother wearing a costume at all, whether fighting crime or at home. His own distinct pilot outfit makes up for it. Curiously, nobody ever connected Drake Mallard to Darkwing Duck through him, though granted, most of the cast aren't that bright.
  • X-Men: The Animated Series:
    • Morph sometimes wears a jacket over his spandex; Rogue always does.
    • Colossus does not wear his usual red and gold costume from the comics, instead wearing a tank top, pants, shoes, and wristbands. The comic book adaptation of the TV series kept his costume though.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man: Doctor Octopus tops his four-armed robotic harness and jumpsuit with an ordinary trenchcoat, probably inspired by his cinematic incarnation. Instead of huge goggles, he sports Cool Shades.
  • In Justice League Unlimited, Hawkgirl ditches the helmet and trades her earlier outfit for something you might go jogging in.
  • Kim Possible faced a costume crisis when Club Banana discontinued the cargo pants, and top, that she used as her "mission outfit."
  • In Doug, Quail Man's costume consisted of underwear outside of Doug's regular clothing, a cape, and a belt around the head.
  • The title character in Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. He wears a superhero mask with a business suit that lets his wings through.
  • Young Justice (2010):
    • Superboy is very adamant about this, perhaps as a way to differentiate himself from Superman (of whom he is a clone). When Wonder Girl joins the cast in season 2, she's shown sporting an outfit consisting of a Wonder Woman T-shirt and a pair of athletic pants.
    • Also while Harm wears a proper costume in the comics, his getup in the show consists of jeans, combat boots, and a Badass Longcoat.
    • Likewise, the abductees who later get superpowers (three of whom are based on Samurai, El Dorado, and Apache Chief from Superfriends, and the other one who is Static, since Black Lightning already exists in the series) wear normal clothing. Since the bad guys already know what they look like, it's pointless to attempt a disguise.
    • When Virgil becomes Static, the only change from his normal civilian get-up is his shirt.
  • Monkeyman from Hey Arnold! wears a T-shirt and jeans with a cape.
  • In Justice League: Doom, Cheetah's outfit is a sports bra and shorts (along with fingerless gloves and ankle wraps), and would not be out of place at a gym.