Summary

  • Marvel movie characters often undergo significant visual transformations to reflect their character arcs and the franchise’s overall presentation.
  • Some Marvel movie characters change due to significant story events, reflected in how they look.
  • Other changes are because of recasting, either for various behind-the-scenes reasons or due to the passage of time.

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In the Marvel Cinematic Universe and beyond, many Marvel movie characters have been visually reinvented from their initial appearances. The movies of the MCU have established one of the biggest and most successful shared continuities in movie history, adapting the characters and stories of Marvel Comics to the big screen in an appropriately epic fashion. Bringing powerful and imposing heroes and villains to life requires many things, but few are as important as their outward appearance. In most cases, the MCU strives to achieve a degree of comic accuracy while also matching the tone of the franchise.

However, on occasion, characters’ looks are changed for various reasons. The exact nature of these changes varies from case to case, but they’re often significant either symbolically or to the franchise as a whole. Some designs are reworked to better represent a character of growing importance, and other visual changes are implemented in order to demonstrate a character’s continuing journey over the course of the MCU’s movie timeline. Other changes have also come about due to unavoidable behind-the-scenes issues such as studio involvement, recast roles, or a change in director for a sequel.

10 Thor’s Character Transformation Was Reflected Visually

Introduced In: Thor (2011)

Perhaps one of the most significant and symbolic character transformations is that of Thor. When introduced in 2011’s Thor, the titular God of Thunder was presented with a suit of Asgardian armor, and an overall Norse-inspired outfit. However, subsequent movies saw Thor’s look change: he cut off his hair, then lost an eye, then gained a significant amount of weight, then reverted to something close to his original style. Thor’s varied looks have served to represent his overall character arc in the MCU, with the hero rediscovering his roots after finding peace with his place in the universe.

9 Storm Was Completely Redesigned For A New Timeline

Introduced In: X-Men (2000)

The X-Men’s movie history has been turbulent, and it has seen its characters undergo a number of visual changes. Storm is a great example, having sported some underwhelming outfits but also some of the best X-Men movie costumes in the franchise. In her initial appearance in 2000’s X-Men, Storm was shown wearing the same black leather uniform as her fellow heroes, a look which was later toned back a little for subsequent movies. Later, Storm was recast and given a more comic-accurate costume, marking a significant change in the franchise’s presentation of the character.

8 Sam Wilson’s Superhero Glow-Up Is An Important MCU Story

Introduced In: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

First introduced to act as a supporting hero to Steve Rogers’ Captain America, Sam Wilson has since become one of the MCU’s most important heroes. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Wilson is introduced as a former military man, and over his subsequent appearances, he becomes the hero Falcon. The end of Avengers: Endgame sees Rogers pass the torch to Sam, with the hero later embracing his new identity as Captain America. This shift in mantle also came with a significant visual change to Sam Wilson’s suit, giving him a complete stars-and-stripes overhaul as he became the MCU’s new Captain America.

7 Cassie Lang’s Growth Into A Young Hero Has Seen Big Changes To Her Look

Introduced In: Ant-Man (2015)

Cassie Lang first appeared in the MCU in Ant-Man as Scott Lang’s young daughter and his motivation for becoming a hero. Her appearance in subsequent movies saw multiple changes to the character’s look as she was recast twice in the span of just four appearances. For Avengers: Endgame, Cassie aged five years, and the older Emma Fuhrmann, therefore, replaced original actor Abby Ryder Fortson. For Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’s cast, Fuhrmann was replaced by Kathyrn Newton, who, over the course of the movie, becomes a costumed hero.

6 Wolverine Has Had Countless Movie Looks

Introduced In: X-Men (2000)

Hugh Jackman's Wolverine looking at his claws in 2000's X-Men

Throughout the timeline of the X-Men movies, Wolverine is one of the only actors to be played by a single actor. In spite of this rare consistency in Fox’s franchise, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine has cycled through a number of looks across his many movie appearances. Starting with 2000’s X-Men, in which Wolverine was clad in black leather, through to his more rugged biker look, his Old Man Logan aesthetic in Logan, and his comic-accurate costume in Deadpool 3, Wolverine has enjoyed more visual reinvention than most on-screen heroes.

5 Thanos Was Subtly Redesigned After His Introduction

Introduced In: The Avengers (2012)

Thanos (Josh Brolin) waiting for the Infinity Gauntlet in Avengers Endgame

Though Thanos might not seem the most obvious contender for most changed Marvel movie characters, he did actually undergo a number of substantial but easy-to-miss visual shifts. First introduced in the post-credits scene of The Avengers in 2012, Thanos then made other relatively minor cameos ahead of his role as the main antagonist of Avengers: Infinity War. Across these appearances, Thanos’ appearance was tweaked repeatedly before Marvel finally settled on the design sported in Infinity War.

4 Scarlet Witch’s Underwhelming Initial Design Got A Complete Overhaul

Introduced In: Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Wanda Maximoff was first introduced to the MCU in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but she was only a shadow of her true self. Sporting a slightly understated gothic look, it wasn’t until the ending of WandaVision that the character finally embraced her identity as the Scarlet Witch. After having adopted one or two different aesthetics in WandaVision, she acted as the powerful magical force she was destined to become, complete with a more comic-accurate and intricate outfit. Wanda Maximoff’s transformation into the Scarlet Witch came with a huge visual glow-up, rewriting her initial underwhelming design.

3 Professor X Has Looked Incredibly Different In Multiple Timelines

Introduced In: X-Men (2000)

The somewhat convoluted timeline of Fox’s X-Men franchise has seen multiple characters recast, but few have seen the same amount of visual changes as Charles Xavier, A.K.A. Professor X. The leader of the X-Men was initially portrayed by Patrick Stewart. The role was recast by James McAvoy for the prequel First Class, in which Xavier sported hair and had no need of his iconic wheelchair. Later movies saw McAvoy’s Xavier lose his hair and gain the chair, only for Stewart to reprise the role in the MCU in Multiverse of Madness, marking multiple changes to Xavier’s look.

2 Darren Cross Went Through Multiple Looks In Just Two Movies

Introduced In: Ant-Man (2015)

Despite only making two MCU movie appearances, Darren Cross actually went through a considerable amount of aesthetic changes in a short space of time. First introduced as an ambitious scientist and business executive, Cross later donned the Yellowjacket suit to become the Ant-Man villain. His tenure as Yellowjacket was cut short, though, with Darren Cross being transported to the Quantum Realm, where he was disfigured, becoming the MCU’s MODOK. This final drastic visual transformation made Darren Cross one of the most-changed characters in the entire MCU despite a relatively small amount of screen time in the franchise.

1 Bruce Banner & Hulk Have Both Changed A Lot Across The MCU

Introduced In: The Incredible Hulk (2008)

No other MCU character has undergone as many physical changes as Bruce Banner. First introduced in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk played by Edward Norton, the role was then recast for 2012’s The Avengers with Mark Ruffalo taking the lead, naturally causing both Banner and Hulk to undergo significant changes. Hulk was later given a new look for Thor: Ragnarok, then again for Avengers: Endgame, where the Banner and Hulk personalities were merged into a single being. The huge amount of transformation undergone by Bruce Banner makes him (and the Hulk) the most-changed character in the MCU.

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