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The 15 Most Meaningful Marvel Makeovers, from Hulk to Jane Foster

The best Marvel costume changes, including Jane Foster in "Thor: Love and Thunder." Also, Bucky Barnes' short haircut, Hulk in glasses, more.

Michael B. Jordan, Mark Ruffalo, Natalie Portman, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson in Marvel

Marvel Studios/Everett Collection

The following contains super minor spoilers for “Thor: Love and Thunder.”

Ever since Tony Stark took up the mantle of Iron Man, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has boasted some of the most spectacular makeovers in the history of the superhero genre. Yes, constantly updating character costumes from big franchises is a surefire way to sell more T-shirts and toys. But it can also be an efficient manner of communicating seismic emotional shifts to an action-loving audience.

Over the years, the visual journeys of the Avengers and their foes have consistently met the sweeping scale of the epic movies in which they star. The best Marvel makeovers don’t just change the way someone looks. Instead, they inform that character’s story arc, accenting their victories and defeats, as well as reaffirming aspects of their unique identity. Inclusive representation has improved as the films have progressed, taking female heroes like Natasha Romanoff from dysfunctional spandex to killer armor in “Black Widow,” and giving Carol Danvers a queer-affirming hairdo in “Avengers: Endgame.”

To make these jaw-dropping moments pop for their specific films, the MCU’s various writers, directors, and designers take an array of approaches. Heroes’ visual evolutions are sometimes front and center, as with Steve Rogers’ original super soldier serum glow-up in “Captain America: The First Avenger.” But they can be just as effective when done offscreen; see Bucky Barnes’ head-turning chop in “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and the miraculous appearance of Nebula’s sick gold head plate in “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Marvel villains get great makeovers too, from Killmonger becoming Wakanda’s bejeweled ruler in the second half of “Black Panther” to Wanda Maximoff finally embracing the evil Scarlet Witch in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” Of course, when it comes to antagonistic reveals, there’s no one more memorable than Wanda’s foe Agatha Harkness, whose episode seven twist in “WandaVision” is both a visual treat and all-time MCU musical moment.

In honor of Dr. Jane Foster becoming Dr. Goddess Jane Foster in “Thor: Love and Thunder,” here are the 15 most meaningful Marvel costume changes explained. For the purpose of this list, chemical and biological evolutions count. Here’s looking at you, Groot.

With editorial contributions and guidance from Proma Khosla.

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