When superhero characters make the leap from comic books to movies, big budgets mean that once sketchily-drawn costumes come to life all high-tech and serious for the screen. But even before Marvel started dominating the box office, The Avengers went through some intense changes. We couldn't cover everything, so this is a brief timeline of how much the look of The Avengers has changed over time.
The Incredible Hulk
The first Avengers comic book premieres, featuring a little blockhead known as The Incredible Hulk. He's green and he's angry. The eyeballs hovering in mid-air are worrying, but apparently The Hulk's burgeoning powers include taking huge leaps, so he should be fine.
The Incredible Hulk TV series premieres on CBS, and millions of little kids anger their parents by ripping their shirts during recess. On the show, The Hulk was played by a human man — bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno.
Director Ang Lee was at the helm when The Hulk was rebooted and The Hulk became a computer generated image. Eric Bana and Edward Norton were cast as scientist Bruce Banner before the role went to perfect dreamboat Mark Ruffalo. But as a giant digital monster, The Hulk was consistently terrifying.
The Avengers movie grossed $623,357,910 during the 22 weeks it was in theaters, and no one used even one thin dime to give The Hulk a bath.
Have you noticed that The Hulk starts out as a normal-sized enraged human being, becomes completely enormous, and his pants still fit? The blue trousers grow with him instead of ripping to shreds. Weird.
Iron Man started out gunmetal gray, but apparently that scared people half to death. When he was reinvented a year later, he was shiny gold. Yeah, I don't get it either.
Iron Man eventually found his footing — and his most famous color scheme, red and yellow — later in 1964. Honestly, the outfit looks like something you would see on Solid Gold.
The late '70s and early '80s were rough for Tony Stark. This cover from November of 1979 shows Stark in the throes of alcoholism; his mask looks like a crash test dummy. Iron Man was so stressed out, guys.
With the release of the first Iron Man movie in 2008, we got to watch Tony Stark put this suit together from scratch — first fashioned from a little heap of scrap metal and then upgraded to an intensely computerized fighting machine.
In the 2012 Avengers movie, Stark wore his updated suit with the triangle arc reactor. If you don't like change, you shouldn't be a comic book fan.
The first Avenger, Captain America, appeared in comics in 1941 with a skintight suit and shield shaped like the one the eagle holds on the seal of America. Subtle, you know?
1n the '80s, Cap'n took a turn for the swashbuckle-y. Pirate boots!
Captain America looked like a 'roided out super bodybuilder in the '90s, enormous even in his classic "I'm comin' atcha" pose.
Chris Evans beefed up mightily for his role in the 2011 film Captain America: The First Avenger. His soft suit showed off some muscle, but wasn't anywhere near as tight as the comic book Spandex.
Evans's Winter Soldier gear had a little more padding…
…but his Avengers: Age of Ultron suit looks like it could fly off of his body and fight enemies on its own.
Russian sleeper agent Natasha Romanov burst onto the scene in 1964's Tales of Suspense with a short, black bouffant, but she didn't get her red-haired update until 1970. It also appears she stocked up on a lot of fishnet fabric in the '70s.
She's always been a badass, even when her belt was more decorative than it was functional.
The 1990s were tough on a lot of folks.
Black Widow's outfit in the first Avengers movie was obviously designed for a skilled fighting machine. Plenty of flexibility for high kicks!
Black Widow's Age of Ultron ensemble has some nice details. It takes the sting out of the fact that she's the only Avenger not included in the line of toys. OH WAIT, NO IT DOESN'T.
Odin's favorite son dropped to Earth and into comics, swinging at helicopters in a long cape, high boots and his famous winged helmet. Maybe stop and say hello, Thor! Have some tea! Get to know us before you start all the murder business!
Thor got pretty buff in the 1970s, but that's what a decade of earth's gravitational pull will do to you, perhaps.
Thor was definitely on some heavy metal, Europe's "Final Countdown" ish in the '80s. This outfit is absurd, even for a timeless god.
Thor got a major upgrade last year and became a woman, at least in the comics. The new Thor has been outselling the previous dude incarnation of Thor by a lot.
Movie Thor is all long hair, don't care. When was the last time Mjolnir got an upgrade?
Clint "Hawkeye" Barton wore various colorful accessories when he first showed up. Dig those turquoise boots!
In the '80s, Hawkeye was a gloriously bright little dude with an elaborate bow. How did this look ever fade out of style? Even his boots are blowing in the breeze, easy as you please.
Hawkeye took a turn for the bleak in the "Dark Reign" comic, but stealth threads are less conspicuous when he's fighting and sneaking up on fools.
In 2012, Matt Fraction rebooted Hawkeye with artist Dave Aja; the simple design of his new wardrobe was a big upgrade that helped center the action.
For the movie Age of Ultron, Barton embraced his colorful roots; maroon details complement his always-angry blue eyes.
Danielle Henderson is a lapsed academic, heavy metal karaoke machine, and culture editor at Fusion. She enjoys thinking about how race, gender, and sexuality shape our cultural narratives, but not in a boring way.