So, yes, I'm mainly talking about Superman.
Because I don't care about, say, Animal Man. He was never an icon. And yes, Harley Quinn's redesign is pretty atrocious. I don't even know about the character and I hate the redesign.
And Batman, Flash, Aquaman . . . they're basically the same. But for Batman, his costume has changed over time. He has benefited from the movies (starting with Burton's Batman until, most recently, The Dark Knight) because having your character in front of millions of people worldwide and looking different in the comic . . . well, the comic has to follow that example. Batman has followed trends and set trends.
Superman? His costume barely changed for the television series and the first four movies and Lois and Clark and the cartoons, and Superman Returns didn't do much to push forward the character's fashion sense.
To be clear, I love the classic Superman design. I truly, truly do. But, that said, I understand why they redesigned him. And I somewhat agree.
The original Superman outfit was based on (my opinion) circus strongmen and trapeze artists. It was, like the character, very much a part of the times. And in that time, it was cool.
The costume has changed a little since he first came on the scene . . . but not much. (For an overview of the costume change over time, check out these guys: The Superman Costumes.) I would almost say the costume became something timeless, but that's not quite true. It was became somewhat ridiculous until Christopher Reeve managed to wear it sincerely and without irony. He made it work, and he made it work well, because he believed that a man who could do all the things Superman can do and wanted to do all the things Superman did do would wear those clothes.
That was the good old days, though. The days when people could be earnest, not cynical. The days when someone could wear tights and a cape and colored briefs that matched the cape over those tights . . .
No. They couldn't. We were forgiving. We accepted it and moved on, but now we've seen it all before and seen it all a lot and as talented as artists are, truth is, we just don't suspend our disbelief in the same way.
So we get armored Superman. And I'm okay with that. I'm not reading the comic (hey, I'm not MADE of money!) but I'm okay that they've changed my Superman.
Although I still think Wonder Woman should wears pants. Because, as impractical as it is for men to wear underwear on the outside, it's absolutely practical for woman to ONLY wear underwear. Right?