The Theory Behind Superhero Colours

When it comes to superheroes, you may have noticed a trend towards certain colours for specific types of characters. Across both the Marvel and DC Universes, heroes tend to be shaded in primary colours such as blue, red and yellow, whereas bad guys are often in secondary colours such as purple, green and orange. Think of superman, Spiderman, Iron Man and Captain America, or villains like Magneto or Dr Doom. 

Of course there are always exceptions (The Incredible Hulk springs to mind), but generally these colour rules hold firm throughout comic book canon. Black appears to be something of an outlier however, as it can be used for both heroes and villains. It's often used for what's referred to as the 'card-carrying' villain such a Venom, but is also used for anti-heroes (such as Batman). These characters often have a dark and troubled past, and are often portrayed as far more human than their invincible counterparts. 

Let's have a look at some of the iconic colour choices for the good guys, and what they tend to mean in comics: 

Blue - The American Hero
Red - The Wise-Cracking Hero
Blue and Red - The Ultimate Hero
Red and Yellow - The Kid-Appeal Hero
Black - The Anti-Hero
Natural Green - The Big-Guy Hero
Yellow and Black - The Tough-Guy Hero

It's amazing how true these ring when you start to think of examples. Each of the above completely describes some of the biggest hero characters donning those colours: 

Blue - Captain America
Red - Spiderman
Blue and Red - Superman
Red and Yellow - Iron Man
Black - Batman
Natural Green - The Incredible Hulk
Yellow and Black - Wolverine

It's an extremely interesting area, and it's something I hadn't fully considered until I came across this fantastic infographic from Cartridge People