The X-Men have the coolest costumes out of any superhero franchise. Sure, Superman’s “S” shield is iconic, and Batman’s cape and cowl are terrifying. Spider-Man’s “bug eyes” are often mimicked, and Captain America’s shield is permanently entrenched in pop culture. Still, none of them can hold a candle to what the X-Men got going on. The most amazing part about the franchise is that it’s been reinvented so many times. While not every era has been a winner, so many have been great. Many fans believe that the X-Men kept Marvel at the top of the industry for decades, and it’s easy to see why.
With each reinvention came a new look for the mutants. Like the majority of superheroes, the X-Men wear colorful costumes. They’re ridiculous, over the top and mostly fantastic. Over the decades, the mutants have changed their looks to keep up with the times, often defining the look of the era themselves. The ’90s belong to the mutants. That being said, not every change worked out. There have definitely been some mistakes over the years. For every great costume, there’s at least one dud. Hey, nobody’s perfect. Not even the X-Men’s tailor. Although, he does have a fantastic track record.
- Archangel in Feature Image by Erickson Lichauco.
20. AMAZING: CYCLOPS – JIM LEE VERSION
Despite being one of the original X-Men, Scott Summers has kept his wardrobe fairly consistent. He first appeared in The X-Men #1 (1963) by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby wearing the team standard. Over the next few decades, Cyclops’s costume changed several times, but it maintained several key elements. He wore the same hooded mask/visor combo, mostly just changing the color of his body suit, gloves and boots.
Despite all of that, his best looking costume is also one of the most ridiculous (in all the best ways).
First appearing in X-Men #1 (1991) by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee, this costume is pure ’90s craziness. The bright yellow and blue color scheme perfectly compliments the random buckles and “X” symbols. Costume designs like this are part of what made X-Men one of the most successful franchises of all time.
19. DUD: CYCLOPS – BENDIS’ UNCANNY X-MEN
Look, the X-Men are known for wearing ridiculous costumes. Excessive pouches, head socks and giant shoulder pads are all common. While completely unrealistic, these designs mostly have a certain charm to them. Cyclops’s X-face design, however, is just confusing, unrealistic and completely forgettable.
The costume debuted after Avengers Vs X-Men (2012), when Cyclops became a mutant terrorist. The look was mostly utilized during Bendis’ run on Uncanny X-Men, and appeared until Scott’s death in Death of X (2016). The design did away with the classic visor and replaced it with a giant red X. How did it work and hold back Scott’s eye beams? How did he open it? The costume was sinister looking, which might have worked for Scott’s current story arc at the time. Unfortunately, neither the look nor the arc really fit with Scott’s character.
18. AMAZING: WOLVERINE – TIGER STRIPE
Wolverine isn’t just one of the most popular X-Men, he’s one of the most recognizable comic book characters period. He’s gone through many different looks, but he’ll always be famous for the classic tiger stripe costume. He first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #180 (1974) by Len Wein and Herb Trimpe, although Marvel hadn’t quite nailed his look yet.
While he was wearing the what would come to be known as the tiger stripe suit, the mask was way off.
It wasn’t until Giant Sized X-Men #1 (1975) by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum that his most popular look debuted. The costume itself stayed the same (yellow with black stripes, pointy boots and blue shoulder blades and gloves), the mask was thankfully redesigned. The painted on whiskers were erased and replaced with the large fins that have come to define Logan’s look.
17. DUD: WOLVERINE – FANG
Wolverine’s had a lot of looks over the years. While he typically returns to the “tiger stripe” (or at least, something very similar), he’s tried some drastically different looks. While most are pretty simple (leather jacket, eye patch), the most infamous alternate costume would have to be his “Fang” look. Not only does it look silly, the story of how he got the costume is just as bad.
While battling the Shi’Ar Imperial Guard in Uncanny X-Men #107 (1977) by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum, Wolverine’s costume is torn to shreds. So, he steals the clothes off one of his opponents, Fang. Luckily, the costume was short lived. He quickly went back to his regular clothes, and everyone tried to forget about the time that Logan stole an alien’s pants.
16. AMAZING: GAMBIT – CLASSIC TRENCH COAT
Gambit is one of those characters that wears an outfit that just doesn’t exist in the real world. He appears to be wearing a one piece body sock that covers part of his head and a brightly colored body armor with a blue bib. There’s also the gloves, which are sometimes fingerless. In terms of being a thief, Gambit is wearing the worst possible outfit.
Of course, the long trench coat doesn’t seem to be practical in any way at all.
Despite all of that, it’s great. Seriously. Gambit has one of the coolest looks, period. He first fully appeared in Uncanny X-Men #266 (1990) by Chris Claremont and Mike Collins. Since then, he’s changed outfits several times, but he’s almost always kept the trench coat. He knows a good thing when he finds it.
15. DUD: GAMBIT – ALL NEW X-FACTOR
Just having the coat, however, isn’t enough to make a costume work. For example, Remy’s X-Factor outfit looked like it was trying too hard to be a modern update on the classic design. Gambit joined the team in All New X-Factor #1 (2014) by Peter David and Carmine Di Giandomenico, along with Polaris and Quicksilver (Danger, Warlock and Cypher filled out the ranks).
This version of X-Factor was a corporate-sponsored mutant team. Harrison Snow, CEO of Serval Industries, purchased the team’s name and was technically their boss. The precise problem with Gambit’s costume is that it’s way too corporate for him. Instead of a headpiece or bandana, Remy donned fancy sunglasses (that appear to be glued to his face). The whole issue is that the look is way too upscale for who and what Gambit is supposed to be.
14. AMAZING: UNCANNY X-FORCE
Sometimes, less is more. Usually, making superhero costumes less colorful is a bad idea. In the case of X-Force, however, it was perfect. In X-Force (2008) by Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost, Cyclops launched a black ops team of mutants. The team was designed to go on missions that required lethal force. Each member of the team was given a new costume, which was basically their regular costume in black and gray, with red eyes.
It’s hard to sneak around in bright yellow spandex.
After the team’s existence was revealed to the public, Cyclops shut it down. Wolverine secretly continued the team’s work in Uncanny X-Force (2010) by Rick Remender and Jerome Opena. This team kept the color scheme, and added Deadpool, Psylock and Fantomex to the roster. This simple, yet effective alteration might be one of the most popular alternate costumes for each member of the team.
13. DUD: THE X-COATS
Grant Morrison began a memorable run on New X-Men starting with issue #114 (2001), with art by Frank Quitely. This was part of a revamping of the X-Men line, and the run introduced several prominent features in current X-comics, most notably the secondary mutations. Morrison also brought Emma Frost to the team. She would begin an affair with Cyclops, which eventually became a full fledged relationship after Jean Grey was killed. It was an eventful run.
One thing that thankfully did not last were the X-coat costumes. The X-Men have worn matching costumes before, but these don’t have the same charm as the blue and gold designs. Morrison’s X-Men almost all wore matching leather jackets with giant yellow X’s on the front. The biggest problem is that these costumes look less like “X-Men” logos and more like giant targets.
12. AMAZING: ROGUE – JIM LEE
Due to the nature of her powers, Rogue’s costumes often represent her trying to cover up. She can absorb someone’s life essence simply by touching them, so something simple like having bare hands is incredibly dangerous. That’s not to say that artists haven’t found excuses to put her in skimpy outfits. It’s just that, when it comes to her official superhero uniform, Rogue wears a lot of layers.
While the design is definitely pure ’90s cheese, it outshines her other looks.
While this has resulted in a lot of hoods and capes, her most popular outfit is definitely the one she wore in X-Men #1 (1991) by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee. While the design is definitely pure ’90s cheese, it outshines her other looks. This costume proved that just because she had to be careful, Rogue couldn’t also be stylish.
11. DUD: HAVOK – ’90S OUTFIT
While this list has shown a lot of love for ’90s designs, not everything from that time period worked. When Cyclops and the rest of the original X-Men left X-Factor, they approached Havok to lead it. The new version of the team was government sponsored, and the new line-up consisted of Multiple Man, Strong Guy, Polaris and Wolfsbane (Quicksilver briefly teamed up with them as well).
Like the X-Men books at the time, X-Factor was given a complete makeover. For Havok, this meant that he ditched his traditional threads and started wearing something more modern. The problem, however, is that new look was just too generic. It had too many ’90s cliches without anything specific to make it pop. There’s nothing about this outfit that makes it unique to Havok or his powers. Considering that his original look was so unique, this was a huge step down.
10. AMAZING: HAVOK – ORIGINAL
While Havok’s ’90s costume might have been a dud, it was still something somewhat realistic. It was entirely possible to see someone wearing it in real life. The same can’t be said for his original costume. Alex Summers first appeared in X-Men #54 (1969) by Arnold Drake and Don Heck. Here, he first encountered the X-Men, and learned that his brother Scott was their leader.
Initially, Alex had very little control over his powers and had to wear a special costume to harness the energy.
The body suit was pretty standard, but the head gear was something else. Havok wore giant, looping rings around his head. This is another one of those costumes that would look completely silly in real life, but is perfect on the printed page.
9. DUD: JUBILEE – SECOND GENERATION X COSTUME
Jubilee has always had a crazy fashion sense. As one of the youngest X-Men, she wore what artists thought teenagers of the time would wear. Her most recognizable look includes a giant yellow coat and pink sunglasses. Of course, she’s tried a lot of different looks over the years, but nothing will ever replace the classic “mall-rat” look. Especially not her Generation X costume.
When Jubilee first joined the team of young mutants, she wore the team costume (but kept the yellow coat). It was fine. It was new, but kept enough of the classic look. When she dropped the coat and started wearing the full bodysuit, that’s when the problems started. Aside from the fact that the costume loses all of Jubilee’s personality, it included the worst facemask possible. The gauntlets and giant “armor” boots made this look nothing like the mall-rat fans came to tolerate.
8. AMAZING: JEAN GREY – JIM LEE
For most of her career, Jean Grey never had a good costume. Her Marvel Girl look, with the pointed mask, was the worst of the first class team. Sure, the Phoenix costume was awesome, but that technically wasn’t Jean Grey. That was a space entity taking her form, so guess what? Jean doesn’t get credit for that (even though the actual Jean Grey has worn this costume from time to time).
However, Jim Lee’s design knocked it out of the park.
Out of all the headpieces Jean has worn, this one was the best. In terms of being a Jim Lee design, it actually is pretty conservative with its use of pouches. There also aren’t any stray buckles, although she does have some pretty sweet shoulder pads. The costume is everything great about the time period without any of the overly cheesiness.
7. DUD: KITTY PRYDE
Before Jubilee was the X-Men’s team “little sister,” there was Kitty Pryde. She joined the team while still a young teenager, and initially wore a generic X-Men blue and gold bodysuit. She wore a facemask, but it was useless because it had giant eye and mouth holes, so it basically did nothing to conceal her identity. Still, she was just a kid, so she gets a free pass. That pass stands for most of the (intentionally) awful costumes she came up with while still a kid.
When she took on the Shadowcat persona, however, she was old enough to know better. The first issue is that it’s too monochromatic. Second of all, this mask is even worse. It serves no purpose. It just makes her look like a villain who doesn’t understand how to conceal her identity.
6. AMAZING: SUNFIRE
He might not be the friendliest person, but Sunfire knows how to wear a sweet costume. He debuted in X-Men #64 (1970) by Roy Thomas and Don Heck. Hailing from Japan, Shiro Yoshida was born to a mother who was near Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped. She suffered from radiation poisoning, eventually succumbing to her affliction.
This shaped Shiro’s view of the world, giving him a pretty solid reason not to love the United States.
He’s a sometimes ally of the X-Men, but he’s mostly avoided permanently joining too many teams. He’s updated his look a few times, but nothing will ever top his original. His bright red horned mask is what brings the whole ensemble together. It celebrates his culture without looking stereotypical.
5. DUD: BANSHEE
Sean Cassidy is a fan favorite, and he has a simple, yet awesome, costume. He first appeared in The X-Men #28 (1967) by Roy Thomas and Werner Roth. Under the control of a criminal organization, Cassidy initially fought the X-Men as an enemy. They eventually freed him, and he later repaid them by joining the team in Giant Size X-Men #1 (1975) by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum.
Banshee’s costume is popular for its “under-arm wings.” Banshee uses his sonic powers in combination with these wings to fly through the air. The cloth wings have always given him a unique, and incredible, look. The only problem with his original costume is that awful collar. Maybe it looked good in the ’70s, but it hasn’t aged well at all. Luckily, Banshee kept the wings and dropped the “popped collar” permanently.
4. AMAZING: CABLE – BLUE AND YELLOW
When people think of the ’90s, and all of the comic book tropes that came with the era, Cable is their prime example. While he went through a couple of looks over the decade, they had a lot in common: big shoulder pads, pouches and buckles all over the place along with a massive arsenal (in both size and quantity).
Cable is a great character, and his over the top design was always part of his charm.
Cable eventually toned things down, however, and began wearing a uniform more in line with the X-Men’s blue and yellow theme. Surprisingly, the toned down style worked for him. This costume showed that Cable could work as a character and not just as a walking armory. Also, it’s clearly inspired by Cyclops’ uniform at the time, and it’s nice to see the Summers family doing some bonding.
3. DUD: ALL NEW X-MEN BEAST
To be honest, the concept behind All New X-Men never should have worked. In the first issue, released in 2013 by Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen, Beast travels to the past and brings the original X-Men to the present. Shocked by the future world, the teenage mutants attempt to bring the fractured mutant teams together. They end up unable to travel to their home time, so they set up shop in the present.
This came with a massive uniform redesign. The new costumes debuted in All New X-Men #18 (2013), and for the most part, they were fine. Ultimately, the new look was kind of forgettable. Except for Beast, who not only got a new outfit but also started wearing pointless sunglasses/goggles/whatever they are. They have nothing to do with his powers, and just seem to be a bit of pointless flair.
2. AWESOME: STORM’S MOHAWK
Storm’s first costume is a classic. It was elegant, and the cape attached to her wrists was uniquely cool. Typically, making drastic changes to a costume like this is a recipe for disaster. In Uncanny X-Men #173 (1983) by Chris Claremont and Paul Smith, she debuts a new look after her hair gets messed up in a fight. She makes a drastic decision and shaves most of her hair off and wears the rest in a mohawk.
Along with the new hair, she starts wearing a black-leather “punk” outfit. It’s very 1980’s, and it shouldn’t have aged well.
In fact, when Kitty Pryde first saw Storm’s new look, she screamed and ran off. Storm rocked it, however, and she proved that sometimes it’s better to go big or go home. It’s a look that only she could pull off.
1. DUD: PSYLOCKE’S ARMOR
Psylocke has had a complicated costume history. She first appeared as Captain Britain’s sister in Captain Britain #8 (1976) by Chris Claremont and Herb Trimpe. She eventually migrated over to the X-Men comics, where’s she been a prominent member ever since. She’s most famous for her “ninja-swimsuit” look, she’s actually worn a lot of different outfits. While her original costume was pretty awful, she was following the Captain Britain motif. It’s not great, but it fits with the comics of the time.
Her worst look actually came when her mind was switched into another body. Brainwashed, she became an assassin for the Hand and started calling herself “Lady Mandarin.” This new identity came with a new armor. It was clunky looking, overly complex and came with a bizarre headpiece. Assassins are supposed to be sneaky, but anyone would see that headgear coming from a mile away.
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