In many ways, the X-Men are defined by their costumes. Just as the mutants bravely fight for a world that fears and hates them, their bright and colorful clothing serves as a way of expressing themselves in a world that wants to suppress them. With that being said, though, not all costumes are created equally. Different X-Men creative teams like to leave their mark on these characters by giving them new looks. The challenge is to find a look that retains the essence of the character while still seeming fresh and original. A good new costume makes the character and the comic accessible to new readers while still making veteran readers happy.
Sometimes, these efforts backfire spectacularly, leading to the creation of some truly offensive costumes. These costumes may be offensive to longtime readers because they completely change the look and feel of the character. Or they may be offensive to the general public, confirming all those mean accusations about comic books placing sex and sexuality over story and substance. Ultimately, these are the costumes that make you a bit ashamed to be an X-Men fan. Fortunately, you don't need a fancy Danger Room to view these terrible costumes -- just keep scrolling to check out the 15 most offensive X-Men costume changes!
15 COYOTE UGLY KITTY PRYDE
Kitty Pryde is no stranger to terrible costumes. It soon became a running joke for both X-Men writers and readers that Kitty would race through horrific costumes at the same breakneck pace that she raced through stupid code names. However, no Kitty costume was more offensive than her Coyote Ugly-inspired look.
The outfit started out as something of a joke, showing how Kitty Pryde had to make money by flaunting her body at a seedy bar. However, it became her official costume in short order, and it's pretty gross all around. It's not that “abs and leather” looks bad on Kitty, but the comic started blatantly sexualizing a character that we first met when she was a young teenager. For longtime readers, it's downright creepy to see the X-Man most like a kid sister reduced to a sexual object; fortunately, Kitty would soon ditch this offensive costume!
14 GOOD GUY MAGNETO
Determining whether a Magneto costume is good or bad often feels like a trick question. After all, his classic bad guy look is pretty damn bad! Ironically, his most offensive costume happened when he was trying to be a good guy.
During that weird period of time where Magneto led the X-Men, he decided that he needed a wardrobe change. So he ditched the helmet, kept the cape, and gave himself an absurd purple costume with a huge lavender “M” on his chest (you know, in case you forgot he was Magneto). He finishes the outfit off with some tight, purple pants and gloves long enough to make Rogue jealous. When you look more like an opera singer than a hero, you know the costume is terrible!
13 CABLE BECOMES THE '90S
Over time, Cable became a very popular character. This is one of many reasons that he is in the sequel to the first Deadpool movie. However, Cable's earliest costumes became retroactively offensive because he represented the worst excesses of '90s comics. Giant guns, bizarre proportions, and more pockets than an entire wardrobe combined...you got this with any vintage Cable appearance. However, the panel above takes everything to the next level. Cable himself practically disappears under a small mountain of weaponry.
His face is squished into a blotchy square by even more futuristic techno-crap. And it seems like most of the visible costume is a tapestry of ammo and straps. Instead of looking like a dangerous soldier, Cable looks like a man trying to unload all of his shopping bags in a single trip!
12 THE WORST DEADPOOL
Sometimes, the offensive nature of a costume is tied into how the character was completely misused. This was certainly the case with the first onscreen appearance of Deadpool. Well before he dazzled in his own movie, Deadpool had a terrible outfit (and a more terrible role) in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Everyone knows that Deadpool is famous for his bizarre humor. That's how you get a nickname like “the Merc With the Mouth.” However, Deadpool's mouth is literally sewn shut in this movie. Also, his colorful suit and mask are replaced with simple lines drawn on a naked torso. This “costume” makes Deadpool look like a guy who wakes up at a party and finds out people have drawn weird things all over him. Fortunately, Ryan Reynolds redeemed the character when he was given his own solo movie.
11 LEATHER DADDY JUGGERNAUT
On any given day, the Juggernaut looks pretty goofy. He's a giant man in armor who likes to run into things, so we don't expect much. However, the most offensive version of this character's costume occurred in the most offensive X-Men movie: X-Men 3.
Juggernaut's iconic helmet has been replaced by a clunky one that makes him look like he got tired of falling down at his house and finally got some protection. He spends much of the movie with the helmet off, which would be an improvement except for one thing: the rest of his body looks like a bear who is flexing down at the local leather bar. Unless Magneto recruited him on his way to a FetLife meetup, there is no reason for Juggernaut to be in such a terrible costume.
10 VAMPIRE JUBILEE
In fiction, you can typically cause vampires to back away in pain by holding out a cross. In real life, it's even easier to get X-Men fans to do the same thing. You just need to say two words: “vampire Jubilee.” Jubilee has been a fan-favorite character for years. Like Kitty Pryde, she served as a teenage audience surrogate for younger readers, and her appearance in the X-Men animated series made her wildly popular.
The vampire storyline involves the young mutant being seduced by a vampire and joining their undead ranks. This, in turn, led to Jubilee's offensive vampire outfit. Her colorful and iconic clothes have been replaced by skintight leather. Once more, X-Men fans are asked to gawk at the well-developed body of a character that was portrayed as an innocent child for many years, making this whole thing feel extremely icky.
9 BEAST GOES FELINE
It seems like Beast has been through more transformations than almost any other X-Man. He was a founding member of the team and looked mostly human (with a dash of ape). Years later, self-experimentation turned him into the furry blue beast that we all know and love. However, during Grant Morrison's legendary run on New X-Men, he gave us a pretty offensive new iteration of this iconic character.
During this storyline, Beast experienced a “secondary mutation” that made him less of an ape and more feline in appearance. To Morrison's credit, he wove this into a great story in which Beast grappled with whether he was devolving into a lower lifeform. But if we're being honest, the “cat Beast” look was really ugly, and it seemed like an unnecessary change to a now-classic look. Ultimately, there's a reason the comics eventually ditched the feline look entirely.
8 MYSTIQUE HATES CLOTHES
Oftentimes, the central debate about comic book movies is how well the film nailed the look of the characters. In this sense, the movie version of Mystique is very rare. Her film appearance is undeniably an improvement over her goofy comic look...however, it also ended up offending many people!
Starting with the first X-Men movie, Mystique mostly walks around naked. Now, she has selective spots that help obscure areas. Nonetheless, the look is very provocative, and it was continued by Jennifer Lawrence when she took over the role. To this day, publications have to be careful about which images of the character they use for fear of offending readers. And fans of the character who want to cosplay this specific look always run the risk of being sent back to their room to put on some clothing. As it turns out, the most offensive costume is no costume at all!
7 X-FACE CYCLOPS
On occasion, the offensive nature of a costume is tied into a particularly strange story arc for a character. That is the case with Cyclops, who fans mocked for years as being the boring and dependable X-Man. Marvel decided to make him a cult leader edgelord, and he got a terrible new costume to go with it.
The black and red elements of his costume are pretty bland. Depending on the artist, Cyclops looks like he's channeling Nazi fashion or has simply raided Daredevil's closet. The stupidest part of the costume is his face, though: his traditional visor has been replaced by an X-shaped one. He doesn't even look like Cyclops anymore, but like someone cosplaying Racer X from Speed Racer. How bad was this costume? When Cyclops ignominiously died to the Terrigen Mists, some fans cheered at the idea of not having to see his terrible costume anymore.
6 MOHAWK STORM
Offensive X-Men costumes sometimes start out as jokes from the creative team and become something more. That is the case with Storm's famous mohawk look. The story goes that Paul Smith was asked to change Storm's hairstyle and he came up with several options, including the mohawk. It was meant to be a silly joke, but believing that fans would hate any redesign, they might as well commit to something crazy.
And the new look was very shocking to fans at first. Storm had gone from the flowing locks of a goddess to a mohawk and leather look. And it's arguably a look that hasn't aged well, as everything about it screams '80s” more than a Stranger Things binge session. Fortunately, the X-Men creative team spun the new look into a great story about Storm reclaiming power and agency in her own life.
5 WOLVERINE IS NOT SNEAKY
Wolverine has had many different looks over the years. His classic yellow costume has been tweaked many times, and he spent a few years in a brown costume inspired by one he stole from the alien warrior Fang. And, both onscreen and off, he's rocked the black leather look. However, Wolverine's worst costume came from the first issue of his solo series...
There's a lot going on in this costume, and all of it is terrible! On paper, this dark design is meant to reflect Wolverine's ninja-trained background. On paper, it looks like we caught him in the middle of making an old Hydra outfit sleeveless. And what's going on with his face? Your guess is as good as mine...maybe Oliver Queen told him no one recognizing you if you paint your face? Luckily for fans, this awful costume did not stick around.
4 EMMA FROST WARDROBE MALFUNCTION
Emma Frost (also known as the White Queen) is a character who has always had controversial costumes. After all, her default look is basically “Victorian adult gear,” so it's easy to think you couldn't make her more offensive. However, Grant Morrison ended up giving her a shocking new look during his run on New X-Men and it surprisingly stuck around for quite a long time after he departed the title.
While her old outfit revealed its share of flesh, this new look was almost nothing but flesh. The character has basically been reduced to small strips of clothing that are strategically placed over her body. And how does that clothing stay on, exactly, without falling off? This costume makes pretty much no sense, and would eventually be ditched for a more practical look.
3 ROGUE GOES NATIVE
Rogue is another X-Man that has really changed over the years. She started as the quiet, sullen girl dealing with her guilt about stealing Ms. Marvel's powers. She ended up being a loud and proud fighting machine for Xavier's ideas. Along the way, she got a number of new costumes, but her most offensive look is when she had almost no costume at all.
During her time in the Savage Land, Rogue became the poster child for “X-Men cheesecake.” As she tries to survive in the inhospitable land, she strips and tears her clothing until she is basically running around in a green and yellow bikini. It's undoubtedly a classic look (one recreated by enthusiastic cosplayers every year), but it's also the main example of the X-Men books peddling skin in order to sell the book, which is a pretty bad look for the series.
2 BARELY LEGAL MAGIK
The X-Men are a group filled with tragic backgrounds. Nonetheless, Magik has had it worse than just about anyone. She was forced to spend her years in a demonic hell dimension, and even after she escaped, she's spent years carrying around the baggage of two different worlds.
By the time she joins Cyclops rogue group of X-Men, Magik is in an black leather get up that is designed to show off as much skin as possible. What makes this look offensive? While Magik looks great, it's a bit awkward for longtime fans to ogle the kid sister of Colossus. She is a character that we first saw as a very young child, and after escaping her demonic prison, as a very young teenager. Seeing artists parade her in revealing clothing makes the books seem more mature publication than X-Men, which is awkward for everyone.
1 PSYLOCKE AND STEREOTYPES
Psylocke has a classic look. She's our favorite psychic swordswoman, and the character is popular enough to have warranted a cameo in X-Men: Apocalypse. However, this was not her original look. She had an entirely different body before, and the switch to this all new look was more than a bit offensive at the time.
Betsy Braddock was once a white English woman, and thanks to Mojo's henchman Spiral, she ended up in the body of a Japanese woman. This resulted in extreme changes to the wardrobe (she now dresses exclusively in revealing, skintight uniforms) and her personality (she's now more swordswoman than spy). It's tough to shake the idea that the character redesign is leaning hard into weird stereotypes (did we mention her Japanese body came with martial arts mastery? Because of course it did) and Marvel's own version of offensive Orientalism.
Got a terrible costume we missed? Head on over to the comments section!