The Best (Dressed) There Is: Wolverine's Coolest Costumes

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Over his 43-year history, Wolverine's been a mysterious X-Man, the lone wolf Logan and an iconic cinematic superstar. With so many distinct facets of his character, Marvel's most famous mutant has amassed a fairly large wardrobe over the years. While most other major superheroes only wear variations of the same outfit, Wolverine has had a wide array of costumes throughout his extensive career.

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Now, CBR is counting down Wolverine's primary costumes from worst to best. For this list, we'll be looking at costumes he wore while serving with the X-Men throughout comics, TV and film. Although we won't be including any outfits from his pre-X-Men days, we will be including some of Logan's looks from major alternative universes where he appeared on an ongoing basis.

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Noseless Wolverine
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Noseless Wolverine

In the mid-1990s, the adamantium that covered Wolverine's skeleton had been ripped out by Magneto, and Wolverine's claws had reverted to their natural bone form. When the villain Genesis made an ill-fated attempt to give Wolverine a new adamantium skeleton in 1996's "Wolverine" #100, by Larry Hama and Adam Kubert, Logan's body rejected the metal and devolved into a noseless, feral state. As tufts of hair grew all over his body, he took to using a blue or red bandana for a mask while wearing a torn uniform with exposed arms, fingers and sometimes feet.

While his time without a nose was mercifully short, this bizarre look came shortly after the peak of the X-Men's popularity. Although the character's savagery was at the fore, both visually and thematically, this look still revolved around the colors blue and yellow. Colorist Christie Scheele developed this visual template in Wolverine's first costume, and it coincidentally recalls the colors of the original X-Men's uniforms. With bone claws and a torn, tattered costume, it reflected the chaos of Wolverine's most uncivilized period.


Ultimate Wolverine

After the success of the first "X-Men" movie in 2000, Marvel rebooted the X-Men as part of its newly-formed Ultimate Universe in 2001. In "Ultimate X-Men," Mark Millar and Adam Kubert recreated the X-Men for a new generation with new twists on familiar characters. All of the X-Men wore black and yellow outfits, and Wolverine was no exception. Along with black pants and gloves, Logan wore a black and yellow shirt and sported an ill-advised soul patch.

The Ultimate X-Men's uniforms combined the film's black leather with yellow accents in a nod to the original X-uniforms. Like Hugh Jackman's Wolverine, this Logan was maskless and taller than his Marvel Universe counterpart. While the rest of the team had black costumes with yellow trim, Logan's suit featured large blocks of yellow in a subtle reference to the brown Wolverine costume from the 1980s. This left Ultimate Wolverine in a vague middle ground where he looked slightly out of step with his Ultimate peers and without any iconic costume elements.


Wolverine training suit

After the X-Men effectively disbanded in the closing days of the 1980s, "Uncanny X-Men" focused on several smaller groups of characters for several months. After 1990's "X-Tinction Agenda" crossover, the team reformed and donned matching uniforms in 1991's "Uncanny X-Men" #273, by Chris Claremont and a host of pencillers including Jim Lee, Whilce Portacio and Larry Stroman. Wolverine and most of the X-Men only wore these yellow and blue jumpsuits for a single space-based adventure before returning to their more familiar outfits.

While these uniforms didn't last long, they gave Wolverine and the team a unified look that hearkened back to the original X-Men's uniforms. Although these costumes had already become defining looks for characters like Banshee and Forge, the team uniform was an odd fit for a loner like Wolverine. Although the large swath of yellow on his torso recalled his more famous outfits, it worked effectively over the next few issues thanks to the dynamic artwork from Lee, inker Scott Williams and colorist Joe Rosas.


Ultimate Wolverine second costume

As part of a coordinated campaign to reconcile Logan's various looks across different media, Wolverine received a new costume in 2002. This costume gave Wolverine a consistent look in the Marvel Universe, the Ultimate Universe, on the cartoon "X-Men: Evolution," and in licensed products ranging from video games to birthday party balloons. While each version had slight variations, they were all based around a black or dark blue suit with short sleeves and three yellow tiger stripe claw marks on each shoulder.

Like Ultimate Wolverine's first costume, this look was all about synthesizing Wolverine's disparate looks together in the wake of the X-Men's cinematic debut. Although Wolverine's superhero costumes usually revolve around brighter colors, the blue and black emphasized his "cooler" and more heroic qualities to a new wide audience. While they seem like a small detail, the tiger stripes were a clear reference to Wolverine's established costumes and added some continuity. Although most versions of Wolverine set aside this costume after a few years, Ultimate Wolverine wore it until his demise in 2009.


Madripoor wolverine costume

When Wolverine's adventures took him away from the X-Men and to Madripoor, he wore a less colorful costume better suited to the island nation's dark streets. Starting in 1988's "Wolverine" #1, by Chris Claremont and John Buscema, Logan wore a sleeveless, midnight blue jumpsuit, occasionally with a red belt. While the costume didn't include a mask, Wolverine often wore a strip of black camouflage paint across his eyes.

Although this is hardly his most iconic look, Logan's Madripoor costume made sense in the context of the story. This costume set a precedent for the kinds of muted Wolverine uniforms that flourished in the early 2000s. While his distinctive hair takes the shape of his usual mask, the red belt is a subtle nod to his more famous X-Men costumes. Although this specific look hasn't reappeared that often, it was the basis for Wolverine's costume in the "Age of Apocalypse" alternate universe, where three red tiger stripes  were added on each side of his torso.


Wolverine x-men movie 2000

In 2000, Fox's "X-Men" helped set off the modern superhero movie boom. While the gaudiness of 1997's "Batman & Robin," almost killed the genre, director Bryan Singer turned the X-Men into a sleek, slick science fiction franchise that's still going almost two decades later. While later superhero movies embraced colorful costumes, Hugh Jackman's Wolverine and the rest of the X-Men wore black leather jumpsuits that helped ground the fantastic characters on screen. In a subtle nod to his most famous look from costume designer Louise Mingenbach, Wolverine's costume featured yellow piping that outlined tiger stripes on his shoulders and torso.

While the movie's maskless all-black look received some criticism from comic purists, it influenced the next several years of Wolverine's outfits. In an era ruled by "The Matrix," the dark uniforms help cast the X-Men as paragons of cool instead of Saturday morning cartoon characters. While Jackman's Logan was defined by his less formal outfits, he wore variations of this uniform in several subsequent X-Men films.


X-Men Evolution Wolverine

After the wildly popular "X-Men: The Animated Series" ended in 1997, "X-Men: Evolution" offered a bold new take on the franchise, starting in 2000. Where the former show featured the X-Men as adult superheroes, "Evolution" cast most of its characters as teenage students at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. Like Storm and Beast, Wolverine was an adult teacher at the school. In the show's first few seasons, Logan wore a black and orange outfit that was based on Wolverine's old brown costume.

In a show where most of the characters had bright accents on dark uniforms, Wolverine's orange makes him stand out from the rest of the cast. While it referenced the character's comic history, this visualized the character's distance, in both age and temperament, to the rest of the X-Men. Since the 1990s cartoon famously used Wolverine's classic yellow suit, the outfit helped distinguish this incarnation of the character as a separate entity in the eyes of the wider public.


Armored Wolverine

Shortly before 2014's "Death of Wolverine," Wolverine lost his healing factor and donned an armored suit that was developed by Doctor Octopus while he was posing as the Superior Spider-Man. Designed by Kris Anka, this costume debuted in 2014's "Wolverine" #1 by Paul Cornell and Ryan Stegman. This costume featured heavily fortified yellow sections over a black body suit with a black and yellow version of his modern mask with shorter ears. Partially inspired by "X-Men: Evolution's" Wolverine, this design was built around a large "X," formed by the armored plating on his torso and legs around his waistline.

Like Batman's yellow Bat-Symbol, the yellow parts of this costume drew attacks to its most armored sections. The protective aspects of this uniform were emphasized even more by the complex claw-protecting gauntlets that replaced Logan's usual gloves. The giant "X" in the costume speaks to Logan's role as the X-Men's leader during this era. This highly-functional costume offered a clear visual indicator of Logan's importance to the team while also working very well within the context of the story.


X-Force black ops wolverine

In 2009, Craig Kyle, Chris Yost and Clayton Crain revived "X-Force" as a black ops strike force. Under the direction of Cyclops, Wolverine led the team as they conducted brutal covert missions on behalf of mutantkind. Since the bright costumes aren't ideal for clandestine work, each member of X-Force wore a black and gray variation of their more familiar uniforms. In Wolverine's case, he essentially wore a monochrome version of his brown uniform, a black jumpsuit flanked by large gray panels that extend from his mid-torso to his feet.

While each member of the team is still distinguished by their costume designs, they are all united by a shared monochrome palate. These dark, gray costumes reflect the murky, compromised morality of X-Force's brutal missions. While Logan's other costumes cast him as a superhero, this is a killer's uniform. With red eyes in his mask and a red "X"-shaped belt buckle, Wolverine's costume takes on an eerie tone that hint at a savage beast, covered in the blood of its last victim.


Wolverine fang costume

After a battle in space left his uniform in shreds, Wolverine borrowed the costume of the Shi'Ar fighter Fang. After debuting in 1977's "Uncanny X-Men" #107 by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum, Wolverine only wore this outfit for a couple of issues before returning to his classic yellow suit. This costume was an orange bodysuit with a dark brown stripe around the collar and down the middle. His gloves and boots were also brown, and the costume was trimmed with small alien teeth or claws.

While this costume didn't last long, it served as a template for Wolverine and his associates. This was the first Wolverine costume to incorporate brown and orange, which would reappear in his subsequent costumes. The costume's color palate and design was also revisited in Sabretooth's most famous costume. While working with the X-Men, Wolverine's female clone X-23 wore the costume too. Despite Cockrum's dynamic design, this maskless costume emphasized Wolverine's less heroic savage side, since it was essentially a trophy won in combat.


New X-Men wolverine

Shortly after the X-Men made the leap into film, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely envisioned the X-Men as an ultra-cool cultural force in 2001's "New X-Men" #114. In this series, the X-Men wore updated uniforms built around black leather jackets. Two yellow swatches on the back and front of the jackets formed "X's" and each character's personality was expressed through how they wore the uniform. In addition to the team's black and yellow jacket, Wolverine also wore a plain black leather jacket, often with dog tags over his bare chest or a plain tank top shirt.

Quitely's redesigns took the movie's influence and merged it seamlessly with yellow in another nod to the team's roots. While the characters' looks can be jarring outside of the context of the book, it spoke to the X-Men's real world cultural clout and outsider status within the Marvel Universe. Thanks to his history of wearing leather jackets in his civilian clothes, Logan's "New X-Men" uniform seemed like an official recognition of his longtime unofficial uniform.


Wolverine first appearance

Wolverine made his first appearance in the wilds of the Canadian wilderness on the last page of 1974's "Incredible Hulk" #180. In order to appeal to an increasingly large Canadian readership, Marvel editor Roy Thomas gave writer Len Wein a rough pitch for the character. After Wein developed the idea and art director John Romita, Sr. developed the costume, Wolverine made his full debut in "Incredible Hulk" #181, by Wein and Herb Trimpe.

While the yellow and blue costume with black tiger stripes would form the basis of Wolverine's iconic look, it featured an embryonic version of Wolverine's mask. With short black ears and whiskers coming out of the nose, the mask doesn't quite balance out the rest of the outfit. Despite these small differences, the yellow jumpsuit with blue gloves, boots and trunks established a visual template that has remained largely unchained for decades. While the yellow and blue cast him as a hero in the tradition of the X-Men, the black tiger stripes hinted at Logan's mysterious, savage nature.


Logan outfits

Logan may be the only superhero who's just as recognizable outside of his costume as he is in spandex. In everything from comics to cartoons and movies, Logan has consistently worn jeans with a leather jacket over a tank top or flannel shirt, occasionally with a cowboy hat. While this look has existed for decades, Hugh Jackman turned it into Wolverine's natural state on film. Without the constraints of his superhero outfit, Jackman's Logan flourished as an action star who isn't necessarily for kids. This look has become so iconic that 2009's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" even dedicated a segment to his leather jacket's origin.

Logan's civilian uniform visually captures his consistent independence, rugged nature and roots in the cool Canadian climate. In future timelines like "Days of Future Past" and "Old Man Logan," Wolverine has usually worn a variation of this after the X-Men disbanded. The leather jacket and jeans, durable signifiers of cool that never go completely out of style, mirror Wolverine's own enduring popularity and extensive life span. In both "Extraordinary X-Men" and the upcoming "X-Men Gold," an older alternate reality version of Wolverine wears a variation of this as his official outfit.


Astonishing Wolverine

After "New X-Men" ended in 2004, Joss Whedon and John Cassaday brought the X-Men back to their superheroic roots in "Astonishing X-Men." While the title featured bright redesigned costumes for several X-Men, Cassaday's redesign became Wolverine's definitive modern look. With blue panels extending from the shoulder to the mid-thigh on each side, the yellow suit featured blue boots, gloves and a blue mask, which featured shorter ears. Cassaday also replaced the traditional black tiger stripes with yellow stripes on the torso and shoulder.

Wolverine's "Astonishing" costume is Logan at his most heroic. Colored with only blue and yellow, this Wolverine is a clear inheritor of the original X-Men's legacy. This mostly yellow uniform perfectly balanced Cyclops' mostly blue jumpsuit in this era, marking the friendly rivals as the complementary pillars of Xavier's dream. With no visual trace of the savagery that once defined him, this Wolverine joined the Avengers, founded a school and led the X-Men. While the "X" logo on his belt occasionally migrated up to his chest, this was Wolverine's dominant uniform for almost a decade and was used in the animated series "Wolverine and the X-Men."


Brown costume wolverine

As artist John Byrne neared the end of his iconic run on "Uncanny X-Men" with writer Chris Claremont, he gave Wolverine one of his most iconic looks. Dissatisfied with Wolverine's blue and yellow costume, he gave Wolverine a simpler uniform, defined by tones of brown and sienna in 1980's "X-Men" #139. The costume was a brown top with lighter panels under both arms. The pants and top of the mask were also sienna, while the gloves, boots and ears were all brown. All of this was tied together by an oversize red belt.

Although Wolverine wore this costume while serving in some of his most memorable adventures with the X-Men, this is the costume Wolverine wore when he really came into his own as a character and works especially well with Wolverine's solo adventures. The grounded tones reflected Logan's primal side and almost cast him as an elemental force of nature. While traditional superheroes wear primary colors, this costume's more complex palate hints at the endless complexities and contradictions of the mutant behind the mask. Although he wore some other uniforms during the period, this was his primary costume until after X-Men's 1991 relaunch, appeared in the animated pilot "Pryde of the X-Men," and remains a fan-favorite today.


wolverine classic costume

When legendary artist Gil Kane drew an off-model version of Wolverine's first costume on the cover of 1975's "Giant-Size X-Men" #1, he unwittingly created one of the most famous profiles in comic book history. After seeing how Kane extended the black ears of Wolverine's, artist Dave Cockrum redrew Wolverine's mask with distinctive winged ears and cemented the character's most famous costume. On top of a yellow jumpsuit with black tiger stripes on the torso and shoulder, Logan wore blue gloves, trunks and boots with a red belt.

Much like Wolverine's convoluted history, this costume features several seemingly disparate elements that work together brilliantly. The blue and yellow in the costume connected the character to X-Men history, but the black and red accents hinted at Logan's mysterious, violent nature. The expanded ears helped balance the costume out and created a memorable mask unlike anything else in comics. While it served as a counterpoint to Cyclops' blue suits, Wolverine's yellow costume made him stand out among a crowded field of X-Men. From Wolverine's breakout moment during 1980's "Dark Phoenix Saga" to the commercial peaks of "X-Men: The Animated Series" in the 1990s, this is the costume that made Wolverine a cultural icon.

Be sure to stay tuned to CBR for all the latest on Wolverine and the rest of the X-Men! Let us know what your favorite Wolverine costume is in the comments below!

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