It’s not really that surprising when mutants like the X-Men and their villains change their looks. After all, mutation is all about evolution. These characters move from one state to another state and usually end up with a whole new look that reflects this change. Sometimes, the changes are purely cosmetic. This happens when characters decide to ditch a classic outfit in favor of trying something new. This may be due to the characters themselves getting bored of the old look or new artists wanting to put their stamp on decades-old characters.
Other times, the changes go a bit deeper. Characters may experience things like secondary mutations and other external changes that alter their very physiology. Alternately, we may get on-screen versions of familiar characters that bear almost no resemblance to their iconic comic designs. Of course, you don’t need to be a mind-reader to understand this secret: not all of these mutant makeovers are made equally. Some of them are instant hits that effectively redefined how generations of fans saw these characters; others are instant duds that everyone does their best to simply forget. To see which makeovers rocked and which were absolutely terrible, keep scrolling and uncover who had the best mutant makeovers, and who had the worst.
20 BEST: PSYLOCKE
Psylocke ended up being one of the best mutant makeovers, but it wasn’t without controversy. The gist of her story is that Mojoverse weirdness resulted in Betsy Braddock getting an entirely new body, leading to a new suit and some new ways of fighting.
The controversy was due to the fact that the revised character was arguably a stereotype: they turned a white English character into a kind of kung-fu Asian stereotype. Nonetheless, the new and improved Psylocke had cooler fights and a more interesting story, which is one of the reasons we were so disappointed in her lackluster film appearance.
19 WORST: KITTY PRYDE
Not every mutant gets a great makeover -- some of them get terrible ones! In the case of Kitty Pryde, it even became a kind of running joke that she constantly got terrible new codenames and outfits. But even when the irony wore off, her new looks were often bad.
At one point, she got a Coyote Ugly-inspired outfit that was likely meant to be both sexy and cool. Unfortunately, it made her look like an extra from a late night Cinemax C-list film. Throw in the fact that Kitty is such a fan-favorite character and these constant terrible outfits really add insult to injury.
18 BEST: WOLVERINE
Wolverine has had more fashion reboots that you might imagine. Some are down to Earth (like in Logan) and some are just weird (the less said about the eye patch, the better). However, his best new look came when the character got his iconic brown outfit.
Up until then, Wolverine was almost exclusively wearing the bright yellow spandex for his costume. The brown outfit was initially stolen from a fallen foe, and it later became a staple look for the moody mutant. Ultimately, it retained the design elements we like while being less of an eyesore than the yellow suit.
17 WORST: EMMA FROST
Our next fashion disaster candidate has some modern looks beloved by many fans. We’re talking, of course, about Emma Frost, who has spent two decades starring in a mystery that some fans have dubbed “the case of the disappearing clothes.”
Granted, her first outfit looked like the most impractical gear ever, but it still functioned as clothing. However, starting with her addition to the X-Men, she’s had more clothes off than on. And while she is a beautiful character who uses her body as a weapon, it’s still tough to take one of the most powerful mutants in the world seriously when she is practically walking around with nothing on.
16 BEST: MYSTIQUE
Earlier, we trashed Emma Frost for constantly losing her clothes. However, there is one character that did benefit from losing the clothes... at least, some of the time. Who are we talking about? Everyone’s favorite mutant shapeshifter, Mystique!
In the comics, Mystique’s white uniform has always looked weird -- like she was on her way to a toga party and decided to become evil. In First Class, Mystique is often naked in her blue form, though everything lewd was appropriately hidden. The look is more natural, and when she’s not blue, she’s Jennifer Lawrence. What can we say? That would be a great makeover for anyone!
15 WORST: BEAST
Overall, we really liked Grant Morrison's run on New X-Men. And he even introduced a pretty cool concept to the Marvel universe: “secondary mutations” that added new powers and abilities to existing mutants. Sometimes, this changed their look... and not always for the better.
Just ask Beast. His first change was a big improvement -- he looked better as a blue gorilla man than a gorilla-esque regular man. But his secondary mutation made him look like a giant cat. It’s already tough to take this character seriously given some of his dialogue, so making him look like he’s auditioning for Beauty and the Beast didn’t help.
14 BEST: STORM
Certain mutant looks are very period specific. For instance, it’s tough not to look at disco Dazzler and not chuckle a bit at the weird fashion of the time. However, other looks are downright iconic. Our favorite example of this is Storm from when she was rocking her mohawk.
This was from a period of time where Storm had lost her powers. Instead of moping about it, though, she made herself look like a gang leader and then promptly became one by taking over the Morlocks. Storm would later get her powers back, but if we’re being honest, we wished she kept the mohawk from back in the day.
13 WORST: VAMPIRE JUBILEE
Jubilee is another fan-favorite X-Men character. In fact, if you came to these characters via the '90s cartoon, then she was to you what Kitty Pryde was to '80s kids. Her regular look (yellow trench coat and all) was pretty outlandish, but her vampiric makeover was pretty awful.
She kept the yellow coat and pink sunglasses and donned some black spandex -- talk about clashing colors! For what it’s worth, the writers eventually got the memo and restored Jubilee back to her standard mutant form. With any luck, that means no more black spandex or goofy fangs on our favorite firework-spewing mutant.
12 BEST: ARCHANGEL
While some say it’s blasphemy to talk ill of the classics, we’ll just say it: Angel’s original design was pretty weak. He was, after all, just a guy with wings -- there is not much that can add to this look to make it seem cool, distinct, or even vaguely original.
However, Angel’s evil makeover into Archangel is pretty solid. Now he’s fierce and metallic, with razor wings and blue skin. He looks like a demon through the lens of a comic. It’s no coincidence that out of all the Horsemen of the Apocalypse designs we’ve seen, this is the most enduring.
11 WORST: DEADPOOL
All of us have been #blessed enough to see how awesome Deadpool looks on film. The character has headlined two super-successful solo movies and basically redefined how comic book movies are made. However, he had an earlier makeover that very nearly destroyed his chances.
In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, we see Deadpool transformed into a weird-looking freak with his mouth stitched shut. It’s an absolutely terrible design and a waste of Deadpool’s biggest talent -- his mouth. There’s a reason that both Deadpool movies mocked this absolutely terrible character design. At this point, we’re eager to see what future Deadpool designs the movies will bring us.
10 BEST: DAZZLER
Earlier, we mentioned how the disco look of the original Dazzler seemed out of place almost right away. When the character was reinvented for the Ultimate X-Men, the challenge to the artists was clear: how do they update such a character for modern times? Simple: make her a punk.
Dazzler’s punk makeover was, ironically enough, evergreen: punk fashion, unlike disco fashion, doesn’t really change that much from decade to decade. It also seemed thematically appropriate: Dazzler is a character who turns music into her weapon, and it doesn’t get more punk than that. Is it too late to request a punk Dazzler solo film?
9 WORST: MAGNETO
On paper, it’s pretty easy to make fun of Magneto’s regular outfit. Bold purple colors? Flowing cape? Weird helmet? The dude is a checklist of bad design choices. However, the ironic truth is that his outfits only get worse when he tries to make himself over as a good guy.
In the '80s, for instance, he ditched the regular look for a helmetless outfit that was still purple and still caped. However, he added a giant white "M for Magneto" on his chest along with a white belt. The final result is that he looked much more like a bad stage magician than either a hero or villain.
8 BEST: ROGUE
If we’re being honest, there is a really fine line between “cheesecake” and “lewd.” As we said before, Emma Frost often tips over into the distractingly lewd territory. However, one character managed to get it “just right.” Who are we talking about? Rogue in the Savage Land.
The narrative conceit here is that our heroes have had to live in the wild for a bit and their costumes are degrading. In Rogue’s case, it “just happened” to degrade into a kind of ersatz bikini. The final result is a very striking and iconic makeover that you wouldn’t be terribly embarrassed to be caught looking at.
7 WORST: CYCLOPS
You know the old saying “be careful what you wish for?” This was very true when it came to Cyclops. This character has been mocked for years as being a strait-laced and boring Boy Scout. To change things up, the writers had him off Professor X and become a kind of rogue mutant-turned-teacher.
While the story has its moments, the makeover Cyclops gets is pretty bad. His iconic visor has been replaced by a giant “X” over his face while his uniform is some unmemorable red spandex with a few lines on it. Unless you like pretending he’s a mutated Racer X, this look won’t do anything for you.
6 BEST: RACHEL GREY
One consistent thing in comics storytelling is that a new look represents changes that have happened to characters. Rachel Grey is a character whose life has been nothing but change. However, when she found a kind of inner peace, she announced it in a really cool way.
Basically, she got a new look that merged together all of her previous looks. She is no longer haunted by her past (and possible future) as a mutant-hunting Hound, instead wearing the spikes of this look with fierce pride. And on a related note, she definitely looks like someone you don’t want to mess with.
5 WORST: X-23
Your mileage may vary, but we hate lazy makeovers. For instance, when a new character takes on someone’s else’s role and barely changes outfits. Unfortunately, that’s the case when Logan passed away and X-23 took over the role of Wolverine.
There’s not much we can say about it: she is simply wearing Wolverine’s iconic yellow spandex outfit. And while that uniform is definitely a design classic, it seems like a missed opportunity not to actually upgrade the look. Compounding things was the fact that X-23 already had an iconic look of her very own, and we’d much rather scope that out than Wolverine 2.0.
4 BEST: HAVOK
Some characters have nowhere to go but up with their mutant makeovers. That is, they start out with such a bad outfit that almost anything would be an improvement. Havok is one of those characters, but unfortunately, he beat the odds and managed to get an even worse look.
When he joined X-Factor, his previous all-black look was replaced by this colorful monstrosity. From the terrible face framing mask to the huge jacket to the rolled up sleeves, this look is a fashion Frankenstein of bad decisions. Sorry, Havok -- it turns out that we’d rather have you back in black.
3 WORST: ROGUE
Rogue’s original look is quite iconic. However, no one can stay in yellow spandex forever, and she eventually got a whole new look in the '90s. Unfortunately, her whole new look ended up being a fairly massive downgrade in terms of fashion.
The red and black outfit is pretty forgettable and generic: frankly, she looks more like she’s wearing a Mass Effect outfit than a colorful X-Men costume. The cherry on top of things are her red glasses, and while there was a (bad) story explanation, she mostly just looked like she was mocking Cyclops with the new red look. She got a revamped and marginally improved version of this look later on in New Exiles.
2 BEST: MEGGAN
Meggan is definitely one of the fan-favorite characters from the Excalibur team. Despite this, her original look is a bit “meh”-- the jumpsuit and ears made her look more like an extra from Star Trek than a cool mutant superhero.
Eventually, Meggan got a whole new look. Some fans dismissed it as too cleavage-focused, but the truth is that the tighter lines and extra skin contrast give her a more dynamic look. Combined with her longer hair and cool gauntlets, Meggan now looked like an intimidating powerhouse instead of a sci-fi extra. If we ever get an onscreen Excalibur, hopefully this will be her look.
1 WORST: JUGGERNAUT
Recently, movie fans got to see an awesome recreation of the infamous comic book villain Juggernaut. In many ways, he served as the “Big Bad” of Deadpool 2 and intimidated everyone as an unstoppable force. Unfortunately, this wasn’t our first on-screen version of this major villain.
In The Last Stand, we see Magneto put together a motley crew of villains, and Juggernaut is one of him. His live-action design is an absolute nightmare: he looks like a Mad Max villain whose helmet is a bad, oversized cosplay of Magneto’s helmet. The result is a forgettable design paired with an unforgettably bad performance.