A hero’s costume is almost as important as their superpowers or skill set. For many characters, their costumes are a way to tell the world who they are and what they stand for. Wonder Woman has her red, white and blue (along with Captain America), Iron Man has his yellow and red suit and the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man has his red and black…tights. Costumes are often used to hold additional weapons in fighting crime, such as Batman’s utility belt or Black Widow’s arm bracers. Characters who have been around for decades usually have a very clear costume style signature.
However, every now and then, things get shaken up. The reasons vary; sometimes a hero will gain new powers, change teams (or allegiances) or even die, only to be resurrected with a new costume. Possibly none have gone through more costume changes than the mighty mutants of Marvel’s X-Men. Basically, you need a scorecard to keep up with who the members are and which team they’re on and which timeline they’re from; much less keep up with all the wardrobe changes every few years. CBR takes a look at some of the most dramatic costume changes in X-Men history.
20. MEGGAN’S CLEAVAGE BOMB
A mutant empath and shape-shifting elemental, Meggan appeared as Captain Britain’s paramour in the pages of multiple X-Men titles, but primarily Excalibur. As a founding member, along with Captain Britain, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat and Phoenix (Rachel Summers), she had the least amount of fighting experience but was often looked upon as the heart of the team. This was reflected in her costume as she was often seen in a casual green turtleneck and leggings. Although she was naive in many aspects of culture and functionally illiterate, her teammates eventually help bring her up to speed.
During the later part of Excalibur‘s run, Captain Britain was lost in the time-stream. With no hope of rescue, Meggan fell into a catatonic depression but eventually emerged as a more self-assured hero, taking on more of a leadership role with the team and changing her costume to match her new, freer self.
19. SHATTERSTAR GOES METRO
A native of Mojoworld, Shatterstar has gone through a lot of changes during his time in the Marvel Universe. Originally a founding member of X-Force, Shatterstar had the ability to channel energy blasts through his sword and also displayed superhuman physical prowess. During this time, we would discover that he is actually the son of the X-Men Longshot and Dazzler. Shatterstar was usually shown in his homeworld battle gear white costume with a long ponytail and half-cape.
He would eventually join Madrox’s X-Factor Investigations team and engage in a long-hinted, romantic relationship with his teammate, Rictor. Change looks good on him, as he cuts his hair short, loses the cape and adopts a black and white leather suit with complimentary jacket. He swaps the sword for arm bracers that extend blades out on opposite sides of his hands.
Mutant X was one of the many X-Men spin-offs of the late ’90s. This ongoing series found Havok transported to a parallel dimension in which his brother Cyclops is dead, he’s the leader of an altered group of X-Men and is married to Jean Grey’s clone, Madelyne Pryor. Another significant difference in this dimension was that the mutant gene isn’t present at conception, but appears at any age.
The breakout character of the series, though, was Bloodstorm, an alternate version of the X-Men’s Storm who had been turned into a vampire. Bloodstorm uses Forge and Kitty Pryde as food sources, often draining them just enough to sustain herself without killing them. More of an alternate version and less of a costume change per se, gone are is the regal cape and headdress of the Storm we know and love, replaced with a tube top, leather pants and combat boots.
17. GAMBIT GOES CORPORATE
Following the conclusion of the X-Factor Investigations run, this series returns to the concept of being a corporate-sponsored super team. Consisting of past X-Factor members Polaris and Quicksilver, Gambit, Danger, Warlock and Cypher also became members. Due to low sales, the series ended after only 20 issues.
Gambit has always stuck out as the rogue member of the X-Men, no pun intended. Ever since his early appearances, he’s worn a costume that is separate from his teammates. Apparently, that all changed when he showed up in the pages of the All-New X-Factor. Gone was the trademark trench coat and armored body suit, replaced with a gaudy yellow and gray suit (corporate benefactor Serval Industries’ company colors). Remember when Gambit was the hot X-Men character? Good times.
16. ROGUE LOSES HER CLOTHES
At the conclusion of “The Fall of the Mutants” storyline, the X-Men were pulled through the Siege Perilous, an inter-dimensional portal where they’re judged by universal forces and then dispersed to various parts unknown. Rogue is promised a “new life” after the remaining parts of Ms. Marvel’s persona and powers are removed from her body. Finding herself at the X-Men’s former Australian outback base, she is attacked by the Reavers but absorbs Gateway’s teleportation power and safely escapes to the Savage Land.
Rogue is eventually attacked again by a version of the Ms. Marvel persona who is being controlled by the Shadow King, before being saved by Magneto. The two mutants join forces with Ka-Zar and Nick Fury to battle Zaladane, who is trying to takeover the Savage Land. Forgoing her usual skin-suit, Rogue basically ends up wearing a safari-type bikini outfit, much to the joy of fanboy libidos everywhere.
15. DANI MOONSTAR GOES BAD
Danielle Moonstar was a founding member of The New Mutants with the ability to mentally summon a foe’s worst fear. She was featured throughout the majority of the series’ run, eventually taking on a leadership role. After a battle between The New Mutants and Hela on Asgard, Dani embraces her Valkyrie persona and chooses to stay behind in Asgard to preserve peace, rather than return to Earth.
After The New Mutants was relaunched as X-Force, the team fought a terrorist organization, Mutant Liberation Front, which included Dani in a brand new costume with brand new abilities. Now having the power to harness her psychic energy into “psychic arrows” that would incapacitate enemies. Gone was the clunky Valkyrie armor, replaced with a sexy Native American bodysuit and mask. Now calling herself “Moonstar,” she was eventually revealed to be working undercover as a member of S.H.I.E.L.D before returning to X-Force.
14. RACHEL SUMMERS/GREY HAS AN IDENTITY CRISIS
Rachel Summers was born the daughter of alternate future versions of Cyclops and Jean Grey, but was raised by the villainous Ahab to use her telepathic abilities as a “hound” to track down other mutants. Rachel escaped, traveled back in time to the present and joined the X-Men in an effort to prevent her future from happening. She would also go on to be a founding member of Excalibur.
Rachel has had a variety of identities throughout the years, even becoming a host for the Phoenix Force, which has led many costume changes. After the death of Jean Grey, Rachel adopted “Grey” as her last name and rejoined the X-Men, wearing a costume that was a unique blend of all her previous ones. There were the spikes from her hound past, greens and yellows from the time she was the Phoenix Host and topped off with a stylish trench.
13. THE WHITE QUEEN GETS A MAKEUNDER
The White Queen was one of the X-Men’s oldest enemies until the early ’90s. It took the shock of losing all of her former students, the Hellions, to get her to realize there is a better way to help mutant-kind and reform. She would eventually become co-leader, along with Banshee, of the next generation of mutants in Generation X.
As a villain, the White Queen basically ran around in a white bikini, white boots and a white cape, not leaving much to the imagination. However, when she joined Charles Xavier’s cause, she learned how to cover up a little more and to also be taken more seriously. The bikini was replaced with a corset top (baby steps), paired with a blazer and dress pants. All still in white.
12. KITTY PRYDE’S LEATHER PHASE (X-TREME X-MEN)
Originally the youngest member to join the X-Men ranks, Kitty Pryde was a source of determined optimism on a team that often went through some pretty dark stuff. Eventually becoming something of a technological genius, Kitty would use both her brains and her Wolverine-honed fighting skills to kick ass. She would eventually leave the X-Men, along with Nightcrawler and Rachel Summers, to form the British super-team, Excalibur.
Kitty would eventually rejoin the ranks of the X-Men and become an integral member for years to come. Traditionally clad in the classic yellow and blue X-Men uniform, she switched from a rather “good girl” look to “bad girl,” incorporating leather jackets, combat boots and skin-tight outerwear under the rebooted X-treme X-Men title.
11. JEAN GREY SHAVES HER HEAD
As part of the Ultimate Marvel imprint, Ultimate X-Men gave us a modernized re-imagining of the X-Men team. Featuring the likes of classic members like Cyclops, Jean Grey, Colossus and Storm, this series ran for eight years, eventually adding other members to the team. Witty, sarcastic but also responsible, this Jean has an affair with Wolverine before beginning a relationship with Cyclops and later becomes the host of the Phoenix Force.
Jean has always had a variety of looks throughout the years, but this one was so radically different, it threw many readers completely off guard. Gone were the long, red locks and padded bodysuit, and instead this version of Jean Grey sported a close pixie cut, tube top and a pair of spandex pants.
10. POLARIS GOES DARK
As the second female member of of the X-Men, Polaris has been around for decades. She would eventually fall in love with Havok, and feature heavily in the pages of Uncanny X-Men as well as it’s spin-off, X-Factor. With the ability to manipulate magnetism, like that other guy we know, she has gone through various personality and costume changes.
Usually wearing a variation of green and gold, to compliment her signature green hair, Polaris looked radically different when she reappeared in the pages of Uncanny X-Men in the early 2000’s. Wearing an outfit that consisted of purplish-black pants over thigh high-boots of the same color, including garters, and a low-cut bodice with gold stripes emphasizing her breasts, she looked more like the Goblin Queen than a member of the X-Men. Thankfully, this look was soon dropped and Polaris adopted a new uniform reminiscent of her very first.
9. DAZZLER GOES PUNK
Dazzler has been an on-and-off-again member of the X-Men since the early ’80s with the very cool ability to convert sound vibrations into a light, a variety of energy beams, force fields and can even create solid-light holograms. Often used as the punchline to many X-related jokes, she’s underrated and relegated to the background in X-Men. Thankfully, she was featured more prominently when she later joined a new incarnation of the previously mentioned Excalibur.
It was with New Excalibur that Dazzler drastically changed her outdated appearance. She dyed her signature strawberry blonde hair pink, cut it into a short pixie style and adopted a tougher and more edgy image. Gone were the showy, sparkly uniforms, replaced with cargo pants, a leather jacket and combat boots.
8. CYCLOPES DITCHES THE VISOR
A founding member of the X-Men, Cyclops has set the example for all other X-members to follow. Stalwart and steadfast, his faith in Professor X’s dream has never wavered. However, after he lost his wife Jean (again), his personality got a little darker. Especially once he started his torrid relationship with Emma Frost.
This became most evident when writer Brian Michael Bendis took over the creative reigns in late 2012. Seemingly giving the whole team S&M makeovers, Cyclops was not exempt to this treatment. His clunky yellow visor replaced with a simple “X” across his face that also dispersed his optic blast in a new, more destructive, way. While Bendis’ run was heavily criticized, most fans agree this is the first time Cyke looked like a complete bad-ass.
7. JUBILEE VAMPS OUT
Given that she has the ability to generate pyrotechnic energy blasts from her hands, Jubilee is a most appropriate name. Her powers weren’t the only things that were colorful, her sassy demeanor and optimism were a refreshing change to the X-Men lineup. As a junior sidekick who eventually went on to join the junior team, Generation X, Jubilee was also the viewer’s window character in the popular ’90s-era animated series.
Jubilee was one of the mutants depowered after the events of M-Day and came back into the X-Men fold, only to be bitten by Dracula’s son and turned into a vampire. At first, Vampire Jubilee was very dark and adopted a black leather outfit during her time away from the X-Men. Wolverine was eventually able to reach her and she rejoined the team, who are working on a cure for her.
6. PHOENIX ASCENDS
Jean Grey has been one of the most influential female heroes in X-Men history. Not only is she the sole female founding member, she is often seen as the heart of the team. Intelligent, brave and caring, Jean became a fan favorite early on, leading to multiple classic storylines. Perhaps the most famous is when she became host for the universe-destroying Phoenix Force, and then eventually becoming the destructive Dark Phoenix.
As Phoenix, Jean’s telepathy and telekinetic powers were amplified exponentially, giving her almost god-like abilities. With the power boost, so came the costume change. Keeping the green and gold color scheme, she was now wearing a suit with opera-length gloves and thigh high boots with a gold sash around her waist instead of the former mod dress and pointed mask.
5. MAGIK GROWS UP
In comics, it sometimes takes a while for characters to grow up. Heroes like Kitty Pryde and Jubilee seem to not age at all, despite decades passing in real time. However, every now and then, when a new creative team takes hold of a project, they often like to shake things up. One way, is by aging characters.
Colossus’s little sister Magik is a prime example. Not that she was ever particularly innocent (since she’s a teleporting, half-demon sorceress), but during most of her appearances in the pages of Uncanny X-Men and The New Mutants, she has been depicted as young and still somewhat childlike. Enter the Bendis-era X-Men. Magik’s traditional blue and gold school uniformed is updated to a sexy black leather costume, complete with midriff top and an enlarged Soulsword.
4. ANGEL IS REBORN
Also a founding member of the X-Men, Angel was born with a set of feathered wings that allowed him to fly… and that was pretty much all he could do for a long time. Though he went on to join various super teams throughout the Marvel Universe, his ability and personality were never particularly impressive. Until “The Fall of the Mutants” storyline happened.
In an effort to stop the slaughtering of innocent Morlocks by Mr. Sinister’s sadistic Marauders, Angel’s wings were permanently damaged during a fight. Angel was later captured and experimented on by Apocalypse, eventually turning him into a blue-skinned Angel of Death, with metallic wings that allowed him to travel at sub-sonic speed and shoot his “feathers” as deadly offensive weapons laced with a neurotoxin.
3. HAVOK STEPS INTO THE ’90S
Havok stayed in the shadow of his older brother, Cyclops, for a very long time. With a somewhat unpredictable ability to generate powerful blasts of hot plasma, Havok has always had to wear some variation of a containment suit to help deal with his powers. While he and longtime paramour Polaris have, more often than not, yearned to live a peaceful life away from the X-Men’s fight, they always seem to get pulled right back in.
After a brief absence from the X-Men, Havok later emerges as leader of the newly reformed X-Factor, who are now government-sponsored. Losing his former black unitard, Havok’s new costume is one with a variety of popular features of most ’90s costumes; including a leather jacket, finger-less gloves and a headdress.
2. PSYLOCKE SHOWS ALL THE SKIN
Psylocke has one of the most confusing histories of all the X-Men. As well as being Captain Britain’s younger sister, Psylocke is a powerful telepath who joined the X-Men in the ’80s. Rather prim and demure (she is British, after all), she often chose costumes that covered much of her body, even resorting to a type of full-body armor to help absorb the brunt of physical attacks.
However, after emerging from the Siege Perilous, her body and mind badly broken, she came into contact with a member of The Hand named Kwannon. Without knowing, Psylocke split her and Kwannon’s minds in half, leaving both physical bodies with half of both minds. This brought about a change in wardrobe, as Psylocke adopted a costume reminiscent of a one-piece bathing suit with long gloves and thigh high boots.
1. STORM GOES PUNK
One of the most peaceful and spiritual member of the X-Men, Storm was often considered the backbone of the team. With the ability to command the natural elements, she is an absolute force to be reckoned with. However, during a battle with a possessed Forge, she loses her powers and then has to decide if she stays with the team or not.
Finding a new determination within herself, she not only stays with the team, but eventually becomes their field leader. This new outlook on life came complete with a total punk rock makeover. Her long white hair was shaved into a mohawk, her majestic cape was gone and in it’s place? A leather vest, white tank, leather pants and black biker boots with finger-less gloves.
Any other X-makeovers that we may have missed? Let us know in the comments!
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