For reasons we simply do not understand, the X-Men Film Franchise seems to be allergic to colorful costumes
Sadly, if the recently released set photos from the upcoming film X-Men: Dark Phoenix are any indication, the franchise will continue to succumb to their allergy. That isn’t to say the costumes from that photo are bad. Quite the contrary. We love Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s run on New X-Men, and the team's stark black and yellow X-Men costumes looked great... seventeen years ago.
There are two things that are really irksome about seeing these costumes. The first is that we’ve already seen something similar in X-Men: First Class and in Deadpool with the outfit worn by Negasonic Teenage Warhead (who happens to be another Morrison creation). But the big bone to pick with Dark Phoenix’s X-Suits is that they aren't the bright, colorful costumes we were teased at the end of X-Men: Apocalypse. While that film is pretty divisive among fans and critics, one would be hard-pressed to deny how satisfying it was to see the costumes from the classic ‘90s X-Men comics and animated series brought to life.
With X-Men: Dark Phoenix being set in the early ‘90s, it seems like a huge missed opportunity to use the costumes fans both new and old are familiar with. The nostalgia factor alone would guarantee success. Nightcrawler’s red and black getup is classic and timeless (he still wears it to this day). Mystique’s splash of white is a wonderful nod to her comic outfit without making it look goofy in the real world, and the blue and gold bandoliered Cyclops outfit would illicit geek outs in theaters across the globe. In fact, the entire roster of X-Men who showed up in the final shot of X-Men: Apocalypse look simply amazing. These are our X-Men. This is how they dress -- especially in the early ‘90s.
While the X-Men films still perform well at the box office, they don’t put up the numbers the Marvel Cinematic Universe does. That isn’t a slam against Fox’s franchise -- it’s just a fact. The MCU has embraced its characters bright color schemes from the comic books, allowed their characters to wear them in broad daylight, and figured out how to make them make sense in the real world. As the old adage goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Fox has not learned this lesson.
Now, to be fair, Deadpool featured two pretty classic outfits, for both Colossus and the titular Merc with a Mouth, but it really isn’t enough. The forthcoming X-Men film is adapting one of the craziest storylines from Chris Claremont’s iconic seventeen year run on Uncanny X-Men, and the era during which it will take place is one that practically demands the filmmakers embrace the team's (admittedly ostentatious) costumes from the comics.
The X-Men film franchise has always embraced the weirdness of its source material, for better or worse. It’s given us insane fractured timelines, ret-cons and so many recasts it’s hard to find the universe's through line. But for whatever reason, the X-Men films are too cool for school when it comes to clothing its mutant protagonists. The X-Men are a team of misfits. They don’t need to be cool. Do you really think Kurt Wagner worries about how cool he looks in black leather? You would think he’s be more concerned with having a hole in the seat of his pants for his tail to poke through.
But we still hold out hope. X-Men: Dark Phoenix will take our band of merry mutants to outer space, so the costumes we’ve seen in the set photo might just be a nod the Chris Claremont and Jim Lee run of Uncanny X-Men, specifically the outfits we see on the gatefold cover of issue 275. After all, in previous X-Men films the gold and black outfits have been referred to as flight suits. Maybe those classic ‘90s outfits from X-Men: Apocalypse will be their on-planet mission getups. One can only hope.