Superhero fashion changes throughout the decades for a multiple of reasons. When comics first started out, most superheroes wore capes, then buccaneer boots popped up in the ’70s, bright colored accessories were adapted in the ’80s, the ’90s were all belts and pouches that heroes never seemed to use, and the early ’00s brought us the sleek black leather costumes used frequently in live-action adaptations. There’s currently a trend of combining all of these fashion statements in an effort to create something new yet familiar. This is best depicted with the recent resurgence of X-Men titles at Marvel.
While the X-Men have always been a unique group of superheroes, they’ve typically worn similarly-styled uniforms to acknowledge their team membership. This became especially apparent in the ’90s when the most of the members of the X-Men, X-Factor and X-Force wore yellow and blue costumes as a symbol of unity. Fashion changes haven’t always been so kind to our favorite mutants, though. For every iconic look that’s used in a movie or animated series, there’s plenty that didn’t go over well with fans. CBR takes a look at some of the X-Men characters who looked better back in their 90s’ heyday than they do now.
15. EMMA FROST
After spending decades as one of the X-Men’s most powerful villains, Emma Frost reformed following the deaths of her own team of young mutants, the Hellions. Emma would co-lead the team of young X-Men-in-training Generation X with Banshee, mentoring them in the use of their powers. After Generation X disbanded, Emma joined the X-Men and eventually became a love interest for Cyclops following the most recent death of Jean Grey (leaving fans outraged).
While acting as head mistress of the Massachusetts Academy during the ’90s, Emma covered up a little bit more than her previous costumes. Her new wardrobe included pants and blazers, along with her classic corset tops, all still in her signature color of white. However, when Brian Michael Bendis took over, he revamped the entire team’s uniforms, changing them to all black and resembling what you would find in a very specific kind of store.
The best at what he does, Wolverine is arguably the most popular X-Men character of all time. With a regenerative healing factor, bad temper and adamantium-laced bones, he’s one of the best fighters in the Marvel Universe. He’s been a member of the X-Men since the late ’70s and has had multiple solo series along the way.
In the ’90s he finally gave in and started wearing a blue and gold X-Men uniform that was translated into a variety of animated series. While we never got to see a live-action version of this costume, it remains a favorite among fans. It’s also a far cry from the baggy pants, bulky jacket and wife beater that the current Old Man Logan wears in the pages of X-Men Gold.
A breakout character of the ’90s run of Generation X, Paige Guthrie has the ability to shed her outer layer of skin, revealing a different substance underneath (usually metal or stone). Raised in a Kentucky coal mining family and the younger sister of Cannonball, Paige also formed a close friendship with Jubilee. After a short stint with Banshee’s militant X-Corps, she would join the X-Men in Chuck Austen’s 2001 revamp of the team.
As a member of Generation X, Husk wore their standard costume of a red suit with yellow gloves and boots along with protective outerwear. Generation X was revived earlier this year, with Jubilee taking on a mentor role of younger mutants with passive powers. Paige has guest-starred a couple of times, with an updated costume that looks more like a midriff straight jacket than anything else.
A skilled mercenary with probability-altering powers, Domino first appeared in the early ’90s as the partner, confidante and love interest of Cable. She would also assume a leadership position with the X-Force team and later became a member of the X-Men. Her signature identifiers are pale white skin, a black circle around her left eye and guns. Lots of guns.
When Domino first appeared, she wore a black and white costume that went along with her physical features. However, she eventually changed her look a purple suit with lots of gadgetry and occasional headgear (reminiscent of DC’s Huntress). Following the end of X-Force, Domino reappeared in the pages of X-Men wearing just a simple black catsuit, leaving fans feeling like she was made to look like a Black Widow knockoff.
Originally a villain, Rogue eventually joined the side of good and became a powerhouse fan favorite. This Southern belle has the ability to absorb the powers and memories of anyone she touches, along with super strength and the ability to fly. A mainstay member (and sometimes leader) of the X-Men, Rogue first appeared in the early ’80s and has been heavily featured since.
As with her abilities and personalities, her costumes would change quiet often as well. Her ’90s yellow and green look is a fan favorite, utilized in the popular X-Men Animated Series airing at the same time. She would eventually go back to an outfit similar to her original hooded green costume. Even though this character has come a long way, covering herself up with a hood almost defeats the purpose of her arc.
Blink first appeared during the 1994 “Phalanx Covenant” storyline that crossed over every X-Men related title. Her character tragically died at the end of the story, sacrificing herself to save her fellow mutants. An alternate version of her character showed up in the “Age of Apocalypse” crossover in 1995 and became a fan favorite who went on to star in the X-Men spinoff, Exiles, in 2001. The primary version of Blink wouldn’t return until 15 years after her original appearance in 2009.
Blink’s “Age of Apocalypse”/Exiles uniform was particularly suitable for a teleporter. The design was pretty much a medieval-era dress with high slits on the sides for fighting, along with opera length finger-less gloves and a quiver that carried her teleporting projectiles. Blink was eventually resurrected and joined an iteration of the New Mutants with an outfit unflattering and bulky. Don’t even get us started on the boob window.
One of the most vibrant X-Men characters, Jubilation Lee joined the X-Men in the early ’90s and has appeared regularly ever since. A founding member of Generation X, Jubilee would also appear in several animated and live-action X-Men projects. She also formed an unlikely friendship with Wolverine and was frequently featured as his sidekick in his solo series. One of the mutants depowered after the events of M-Day, Jubilee would later be turned into a vampire (we’re not kidding).
When Jubilee left the X-Men to join Generation X, she adopted the same red and yellow uniform as the rest of the team, but also wore the yellow trench coat and shades she made famous while with the X-Men. After being turned into a vampire, Jubilee kept the jacket but donned an all black catsuit. We’re hoping Jubilee will one day return to her firework-shooting self soon.
One of the most popular X-Men to come out of the ’90s, Remy LeBeau is everyone’s favorite bad boy. Charismatic and stealthy, this mutant also has the ability to manipulate kinetic energy with everything he touches, creating powerful explosions. A constant member of the X-Men during the ’90s, he has dabbled in the dark side of things from time to time, especially in his pre-X-Men days. He is a close friend of Storm’s and eventually starts a relationship with Rogue.
Gambit’s outfit in the early ’90s was extremely practical (body armor) and stylish (brown trench-coat). He occasionally used a bo staff during fights, along with his playing cards. He underwent several costume changes after shortly after 2000, becoming a member of a corporate-funded X-Factor and, most recently, seen in the pages of Astonishing X-Men wearing a very basic, almost indistinct uniform.
One of the founding members of the X-Men, Beast originally possessed ape-like superhuman strength and agility, over-sized hands and feet and a genius-level intellect with an otherwise normal appearance. He would later undergo progressive physiological transformations, permanently gaining animalistic physical characteristics like blue fur, fangs and claws. He didn’t let this change in appearance stop him though, as he would go on to become a world authority on biochemistry and genetics, the X-Men’s medical doctor and even a political activist.
While we agree that just having him wear effectively swim trunks, in the ’90s Beast was an agile blue ball of fur with a primarily cat-like appearance. He would undergo another mutation in the early ’00s, making him seem like an anthropomorphic cat. We understand that it’s important to keep the character interesting, but making extreme changes to his appearance every few years isn’t the way to do it.
Another original member of the X-Men, Warren Worthington III, aka Angel and later Archangel, had the ability to fly via feathered wings extending from his back. He went on to be a member of other superhero teams as well, including the Defenders and Champions, and appeared in a number of animated series, video games and feature films. Following the events of the “Mutant Massacre” in which he loses the use of his wings, Warren is abducted by Apocalypse and transformed into his Horseman of Death, Archangel.
As Archangel, Warren possesses a set or metal techno-organic wings composed of metallic feathers that are laced with a paralyzing agent. The metal wings also enable him to fly faster than he previously could with his feathered ones. Let’s face it, Archangel is a killer, whereas Angel was just a spoiled blonde playboy who could fly.
A X-Men character who has enjoyed a little extra attention lately, thanks to being portrayed by Emma Dumont in the hit live-action TV series The Gifted, Polaris was the second female mutant to join the team in the late ’60s and had the ability to manipulate magnetism. A regular member of the X-Men as well as X-Factor, Lorna Dane is also known for her long-term relationship with the X-Man Havok and struggles with mental illness.
In the ’90s, Polaris was a stalwart member of X-Factor, and even became their leader, and it showed in her costumes. They were authoritative, practical and seductive all at once, often including metallic items she could manipulate and use in battle. Unfortunately, she most recently has been seen wearing a costume similar to her original one, a green bodysuit with cutout sides and a cape, which makes her feel old and outdated.
Aging young characters is a tricky thing, especially when it comes to mutants. After all, how long did Kitty Pryde and Jubilee stay teenagers? If it happens too fast, it can be jarring for readers, this is the case with Illyana Rasputin’s Magik. The younger sister of Colossus with the ability to teleport and manipulate magic, Magik was a long-time member of the New Mutants and recently became a full-fledged X-Man.
While most of her costumes have been a team uniform, when Brian Michael Bendis took over X-Men, his revamp of the costumes left a previously teenage Magik looking like she should be working elsewhere. And not in a good way. We get that younger heroes have to grow up sooner or later, but we weren’t ready for this risque costume.
A mutant police officer from a dystopian future, Bishop traveled back in time and joined the X-Men in the early ’90s. However, his history with the team has been a little sketchy, taking on more of an antagonistic role over the the course of several storylines in the mid-’00s. Bishop has the ability to absorb and redirect energy and is known for his time-hopping adventures, similar to Cable’s.
When he first appeared, Bishop wore his Xavier’s Security Enforcers uniform that utilized the classic blue and gold X-Men colors. He almost always had a gun of some kind with him, as well. His most recent appearance in the pages of Uncanny X-Force saw him being possessed by the Demon Bear and wearing a power suit with something resembling a caftan.
Alison Blaire debuted in the pages of Marvel in 1980. She was originally supposed to be a cross-marketing tool between a record label and Marvel and was given her own solo series. Wearing a white disco jumpsuit and roller skates, Dazzler definitely had her own unique style. Unfortunately, her solo career was short-lived but Marvel had other plans for the mutant by making her a mainstay member of the X-Men.
By the time the ’90s rolled around, Dazzler had taken some time away from being an X-Man to help liberate her lover Longshot’s oppressed home on Mojoworld. She adapted a modified version of her skin-tight ’80s blue jumpsuit, by turning it into a two-piece outfit with boots. She looked like an adventurer and freedom fighter. Today, Dazzler’s outfit looks like she’s stuck in a goth phase with no way out.
Also one of the original X-Men, Scott Summers is typically depicted as Charles Xavier’s Golden Boy. A long-standing leader of various X-teams, Cyclops’s love life has been through the wringer throughout the years. Losing Jean Grey, falling in love with her lookalike, losing her lookalike, getting Jean back, losing Jean again and then falling into a twisted relationship with Emma Frost.
Maybe it’s because his character seemed more innocent back then, but we prefer his blue and gold ’90s uniform with the clunky suspenders. His look has changed throughout the years, always keeping his ruby quartz visor on to keep his eye blasts in check. Most recently, his costume has been an all black suit with red “X”s all over it, leaving no sign of the good ‘ol boy we used to love.
Which ’90s X-Man looks the best to you? Let us know in the comments!
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