Call Them Impractical, But the Original X-Men Costumes Are About Individuality

“Gritty realism” has been the name of the game for superhero movies for some time now. And although some of the X-Men films have been decent, the costumes have a glaring problem: mutant heroes clad in black leather are completely antithetical to everything the characters stand for.


For starters, flashy costumes tell us a lot about the characters’ backgrounds and relationships to each other. A unitard might seem ridiculous on Nightcrawler, until you consider that he was originally an acrobat. Likewise, it’s no coincidence that the costumes for Wolverine and Cyclops are essentially palette swaps, as they represent opposing methods of leadership.

But more importantly, the X-Men comics have often used the struggles of mutants as a metaphor for civil rights movements throughout the ages. In that way, colorful uniforms are a celebration of pride in being part of a marginalized group, a celebration that’s utterly lost when the mutants are dressed in identical suits that resemble motorcycle gear. This choice becomes especially confusing when other films—like Deadpool, or even Kick-Ass to a degree—are able to bring comic book costumes to life in a believable way.

The final nail in the coffin comes when kaptainkristian shows us some footage from behind the scenes of the first X-Men film: the actors are barely able to move in these drab leather bodysuits. For reasons practical and metaphorical, maybe Spandex was the way to go after all.

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Tom Coates

The only problem with this article is that the original X-men costumes were actually uniforms and it wasn’t until the New X-men turned up in the mid-70s that they all had the distinctive costumes you list above. They’ve gone back and forth every so often ever since.