Some of the most beloved of all Marvel comic characters are the iconic X-Men. These superpowered mutants have been a staple of pop culture since their inception in 1963. One of the most successful incarnations of the team was the 90’s cartoon X-Men: The Animated Series. This cartoon ran for years, both live and in syndication, and featured an exciting group of mutants who teamed up to kick ass. One iconic aspect of the animated series was the team’s bright, colorful, and unique costumes. Unfortunately, all of the film version of the X-Men have denied the characters their trademark style. Instead, they wear matching black leather suits that are just plain boring. Now the question is: why are we denying X-Men unique battle duds?
One X-Men fan examined just this in a captivating and enlightening youtube video. Check it out below.
There’s some really great things happening in this video. Let’s break down some of it.
To start, there is something rather lazy in the costume design for basically all of the X-Men films. While the characters shown in the movies are (mostly) colorful and unique, their battle gear isn’t. This began with Bryan Singer’s first movie in the franchise, X-Men. Rather than each mutant having unique and colorful costumes, the team’s uniforms are black leather and super boring. While Storm gets to have a cape, there is little difference in any of the team’s uniforms. They don’t even have an accent color that is unique to the character’s personality.
And, as this video points out, the use of tight leather suits severely limited the movement of the actors. In a franchise that relies on a ton of heavy duty action sequences, a costume which prevents the actors from being able to physically do the blocking and fight choreography seems to be a major hindrance.
The video also explains that forcing the X-Men into such dull and identical uniforms is actually dishonest to the franchise as a whole. Contrary to many other Marvel characters, the X-Men are never considered heroes. Instead, mutants are hated and feared by the majority of society. The X-Men’s unique costumes serve as a representation of their individuality, as well as an armor from the bigotry they face on a daily basis.
Additionally, the individual costumes in both the comics and X-Men: The Animated Series also served to inform the audience on who each character was. As the video points out, Cyclops and Wolverine’s costumes juxtapose each other in use of the same two colors. This is a visual clue to their opposing viewpoints. Additionally, other character’s backgrounds can be seen through their uniforms. Jubilee is a high school student who wears street clothes, Nightcrawler is a circus gymnast who wears more dramatic clothes, and Storm has more flowing garments to represent her claustrophobia.
Now the question is, will the X-Men movies ever let the spandex return? Deadpool showed that unique and colorful costumes were functional and successful for modern audiences. Perhaps the R-rated romp will help break down barriers in the X-Men movie universe.
And Psylocke’s costume for X-Men: Apocalypse is pretty faithful to the comics. So at least there’s that.