If you could pinpoint a single movie that began Hollywood’s current obsession with the superhero genre, 2000’s X-Men would be it. At the time Bryan Singer’s movie was made, the interest in a franchise centered on mutants with superpowers was a huge risk for Fox. With the movie having celebrated its 20th anniversary earlier this month, producer Ralph Winter is looking back at the production’s decision to have its heroes wear leather.
As comics fans know, X-Men didn’t draw heavily from the comic books when drafting its slick costumes. Wolverine is known to wear yellow and blue get-up with a mask, and Hugh Jackman never ended up wearing that look throughout his long run as the character. Ralph Winter explained the filmmakers’ approach to the costumes:
At that time, we did feel like we did a good job. We limited the amount of time in the wardrobe. Of course, there’s a joke in the movie about yellow spandex, which was directed at the fans. It wasn’t to iterate them but to say ‘Hey, we hear you. We understand what you want. We understand you don’t like the idea of Wolverine being taller than 5'4". We understand you’d rather have everybody in the traditional garb. But we also have to make a movie that reaches a wide audience to justify the budget.’
Nowadays, comic book films don’t mind leaning into their roots more and more because the genre has become so popular. Risks in every direction have been made in Marvel films, whether it be through the beautifully colorful costumes of a movie like Captain Marvel, or the gritty realism of Logan. When X-Men was being made, there was a feeling that it needed to cater to a wider audience, and leather was the way to do it.
Don’t forget what era we’re talking about either. The Matrix had just come out the year before and leather was a huge part of that movie’s aesthetic as well. Ralph Winter continued to Syfy Wire with these words:
The trick is always to bullseye the hardcore Marvel/X-Men fan, but do it in a way that doesn’t alienate an average moviegoer that might enjoy, or start to enjoy, these types of stories.
Ralph Winter went on to produce a few more of the X-Men films, and he admits that the costume and hair of the characters was always a big conversation for the production every time. Looking back, he is especially happy about the changes that were made to Halle Berry’s Storm later in the franchise. Since 2000’s X-Men, the movies have certainly changed and the possibilities for the genre has expanded.
Fox’s X-Men series sadly ended last year on a low note with 2019’s Dark Phoenix, but Josh Boone’s The New Mutants will likely serve as the last remnant of the original franchise. The horror take on the spinoff X-Men comic won’t have any cameos, but is confirmed to have some distinct connections to the series. The New Mutants is expected to hit theaters on August 28, and the MCU has plans to fit the X-Men into its massive universe sometime in the future.
Stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more news about the X-Men and the MCU.