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How The X-Men Should Really Look

Whether you're on the side of the mutants or mankind in the battle for societal superiority, it's no last stand to say that not all of the X-Men have arrived on the big screen in the form fans might've been expecting. From small costume shifts to complete outfit overhauls, some of the characters have either adequately absorbed or been totally transformed from their counterparts on the printed page.

Professor X

When it came to Professor Charles Xavier, director Bryan Singer hit the nail directly on the Cerebro-wearing head by roping in Sir Patrick Stewart for the role. Not only did the studio save money on Professor X's haircut budget, but Stewart's natural facial structure resembled the character to a near-exact proportion—even his eyebrows are literally on point. It's almost as though he was born to play the character, even if he came into the world two decades before Xavier arrived in 1963's The X-Men #1.

The biggest difference can be found in the modernization of Professor X's machinery. Professor X's mechanical accessories in Singer's X-Men movies most closely resembles those seen in the X-Men: Evolution animated series, which ran from 2000 to 2003. Meanwhile, James McAvoy's run as the younger character version in the X-Men: First Class series also eventually evolved into the wheelchair-bound baldie we all knew and loved so well, and in Days of Future Past, his suit game was strikingly similar to the three-piece preferences of the same era's comics version of Professor X.


While Sir Ian McKellen's portrayal of Max Eisenhardt, a.k.a. Magneto, was electric (so to speak), the filmmakers opted to simplify his costume from its body-hugging leotard-and-cape-style comic origins quite a bit. Rather than the traditional red, chiseled muscle-bearing bodysuit with purple touches, McKellen's Magneto usually opted for funeral-ready black cloaks that helped bolster his image as a grumpy old mutant. He donned a maroon helmet as a nod to his drawn iteration, but otherwise offered up his own interpretation.

Michael Fassbender's follow-up in First Class eventually ushered in another smidgen of Magneto's early costume touches, including some ripple effects on his armored wardrobe, but it was more of a hybrid between the earlier movie look established by Singer's trilogy and the illustrations than a direct homage to either. While his Magneto ensembles were layered with hints of the warm-cool color strata mix of Max's original suit, it still mostly stuck to the non-superhero aesthetic.


One of the biggest sartorial shifts between the comics and film versions of the X-Men series came by way of Wolverine (who's been played a whopping eight times, and counting, by Hugh Jackman). In the comics, Logan is clad in a color-blocked suit (usually with yellow and black or blue) with sharp ears on the cowl and a thick belt bearing the X-Men emblem. Sure, he went shirtless from time to time, because biceps like those can't always be kept undercover, but the movies have almost completely ignored the option of having Wolverine wear superhero garb and instead seem to showcase as much of Hugh Jackman's birthday suit as a PG-13 rating will allow.

One deleted scene from 2013's The Wolverine did cruelly tease Logan's possible future with the classic suit, but director James Mangold decided to scrap the scene (and costume option) from his film, explaining that Jackman's screen version of Logan just doesn't jibe with that sort of flashy gear. "Finding the rationale for a uniform when the character disdains self-promotion, why he would put on some outfit that promotes himself as some kind of hero? It's like Dirty Harry didn't walk around with a special outfit," he explained. "He's not a showoff. He's the last one to put on a team jersey." Fair enough.


Like many of her cinematic contemporaries, Anna Paquin's version of Rogue in the X-Men movie universe has largely sidestepped her character's customary costumery. Long gone is the green and yellow body-con gear she rocks on paper; instead, movie Rogue worked with gothy leather layers with long sleeves, gloves, and high collars—pretty much anything and everything she could put on to cover every possible inch of her dangerous skin. One style element that did make the jump was the thick white streak of hair she sports up front, although the rest of her mane game is reddish in the comics while appearing more raven onscreen. She did pull in an occasional wink to her citrus colors with a sweater or two, but it was barely significant enough to count.


Hank "Beast" McCoy has undergone some massive metamorphoses since his debut, from a typical teen boy with big, hairy feet to a furry manimal with claws and matted tufts to a secondarily mutated feline breed and then back to his simian physique. Kelsey Grammer's screen take on the big blue brainiac was basically a giant blue man with a mullet and muttonchops, but with Nicholas Hoult's depiction of the character in the X-Men: First Class film series, the creators opted for the more cat-like appearance he repped in the early 2000s with thick, sharp claws, pointed ears, sharp gold eyes, and a whisker-ready upper lip. He does still retain some humanoid facial features, like visible sclera, distinguishable eyebrows, and ordinary rows of teeth, but he was much more feral in appearance—which made his gentle giant personality all the more surprising.


James Marsden's version of Scott Summers in the early 2000s X-Men theatrical trilogy was a far cry from the comics. Rather than the blue and yellow super-suit he sported so frequently in his drawn form, Cyclops instead donned the same black leather fight gear as everyone else who'd stepped away from their comic-based clothes.

When the character was rebooted by Tye Sheridan in 2016's X-Men: Apocalypse, however, his look was a lot more faithful to the primary palette of the publications, from the blue undersuit (sans the stretch material, of course) to the yellowish shoulder straps with a red "X" badge and throwback protective eye plate instead of those basic sunglasses Scott sported under Marsden's watch (to be fair, Oakleys were all the rage back then).

Emma Frost

When January Jones suited up with her all-ivory wear for 2011's X-Men: First Class, her costume was fundamentally very similar to her drawn counterpart. In both versions, cleavage on display was an essential element, as was snow white fabric. While her outfits did bear some shape and structure differences, their overall ambiance was similar enough to pass (bonus points for the replica hairdos, too). Jones' screen version also opted for some of the same ornate, belly-bearing underwear get-ups that have made her such a comics pinup since her 1980 introduction, and a final, perhaps most memorably uncanny screen similarity came by way of their shared icy stares. Those eye-cicle daggers were sharp enough to make anyone shudder.


Onscreen, Piotr Nikolaievitch Rasputin (better known as Colossus) has been most frequently portrayed by Daniel Cudmore with the same black riot gear-type costume sported by most of the team members in Singer's X-Men movies. However, when 2016's Deadpool reintroduced the character using some significant CGI enhancement, it was an obvious callback to the stencilled metallic musculature of the original—even his head was built to be as boxy as before—but the attire was still altered, nixing the tee-shirt shaped tight top for a sturdy vest with just a hint of the original red trimmings throughout. Despite minor wardrobe shifts, though, new Colossus was obviously an effort to capitalize on the visual freedom afforded by a completely CGI character.


Bobby "Iceman" Drake spent the majority of his screentime looking an awful lot like actor Shawn Ashmore in a biker jacket, but when he did eventually ice over for combat he bore barely a moderate resemblance to his comics self. Rather than the cool hue of the original, Ashmore's Iceman became more of an irridescent ice sculpture whose facial features were no longer distinguishable from some B-movie apparition. The other obvious difference is that in the comics, he's got barely a shred of shorts on, whereas the movie version of the character is covered head to toe. Hey, if Mystique could bare it all in body paint, why not him too?


Like so many other X-Men in Singer's movies, Halle Berry's version of Storm ditched a lot of her signature digs. While her bright eyes, flowing white hair, and love of tight black leather were on full display in the movie presentation of Ororo Munroe, her curve-hugging suits were left in the comics closet and traded up for some more militaristic battle wear. One fashion piece which made an appearance in both editions was her unending love of capes—particularly ones that sway in the wind because, ya know, she is in charge of the weather.


Both Rebecca Romjin and Jennifer Lawrence really put themselves out there to get into the skin of Raven Darkholme, a.k.a. Mystique, in her revealing film forms. Interestingly enough, the character was most often seen sporting clothes in the comics, so her scaly blue big screen look was an obvious ploy for some ratings-friendly sex appeal in the movies. The new trend was was emotionally explored in the First Class follow-up, as Lawrence's Raven used her nudity as a sign of mutant pride amidst her ultimate defection from Professor X's good guy squad. Two aspects that did remain the same were her striking shade of red hair and those glowing gold irises in her eyes.


When it comes to Nightcrawler, almost no one could've captured the sinister grin and menacing stance of Kurt Wagner better than actor Alan Cumming, who, like his character, has a genuine gift for speaking German. Cumming dutifully studied the posture and presence of the character when he joined the franchise fold as Nightcrawler in 2003's X-Men 2, and it showed. His look—which took hours of daily prosthetics and makeup, color contact lenses, and CGI enhancement to add in the literal tail spins—was eerily similar to the source. Even so, Cumming's version still sported a few differences, including a wardrobe of street clothes instead of the character's striking uniform, and ditched the spiked 'do for some subtler curls.

Kodi Smit-McPhee gave a shot at the same when he picked up the mantle in Apocalypse, but with his weird blue hair streaks and boring Boy Scout duds, he looked more like some surfer kid who'd slipped into a vat of blue food coloring than a nightshade teleporter whose demonic appearance belies his Catholic faith.

Jean Grey

As Phoenix afire, Jean Grey is your ordinary ball of flames taking flight, but in her human form, it's clear why the beauty might have been the object of so much affection from the fellas in her life. Unlike a lot of her mutant movie companions, she actually did prefer black leather body suits in her drawn version, so it wasn't too much of a stretch to suit her up in the same for the films. Famke Janssen's first take on the character was a virtual comic doppelganger, nailing even the random waves and side parts of her ruby locks. For Apocalypse, Sophie Turner's new-gen approach to the role was solid enough and checked off many of the same marks, but Janssen's portrayal was a more thorough match.


Victor Creed is known to have long blond locks, thick claws and sharp teeth, and in the comics, he's frequently dusted in snow while scowling at somebody. X-Men first introduced the character with Tyler Mane as the mangy man-beast, but it was a blink-and-you'd-miss-it cameo that, while visually faithful, didn't count for much. Liev Schreiber's run in the role in 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine was more substantially developed but bore little to no resemblance to his comics forebear. Were it not for the bit of chin bristle and that subtle set of fangs, he might not have been recognizable as the character at all.


Lucas Till's look as the flame-bursting Alex "Havok" Summers didn't involve a direct adoption of his comics uniform from the pages of the X-Men comics, but there were a few winks to the X-Man's original looks, especially the costume he wore in the Mutant X series. In addition to the high collar line and strategically circular chest patch on his suit, Till's version also incorporated the character's classic blue-yellow color scheme, chiseled jawline and tousled blonde locks. Otherwise, the costume concept was mostly original to First Class, Days of Future Past and Apocalypse.