The success of Bryan Singer’s first X-Men film in 2000 arguably kicked off the modern era of superhero filmmaking, followed as it was by Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, Singer’s own X2 and the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with 2008’s Iron Man. So the director can be forgiven for opting for more “serious” black leather uniforms instead of comics-appropriate colorful spandex in an attempt to legitimize for audiences the story of a group of young adults whose genetic abnormalities allow them to shoot lasers out of their eyes and suck the life force out of people. In the time since, however, mainstream audiences have embraced superhero films and their vibrant attire, while Fox’s stable of X-Men movies have stuck largely to the grey or black armor look or foregone costumes entirely.
That’s a mistake, YouTuber kaptainkristian argues in his video essay, “X-Men - Color And Costumes,” which asserts that not only are vibrant costumes essential to the X-Men for practical reasons—there are so many characters that the costumes provide an easy visual shorthand to who’s who at any given moment—but are part of their identities as both a team and a defiant statement of pride about their outcast status. Plus, films like Deadpool and X-Men: First Class (not to mention The Avengers and many others) have shown that you can add color to heroes’ costumes without making them look wildly impractical. That latter point is important, however, since Singer’s upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse has shown signs of loosening up in the costume department, unfortunately with some male gaze-influenced, ripped-from-the-comics looks that may be a little too faithful to the source material.