The Suit Maketh The Wolverine

A history of Wolverine’s many wardrobe changes.

Logan is out this week (buy your tickets here!). To celebrate, we're featuring a week of articles in honor of everyone's favorite mutant.

James Howlett, better known as Wolverine, has had a line of costume changes that match the frequency of his moodiness. Since Wolvie’s first appearance in The Incredible Hulk to his later Old Man Logan look, the guy has seen his share of artists and adjustments to his costume. 

The most popular of these costumes seems to be his yellow and blue variation. This has a lot to do with X-Men The Animated Series that ran from 92’ to 97’ on Fox. For those that weren’t into the whole comic book thing prior to the show, a lot would be converted into collectors following the series. Myself included. Seriously, tt was a total gateway drug in terms of leading me to becoming a fan of not only that series, but of other series and publishers. 

Once I began collecting comics and looking into back issues, I realized how many variations of Project X’s costumes there were. These led me to spend an unhealthy amount of time and money tracking down a ton of comics featuring Wolverine in different outfits. 

Over several years, I was able to collect some of the big first appearance costume issues, including his first appearance in The Incredible Hulk

With Logan on its way to theaters and the introduction of yet another older and more grizzled Wolverine variation, I went back through some of my comics and put together a history of some of ole’ Howlett’s greatest hits and misses of wardrobe changes. 

In '74 when Wolverine went toe-to-toe with The Incredible Hulk, he came wearing his short ears and whiskers. Legendary artist John Romita gave the world its first look at Wolverine in full-on bright colors and claws that were originally thought to be attached to the gloves. 

A year later artist Gil Kane took over and gave Wolverine a look that is almost identical to what the animated series would later get their design from. The taller ears and white eyes were a welcomed improvement and perfect for his first outing with the X-Men. 

When artist Dave Cockrum took over in '77 he took Wolverine in a totally different direction. His mask was removed and his costume took a primitive look. The “Fang” incarnation was yellow and black and bedazzled by tooth and bone. 

In 1980 Wolverine was given my personal favorite of his outfits. The suit allowed Wolvie to show off his guns and was a perfect intro for him to join up with Uncanny X-Men

Black is always a cool color to wear. Right, you guys? Well, the fist time Wolverine went into solo territory he wore something he would have worn had he been part of The Matrix. This all-black suit was matched with some black eye-makeup that I’m pretty sure techno group Prodigy would have been delighted with. 

For a short time in ’91 Wolvie went with a maskless yellow and blue costume. Artist Jim Lee took inspiration from earlier yellow and blue costume designs and took it his own direction. 

In '91 we also got a look at Wolverine’s Project Weapon X backstory. This was Wolvie at his most savage. The design featured an almost naked Wolverine with straps, prods, wires and helmet. 

In 1992 we all saw Wolverine get back to his classic outfit with some marked improvements. This variation had the classic yellow and black but much like the brown incarnation, he was once again allowed to show off his guns. 

We all have a weird part of our lives, right? Well, Wolverine went through an awkward phase too. In 1996 Wolverine underwent a procedure that left him deformed. This lead to a variation of the costume that had open-toed boots, hairier arms and left Wolvie looking very Cro-Magnon. He would attempt to cover his face with a blue mask but that didn’t help anything in the “what the hell is going on” department. 

In 2000 we saw the release of X-Men in theaters, while X-Men Evolution, a new animated series, hit television. Along with it came another variation of the Wolvie costume. This one went back to an earlier design from the '80s by adding some straps and changing the colors to a burnt orange and black. 

During 2001 and 2002 the very Hugh Jackman looking comic book Wolverine went for the same suit in both X-Men Evolution and Ultimate Wolverine. This costume borrowed from Wolverine’s movie costume as well as his '77 design. 

When Joss Wheadon took over in Astonishing X-Men, he took the costume all the way back to the design of the original '74 look, complete with blue and yellow topped with the short ears. Wheadon and Cassaday’s take on the X-Men is pretty fantastic and if you haven’t gotten your eyeballs on it yet, I promise it is time well spent. 

In 2008, Wolvie went through another goth phase and dawned a black and gray suit complete with red eyes. This costume was part of his being in X-Force and needing to be covert and ready to dance to The Cure or Depeche Mode at the drop of a hat.

In Old Man Logan, we find James Howlett retired and trying his best to be left alone. His costume design is reminiscent of old Western films and rightfully so, considering the story follows a classic blueprint for a “retired” gunslinger. In Logan, Howlett takes on a similar role, but wears a limo driver’s suit as opposed to the old gunslinger look. 

There are even more Wolverine costumes than this, but for me these are the big ones. What costume variation is your favorite? 

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