Moviegoers owe the X-Men films for today’s superhero craze. They aren’t perfect and weren’t the first in the genre to meet success, but they demonstrated the viability of superhero films as blockbusters to studios and fans everywhere. Since then, heroes have dominated the box office, and with recent hits like Logan and Deadpool, 20th Century Fox is keeping their uncanny mutants in the race.
Despite the huge success of the franchise, X-Men hasn’t always implemented the most striking visuals. Instead of using the bright colors and distinct costumes that the X-Men comics are known for, the movies are often wrapped in black leather and dull-looking combat gear. Thankfully, the art is a bit more inspired.
For this list, we’ll be taking a look at abandoned X-Men concept art to see what could and should have been — from costume designs, to action set-pieces, to cut-content and more.
Compared to other comic book films, this franchise doesn’t have the prettiest aesthetic. The art design is still pretty consistent — even in the art that was tossed aside. However, this list collects some of the most unique pieces out there, and it paints a good picture of how the drab cinematic X-Men could have been injected with a bit more flair.
Here are 20 Unused X-Men Concept Art Designs Better Than What We Got.
20. Colorful X-Men Suits
Imagine if they had worn these instead of those leather bodysuits! Prolific concept artist Tim Flattery created these pieces for Bryan Singer’s original X-Men trilogy, displaying a drastically different approach to their costume designs. Wolverine, Cyclops, and Jean Grey all sport outfits that riff on the classic X-Men look. Mystique’s design is less comic-accurate (and weirdly snake-looking) but is still a refreshing change.
Not confident in flashy “comic booky” designs, the creative team thought the black leather suits were more grounded, and sadly decided to choose that sense of realism over expressive visuals.
Bright colors are key to the X-Men, visually and thematically — the whole point is for them standout and be proud of who they are as mutants. The comic costumes are similar but cater to each character, both denoting their allegiance to the team, as well as expressing their individuality and pride — making the dull black leather feel like a thematic injustice.
While these designs are unrealistic, they more effectively capture the spirit of the X-Men than any of the outfits in the franchise, other than the ones in X-Men: First Class. At least they got it right that time.
19. McKellen’s Magneto
Sir Ian McKellen’s portrayal of the X-Men’s greatest nemesis is fantastic, but his costume is certainly underwhelming. The lack of color didn’t just stop at the X-Men themselves; even Magneto’s costume was dark and drab — specifically lacking the vibrant shade of red.
His predominantly black outfit in Bryan Singer’s trilogy most closely resembles his outfit in Ultimate X-Men, which, at the time, served as a modern reboot for the comics.
On the other hand, this concept design (also by Tim Flattery) echoes the classic Magneto, complete with a deep red look and even horns on his helmet. His suit and cape would have been made of some kind of fiber weave, and the outfit even boasted armor in odd (and frankly non-vital) places.
Would it have been weird to see acting legend Sir Ian McKellen in this goofy, skintight suit? Our instincts say yes — but Cate Blanchett rocks a silly costume as Hela in Thor: Ragnarok, and she looks like awesome.
18. Fiery Jean Grey
X-Men: The Last Stand is far from perfect, as the production suffered from troubled development. Director Bryan Singer, who dropped out of the project, had planned to adapt the Dark Phoenix Saga — a beloved and iconic X-Men story arc that kind of made it’s way into The Last Stand.
This concept art is a remnant of Singer’s original vision, depicting Famke Jansen as an actually fiery Dark Phoenix.
In the final cut of the film, she doesn’t actually emanate any flames, so much as lots of wind from her psychic abilities. Her red dress and hair flow in the breeze during the film’s final act — something resembling fire and the Phoenix’s signature look — but this would have undoubtedly been cooler. X-Men: Apocalypse alluded to Jean Grey’s future form, and her appearance in that also reflects this design.
The piece itself isn’t much (she clearly doesn’t have a costume here either), but it’s a nice hint as to the original direction of Jean Grey’s design — one that may see the light of day in 2018’s X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
17. Tidal Waves In The Last Stand
Here’s another look at concept art from Bryan Singer’s take on The Last Stand. This piece likely would have been used at the the end of the film during the sequence on Alcatraz Island. It’s hard to definitively describe the scene, as its purpose is unknown, but the surging waves are likely a result of the Phoenix flying above the bay.
Other concept art exists of Jean flying over the water’s surface and displacing it as she moves, as well as a similar effect when she flies on the mainland — practically disintegrating any obstacles in her immediate vicinity.
This concept piece suggests something similar, though turned up to eleven. Not only would she have psychically displaced her surroundings, but she would have been so powerful that she could practically part the sea. Jean also isn’t visible in this particular image, only adding its sense of scale.
She was scary-powerful in the film’s official release, but this overblown display of psychic ability should have made the cut.
16. X-Men Origins: Deadpool
There’s a lot wrong with X-Men Origins: Wolverine but one of its more infamous travesties came in the form of a poorly designed version of Deadpool. Not only did he lack his signature costume, but he was given an amalgam of various X-Men powers and had his motor-mouth sewed shut.
This concept is a slight improvement over his final appearance, though when this look would have been used in the film is unclear.
Deadpool shows up in the first act of the movie as one of Stryker’s task force members, delightfully played by Ryan Reynolds in combat gear. This is likely where this outfit would have been used, given its similarities to what Reynolds wears in the film. He shows up again at the end, wearing almost no clothes, and sporting scars, diamond-shaped eye shadow, and play-doh over his mouth.
15. More War For Wolverine
One of the most enjoyable aspects of X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a short but effective montage of Wolverine and Sabretooth enjoying their ageless years participating in the world’s various wars. It’s a small glimpse of greatness in an otherwise terrible film, but it comes and goes too soon.
There isn’t a specific moment in the movie to compare with this concept art, and it doesn’t even feature any kind of distinct Wolverine-centric action. Honestly, it almost seems like art from an completely different film.
Couldn’t we have gotten a Wolverine film that consisted entirely of this? Who wouldn’t pay to see Wolverine and his brother crusade throughout historical vignettes that span decades?
14. The Wolverine Versus Ninjas
Logan’s second outing, The Wolverine, was a bit better received than its predecessor. His trip to Japan was a bloody one — but it could have gotten even messier. This concept art depicts a variation of a sequence that appears in the final film. Toward the end of the movie, Logan is besieged by a clan of ninjas in the middle of a snowy village. While the action is passable, it’s nowhere near as epic as it should be.
The art above depicts a battle that’s even more chaotic and unrelenting; with more ninjas, more weapons (note the use of chains), and in a more tightly confined space. The overwhelming odds, combined with director James Mangold’s gritty tone, would have made for a brutal close-quarters action scene. What we ended up with was fine, but this art promises something great.
Imagine the church sequence from Kingsman, but with a vicious Hugh Jackman instead of Colin Firth. And it’s in Japan. See the potential there?
13. Bobby Drake, Days Of Future Past
Concept art for X-Men: Days of Future Past is abundant, as there were many characters and costume designs fans never got to see. First up in the collection is a set of designs for Iceman. For the uninitiated, Days of Future Past explores events in two different settings; the dystopian future, where mutants have been hunted and captured by Sentinels, and the past (the 1970s) where the main characters try to prevent said horrible future.
Appearing only in the future timeline, Bobby Drake is among the remaining X-Men on the run from mutant-seeking Sentinels. His design in the film consists of black armor and leather, but these designs show a less-encumbered outfit, even boasting a lighter color scheme reminiscent of his comic book aesthetic.
12. Logan And Laura On The Run
Logan‘s action sequences are brutal, but could there have been more? This unused concept gives us a glimpse at a tweaked action scene in the film, or one that could have been entirely new. The bloody, heartbreaking night sequence at the farmhouse could have evolved into a full-on chase instead of a beat-down on the lawn.
Here, the Reavers are chasing Logan and Laura through fields, likely after their earlier skirmish. Even more interesting though, yet again, is that Laura is depicted as a teenager. With claws drawn, she would have probably even participated in the battle sequence.
11. Storm, Days Of Future Past
Halle Berry’s Storm never really got to take center stage. As one of the most powerful members of the X-Men, she at least deserved a lively costume with some kind of flair. Her final look sports combat armor (black, of course) and these designs are similar, but some are more unique than others.
The second outfit is particularly eye-catching, with decorative sashes and gray accents. The biggest change comes in the form of her hair — what ended up gray and short in the film was originally envisioned bright white and long, as seen here.
Storm is barely present in Days of Future Past, and it doesn’t help that her costume so dull. One of these designs — any of them — would have been more effective than what they decided on.
10. The Many Looks Of X-23
Dafne Keen won over fans with her portrayal as X-23. She can go from cute and innocent, to vicious and violent in seconds, and her young age only strengthens the shock of those transitions.
However, this concept art reveals several looks for little Laura, as well as designs for a totally different ages. She could have been even younger, but more interestingly, she could have appeared as a teenager.
These pieces of concept art show us a wide variety of fashion senses, though it seems as teenage Laura was always envisioned as an edgier “goth” type. A rebellious teen Laura would have completely changed her characterization, and that likely would have extended to her dynamic with Wolverine.
Audiences may eventually see a variation on this art, but until X-23 shows up again, these unused concepts are all we have. This may not be objectively “better” than what we got, but this potentially huge contrast is too intriguing to pass up.
9. Wolverine, Days Of Future Past
Wolverine appears in both the past and future timelines, and still wears nothing even remotely interesting. We understand the logic behind the black suits. Tactical gear is “believable” but yellow and blue spandex is “unrealistic” — but couldn’t Hugh Jackman have worn a hint of color?
A deleted scene from The Wolverine promises his original yellow costume, but sadly nothing ever came close to it. These designs reflect ever-so-slight comic book influences, specifically in the latter two.
These tiny yellow stripes are a gigantic improvement. Similar concept art exists with variations on yellow-accented combat armor, but these are probably the best blend of comic book Wolverine and Bryan Singer’s X-Men interpretation.
8. Wait… Is That Bonebreaker?
The Reavers are the epitome of ’90s comic book aesthetics: angry, muscled-out cyborg dudes with guns whose designs can get pretty outrageous, and here is the best of them all.
Logan toned down the excessive ’90s-ness of the Reavers, making them a bit easier to take seriously. As a result, characters like Bonebreaker were probably never going to make it anyway — but this concept art shows that he was considered for an appearance.
The image pretty much says it all. It probably wouldn’t have worked with the grounded and serious tone of Logan, but even we have to admit it would have been fun. Would we have been able to take this seriously? Who cares. We’d want to see Bonebreaker for sake of sheer ridiculousness.
Ever wanted to see Wolverine fight a angry, gun-toting tank-man? Sadly, this crazy X-Men villain didn’t make the cut.
7. Beast, Days Of Future Past
It’s no secret that Days of Future Past ended up with lots of cut content. Bryan Singer’s extended cut even contains characters absent from the theatrical release. Beast did show up in the film, but not quite like this. N
icholas Holt portrays Hank McCoy in the past timeline, while this concept art depicts an older Beast wearing combat armor, likely for use in the future timeline.
Kelsey Grammar, who plays the character in The Last Stand, does make an appearance at the end of the film when the dystopian future has been averted. However, it’s possible he could have returned much earlier, and joined the X-Men in the future timeline.
6. A Comic-Accurate Apocalypse
Probably the most controversial and nerd-rage inducing character design from X-Men Apocalypse was the design of its villain. The movie has earned its fair share of criticism, but even before the film’s release, fan were very disappointed with the look of the X-Men big-bad; Apocalypse.
Early set photos were met confusion when the large, pale-skinned mutant looked more like Power Rangers villain Ivan Ooze. It seems as they overdid it with his final design, as concept art reveals a less regal, more comic-accurate Apocalypse.
The pink and purple shades of those set photos were eventually toned down, but Apocalypse’s overall look still came off a bit bizarre. This design is simpler, but it certainly doesn’t make us recall any Power Rangers nostalgia. It’s not a perfect look, but it was a step in the right direction in comparison to their final choice.
5. Jubilee, Days Of Future Past
Jubilee has been relegated to the background in a handful of X-Men films, but this would have been her first major appearance.
Her bright pink sunglasses and yellow trench-coat are notably absent here (shocker), despite wearing them in her cameos. Instead, she wears the usual tactical clothing with some dystopian touches, indicating she would have joined the X-Men in the future timeline.
The concept also seems to be modeled after actress Jamie Chung, who currently plays Blink on the X-Men universe TV show, The Gifted.
Other than some costume designs, very little information is available on the extent of her role — only that she was cut from the script. This entry makes the list regardless, solely based on the potential of having Jubilee actually say or do something for once.
4. Different Looks for Cyclops and Mystique
Similarly, these also reveal unused outfits for the new team of X-Men, likely to be displayed at the end of Apocalypse. Mystique’s design may actually be better in the film— in the final design, she has more armor, and brighter blue accents along her uniform. However, what Cyclops wears in the movie is definitely inferior to the ones presented in this concept art.
While Scott Summers ends up with an expensive-looking Cyclops Halloween costume, the two designs here are emblematic of Jim Lee’s beloved ’90s X-Men suits. Mesh the first two designs together, and you’ll likely picture Cyclops’ most popular look — colorful, flamboyant attire that would have been perfect for the film’s early ’80s setting.
3. Blink, Days Of Future Past
Lucky for her – and the fans – Blink (as played by Fan Bingbing) made it into the future timeline, and actually had plenty of screen time during action sequences. She’s not really an important character as far as the plot goes, but her fun portal-throwing teleportation powers do get featured quite a bit. We’re quite fond of this alternate costume concept, which depicts her with longer, more saturated purple hair and a visually distinct top.
Her final design ended up quite similar to this, but these minor tweaks are just refreshing enough to earn her a spot on the list. The jury is still out on her portrayal in The Gifted, but hopefully her design falls in line with more “comic booky” visuals.
2. Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey
Finally, something that actually looks like an X-Men costume! This early concept art by Alan Villanueva depicts a uniform design for Jean Grey that would have been featured in X-Men: Apocalypse. Strangely, the art is modeled after Elle Fanning, who was in the running to play the role at one point. Jean was eventually portrayed by Sophie Turner, but this costume still would have worked well.
A combination of what looks like spandex and armor, this blue and yellow suit closely resembles Jean’s outfit at the very end of the film, when the new team is X-Men is finally assembled. Before the credits role, the X-Men line up in their new suits and receive a pep talk from Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique. Although the new suits are an improvement to the black leather, they still don’t quite hit the mark.
1. Sentinels, Days of Future Past
As far as evil giant robots go, this design is pretty unique. The Sentinels, who adapt to combat in order to exterminate mutants, are the catalyst for the sinister events of Days of Future Past. In the 1970s, they resemble their brightly colored comic book counterparts. In the future timeline, they’re made of shifting polygonal scales that form weapons, armor, and facilitate mutant powers.
This unused design seems to follow that template, though bulkier and a bit more imposing than the slim Sentinels we ended up with. The scales in this concept are also different shapes and sizes, and likely would have exhibited more shape-shifting. The final design for the future Sentinels is somewhat forgettable, but this look is just divergent enough to peak our interest.
There’s plenty more X-Men concept art out there. What do you think should have made the cut? Leave a comment to let us know what you think!
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