With Logan arriving in cinemas right about now, there’s never been a better time to obsess over the cigar-chomping, "bub"-saying, claw-sporting, hair-gelling, villain-impaling mutant icon that is Wolverine. In this article, the aim is to focus in on his threads.
Wolvie, played by Hugh Jackman 99% of the time and Troye Sivan in the opening sequence of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, has had his fair share of outfits over his lengthy big screen lifespan, varying from the natty to the very naff.
Black leather is how it all started, with the first X-Men film scoffing at “yellow spandex” with a snarky line of dialogue. Years later, the saga came very close to a U-turn on that. And oddly enough, the trendiness of leather super-suits diminished a fair bit in the interim.
Everyone will have their favourite Logan look from his 17-year stint in cinemas, and to rank them we’ve opted to include the signature outfit from each movie and a few of the other notable ensembles that only appeared fleetingly. Here is Every Wolverine Movie Costume Ever, Ranked Worst To Best.
15 Childhood Dressing Gown (X-Men Origins: Wolverine)
X-Men Origins: Wolverine started its inelegant demystification of its previously-enigmatic protagonist right from the off, with Troye Sivan stepping into the role for a brief opening salvo that escalated incredibly quickly from snivelling sickness to accidental patricide.
You will have noticed the clothing choice for this young James Howlett, which contributed significantly to the sense that Wolvie’s coolness was being sapped away. Yep, before Wolverine was the immortal aggressor at the heart of the X-Men, he was a kid in need of a haircut wearing white pyjamas and a red dressing gown.
The look, although severely lacking in cool, served the narrative purpose of showing how different James was prior to his hero’s journey kicking off. Before the Weapon X program came a-calling, he was just an ordinary young chap; capable of falling ill and wearing adorable loungewear and killing his dad just like the rest of us.
14 Only Half An Outfit (Various Films)
It wouldn’t be a Wolverine movie without at least one gratuitous topless Hugh Jackman scene. The trousers-but-nothing-above-them look is the most common way for filmmakers to crowbar shirtless-ness into their X-films, but who could forget the time they went the whole hog and had a fully nude Logan escaping from Alkali Lake and jumping into a waterfall in X-Men Origins: Wolverine?
The jeans-sans-shirt look isn’t exactly a formal costume, but it’s worn so often that it felt worthy of an inclusion here. And what it lacks in style and protection from the elements, it more than makes up for in laundry costs.
Wolverine successfully swerved his dry cleaning duties on numerous occasions - performing heart surgery on himself in The Wolverine, tending to his scars in Logan, and getting shot a bunch of times after emerging from an airbed in X-Men: Days Of Future Past – by opting to ditch his shirt for a scene or two. He’s the best at what he does, and what he does are his abs.
13 Jeans And A Vest (Various Films)
One step up from the half an outfit outfit is another incredibly common look for Logan: the jeans and vest combo, which, if you tallied up the minutes from the whole franchise, may well be worn more than his actual X-Men uniforms. Handily for lazy people, it’s also very easy to recreate for fancy dress parties.
Exactly why this costume became so synonymous with the character is a bit of a mystery. Perhaps it’s because it presents Hugh Jackman’s hero as a humble man, who likes to sit on a porch with a few cans of lager between super-powered spectaculars. Or maybe it’s because it’s inexpensive for the costume department to reproduce multiple times per movie with extra blood splatter and bullet holes.
Fun fact: in X-Men: The Last Stand, Wolvie’s vest seems to have its own regenerative powers. Spikes are thrown at him in the forest, ripping giant holes in his beloved sleeveless garment, but in the next scene the holes are gone. It either has superpowers or Logan carries a spare.
12 The Lumberjackman Look (X-Men Origins: Wolverine)
He’s a lumberjack and he’s okay, his wife hasn’t been fake-murdered yet today.
Arguably the best costume from Wolverine’s worst movie (since the recreation of his leather jacket from X-Men never looked quite right), this tree-cutting ensemble says plenty about the state of Logan’s psyche at this point in the film.
For once, Logan is at peace when he’s in the woods. He’s working hard in a peaceful job, chopping up trees instead of people for a change. He’s out in nature’s back garden, and he’s actually got a purpose beyond bloodletting. Good for him.
The chequered flannel shirt may be a slightly on the nose way of signifying this, since the footage of Logan cutting trees down might’ve been enough to get the point across. But still, it’s a superior and more meaningful look than a vest, some jeans or a dressing grown. Another easy one for the cosplayers, too.
11 Third Leather Uniform (X-Men: The Last Stand)
Least best among Wolverine’s official X-Men uniforms is this particularly bland number from X-Men: The Last Stand. It’s painfully plain, looking practically identical to everyone else’s with its black colouring and unnecessary texturing around the shoulders.
Beast, who gets short stripy sleeves and a proper X emblem, has the only decent uniform in the movie. The rest of the team get the same standard issue rubbery rubbish, with the tiniest hint of colouring around some of the seams. Wolvie had a yellow X across his chest, for example, but it’s so subtle you can barely see it in the finished film.
Arguably, this is the point when the leather costumes stopped feeling cool. Something a bit more colourful could’ve livened things up, but fans had to wait until X-Men: First Class for that.
It’s a fine line to tread between comics accuracy and modern acceptability, though. Psylocke’s purple horror from X-Men: Apocalypse definitely proved you can go too far in the comics-aping direction, just as The Last Stand showed that ignoring the source material for too long can get boring.
10 Generic Work Clothes (Logan)
There’s something incredibly sad about seeing Logan in a badly washed shirt and an ill-fitting blazer, with his hair and beard all out of whack. It’s like witnessing an old friend stumbling into work unchanged and unkempt, the morning after an office Christmas party that got way out of hand.
Except, of course, in Logan it’s the whole of society that’s gone a bit wrong. Here, Hugh Jackman's iconic hero is in a perpetual state of hangover that even the rowdiest work bash couldn’t create. There are barely any mutants left, the X-Men have been relegated to comic book characters, and Earth’s mightiest hero has had to get a normal job.
Working for post-apocalyptic Uber is a depressing chapter in Logan’s big screen life, and this is the uncared-for and unglamorous costume to match it. It may not be cool, but it’s the perfect look for the opening act of Wolverine’s dark final movie.
9 Weapon X Wolverine (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Save for the bar cameo from X-Men: First Class and the pictures of Hugh Jackman’s face in Deadpool, this scene in X-Men: Apocalypse represents the shortest amount of time Wolverine has spent on screen in an X-movie. For this brief bloodbath, a gorgeous, comics-imitating costume was created.
The headpiece, complete with red eye thingy, must have looked baffling to the casual cinema-goer, but seasoned comic book readers recognised it as a nod to the 1991 Weapon X comics written and illustrated by Barry Windsor-Smith. It’s a simplified version of the costume as drawn - the comics one included a full head helmet with a Cyclops-like eye window – but the homage remained obvious.
In terms of practicality, it’s only a step up from jeans-without-a-vest outfit discussed earlier. You’ve got to worry about poor Wolvie when he runs out into the snow wearing only some cut-offs, a harness and some technical apparatus. But still, it looks very cool. And that’s the main thing, right?
8 Cowboy Sans Hat (Logan)
For reasons we won’t go into for the sake of spoiler protection, western movies – particularly George Stevens’ 1953 film Shane – play a large part in Logan. Wolverine, of course, has always had the air of an old west gunslinger loner about him, and Logan makes some interesting moves to build on that idea.
One way it does this is by dressing Logan in this costume – a black undershirt beneath a blue actual shirt beneath a brown jacket, which he literally spots in a cowboy-themed display. He opts not to take the hat, but in choosing this outfit at all Logan can be read as growing as a character.
Putting his depressing work clothes aside, Logan deliberately decides to dress like a cowboy. He doesn’t spell it out in words, but the implication is that he’s willing to embrace a heroic identity once again. He might not be an X-Man anymore, but he can still do good in the world. They may not be Logan's most dapper threads, but what they represent makes this outfit an important one.
7 Snazzy Shirt & 70s Jacket (X-Men: Days Of Future Past)
A costume doesn’t always need a deep meaningful backstory to win our hearts. Sometimes, just looking as cool as hell is enough. That’s the vibe that Wolverine’s 1970s-era costume emanates in X-Men: Days Of Future Past. It’s really just a generic period outfit, but the raging ronin wears it so well.
After all those years of seeing Hugh Jackman in black uniforms, plain vests and leather jackets, it was a shock to the system to see him in something as colourful and playful as this. The funky pattern of the shirt, the humungous collar of the jacket and the funky belt buckle made this an eye-catching ensemble.
When you combine all of that with some of the best hair styling in the franchise and the pre-Stryker bone claws, you’ve got a really striking look. In this film focused on changing the past, Jackman’s change of clothes in the past was a real standout.
6 Second Leather Uniform (X2: X-Men United)
What a difference a belt buckle makes. In a lot of ways – the black colouring, the textured shoulder pads, the yellow linings – this is the same costume that Hugh Jackman wore in X-Men: The Last Stand. But the version from X2: X-Men United somehow manages to be an awful lot better.
The differences are minimal, but they make a big difference. A yellow X emblem on the belt buckle adds a bit more fun and shows some respect to the comics, and it looks like there could be different shades being used in the black leather sections. The X across Jackman’s pecs certainly seems to stand out a bit more than it did in the following film.
The yellow lining also goes a bit further, accentuating the shoulders, arms and abs more than The Last Stand’s version. X2 is arguably the best mainline X-Men movie in terms of Wolverine material, and it has a strong costume to match.
5 Future Suit (X-Men: Days Of Future Past)
The executive decision was made to ditch the leather for X-Men: Days Of Future Past, which lead to a really impressive Wolverine costume being designed. Instead of the sleekness of the previous uniforms, Jackman got a more tactical-looking garment that seems a bit more bulletproof than stylish. It’s got bits of metal on it, and protective padding. It looks battle-ready.
It’s also got blue and yellow sleeves, providing a fan-pleasing throwback to the comic book and animated series designs. Long-time fans of the character got a kick out of this design decision, and it created a brighter costume than the previous X-Men films without compromising Wolverine’s gritty integrity.
Sadly, there wasn’t much time spent with the future version of Wolverine. He was sent back to the past and then tasked with laying down for the rest of the movie. But still, this costume is great blend of movie ‘realism’ and comic book colour.
4 All Black Everything (The Wolverine)
Nothing says ‘this will be cooler and less rubbish than the last Wolverine movie’ quite like plonking your protagonist in an all black suit. What’s surprising is how well it works, given that it sounds as cheesy as old socks on paper, like a very deliberate attempt to make the movie seem moody and grown up.
The reality of Hugh Jackman in all black, sporting slightly flattened Wolverine hair and blood-stained claws, is actually incredibly cool. It nicely compliments the idea of Logan as a samurai, and detaches the action from the leather-clad/vest-heavy spectacles we’d witnessed before.
The sight of Logan in a suit and tie should be jarring, but it’s actually one of the least grating elements of The Wolverine. It’s certainly a better idea than giving the villain a shiny silver mech suit.
This stylish selection is an ideal outfit for Logan's Japanese journey of discovery, and its funereal darkness reflects the morbid (although ultimately undercooked) themes concerning Logan's desire to die and the death that follows him around.
3 First Leather Uniform (X-Men)
The first Wolverine uniform, from Bryan Singer’s year 2000 game-changer X-Men, is arguably still the best one they’ve come up with. Along with Jackman’s casting in the role, it redefined Wolverine for a cinematic audience. Gone was the short and yellow-loving rage beast from the comics, and in his place stood a 6’2’’ Australian actor playing an enigmatic amnesiac with claws and a leather suit.
The idea of threading yellow into the lining was inspired, doing just enough to prove that the filmmakers and designers weren’t throwing the comic book canon completely out. This respect for the source material was hammered home by no less than five X symbols: two on the collar, one on each cuff and one on the belt buckle.
Also, the shoulder and arm padding on this initial uniform looks more like that of a motorcycle jacket than the useless texturing-for-the-sake-of-it that came later. This is the costume that made film fans take Wolverine seriously, and ensured that comic book fans were mostly kept happy. A masterstroke, really.
2 Scruffy Jacket Look (X-Men)
As much as the original leather uniform was great, it didn’t tell us anything about Logan as a character, since Professor X gave it to him quite late into X-Men. Arguably the costume that Hugh Jackman wore before that, when he was properly introduced following the topless cage fight, is more meaningful.
Wolverine’s first cinematic look consisted of battered brown leather jacket, a denim jacket, an old maroon shirt and a black undershirt. He’s also got an Old West-esque belt on, and some knackered blue jeans. (It's not unlike his Logan cowboy costume actually.)
It’s a scruffy and dated ensemble, suggesting that Logan is a man who doesn’t care much about his appearance, and quietly hinting that he’s been around for longer than anyone expects.
When Logan first meets Rogue, snarking at her in the bar between puffs on his cigar, you instantly get an idea of who this guy is. He might be great at fighting, but he doesn’t have anything to fight for. He doesn’t care about anything enough. The clothes he's wearing help give that impression.
This first Wolverine costume was a hugely important one - it set the tone for the character, getting his 17-year cinematic journey started on the right foot - and it's also one of the best.
1 Yellow Spandex! (The Wolverine Deleted Scene)
And finally, a bit of a cheat: this comics-copying yellow suit was never actually seen on the big screen, because it was cut from The Wolverine in favour of streamlining the final chunk of the movie. Yukio was originally going to give Logan the costume on the plane before the credits rolled: Logan would’ve opened a suitcase, taken one look at the Technicolor clothing within and raised an eyebrow at Yukio. The scene can be watched on YouTube.
It may not be an official costume, then, but this is a thing of pure beauty. After all those leather uniforms, scruffy jackets and magic vests, it’s a treat to see what a comic book purist’s take on the Wolverine costume would look like in live-action form.
Perhaps, one day, when the role of Logan is recast and wacky costumes have miraculously become acceptable, we’ll get to see Wolverine in all his yellow glory on the big screen. James Mangold really isn't keen on it, so if it ever happens, it won't be for a while.
In the meantime, this unworn costume – with all its beautiful textures and comics accurate colours – is the best we’re going to get.