Throughout the past 40+ years, Wolverine has become one of comic book’s most iconic characters. As one of the X-Men mutants, he’s been through many different versions and iterations that have secured him one of the most impressive back catalogues of any Marvel hero.
More recently, fans have seen the creation of a Wolverine/Hulk hybrid that seems to bring the character full circle, following his 1974 debut in an Incredible Hulk book. It’s just one of the many looks that Wolfie has taken over the years, with multiple costume and outfit changes helping to reinvent and allow character evolution for the anti-hero. Some of those looks have become classics, while others are best left forgotten. Only a handful have endured.
Celebrating the character, we’ve decided to take a look back and rank Every One Of Wolverine’s Comic Book Costumes.
20. Black Ninja
Let’s kick start our list with the really ugly. Back in 1988, artist John Buscema decided to highlight Wolverine’s past Japanese ninja training by putting the mutant in sleeveless black lycra, but the look wasn’t exactly appealing for fans. Completing the costume with spray paint or netting across the face, Logan here looked more like a Wolverine fan in bad fancy dress than a trained killer. The outfit often appeared to be more blue than black in many of the frames, and sometimes even green! Not a great look for the character’s first solo series and certainly confusing for those who were yet to be introduced to the character, but thankfully it’s a costume that didn’t stand the test of time. Before too long, Wolverine was back in his red and brown duds, looking stronger and more threatening than ever before. This is one that’s best left on the shelf.
19. Savage Wolverine
In 1996, Magneto hoped to take down Wolverine by forcibly removing the adamantium from his bones, which would in theory render him useless. That didn’t quite work out. What shocked everyone – readers and fictional teammates alike – was the fact Logan had bone claws underneath the adamantium ones all along.
Retaining his healing powers despite the massive change to his skeleton, Wolverine saw his body evolve like never before, but his healing abilities went into overdrive without the metal in Logan’s body to compensate. For a time, Wolverine mutated into an untameable beast, acting out of impulse rather than conscious decisions. His costume was also something that evolved, with a combination of his past outfits – including the classic black and yellow – resulting in one of his most ridiculous looks to date. Does Wolverine really need a pirate bandana across his face? Fortunately, his mind healed and he reverted back to his previous look.
18. Age of Apocalypse
Fans finally got to discover what a world without Professor Charles Xavier would look like when Age of Apocalypse hit shelves, and Logan wouldn’t escape the many butterfly effect changes that hit the roster of characters involved. Here he wore a blue and red version of his classic tiger stripe costume, had only one hand thanks to a brawl with Cyclops, and looked more ravenous and psychotic than ever before. In this reality, Wolverine called himself Weapon X and proved to be as deadly as usual. His lack of a left hand didn’t mean his adamantium claws were any less dangerous, however, as villains would later go on to find out. Navigating his way through a world without Xavier and acting as a sole ranger rather than as part of any team, this was Wolverine at his most unpredictable. It’s just a shame he couldn’t look better while kicking ass and taking names.
17. Team X
While it’s not one of Wolverine’s most memorable looks, his costume during his time as part of Team X was certainly one of the most practical. Using firearms as well as his trusty claws, Logan packed ammo and weapons on his legs and body while taking part in covert government missions alongside Sabretooth, Silver Fox and a collection of other much-loved characters. Black leather and gold styling on each member’s outfit meant the team looked incredibly unified, taking clear inspiration from gear and artillery used in real life combat. Fortunately, those behind the Origins movie realized that this version of Wolverine looked more like a character from a Call of Duty video game rather than a crime-fighting mutant, with Logan allowed to wear whatever he pleased on the big screen. Another outfit that has been left behind as of late, but one we wouldn’t be surprised to see make a return if Wolverine’s past is explored once more.
16. Ultimate Wolverine
Bringing in the new millennium, Marvel decided that their roster of heroes needed a revamp, and the X-Men team were some of the first to receive that change. Wolverine was given a less hairy, slimmed down and traditionally ‘sexy’ look, with a square jaw and a face that wouldn’t look out of place in a Disney movie. This wasn’t the Wolverine readers knew, though some did take him into their hearts. Without a mask, the hero donned a darker colored outfit that stuck to him like glue. He didn’t stick out like a sore thumb as he has in the past. Despite the softer look however, Logan was still thirsty for blood and would stop at nothing when it came to achieving his goals. Though he was more accessible than ever before, it was great to see the mutant revert back to a more vicious and blunted look a little further down the line.
15. Zombie Wolverine
At this point, zombie Marvel comics come as a staple of the franchise, so it was only a matter of time before Wolverine got the undead treatment. Of course, no zombie look is ever going to be the most appealing, but what the artists did with Logan when introducing him in the Ultimate Fantastic Four series is something to be admired. Just when you thought everything that could have been done with his look had seen the light of day, a zombie took over and infected much of the Marvel roster, with Wolverine’s healing ability proving useless. The look here is reminiscent of the classic blue-black and yellow, but of course with a twist. Ravaged and less able to control himself than we’ve seen him in the past, his guts spewed out onto the ground as Logan tried to tame his hunger. Perhaps a look better suited to The Walking Dead?
14. Days of Future Past
Looking more like a bad Sherlock Holmes tribute act than the devilish Wolverine here, readers were for the first time introduced to an older version of the character as the Uncanny X-Men storyline brought forth a dystopian future. In this alternate reality, many of the X-Men had been slain by Sentinels, with Wolverine and a handful of other heroes forced to form a resistance cell in a bid to survive. He’d eventually be wiped out by a Sentinel behind a powerful laser, but it wasn’t for lack of trying to blend into society. For his run here, Logan stuck to a civilian look with a brown, fur-trimmed jacket and matching pants. His hair of course retained some of the classic Wolf, with a streak of white running through it to show that even those with healing factors can age in some way. Not the most impressive Wolverine has ever looked, but certainly a staple that will go down in history.
13. Black Leather
Realizing that the Wolverine from the X-Men movie universe was a huge hit with fans, the comic books began to follow suit and use the on screen examples of the character to influence this black leather look. Hoping to make a bright yellow version of the X logo an iconic stitch upon each of the mutant team’s clothes, Logan’s costume was actually the most reserved of the team, with the character often opting to go shirtless under the leather jacket – he’s never been one afraid to show off his muscled physique. Looking dangerous and ready for a fight – almost like a biker looking for a brawl in a dive bar – this look proved that not every costume needs to be flashy and in your face to become a success. A much better black outfit than the ninja one attempted many years before.
12. Training Uniform
Back in 1991, artists made their first attempt at unifying the style for all of the featured mutants in the Uncanny X-Men series. The result was the traditional gold and blue training uniform shown above, worn by all at the Xavier Institute and complete with a red belt that had a black X in the middle. It was a streamlined look for Wolverine, but not one that would last for very long. Despite all that, it’s clearly inspired many of the looks that have followed including the original look of Morph in TV show X-Men: The Animated Series. While Wolverine hung the costume up soon after trying it on for size, Forge and Banshee decided to keep it for the years that came after. For fans of neat and tidy costumes, this has to be one of Logan’s best. He looked more organized and kept together here than perhaps ever before.
11. Powerless Wolverine
A predominantly yellow suit divided up by a huge black X makes up Wolverine’s look here, marking one of the darkest times in the mutant’s history. With his healing factor obliterated by a virus, Wolverine quickly discovered that life was harder to go through as a mortal without powers. Here, his costume didn’t only serve to make him look like one of the world’s most powerful beings, but as actual armor to protect the most vulnerable version of Wolverine we’ve ever seen. This would also be the first time Logan had to think before popping his claws, as infection and wounds would cause huge trauma. Because of this, the outfit here was completed with wrist-braces mounted with their own three claws on either side. Thinking about it, why doesn’t Wolverine implement this into each of his costumes? It would certainly serve to take away the pain of popping his claws whenever they’re needed…
10. Age of Ultron
A simple black outfit with two tiger stripes – one over each of his shoulders – was worn throughout the Age of Ultron book by Wolverine. Here, the artists on the series proved that a simpler approach to a hero’s outfit can in fact be the best way to go about things. Not every costume needs to be so in the face of those who look at it. Though the costume came with a dark mask that gave Logan a hooded look whenever he wore it, it wasn’t something that was used regularly. This is the simplest a Wolverine outfit has been, and it really serves to present a more rounded and human side of the character. When he’s bouncing around the pages of comic books in a costume made up of colliding colors, it’s hard to relate to Wolverine. While he’s still clearly a world away from anyone a reader may know in their real lives, it’s great to see the mutant in a realistic look here.
9. Unified Look
As the X-Men became more popular than they had done ever before thanks to the big screen movies, Marvel decided to try and create a look for Wolverine that would serve him in every single iteration of the character, bar the Hugh Jackman Hollywood incarnation. This unified look saw the mutant in black and gold, with a sleek costume consisting of a simple T-shirt, black gloves and pants, with a few tiger stripes across the shoulders. The red X logo was used on the front of the T-shirt and on Logan’s belt, bringing the most realistic outfit for the character to-date (at the time) to fans. As Wolverine’s time in Ultimate X-Men came to an end however, so would the costume. A real shame, as it’s certainly one of the nicest-looking and more practical pieces that Howlett has worn in the comics.
Wolverine hasn’t always been the most original when it comes to choosing an outfit, instead stealing this costume from an Imperial Guard named Fang after he defeated him in combat. Despite that there’s no denying that the mutant looked incredible here, so it’s a shame he only wore the outfit for two issues before artist John Byrne decided to take him back to the classic blue and yellow (all those bones must have been a nightmare to continually draw!). With bones around both wrists and ankles, a necklace made of fangs around his neck and a belt of bones around his waist, Wolverine wore brown and yellow for the first time here which would go a long way in inspiring one of his later costumes. It may be the shortest time Wolverine has ever worn an outfit, but it certainly left a lasting impression. We’d love to see the Fang look make a return in the future.
Giving up the Team X military outfit that he had been plagued with in the years before despite the similar subject matter, Wolverine here took a costume that would serve him well during his time fighting in super secretive missions. Again, a familiar look was used as inspiration – this time the red and brown classic – but a stealthier approach was taken with this new costume, even allowing the mutant to go off the grid when he wasn’t out taking on his antagonists. Wearing a dark black and gray, Logan also had piercing red sights and a funky belt that helped light the way whenever darkness fell. The costume here makes Wolverine and his X-Force team look more menacing than they would have without the revamp; perfect for dark missions and the black ops that were led by Cyclops. We’d love to see this look make a return.
6. X-23 Wolverine
Following the death of the original Wolverine, it would be X-23 who stepped into the mantle of the most dangerous mutant around. A little different in that she only has two claws in each hand and a claw in each of her feet, X-23 has a completely different fighting style to the brawler-type combat we’ve seen Wolverine engage in for decades. More acrobatic in her approach, X-23 brings with her a whole new level of danger and now, she looks incredible while doing so. Taking the classic costume but bringing a deeper tone of blue to the outfit, Laura Kinney certainly looks the part while slicing her way through the All-New Wolverine adventure. Completing her look with a grey belt that has the red and black X in the center, it’s clear where the inspirations for her costume have come from. Not much more could be done to ensure X-23 looks the part of Wolverine.
5. Original Tiger Stripe
Back in 1974, a brand new hero was revealed as part of the Incredible Hulk series, brought in to take a supernatural being called the Wendigo, while working alongside the big green brawling machine. Known simply as ‘the Wolverine’, the original costume he wore would go on to inspire that which fans would immediately think of when the mutant’s name was simply mentioned. With yellow spandex, black tiger stripes, blue gloves and a pointy mask, the main difference here to that of the classic costume is the addition of whiskers. When introducing a man who’s supposed to be one of the most threatening and domineering characters to mark the pages of a Marvel comic book, whiskers aren’t the best feature for said person’s costume. Scrutiny must have come in the gap between this series and his next one, Giant-Size X-Men, as the stylized whiskers were soon removed and Wolverine was given a more menacing look.
4. Red and Brown
As readers began to think Wolverine’s costume would never change, the mutant one day walked into the Xavier Institute in a brand new outfit without explanation, simply replying when questioned about his new look: “Why the hell not, bub?” Today, the red and brown ensemble is known around the world as the costume that Logan wore for the longest period of time, enduring throughout the 1980s and going into the early 1990s, while also making appearances in early X-Men games and a failed television series. Now, the clothes seem to have been retired aside from a quick return in the Wolverine: Origins series, but they had a fantastic run and will forever be looked back on with fond memories. Some of the mutant’s most interesting and compelling stories took place while he wore this garb, so who knows? Maybe we’ll see a shock return to red and brown in the future…
3. Astonishing Wolverine
2004 saw the black leather iterations of Wolverine thrown out of the window, with creators going back to the classic yellow and black costume for inspiration as another visual makeover headed Logan’s way. Spandex made its comeback in a big way, but artists decided to tone down some of the more exuberant and flashy features that the mutant had worn in the past, bringing a less pointed and jagged get-up to readers. Blending some of the best aspects of the older outfits with this new look, fans were quick to get behind the costume change, making the Astonishing Wolverine get-up one of the most popular in existence. The outfit would go on to serve Wolverine in his own TV series as well as several video games.
2. Old Man Logan
Inspiring the final chapter in Hugh Jackman’s journey as Wolverine on the big screen with Logan, the Old Man Logan story arc is one of the most celebrated stories of the adamantium-clawed mutants’ to-date. Though attempts had been made to go deep into the character’s future in the past, it was here that James Howlett looked more bad ass than ever before despite his age. In civilian clothing but with fantastic silver hair and a weathered look, Logan had in this series made a vow never to pop his claws again, but when tragedy struck his family he was forced back into the life he tried to leave behind. Moving this far into the future is always a risk, but everything about Old Man Logan felt so right. Wolverine the farmer; what’s not to love? Mix in the chaotic violence and addictive storyline that inevitably followed and you had one of the most compelling and unique takes on the character of all time.
1. Classic Tiger Stripe
It’s the outfit we all remember most fondly, retaining most of the elements that made up Wolverine’s first costume. The cat whiskers are made a distant memory and despite being replaced by the Red and Brown costume during the 1980s, the costume would make a comeback during the 1992 X-Men series and go on to become the character’s most famous design. X-Men: The Animated Series would take the costume and adapt it for the small screen along with the 1990s X-Men video games, creating and cementing a legacy that goes on to this day. While the outfit for now seems to be shelved, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see it come back in the future. In fact, many fans implore future writers and artists to make sure it makes its return sooner rather than later. Despite looking a little funky the high pointed mask and tight-fitting lycra all serve to ensure Wolverine looks like a brawling powerhouse. Could any other costume really overtake this one in the long run?
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