Jean Grey Costume History
In 1963 she made her debut as an original member in X-Men #1. As the only female member of the team she would go by the code name Marvel Girl. Throughout her long career she would be called Jean Grey, Phoenix, Dark Phoenix and the Black Queen. Her abilities would also evolve over the years. At first she only had the power of telekinesis but would later develop the ability of telepathy. Jean Grey is a hero and vital member of the X-Men (and X-Factor for a while) but when she was possessed by the power of the Phoenix she was driven mad and into one of Marvel Comic’s greatest villains. It is only appropriate that a woman who has undergone so many drastic changes would also update her costume from time to time.
Her mask did a great job in completely covering her face and identity with the exception of her long red hair but it also made her look like she was going to rob a convenience store rather than fight supervillains. It did match her black or blue bodysuit, which changes color depending on the ink at the presses. These solid color tights were covered over with a yellow one piece. Besides adding layers of color it also made her appear ready for an 80s workout video. Sticking with the color scheme she also donned yellow boots, a yellow belt with an X on the buckle, and yellow dish washing gloves.
Her original costume was not flattering, maybe because she was in a group of all boys or just a victim to the times. This outfit did not last long and she quickly upgraded to a new style.
Small Changes can make a big difference. By putting the yellow coloring on the tights and removing the outer one piece they were able to slim down the costume and make Marvel Girl appear more feminine. They also switched out her fuller face mask with a triangular one allowing for more individuality.
This is the costume that comes to mind when people think of Jean Grey’s classic look. The yellow mask, gloves and boots from the original costume would stay but the clothing is completely redrawn. They moved away from the form fitting, superhero spandex and gave her a more flattering and feminine green dress. The dress was a one piece but she still wore a belt. The color of the belt would change, it was usually a yellow or red but the buckle would always have an X in the center. The dress itself was solid green with a basic design. How low cut and how much shoulder she showed would vary from artist to artist, as would the length of the dress. This costume would stick around for a long time.
X-Men Gold Team
In the 90s the X-Men split into two teams, Blue and Gold. This was before House of M and there were a lot more mutants running around the Marvel Universe. Plus, X-Men comic book popularity was at an all time high and they were flooding the market with X titles. (Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, X-Factor, X-Force, X-Man, Generation X, and don’t forget about Wolverine, Cable and so many other single character mutant titles.)
Back to Jean Grey’s Gold Team uniform. This is another one of Jean Grey’s more popular costumes. With Jim Lee being the major artist at the time this should come as no surprise to comic fans. Sticking with the form-fitting outfit, the design gets a major overhaul. It gives the appearance of wearing body armor but is obviously not since we can see every curve and muscle in her body. This outfit is probably more revealing than her low cut green dress. Rather than have yellow (sometimes orange) be the highlight color it is now the base. The rest of her outfit is blue, with the exception of a red belt buckle with a prominent X in the center. Rather than wearing gloves she has blue arm shields and her hood only covers her forehead, leaving her face fully exposed. By this time in the story she doesn’t have a secret identity and no longer needs to hide her appearance or fingerprints
Her newest outfit doesn’t look like a comic book costume at all. It feels like they were going for something similar to the Bryan Singer X-Men movies. She is dressed in all black and the clothing itself could be worn when walking around town. The large X is prominently displayed on her chest and belt buckle because again it is important for people to know what team you are on.
In 1986 X-Factor was formed because Professor X put Magneto in charge of the X-Men and the founding members wanted nothing to do with their former enemy. It was not to realize their dreams of becoming the next big music star. They formed their own group and fought the good fight. Oh, and Jean Grey was not part of the X-Men because she had been dead for a while. Don’t worry she dies a lot.
During her time with X-factor, Jean Grey went through 3 different costumes. None of these costumes really stood out or up against the test of time. For as popular as Jean Grey is she has had a lot of terrible outfits over the years. I guess she does not have the best fashion sense.
The first costume she wore was a full body green spandex suit with big yellow X placed over the upper half. The yellow boots and gloves are still present but at least this time the gloves are form fitting and not hanging all over the place ready to get snagged on something. Apparently she did not learn from her first costume because the full robber’s mask is back and uglier than ever now that it is green.
Her second X-Factor costume is a big improvement. It is still a full body spandex suit but the dominant color is now red, which pops off the page a lot better than dark green. Rather than having a yellow X tossed onto her top looking like she has a parachute strapped on the X now flows along her arms and down her legs. This gives a much more fluid look and is not as jarring. The mask still covers most of her face but it is more stylized and looks more appropriate for fighting crime rather than skiing. However, because of her history Jean Grey should avoid wearing red.
Her third X-Factor outfit keeps with the superhero spandex look but the color are more inline with her first costume or X-Men Gold Team uniform. She has the dark blue base covered in the yellow X that still travels down her arms and legs but this time it is a lot more prominent. Yellow is the dominant color in this outfit. The mask is gone and instead it only covers her forehead and acts like a hair band. Which is good since she has always had long flowing hair.
Phoenix / Dark Phoenix
Jean Grey is the opposite of the Hulk. When Bruce Banner turns green look out but with Jean green is usually your safer color. Let’s not get into white. The difference between Phoenix and Dark Phoenix’s costumes is color and the size of the bird on her chest. Phoenix’s green costume has a small gold phoenix at top while Dark Phoenix’s outfit is red and the gold phoenix covers her entire upper half. Both costumes have gold arm length gloves and thigh high boots. With the exception of the gold hip sash flowing in the wind, their costumes are so tight they might as well have body paint covering them instead of fabric. With all that said it is probably best not to critique a woman who has the power to destroy a solar system.
When Jean Grey becomes the Phoenix she gets herself into a lot of trouble. She declared herself the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club and with it took on a new costume. Obviously there are similarities to the White Queen’s costume or as she is better known today Emma Frost. There really is not a lot to say about this outfit except, “Wow! They put this in a comic book?”
Jamke Janssen played Jean Grey in all 3 of the X-Men films from 2000 to 2006. She was able to hold her own while working with actors like Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry. Through the course of the films she was able to develop the characters arc from being an insecure student to the Dark Phoenix.
Jean Grey may not be as popular of a costume as other comic book women but fans can still find an assortment of her outfits.
Models are always bringing her character to life.
If you enjoyed this article, you can find links to my other Costume History Hubs by clicking on the link above. Explore the history of some of the greatest female superheroes in comics through their costumes.
Google Images (Images appeared on several sites and was unsure of original)
And of course: Reading way too many comic books.