Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat Costume History
Kitty Pryde's Backstory
Kitty Pryde first appeared in the 1980 issue of Uncanny X-Men #129. She was created by John Byrne and Chris Claremont when Marvel editors decided that the X-Men title needed to get back to its roots as a school for mutants. Artist John Byrne named the character after a woman he went to Alberta College of Art and Design with. He loved her name so much, that he asked if he could use it for his first original comic character back in 1973 when they were students together. Physically, Byrne modeled Kitty after a teenage Sigourney Weaver. Writer Claremont said several of Pryde’s personality traits were drawn from the X-Men editor Louise Simonson’s daughter.
Katherine Anne Pryde was born to a Jewish family in Deerfield, Illinois. Much like Magneto, her paternal grandfather was a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. At 13, this already brilliant girl started to have her mutant powers emerge. What began as simple headaches, developed into her mutant phasing ability. Kitty has the power to make herself and things/people she touches intangible. Some helpful side effects of her phasing powers are that she will disrupt electrical fields she passes through and is able to levitate. As soon as her powers started to emerge, she was approached separately by Charles Xavier and the White Queen. Emma Frost was the leader of the Hellfire Club at the time. When Kitty took more of an interest in the X-Men than the Hellfire Club, Emma sent armored mercenaries to attack while they were at a soda shop discussing Kitty’s future. The X-Men were victorious, but the cover-up of the attack and disappearance of Kitty after the soda shop was blown up caused her parents to distrust Professor X. However, Jean Grey had the Phoenix power at the time and was able to erase the parents’ memories and implant new ones. With this done, Kitty’s parents were excited to have their daughter attend Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters. Yes, the X-men are the good guys.
At 13 years old, Kitty Pryde was the youngest student to have been invited to join the X-Men team. Professor X suggested she use the code name Ariel, but Kitty went with Storm’s idea of calling her superhero identity Sprite. She officially became a member of the team in the 1980 issue of The Uncanny X-Men #139 and was quickly possessed by her older self in issue #141 to prevent a genocide of mutants. Despite her young age, Kitty continually proved herself to be a valuable member of the team. The White Queen was able to get Kitty to attend her Massachusetts Academy because Kitty’s parents wanted her to be in a school with kids her own age. However, Emma kicked Kitty out after an unsuccessful attempt at defeating the X-Men.
Kitty developed deep friendships with many of her fellow team members and classmates. Kitty’s charismatic personality was able to win over Wolverine, turning him into a mentor and Storm thought of her as a daughter. At first, she had difficulty being around mutants whose abilities caused deformations to their physical appearance. Through maturity, she outgrew this irrational behavior and formed a strong bond with Nightcrawler. One of Kitty’s most famous friendships was with the alien Lockheed. They first met when the X-Men were battling The Brood. Lockheed looks like a purple dragon but is actually an extremely intelligent being. He and Kitty share a strong empathic bond.
When the X-Men were off in space, the New Mutants were formed to fill the missign team’s role on earth. Kitty was briefly assigned to this team of young mutants upon her return to Earth but convinced Xavier to let her stay with the older X-Men. She reasoned with him that her high intelligence, maturity and past experience with the team made her an appropriate member of the group. It would be in the 6 issue miniseries Kitty Pryde and Wolverine released from 1984 to 1986 that would see Kitty grow from a young girl to a mature woman. The storyline had her possessed by the demon Ogun and sent to attack Wolverine. In the process of overpowering the evil spirit possessing her, she not only developed a strong bond with Wolverine but also entered a new chapter of her life. To better represent her less naïve self, she would officially take on the codename Shadowcat. Kitty Joined Excalibur when she and the world thought the X-Men had perished in their battle with the Adversary. She would rejoin the X-Men after Excalibur was disbanded.
Kitty Pryde is naturally in a solid-state and uses her powers to phase into an intangible form. However, there have been several occasions where her powers were disrupted and her intangible form became the default setting. When Kitty saved Rogue by taking the hit from Harpoon’s energy spear, she lost her ability to maintain a solid form and almost disappeared completely before Moira Mac Taggert was able to stop her deterioration. Kitty was saved from fading from existence but now had to concentrate to remain in solid form. This condition would drive the X-Men to extreme lengths in an attempt to save her. They even battled the Fantastic Four, so that they could enlist the aid of Doctor Doom. Kitty would become permanently intangible a second time when Breakworld fired a large bullet at Earth. She kept the bullet and herself in a phased state so that it would not hit any inhabited planets. Kitty remained intangible for so long that it had become muscle memory and she forgot how to unphase. This time around it would take being killed and resurrected for her to once again remain in her solid form unconsciously.
Using the code name Sprite, Kitty Pryde’s first costume was the standard training uniform given to all of Professor X’s students who first enter the Xavier School For Gifted Youngsters. This full-body, yellow and black jumpsuit was not very flattering, but it’s what all the young mutants were wearing. The solid black bodysuit was covered by a yellow one-piece swimsuit. These are kid's school uniforms, so you had to keep it decent. The large cuffed yellow boots matched the oversized yellow dishwashing gloves. To hide her secret identity, Kitty had a full ski mask that somehow allowed her long curly hair to flow out the back. A simple black X was put on the buckle of a red belt to identify her status as an X-Men team member.
The Dazzler Costume
Kitty wanted to add some…color and individuality to her superhero costume, so she designed a suit inspired by Dazzler’s performance outfit. This costume had a very short career but is so ridiculous it deserves special attention. (Uncanny X-Men #149 if you’re curious.) As its base, she used a gold skintight spandex bodysuit. She wore a red tank top with a blue pattern that resembled a lightning bolt in the shape of a W. The vivid colors were not that absurd for 1981. However, the baggy shorts and striped thigh high socks would give pause in any decade. Kitty still had the dishwasher gloves, but the color was now a reddish-orange. Her purple triangular masquerade mask was very similar to Marvel Girl’s. Since this costume was inspired by Dazzler, it is only appropriate that she should have on a pair of rollerskates. Although this costume amused her fellow X-Men endlessly, Professor X explained to Kitty that designing an individual costume was a privilege that had to be earned through experience. Kitty went back to her standard issued uniform.
Her Own Costume
Kitty Pryde would finally earn her right to design an individual costume shortly after she and the X-Men returned to Earth. I guess battling the Brood counts for something. She would experiment with several designs, the most popular of which was a baggy green jumpsuit. This very basic costume was accented with a large yellow collar that stuck up and a yellow trim at the bottom of the shirt. Her gloves and boots were light brown. Like Dazzler, Kitty painted a green mask onto her face using makeup. Hopefully, she will not break a sweat during her superhero adventures.
When Kitty Pryde took on the Shadowcat identity, she created her first semi-permanent costume. This is the costume that most people associate with her character and the one to last the longest. The costume would use various shades of blue throughout. Perhaps she learned her lesson about too many colors during the Dazzler inspired costume fiasco. This costume had a dark blue jacket with billowy sleeves. Since she can make herself intangible, there was no fear of getting it snagged. She was still a fan of the oversized collar. Rather than wearing pants, Kitty had on a pair of blue tights. She wore a simple mask, that allowed her hair to flow freely. The entire ensemble was topped off with a matching pair of dark blue gloves and boots.
Kitty joined Excalibur with Nightcrawler, when they thought their fellow X-Men had perished. After fighting with Excalibur for a while, she created a new costume for her new team. However, she still wanted to keep the memory of her old team, so she basically updated the standard blue and gold X-Men uniform she had worn at the beginning of her superhero career. She ditched the ugly ski mask and instead decided to completely expose her face. The costume would have pockets for storing various gadgets, but somehow still managed to maintain its skin-tight appearance. Her collar was finally getting down in size, but she compensated by adding huge shoulder pads.
Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Kitty was temporarily recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D. to fix the computer system of their flying headquarters. Kitty and Wolverine had to purge Ogun’s spirit from the system. As a member of S.H.I.E.L.D., Kitty was given her own uniform. This sleek blue-grey outfit was equipped for battle. Despite the skin-tight form, it was well padded on the knees, feet and hands. With gun holsters on her shoulders and leg, Kitty was armed and dangerous. The utility belt was packed with enough pockets to hold any equipment she might.
Kitty Pryde did not take her breakup with Pete Wisdom very well. She became much more aggressive and changed her costume to reflect her darker mood. She wore a skin-tight dark blue suit, that almost looked black. The only color was from a couple of white bands around her ankles and the white X on her belt. The slim mask made her look like a cat burglar or spy. She took the cat part of her name a little too far and instead of wearing boots had cat feet shoes. The amount of skin being covered would vary.
Kitty quit the full-time superhero business, but still worked with the X-Men when they needed her help. As luck would have it, her bartender outfit was remarkably similar to the new X-Treme X-Men uniforms. As if her skin-tight, black, leather pants were not revealing enough, they also had large holes on the side of the thighs. Her upper half had a matching, form-fitting, sleeveless shirt. This outfit was obviously great at getting tips, but the rest of the outfit needed to be more practical for a superhero uniform. She had the standard long gloves and very rugged looking thigh-high boots. Her leather jacket would fluctuate between short and long sleeves, but either choice was going to offer more protection than her shirt. The long dangling earrings were probably not the best choice for fighting, but the did add style.
New X-Men Uniform
When the X-Men decided to create a new team uniform, Kitty followed the basic design but added her own flare. These new, skintight, blue costumes had a large yellow X across the chest. This helped identify them as a team and give their enemies a bullseye to aim for. Kitty wore big yellow boots and matching wrist guards. She once again donned a pointy mask, but this time it was blue and did not go past her face. She also had one of Wolverine’s bone claws attached to her right hand, to use as a weapon. She has come a long way from her innocent Sprite roots.
Kitty joined Cyclops’ X-Men team, despite Emma Frost also being one of the team’s leaders. For her reinstitution into the X-Men, she would wear something very similar to her very first uniform. This form-fitting outfit was solid black, with a large yellow section over the shoulders and the front and back of the torso. The black boots blended into the costume, while the yellow gloves helped her hands stand out (no magic tricks). She also wore a standard X-belt across her waist. However, I do not think it was needed to hold this skintight outfit up.
After Kitty’s extended time-phased with the Breakworld bullet, she required a special suit to say in a tangible form. This suit looked like a cross between the standard X-Men uniform and a spacesuit. This yellow and black costume still managed to be form-fitting while helping her keep solid. The costume did have ribbing along the sides of the costume, to add some texture. Sadly kitty required the use of a helmet and it was not going to win her any fashion awards. This large fishbowl helmet looked like something from the early days of space exploration.
- Sumela Kay would be the first actress to portray Kitty Pryde on screen. She appeared in a simple cameo, that was used to introduce Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters in the 2000 X-Men Movie. However, fans got excited when they watched her walk through a wall and instantly recognize what mutant they just saw.
- Katie Stuart would be cast as Kitty Pryde in the 2003 sequel, X2. Once again, fans only got a cameo of a screaming child phasing herself to fall through a bed as the school is being attacked.
- Ellen Page would be the first actress to play a Kitty Pryde character with a substantial role in the plot. Her performance in X-Men: The Last Stand would be the year before her role in Juno made her a star. Fans got to see Kitty Pryde play a key role in “The Last Stand” of the movie.
Fans of Kitty Pryde have been using their cosplay skills to bring their favorite character to life for years.
- Google Images (Images appeared on several sites and was unsure of original)