When Logan director James Mangold dismissed Hugh Jackman's Wolverine donning the yellow spandex, he explained that, in his view, the costume didn't fit the tone of the character. And he's right; Wolverine is notoriously grouchy and unassuming, two traits that don't match the extrovert nature of a superhero who wears a brightly colored and easily identifiable suit.
Even after 17 years, Wolverine never did wear the spandex in live-action, suggesting Mangold isn't the only one who has the same mindset. But if that really is the case, and the two go together like chalk and cheese, there could be another explanation for why James Howlett played dress up in #Marvel Comics. And it wasn't a fashion statement.
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Why Wolverine Wears Yellow Spandex
A large number of #XMen are teenagers, who, thanks to their mutant powers, are cast outside of normality, deemed different, and often isolated until taken under the wing of Professor X. What they lack in age, they make up for in superpowers, which can lead to them being involved in highly dangerous situations, despite their vulnerability.
A Reddit theory by crime_thug argues the convincing case that rather than wearing the spandex to look good or draw attention to himself for (super)ego reasons, Wolverine wears his outfit for a selfless cause — to deflect attention from teenage X-Men by making himself a discernible target. The theory highlights the fact that #Wolverine only wears his costume while working with the X-Men, and, away from team shenanigans, he wears his normal clothes.
Wolverine is still the most powerful of all, born and bred as a soldier, and gifted with a healing factor that makes him almost impossible to harm. His outfit, bright and impossible to miss, it like a red rag to the bull of potential danger, deflecting the focus and therefore reducing the chances of his young X-Men colleagues being hurt.
It seems like a big gesture, but the theory highlights Wolverine's protective streak over the younger members of the team. His paternal drive has been demonstrated numerous times in the comics, mentoring the likes of Rogue, Jubilee, and in Logan, he is particularly protective of X-23.
The Changing Outfits Of Wolverine
There is further evidence to suggest the outfit isn't a pure coincidence, either. When appearing in all-adult versions of the X-Men, Wolverine ditches the yellow outfit. This happens in both New X-Men and Uncanny X-Force. When joining up with the Avengers, on the other hand, the yellow suit is back, perhaps because he is fighting alongside the teenage Spider-Man. Either that, or he didn't have time for a wardrobe change.
The theory also highlights a comic book precedent of a similar tactic, explaining that Batman has the yellow logo on his chest to draw attention to the area of his outfit that is best protected, as highlighted in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. If you were to view the entire X-Men team as collective Bat armor, you could argue Wolverine is exactly that; the strongest point for opponents to aim for.
If the theory is correct, though, it highlights how Mangold missed a trick by not including the outfit in Logan. In its simplest form, it would've been cool fan service, but going deeper into the narrative, it would've made sense, especially in the closing scenes, for Wolverine to appear, suited and booted, distracting attention from the younger mutants.
Ah well, maybe Jackman can come out of retirement, wear the suit in Deadpool 2.
What do you think of the theory? Does Wolverine wear his outfit to protect the teenage X-Men?