A question we get pretty frequently is “Where did Rachel get those red sunglasses?” The answer–almost universally–is “Which ones?”
I own a lot of red sunglasses–in fact, for a long time, all the sunglasses I owned were red. It’s part homage, part aesthetic preference (red sunglasses are cool, okay?), and part security blanket: Cyclops is a character I identify pretty closely with for a lot of reasons, and the sunglasses have become a pretty central touchstone for that metaphor. (Plus, everyone needs at least one ridiculous visual affectation, right?)
Suffice to say: I’ve gotten really good at hunting down red sunglasses. And this week, I’m going to teach you my secrets.
Fair warning: This is gonna get involved. In fact, it’s gonna get involved enough that I decided pretty early on to break it into three parts. Part one will cover the movie versions of Cyclops’s shades. Part two will be a general hunting guide–where and how to search for what you’re after, brands, options, and some personal favorites. And in part three, I’ll point you to real-world matches for specific pairs from the comics. (If you’ve got any requests on that front, drop ’em in the comments here, and I’ll see what I can do!)
I’m starting with the movies because they’re the most precise of the bunch in terms of brands and details (to a point, anyway, but we’ll get into that shortly). With one exception, they’re also the highest-ticket items by a wide margin. Most of the sunglasses you’ll see in the later installments of this guide will hover around or under $20; but these can pretty easily run you upwards of $500, depending on the level of precision and customization you’re after.
Click through for the red lenses of the silver screen! (Includes a very minor spoilers for X-Men: Days of Future Past.)
In X-Men 1-3 and Days of Future Past, Cyclops wears customized Oakleys. This particular pair is built on Oakley Juliet sunglasses (in X-Metal finish), which Oakley no longer stocks. Mine–which are the hands-down nicest sunglasses I own–were a hand-me-down from a friend who’s a way more serious (read: doesn’t get most of his at drug stores or sidewalk stands) sunglasses collector than I am; but you can find them fairly consistently on ebay.
While Oakley did briefly sell exact movie-replica glasses, they’re nearly impossible to track down these days; and when they do pop up for sale, they’re exorbitantly expensive even on the scale of fancy prop replicas. If you’re trying to duplicate the movie glasses as closely as possible, your best bet will be to pair a pair of X-Metal Juliet frames with custom blinders. It won’t be a precise copy, but it’ll be close.
The big catch, though, is the lenses. Mirrored true-red lenses are almost impossible to find retail; and Cyclops’s lenses in the movies are true-red with silver mirror on the insides, which you are not going to find retail, period: If you want an exact replica, you’re going to have to shell out for a custom set from an optician. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a gray lens with red mirror–which almost never quite look true red, although you’ll probably come slightly closer with replacement lenses like Linegears than with anything Oakley sells.
X2: X-Men United and X-Men: The Last Stand
In the second and third X-flicks, Cyclops wears Oakley Penny sunglasses, modified in roughly the same ways as the Juliet sunglasses from the first movie. (I’m 90% sure the Penny sunglasses also have darker lenses, but that might just be a byproduct of the fact that the all scenes in which they appear are comparatively dim.) Like the Juliets, the Pennys are no longer available through Oakley, but they pop up pretty regularly on ebay; and again, there are folks online who make and sell custom blinders and replacement lenses so that you can adapt the default frames into something closer (but still not identical) to the movie version.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
While Cyclops’s sunglasses in X-Men 1-3 and Days of Future Past are fancy custom jobs, the teenage Cyclops who shows up in Origins (played by the tragically underrated Tim Pocock) sports a pair of super nondescript red-lens aviators. I own a pair that’s functionally identical to the ones in the movies, which I bought off ebay for something in the neighborhood $5 U.S. plus shipping. You can get fancier versions of these, if you’re so inclined (the most popular guess for the specific brand of the ones in the film–which I tried and failed to track down–is Ray-Bans, which would also require custom lenses to match the movie version), but honestly, it feels fundamentally wrong to pay more than $10 for anything associated with a movie that can’t tell wolverines from wolves despite being named after one of them. (If you’re so inclined, you can also find similar styles with red-mirrored lenses–which look marginally less silly–for a comparable price.)
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Cyclops appears for all of like fifteen seconds in Days of Future Past, but he makes up for it by sporting his gaudiest shades of the franchise. They’re built on Oakley RadarLock sunglasses, with custom frames and lens detailing. According to Oakley, only four pairs were ever made, so if you’re after a set of perfect replicas, you’re either S.O.L. or looking to drop a significant amount of money on customization (on top of frames and custom lenses). And of course you’ll still have the same lens issues as you would with the Oakley or Penny frames.
The good news is you’re looking for a budget alternative, there are a lot of less expensive glasses in the same rough shape as RadarLocks. Tifosi golf sunglasses, which are available in similar styles in solid red with no mirror, run about $80 (and look way better than the super goofy RadarLocks, IMO). If you delve into the exciting land of safety glasses, you can find other rough analogues for significantly less (more on that in Part two).
And that’s it for the movies! Check back for part two, where I’ll set you up with a general hunting guide–search strings, brands, features, options, personal favorites–and introduce you to the magical world of safety glasses; and part three, a shopping guide to specific pairs from the comics and ‘toons!