Character Spotlight: X-Men
Feared and hated, they’re still willing to go to bat for humanity. Despite all the distrust they experience, they will defend with their very lives the rest of the planet. The X-Men are the premiere team of mutants on the front line of heroism. What got this team together, what’s a mutant, and why the X? Let’s find out!
Way, way, back when Homo Erectus roamed the Earth, alien beings called the Celestials interfered with this primitive species and experimented on them at a genetic level. This would cause the X-Gene to form in some, causing mutations beyond the norm for their kind, granting powers. Cut to the last century or so with more and more of these mutants being born with amazing abilities.
One such person is Charles Xavier, his mutation is telepathy and he also appears to be gifted with a keen intellect and born into wealth. He gains a doctorate and uses his powers to help him seek out fellow mutants that he may teach. He believes humanity and mutants can live in harmony but he also knows that his own kind can easily abuse their powers if left uncheck. Beginning his school for Gifted Youngsters
Xavier’s first students were Jean Grey, a power telekinetic with telepathy as well. Scott Summers who had concussive energy blasts he could shoot from his eyes but due to a head injury, could not shut them off so he required special eyewear to keep him from destroying whatever he looked at. Hank McCoy an intelligent young man who has a body similar to an ape in strength, agility and manual dexterity in his feet. Bobby Drake, the youngest member who could chill the things around him to the point of freezing them. Finally, Warren Worthington III, a wealthy socialite who had giant, feathery wings that allowed him flight.
Charles would educate the children as required and also train them to be capable soldiers. Giving them nicknames to hide their identities since the school was just a private academy to the public. The team would go out to show that mutants were able to be heroes and that humanity could live alongside them. Charles’ original reason for calling the team the X-Men was because everyone on the team had an “X-tra” power. Nothing to do with his own name or the X-Gene, but those would eventually become the answer most would give, wouldn’t you?
The team would often try to recruit more mutants but often end up fighting with them. They would also meet an old colleague of Charles’ Magneto. A master of magnetism and survivor of the holocaust, Magneto was not willing to let humanity’s hatred destroy his people ever again. This would lead to Charles’ X-Men often facing off against Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants over the years.
Mutants were not the only heroes and villains the X-Men would encounter, they would eventually confront the Avengers and show they were on the same side. This would begin a long working relationship with the team and several members of the X-Men would even join the Avengers at different times. The team would gain new members as the school’s student body and staff grew. There would also be the sad times in which members would leave the team, often due to death but sometimes just to seek their own way.
The X-Men would also not become the only team of mutants though they would often stem from them. This was eventually used to better specialize teams, making them filled with mutants whose powers and skills aligned with the work they would be doing. Others were formed out of friendship, similar goals, or happenstance. The teams would often keep an X in their name to show solidarity with the X-Men.
While stationed on Earth, the X-Men also would find themselves often in outer space, traveling the cosmos. They would befriend and fight all manner of alien species, even taking in members who were mutants of their own kind. There was also criticism of the X-Men from within the mutant community, what with the child soldiers for one. Another was that the teams tended to be made of the best looking mutants, whereas some mutants were seen as so grotesque they had to live in the sewers. Though the X-Men would become more welcoming of mutants with unconventional looks and powers.
Just as the team changed as time went on, so did mutation itself, many mutants would find they had secondary mutations. These would cause mutants who were very accustomed to their powers basically go through a familiar change in discovering their new abilities and how to incorporate them into their life. Another event was when a near extinction even undid many mutations, leaving very few mutants left. There would also come illnesses that would cause mutants to be unable to have children for a time.
Humanity was a threat with things like Sentinels, robots built to hunt and kill mutants. They would also just commit hate crimes against mutants they could fine. This lead to some mutants going to live on their own island nation of Genosha but they would be nearly wiped out by humanity since it was seen as a big target. The next attempt at a mutant refuge would lead to using the X-Gene as a gate to disalllow humans easy access, a land that itself was a mutant, and a new form of mutant paradise was formed. But for how long?
There you have it! The X-Men may be one of the most recognizable teams of heroes around. They’ve been animated multiple times, they’ve had TV shows, they’ve had over a dozen films. They will be joining the MCU at some point. Here’s a silly fact, to get around a tax on certain toys, the X-Men were ruled not human, since they’re mutants, for toy purposes. See you next time!