Remember when being a member of the X-Men used to mean something? There was a time before AvX, before “Schism,” before “Manifest Destiny,” when the X-Men fought for something other than survival, when they fought for a better future where humans and mutants stood side by side in solidarity. There was a time when the X-Men were beacons of hope rather than harbingers of doom. It hasn’t been that way in forever. Plagued by internal struggles, rampant prejudice and outright war on numerous fronts, Marvel’s Merry Mutants haven’t been very merry for quite some time.
The result has seen the team’s ever-growing roster diluted by the presence of thieves, terrorists, serial killers and other sundry lame ducks. Until very recently, the only prerequisite for acceptance among its formerly elite ranks was an ample amount of angst. For a time, it seemed tolerance and diversity had flown the coop. Although Marvel seems intent on ushering in a new era of optimism for the mutant race, the X-Men face a long upward climb back into the light. With this in mind, we thought it was time to separate the wheat from the chaff and run down a list of mutants who should’ve never made been X-Men in the first place.
SPOILER ALERT! Spoilers ahead for numerous stories published by Marvel Comics.
Let’s start things off with an optic blast right to the heart — or the gonads, depending on your point of view. A founding member of the Xavier’s team, Summers’ transformation from straight-laced do-gooder into hardcore mutant terrorist is still considered one of the most controversial character arcs in comics. But let’s face it, the old Scott was more boring than watching golf. Or curling.
Even when he was dating one of the most feared entities in the Marvel cosmos, he was still the least interesting member of the X-Men. It took usurping his former mentor and later murdering him in cold blood for readers to really stand up and take notice of poor Slim Summers. Thankfully, he recently succumbed to the deadly mutagenic effects of the Terrigen Cloud during the X-Men’s war with the Inhumans, because once he killed Professor X there just wasn’t much left for him to mess up.
Wade Wilson has been associated with the X-Men in some way, shape or form ever since his debut in the pages of New Mutants in the early ‘90s. Little more than a mashed up pastiche of Spider-Man, Wolverine and Deathstroke, he somehow became popular with readers after unleashing his manic inner monologue on the Marvel Universe. Although never a member of the core group of X-Men, he has served on X-Force and alongside long-standing members on the Uncanny Avengers.
His popularity reached new highs thanks to Ryan Reynolds’ blockbuster film adaptation. But winning a spot on the X-Men shouldn’t come via a popularity contest. Let’s not forget, Wade’s a sociopathic murdering motormouth on a team that already has its quota of sadistic killers. Having him on the X-Men is like letting Ted Bundy join the FBI — it just ain’t going to end well.
13. OLD MAN LOGAN
When it decided to kill off arguably the most popular character in its entire catalogue, Marvel had a chance to do something that was not only risky but potentially revolutionary. Installing Laura Kinney as the one true Wolverine could have blazed new trails of gender equity in mainstream comics. Instead, the publisher hedged its bets and brought Old Man Logan into the core Marvel Universe.
Let’s face facts. With over a century’s worth of history under his claws, Logan’s always been old. Bringing an even older version into the X-Men fold, serves little purpose other than to capitalize on the popularity of a character that was only ever intended to exist within a finite story arc. Rather than let Laura Kinney have her time in the spotlight unimpeded by the existence of her predecessor, Marvel placed their profit margin ahead of its audience’s desire for innovative storytelling.
Mystique used to be one of the Marvel 616’s most unpredictable, cold-hearted assassins, the former leader of the terrorist organization known as the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. However, many younger readers might not realize just how evil Mystique once was, thanks to the softening of her image in Fox’s current X-Men film franchise.
She used to be one of the X-Men’s most dangerous foes, capable of startling depths of manipulation and murder to further her agenda. Now, she feels like a pale, domesticated version of her former glorious, evil self and her place among the X-Men only further dilutes one of the most intriguing female villains of all time. Set to appear in the latest iteration of Astonishing X-Men, we can only hope that Mystique’s recent heroic leanings are a charade, part of a nefarious plan to take down the team from the inside.
Magneto’s on-again, off-again bromance with long-time rival and founder of the X-Men Charles Xavier has always been more interesting when it was definitively off. Undoubtedly the X-Men’s greatest villain, Magneto can’t live up to all that the dubious honor imparts if he remains an active member of the team he’s supposed to be plotting against. Never mind the fact that his terrorist acts make Mystique’s tally look like a crappy day at the bowling alley, Magneto’s continued dalliance with the X-Men has never worked out for him historically anyway.
Rather than muddy the waters with shifting allegiances and hidden agendas that may or may not benefit the team, we hunger for the Magneto of old, unshackled by a pitiful need to live up to Xavier’s dream out of nothing more than survivor’s guilt. It’s time for him to truly own his villainy and reclaim his spot as the X-Men’s greatest adversary.
One of the most annoying trends in mainstream superhero comics in recent years is a tendency to cast villains in a more heroic light. We suppose the idea is to instill some kind of misguided sympathy in readers for megalomaniacal dictators, mutant terrorists and unapologetic mass murderers. This kind of thing has to end. It’s like saying there’s some kind of moral equivalency between neo-Nazi militia groups and civil rights protestors. Sometimes there can be no forgiveness.
Sabretooth’s inclusion on the X-Men’s roster is problematic in the same way. He is an unapologetic, rabid killing machine who needs to be put out of his misery, not given a place on a team he’s tried to murder on countless occasions, his weak-ass inversion during AXIS be damned.
9. EMMA FROST
From the get-go, Emma Frost’s membership in the X-Men has been built on lies and deception. Often acting according to her own agenda, Frost rarely put the team first. Whether it was seducing Cyclops or using his death to spark a war with the Inhumans, the former Hellfire Club member has ever been a subject to her own selfish needs. How she ever managed to stick with the team for so long is a testament to the X-Men’s lack of direction over the past several years.
Currently the power behind the throne of the mutant stronghold of New Tian, in the pages of Secret Empire, Frost at least seems to have returned to her villainous ways. She is the most dangerous kind of adversary, a true believer who refuses to see the flaws in her extreme methods, often using force—telepathic or otherwise—to achieve absolute compliance in those around her.
8. THE YOUNG X-MEN
For the last couple of years, the Marvel Universe has been haunted by a younger, time-displaced version of the original five X-Men. As if the team’s connection to present continuity wasn’t already tenuous enough…Throughout the team’s history, ever since Claremont and Byrne’s classic “Days of Future Past” story arc, the X-Men have been intermittently waylaid by the tired old trope of the alternate universe.
From “DoFP” to “Age of Apocalypse,” these alternate realities, universes or whatever you want to call them, were all played out years ago and the current youth movement unfolding in X-Men Blue is no exception. With a past already muddied by countless revisions and parallel timelines, the last thing the X-franchise needs is younger versions of their founding members running amok. It’s past time to send these kids back to their own time period, because they should never have been allowed to be here in the first place.
Sometimes called the “first mutant,” Namor of Atlantis’ claim to homo superior status comes not by his hybrid human-Atlantean heritage but from those funky little wings on his ankles. His mutant roots were downplayed for decades, until it became convenient to ally him with the beleaguered X-Men during the “Curse of the Mutants” storyline. His body count makes Magneto’s look like drop in the ocean. He’s decimated entire worlds to proactively protect the Atlantean people, whom he places well above mutants in terms of loyalty and duty.
Namor is a certified mass murderer, who frequently places his race above all others. His acceptance into the X-Men is heinous on a fundamental level that flies in the face of everything the team is supposed to represent. Silly ankles wings or no, there should be no place on the X-Men for an intolerant, hate-filled maniac like him.
6. JIMMY HUDSON
By the time of its inevitable destruction during Secret Wars, Marvel’s Ultimate Universe had strayed so far off-script it was unrecognizable as the modern, streamlined version of the original 616 it was supposed to be. If only it had stayed dead. Instead, what we’ve seen are several survivors of the Ultimate Universe popping up all over the prime universe, further complicating continuity that was supposed to have been given a new starting point.
Now we have things like the seemingly interminable Secret Empire (talk about off-script) and the utterly pointless Generations event to deal with. Jimmy Hudson is one such Ultimate aberration, who somehow survived the destruction of his universe to show up in recent issues of X-Men Blue. Great, just what the X-Men always needed: yet another Wolverine wannabe. You know, because every X-book has to have a shaggy, clawed super-killer on the cover.
One gets the feeling that Longshot only joined the X-Men because nobody in Marvel’s editorial bullpen had the slightest clue what else to do with him. The fan-favorite creation of Ann Nocenti and Art Adams, Longshot’s main contribution to the team canon was the Mojoverse and by extension the X-Babies. Otherwise, his innocent fish-out-of-water routine grew tired pretty damn quick.
Despite being one of the more good-natured entries on our list, Longshot and the X-Men were always a tough fit. Determined to hammer a round peg into a square hole, his history with the team became increasingly convoluted, especially with regards to Dazzler and their time-displaced son Shatterstar… who neither of them remembers. Longshot always operated better in his own little corner of the Marvel Universe and that’s where he should’ve stayed.
Another in the long list of Weapon Plus experiments gone horribly awry, Fantomex is officially classified as Weapon XIII. A notorious thief and egomaniac, Fantomex was created in the World, an artificial environment dedicated to growing super-soldiers infected with “nanosentinel” technology. As a member of a couple of iterations of X-Force, he proved unpredictable, not to mention mentally unstable, betraying the team on more than one occasion. Just the type of guy you want on the X-Men.
For a time, after betraying Psylocke and the rest of X-Force, he had his brain scrambled but not before literally falling in love with himself… or herself… whatever. Loaded with almost as much baggage as his Weapon Plus predecessor Wolverine, Fantomex lacks the Canucklehead’s innate cool factor. A patently unlikeable character that only perpetuated the influence of an overused faction of the Marvel Universe, Fantomex should have been allowed to fade into oblivion ages ago.
Lucas Bishop hails from yet another dystopian future X-Men timeline, in which mutants were rounded up and incarcerated in massive concentration camps until the Summers Rebellion installed them at the top of the food chain. He was stranded in the mainstream Marvel Universe while attempting to capture a time-hopping criminal from the future and decided to stay in order to protect Xavier, whose assassination in his own timeline precipitated an era of mutant oppression.
Then, in what could’ve been a cool ironic twist, he appeared to kill Xavier, but the old guy survived. Subsequently, he tried to murder Hope Summers and Cable, taking out millions of people in future timelines in the process. Now, he’s back as a member of the new Astonishing X-Men, searching for a path to redemption. Most people would get the death penalty for killing literally millions of people, but not Bishop. He gets to be an X-Man.
This ragin’ Cajun’s greatest claim to fame as an X-Man was that time he beat a weakened Wolverine in single combat. He’s been riding out that dubious feat ever since. Cursed with an abysmal accent that could only occur in comics, Gambit insinuated himself into the X-Men despite a past in which he facilitated the “Mutant Massacre” as a member of the Marauders. What a rascal.
The X-Men kicked his ass to the curb when they found out but later accepted him back and even let him teach a team of students. Sounds about par for the course for a team that let their oldest, most powerful enemy join its ranks. Gambit never really stuck it out with the team, coming and going as the needs of the plot determined. Currently, he’s back again in Astonishing X-Men, tugging at the old nostalgia strings as only a child of the ‘90s can.
Last and quite possibly least, Cypher is always a contender for most useless mutant on lists such as this one — and rightfully so. This is a kid whose big, bad mutant power is the ability to translate any language in the known universe. Sure, the more clever writers out there have expanded this ability to include things like computer languages and body language but really the kid should be warming the bench, not playing in the big show.
After coming back from the dead, he now views everything around him as information flow i.e. as language. Kind of like Drums in Warren Ellis’ Planetary but, you know, without the drumsticks or a personality. At the end of the day, no matter how cool you try to make Cypher, he’s still little more than a cipher, better known by its other name, zero.
Which X-Men do you think should’ve never been allowed into Xavier’s? Let us know in the Comments!
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