One of the primary attributes that have defined X-Men comics over the past 40 years has been time travel and their penchant for visiting alternative universes. While the normal storylines that have emerged from Earth-616 have helped further the X-Men's popularity and established the character interactions that we have come to cherish, few can argue that their most iconic stories stem from their inter-dimensional and time displaced exploits. It seems like all the major stories involving the X-Men have some degree of alternative characters, whether it be "Old Man Logan", Mutant X, "Age of Apocalypse", or "House of M".
With so many alternative versions available, creators have had multiple opportunities to explore the core concepts of these characters and how such concepts could deviate and mutate given their varying backgrounds and surroundings. Such exploration naturally creates a vast array of character versions, whether they be stronger, weaker, depowered, or just plain strange. It is these deviations and the creator's ambition to produce a wildly different and unique offering that helps make them so unforgettable. So which of these alternative characters could wipe the floor with their 616 counterparts and which would be cannon fodder? Follow along as we call out 10 alternative universe X-Men that have more power than the 616 versions, and 10 that are better served staying in their own universe. Plus, given how many versions there are, remember that this is not an end-all be-all list, but just a taste of the X-Men Universe at large.
20 STRONGER: NIGHTCRAWLER (AGE OF APOCALYPSE)
The "Age of Apocalypse" storyline was the X-Men's first major departure into alternative realities, completely overwriting the 616 universe for over four months. There were many new and interesting characters that were introduced in the AoA that eventually made their way to the 616, including Nightcrawler.
The AoA Nightcrawler is devoted not to the church, but his mother Mystique. He also takes the 616 Kurt's love of pirates a step further, brandishing multiple piercing and two sabers at all times. The AoA Nightcrawler is clearly far more deadly and dangerous than the lovable 616 Nightcrawler that the X-Men grew up with.
19 WEAKER: BRUTE (MUTANT X)
Henry "Hank" McCoy has seen various versions of himself throughout the X-Men's inter-dimensional escapades. One of the most pronounced departures from his general blue furred self though is the version that resides within the Mutant X universe.
In this parallel universe McCoy's self experimentation left him a scaly and furry green amphibious monster. More importantly though, it degraded his intellect to that of a small child. Usually the Beast is a cornerstone of any X-team, as his intellect, strength and gymnastics are a boon. As a member of "The Six" though, the Brute could and was often a detrimental part of the team who was somewhat unpredictable given his low mental capacity.
18 STRONGER: ULTIMATE WOLVERINE (ULTIMATE X-MEN)
In 2001 Marvel launched the "Ultimate" line to introduce new readers to the Marvel Universe. This universe would feature the company's most iconic characters reinterpreted for a modern, and thus younger, audience. The line was an unabashed success and helped drive sales for numerous years. While the most successful character to emerge from the universe was Miles Morales, the second Ultimate Spider-Man, the X-Men had a strong influence as well.
Drawing inspiration from Hugh Jackman's interpretation of Logan, Ultimate Wolverine was a tall and physically imposing character. While still retaining his trademark claws, Ultimate Wolverine's healing factor was ratcheted up even further. Throughout the series he survived being decapitated, being split in half and a nuclear bomb.
17 WEAKER: LOGAN (OLD MAN LOGAN)
One the most popular alternative universes in recent history, the "Old Man Logan" storyline ran within the monthly Wolverine comic. Written by Mark Millar, the story features a vast dystopian future where the United States has been carved up among the villains. With the absence of the majority of the old heroes, many in this lawless world are simply looking out for themselves. This includes an aged and reluctant Wolverine.
While the recent Logan movie was a wonderful addition to the X-Men cinema universe and is by far one of the best examples of Wolverine on the big screen, it deviates significantly from the source material. A reluctant, old and contemplative Logan might be a sharp and weaker deviation from the 616 Wolverine we all know and love, nevertheless fans owe it to themselves to read the original comic as it is one the best X-Men comics of the past 20 years.
16 STRONGER: HAVOK (MUTANT X)
At the close of the initial X-Factor run, Havok is seemingly ended. Instead, in grand X-Men fashion, he is transported into a parallel timeline where the Mutant X storyline takes place. While at first it would seem that Havok was just transported, in reality it was his spirit that was transferred to that dimension's Havok's body.
While Havok's power base is exactly the same as his 616 counterpart, given the absence of his older brother Scott, this version of Alex bears the responsibility and leadership typically associated with Cyclops. Thus, while he is still naturally powerful, he's also a better leader and strategist compared to his 616 counterpart.
15 WEAKER: HAVOK (X-MEN EVOLUTION)
Not all alternate X-Men universes come from the comic pages. Numerous incarnations of our favorite merry mutants have appeared on both the silver screen and the TV screen. One such, sometimes underappreciated, version is X-Men Evolution. This cartoon series ran for 52 episodes on the Kids' WB.
Depicting younger versions of the iconic X-Men, most of the characters here attended high school as well as being taught by Professor Xavier. The series also showcases one of the weaker versions of Alex Summers to date. The Evolution version of Havok is a young surfer in Hawaii. While his power base is somewhat similar to his 616 counterpart and he's still Scott's brother, he's definitely underpowered and lacking the wild nature to his blasts.
14 STRONGER: JEAN GREY (X-MEN: THE END)
After so many years it is a bit redundant that Jean Grey is constantly at the center of the X-Men's adventures. Clearly the lasting importance of her Phoenix personality is difficult to ignore. Add to the fact that she is naturally one of the strongest mutants, and you can see why she is the nexus for so much.
In the early '00s Marvel began producing a number of "The End" comics, featuring potential possibilities where the respective characters would come to their finale. The Jean Grey within this series is by far the strongest version to ever grace the page, as she merges with her clone, unifying their powers and fully embracing the Phoenix Force.
13 WEAKER: JEAN (EARTH X)
Earth X was a uniquely profound and introspective storyline that explored a dark alternate Marvel Universe. Half-comic and half-novelization, the story follows X-51, the Machine Man, as he becomes the eyes for a now blind Watcher. Through X-51's vision, we see how the world has devolved into near chaos as a new Red Skull threatens to completely take over the United States, and the Earth is manipulated and impregnated by the Celestials.
Earth X explores concepts that few alternative universe Marvel books ever have. One of these explorations is what would have happened if Logan and Jean had become a couple. That Jean is out of touch with her powers, and spiteful of her lazy Wolverine husband. She represents one of the weakest representations of the character, and that's without spoiling who she really is.
12 STRONGER: BLOODSTORM (MUTANT X)
The Mutant X series effortlessly blended several older plot points from the regular 616 and tweaked them slightly to deliver new and interesting character interpretations. No such interpretation was as positively reviewed as that of Ororo's transformation into Bloodstorm.
Stemming from Storm's initial encounter with Dracula in Uncanny X-Men #159, this version of Storm was not saved and became a vampire in her own rite. The resulting version retained all her typical Storm mutations, while also gaining a slew of vampire abilities. In order to not completely resign herself to her vampiric desires, she regularly feeds on her lover Forge for sustenance.
11 WEAKER: ORORO (NEW X-MEN)
Before her marriage to Black Panther, Storm had a long and emotional relationship with the X-Men's resident tinkerer, Forge. The '90s saw the apex of this relationship, where the couple seemingly decided to part ways permanently.
Given the strong emotional ramifications of this relationship, it is natural for alternative versions of the X-Men to explore the possibility of the couple staying happily together. In the New X-Men run, we are presented with an Ororo who had chosen to marry Forge and settle down with children. It doesn't end well for our lovely couple, but we can only hope that love triumphs in one of the X-Men's alternative universes.
10 STRONGER: KITTY PRYDE (AGE OF APOCALYPSE)
The "Age of Apocalypse" was the quintessential '90s crossover -- gritty, dark, and extreme. It comes to reason then that the majority of the characters that evolved from the storyline would share these attributes, and Kitty Pryde is no exception.
The AoA Kitty Pryde is probably the harshest and meanest alternate version available. This skintight spandex wearing, chainsmoking, retractable Wolverine-like clawed version of Shadowcat is a trained and unapologetic warrior. Her only downfall is her neverending love for Colossus. In her short life she is not only trained as an assassin under Weapon X, she is the teacher for Generation Next and the wife of a deranged Colossus.
9 WEAKER: KITTY PRYDE (HOUSE OF M)
The "House of M" storyline brought with it deep ramifications to its characters and their Earth-616 counterparts. That being said, the vast majority of characters retained their exact same powers with few exceptions.
Instead of creating alternative versions of characters, the storyline delved into their development within the topsy-turvy "House of M" realm. The Kitty from this universe never went to Xavier's school. Instead, she attended mutant counseling classes which taught her to control her mutant powers. This allowed Kitty to fulfill her genius level potential and graduate early from college. This Kitty is devoted to education, not Xavier.
8 STRONGER: ULTIMATE CYCLOPS (ULTIMATE X-MEN)
Many of the characters within the Ultimate line had grittier backgrounds, and Cyclops was no exception. His awkwardness as a child, his relationship with his brother -- these were all ratcheted up in Ultimate X-Men. Such emotional baggage left him as less of a boy scout and more open to pushing the envelope.
This version of Scott was able to go undercover and infiltrate the Brotherhood of Mutants. He was also open to using a substance called "Banshee" to amplify his powers. Under the influence of Banshee, Cyclops could channel and store the solar energy throughout his entire body. This gave him the additional ability to supercharge his cells, granting him super strength, the ability to fly, and other gifts.
7 WEAKER: CYCLOPS (AGE OF APOCALYPSE)
Yet another entry from the "Age of Apocalypse," this version of Cyclops shares the same gritty and extreme characteristics as the rest of the AoA characters. These attributes don't always lead to a stronger character though. In the case of Cyclops, his AoA counterpart fights against the X-Men having been raised by Sinister.
With a bitter sibling rivalry against his brother Alex, Scott never develops the leadership and tactical skills of his 616 counterpart. This rash of bad luck is further compounded by his inability to show Jean Grey his feelings towards her. To wrap it all up, in a battle with Weapon X Scott loses an eye, leaving him as a true Cyclops. This is definitely not one of the stronger versions of Scott.
6 STRONGER: ANNA "ROGUE" RAVEN (EXILES)
Exiles was a spectacular book that specialized in traveling, recruiting and confronting the dangers of Marvel's alternate dimensions. With such an open template the book was able to introduce a multitude of old and new characters that spanned the gamut of abilities and powers.
During the team's adventures it was only a matter of time before they would run into a stronger version of Rogue. This happened when they met Anna Raven, who was just like her 616 counterpart, but with the added ability of only absorbing through her hands. Furthermore, this Rogue comes from "wealth, privilege and sophistication," meaning she didn't have the troubled upbringing or Southern accent of her 616 counterpart.
5 WEAKER: ROGUE (1602)
The 1602 universe was created by Neil Gaiman placing the Marvel Universe within the Elizabethan era. As such, the majority of the characters within this universe do not possess the superhuman attributes they have come to wield in the 616.
Interestingly, Rogue does not appear in this initial incarnation, but is later introduced in the series 1602 Witch Hunter Angela. Known as Anna Maria, this version of Rogue is a witchbreed and is being kept secluded. Nothing about the 1602 Universe screams powerful, and Rogue is probably the biggest example of this. It is nevertheless an engrossing world that brings with it its own unique view.
4 STRONGER: ULTIMATE MADROX (ULTIMATE X-MEN)
Jamie Madrox has long been one of the more unique characters found within the X-Men Universe. With the power to duplicate himself, he has been a favorite of writers for the interesting qualities he can bring to a story. Within the Ultimate Universe we were witness to one of the strongest and simultaneously sad versions of Multiple Man.
Tricked into the Brotherhood, Ultimate Madrox is actually a young teenage boy who doesn't understand that what his dupes are doing is real. This version of Multiple Man can typically create 27 or 28 versions without distorting his perception. Yet, he was able to create tens of thousands of dupes for Magneto's Brotherhood, making him far stronger than his 616 counterpart.
3 WEAKER: X-MEN NOIR (MARVEL NOIR)
For this entry we will be including the entire X-Men Universe from Marvel's Earth-90214, better known as "Marvel Noir". This is simply because the entire Marvel Noir Universe is depowered, with the exception of a select few.
Even though this class of X-Men are powerless does not mean they are not persecuted. In this reality Xavier recruits disenfranchised sociopathic teenagers. Taught to hone their criminal skills, the teenagers soon embark on numerous adventures where their social fortitude is tested and shown to be straight and true. The last encounter with this group has a number of X-Men searching for the Gem of Cyttorak in the jungles of Madripoor.
2 STRONGER: BROTHER MUTANT (EXILES)
Things can get kind of weird in the Marvel Universe, and to prove that no scenario can ever be completely disregarded, the Exiles presented us with Brother Mutant. Who and what Brother Mutant is can be complicated. In Earth-127, the Scarlet Warlock (imagine the Scarlet Witch, but when she was conceived the genetic luck of the draw went male) tried to give Magneto the same adamantium laced skeleton that Wolverine enjoys.
Needless to say, it didn't work. You then had a merging of the Scarlet Warlock, Magneto, Mesmero and Quicksilver into one super being. Not to worry, Brother Mutant was stopped by the Exiles and a "group" of Wolverines.
1 WEAKER: X-BABIES (MOJO VERSE)
Before Skottie Young crafted a living drawing adorable versions of Marvel characters, there were the X-Babies. The X-Babies were first introduced in Uncanny X-Men Annual #10, as the villain Mojo had de-aged the group.
Later, facing the prospect of a world without the X-Men (they were presumed dead), Mojo had his people engineer baby clones of the heroes to boost ratings. The X-Babies are usually found trying to flea from Mojo in one way or another. Genetically speaking they are exactly the same as their adult counterparts, just babies. Thus, while they share the same powers, the effectiveness of such powers are highly decreased.