Perfection is boring. Let's be real, who wants to read stories or watch movies about super-heroes that have absolutely no weaknesses whatsoever? What makes fans fall in love with characters in the first place are the things that make them relatable, that show vulnerability, that doesn't win all the time - because even in other universes, that's simply not how life works. And that's a good thing, a great thing, from which many people take valuable lessons and find comfort.
It's always a rush of adrenaline when we get to see our favorite characters emerge victorious from a fight or an epic battle. But seeing them be defeated is sometimes necessary to make their return that much more compelling. The X-Men are some of the most beloved characters from Marvel. But throughout the years, their reputation wasn't always the best, and many argued just exactly how powerful these creatures were. While they've amassed some serious wins, they've also suffered quite a few embarrassing losses...and it's time to take a look at the ten greatest defeats!
10 Hellfire Club
The X-Men faced quite a few foes throughout the years, and while some made only an appearance and didn't leave that much of a mark, the same can't be said about the Hellfire Club, whose members are nothing less than the richest and influential people in society. While many might not consider them a worthy opponent of the X-Men at first, they proved everybody wrong.
While half of the team was captured by the Hellfire Club, once they tried to take on them with a good old comic-book standoff, they weren't very lucky. It obviously didn't help that the Dark Phoenix made an appearance, and definitely played a huge role in the embarrassing defeat that the X-Men suffered this time around.
9 The Phalanx
What's the oldest motive on Earth that drives the bad guys to do whatever horrible thing it is they want to do? World domination, of course! It's been a recurring theme on everything, from poetry to cartoons, and of course, comic books. And while it doesn't always present a compelling enough narrative, it doesn't mean the villains in question aren't extremely powerful.
That's exactly the case for the Phalanx, an alien race who was really into this. Convinced that the X-Men had to be destroyed because they posed a serious threat to their plans, they wiped out everyone in the X-Mansion without much resistance. Granted, Wolverine wasn't there, but the X-Men shouldn't solely depend on him for things like this. Again, embarrassing, to say the least.
8 The Government Of Genosha
It's always a fantastic feat when artists manage to convey powerful messages through their art. Being entertained and simultaneously touched by something extremely relevant to the history of mankind, is a fantastic thing. And that's exactly what Marvel managed to do with the nation of Genosha, in Africa, turning its plotline of mutants being segregated and exploited by the humans into a metaphor for the Apartheid in South Africa.
In one of the installations where the X-Men and Genosha are two entities appearing together, the government of the country unleashes their power towards the mutants and defeats the X-Men, gaining even more power in the bargain. This all due to the fact that their opponents had the ability to annul their powers.
7 Zero Tolerance
Professor X has always been one of the most interesting characters to come out of the Marvel comic books. His wish to end the stigma against mutants, and to help them realize their full potential without the necessity of destruction was both inspiring, and the fire that ignited everything we love about the X-Men today. He was always cautious though, and he made a point to have protocols ready to be set in motion just in case one of them ever went rogue.
When his own creation, Onslaught, was destroyed, a Government member named Bastion took the opportunity of Professor X's incarceration to learn about these protocols. This, of course, gave him the power of knowing how to defeat every X-Men. He set in motion Operation Zero Tolerance and wiped out all the X-Men he could find.
6 Magneto's Acolytes
Few things are as exciting and compelling as the ongoing feud between Professor X and Magneto. Mostly because we can sympathize with both of them, even though one is clearly in the wrong. It made for a series of incredibly interesting stories, and even more awesome movies (watching it come true on screen is always an absolute joy).
There was a time when a few mutants went to Magneto and made it clear they wanted to be his acolytes. It's important to mention that this group was actually wanted for terrorism, which is what propelled the X-Men to fight against them in the first place. Well, it didn't really go that well, and Magneto and his Acolytes took them down one by one.
5 Emma Frost
Are you really a Marvel character if you haven't been possessed by an evil entity at some point in time? Well, probably yes, but there have been enough instances of this happening that the correlation is at least understandable. And one of these instances belongs to none other than Emma Frost, who was possessed by a part of Cassandra Nova.
This little bit of life, however, ended up causing serious damage. Cassandra was successful in pitting Emma against the X-Man, by convincing her she brought the Hellfire Club back, which of course wasn't true. Fighting in the name of Cassandra but with the use of her original powers, Emma completely beat out her team members, and she was the one who managed to defeat Nova.
4 Freedom Force
Trust the United States Government to always be thirsty for more power. And this is not just valid for Marvel, DC Comics has made this trend pretty clear as well. And in true Suicide Squad fashion, Val Cooper decided to put together a team of mutants that would be at the service of the country. Hence, the Freedom Force was born (previously Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, which is a glow-up if we ever saw one).
There was an instance in time when the X-Men actually faced off against the Freedom Force, that counted on some pretty amazing members, including Mystique, Avalanche, and Spiral. Saying that they were completely owned is an understatement, especially considering that it was pretty much Spiral's fight, doing all the work and teaching them some lessons along the way.
3 The Hulk
There are very few things we can be sure of in this life. We are born, we live, we die. The sky is blue, the sun is hot, and if you're facing off against the Hulk, there's a 99.9% chance you are going to lose. Not just lose, but lose spectacularly. So, it's no wonder that when the time came for the X-Men to be face to face with this particular character, things didn't go very well.
The whole ordeal came about when the Illuminati, of which Professor X was a part, expelled the Hulk from planet Earth. And because this is Marvel, when Hulk came back he was ready to snap some Illuminati necks. In an attempt to protect Professor X, all mutants came together to try and defeat him. The only reason this wasn't even worse is because the Hulk eventually left, otherwise there would be quite a few more injuries.
There are some crossovers you really want but never expect you'll be lucky enough to get. Even in Marvel, that's very well-known for bringing together all sorts of entities, villains, heroes, and mutants, and tangle them with political intrigue and espionage, we don't necessarily expect certain things to happen. But because it's an imagined universe, it gets easier to come up with situations that give us exactly what we hoped for.
For instance, there was once an entity called the Beyonder who brought a few heroes and villains to a world where they were supposed to fight against each other. When the X-Men chose to pair up with Magneto, Spider-Man was quick to go and let the heroes know. When the X-Men attempted to confront him, he completely owned them. Seriously. It was hard to read, because that kid turned the X-Men upside down.
1 The Wasp
We couldn't be happier that the Marvel Cinematic Universe took the opportunity to introduce the Wasp to fans everywhere. She is an extremely interesting character, who has not only crossed paths with the X-Men and Magneto before, she also defeated them completely once she thought they were her enemies.
Back in the day, the Wasp and Magneto were actually lovers for a while, but it was all part of a plan by the Wasp to know exactly what villain Magneto was up to. Once the X-Men showed up, the Wasp considered them opponents if they were siding with Magneto, and she was quick to face off against them. The Wasp wiped the floor with the X-Men on her own, and according to herself, she could have done much worse.