Most superheroes who enjoyed the privilege of receiving training or mentoring can credit their know-how to someone. After all, everyone starts somewhere and if you have guidance from a more experienced party, things become much easier. Whether their mentors taught them how to defend themselves or use their powers in unique ways, a good teacher can leave a profound effect on a hero. Sometimes, it's not lessons in the traditional sense, but wise words imparted or stories shared by these individuals. Not only do mentors need to be able to impart their knowledge, they also need to remain a reliable figure for heroes to consult even after their training is done. Having a mentor that is also a trusted friend isn't to be underestimated either, as students sometimes find themselves next to their former teachers on the very teams for which they were trained to join.
It's not always ideal to have a mentor, however, as some simply aren't good at shepherding others. Though some would-be teachers mean well, they can sometimes end up creating monsters and in some cases, they themselves become the monsters. Simply having someone to teach does not make a person a mentor, there are some who would abuse their influence. There are several villains who have imparted nothing but strife on those who wanted to learn from them. In possibly the most unfortunate cases, some attempted mentors are incompetent and this can cost both their students and themselves a hefty price. We look at both sides of the coin as we look at the greatest Marvel mentors and others that didn't quite take to teaching.
20 GREAT: GAMBIT
On the surface, Gambit doesn't seem like a good mentor due to his history. A thief, a rogue and extremely geared towards self-preservation, he rarely goes out of his way to take someone under his wing. He even once remarked how being a teacher wasn't for him, while on staff at the X-Mansion under Kitty Pryde. Although, with the right circumstance and the right student, Remy can really impart some wisdom.
During a time of indecision in her life, X-23 was accompanied by Gambit for a spell. The young mutant was taught some valuable lessons by the cajun who even managed to talk Laura down from a berzerker rage induced by her trigger-scent. The bond the two formed was strong and it even saw Gambit shouting at Wolverine to be a better father figure to Laura.
19 NOT SO GREAT: EMMA FROST
Emma Frost is a strange member of the X-Men, her motives are always cloudy and she's incredibly prideful. Though it may seem that she is a great mentor given her work with the Stepford Cuckoos, she's actually had a less than stellar history with teaching. She is cited as the one who unlocked Iceman's potential, but she did so against his will while inhabiting his mind.
Her very first team, The Hellions, were all lost in one of their first missions and their unfortunate end still weighs heavy on her to this day. Her tendency to turn her nose up at people gives way to favoritism, shown in how much attention she gave the Cuckoos over all other students.
18 GREAT: SHANG-CHI
You don't become a master of Martial Arts without learning how to teach those Martial Arts. No one knows the ins and outs of physical combat quite like this man. Shang-Chi has been both student and mentor on his road to becoming one of the best hand-to-hand fighters in the Marvel Universe.
He's trained some of your favourite heroes, too! Spider-Man approached him in order to learn how to be a better fighter and helped develop something called Spider-Fu during the events of Spider-Island. Shang-Chi also recently helped Domino control her luck powers, which had previously been more of a passive superpower.
17 NOT SO GREAT: PROFESSOR X
Professor Xavier and his dream are often cited as pillars for the X-Men and how they behave. Though his dream is reasonable and he perhaps has a good public image, Xavier is no saint. For someone who chose the format of a school to shepherd mutants, he's not been a good influence.
Xavier once caused an entire team of untrained young mutants to lose their lives, apart from the third Summers brother, Gabriel. Throwing untrained children into danger, falling in love with Jean Grey and removing memories from Cyclops' mind, Professor X has done numerous shady things over the years. It's no wonder Cyclops would eventually turn his back on Xavier and his dream.
16 GREAT: UNCLE BEN
Uncle Ben's name is synonymous with the imparting of meaningful and lasting knowledge. His famous words, "With great power comes great responsibility" are the stuff of legend and set a young Peter Parker on the path to becoming one of the greatest superheroes of all time.
Not only this, Uncle Ben raised Peter, along with May, to be the kindhearted and determined Spidey we know and love. Though the emphasis is always put on his famous words, it's plain to see the capacity for love and understanding Ben left with Peter shine through in his nephew. Aunt May also likes to drop anecdotes about Ben for Peter in times of great stress, showing Ben's influence remains even after his passing.
15 NOT SO GREAT: MAGNETO
Magneto is the other side to the coin of Xavier's dream as he's willing to go to any length for the good of mutantkind. While it is somewhat admirable that he's willing to go the distance for his people, oftentimes it has made those in his charge suffer. For the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Magneto recruited young impressionable mutants who looked to him for guidance.
Rather than provide them with a focal point for how to build a future, he used his would-be students and resources. Not a lot was learned by the mutants under him, as being used as a means to an end doesn't allow for much learning. Toad, in particular, didn't learn much until he became janitor for the X-Men years later.
14 GREAT: SPIDER-MAN
Peter has proved he can teach on two fronts and it's likely due to his Uncle Ben's influence. Firstly, he's been able to help various scientists develop alongside him in Horizon Labs and later within Parker Industries. His patience for willing students even saw him employ and help former villains like Morbius and Clash.
He also mentors well on being a superhero, taking Miles Morales into his tutelage when the newer Spider-Man found himself permanently in the 616 universe. Showing Miles the ropes, the two developed a relationship akin to a brotherly bond and they've worked together in several events since.
13 NOT SO GREAT: BLUE MARVEL
Dr. Adam Brashear is an unfathomably smart, powerful and talented man, however his history of mentoring has been rocky. Tragically, his inability to properly mentor younger minds cost him his sons. Hoping that his sons may one day contribute to the world as he did as the Blue Marvel, he took his eldest son on some of his adventures.
Unfortunately, not nearly as experienced as his father, Kevin was trapped in the Neutral Zone during one of their missions and remains there to this day. Adam would have even less success mentoring his other son, Max, who would distance himself from his father's teachings and become the villain known as Dr. Positron.
12 GREAT: CABLE
Cable has been all over the timeline and as a result has picked up a lot of knowledge. At one point he took down the Avengers single-handed, using knowledge he'd gained from their past and their future. So, anyone who is taught by Cable should be a formidable strategist and superhero.
Cable was once tasked with taking Hope Summers into the time-stream to protect her from those who would do her harm. As a result, Cable raised the mutant messiah and taught her survival skills unlike any other. He trained Hope to develop skills independent of her powers, in the event she wouldn't be able to rely on them. This foresight made Hope every bit the hero she was projected to be.
11 NOT SO GREAT: BEAST
Beast is one of the original X-Men and also one of the smartest. You'd think that with his experience and his IQ that he might be able to better shape the hearts and minds of the students at the Xavier Institute, this is not the case. While scientifically-minded, Henry's practical application can sometimes be lacking.
After bringing past versions of the original team to the present in an attempt to reach out to Cyclops, who had lost his way, Beast caused irreparable damage to the multiverse. He also failed in adjusting the young X-Men to their time-displacement, leaving them to their own devices and not taking much responsibility for his actions or his new students.
10 GREAT: WOLVERINE
Wolverine has a wealth of experience with training others over the years. He's been alive for a long, long time so the teams and heroes he's worked alongside give him a great foundation to teach. Though reluctant to teach, as seen then he was the headmaster of the Jean Grey School, he does a pretty great job.
Logan has molded some of the most successful X-Men into heroes and often, leaders. He has mentored Rogue, Jubilee, Havok, X-23 and Kitty Pryde in his time among the mutant team. What is also impressive is the things he has taught, everything from leadership to swordplay, when Logan puts his attention into teaching someone he often shapes a winner.
9 NOT SO GREAT: DANGER
Danger is what happens when your training facility, designed to train your students, comes to life. While this may be seen as a plus, as having the Danger Room sentient will allow for better interactions, this is not the case. A.I. sentience isn't always fun and games, as anyone who has seen The Terminator can tell you.
Danger currently works for Magneto and is sometimes seen turning into an X-Jet for the X-Men Blue team. However, before this, it tried to destroy the X-Men on multiple occasions, using the data it accrued from student training over the years. The last thing you need as a inexperienced student is your robot teacher trying to end your life.
8 GREAT: MAR-VELL
It has been quite some time since the unfortunate passing of the original Captain Marvel, Mar-Vell. Though he tragically succumbed to cancer, his contributions in life before that included teaching Carol Danvers. Taking her on as an apprentice, he taught her how to be a superhero when she was still Ms. Marvel.
Helping Carol come to terms with her new powers and altered Kree Physiology, Mar-Vell shaped the new Captain Marvel. After all, it's not easy to become an intergalactic hero overnight. Carol still pulls from Mar-Vell's teachings to this day, and the time spent under his teaching should be explored in her upcoming MCU debut.
7 NOT SO GREAT: LEI-KUNG THE THUNDERER
On first glance, The Thunderer is a perfectly serviceable mentor given that he trains the inhabitants of K'un-Lun. Among those he prepared to one day take the mantle of the Iron Fist was his very own son, Davos. Davos, while skilled, was bitter in defeat and very prideful.
Lei-Kung never seemed to take responsibility for his son, unable to move him away from his negative traits. Eventually, Davos tried to take on the ritual of the Iron Fist and failed. Rather than reprimand the upstart or teach him to be better, Lei-Kung did nothing. Davos became an antagonist against every Iron Fist since, bringing shame to his father.
6 GREAT: FANTOMEX
A self-interested and egotistical hero, Fantomex is often painted as a vain, posturing mercenary. This changed, though briefly, during his time on Logan's Uncanny X-Force team. Fantomex cloned and took a child version of the villain Apocalypse and decided to raise the child to be a hero.
Believing that he could make sure this child would never become Apocalypse, Fantomex put him in The World. The World is biome that exists separate from the waking world which allowed Fantomex to simulate an entire childhood for the young mutant. The child would grow to become Genesis and join the X-Men, with a good sense of right and wrong instilled in him by Fantomex.
5 NOT SO GREAT: HUSK
Husk was made a teacher by Wolverine while he was headmaster of the Jean Grey School. However, after the events of Avengers Vs. X-Men, the young mutant's powers were going awry. Couple that with the stress of having no teaching experience, and you get a very volatile mentor.
Due to the visual nature of her powers (being able to alter the physiology of her skin), her self-confidence also took a knock. Toad of all people, the X-Mansion's janitor at the time, managed to help her find herself. Paige decided that teaching definitely was not for her, leaving the school shortly after.
4 GREAT: DR. STRANGE
Dr. Stephen Strange knows a heck of a lot about all things weird and wonderful, and used this knowledge to embolden others. As the most trusted point of contact regarding the arcane, a lot of heroes approach Strange. A lot of the time he not only helps, he displays practical applications of his knowledge by giving others brief glimpses into the world of magic to help lay things out.
In the main 616 universe and in others, Stephen even trains others to take the Sorcerer Supreme Mantle. In the far flung future, he tutored Krugarr of the Guardians of the Galaxy to take the title; in another, more chaotic future, it was Multiple Man who was trained for the honor. Given how difficult Jamie Madrox is, Dr. Strange must have put in one hell of an effort with him.
3 NOT SO GREAT: THE LIZARD
Curtis Connors' story is a woeful one, with his genetic experimentation turning him into a lizard-monster. Before that, he was a teacher, helping students learn the importance of biology. Though absolutely qualified as a teacher, his mutation gets in the way far too much. While he has been cured a few times, his "curse" always returns.
In most cases, Curtis loses control and this means he can't reliably impart any of his expertise on anyone. In one particularly horrific incident, in a two-part story named "Shed," Lizard ate half of his own son. To make things even worse, he tried to frame a reformed Morbius for the act.
2 GREAT: SUNSPOT
It hasn't been that long since Roberto Da Costa left the X-Mansion, but he took to mentoring swimmingly. After his purchase of AIM, he assisted in crafting the once evil organization into a force for good. Personally overseeing and allocating different scientists to different departments based on their personal strengths.
On top of this, he served as a mentor for a number of the U.S.Avengers, Dr Toni Ho in particular. His ability to teach while in the field and assure the people who rely on his information that he always has things covered is partly talent and partly his ego. He later handed over AIM to his protege Toni Ho, having imparted all of his most valuable knowledge.
1 NOT SO GREAT: TASKMASTER
Taskmaster is both very capable and very lethal, owing to his aptitude for developing counters for his opponents mid-combat. His ability to read other people's movements has granted him a lot of success and a reliable reputation within the mercenary trade.
However, Taskmaster is not good at teaching others to be as successful as him. It may be because his students did not share his ability to scan fighting styles, but his school was a disaster. Deadpool found himself stumbling across the facility where Taskmaster was training some fellow mercenaries. He handily defeated the students and Taskmaster. How, you ask? With spontaneous ballet...