The members of the X-Men have had to deal with all kinds of offenses in their lives. Hated and feared by the humans they live among, mutants have been abused by the general public for years. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the team in 1963 to serve as a direct allegory for the prejudice and racism seen in modern society at the time. The mutant identity can also serve as a metaphor for really any group of people who are marginalized or worse, endangered by the dominant members of society.
Despite the X-Men being founded by a group of endangered people, mutants have not just been the subject of offensive acts, they have also committed them as well. Some are worse than others, and some are more forgivable, but it cannot be ignored that the X-Men have strayed away from their initial status all those years ago. Now the team is a hundred characters deep, filled with different people from diverse backgrounds, dealing with some of the worst that humanity has to offer. Most of the time they rise above all the bad in the world, but there have been times when the members of the X-Men have done some pretty offensive things. Here are just 15 examples.
Introduced in the ‘90s, Lucas Bishop is a mutant police officer from a dystopian future who has traveled back in time to help the X-Men and prevent his timeline from coming true. For a long time he has been a friend of the team and a hero in his own right, but that all changed in a storyline that started in 2007 called “Messiah Complex.”
He returns from the future in order to hunt down and kill a baby who he says is destined to kill a million people. Hope is the first mutant child born since Scarlet Witch declared “no more mutants,” so you better believe the X-Men weren’t going to simply hand her over. Cable raised the child as his own daughter and they spent years running from Bishop throughout time. What kind of hero kills a kid?
Perhaps one of the most controversial figures in X-Men comics is Jean Grey, who became the powerful Phoenix in the 1970s and ‘80s. Her awesome power proved to be too much to contain, and she was driven insane and transformed into the villainous Dark Phoenix. The X-Men are unable to save her, and in the end she commits the unforgivable act of planetary genocide in Uncanny X-Men #135.
With no real way to redeem her from such a horrible act, Marvel eventually killed Jean off in order for her to finally make amends for what she did. Thanks to her power, she has been revived and killed on several occasions since then, but the Phoenix has often been a force for destruction more than it has been an entity of life.
Things have always been iffy when it comes to Gambit and the X-Men. His checkered past, plus his tendency to keep secrets, has made him a member of the team who is difficult to trust at times. His relationship to the villain Mr. Sinister also puts him at odds with his friends, especially his on-again, off-again love interest Rogue. Eventually, this connection would get him into big trouble.
Indebted to Sinister, Remy led the villain’s group of mutants known as the Marauders in their infiltration of the sewer system under New York City. Without Gambit knowing the nature of the mission, he led the team right to the Morlocks. Gambit tried to prevent the attack, but the Marauders wiped most of them out. The X-Men learned about his involvement years later and decided to banish him for his role in the massacre.
12. GIN GENIE
Peter Milligan and Mike Allred created a new version of X-Force that eventually went on to be called X-Statix. The group is made up of weird mutants with bizarre abilities that aren’t the most conducive to saving the world. One of the characters on this team is called Gin Genie, a hero who can generate seismic activity only when she is drunk.
It might sound like an amusing power, but Gin Genie was actually an alcoholic. The drunker she was, the stronger her powers were, so the more she drank. When she was too drunk, she couldn’t control her abilities and even attacked her own teammates at times. She was a pretty offensive character for anyone who is trying to kick an addiction, so it’s probably for the best that she’s not around anymore.
11. DARK BEAST
When Legion went back in time and accidentally killed Charles Xavier, he created the alternate timeline known as the Age of Apocalypse. In this reality, Henry McCoy was a mad scientist known as Dark Beast who followed in the footsteps of Mr. Sinister and experimented on mutants to transform them into monstrous creatures.
Dark Beast is one of the few Age of Apocalypse characters who survived the events of the story and managed to make his way into the mainstream universe. Given his likeness to Henry McCoy, he kidnapped Beast and infiltrated the X-Men. Dark Beast has since worked with Onslaught, the Dark X-Men, and continues to plague the world with his awful scientific experiments. The X-Men just can’t seem to get rid of this guy.
The Merc with a Mouth isn’t exactly a member of the X-Men, but he has served on the X-Force with his buddy Cable. Deadpool usually means well, but he’s seemingly always hell-bent on making off color jokes and brutally murdering just about anyone who happens to get in his way. His personality makes him easy to control as a tool for good, but sometimes that can backfire when he gets involved with the wrong people.
During the events of Secret Empire, Wade trusts Captain America more than he probably should. He follows Steve Rogers unquestionably, even though Cap has been secretly transformed into a Hydra sleeper agent. Under Steve’s orders, he assassinates S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson and is now a wanted criminal.
Created by the Weapons Plus program, Fantomex is an artificially created being who has gone on to become a dangerous assassin and mercenary. He works with the X-Men and X-Force after seeking asylum from those who hunted him. Despite his alliance with the team, he’s mysterious and sometimes untrustworthy.
When Apocalypse is cloned as a child, X-Force believes they must kill him before he is able to come of age and be just as evil as his older counterpart. A team of Wolverine, Deadpool, Archangel and Fantomex end up in a conflict against Psylocke over the life of the boy. Just as it seemed no one had the heart to do the deed, Fantomex took a shot and killed the kid. Later, it was discovered he created a new clone in order to train him to be good.
Colossus is one of the most trusted members of the X-Men, but you might say he has a weakness when it comes to underage girls. The young Kitty Pryde became enamored with Piotr, but the problem was that she was 14 at the time and he was 19 years old. Despite this fact, the two became somewhat of a couple, even though Colossus was reluctant at first.
It got to the point where Marvel’s editor-in-chief Jim Shooter became uncomfortable with the relationship, and effectively ended it in Secret Wars II. The two have continued to orbit one another since then, and even after Piotr’s death and resurrection, found a way to remain close. Now that the two are of legal age, there’s nothing stopping them from getting together, even if it began on uncomfortable terms.
7. ADAM X
The 1990s introduced a lot of new comic book characters with some of the ugliest costumes imaginable. No costume was as offensive, or as indicative of the times, as the character known as Adam X. He was created by Fabian Nicieza, and the writer has since confirmed that he intended for Adam to be the mysterious third Summers brother, but he never got the chance to tell the story.
After Nicieza left the X-titles, the character was basically abandoned because Adam X sucked so much. For some reason, he was so EXTREME that he actually went by the awful codename X-Treme. He was also decked out in large metal spikes, wore a backwards baseball cap, and has the power to light people’s blood on fire. He was offensive on so many levels, but especially to the eyes, if we’re being honest.
6. QUENTIN QUIRE
Kid Omega is one of the most powerful mutants in existence, and considering the track record the X-Men have with omega-level threats, of course he would turn against those who tried to help him. Quentin Quire’s brain power became out of control during Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men, and it led to a huge mess.
Quire formed a gang with several other students who felt like they didn’t fit in at the Xavier School. Together, the group staged a riot on school grounds and caused a ton of trouble for everyone involved. This all led to the death of several humans, rampant drug abuse, and the death of one of the Stepford Cuckoos. He continues to remain affiliated with the X-Men, despite multiple instances where he seems to do more harm than good.
Alex Summers has followed in his brother’s footsteps to become a leader among the X-Men and a representative for all mutant kind. He became the leader of the Uncanny Avengers, but that’s where he managed to get himself in trouble with Marvel Comics readers.
In Uncanny Avengers #5, Rick Remender has Havok give a speech about being a mutant. He asks the public not to call him a mutant because it is offensive. Forget that the X-Men refer to themselves as mutants, but when you add in the fact that he doesn’t offer a better term, fans felt that the character (and the writer) was essentially dissolving the identity politics of being a mutant in order to meld into the rest of society. For a franchise built on allegories for human rights, this was a kick in the face.
The backstory behind Magneto has changed over the years, but one element that has remained constant is that he is a survivor of the Holocaust. No matter how bad he becomes, this one simple fact seems to humanize him in the eyes of the reader. Then Marvel did something questionable that might be considered pretty offensive by some.
Despite his status, Magneto turned up on the cover of an issue of Secret Empire as an apparent ally of Hydra. The whole thing about Hydra is that they are basically Nazis, and seeing a former Holocaust survivor teaming with them is not great, to say the least! As it turns out, he merely went along with Captain America’s plan in order to secure land for mutants, but still. The idea of Magneto turning a blind eye to Nazis is offensive.
3. CHARLES XAVIER
Charles Xavier was created as the Martin Luther King Jr. to Magneto’s Malcolm X, but that doesn’t mean he has the same pristine reputation. Over the years, the fearless leader of the X-Men has done more questionable things than anyone else. Right from the start, Xavier was secretly in love with Jean Grey, who was likely underage at the time.
He has since gone on to lie to and manipulate his students and followers. Xavier has faked his death several times. He messed with Wolverine’s mind in order to make him a weapon for the X-Men. He enslaved the Danger Room, even after he discovered the computer had become sentient. He also sent a team of X-Men to their deaths and hid the truth about his brother from Scott Summers. It’s pretty easy to tell how awful he truly is.
The star pupil of the X-Men has had his own problems over the years. In the absence of Charles Xavier, Scott became the de facto leader, but his leadership only led to a division among the team. After he and Wolverine split the school down the middle, his beliefs and methods became far more machiavellian than ever before.
During the event Avengers vs. X-Men, Cyclops was able to take control of the Phoenix Force in the hopes of using the power to save the world for mutant kind. In the end, he ended up killing Xavier and was labeled a revolutionary terrorist. With the help of Emma Frost and Magneto, Cyclops created a new school that essentially served as a mutant army. The path he took led to a war with the Inhumans and his eventual death.
Namor mostly cares only for Atlantis, but as one of the first public mutants, he has joined the X-Men at times. He has his own sense of morals and values, often putting him at odds with those around him. This attitude got him into trouble during the incursion of the Marvel multiverse when his teammates in the New Avengers were left to make an impossible decision.
It was determined that universes were colliding and destroying each other, and the only way to save one universe was to destroy the other that was destined to collide with it. When his fellow members of the Illuminati fail to destroy a world heading towards them, Namor takes the matter into his own hands and does what he feels necessary. He creates a new team to destroy countless other worlds too, making him a true monster.
Were there other mutants who were offensive? Let us know about them in the comments.
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