Since their debut in 1963, the X-Men have been a vital cornerstone of the entire Marvel Universe. Born from Stan Lee’s exhaustion with coming up with new origin stories, they were a team of oppressed, rebellious teens who had superpowers just because. From the initial five students led by their bald, handicapped teacher to the current incarnation of those same five students who time traveled to the future and a few others, the X-Men have tapped into some kind of cultural ethos, latching to the fantasies of readers to ally themselves with a team of victimized minorities. Their movies, ranging from the early ’00s to today, are often credited with the superhero movie renaissance that made the MCU possible.
Yes, the X-Men have enjoyed an unparalleled success for the last 50 years. But despite, or perhaps because of their explosive popularity, there are a few X-Men characters that readers secretly just can’t stand. Maybe it has to do with their character or their appearance or how the writers choose to use them, but there are some mutants whose mere presence enrages readers to an alarming degree. And it’s time to acknowledge the juggernaut in the room, so here are 15 popular X-Men that fans secretly hate.
Wolverine is the single most iconic X-Men character of all time. Even though his character is just archetypal over-the-top masculinity, his power, attitude, and dark backstory have made him not only a fan favorite, but the fan favorite. And yet, despite all that, he has garnered a fair amount of fan animosity. Why? Sheer overexposure.
Fox knew what it was doing when it centered the X-Men movie franchise firmly on Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, very aware that that would be the most popular and marketable character.
More than ten movies later, Wolverine has become as innate a figure in popular culture as Santa Claus. Even when he was finally, at long last, killed off in the comics, he was almost immediately replaced with X-23 and Old Man Logan, literally two Wolverines for the price of one. And now, less than four years later, he’s back. Batten down the hatches folks.
On the surface, Rogue is a fascinating and tragic character. A naturally empathetic and caring person, she is cursed with the burden of being unable to engage with anyone physically. Her origins as a villain and transition to a hero is one of the most natural character evolutions in the entire X-Men lineup. But apart from that? She’s been a stagnant, flat character for the better part of the last few decades, with very little in the way of important stories or interactions.
Even her sort-of romance with Gambit has flickered out. Ever since her major involvement in plot has ended, she’s been something of an albatross on the entire X-Men franchise. They even cut her character out completely in the X-Men: Days of Future Past movie because there was just no place for her in it.
Overall, Cable is a pretty cool character. His jacked-up cyborg look is immediately iconic, his bizarre partnership with Deadpool was a riot, and the story-telling potential he brings to the X-Men series is invaluable. But it’s that very potential that causes readers to sigh in trepidation whenever he shows up.
As the time-displaced son of Cyclops and the clone Madelyne Pryor, he not only represents the very confusing and disjointed Summers family tree which has convoluted comics for decades, but also the innately confusing past-future-present dynamic innate to the concept of time travel. Already the X-Men have weird connections with space travel and alternate universes, time travel just adds mud to the mess. It’s hard to enjoy a character’s presence when you know they’re going to make everything exponentially harder to follow.
This one doesn’t require all that much defense. Despite being such an important part of the X-Men since the team’s inception, Cyclops is one of the least popular characters in all of comics. Aside from his self-righteous and pretentious attitude, there’s very little to his character. Yet he keeps getting shoved down readers throats like a pseudo-Roman Reigns.
We’re constantly told how vital he is as a field leader, but his lack of likeable traits make him virtually impossible to care about.
The most defining thing about him is his relationship with Jean Grey, another boring cookie cutter cutout of ’50s white picket fence characters, and even that he can’t seem to do right seeing as he constantly jumps between girlfriends when she’s not around, and sometimes even when she is.
11. JEAN GREY
Yes, she turned out to be one of the most powerful and important figures in the X-Men lineup. Yes, she was the center point of the “Dark Phoenix Saga”, one of the most popular storylines of all time. Yes, she is one of the most tragic characters in Marvel history. But she’s also boring, confusing, and has actively poisoned the credibility of the X-Men. Outside of the aforementioned “Dark Phoenix Saga”, Jean’s character has always been that of the good-girl archetype, chaste, demure, and uninteresting.
Her dynamic with the Phoenix Force is difficult to follow as it seems to constantly jump in and out of her body. And above all, her repetitive deaths and resurrections has removed any semblance of dramatic tension from not just the X-Men, but comics as a whole. If death is so reversible, why should we care when someone dies?
10. KITTY PRYDE
Often seen as the little sister of the X-Men team, a reputation that’s stayed with her well into adulthood, Kitty Pryde has been the heart and soul of the team for a good long while. So it’s very ironic that the greatest impact she had on both her character and her team was to leave it. Her turn as Star-Lord, bizarre engagement with Peter Quill, and brief run with the Guardians of the Galaxy was a revolution to her personality and her absence from the team allowed new storylines to progress and grow without her pop influence.
Since her return from space, the writers have been struggling to find a place to seamlessly reintegrate her into the X-Men. Also, because readers got to see her grow up almost in real time from a young teenager, any relationship she gets into has just a tinge of awkwardness about it.
Perhaps the most iconic villain in their mythology, Magneto has also been an X-Man himself from time to time, albeit usually as a charade to take them apart from the inside. But technically he counts and remains a popular character in comics, so he makes the list. What makes him so dislikable? Well apart from him being a bad guy most of the time, his philosophy is confusingly backwards.
His whole motivation as a character is that he’s a Holocaust survivor who has seen the absolute worst elements of humanity and is desperate to prevent the same thing from happening to mutantkind. But his strategy to do so is to embody those terrible elements and become a violent terrorist who involves himself in assassination plots, mass murder conspiracies, and even basic dictatorship when he ruled his own country.
One of the founding X-Men members, Iceman has the weird distinction of having been in comics for almost 50 years but, through the convoluted nature of comics, has remained a teenager for most of that time.
Even when he’s been allowed to grow to young adulthood, his maturity level has remained firmly in sophomore year of high school.
Because of this, writers have been pigeonholed in trying to fit him into stories. To be fair, they have been at least attempting to revolutionize his character in recent years. The version of him that comes from the past (long story) has not only been revealed as one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe, but has also come out of the closet as gay. But these changes don’t alter over 40 years’ worth of pranks and bad ice puns that would make Schwarzenegger grimace.
During the height of the Cold War, a Russian comic book character who was not only a superhero but an incredibly powerful one must have been a total subversion of genre norms. However, 40 years and the fall of the Soviet Union later, the wind has more or less gone out of Colossus’s sails. His character is essentially that of a perpetual martyr, ready to sacrifice himself at a moment’s notice for the greater good.
In fact, the uber-moral version of him presented in the Deadpool movie, is actually a sort of scaled down version of the comic character. Which is saying something because he was the least enjoyable character in the film. There’s a reason writers have more or less replaced him with his little sister, whose powers and backstory are exponentially more interesting.
Pixie burst into the X-Men scene in 2004 with an instantly iconic look and charming personality. She was a fairly weak mutant, not even making the X-Men roster following the events of House of M, but her physical appearance and comically hallucinatory ‘pixie’ dust brought a much needed sense of levity to proceedings. Then she started getting involved in magic shenanigans and logic went out the window. Suddenly, the flirtatious literal manic pixie dream girl had a soul-stealing dagger and could teleport.
Because the only way to make character development on a character that was initially underdeveloped is to make them ridiculously overpowered, apparently. In only a few months, she went from being an enjoyable comedic side character to one of the most important figures on the roster.
Gambit is stupid. He looks stupid, he talks stupid, he has stupid powers, and he’s never been all that important to the X-Men mythos. Granted, his look, voice, powers, and presence on the X-Men team are all iconic aspects of Gambit’s character, but only insofar as how stupid they all are.
He’s a Cajun stereotype in a black and purple leotard, trench coat, semi-fingerless gloves, and unnecessarily weird eyes that can turn anything he touches into hand grenades.
Yet, despite all that, he decides to fight with playing cards and a metal staff. The one time he’s been adapted to the big screen in X-Men Origins: Wolverine was an utter disaster, and, despite the best efforts of Cajun-born actor Channing Tatum, his solo project hasn’t gotten off the ground. And the main reason behind both was extreme lack of fan interest.
4. EMMA FROST
Emma Frost was introduced as the White Queen of the Hellfire Club in the “Dark Phoenix Saga”, a team of supervillains representing sexual power and manipulation. From there, she played as an evildoer for many years before abruptly joining the X-Men and almost immediately becoming a leader figure. Basically, she’s the new guy at work who came over from another company and gets a promotion after the first month while you’ve been stuck in the mailroom for the last few years.
To make things worse, her stoic attitude makes her difficult to relate to. Apathetic characters can work in comics, but they need to have a juxtaposition to their apathy, like DC’s Raven, who really only works as a character because she can be contrasted with the rest of the Teen Titans. But who does Emma have to compare with? Cyclops, who nobody could care about if they tried.
3. PROFESSOR X
The founder and leader of the X-Men, one of the smartest people in the Marvel Universe, and holy redeemer of bald men everywhere, Professor Charles Xavier is one of the most important figures in X-Men lore. However, there’s a fair bit about him that deserves a bit of scorn. First of all, he’s more than once mindwiped his friends and allies based on his own wants and needs.
Second, he’s admitted to having a crush on a few of his students, including Jean Grey, and to trying to subtly influence them through dreams to like him back. Third, he’s written as one of the single most pretentious, hypocritical figures in not just Marvel, not just comics, but in all of fiction. His constant droning of non-violent rhetoric is constantly contrasted by the fact that he’s the trainer and leader of a team of young, super-powered vigilantes.
Oh Jubilee, the ’90s were both your best friend and worst enemy. Though she’d been in the comics beforehand, Jubilee was introduced to mainstream audiences as a main character on the laudable cartoon X-Men: The Animated Series. There, she said things like “mallrat” and “chili fries” and had the least consistent super powers of the entire team. She was an entry point into the series, but as it went on and she steadfast refused to grow as a character, fans lost interest.
Unfortunately, her initial rush of popularity locked her into her cartoon personality in the comics as well, being Wolverine’s protégé in the pages of X-Men and Generation-X. To fix the problem, writers took her powers away in the House of M story, but then took a huge step backwards by making her a vampire because reasons.
Put down your pitchforks, douse your torches, and wait before you go to the comments section. Deadpool is a cool, funny character with an interesting backstory who continues to do interesting things in the comics thanks to unwavering fan support and talented writers. But admit it: deep down, you’re getting just a little bit sick of the Merc With a Mouth.
His humor ranges from clever to juvenile and writers have made him ridiculously overpowered, removing what little tension still remained in his stories.
Here’s Deadpool in a nutshell: an insane, virtually immortal hitman who, because he’s insane and virtually immortal, can do and say anything he wants with no viable consequences who occasionally breaks the fourth wall because he knows it’ll make readers giggle. Also, there are way too many people who dress up as him at conventions just to act like jerks and pretend it’s ‘in character.’
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