Over the several decades they’ve been in existence, the X-Men have been home to some of the most powerful super-beings in the Marvel Universe. Which, when you think about it, is probably one of the reasons why they’re so hated and feared by most of the rest of the world. The team has boasted psychics that can affect entire crowds of people, men and women with control over the very elements themselves, and that’s before you consider all the people who can toss trucks around with ease. Already terrifying, when people with that much power get together they truly become forces to be reckoned with.
But which team is the most powerful? Well, CBR’s here to answer that question. We’ve compiled fifteen X-Team line-ups from across the decades and ranked them from “weakest” to “stupidly OP”. We didn’t just stop at powers, though. We rated the strength of each team’s line-up on a number of varying factors—starting with relative experience, then their effectiveness as a team and ability to remain cohesive, as well as their actual superhuman abilities. Ready to find out which team made it to the top and which ones couldn’t even clear the top ten? Well read on, True Believers!
15 NEW MUTANTS (ACADEMY X)
Long after several classes of Xavier's X-Men had carved their names into superhero legend, the New Mutants squad of Academy X made their way to the scene. The team debuted in Christina Weir, Nunzio DeFillipis, and Michael Ryan’s New X-Men: Academy X ongoing in July of 2004. Trained by Dani Moonstar, this was one of the teams that existed during the last great period of mutant expansion…and while they have tons of potential, ultimately most of their time in action came down to accidents rather than being taken out on legitimately dangerous missions.
That was during one of the X-Men’s most powerful, well-staffed time periods, and by the time this team would be needed for bigger things…they’d have been disbanded thanks to the Scarlet Witch getting rid of most of the mutants on Earth.
Created by Judd Winick, Mike McKone, and Jim Calafiore, the Exiles started out as Marvel’s way of putting out a new What If? book, but eventually became about a team of mutants that traveled to alternate universes. The initial team consisted of Blink, Mimic, Magnus (son of Magneto and Rogue), Thunderbird, Nocturne (daughter of Nightcrawler and Scarlet Witch), and Morph, and while the team would change members several times over the course of the comics’ several year run…it really doesn’t matter.
Though many of the members on this team are definitely powerful, they aren’t very durable. Exiles was known for having members drop like flies. Certainly, they’re faced with impossible odds…but that’s what superheroes do, and the teams higher up on this list beat those odds more frequently.
13 X-MEN (FIRST CLASS)
Also known as the “Original Five”, the First Class were the very first mutants Professor Xavier decided to teach: Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Angel, and Beast. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in Uncanny X-Men #1, the team debuted in September of 1963. And while each member of the group would eventually grow up to become exceptionally powerful…the team as they are in this form isn’t that. Not yet.
Ultimately, the First Class is more about hidden potential than that potential realized, and as such they would find themselves hard-pressed to deal with some of the other teams on this list, many of which include members from this team but with much more experience. Even the threats they face are much more mild, as the Marvel Universe was far less developed and less dangerous -- there’s no question they would lose out against anyone higher up.
12 YOUNG X-MEN
The Young X-Men are a slightly different line-up made up of the two young teams from Academy X. The Hellions and the New Mutants combined into a single group led by Cyclops, then later Sunspot and Dani Moonstar. The result of this combination is a team that’s survived one of the darkest periods of mutantkind and still managed to come out the other side. They survive in a world that not only hates and fears them, but has successfully wiped out much of their kind.
What keeps them from climbing much higher on this list is a sheer lack of power. Their telepaths aren’t as strong, their bruisers aren’t as terrifying, and quite frankly they still lack the experience to go toe to toe with the many of the other teams that manage to land higher up on this list.
11 GENERATION X
Emma Frost has always been a powerful advocate for mutantkind, even going all the way back to the early '90s when she and Banshee formed their own school for gifted youngsters hundreds of miles away from Professor Xavier’s watchful eye.
Though the team can’t quite stand up to the adults, this group of teenagers (alongside Emma and Banshee), actually packs quite a few powerhouses. Monet alone is scary powerful, with both the mental and physical abilities necessary to demolish most threats to the team, and that’s before we talk about Husk, Synch, or the team mentors. But ultimately what lands them so close to the top ten is that their team stayed together for years, so they have both the experience fighting proper threats as well as the team chemistry that comes from working together for so long.
10 NEW MUTANTS
The New Mutants first appeared in Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod’s Marvel Graphic Novel #4 in 1982 before going on to have their own comic from 1983 until 1991. And even though Xavier never meant for them to become superheroes, in the time this group existed they all grew from barely being capable of controlling their abilities at all to becoming one of the most fine-tuned teams of mutants to ever exist in the Marvel Universe.
They’ve certainly got the strength to compete with most of the other teams on this list, and their experience and chemistry is one of the highest you’ll see on the list -- as their team kept a mostly consistent roster throughout the book’s run -- but what truly holds this team back is the lack of any psychics, a flaw that becomes more highlighted as we climb the ranks.
When Nightcrawler, Rachel Summers, and Kitty Pryde all believed the X-Men were dead, trio traveled over to the United Kingdom and wound up as members of a brand-new X-Team. Created by Chris Claremont and Alan Davis, Excalibur premiered in 1988 and starred that trio alongside Captain Britain and his girlfriend Meggan.
Though usually a fairly small team, Excalibur proved themselves capable time and again against not only the typical X-Men villains, but villains from Captain Britain’s dimension-hopping adventures. Ultimately, they’ve got not only the experience of some of the oldest members of the X-Men, but also the power of Captain Britain and one of the most powerful psychics, Rachel Summers, on their side. Though they’re certainly outmatched in power compared to many other teams it’s doubtful they would ever find themselves in trouble against anyone further down.
8 X-FORCE (CABLE'S TEAM)
Ironically, the team of mutants Xavier tried to keep the furthest from danger wound up in some of the most trouble. First appearing in the last issue of New Mutants, the team is basically most of the New Mutants teamed up with Cable, the time-hopping, gun-toting personification of comics in the '90s.
As members of X-Force, you have the combination of the New Mutants’ existing team chemistry along with Cable’s impressive tactical abilities honed from years of living in a hostile future and the benefit of warriors like Domino and Shatterstar, all of whom add a deadly edge to the team that simply wasn’t there when they were the New Mutants. Still, the team lacks the sufficient firepower to go to blows with some of the teams further up on this list.
7 DARK X-MEN
The “Dark X-Men” were a team of X-Men that appeared during the "Dark Reign" era. They worked under Norman Osborn, and were backed by H.A.M.M.E.R. to help Norman further his own twisted agendas.
The team’s initial line-up featured White Queen, Namor, Dark Beast, Cloak and Dagger, Mimic, Mystique, Daken, and Weapon Omega. Gathered together more out of necessity than actual desire, the biggest thing this team has going for it is that most of them simply don’t possess a conscience, and even a couple who do can easily be convinced to go “over the edge” if they feel it’s necessary, a dangerous thing when possessing the kind of power this team has, and that alone carries them far above many other teams on this list. But they also lack any cohesiveness as a unit, and that’s something that isn’t a problem teams any higher up.
6 X-FACTOR INVESTIGATIONS
X-Factor Investigations began as a tiny organization headed up by Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man, and his two friends Strong Guy and Wolfsbane, but eventually grew into a fairly large team for a group that was supposed to only investigate crimes in the mutant community. Moreover, for a team that’s basically just a private detective agency, this version of X-Factor is incredibly well-rounded and packs a lot of powerhouses.
Strong Guy and Monet for super-powered bruisers, Polaris can control of one of the four fundamental forces of the universe, while Longshot and Shatterstar are deadly short-range masters of weapon and hand-to-hand combat, and that’s only about half the line-up. These are all mutants who have experienced life on a superhero team for years as well; the only thing keeping X-Factor from climbing up any higher is that some truly OP teams await.
5 X-MEN BLUE TEAM
When the First Class’ version of X-Factor eventually all re-joined the X-Men in the '90s, it created a team larger than any the X-Men had ever had before, and in order to keep things tight and focused, they split the team up into two groups: the Blue group, which was led by Cyclops, and the Gold group led by Storm, the two longest-running leaders of the X-Men.
The Blue Team is mostly comprised of characters that are more experienced than any of the heroes lower on the list -- or some of the same people but later in their lives, having faced greater threats in a more dangerous Marvel Universe. Still, the lack of truly powerful mutants keeps them from moving any higher up on the list.
4 X-FORCE (STRIKE TEAM)
Lacking any psychics or some of the true heavy hitters in terms of power sets in the X-Men, the argument could be made that this team is actually one of the weakest of all time. But what lands this incarnation of X-Force in the top five is simple: they will actually kill you.
Formed by Cyclops during the “Messiah CompleX” storyline, the group was initially meant to be a tracker squadron to find Hope Summers, but eventually he reworked the purpose of the group into being a black ops wetwork squadron, choosing mutants that excelled in assassination and violence to permanently put an end to threats to the mutant race. While other teams often get captured or hurt trying to argue good sense or reason things out, X-Force has one purpose: end the threat. They’re the best they are at what they do, and what they do isn’t very nice.
3 X-FACTOR (ORIGINAL)
The First Class of the X-Men reassembled in 1986’s X-Factor #1 by Bob Layton and Jackson Guice, and they’re a much larger threat now. They no longer have the watchful eye of Professor Xavier, but after years in the superhero game they don’t need it anymore. The team’s incredible potential has been realized now, and even as they face greater threats as X-Factor, from the Marauders and Mr. Sinister to Apocalypse, the team seems to not only survive, but thrive.
Of course, the team also recruits a tiny group of powerful new mutants as well -- including Rictor, Boom Boom, and Leech -- that they train to use their powers, so the team isn’t just the original five. They’ve got power to spare, and the experience to know what to do with it, and that’s a dangerous combination.
2 X-MEN GOLD
The other half of the full X-Men team after they decided to split in half. Though they were presumably meant to split the X-Men’s full power up evenly, the Gold team is vastly more powerful than the Blue. To start, they’ve got one of the most impressive psychics in the world with Jean Grey, and in addition to boasting Iceman as he really starts to come into his own as an Omega-level mutant.
Combine that with the scientific support they received from Forge, the powerhouse strength of Colossus, Bishop’s tactical experience and energy control, one of the most dangerous versions of Angel possible, and the fact that their leader has utter control over the Earth’s weather, and this is a truly terrifying team that could easily fell most foes that would ever dare challenge the X-Men.
1 NEW X-MEN
The tip of the top. Premiering in Grant Morrison’s New X-Men series in 2001, this team is small, but scary powerful. They’ve got years of experience under their belt operating as superheroes, and even though this particular line-up isn’t a team for very long, after so many years of working with one another in various other teams they already know how to work together.
To be sure, there are other versions of the X-Men that have more members as a part of their line-up, or more varied powers -- but that’s part of the point. The New X-Men is loaded down with three of the greatest psychics in the Marvel Universe in Xavier, Emma Frost, and Jean Grey…who also has the Phoenix Force re-ignited inside her. No other team has this much raw power and experience -- it’s no wonder they didn’t stay together for very long.
What team do you think should have made it to the top of this list? Be sure to let us know in the comments!