For many years, there wasn’t a comic book that Marvel produced more popular than the X-Men. Amazingly, for many years it was a one-man project with Chris Claremont the driving force that positioned the mutants as the top sellers in the Marvel Universe. One of the things that made this brand so popular was the fact that they were tackling issues that many other superhero comics avoided. The X-Men were created initially as a response to prejudice, whether based on skin color, sexual orientation or gender. As a result, it was more in-touch with themes that often came close to crossing controversial lines.
However, there were many times throughout the years that the X-Men went too far, whether it was pushing a controversial storyline to the limit or by including something offensive or degrading for the characters as well. Whether this was something that the writers threw in to try to shake things up or something that just pushed the heroes to the edge of morality, there were many times this specific superhero team didn’t act very heroic. As one of the most prolific titles in Marvel Comics history, there were plenty of options to choose from... but these were the times the X-Men went way too far.
15 PROFESSOR X'S ATTRACTION TO A TEENAGE JEAN GREY
Heading way back to the start of the X-Men, Professor X sought out and started to teach and train young teenage mutants. It was bad enough that he wanted to train these teenagers as soldiers in his war for peace and equality. However, Charles Xavier was an older man who tasked himself with looking out for his younger students. It was in X-Men #4 where Xavier crossed the line – at least in his thoughts.
Professor X was talking to Jean Grey, and she told him not to worry because he trained them well. However, as she prepared to help Cyclops, Charles thought to himself that he couldn't help but worry about “the one I love.” He then dismisses it because he is their leader and is in a wheelchair. The fact that she is a teenager and he is her teacher is more of a reason not even to consider this.
14 MAGNETO DESTROYS AUSCHWITZ
X-Men: Apocalypse was not readily accepted by many X-Men fans, although it wasn’t nearly as bad as some would have you believe. However, there was a scene in the movie that makes a lot of sense, but is something that seriously crossed the line for many people. Magneto has always had a connection with Auschwitz, as the very first X-Men movie showed him in a concentration camp as his parents were taken away and apparently killed.
When Apocalypse was convincing Magneto to be one of his Horsemen, he took him to Auschwitz and gave him a chance to take out his frustrations and destroy the facility. Understandably, this scene exists to free Magneto from years of torment, but it was a very uncomfortable moment, especially for people still haunted by the memories of the Holocaust.
13 X-MEN: ANIMATED SERIES INAPPROPRIATE CONTENT
X-Men: Animated Series was one of the best superhero cartoons ever produced, especially in its era. This was a comic book cartoon for kids, but like many things Marvel Comics created in the ‘90s, it reached for excess when there was no need to do so. One of the most significant problems with this cartoon was the portrayal of Rogue. It all started out well enough, with Rogue as an ex-villain who eventually turned good.
However, for a kid’s cartoon, there was entirely too much inappropriate content in the series, and a lot of it involved her character. There was the risqué scene where Morph disguised himself as Rogue and seduced Gambit. Later, Rogue gives CPR to Cyclops while making inappropriate comments. A lot of parents had some explaining to do when their kids watched this cartoon.
12 ANGEL ATTEMPTS SUICIDE
While comic books over the years have moved more for adult consumption and are no longer a good option for kids, there was a time where kids were the primary audience for superhero stories. With superheroes, the main draw for kids is to show them as heroes who can often face doubts but overcome them and defeat evil while remaining heroic. Basically, the main idea is to teach kids to never give up.
In X-Factor #15, original X-Men member Angel was no longer a superhero, having his wings amputated. He boarded a jet to fly away, and it exploded, with the idea that Warren Worthington III committed suicide, saying he was to blame for everything that had gone wrong in his life. Marvel retconned this by saying Hodge sabotaged his jet, but it was still a shocking moment of a hero giving up on life.
11 PHOENIX COMMITS GENOCIDE
For a comic book series that is about overcoming prejudice, there is an awful lot of genocide going on. When it is non-mutants killing mutants, it makes sense, especially when it comes to the overlying tale of acceptance. However, in the case of The Dark Phoenix Saga, it took on an entirely different meaning. Jean Grey was one of the original X-Men, and she was one of the strongest female characters in comics. However, thanks to the Phoenix Force taking over her body, Jean became unhinged.
Thanks to a push by the Hellfire Club, Jean lost control and destroyed an entire world by devouring a star and creating a supernova. As such, Phoenix was an even more dangerous threat than fellow cosmic entity Galactus. While later retconned, this turned one of the most beloved X-Men character into the most significant mass murdered in Marvel Comics for years.
10 PROFESSOR X MANIPULATED WOLVERINE
Without much argument, Professor Charles Xavier is a jerk. He has done a lot of things over the years that he considers in the name of good but mental manipulation is usually his method to achieve goals. Instead of doing things the right way, Professor X usually just messes with someone’s mind and gets his way. In that sense, Magneto is a more honorable character because he doesn’t lie about his sins. One of the most heinous examples of Xavier’s crimes involves the manipulation of Wolverine.
In Wolverine Origins #29, a shocking revelation showed that Logan joined up with the X-Men not to join the team but to murder Professor X. Of course, Wolverine's mind was already a mess at this point, but Professor X knew what Wolverine was there for and chose to mess with his head, further screwing up his already tangled memories. Xavier didn’t take in Wolverine to help him but to use him as a weapon.
9 X-MEN ARE REALLY BAD PARENTS
Maybe it makes sense that members of the X-Men would become horrible parents thanks to their father figure in Professor X. However, this seems to be a running theme throughout the books. One of the earliest examples concerns Scott Summers. After the death of Jean Grey, Scott fell in love with and married Madelyne Pryor. The two of them had a baby (Nathan Summers) and seemed happy – until Jean Grey turned out to still be alive. Scott left his wife and baby without a word and left them alone in Alaska to return to Jean.
It's no wonder that Cable and Cyclops never could get along. It isn’t just Cyclops either. Wolverine might be one of the worst fathers in the history of comic books. He has numerous children in the Marvel Universe and is the ultimate deadbeat dad. Just look at the Red Right Hand, whose enforcers were Wolverine's children, all of whom he killed (Wolverine Vol. 4 #14). The he didn't know it at the time made things only marginally forgivable.
8 CYCLOPS KILLS PROFESSOR X
Marvel worked hard to create the new X-Men storyline where humans (super and otherwise) once again hunted mutants, which all came to a head in the Avengers vs. X-Men crossover event. The entire story featured the return of the Phoenix Force as it searched for a new host, who everyone believed was Hope Summers. The Avengers wanted to take her into custody to stop the possibility, and Cyclops intends to hold onto her because Cable claims the Avengers will cause her death.
It all led to a massive war between the Avengers and X-Men and resulted in the Phoenix Five. By the end. Cyclops took in the entirety of the Phoenix Force, and when Professor X tried to stop him, he murdered his father figure. At that moment, the most loyal member of the X-Men became a cold-blooded killer and a martyr for the mutant cause.
7 PROFESSOR X KILLED THE X-MEN
Batman is well-known as someone who has created ways to defeat every God-like superhero in the DC Comics universe. The comics, movies and cartoons have all shown that he has a fail-safe in the Batcave that allows him the ability to kill any superhero that might turn bad, from Superman and Wonder Woman to anyone else who might cross his path. In Marvel, Professor X has the Xavier Protocols, which reveals the most effective ways to murder his students.
That is scary and is something that turned a lot of his students against him when they learned that he had set these precautions to kill them all if needed. Of course, as Logan showed, Professor X didn’t need them. He just needed to lose the grip on his mind, which he did offscreen, presumably killing many members of the X-Men before the movie even started.
6 X-MEN: THE LAST STAND DESTROYS DARK PHOENIX
While the Dark Phoenix Saga destroyed one of the most influential female superheroes in comics at the time, it remains one of the most beloved and respected storylines in Marvel Comics history. When Bryan Singer was making X2: X-Men United, he added in a great shot of the Phoenix Force, which foreshadowed what was to come for Jean Grey. Unfortunately, Singer left the X-Men franchise, and Brett Ratner replaced him.
Ratner then proceeded to destroy everything that was good about the Dark Phoenix Saga in X-Men: The Last Stand. He shoehorned it into a story about a mutant cure and then, in the eyes of many fans, bloated the final movie. Cyclops died offscreen, Jean killed Professor X and then it came down to Wolverine and Phoenix facing off. It was a colossal disappointment for most fans and almost destroyed the entire X-Men franchise.
5 CYCLOPS REGULARLY USES CHILDREN IN BATTLE
Cyclops learned a lot by growing up with Professor X as his mentor. Remember, the X-Men were supposed to be students that Charles brought in to train and teach how to control their powers. While he claimed to want to create a world where mutants and humans lived in peace, his ultimate achievement was to turn these teenagers into soldiers to fight for him when needed. Cyclops learned well.
Wolverine and Cyclops have never seen eye-to-eye, and recently it has come down to Scott sending in mutant children as soldiers, with orders to kill. It happened in X-Men: Schism when Cyclops ordered Idie to kill people to save others, something that haunted her after the event. It got worse when Cyclops went behind Logan’s back and recruited X-23 into X-Force despite Wolverine wanting her to live a peaceful life.
4 ULTIMATE QUICKSILVER AND SCARLET WITCH
When looking at places where comic book storylines go way too far, there might not be a better place to find them than in the Ultimate Universe. There are plenty of places in the Ultimate Universe that took taboo subjects and threw them out as another twist in their convoluted storylines. The brother and sister duo of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch is a perfect example. The two have always had a unique and strange relationship, and the Ultimates took way over the limit.
After Marvel hinted that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were more than just siblings, Wanda died. Then, in Ultimates 3 #3, Wolverine tells the story of how he saw that they were romantically involved and the scene played it out. What makes it go further over the line is that Wolverine was watching them and it turns out later he might be their real father.
3 THE MUTANT MASSACRE
If there is one storyline that seems played out over and over again in the X-Men universe, it is the mass destruction of mutants. A lot of people hated the storyline where Scarlet Witch said “no more mutants” and stripped mutants all over the world of their powers. However, as much as that storyline hurt mutant-kind and the world of the X-Men, there were worse atrocities over the years. Even dismissing alternate reality tales like Days of Future Past, there are numerous mutant massacres.
One of the oldest is the murder of the Morlocks, known as the Mutant Massacre. Gambit led the Marauders into the tunnels, which resulted in the killing of hundreds of Morlocks, of which Gambit only saved one child. As if the massacre of an entire community of Morlocks wasn’t enough, the death of millions of mutants in the attack on Genosha was a horrifying event.
2 PROFESSOR X SACRIFICED AN ENTIRE TEAM
One of the most horrifying things that happened in X-Men comics remained a secret from everyone by none other than Professor X and his mental manipulations of his students. When the original X-Men team of Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Angel and Ice Man went missing, Charles put together a new team including Colossus, Storm and Wolverine among many others to find and save them.
The truth is that Professor X had tried to send a group of young mutants to save his original team before Giant-Size X-Men. That entire team died except for a mutant known as Vulcan. Vulcan returned in X-Men: Deadly Genesis and revealed the truth to the X-Men about his team. To add insult to injury, Vulcan also revealed that he is Scott’s brother Gabriel and that Professor X erased his existence from Scott’s memory to cover up their deaths.
1 X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE DESTROYS DEADPOOL
In a case where the movie stories went too far with a hugely popular antihero, X-Men Origins: Wolverine destroyed Deadpool. While the character started out decently enough in the original mercenary team when the movie got to Project XI, director Gavin Hood flushed everything down the toilet.
The movie took away Wade Wilson's mouth -- removing the one thing that makes Deadpool such a fan favorite -- and then turned him into a monster with multiple mutant powers. They wanted to make an ultimate villain and lost all fans who were still with the movie at the time the change occurred. Thankfully, Ryan Reynolds fought for the character and redeemed it with the Deadpool solo movie.
Can you think of any other time the X-Men went way too far? Let us know in the comments!