A few years before the Marvel Cinematic Universe defined what modern superheroes would look like, Marvel rebooted its heroes for the 21st century with the Ultimate Universe in 2000. With comics like Ultimate Spider-Man and The Ultimates, Marvel successfully updated classic characters like the Avengers in stories that set the stage for the MCU. However, Ultimate X-Men did something else. Released in between the first two X-Men movies, Mark Millar, Adam Kubert and Andy Kubert's Ultimate X-Men was a sales juggernaut that incorporated several elements from the X-films and featured edgy takes on classic characters. As the series went on, it began twisting familiar characters and stories into almost completely unrecognizable forms. Despite runs from several A-list creators, most of the X-Men met bizarre, brutal demises in Ultimatum, a critically-panned 2009 crossover, and the survivors continued on to form an even more unrecognizable version of the X-Men.
Now, CBR is taking a look at the Ultimate X-Men who went through the worst changes when they were recreated in the Ultimate Universe. While their Marvel Universe counterparts still had it pretty rough, they had it easy compared to these Ultimate X-Men and X-villains. The Ultimate Universe had so many dark turns, sensational revelations and sudden demises that every mutant could be on the list for one reason or another. So for this list, we'll be incorporating how rough the characters' lives were in-universe and how the changes were generally received. While the Ultimate Universe might not be what it once was, it still was home to one of the strangest chapters in the X-Men's history.
In the first Ultimate X-Men story, Cyclops seemed like a traitor. After Wolverine and Jean Grey started a relationship, Scott Summers left the X-Men and joined Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutant Supremacy. While he eventually betrayed Magneto's team, Scott was sidelined after Wolverine essentially pushed him off of a cliff. After he survived the experience, he and Logan patched things up and developed a working relationship.
After those early rough patches, Cyclops began to emerge as a leader of the mutant community. When Charles Xavier seemingly perished, Scott even took over running the Xavier Institute. Like most of his teammates, Cyclops didn't make it through Ultimatum. After he gave Magneto the full force of his optic blast, Cyclops was finished off by Quicksilver at super-speed.
Charles Xavier might be one of the world's strongest telepaths and the founder of the X-Men, but that doesn't always mean that he's an effective leader. After leaving his wife and young son, Professor X inadvertently helped Magneto lay the foundation for his Brotherhood of Mutant Supremacy.
After he formed the X-Men, Xavier faked his demise and traveled into the future to prepare for the coming of Apocalypse. When Xavier traveled back to the present to face off against Apocalypse, he was no match for the mutant villain. When Jean Grey saved him, she told her former mentor that he "set the mutant cause back by 100 years." Shortly after that, Xavier perished at the hands of his old friend Magneto in the Ultimatum crossover.
In the Ultimate Universe, Magneto's views on human-mutant relations were far more extreme than they are in the Marvel Universe. He held vehemently anti-human views and tried to establish an isolationist mutant homeland in the Savage Land.
After his first few plans to take over the world failed, Magneto stole Thor's weather-controlling hammer and launched a massive worldwide campaign of destruction through tidal waves, ice storms and volcanoes in Ultimatum. His attacks cemented him as the Ultimate Universe's most lethal threat and took out most of the X-Men, several other heroes like Daredevil and scores of civilians. After learning that all mutants were basically descended from lab experiments in the Ultimate Universe, Magneto had a striking moment of clarity before Cyclops finished him off.
Much like her Marvel Universe counterpart, the purple-haired telepath Psylocke has a somewhat complex history that involves hopping between two totally different bodies. In the Ultimate Universe, that only meant that she had the chance to perish twice.
When Ultimate Elizabeth Braddock debuted, she was an agent of the British espionage organization S.T.R.I.K.E. Despite her powerful psychic abilities, she perished after she was possessed by Professor X's reality-warping son, David. Although he body was crushed by a car, her mind survived, and her mind took over the body of a comatose Japanese girl named Kwannon. After she joined the X-Men, Psylocke perished again when William Stryker's anti-mutant forces attacked the X-Mansion during Ultimatum.
While he's famous for his organic metal skin, Colossus is usually one of the X-Men's most physically strong members too. However, Ultimate Colossus only had the natural mutant power to transform into his metal form, which was far too heavy for him to move. He compensated for that by using Banshee, a dangerous power-enhancing compound that gave him super-strength.
Although he was forced to participate in organized crime before joining the X-Men, Colossus' life wasn't all bad. He managed to survive Ultimatum and had a relatively stable relationship with Northstar. After being held in a mutant jail, Colossus even emerged as one of the later leaders of mutantkind in the Ultimate Universe.
Despite his furry appearance, Nightcrawler is one of the X-Men's friendliest, most caring members in the Marvel Universe. In the Ultimate Universe, Kurt Wagner is a cruel reflection of his more famous counterpart. As a teenager, the teleporter was recruited by the Weapon X Program, which sent him on various black ops missions.
After the X-Men rescued him, he developed an unhealthy obsession with his teammate Dazzler and briefly abducted her. Eventually, he left the team and joined the sewer-dwelling Morlocks, a group of mutants with more inhuman physical mutations, as their leader. While he was walking down the street, he perished when Magneto's tidal wave hit New York in Ultimatum.
Even though Gambit is one of the X-Men's more iconic members, he played a surprisingly small role in the Ultimate Universe. With just 10 appearances, Remy LeBeau never even joined the X-Men. Instead of working with the mutant heroes, Gambit worked as a thief and spy for the Fenris Twins, two mutant industrialists.
After he captured Rogue for the twins, he and the power-absorbing mutant started a relationship and began stealing from Fenris-owned properties. However, Gambit met an early demise during an encounter with the Juggernaut. After using his powers to bring a building down on Juggernaut, Gambit asked Rogue to permanently absorb his powers and memories before he succumbed to his injuries.
Despite a prominent role in the first few X-Men movies and a handful of comics, Pyro has usually been more of a supporting villain. In the Ultimate Universe, he plays a similar supporting role with the X-Men. Thanks to his uncontrolled fire-manipulating abilities, Pyro's body is covered with scars from his flames. After seeking refuge with the Morlocks, Pyro joined the X-Men, where the time-traveling Bishop said that he would eventually become one of the team's most legendary members.
However, that never happened, and Pyro inexplicably left the X-Men to join Magneto's Brotherhood for unstated reasons. During a battle with the Ultimates, the Ultimate Universe's Avengers, Pyro lost his hands in his final appearance.
While Quicksilver has crossed the line between heroism and villainy on more than one occasion in the Marvel Universe, the speedster was more of an outright villain in the Ultimate Universe. As the son of Magneto, Pietro Maximoff was initially a member of the Brotherhood, but he betrayed his father and helped the X-Men defeat him. With his sister, the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver joined the Ultimates to atone for his crimes.
After the Scarlet Witch perished, Quicksilver lashed out by returning to the Brotherhood and taking out Cyclops at super-speed. While he was trying to gather the Infinity Stones, he seemingly perished. However, he later reappeared alive in the Marvel Universe, where he perished again during one of Miss Sinister's experiments.
In the Marvel Universe, Longshot is a supernaturally lucky X-Man who's from a world that's obsessed with TV shows and reality entertainment. Since that concept is a little too fantastic for the Ultimate Universe, Longshot had a relatively more grounded origin in that reality. After being accused of a felony, he was sentenced to participate in a reality show where he would be hunted down for sport.
After the X-Men rescued him, he was jailed for his crimes and befriended Magneto. After the two used Longshot's luck-manipulating powers to escape, he served Magneto in a supporting role in the Savage Land. However, his relationship with Magneto apparently soured, and Longshot met his untimely demise during Ultimatum.
According to the second half of his catchphrase, what Wolverine does "isn't very nice." For the Ultimate Universe's Logan, that statement is especially true. Initially, Wolverine operated as a covert agent for Magneto and joined the X-Men as a double-agent. However, Logan betrayed Magneto and joined the X-Men for real. Despite his new outlook, he still let Cyclops fall off a cliff in an attempt to eliminate his romantic rival for Jean Grey's heart.
Throughout his continuing adventures with the X-Men and S.H.I.E.L.D., Wolverine began to lighten up some, but that didn't save him in the end. During the closing moments of Ultimatum, Magneto combined his magnetic abilities with Iron Man's repulsors and Cyclops' optic blasts to reduce Logan to ash.
Havok just can't catch a break. In the Marvel Universe, he's always struggled to get out from under the shadow of his more accomplished older brother, Cyclops. While Alex Summer might be older than his brother in the Ultimate Universe, he's also significantly less important than the X-Men's leader.
Ultimate Havok was the leader of the students at Emma Frost's Academy of Tomorrow, a peacekeeping mutant team meant to win over a wary public. He eventually ended up in a mental institute, where he began having visions of his late brother. After that, Havok was released into the care of Layla Miller and a reformed Mr. Sinister and joined the mysterious Roxxon Corporation in a storyline that was never finished.
Like Havok, Multiple Man also met an uncertain fate towards the end of the Ultimate Universe. While Jamie Madrox is usually a hero, he was part of Magneto's Brotherhood in the Ultimate Universe. After he made a few unremarkable early appearances, Madrox and his duplicates played a key role in Magneto's attacks during Ultimatum, where they were used to carry out massive attacks all over the world.
When Wolverine tracked the original Madrox down, he discovered that Jamie was held in hypnotic spell of the villainous mutant Lorelei. Under the belief that he was a teenager in 1994, Madrox had no knowledge of his duplicates' actions. Although Logan seemingly finished him off for good, Multiple Man's reappeared later, so the original Madrox may have survived.
For a character who basically just has a giant set of wings, Angel's life has a tendency to get weirdly complicated. After becoming a somewhat reluctant X-Man, Warren Worthington III had a relationship with Dazzler and briefly infiltrated the Academy of Tomorrow for Xavier. Although he briefly perished fighting Mister Sinister, Jean Grey used her Phoenix powers to resurrect him.
Shortly after being revived, Angel transformed into a giant bird. While using the power-enhancing compound Banshee, he briefly developed an avian form, complete with feathers and a beak. Almost as soon as that transformation wore off, Warren perished in Ultimatum, where Sabretooth permanently clipped his wings.
While Forge has been a member of several X-teams in the Marvel Universe, the mutant technological genius was only part of Magneto's Brotherhood in the Ultimate Universe. After losing his leg in an unrevealed incident, Forge joined Magneto's squad to get revenge on the humans he blamed for his injury. When Magneto asked him to build a machine that would amplify his electromagnetic powers to planetary levels, Forge had second thoughts about working with Magneto.
Forge stayed on Magneto's team and even helped him escape from a S.H.I.E.L.D. holding facility. Later on, Forge escaped and helped Wolverine, who was also being held at the time, escape too. Despite his escaping expertise, Forge couldn't escape his final fate and perished off-panel during Ultimatum.
In the Ultimate Universe, Blob almost seemed like two completely different characters. In his earlier appearances, Franklin Dukes seemed more or less like his Marvel Universe counterpart. Thanks to his mutant powers, he was virtually immovable and was a member of Magneto's Brotherhood. He was also the father of Liz Allan, one of Peter Parker's high school classmates who became the X-Men's flame-throwing Firestar.
But in his later appearance, the Blob took on a far more monstrous form with discolored skin and jagged teeth. In the Ultimate Universe's most infamous moment, he indulged some previously unmentioned cannibalistic tendencies with the Wasp during Ultimatum. Immediately after that, Blob perished when a giant-size Giant-Man and took a bite out of him in return.
In the Marvel Universe, Mister Sinister is an elegant, immortal mad scientist who never quite lost his flair from the Victorian age. But in the Ultimate Universe, Nathaniel Essex was just a guy in a tank top with possible delusions. After giving himself hypnotic abilities, Essex began hunting down mutants on the orders of Apocalypse, who was apparently a hallucination.
Apocalypse didn't stay in Sinister's head for long. After he hunted down enough mutants, Essex transformed into the all-powerful Apocalypse, who was only defeated by the full might of the Phoenix Force. Once he got his body back, Essex reformed and entered the private sector by joining the Roxxon Corporation. Although he began speaking to an Apocalypse hallucination again, Essex never transformed back into Apocalypse.
Like his Marvel Universe counterpart, Beast didn't start out with blue fur in the Ultimate Universe. He initially had an ape-like body that made him an outcast to his family. While the Marvel Universe's Hank McCoy accidentally triggered his secondary mutation himself, the Weapon X Program triggered Beast's blue-and-furry transformation after they abducted the X-Man in the Ultimate Universe.
Later on, Professor X and Nick Fury tricked Beast into secretly developing a cure for the Legacy Virus, a mutant plague, after the X-Men thought that he had perished. Once Professor X's mental blocks wore off, Hank returned to the X-Men and resumed his relationship with Storm. However, tragedy struck when Beast was swept away in Magneto's tidal wave during Ultimatum.
In a truly bizarre twist, Deadpool is essentially a Spider-Man villain in the Ultimate Universe. While he's usually a Weapon X Program veteran and an occasional X-Man, Ultimate "Wadey" Wilson was a mutant-hating cyborg who hosted a reality TV show. After sustaining numerous head injuries during an armed conflict in Wakanda, Wadey received cybernetic upgrades and led a group of anti-mutant cyborg soldiers called the Reavers.
Although Wadey and his team successfully captured Spider-Man and the X-Men, the heroes rose up to defeat him and got his TV show canceled. When several versions of Deadpool from alternate realities began fighting in a multiverse-spanning conflict, Wadey perished in battle with the original Marvel Universe Deadpool.
In the Marvel Universe, Banshee is Sean Cassidy, a respected X-Man and former Interpol agent who helped mentor a generation of X-kids. But in the Ultimate Universe, Banshee isn't even a person. Instead of being a mutant, Banshee is a power-enhancing chemical compound that contains Mutant Growth Hormone and was derived from Wolverine's DNA. However, it can be habit-forming and cause severe side effects.
Moira MacTaggert, the X-Men's longtime scientist ally, sold Banshee to fund her research. When she took it, she developed a sonic-scream in a nod to the Marvel Universe Banshee's powers. Colossus and several other X-Men used Banshee to boost their powers. Considering what happened to everyone else on this list, Cassidy might've lucked out by staying out of the Ultimate Universe.