The line between hero and villain can be a nearly invisible one. This is especially true when you have powers that are by their very nature morally dubious, like Professor X's ability to read minds and control other people. Let's face it: this is plain creepy. It would be disturbingly easy for him to abuse his powers to make his life and/or the lives of his students a little easier. Now one would hope that Charles Xavier is as firmly on the side of good as it's possible to be. He does, after all, run a school. He is responsible for the physical and mental well-being of impressionable, potentially dangerous kids. Surely, with such awesome responsibility resting on his shoulders, Xavier would strive to set a good example through unswervingly ethical use of his powers?
Alas, no. Professor X has crossed that oh-so-delicate line between good and evil far more times than any of us should be comfortable with. Here, we list 15 reasons why nobody should trust this man with children, mutant or otherwise. Who could have predicted that letting a guy with neigh-unlimited mind control capabilities run a reclusive school of superpowered teenagers would be a bad idea, huh?
15 AN F IN HISTORY
This isn't the worst thing Xavier has ever done, but it's certainly the stupidest. During the final battle in X-Men: First Class, Erik Lensherr, the future Magneto, saves the team by stopping a barrage of missiles in mid-flight. Xavier is fine with that. He is less fine with Lensherr turning the missiles around and aiming them at their attackers. Xavier tries to stop him by appealing to his better nature. “They’re just following orders!” he says of the men shooting at them.
To understand how mindboggling this is, remember that Lensherr is a Holocaust survivor. Given that some of the Holocaust’s perpetrators later tried to excuse their actions by claiming they were “just following orders,” this is literally the least effective thing Xavier could possibly have said. So all of those soldiers would have died if Moira MacTaggert hadn’t distracted Lensherr by accidentally shooting Xavier. Nice work, team!
14 TEACHER'S PET
Before Xavier was a professor, he was a student just like anyone else. But unlike most students, he is a telepath, and he wasn't real careful about how he used his powers. In one flashback, we see him using his mind-reading abilities to peek inside his teacher's mind for the correct answers. He used telepathy to excel at sports as well. He successfully predicts every action his opponents will take, making young Xavier unbeatable at football and track.
As years go by, he collects a shelf full of sports trophies as a reward for his cheating. When he finally does stop with the mind invasions, it’s not because he realizes how wrong his actions are. It’s because there’s no challenge in it for him anymore. Essentially, he just got bored.
13 LIFE'S A CIRCUS
In Uncanny X-Men #111, the villain Mesmero takes over the X-Men’s minds. What horrible plans does Mesmero have in store for our merry mutants? He brings them to Texas to star in his circus as sideshow attractions. The team languishes for weeks before freeing themselves with some help from ex-X-Man Beast.
You'd think a powerful telepath like Xavier could easily outmatch a guy like Mesmero and save his students with no problem. Unfortunately for the X-Men, Xavier was vacationing in Greece with a hot alien princess and completely failed to notice his students’ weeks-long plight. Wouldn't he have worried when they didn’t answer his phone calls? Or did he never write to them or call to make sure they were okay? Even his telepathic link with the team doesn't alert him to any problems until they get captured by Magneto two issues later. These students are your responsibility, Professor!
12 WHAT ARE BROTHERS FOR?
In X-Men: The Last Stand, Xavier is killed by his former student, Jean Grey, who didn’t come back from the dead quite right. But since this is a superhero franchise, no one stays dead for long. In the after-credits stinger, we learn that Xavier’s consciousness survived Jean’s attack. It now inhabits the body of his own brain-dead -- and therefore unheard of -- brother. Not that the movie bothers to tell us it’s his brother; you need to watch the DVD commentary to learn that Xavier didn’t hijack some random guy’s body.
Awful convenient that he just happened to have a comatose twin brother lying around, isn't it? Did Xavier get his brother’s permission for this?Hell, is that the whole reason Xavier kept him on life support: so that he’d have a spare body to hop into just in case he croaked? This is creepy and so is Professor X.
11 THIS IS NOT HOW COOPERATION WORKS
At the end of X2, Xavier must persuade the president not to use a televised speech to condemn all mutants. That will be a challenge, considering that the president was almost killed by a mutant at the start of the film, and that mutants recently destroyed a government base along with its human director.
So how does Professor X propose to convince the president that mutants are as worthy of protection and basic rights as everyone else? He gathers up all the X-Men -- including the one who tried to assassinate the president -- breaks into the White House, freezes the president's staff in place, and gives a vaguely threatening speech about how mutants and humans have to work together or else. He even has Storm conjure up a thunderstorm for atmosphere. No good guy has ever used a thunderstorm for atmosphere.
10 IDENTITY CRISIS
Aside from Magneto, the first bad guy the X-Men ever faced was the Vanisher. A gifted teleporter, the Vanisher pops in and out of the Pentagon to steal some invaluable defense plans. So how do the X-Men stop him? Technically, they don't. The Vanisher outmaneuvers them at every turn, requiring Professor X to get involved.
And boy, does Professor X get involved. He makes the Vanisher forget not only his powers but even more basic information, like his own identity. The Vanisher regains his memory eventually, but the extent of Xavier's meddling is frankly unsettling. Entire comic book miniseries have been devoted to exploring why mindwiping your villains is at best questionable, but Xavier does it as casually as if he asked what time it was -- a fact which Vanisher probably doesn’t know anymore either, thanks to Xavier’s mind whammy.
9 WORST FINAL EXAM EVER
In Uncanny X-Men #4, Professor X loses his powers, becoming an ordinary human. The X-Men tenderly tend to their ailing mentor, until Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants rear their heads once again. For the first time, they must confront their greatest foes without support from Professor X. The X-Men do prevail, but not before Angel is captured by Magneto and tortured for hours, and Cyclops is nearly thrown into outer space.
At the end of the issue, Professor X smugly reveals that he never lost his powers at all. He was just faking it to see how the X-Men fared alone. And hey, good news! They passed the test! A good grade totally makes up for the psychological damage incurred from their teacher’s ruse.
8 JUST IMPROVISE
With a moniker like “professor,” one would assume that Charles Xavier is a teacher, devoted to imparting knowledge to younger generations. And he is, when it suits him. A lot of the time, however, he just kicks his students out the door and hopes for the best. When Jean Grey debuts in Uncanny X-Men #1, she barely has time to try on her new costume before Professor X sends her after Magneto, one of the most dangerous mutants alive.
He pulls a similar stunt in Giant-Size X-Men #1. With the original X-Men missing, Xavier travels the globe collecting mutants to go find them. Only a minority of these recruits has any sort of combat experience. The others are telepathically taught English and then left to fend for themselves.
7 DON'T BE BLUE
For a guy who wants mutants and humans to live in harmony, Xavier isn’t as accepting of his fellow mutants as he should be. Throughout X-Men: First Class, Xavier urges Mystique to hide her mutation: her natural blue skin. Even when Mystique chafes at having to hide, Xavier is uncomfortable with her looking so obviously mutant in public. This is consistent with his attitude in the comics. In Uncanny X-Men #130, it’s mentioned that Xavier got cranky when Nightcrawler stopped using his image inducer to disguise his appearance.
Given that mutants are now analogous to the LGBT community, Xavier’s actions are the rough equivalent of forcing someone to stay in the closet because you’re scared they’ll be attacked by homophobes, never mind how the other person feels and that it’s not your decision to make. Nightcrawler and Mystique both rebel against Xavier’s overprotectiveness; both times, Xavier is less than pleased.
6 BAIT AND SWITCH
Continuing the tradition of pointlessly traumatizing the students he claims to love like his own children, in Uncanny X-Men #42, Professor X appears to die. His students, who are somehow still fond of him, mourn his passing. For months they press on alone, doing their best to live their lives as their beloved mentor would have wanted. Then, over 20 issues later, the X-Men get a welcome surprise: Xavier has been alive this whole time!
The person who died was really Changeling, a reformed and terminally ill bad guy who wanted to redeem himself before he died. As such, he agreed to pose as Xavier while the real Professor X hid in the basement, mentally preparing for an alien invasion. His excuse for the charade? He needed to work without interruption. Apparently, faking your death is easier than sticking a “do not disturb” sign on your door.
5 THE ALL-NEW X-MEN, BETA VERSION
As mentioned before, the All-New X-Men got together because Xavier needed a team to find the missing original X-Men. But in X-Men: Deadly Genesis, we learn the story is more complex than that. As it turns out, Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Storm were Xavier’s second choices for a new X-team. His first choices were Sway, Petra, Darwin and Vulcan, who jumped at the chance to work with the famous Professor X.
Xavier takes the new recruits to the Mindscape, where time doesn’t function as it does on the physical plane. There, they receive the equivalent of months of training in a nanosecond before going to Krakoa, where the original X-Men disappeared. This all sounds okay, except the students have no idea they’re in the Mindscape at all. Xavier withholds that information, even though the kids are in awe of him and would probably have been fine with this arrangement.
4 FAMILY LIES
Haven’t had enough of Xavier being a jerk in Deadly Genesis yet? Good, because here’s another example. Vulcan, one of the mutants sent to rescue the original X-Men, is Cyclops’ younger brother. Xavier informs Vulcan of this before sending him to Krakoa. Vulcan, in turn, tells Cyclops of their relationship before charging into battle.
The mission ends in utter disaster. Sway and Petra die horribly, and Darwin and Vulcan appear to die as well. Cyclops is understandably devastated, so what does Xavier do? He uses his powers to put the kid to sleep and erase the knowledge of the dead X-Men's existence, including his brother, from his mind. Now if Cyclops had asked the professor to do this for him, that would have been one thing. But if there's one thing we've learned from this list, it's that Xavier doesn't believe in getting permission, ever.
3 XAVIER'S SECRET CLUB OF SECRECY
Shadowy organizations, even those which profess to have noble intentions, are rarely a good idea. And yet in 2005, some of Marvel’s so-called best and brightest, including Charles Xavier, banded together to protect the world through lies and secrecy. Black Panther warns them that this is a stupid idea, but Xavier and his colleagues -- including Namor, Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic, among others -- forge ahead anyway, calling themselves the Illuminati.
Many of the Illuminati's missions had less than stellar results. Their attempt to stop the Skrulls from attacking Earth again ended in their own capture. They tried to end Hulk's rampages by shooting him into space, which turned out to be a temporary -- and highly questionable -- solution at best. And yet Professor X remains a member of the Illuminati until he goes missing after the “House of M” event.
2 (VERY) BAD ROMANCE
We’ve already provided more than enough reasons why Xavier shouldn’t be trusted with anything more complicated than a geranium. But there is a much more basic, even more disturbing reason why he shouldn't be allowed around children. Almost immediately after Jean Grey joins the X-Men, Xavier's thought bubbles indicate his interest in her has gone way past professional boundaries. In fact, he claims to be straight-up in love with her.
Do we even have to explain what's wrong with this? First off, she's his student. Jean trusts this man to educate her without thinking dirty thoughts about her. Evidently, that's too much to ask. Second, Jean is most definitely underage and Xavier is most definitely not. Does CPS exist in the Marvel Universe? Someone please call them.
1 PROFESSOR X IS WATCHING YOU
Instead of accepting applications and test scores like everyone else, Xavier recruits students via Cerebro, a machine that allows him to locate any mutant anywhere on the planet at any time. You'd think it would occur to someone that inventing a machine that can unerringly track all members of a hated, persecuted minority would be a bad idea. And perhaps it did occur to Xavier, since he didn't tell his own team about Cerebro until Uncanny X-Men #12.
In X2, the worst and inevitable happens. Captured and manipulated by Colonel Stryker, Xavier uses a replica of Cerebro to locate all mutants so he can murder them with his mind. Then, when Magneto takes over the manipulation, Xavier instead locates every human and almost kills them all before the X-Men stop him. No wonder humans hate and fear these guys.