Throughout their run, the X-Men have been overseen by a variety of creative minds, resulting in some of the greatest comic book narratives out there. While there are many highlights throughout their long career, Chris Claremont's tenure as writer proved to be a golden era for the superhero team.
Claremont worked alongside several co-creators including John Byrne and Dave Cockrum to bring about ideas, characters, and stories that changed the X-Men and their world forever. His contributions not only boosted the X-Men as a comic book title, but he provided numerous ideas that many writers continue to build on. Here are ten ways Claremont's run changed the X-Men forever.
10 The Phoenix and Dark Phoenix Sagas
The Phoenix and Dark Phoenix sagas are collectively two of the biggest narratives that forever changed the X-Men. The story arcs were published in 1976–1977 and 1980 respectively and have since been adapted multiple times in both live-action films and different animated series.
At the heart of the story was Claremont's desire to take Jean Grey (arguably one of the X-Men’s weakest members at the time) and make her the universe’s most powerful being through his creation, the Phoenix Force. In doing so, he forced the X-Men to experience the duality of ultimate power, good and evil, in a new form: someone they loved.
9 Adding Kitty Pryde to the Team
The Dark Phoenix Saga is famous for many reasons, one of them being the introduction of Claremont’s newest creation, fan favorite Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat. Kitty provided a new, fresh perspective for readers. Whereas the X-Men were adults, Kitty was a teenager and the youngest team member. Kitty quickly became a core member of the group.
Over the years she has served as the X-Men’s team leader and has played pivotal roles in famous stories like Days of Future Past. Eventually, many other young mutants would follow in Kitty’s footsteps, enrolling at Xavier's school with some even becoming X-Men.
8 Expanding on Magneto
Today, fan’s know Magneto as one of the least black-and-white antagonists out there. While he has proven capable of great evil, he has also been an ally of the X-Men and a champion for good. Prior to Claremont’s involvement, however, fans may recall Magneto was just a run-of-the-mill supervillain.
This all changed when Claremont created Magneto’s backstory as a Holocaust survivor and fleshed out his motivations, philosophies, and overall depth as a character. Much like Jean as the Dark Phoenix, Magneto hovers between good and evil, making him an unpredictable frenemy of the X-Men.
7 Mystique and Rogue
Claremont added several new female superheroes to the X-universe, but he also added some iconic villains, namely Mystique in 1978 and Rogue in 1981. This adoptive mother-daughter duo wreaked havoc that would change characters like Carol Danvers/Ms. Marvel forever.
These two Claremont creations also had a direct impact on the X-Men member Nightcrawler. It was revealed that Mystique is his biological mother and Rogue his adoptive sister. Mystique would go on to play an important role in the Brotherhood and has also worked with the X-Men from time to time. Rogue eventually defected to the X-Men.
6 Days of Future Past
Claremont and John Byrne’s two-issue story "Days of Future Past" was a game changer for the X-Men. Coming on the heels of The Dark Phoenix Saga, the time-traveling narrative introduced a dark, alternate future (Earth-811) where Sentinels ruled and the X-Men were all but destroyed.
The story cast a spotlight on newcomer Kitty Pryde and tested the team’s strength after losing Jean and Cyclops. It also introduced X-Men mainstay Rachel Summers, who is eventually revealed to be Scott and Jean’s daughter in that timeline. Earth-811 itself would be revisited by X-Men members, playing important roles in future narratives.
5 Expanded On Wolverine
Wolverine, like Magneto, is another character that Claremont did not create, but greatly expanded on. The character joined the X-Men in 1975’s Giant Size X-Men #1 after appearing in The Incredible Hulk #180-181 (1974). Under Claremont, some of Logan’s most famous aspects were developed including his mysterious past, his passion for Jean Grey (and struggles with Cyclops), and his berserker rage.
Claremont’s four-issue 1982 Wolverine solo series further built up the character and looked at his past with another Claremont creation, Mariko Yashida. Wolverine has since become synonymous with the X-Men and few can imagine the team without him.
4 The Shi’ar
The Marvel Universe is littered with alien species and empires, but none stand out in the world of the X-Men quite like Claremont’s Shi’ar Empire. Comprised of famous characters like Lilandra and the Imperial Guard, the Shi’ar first appeared in 1976 and played crucial roles in the lives of the X-Men.
Lilandra and Xavier fell in love married, D’Ken killed Cyclops’ mother and his brother, Vulcan, was raised on their homeworld, and the Shi’ar put Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix on trial. The Shi’ar most significantly impacted the Summers and the Grey families, the latter of which they almost entirely exterminated.
3 Emma Frost
In 1980’s Uncanny X-Men #129, Claremont introduced another X-Men frenemy, Emma Frost. This witty, sarcastic, and powerful telepath began as the Hellfire Club’s White Queen during The Dark Phoenix Saga. She has since become an X-Men ally and occasionally holds a role in leadership (most recently in House of X) and she has taught at the Xavier Institute.
She was also a key character in New X-Men and Astonishing X-Men. Frost has had the greatest effect on the X-Men’s iconic couple, Jean Grey and Scott Summers. She’s been a source of competition for Jean and a romantic interest of Scott's.
2 God Loves, Man Kills
Claremont’s 1982 X-Men graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills was nothing short of a game changer for the X-Men. Though it wasn’t always cannon, it influenced the mentality of the team and their narratives going forward by presenting them with challenges including teaming up with Magneto and facing their newest enemy, Reverend William Stryker.
Battles that usually play out with combat and mutant powers became ideological. Similarly, metaphors for discrimination, racism, and hate became tangible as seen with the murders of mutant children. The power and deadly potential of Xavier’s mutation also came to light through Stryker’s attempt to use him to wipe out all of mutantkind.
1 Moira MacTaggert
Moira MacTaggert has always held a special place in the hearts of the X-Men. Since Claremont debuted the Scottish mutant ally in 1975’s Uncanny X-Men #96, she has been a love interest for Xavier and Banshee, founded the famous Mutant Research Center on Muir Island, rescued and adopted Rahne Sinclair/Wolfsbane, and developed a cure for the Legacy Virus to name a few points of impact.
Though it was not Claremont’s idea, House of X/Power of X have revealed Moira is also a mutant with the ability to self-reincarnate. Over ten lives, she’s used her power to forever change the X-Men’s future.