Long-time fans have had a tumultuous relationship with Fox’s X-Men film franchise. There have been amazing highs filled with wonderful characterizations and portrayals of our favorite heroes (Deadpool, X2: X-Men United, Logan) and there have been soul-crushing lows filled with characters who are nothing more than an in-name only representation (X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine). Now while it’s easy to give each entry of the franchise a pass or fail school, there is a lot of minutiae to pour over. Not every bad X-Men movie is filled with good characters and vice versa. And sometimes, while the characters within the context of the film are great, they might not quite be what fans remember from the comics.
Some mutants have been given powers they probably wished they had in their lives within the panels. While some of them seem to have drawn the short stray in the mutant power film adaptation lottery. But much like the comics from which these fills are based, we’ll take the good with the bad. We’ll take the ridiculously overpowered with the embarrassingly weakened. Because that’s what comic fans do: we take it in stride and roll with the punches. We just wish the mutants in these adaptations didn’t endure such vacillation.
15 MADE OP: GAMBIT
Gambit used to be quite the fan favorite among readers of ‘90s era X-Men comics and Fox’s seminal animated series. His snarky attitude coupled with his fractured Cajun lingo made him charming and insatiably likable despite sometimes coming off like a human-version of Pepe Le Pew. Gambit has undergone some changes since then in the comics, but long-time fans were chomping at the bit to see the classic version the Ragin' Cajun make his way to the big screen.
When Gambit finally made his way into X-Men Origins: Wolverine, fans were both disappointed by how little screen time he had and were completely befuddled by his seemingly new power set. Now Gambit is certainly powerful (the guy charge molecules to great deadly clouds out of thin air for crying out loud), but whatever weird telekinesis and helicopter-like ability he has with his staff are most certainly not canon.
14 WEAKENED: CYCLOPS
Look, Scott Summers is a boy scout, through and through. Even if he’s been deemed a mutant terrorist by every governing body in the free world, he is still an earnest man of principals who can’t escape from coming off as corny. But despite all this, he is a natural-born leader and an extremely powerful mutant. When Cyclops takes his gloves off, he can easy eradicate enemies in glorious panels of red.
Sadly, the film versions of Slim keep all his earnest attributes, but make his just a guy with goofy eye lasers. Outside of punching a hole in a bus station roof and zapping some clay pigeons, the devastating power of adult Cyclops is grossly underused in the X-Men film franchise. Hopefully Tye Sheridan, who portrayed young Scott in X-Men: Apocalypse, will display the real power Cyclops has in upcoming films.
13 MADE OP: DEADPOOL
What is the deal with Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine? Seriously. Deadpool is certainly a force to be reckoned with when he shuts his trap long enough to focus on fighting an opponent, but the bizarre take on the character after Wade Wilson is presumed dead and experimented on by the Weapon X Program is so far outside the realm of the comics, it teeters on stupidity, which is saying a lot considering the film surrounding the character.
Deadpool has an advanced regenerative healing factor, superior to that of Wolverine’s or Sabretooth’s. That his power. End of story. You can chop him up, and he’ll put himself back together. Giving him teleportation, optic blasts, and whatever weird retractable Baraka from Mortal Kombat arm swords (which make no sense; how could he bend his arms?) is not just jumping the shark -- it’s jetpacking over the aquarium.
12 WEAKENED: ARCHANGEL
Warren Worthington III is more than a pretty face (blue or otherwise) and a pair of menacing, metal wings. He was one of Apocalypse’s Horsemen and was pretty good at his job. Unfortunately, being a Horseman doesn’t have a great benefits or long-term rewards. Warren never got over the trauma from being turning into Archangel and went to actually take up the mantle of his former boss. The reason for this is that Warren is a killing machine.
Archangel should be absolutely menacing. With his razor sharp, wings, and toxic feather blades, he dispatches enemies with the swift precision of an assassin, which is exactly why he was such a heavy-hitter for Cyclops' strike team X-Force. But the film version of Warren is a joke. While his metal wings certainly look cool, there is nothing else to promote him as a tough customer. He’s just some blonde kid.
11 MADE OP: SHADOWCAT
Did you guys know that Kitty Pryde can send other people’s consciousness back through time? Yeah, neither did we. And we’re still not sure we understand it. In the classic Uncanny X-Men comic arc “Days of Future Past” Shadowcat's (with the help of a few remaining X-Men) consciousness is sent back in time to stop a series of events that will lead to mutant genocide.
In the comic, Rachel Summers, a powerful telepath, is the one who is able to channel Kitty’s mind between timelines, but in the film, X-Men: Days of Future Past, it is Kitty who is able to send Wolverine back. Look, we know that mutants go through second mutation in the comics, and we know the reason Kitty wasn’t the one to go back in the film was simply to give Wolverine the lead again, but c’mon! Kitty’s powerful, but not Rachel Summers-powerful.
10 WEAKENED: HAVOK
Alex Summers is a complicated guy. He harbors a lot of rage and animosity, which make his moniker, Havok, pretty apropos when you consider the sheer destructive force of the kinetic energy blasts he can produce. Havok could level a building when he taps into the full potential of his power. And when it comes to Summers boys, his power level exceeds that of Cyclops.
However, Lucas Till’s Alex Summers in the X-Men film franchise seems to be a lot weaker than his comic counterpart. Now, one could argue that in X-Men: First Class, young Alex didn’t know what he was doing or how to hone his powers properly. But even with the wonky chronology within the X-Men films, the Alex Summers that pops up in X-Men: Apocalypse seems seasoned (which would make sense seeing as how 20 years have gone by since his introduction) but doesn’t display his strengths.
9 MADE OP: JEAN GREY
Jean Grey is one of the most powerful mutants in the X-Men canon. Her telepathic abilities rival that of Charles Xavier’s and her telekinesis can level enemies effortlessly. Of course, her powers increased exponentially during “The Dark Phoenix Saga” storyline in Uncanny X-Men when she is exposed to a solar flare and is possessed by the Phoenix Force, a cosmic entity of pure destruction.
But in the X-Men films, the Phoenix is portrayed as a repressed part of her mutation, which is a shame. The idea of the Phoenix Force is supposed to represent an uncontrollable desire that manifests within a person, but is ultimately an outside force that can be expunged from its host. Having it be part of Jean Grey’s mutation takes all the wind of out The Phoenix and makes Jean overpowered.
8 WEAKENED: STORM
Make no mistake, Storm is a goddess. Just go ask the good people of Wakanda if you don’t believe us. Ororo Munroe has the ability to control the weather. Yeah, the weather. There is no reason you would not want this woman on your team. She’s powerful beyond belief and is a natural leader. Storm is one of the characters aspiring X-Men want to be.
Portrayed by Halle Berry as an adult and Alexandra Shipp as a teenager, both incarnations we’ve seen of the character are certainly enjoyable on-screen. Both women are charming and strong, but neither of them can elicit a sense of awe when it comes to Storm’s powers. Even Shipp’s Storm, after being imbued with power-boosting juju from Apocalypse is still not as formidable as we’d like her to be.
7 MADE OP: TOAD
Toad is not cool. He has never been cool. In fact, he being aggressively uncool is actually played to the character’s strengths. He’s unassuming and shlubby. One of the best examples of how X-Men comics utilize him is in Wolverine and The X-Men, in which he is the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning janitor and doesn’t really do any damage until the chips are down and his low profile works to his benefit.
However, in the 2000 film X-Men, Toad is played by ultra-cool martial artist and character actor, Ray Park. Park turns Toad into a back-flipping, kung-fu master supervillain who doesn’t seem to have much of an issue diving right into combat against the X-Men. It’s not until he’s bested by Storm (who utters one of the most cringe-inducing lines in cinema history) that he’s taken down a peg.
6 WEAKENED: ROGUE
Of all the crimes committed by Fox’s X-Men film franchise, the most heinous has arguably been how it has handled the character of Rogue. The power-draining, Southern Belle has always been a favorite among fans. While she didn’t get her super-strength and flight ability until after she drained Ms. Marvel of her powers in the comics, they were the attribute for which she is well known. The way in which these powers were obtained also gave Rogue deep emotional scars and regret.
The X-Men film franchise didn’t dive into any of this. In fact, Rogue became somewhat of a weak-willed character who actually cured her powers in X-Men: The Last Stand. And while sure, not being able to touch someone sounds like a crummy side effect, taking Rogue’s iron resolve away from her just whiffed the live action portrayal.
5 MADE OP: MAGNETO
Magneto is a beast and he has nothing to prove. This is the man who separated the adamantium from Wolverine’s skeleton with the power of his mind, who ripped Apocalypse in half (vertically), and who can slow down the iron flowing in your bloodstream to put you to sleep. Yeah, he did that once. So the guy is pretty powerful. However, the stuff he pulls in the film X-Men: Apocalypse is a little ridiculous.
Look, we’re not saying it’s impossible for Magneto to literally control the Earth’s magnetic poles to cause mass destruction, but it’s a little much. This is the same guy who spent large portions of time in a plastic cage and had to be broken out…twice. And we know that the power upgrades doled out by Apocalypse are not that vast. If they were, why not just have that big, blue doofus do it himself?
4 WEAKENED: ICEMAN
Iceman was one of the first X-Men. He was there right along with Beast, Marvel Girl, Angel, and Cyclops in that inaugural issue back in 1963. And while back then he was nothing more than a guy who could throw snowballs, Bobby Drake has become a force to be reckoned with over the last 50-plus years.
Iceman’s powers are nothing to sneeze at. At this point in the comics he’s basically Green Lantern, but with ice. If he can think of it, he can build it (the dude once made a functioning Mech suite for crying out loud). But while Shawn Ashmore makes for a great Bobby, his on-screen powers are a joke (here’s a rose, Rogue). And when it finally seems will get the Iceman we deserve in X-Men: Days of Future Past he gets his head knocked off by a Sentinel.
3 MADE OP: PSYLOCKE
Betsy Braddock is one tough cookie. She’s been part of The Hand, The Hellfire Club, and the mutant hit squad X-Force and has displayed how down and dirty she can be when playing with other surly mutants. Her ability to conjure weapons made from psychic energy has been used to scramble the brains of several opponents and her telepathy is on par with other teammates she’s gone on missions with.
And while the aforementioned weapons she can manifest can in fact do some physical harm, rarely have we seen them slice a car in half. But that’s exactly what Psylocke did with her iconic psychic knife, a blazing purple extension of her psionic powers, in X-Men: Apocalypse. When watching Olivia Munn execute a triple front flip and sever the engine block of a car may sound like a feast for the eyes, it left many fans scratching their heads.
2 WEAKENED: DARWIN
There’s a certain irony to the fate of poor Darwin in X-Men: First Class. Darwin isn’t one of the better known mutants in the X-Men canon, but his power is one that should garner more attention. He possess the ability of “reactive evolution,” which basically means his body can adapt to any number of stressors that would kill an average human. In theory, he should be practically unkillable.
But the filmmakers of X-Men: First Class disagreed. During the second act of the film, the titular First Class of X-Men face The Hellfire Club. The battle is short-lived when Sebastian Shaw stuffs one of Havok’s energy blasts down Darwin’s throat and kills him. Theoretically, Darwin should have been able to adapt to the assault, but he just simple didn’t live up to his power set. This is a shame since he was one of the more likable members of the team.
1 MADE OP: QUICKSILVER
Okay, let’s get this out of the way: the Quicksilver scenes from X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse are awesome. They are arguably some of the best moments from any X-Men film (only rivaled back the amazing Nightcrawler introduction is X2: X-Men United) and do a wonderful job of dissecting the vast possibilities of the character.
But just how awesome is Quicksilver in the comics. While we do prefer this version of Pietro “Peter” Maximoff compared to the one we saw in Avengers: Age of Ultron, the latter version did seem more in tuned with his comic book counterpart, both in appearance and power set. The manner in which Quicksilver uses his powers in the X-Men films would lead someone who isn’t familiar with the character that he can simply manipulate time, which, if we’re splitting hairs, he sort of does but not to that degree.