The X-Men might be the most popular superhero group in history. Long before the Avengers ruled the roost with the MCU, it was the X-Men movies that led the war towards the success of modern superhero film franchises. And years before that, their comics served as a wonderful stepping stone for many of us to discover the joy of comics. Understandably, the X-Men roster is filled with really popular characters. Even the most casual fans have learned all about characters like Wolverine, Rogue, and Charles Xavier. In fact, these characters are arguably more popular now than they ever were before.
Even the villains got popular! Over a long enough timeline, many of the X-Men’s most famous villains have taken a turn at playing a hero. For instance, Magneto has led the X-Men, and even some of the well-known heroes like Rogue have intensely villainous backgrounds. However, not all mutants are created equally in the eyes of comic book fans. For every iconic X-Men, there are a handful of characters that seem like they were created with a random character generator online. These are the characters that are so controversial that the whole world has done its best to forget about them. But not on our watch! We slapped on our Cerebro helmet and scoured the X-Men history for the most controversial mutants of all time. Ready to take a walk down the weirdest memory lane ever? Keep scrolling to learn all about The 20 Most Controversial Mutants To Ever Join The X-Men!
We all love comic books, but we also know that certain comic book tropes are downright dumb. The “mysterious clone” bit is one of them (just ask Spider-Man), and that’s one of the main reasons Joseph is on this list.
Joseph was intended to be Magneto minus the memories (ah, amnesia... another overused trope). Later, he was made into a villainous clone, only to be defeated by the real Magneto and forgotten by the rest of us. Basically, if you were Googling “we’ve run out of ideas,” you might as well just get a ton of Joseph images on your computer.
Part of the whole mutant package is being feared and disliked. Despite this, though, most X-Men look like really gorgeous humans. However, one character is controversial because of both his appearance and his powers: Skin!
Skin is a weird-looking dude whose whole ability is to stretch his skin for about six feet, and... that’s it! This guy is basically dollar store Mr. Fantastic, and he managed to do nothing truly notable before getting eliminated by bad guys. This was very on brand for the character: he had a difficult life followed by an enduring demise, and despite all those surprise resurrections, no one’s ever really missed this guy.
The X-Men are pretty cool because you basically turn your back on your old life and get a second chance. Nonetheless, what the characters have done before can make them pretty controversial after they become a hero. And that’s exactly what happened with Marrow.
On one hand, Marrow is a sympathetic character: she’s a former Morlock who has grown big and strong, but she eventually became an anti-human warrior before joining the X-Men. Think that’s bad? She went back to being this warrior after she left the team. Maybe Xavier needs to start reading these applications a bit more carefully.
At the end of the day, we’re very sympathetic to the X-Men writers. There have been so many variations on different characters and powers that it can be difficult to develop something original. In the case of Maggott, he is really original... but also really, really foolish!
What’s his power? Instead of a digestive system, he has a couple of slugs inside him named Eany and Meany. They absorb energy from the environment and then go back inside to make him super-strong. The whole idea is as silly as it sounds, and there’s a reason this dude never became a household name.
There are many reasons a character can be controversial. Sometimes, it just comes down to bad writing. That’s the case with Xorn, a character whose cool concept was faulted by a dumb plot twist followed by an even dumber retcon.
Xorn started out as a foreign mutant who had a “star for a brain.” Eventually, he was revealed to be Magneto in disguise. Marvel really wanted him to be a separate character, though, and tried to bring him back as (you guessed it) a twin. Somewhere between the confusing original story and the weak retcon, this cool new character became the heart of comic book controversy.
We all know that “controversial” is in the eyes of the beholder. Every person’s least-favorite X-Man is someone else’s absolute favorite. Nowhere is that principle more clear than when it comes to the mutant Jubilee, whose story has gone in some downright weird directions.
For some fans, she is a beloved character thanks largely to her prominent appearance in the animated X-Men series. However, some fans thought she was overused, while some got annoyed at how often her live-action versions got “whitewashed.” Even her biggest fans balked at later stories, which turned her into a vampire and then (even spookier) a single mom!
If no one has reminded you lately, comic books can be problematic. In fact, some of your favorite characters have origin stories that are a little bit icky. And that is certainly the case when it comes to everyone’s favorite ninja, Psylocke.
While always a telepath, Psylocke started out as very Caucasian — she is the brother of Brian Braddock, after all. Due to some weird extra-dimensional adventures, she ended up in a foreign body. While most fans ended up preferring the “new” Psylocke, the fact that she became a mashup of stereotypes (she was both a super-ninja and super-appealing) made her controversial.
In the world of comics, Lifeguard is a superhero that you’d describe as having a “nice personality.” Beyond that, though, she’s pretty weak as a character. And that includes her overall design right down to her copycat powers.
Powered up, Lifeguard looks like Goldfinger’s girlfriend... a very uninspiring design. And what’s her power? She can basically adapt to any situation. Not only is this kind of “deus ex machina” ability a product of lazy writing, but this is the exact same power set that we saw with the mutant Darwin! All in all, this character makes it seem like the writers were really phoning it in.
Slipstream is Lifeguard’s brother. Unfortunately, he shares all of the traits about Lifeguard that we don’t really like. Specifically, this character also rocks the sad combination of “boring design” and “copy and paste” powers that serve to make the reader groan.
At a glance, you might think Slipstream is “bounding” as Spider-Man, as he rocks a similar red and blue coloration, but without the mask. As for his powers, he is able to teleport around the world. And while his ‘ports are more powerful, it’s tough not to look at this guy as a knock-off of the much-better X-Man Nightcrawler.
There are many different metrics for what we’d consider “bad” or “controversial” X-Men. One such metric is how often we see the character work with the larger team. And in the case of Wraith (Hector Rendoza), he is only a member of the X-Men for a kind of one-shot adventure.
This guy is basically a C-team X-Man whom Jean Grey recruits to help rescue the real team. His powers are pretty lame (he’s mostly known for being translucent), and it doesn’t help that the rest of Grey’s C-team are better mutants (including fan-favorites like Northstar and Dazzler). And nowadays, the character has lost his powers, so there’s no comeback on the horizon.
Sometimes, it seems like these mutants are born under a bad sign. That was certainly the case for Beak: his only real power was the gift of flight, like Angel. Unfortunately, he was really bad at it. Also, did we mention he looks really weird?
Basically, Beak was the poster child for “weird mutant student with a character arc,” which is all well and good, but he was controversial for taking the spotlight from our main characters. Let’s put it this way: it’s not a coincidence that we've rarely seen him since Grant Morrison stopped writing the New X-Men comics.
Want to make an X-Men fan’s eyes water with three magic words? No, it’s not “I love you.” Instead, all you have to say is “Summer's family tree.” As it turns out, the bloodline of Scott Summers, better known as Cyclops, is just insanely confusing.
That’s the main reason X-Man is controversial. He is basically a clone created from Cyclops’s DNA, but not a regular clone; instead, he’s from a different universe. Now, he’s managed to cross over into our universe. He also looks completely different from the regular clone, Cable. Head spinning yet? That’s just a taste of what it’s like to try and figure out the Summer's Family Tree.
What makes Legion so controversial? Let us count the ways! Some fans think he’s way too powerful: at times, this son of Charles Xavier has been strong enough to travel backwards in time and completely mess with reality as we know it.
When he’s not doing that, though, he’s basically talking to himself, or should we say his multiple personalities. This soap opera plot device is annoying on its own, and in the TV show of the same name, the character has revealed himself as kind of a ravisher and supervillain. It’s a tough pill to swallow for fans who have been rooting for him to succeed and become a true hero.
Over the years, many people have made a big deal out of the X-Men representing various groups. For instance, in the 1960s, they helped represent the struggles of black culture. There’s just one problem: they were a lily white team, and to this day, the X-Men are mostly a Caucasian faction.
That wouldn’t be so bad if the comics didn’t handle actual minority characters so poorly. For instances, Thunderbird (James Proudstar) was a Native U.S. X-Man who was brought onto the new team only to perish on the first mission. In other words, the comic brought in actual diversity and then immediately ended him. Not cool, comic!
Sometimes, writers try a little too hard to make characters cool. The worst sin of this is the dreaded “retcon,” in which a new and unpopular character is given a wild backstory to try to make them seem interesting. And that is why Sage is such a controversial X-Man!
Once upon a time, she was just a background character in Chris Claremont’s original X-Men run. When he came back years later, he retconned her into being a super-powerful mutant supercomputer who has been Charles Xavier’s star pupil and spy for many years. If the retcon wasn’t annoying enough, her various computer-esque superpowers seemed to be the writers’ solution to various corners they backed themselves into.
What makes Deadpool a controversial character? Just about everything! Thanks in large part to his two hit movies, this character has become synonymous with over-the-top violence and immense profanity. But even before all of that, there was controversy from the very beginning.
Deadpool was originally created to be a parody of the DC Comics character Deathstroke. This is obvious with both his codename (Dead=Death and Stroke=Pool) and his real name (Deadpool’s Wade Wilson sounds a lot like Deathstroke’s Slade Wilson). Sorry, all you Deadpool fans out there: your favorite character started out as a super-hacky parody of someone else.
Some of the characters on this list didn’t start out as very controversial. However, over time, their stories got dark enough that they crossed a kind of moral event horizon. Archangel is one such character, though he initially started out as quite innocent!
Originally, he was simply Angel, gifted with the ability of flight. Eventually, the supervillain Apocalypse turned him into a kind of blue metallic war machine. Later, after Apocalypse seemingly passed, an infected Archangel tried to take his place. His memory was eventually wiped, but many fans didn’t like this perversion of one of the more innocent X-Men.
3 EMMA FROST
Emma Frost is another one of those characters who is controversial for so many reasons. The first is arguably her outfit: she started out by wearing 50 Shades of Gray (or maybe that should be “Jean Gray”) cosplay, and her wardrobe has only gotten weirder over the years.
She is also a barely-reformed supervillain. Fans spent decades watching her battle the X-Men, and now, she works alongside them. However, she’s the first to embrace anything from sudden violence to surprise persuasion to get the job done, making critics wonder if she isn’t still more villain than hero when all is said and done.
In comics, there is a fine line between a retcon and a revelation. With a retcon, the writers try to retroactively change major stories to reflect a new narrative. Revelations, however, force us to look at old characters in new (and sometimes unpleasant) ways.
That’s where Danger comes in. She mostly looks like a walking, talking robot, but her backstory is wild: she is the X-Men’s Danger Room come to life! What makes her controversial, though, is the revelation that Professor Xavier sensed: the Danger Room had evolved and never told anyone, allowing his students to cause a new life form immense pain in the off chance that it helped them survive.
It may be surprising for many to see X-23 on this list. After all, she is a favorite among many fans, and she has managed to impress as a sidekick as well as a superhero. However, certain aspects of her origin remain controversial.
First, she started out in the cartoon X-Men: Evolution before transitioning to comics, which rubbed some fans the wrong way. And when she was brought into the comics, it was as a streetwalker — a rather forgettable story. Later, she took on the moniker of Wolverine after Logan had passed, which drew predictable anger from the same fans who disliked the idea of Jane Foster as Thor.
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