Although eventually they form an uneasy alliance and Bishop is indeed generally out of line in his dealings with Mister Le Beau, their tense interactions defined a major part of the ‘90s X-Men reading experience. It’s easy to dismiss Cyclops as an uptight jerk, but it’s a pretty unsympathetic view of a guy whose first girlfriend died in front of him, not just once but many times in his life.
Besides all that domestic drama, his primary mentors were two men that put him through the wringer, aka a disguised Mister Sinister and Charles Xavier. Sure, he’s a serious leader with an inherent disdain for fun, but he’s also a lonely teen orphan desperate for a sense of family and acceptance who goes to a school where his father figure regularly fakes his own death or ditches the team entirely to make out with his hollow-boned Shi’AR girlfriend in space while Scott is left to marry Jean Grey’s clone and have a baby with her that gets sent to the distant future to battle Apocalypse.
Dani is one such character that longtime readers have watched grow through an awkward childhood to blossom into a confident adulthood with all the pitfalls along the way. Yet, even from the beginning as a young student of Professor Xavier, Dani’s best characteristics were already taking form.
Jubilation Lee’s parents were killed, so she moved into a mall and learned how to make money by entertaining groups with tricks based around her mutant powers. When she sees the women of the X-Men, she jumps into a teleportation circle with them and follows them to the Australian Outback, where she pretty much just moves into the attic without telling anyone.
Fate comes into play when she discovers Wolverine crucified to a giant X by a very annoying group of cyborgs called The Readers. Despite being very young and having a power set that was mostly party trick based, Jubilee saved Wolverine’s life and then just wouldn’t leave him alone for years thereby becoming his sidekick.
Death of Wolverine would have happened about 15 years earlier if not for her, and her dialogue is some of the weirdest stream-of-consciousness avant-garde poetry we’ve read in our lives. She joined the school just after the Dark Phoenix Saga and was almost immediately eviscerated by an alien invader over Christmas Break.
The surrounding subtext many relationships with women and the allegorical quality of an intangible body or the ability to become invisible has been hitting home for LGBTQIA people for decades. Kitty’s relationships with the rest of the X-Men have always been the backbone of her character, from her sisterly love for Storm to her mentorship from Wolverine to her drawn-out affair with Colossus to her gal paling with Island Rasputin, Rachel Summers, X’IAN Coy Main, and, well, every other girl she’s ever met, Kitty is one of the most important players in the X-Men soap opera.
He was a circus performer whose mutant power made it impossible to pass as normal, making him an easy target for bigots. Fortunately, the X-Men provided him with a new way of life in which he had stability and family while finding no shortage of the adventure he craved.
With no exceptions, every single one of the X-Men has been through hell and back, often quite literally, but Kurt is one character that never lets anything stop him from living his life. Idolizing swashbuckling heroes like Robin Hood and the Scarlet Pimpernel, Kurt occasionally gets caught in alternate dimensions while he’s teleporting and segues into lengthy solo adventures in which he becomes the charming pirate he envisions himself as.
Enter: Laura Kinney, the Wolverine clone known as X-23 who had formed a shaky relationship with Logan in his later days that teetered between mentorship and a true father and daughter bond. Not only does Logan help her as much as he is able, but she meets up with other clones, most notably Honey Badger, who easily shares this entry with Laura.
Unlike Wolverine, Laura is able to curb her anger and reason with others from the start, and her social skills are infinitely better developed. There are some pretty strange individuals at the Xavier Institute, but one of the most genuinely odd characters ever to walk the halls of the mansion has got to be one Mister Hank McCoy.
People tend to focus on how his intimidating physical form doesn’t seem to match his eloquent speech and gentle demeanor, but that is run-of-the-mill trope stuff. The real root of who Hank is as a person is all in the fact that he obsessively experimented on himself and gave himself all that blue fur, then continued to do so without telling anybody, thereby mutating even further.
In fact, nearly every single alternate reality features a Hank McCoy whose bizarre tendency to use himself as the sole test subject for his experiments has led to extreme physical transformations. This is obviously not standard procedure in a lab, and the fact that Hank seems to be completely unable to stop himself from doing it tells us a lot about what kind of X-Man we’re dealing with here.
Beast is incredibly charming and sociable when pressured to behave as such, but seems to get his greatest enjoyment working away in his lab day and night. When he disagreed with Cyclops’ actions, rather than reasoning it out with his lifelong friend through extended discussion, he instead saw fit to bring the original five X-Men as teenagers, himself included, out of the past and into the present to shock Scott into being a better person.
Sure, a lot of people would call the White Queen more of an X-Men villain than an X-Man, and even after decades of time-serving as a hero in the Marvel Universe that is still pretty true. In light of things like Xavier recruiting an entire team of teenagers that he immediately sent to their deaths or that time a cosmic entity imitating Jean Grey and committed genocide by destroying an entire planet, Emma is pretty much a saint.
Many X-Men are at the school because they had nowhere else to go from a very young age, but Emma experienced trauma and failure and eventually came to the Institute because it was where her skills as a teacher would be best utilized. Indeed, many fans had only known Locke as the purple-haired ninja and were baffled to discover that the backstory behind her ethnicity was offensive on almost a surreal level.
That story is bizarre, and it’s difficult to discuss Locke outside its mention considering the fact that it was the one that defined her physical form for most of her existence. Seemingly addicted to violence and death, envisioning herself as a metallic, emotionless warrior, romantically involved with equally unstable teammates, but always struggling to be a better, redeemable person somehow, Betsy Braddock remains compelling despite it all.
Reconciling her backstory is nearly impossible, but her battles against villains like Sabre tooth and The Shadow King remain some of the most iconic fights in comics history. Not only was her brother, Emulate, a kind of emotional vampire that fed through his hands, but her body was also occupied by her younger sisters for the first few years of her appearances in Generation X.
Her defining characteristics of condescension and self-absorption were still in place, though she was slowly humanized via admissions to teammates that her extreme pride was only a wall she put up to defend her actually quite a frail ego. Though she seldom sees much of the spotlight, M is a character that always enters and exits every room with a biting criticism of whoever happens to be her least favorite teammate at the moment lightly veiled as a polite observation, and that deserves some recognition after all this time.
Besides, her perfectionism is admirable, and anyone that has had to put up a prickly demeanor just to survive everyday social interactions in a cruel world will find Monet to be highly relatable. The young girl who is told she is too powerful by a man that fears her strength that goes on to confront those that held her back while becoming a true hero is obviously an exciting and important premise, and indeed Jean has had truly iconic moments when she fought with all her strength against the predetermined destiny that she has been handed by the patriarchal figures in her life.
This is a woman who has gone from being an orphaned thief on the streets of Cairo to being worshiped as a goddess to being one of the X-Men to eventually leading the team while going through a highly stylish punk phase to being the literal Queen of Wakanda for a hot minute then back to the X-Men again. The commitment that Storm puts into achieving a peaceful home and building a life with her loving chosen family would seem to exist in direct contrast to the intensity and scope of her power and the theatrical brilliance of her approach to super heroism, yet the thought and focus she puts towards understanding the parts of herself that are at odds with one another is nothing short of amazing.
Storm’s inner struggle between needing stability and her own desire for ultimate freedom has defined much of her development, and the juxtaposition it creates makes Promo a fascinating hero. From the best Star Trek captains to our favorite strong female characters, we're honoring the greats all month long.
The X-Men are a group of superheroes that started as a clumsy analog for the Civil Rights movement told via prep school kids. People around the globe have interpreted the stories in many ways and found meaning with the X-Men to the point that it’s impossible to deny the impact of these characters.
Since that iconic big bumper issue that catapulted the X-Men into comic book stardom, we’ve seen an absolute ton of different versions through pretty much every form of media (except radio…that we know of). With decades of famous storylines, a fantastically-diverse cast of characters old and new plus some of the best villains Marvel Comics have to offer, it’s no wonder that we’ve had so many versions of the X-Men over the years.
They kicked off the big-budget superhero movie trend back in 2000, the X-Men animated series is an iconic mainstay of the nineties and a few of their video games really aren’t too shabby. With the release of Logan adding another chapter to the tangled film franchise, let’s take a look at Every Adaptation Of The X-Men, Ranked From Worst To Best.
This was before the big relaunch of the X-Men ten years later, meaning that we get the old style uniforms with the yellow and blue (with Iceman looking like he’d had an accident in a whipped cream factory). The X-Men actually took over a story from The Fantastic Four due to rights issues, pitting them against Enamor the Sub-Mariner in a match-up that absolutely no comic book fans will recognize.
The series had Iceman and Fire star teaming up with Spider-Man to create ‘The Spider-Friends’, because comic books are endearingly stupid and their animated adaptations aren’t far behind. The show is notable for featuring the first animated versions of Nightcrawler, Kitty Pride/Sprite, Colossus and even Gunfire, who finally got to exist after he’d been shafted by an upstart female clone.
The Super Hero Squad Show began its run in that dark time, meaning that the X-Men are relegated to a single episode that seems to have been inserted at gunpoint. Of course, the episode featured a sparse X-team (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Shadow cat and Iceman, plus Lockheed) and had the entire team put out of commission so that Wolverine could go on to save the day.
The show only ever made it as far as the pilot stage, and would’ve featured Kitty Pride as a POV character as she joined the X-Men and had various comic-inspired adventures. The pilot itself is up and down, with some decent animation for the time but a few issues that raised the ire of fans who’d been waiting for years to see the X-Men headlining their own series.
Notably, the action was toned right down for the impressionable kids, creating a camp atmosphere too reminiscent of the comic books of old, where Spider-Man was banned from punching bad guys and Captain America had to pause every twelve panels to give a speech about the dangers of doing drugs. You can check out the pilot and see what you think, but even though it was terminated before going further than a single episode, it’s pretty clear that the latter animated series learned a few lessons from Pryde’s failure.
That’s right, kids: young folk used to go to special places called arcades, where they paid to play games in gigantic plastic boxes. Players used their character’s unique abilities to smash their way through various stages in a bid to stop Magneto from doing a vaguely dastardly thing, because this was a 1992 arcade game and this was a time when plot definitely came second.
And let’s be clear: the gameplay is no masterpiece, but it’s still a bit of simple fun, with some really shoddy dialogue tossed in to keep you amused. Jumping forward a few years, we come to Wolverine and the X-Men, a third major animated appearance that only managed to scrape a single season before being axed.
The X-Men ensemble is pretty well-rounded, featuring both classics and favorites such as Rogue and Nightcrawler, plus a few who appear in a post-apocalyptic future where Professor X spends most of his time. Still, the series didn’t manage to last beyond its first season, with an Age of Apocalypse storyline left hanging and a few more famous X-Men having never been glimpsed.
Well, as realistic as you can get when people are firing lasers from their eyes, midriff-baring tops are mandatory for all female characters and everyone spits out one-liners as if they’re reading from a teleprompter. The new start allowed for different interpretations and spins, such as turning Jean Grey into a sassy, fun-loving flirt and Magneto into an affable-yet-horrifically-genocidal maniac.
The series had some great moments, even though a few story decisions didn’t go over very well: mutants are revealed to be the result of a failed experiment, and yep, Wolverine is still right at the forefront of everything ever, despite being portrayed as a lecherous psychopath. More recently, a new team has been formed under Kitty Pride, though the series remains as dark and gritty as ever with the X-Men basically fighting to stay alive under a Sentinel regime.
It’s just that there’s only two: Colossus (now Russian and not quite as shiny) and Masonic Teenage Warhead (absolutely nothing like comics' counterpart, who was a telepath and a villain). X-Men showed us something new and sparked off a series that’s currently approaching its second decade with no signs of slowing, and has grossed over $4.3 billion worldwide.
Just going to make an assumption here: that’s probably more than Fox paid for the film rights, and Marvel aren’t going to forget it in a hurry. Still, there’s no denying Hugh Jackman’s fit for the role; toss in a stellar Patrick Stewart and Ian McLellan as Professor X and Magneto, and it’s enough to make you forget that a third film ever existed.
An example of how to make a fresh start and do it right, First Class kicked off a new trilogy that did its best to avoid stepping on the toes of the originals. This time, the black hole of star power instead revolves around Mystique, who is elevated from her villainous comic book role by virtue of being played by Jennifer Lawrence.
It makes up for really awful graphics by being huge mounds of fun to play, capturing the spirit of the X-Men and letting you form a team of four from fifteen playable characters. Naturally, they all have their skills and strengths, plus the system encourages teamwork; attacking an enemy with mutant abilities at the same time can create some pretty devastating combos.
Overall, X-Men Legends was just fun, letting you build (and command) your own dream team and fighting your way through a host of nefarious villains with a massive variety of powers. Not sure how that happened, but be glad it did: we got four anime series out of the deal that were designed to introduce Japanese audiences to Marvel characters: Wolverine (of course), Iron Man, Blade and X-Men.
The X-Men anime is partially based off the then-current version of the team: Cyclops, Wolverine, Beast, Storm and Emma Frost, with the plot revolving around them travelling to Japan to rescue Hispano Chili (later known as Armor). And yeah, there are a few of the more cheesy anime tropes creeping in- the power of friendship, original villains with a focus on bizarre anatomy- but it’s still a very solid adaptation that deserves a watch.
Wolverine and Storm are portrayed as older and mostly stay out of focus while the youngsters grow up, learn life lessons and generally try to keep their powers under wraps at school. Evolution managed to run for four seasons, despite plans for more, though it went out on a high note with a massive finale featuring Apocalypse and a lot of foreshadowing that which was never to be.
Featuring the line-up of Cyclops, Wolverine, Jean Grey, Rogue, Beast, and Gambit, this time the plucky newcomer was Jubilee, who the show runners seemed to wisely shove to the sidelines whenever they wanted to adapt an important comics' storyline. And there were quite a few of them; the series pretty closely adapted The Dark Phoenix Saga and made its own versions of Age of Apocalypse, Days of Future Past, and many other classic tales.
Other adaptations have their iconic moments, but this series was practically made of them, from the X-Men leaving on a suicide mission to rescue Senator Kelly from a den of Sentinels all the way to the team battling the Shi’Ar Imperial Guard to save Jean’s life. The series wasn’t perfect, with a few bizarre story decisions (and terrible animation) polluting the later episodes, which are pretty much devoid of any overarching plot and continuity.
And then there are the accents, with anything other than American being utterly butchered (special apologies to all the genuine Scottish people who had to sit through the X-Men’s visits to Muir Island).