Warren Worthington III carries the reputation of being the pretty boy of the X-Men, and in some ways he’s certainly earned the moniker. Privileged, wealthy, and gorgeous, he doesn’t seem to have much to worry about. In reality, the mutant has really had a tough life– facing discrimination, torture, mutilation, and a complete loss of self. Any number of mutants in the Marvel universe have suffered traumatic life events, but Angel isn’t one of the characters that typically comes to mind when unhinged personalities are mentioned (cough!–Wolverine–cough!).
Add a tick mark for each time Apocalypse’s former Horseman of Death has either experienced or done something completely crazy, however, and you’ll start to wonder just where this once self-assured, arrogant man went astray. As you consider the trials and tribulations of the winged Marvel mutant, you might actually find some sympathy for the character in Angel’s 15 Most Insane Moments.
15. Angel As Hamlet
“To be or not to be,” Angel might have wondered after his uncle murdered his father and attempted to marry his mother. In a truly messed up scenario, Angel found himself at the center of a Hamlet-like drama unfolding within his own family.
Not only did Angel’s uncle murder his father, but he did it under the guise of an actual supervillain identity, calling himself The Dazzler (long before the emo songstress Dazzler, whom Warren happened to pursue romantically, hit the X-Men scene). Just in case he hadn’t already done enough damage, The Dazzler ran a diamond smuggling ring through Worthington Industries, kidnapped Angel’s girlfriend Candy, and was partly responsible for the death of Warren’s poisoned mother, who had been a victim of the Worthington family’s psychotic, anti-mutant doctor. As privileged and pampered as Angel still haughtily behaved at this point, it was clear that his story would veer far from most silver spooned WASPs’.
14. Hypnotized By Sauron
One would think that staring into a pterodactyl’s eyes isn’t a pleasant experience to begin with, even if most of the creatures are extinct and you’re a superhero. Throw in hypnotic powers and that uncomfortable mother-in-law stare becomes something even nastier to contend with. That is exactly what Angel experienced when Sauron went all Kaa from The Jungle Book on him, adding injury to the insult of Angel getting blamed for all of Sauron’s crimes.
Sauron’s hypnotism may have led Angel to go after his own X-Men family, but the team refused to hurt Warren, opting to restrain him for their safety instead. Once free of Sauron’s influence, Angel flew to the aid of the X-Men in the Savage Lands, only to be outnumbered by more flying beasts before being rescued by a mysterious benefactor known as The Creator. Fans of the comic may know that this supposed hero was none other than…
13. Magneto Posing As Angel
Remember the time that Magneto was able to infiltrate the X-Men because he was posing as Angel? No?
It took the X-weirdness level up a notch and made us all believe that Erik Lensherr could possibly have a calling in the costuming field. First, Angel encountered Magneto as “The Creator” in the Savage Lands, where the disguised villain tended to the winged mutant’s injuries and generously bestowed a new costume upon him. Unbeknownst to Angel, the costume had power-sapping technology, weakening Warren as he wore it and funneling his power into Magneto.
Magneto then posed as Angel and took the first opportunity he saw to attack the X-Men. Although they were able to defeat him and locate the real Angel, most of the X-Men disbanded as a new team developed in this timeline. Along with Iceman, Angel spent his time with the Champions before eventually heading back to rejoin the X-Men.
12. Being Kidnapped By Callisto
X-fans who are familiar with the subterranean group of mutants known as Morlocks are fully aware of just how unhinged their leader, Callisto, can be. The mutant definitely has her reasons after being shunned by society, but that doesn’t give her the right to kidnap Angel just because she thinks he’s a hottie. In an irrational stupor where she somehow convinced herself that she needed the world’s most beautiful man as her consort, Callisto managed to kidnap Angel.
It was an insane scenario at the start, but it led to one of the most beloved X-Men standoffs when Storm challenged Callisto to a fight to save Angel. She nearly killed the Morlock but chose mercy instead, allowing her to continue ruling in her stead and securing her place as one of the most badass heroines in Marvel history. In this instance, as with many others, Angel is fortunate to have teammates who care about him so much.
11. Blinded And Beat Down
The time that Angel was blinded stunned Marvel fans, though he wasn’t a member of the X-Men at the time of the incident. As a member of the Defenders, he was kidnapped by Professor Power, who sought revenge against Professor X’s New Mutants (for nothing, as it turned out). A possessed Moondragon rendered Angel sightless with her powers during the ordeal, which was traumatic enough, but he had even more heartbreak in store once his eyesight was restored.
Once Angel regained his sight, the first thing he witnessed was the death of his old lover, Candy Southern. While readers know that it wasn’t the death of Southern (who died again later as a Phalanx), the traumatic scene shook Angel badly. The entire situation then led to the death of most of the Defenders, who sacrificed themselves to save everyone from Moondragon’s power. Angel didn’t have much of a choice leaving the Defenders after this violence, since the group disbanded as a result.
10. Deactivating A Nuke
Warren may have been an arrogant youth accustomed to wealth and comfort, but his heart contained great courage, as readers quickly discovered. Fans may not recall that prior to becoming an X-Men, Angel decided to take on crime himself once he discovered his wings, calling himself the Avenging Angel. As a teen, Warren managed to deactivate a nuclear weapon– something that most of the X-Men, many of whom have pretty sordid pasts, cannot add to their CVs.
Sure, the nuke was a vial, not a giant warhead, but Warren was able to transport it up into the coldness of the Earth’s atmosphere where it could deactivate safely, saving lives and becoming a hero in the process. In fact, when Angel first met fellow X-Men Iceman and Cyclops, he believed them to be villains after the weapon, rather than recruiters searching for him. Luckily he did later join the X-Men, becoming a crucial member of the team.
9. Being Crucified, Amputated, And Becoming Archangel
Most fans are well aware of Angel’s torture at the hands of Apocalypse in order to become Death, one of the villain’s Four Horsemen. The film X-Men: Age of Apocalypse, while enjoyable, failed to do Angel justice as either himself or Archangel. In fact, the film made it seem rather painless, and even enjoyable. Had it demonstrated the entire story line, however, the movie would have surely required a harsher rating, given that Angel was crucified, tortured, and amputated by Cameron Hodge in order to become Archangel.
While Apocalypse himself didn’t crucify Angel or amputate his wings, which occurred during the Mauraders’ purging of the Morlocks, he convinced Angel to let him heal his mutilated body only to use him as his minion of Death. Fans know that Angel wasn’t killed, as he seemingly was in the film, but turned blue, developed razor-sharp metallic wings and suffered both physically and mentally for many years as a result. To this day, even though his body has been restored, Angel has not yet fully recovered from the harsh transformation.
8. Slicing Off Cameron Hodge’s Head
Once he became Archangel, Angel decided to seek out Cameron Hodge and use his new slice-and=dice wings for a personal vendetta. At this point Hodge, a mutant-hating old school chum of Warren’s from his rich boy days at prep school, has not only amputated Angel’s wings and attempted to murder the mutant in a jet explosion but also kidnapped, lobotomized, and murdered Candy Southern, Warren’s old flame. In a dark moment for Warren, he utilizes his sharp wings to furiously decapitate Hodge.
Even after all of that violence, the joke was on Warren. Hodge wasn’t dead at all and Angel had to kill him yet again. He also learns that his wings, which he previously believed to be an uncontrollable darkness, actually operated from his own feelings. With this realization, Angel decides to finally move forward and confront his demons rather than submit to his own dark side, beginning a lifelong battle with himself.
7. Exhibitionism With Husk
When Angel and Husk, AKA Paige Guthrie, got it on in the air, it wasn’t their 12-year age gap or even their coital aerodynamics that made the situation face-palm inducing. It was their decision to do the deed right in front of Husk’s mom. Warren doesn’t even bother flying far enough out of ear or eye shot from Paige’s mom, and even dares to toss the 19-year-old mutant’s dress down for every onlooker to see. While Wolverine seemed unfazed as ever, Husk’s mother did not appear to be amused. Most parents would rather not know about their grown children’s sexual exploits, let alone be present during the acts themselves.
Aside from the gory details of Angel and Husk’s sexcapades, the mere fact that Husk has to rip off her own skin to engage her powers is pretty messed up, too, making the scene that much weirder, in a very Cronenberg kind of wya.
6. Cage Fighting With Kurt
Angel? A cage fighter? That’s exactly what the makers of X-Men: Apocalypse would have us believe. Whereas fans Professor X, Jean Grey and basically all of the X-Men raged over the events of The Last Stand’s story line, Warren’s fans struggled with the latest X-film. Not only was Angel heavily underused, not given much of a story at all, and not even referred to in the film as Archangel— he was introduced as a mutant cage fighter.
Any Angel fan would agree that the mutant would not engage in cage fighting (let alone dress like that). Charming, confident, and attached to his good looks, Warren was not truly present in the film at all. While we get that filmmakers required a much quicker way to portray Angel needing new wings before Apocalypse approached him, it’s really the same old issue that almost all comics come to life in film have: rushing a story to fit it into a movie.
Months, even years, of an arc cannot be fully condensed into a film so easily, and the Apocalypse story line, which deserved multiple-movie treatment anyway, should have been spread out over more films, giving ample time to introduce Angel as the mutant fans know and love.
5. Restoration And New Powers
Unlike his namesake, Angel never had healing powers until he and the X-Men were grossly infested with creepy tentacles, courtesy of Black Tom Cassidy. This plant-like creature drained the powers of the X-Men while simultaneously making them all look as if they had spaghetti noodles sprouting from their orifices, but it had a particularly strange effect on Warren. Not only did it restore his skin color to normal, but it also seemed to trigger the manifestation of another mutant power: a healing factor.
Angel’s own blood is required to complete the healing process, so it’s a little more complicated than holding his golden hair and singing a song about flowers. Readers witness his power firsthand when he saves Husk’s life after she’s been attacked by werewolves, an event which leads to their romantic involvement. But Warren’s new power really comes into play in the future when he’s no longer sure who he is anymore…
4. Meeting Himself In The Future
Never mess with the space-time continuum. Hank McCoy should know better. When he brought Angel of the past to the present along with his youthful self and the teen Cyclops, Iceman, and Jean Grey, he caused one of the most head-scratching time lines in the X-universe. Teen Angel’s story isn’t nearly as dramatic as his grown counterpart, but even his budding romance with X-23 can’t help him feel better about his future self.
Teen Angel keeps asking all of the X-Men what happened to him, only to be met with a silence that could be translated into the phrase, “It’s complicated.” Teen Angel soon realizes that there’s something wrong with his future self, who acts as if he is invulnerable and seems to have no memories from his youth. Fighting alongside himself in the future, which first seems fun, is suddenly dangerous and unnerving. Fans who’ve read the comic know that this Angel is under the impression that he is actually…
3. Touched By An Angel
Then there was the time that Angel reminded us all of Buzz Lightyear when he stubbornly insisted that he was a real angel. After Psylocke killed him with the life seed (more on that later), Angel left his body and a new being took his place. Combining metallic wings with his normal skin color, the new Angel truly believes that he is an angel of God. He belives he has proof, too, through his healing abilities.
Witnessing this supposed celestial being has been weird for fans. This fresh-faced Angel is reminiscent of Supernatural‘s Castiel in terms of his innocence at times. Without any memories of his life, ordeal with Apocalypse, time as Archangel, or relationship with Betsy Braddock, he is almost childlike in his zeal and zest for life, he often overdoes it while fighting crime and carelessly fails to protect himself from any onslaught, as he believes he is invulnerable.
2. Wolfsbane And The Angel Wing Chainsaw Massacre
Show of hands: raise them high if you cringed and thought of Angel when you saw Walt Disney Pictures’ live-action Maleficent movie last summer. Of course, in this scenario, it’s not a power-hungry youth hoping to claim the crown, but the New Mutants’ own Rahne Sinclair, AKA Wolfsbane. In the panel where she attacks him, it seems even more terrifying, with her wolf form springing out of the red darkness, lunging at him like a beast.
Wolfsbane is obviously not herself during this time, but that doesn’t even remotely soften the blow when she takes Angel’s wings, severed by her own claws, back to the Purifiers, completing their mission. They should have thought about it a bit more carefully, though, considering that a murderous Angel, transformed into Archangel from the pain and anger of the ordeal once again, returned for his wings and killed all of them in revenge.
1. Devil Or Angel
Plenty of X-Men have been proven to be terrible boyfriend or girlfriend material, but Archangel’s attempt to transform Psylocke into Death during the Dark Angel Saga made ghosting look like decent manners. Add his insane lust for power and world annihilation and you’ve got his craziest moment yet. Granted, he fought his ascension into Apocalypse for a long time with Betsy’s help, and ultimately it was Psylocke herself who had to kill him, releasing a new Angel into the world. The new Angel has no memories of his past, which make the final moments filled with joy and love that Psylocke gave him as he died seem even more heartbreaking.
In the the current All-New X-Men story line, Angel from the past is uncertain about remaining in the future, controlled by Jean Grey and convinced to remain with the rest of his team. While he embarks on a romance with X23, “old” Warren from the present still battles with his inner archangel, and Betsy, again, is his only tie to sanity.