It ain’t always easy being the unstoppable Juggernaut. When he’s not busy tearing down buildings, fighting the X-Men, or breaking down the walls of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, Cain Marko has a lot of personal issues that he doesn’t talk too much about. Wearing an unbreakable armor that’s powered by a mystical ruby causes one’s life to go in some awfully strange directions, and combined with Marko’s clear anger problems, we can’t really blame him for keeping some secrets close to the vest.
So what’s going on underneath Juggernaut’s armor? A lot more backstory than many may realize. Between painful family relationships, Squid-Boy friends, sex with lawyers, bar fights, and even a brief stint as one of Xavier’s X-Men, Juggernaut is a much more complicated character than many realize, with a lot of emotional depth, history, and strange events that have left their mark. Here are 15 Facts You Didn’t Know About Juggernaut.
15. He’s Charles Xavier’s Stepbrother
Fastidious comic readers have always known this, but if you primarily know about the X-Men through the movies, this might come as a surprise. Charles Xavier and Cain Marko don’t just know each other through battle: they grew up together.
After the death of Xavier’s father, the nuclear scientist Kurt Marko marries Xavier’s mother, Sharon, and moves into the future X-Mansion. Unfortunately, the relationship between Charles and Cain goes sour pretty quickly. The problem is that despite the fact that Cain is Kurt’s biological son, Kurt identifies more with Charles’s introspective, intelligent nature over Cain’s aggressive one. Sensing the clear favoritism, Cain begins bullying his stepbrother, which then leads to Kurt abusing Cain.
None of this is helped when Sharon is driven to alcoholism, and then dies, leaving Charles alone with the two Markos. Add in Xavier’s burgeoning telepathy to the mix, and well… it wasn’t the best home environment, particularly for the kid who would one day be Juggernaut.
14. He Accidentally Killed his Dad
As if all of this wasn’t bad enough, it gets even messier. Strained parental relationships are a pretty common plotline in comic books, and old Juggs is no exception. The troubles between Cain and his father hit a peak one day when Cain accuses his father of playing some part in the death of Charles Xavier’s father, Brian, in a (successful) bid to get Sharon’s money. This erupts into a big argument, and Cain, realizing that Charles is listening outside the door, purposely tries to make a scene out of it by trashing his father’s laboratory.
The lab erupts in flames, and Kurt sacrifices his life to carry both his son and stepson to safety before dying from exposure to all of the chemicals, fumes, fire, and so on. As he dies, Kurt tells Charles to not let Cain know of his mutant powers. Unfortunately, Cain hears this warning, and from that point on, his resentment of Charles only increases.
13. He’s Not Really a Mutant
So here’s the thing about Juggernaut. As an X-Men character, gifted with powers of super strength and invulnerability, many automatically assume that Juggernaut must be a mutant. After all, most X-Men characters are mutants. This impression is helped by the fact that other media interpretations of the X-Men, such as the movies and cartoons, have often depicted Juggernaut as a carrier of the mutant gene.
But in the comics, he isn’t. Actually, Cain Marko’s powers come from a mystical ruby called the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak, discovered during Cain’s time in the military. When he holds the gem and reads the inscription on it, Cain is transformed into what the gem itself describes as a “human Juggernaut,” vastly increasing his size, strength, and durability, while also endowing him with a mystically-powered armor — and a helmet that is resistant to psychic attacks. Juggernaut’s powers are magical in nature, rather than genetic.
12. “Cyttorak” is Part of a Pantheon of Eight Gods
Cyttorak is a lot more than just a ruby. In actuality, Cyttorak is an ancient dark god who, at some point in the distant past, was banished from the Earthly sphere and then migrated to a dimension called the Crimson Cosmos. But just as Thor is linked at the hip to Odin and Loki, Cyttorak is only one part of a bigger package.
Cyttorak is part of a pantheon of deities that also includes Watoomb, Balthakk, Raggadorr, Farallah, Krakkan, Valtorr, and Ikonn. A thousand years ago, each of these gods disputed the question of who was the most powerful among their ranks, and decided that each would create an artifact that contained their power, and which would turn the first human who possessed it into a living personification of each god’s strengths. Once all eight “Exemplars” become united, the gods intend for each of them to rule over 1/8th of humanity, and then go to war with each other, at which point the winner is established as the most powerful.
11. He’s Totally Self-Sustaining
Juggernaut doesn’t need a tiny house, because he is a tiny house. The powers granted to him by the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak have left Marko as a self-sustaining force of nature. Juggernaut does not need to eat, drink, or even breathe. There have been multiple occasions where he has become imprisoned inside mountains or under concrete, and spent weeks digging himself out, without any physical damage to his person.
The reason that the Juggernaut is so “unstoppable,” other than brute strength, is that he can’t get tired. Besides the fact that this means Juggernaut never sleeps, and thus could productively use all 24 hours of the day if he wanted to dedicate himself to a more lucrative career than smashing things up, it also means that if he’s coming for you, he won’t take any breaks. Juggernaut’s body no longer feels fatigue, can’t overwork itself, can’t become exhausted. In addition, he generates a force field around himself that deflects all attacks. When the Juggernaut is in motion, there really is nothing that can stop him: he can only be redirected, and even that requires someone of Hulk-level strength….
10. He’s Beaten the Hulk
Juggernaut and the Hulk have had many battles, which isn’t so surprising considering they might be the two most unstoppable forces on the planet. Normally, Hulk gets the upper hand; Juggernaut’s power level is consistent, but we all know what happens to the Hulk’s power levels when he gets angrier.
But on at least one occasion, Juggernaut successfully put down Earth’s mightiest mortal. Admittedly, it was the “Professor” incarnation of the Hulk, a version of the Hulk that possessed Banner’s intellect and thus wasn’t the same sort of all-powerful, uncontrollable nuclear bomb that the classic “Savage” Hulk is, but still: if you beat the Hulk, you beat the Hulk.
Hulk and Juggernaut encounter each other in the Amazon, and Juggernaut — who isn’t wearing his Cyttorak armor, thus earning him bonus points — immediately attacks the Hulk. Their battle eventually leads to Juggernaut getting trapped in quicksand, and when Banner tries to save him, Juggernaut just attempts to pull him in. Eventually, Juggernaut breaks free and knocks Hulk unconscious.
9. He Once Got in Drunken Bar Fight with Colossus
But when it comes to superheroic squabbles, probably nothing tops the time that Juggernaut got into a drunken bar fight with the X-Men’s Colossus (featured this year in Deadpool) — especially since Piotr’s friends, Wolverine and Nightcrawler, just watched the whole time.
When Colossus falls in love with another woman and breaks up with Kitty Pryde, Wolverine — who, when it comes to vulnerable younger mutants like Kitty, is something of an overprotective father figure — decides that he needs to have a “talk” with Piotr, so he and Nightcrawler bring him into town and buy drinks at the bar. It turns out that Cain Marko, again without his armor, is busy having a drink at the same bar, with a date. Though Wolverine figures its better to get out of the bar before Juggernaut starts some unneeded trouble, the now-drunken Piotr approaches their enemy, spills his drink on him, and a battle erupts between the two of them. As it goes on, Wolverine hangs back and has another drink, figuring that Piotr getting trounced will teach him a lesson.
The civilians flee, Juggernaut and Colossus break apart the entire bar, and in the end, Juggernaut wins out. Colossus is upset that his friends didn’t aide him, but Wolverine says that Piotr needed to learn a lesson about honor. It’s worth noting that after the battle is finished, Juggernaut actually pays the owner for the damages, proving himself to be more honorable than he’s usually given credit for.
8. His Best Friend is Banshee’s Cousin
Juggernaut hasn’t kept too many friends over the years, but one of his longest lasting relationships is with Thomas “Black Tom” Cassidy, Banshee’s cousin. Tom, who has the ability to project energy through plants, has never been on great terms with his X-Men cousin, since Banshee won the family inheritance, as well as the heart of Maeve, a woman whom Tom had affections for.
Black Tom and Juggernaut became friends in prison, and broke out together. They became frequent partners-in-crime, often teaming up to try to take down the X-Men. Their friendship even extended beyond criminal business; on at least one occasion, when Cassidy fell into the sea, Juggernaut jumped in after him. This close connection came to a dramatic close years later, when Black Tom murdered Juggernaut’s young friend Sammy Paré, resulting in Juggernaut tearing him apart.
7. He Joined the X-Men
By now, it’s become apparent that despite all of his villainous exploits, bullying, destruction, and murders, Juggernaut has often shown hints at a more decent side, whether by rescuing his friend or paying the bar owner for property damages. At one point, he even tried to turn his life around — by making amends with his hated stepbrother, and actually joining the X-Men.
Juggernaut’s tenure on the X-Men was surprisingly long-lived. At the time, Juggernaut had lost much of the power granted to him by Cyttorak, and presumably some of Cyttorak’s sinister influence, as well. Though Cain struggled with the demons of his past, he made a genuine effort to reform his ways, to be a valuable member of the team, and he even tried to form friendships with his fellow teammates. In fact, Cain went so far as to allow himself to be taken into custody, and to stand trial for his past crimes as Juggernaut. Luckily, he had a winning lawyer…
6. He Had Sex with She-Hulk (Sort of)
The lawyer who represented Juggernaut in his trial was none other than Jennifer Walters AKA She-Hulk, Bruce Banner’s super-powered cousin, and one of Marvel’s most iconic heroines. Definitely one of the most talented lawyers in New York, She-Hulk actually succeeds in getting Cain exonerated of all of his crimes (which is no small task for a guy who has committed so many of them), and he’s allowed to go free. However, during the trial, she and Juggernaut — two super-strong, invulnerable characters who probably have to do a lot of holding back during most encounters between the sheets — make the somewhat questionable decision to get it on, having a one-night stand that breaks the bed, the floor, and the wall.
She-Hulk would later deny that this event occurred, and with good reason: it turns out that the She-Hulk who Juggernaut sleeps with is actually a She-Hulk from the “Alpha” Universe, though he had no idea at the time.
5. He was Close Friends With A Young “Squidboy”
One of the most important figures in Cain Marko’s life is a 10-year-old Canadian boy named Sammy Paré, who possesses the mutant power of speaking and breathing underwater, as well as the fish-like appearance to match. This “Squid-Boy” becomes a student at Xavier’s institute, and during one of the X-Men’s confrontations with Juggernaut, Sammy dives underwater and saves the villain’s life. This act of heroism has a deep impact on Cain Marko’s psyche, and it is this event that makes Cain decide to become an X-Man and reform his ways.
While he a member of the X-Men, Cain forms a tight friendship with Sammy, always fiercely protecting him. Their closeness deepens when Cain realized that Sammy, like him, has suffered abuse at the hands of his father.
The friendship between Cain and Sammy comes to a terrible end when Cain infiltrates the Brotherhood of Mutants as an agent for the X-Men, and Sammy finds him meeting with the villains. Believing that Juggernaut has betrayed Xavier’s team, Sammy calls him out on it, resulting in him being murdered by Black Tom Cassidy. An enraged Juggernaut dismembers his former ally, but this event has a significant impact on the character’s attempts at reformation. Eventually, he returns to his old villainous ways, but not without enormous guilt about not being able to save a boy that was starting to become like a son to him.
4. Colossus Became Juggernaut for A While
Since Juggernaut’s powers come from Cyttorak, it stands to reason that Cyttorak is the one who decides who gets to be the Juggernaut, and it hasn’t always seen Cain Marko as the optimal choice. When Cain becomes a herald for another god known as the Serpent, Colossus goes to Cyttorak and brokers a deal wherein he becomes the Juggernaut in order to take down Cain. Having the Juggernaut’s power allows Colossus to defeat Cain in combat.
With the power of Cyttorak inside him, the noble Colossus undergoes strained personality shifts, acting out of character and exhibiting hostile tendencies. Piotr decides that he should not be at the X-Mansion, feeling that his newfound power would be dangerous around children, and later goes so far as to demand that he be locked up at all times, only freed when he is needed on a mission. Eventually, Colossus’s status as the Juggernaut is cut free from him by Magik’s sword, which releases him from Cyttorak’s influence.
3. He was the Focus of One of the All-Time Classic Spider-Man Stories
Spider-Man is a character defined by his responsibility, his courageousness, and his stubborn drive to always do the right thing, no matter what odds are stacked against him. From the classic Stan Lee/Steve Ditko Master Planner story — wherein Spider-Man struggles to free himself from an unbearable load of machinery in order to save Aunt May — to the “train sequence” of Spider-Man 2 where Peter nearly kills himself trying to stop a runaway train — many of Spider-Man’s best moments have been when he is faced with a challenge he should have no way of overcoming, and yet he uses both ingenuity and stubbornness to find a way.
One of the greatest Spider-Man stories of all time is Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut, by Roger Stern, wherein Black Tom sends Juggernaut to kidnap Madame Web, a psychic who will die if she is separated from her life support machinery. Throughout the story, Spider-Man desperately tries to get in the Juggernaut’s path to stop him, failing time and time again. Finally, Spider-Man is able to outsmart Cain by trapping him in wet cement.
2. When Cyclops Killed Xavier, Juggernaut Tried to Get Revenge
Once again, it’d be a mistake to see Juggernaut as a simple villain. Though a bully, a terrorist, and a murderer, Juggernaut has always struggled with the better morals inside him, and some part of him has always wanted to be better. After losing his Cyttorak powers, Cain retires to a distant farm in Utah, peacefully trying to avoid conflict. this life of tranquility was interrupted when he hears word of Charles Xavier’s death at the hands of Cyclops, his greatest student, a betrayal that Juggernaut views as unforgivable.
When Marko becomes repowered as the Juggernaut by Cyttorak, his immediate goal is revenge: he realizes how, after all his time away from the world, that Charles Xavier was the one man who most believed in him, the one man who ever understood him and believed that he truly had a chance at redemption. Juggernaut furiously tries to murder Cyclops, easily plowing through the X-Men, but is tricked by Colossus into destroying the ground he stands on, burying himself alive. Though Juggernaut eventually digs his way free, there is no doubt that he still has a lot of inner conflict to sort through.
1. He Was a Pretty Big Online Meme For A While
But to close everything out on a lighter note, one of the more amusing aspects of the Juggernaut legend was his unexpected surge in popularity back in 2006, when everyone across the internet could be seen repeating the NSFW phrases found in this online sensation.
This happened during the height of YouTube’s rise to the mainstream, when My Way Entertainment posted a clip from an episode of X-Men: The Animated Series that featured Juggernaut and Black Tom Cassidy, humorously dubbed over by Randy Hayes and Xavier Nazari. The profanity-laden clip, which included frequent repetitions of the phrase “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch!” was a breakout internet success, and two sequel videos followed, with other episodes dubbed over by the same group. The video got so popular that its catchphrase was included in Juggernaut’s cinematic debut, X-Men: The Last Stand, with Vinnie Jones’s Juggernaut yelling it out at Kitty Pryde. Though certainly not the character’s defining moment, we suspect that this catchphrase will remain attached to him for many years to come.
Did we leave out any of your favorite Juggernaut facts? Let us know in the comments.