Not every mutant can be a Wolverine, or a Gambit. The X-Men have been around for decades, and during that time we've been shown a few mutant "gifts" that don't quite stack up to their peers.
Here are the mutants who would last less than three seconds in a fight against Magneto, on account of their evolved genes making them almost completely useless. Here are the 15 Most Useless X-Men Powers.
Note: not all of these mutants were X-Men...but they did all get to hang out with them, somehow.
15 Angel/Warren Worthington III
As a PR guy, Angel is spot-on. He looks angelic, is obscenely rich and one of his grab-bag of powers includes having zero body-fat. Ladies.
But his most famous and used ability is that of flight, by way of two massive wings sticking out of his back. You know, flight, like the roughly 50% of other superheroes who don’t have a more interesting way to get around. Angel was useful enough in the early days of the X-Men when he was the only flier on the team, but he was conveniently retired when the squad began to fill with mutants who could fly under their own power, i.e. without two huge targets just flapping about. Storm flies with the wind, Phoenix flies with telekinetic power, Rogue (sometimes) flies apropos of nothing. Meanwhile, taking Angel out is as simple as aiming for his two massive weak spots.
And once those are disabled… well, I guess he could try to solve that Magneto problem by throwing some money at it.
14 Danielle Moonstar/Mirage
Danielle Moonstar/Mirage was a member of the New Mutants, who were themselves temporary replacements for the actual, missing X-Men. ‘Temporary’ was the key phrase here, as most of their powers turned out to be redundant.
She had the ability to talk to animals, but never really applied this power in the way that you’d think (which would be summoning a horde of rhinos to stomp all of the bad guys). Still worse was Mirage’s ability to psychically animate a person’s fears, which works just great as a one-off gimmick but not so much when that person is a regular member of the team. Apart from being cripplingly specific, this power wouldn’t work on mechanical enemies, often just flat-out failed to intimidate who it was supposed to and was basically a watered-down ability of every telepath ever. Moonstar was later hit with the Jubilee treatment, gaining multiple nonsense abilities like ‘psychic trauma arrows’ and ‘animating wishes and desires,’ which just sounds incredibly uncomfortable for everyone involved.
Eventually the writers just threw up their hands, blindly mashed their keyboards and Dani was gifted with magic Asgard Valkyrie powers, because at this stage, why the Frigg not.
That was a Norse pun, sort of.
13 Karma/Xi'an Coy Manh
Speaking of both New Mutants and watered-down psychic abilities…meet Karma.
Karma has the mutant power to possess a person, placing her in complete control of their mind. Again, this is a power that would be marvelous if she was a one-shot character, but when the team is repeatedly clashing with killer robots and superpowered murderers, its uses tend to dampen. That Karma’s powers are inherently awkward doesn’t help, since she can only reliably possess one person, has to leave her squishy, vulnerable real body in the hands of a teammate every time and can even become suppressed by the victim’s consciousness if she takes too long.
Once again, any uses Karma’s power has are very easily outdone by one of the X-Men’s many telepaths, pretty much all of whom can do exactly the same things without leaving their frail bodies flopping helplessly on the floor.
12 Cypher/Doug Ramsey
We’re not trying to specifically bully the New Mutants, really. It’s just that once this live-action movie comes out, the writers aren’t going to find any ‘OP’ accusations being thrown their way. In fact, the real struggle will be ‘how does this team get anything done.’
Cypher carries the distinction of a power that would be just plain awesome in real life, but really awful in an action-based comic book. Most aliens and foreigners in the Marvel universe speak perfect English with maybe a few native exclamations thrown in. Enter Cypher, and suddenly the plots were bending over backwards to shoehorn in things for him to do with his amazing gift of omniligualism. As his name implies, Cypher might have done far better sitting at a screen as command and control, using his flawless grasp of language to guide the X-Men in the field and hack whatever needs hacking - and sure, he got to do a fair bit of it... in the field. They stuck him in one fight after another and had him become a master martial artist through ‘body language,’ which is actually just a phrase and has no relation to martial arts at all but whatever. He then managed to lose most of this scrap of usefulness with the introduction of Warlock, the shape-shifting alien robot with computer powers that rendered Cypher even more redundant than ever before.
But hey, at least his Welsh pronunciation is flawless.
11 Beak/Barnell Bohusk
Beak was probably around just to show the ugly side of the mutant race, that there was mutants whose powers were less of the cool eye lasers and more ‘socially repulsive man-beast.’ Beak was the poster child for the asterisk at the end of ‘homo-superior;’ scroll to the bottom of the page and you’ll find, in small print, 'most of the time'.
His powers included looking like a vulture, hollow bones, wings that didn't work properly and the ability to spawn little hybrid babies. Given that he lacked the ability to punch anyone without all his bones shattering, Beak’s main form of attack was to repeatedly shove his face into the enemy and hope for the best. He was eventually depowered, which was a massive relief for everyone involved, and managed to pick himself up a techno-suit that looks… surprisingly good, actually.
Longneck was a guy with a long neck. Six feet, to be precise, which you might notice is the average length of a fairly tall person and not all that much use unless he wanted to swing his head around like a really self-destructive flail. He was later sent out to help stop Xorn’s rampage, because Cyclops apparently thought that the power to do a really good check under the bed for lost change was exactly what was needed to aid in taking down a super-powered psychopath.
And then, Longneck lived out his life with his Mutant brothers, who never judged him for his… wait, no. He was depowered, the process of which caused his neck to snap and kill him instantly. Well, that’s irony for you.
Villains of Earth, beware the awesome power of Jubilee and her little globby firework thingies.
You can generally tell how useless a character is by how much the writers try to beef them up. Jubilee’s original power set was literally making flashy fireworks, which have the specific uses of ‘making bad guys flinch’ and ‘mildly inconveniencing maybe one Sentinel at a time.’ The X-Men had long filled their colorful projectile quota by the time she showed up, and there were already so many others who did it so much better (Gambit, anyone?), so we were treated to vague whispers that Jubilee has ‘great potential.’
She was supposed to be able to detonate matter at the subatomic level, which her Age of Apocalypse counterpart showed us in spades. Mainstream Jubilee, on the other hand, was stuck with her little globby fireworks until the day she was depowered. She then found herself a robot suit, got bored of that and was turned into a vampire, because no one has yet had the heart to tell Marvel that those aren’t cool any more.
8 Tag/Brian Cruz
Tag’s career as an X-Man was never going to last all that long, and sure enough, once M-Day rolled around he was zapped right back to being an ordinary human.
What amazing talent did he lose? The ability to ‘tag’ an object, which caused people to run away from it. Within a certain distance. If they didn’t just throw off the effect entirely. And then, they’d just come right back. Great?
Narrative-wise, it wasn’t a power that was going to go to any great places. Tag eventually gained the ability to reverse the effect and make people flock to something, another one of those powers that have real life uses but not so much in a dynamic comic book, and can easily be replicated by a half-decent telepath. His proudest moment happened in the House of M reality, where he tagged a person and caused them to commit suicide by jumping out a window. Nice one, Tag. Your power applications are ‘mild crowd control’ and ‘traumatic murder.'
7 Layla Miller
Layla Miller has had a complicated history, showing abilities such as awakening lost memories in the House of M reality and in her own words, ‘knowing stuff’.
Her powers were eventually revealed to be reviving the dead, which sounds just wonderful (?) until we find out that it comes with a major caveat: that person returns without their soul, and is more or less a psychopath with a complete lack of empathy. Essentially, she reanimates a corpse with all the memories of the dead person.
The applications for this would be extensive if Layla was a supervillain. Unfortunately, she’s found herself on the side of good and thus her power to create murderous corpse-shells is less than useless, at least in the ways she’s been applying it thus far. Fortunately, Layla has plenty of skills besides this that make up for it.
Also, she did manage to reanimate a dead butterfly that one time. Presumably, the insect world is now being menaced by a sociopathic butterfly with tiny, adorable plans of world domination.
6 Skin/Angelo Espinosa
Skin has lots of skin, which is kind of like being Mr. Fantastic without the utility or the brains. His only method of attack is to literally throw parts of himself at the enemy and hope that they’re too disgusted to fight back, which is actually a pretty safe bet.
Skin was meant to be another ‘woe is me, my mutation forbids me from entering society’ mutant, but he came along well after the era when perfectly good-looking mutants were being hunted down and exterminated by killer robots, so the message was about as weak as his dangling jowls. He was figuratively crucified by the fans for being useless and gross, and then literally crucified by a Mutant hate group. Not that we’d wish that on anyone, but in Skin’s case, it was probably for the best.
5 Jazz/John Zander
When the way you got your codename is more interesting than your ‘powers’, you are not a great character. Such is the case of Jazz (John Zander…J.Z… Jazz. Geddit?), who has the power of blue skin. That’s it.
Unlike many of the other blue people around, Jazz seemingly didn’t gain any powers beyond being able to cosplay as a Smurf at the drop of a hat. Bafflingly, he was one of the 198 Mutants to retain his…uh, powers after the events of M-Day, truly natural selection at work. But wait, according to the Marvel Wiki, Jazz has another ability: ‘mediocre rap skills.’
Down, Marvel Wiki. Be nice.
4 Zeitgeist/Axel Cluney
Zeitgeist has the power to spew acidic vomit. That’s really lovely all by itself, but the way he discovered his powers was vomiting acid all over a girl during a make-out session, which isn’t exactly the most inspiring superhero origin ever written.
Apart from being another case of a power that could be useful if it wasn’t so visually repulsive, Zeitgeist didn’t quite have the level of control over his abilities required to be a hero. He had to wear a protective mouth guard at all times, and had no real ability to project his acid; if he wanted to attack anyone he had to get up close. Reeeeeal close. Close enough to make out, you might say. His uses were limited to haphazardly melting locks and trying to get close enough to robots to melt their faces. Finer use of his powers were off the table, mostly because his vomit was too unstable to focus in any way, and showing him licking a person’s handcuffs off was deemed too disgusting even by comic book standards.
Eye-scream is canon, somehow. Just let that sink in.
A Mutant with the ability to turn into any delicious flavor of ice-cream, he became jealous of the X-Men’s superior powers and hatched a plot to defeat them. We say ‘hatched a plot’ kind of loosely, because the whole thing boiled down to him sneaking into the X-Mansion and just hoping that no one noticed the sentient blob of ice-cream messing with the Danger Room controls.
His plans were foiled with the help of a birthday clown, Eye-Scream was frozen in a block of ice and we never saw him again. Not yet, anyway. Here’s hoping that he plays a major role in Civil War II.
2 Ugly John
‘Gifted’ with the power of having three faces, Ugly John’s entire existence was a joke on the part of the writers, who wanted to show mutations that were completely useless. That’s great and all, but even fictional characters deserve some basic dignity and this guy doesn’t even get so much as a cool codename. Adding insult to deformity, his other faces aren’t even shown to function properly, instead just sort of…hanging there with gormless expressions. This means that his only power is to burn through razors wicked fast.
Ugly John lasted all of two issues before being killed off by Sentinels. As in the case of Skin, this was likely the best way he could've gone out.
In a classic case of a character who exists in entirely the wrong fictional universe…here’s Kylun. With all other animal-based superheroes , they’ve at least got the abilities to back it up; Beast has the powers of whatever animal he’s based on at the time, Spider-Man uses spider powers, The Falcon can fly…and Kylun just looks like he wandered in from the set of Thundercats. Or a furry convention.
Lacking all the useful abilities of an actual cat, Kylun did try to make up for it with his other mutant power: his vocal chords could imitate any sound, making him the most popular YouTube cover artist of all time but otherwise not doing much good for any team he’s ever been a part of. Surely, once Kylun makes his big-screen debut, this ability will be put to its proper use…but in a comic book? It’s most of the reason they had to give him magic swords. If only Karma was so lucky.