With X Men: Apocalypse in theaters, the world has now seen the X Men’s fearless leader Professor X on the big screen at least eight different times. Sometimes he’s portrayed by Patrick Stewart, sometimes he’s portrayed by James McAvoy, sometimes both. We’ve seen him bald and with hair, we’ve seen him walking and in a wheelchair. But no matter how we see him he’s always the same immensely powerful mutant who fights to co-exist with humans and always sees the silver lining in a near-cataclysmic event.
Whether you first came to know Professor X on the big screen or in the comic books he was introduced to the world in back in 1963, you know him as a telepathic hero and founder of the X-Men. But what don’t you know about Charles Xavier? Which powers and abilities have remained largely hidden from the common fan throughout the character’s adventures across various comics, cartoons, and films? As it turns out, a whole lot.
Let’s take a look at the secret powers of Professor X and dive deep into the abilities that no one talks about. Here’s 12 Powers You Didn’t Know Professor X Has.
Often portrayed as one of the most frail old men in pop culture, Professor X could be underestimated by some as one common cold away from death. But as one of his most under-the-radar powers proves, Professor X is so powerful that even death can’t stop him.
With Charles Xavier’s ability to transfer his mind and his powers into another host body if need be, it’s fascinating to think of Professor X as one of the nearly un-killable superheroes in the Marvel Universe. If you are wondering why he does not, then transfer his powers into a body that can walk, well you aren't alone. Perhaps the writers of Professor X preferred the irony of one of the world’s most powerful mutants being powerless to walk, or perhaps Professor X himself feels an advantage in being underestimated. Regardless, the opportunity is always there should Professor X chose to seize it.
While mutant powers manifest themselves in all sorts of unique ways inside the X-Men Universe, the coolest part about Professor X being such a powerful mutant is that he can create new powers for himself should he so choose. Take for example, his ability to camouflage. Sure, this is one of the things Mystique and other mutants are known for, but for Professor X camouflage is just another tool in his extensive arsenal of mind-bending abilities.
By getting into the mind of the people and mutants around him, Professor X is able to telepathically mask himself and others, should he so choose. From changing his clothes as well as his own face and body to match someone else’s, Xavier doesn’t physically change like Mystique does, but he can convince others that he looks any way he wants to by hacking into their brain and getting their eyes to see what isn’t really there.
Sure, it’s pretty cool that Professor X can communicate telepathically with humans and mutants alike, but everyone knows that he can do that. We also know that he can – using Cerebro – reach the population of the entire world with his mind and speak to – or control – anyone that he wants. But perhaps the coolest part of Professor X’s telepathy is his ability to use his powers outside of Earth, across all of space.
When he’s not on Earth – as has been the case in the comics a number of times – Professor X is able to make contact with aliens and speak to them in their native language. Being able to communicate telepathically with alien characters inside the Marvel Universe, such as X-Men villains and allies, is pretty useful, but even cooler than that is his ability to really focus and spread his telepathy across the galaxy. In the past, Professor X has engaged in telepathic communication with entire alien species; something that – while the Cinematic X-Men Universe has yet to go cosmic – would be pretty cool to see on the big screen.
This power isn’t as sexy as being able to control some of the world’s worst mutants with your mind, which might explain its absence in the X-Men films, but being able to learn and teach a language in only minutes is actually one of the more useful powers that Professor X has at his disposal. By tapping into the language center of someone’s brain that is fluent in a foreign language, Professor X is able to decode and learn an entire language without spending months or years studying and needlessly conjugating verbs.
In fact, using this same method but in reverse, Xavier can teach languages that he has learned to others, thus helping his X-Men gain a critical advantage in the field. By learning and teaching all sorts of languages, Professor X has been able to understand and speak to other mutants – and humans – that he would otherwise have no way of communicating with; maybe this is part of what makes him such a formidable diplomat and a force for peace.
With Professor X sometimes the little powers that get overlooked make all the difference; such is the case with his photographic memory. His photographic or eidetic memory – which scientists argue still whether or not it exists (and how it exists) in the real world – has sometimes made all the difference when Professor X is on a missiony. By being able to recall past information in great and vivid detail, Professor X can supplement his superior intellect and telepathic powers in a very human way; by simply putting the pieces together and using logic and memory to solve problems.
Originally just a side effect of the telepathy that he developed when his mutant powers manifested themselves, Professor X learned how to use this power to his advantage on various occasions. Although it doesn’t get much screen or page time, Professor X’s photographic memory is just one more power that makes him more than the frail old mutant he is sometimes perceived to be.
Similar to his ability to camouflage but different in its uses and execution, Professor X is able to change someone’s perception of what is in front of them by making himself invisible. By essentially editing out himself from someone’s brain and replacing it with what’s behind him, Professor X has stealth that other heroes can only dream of. There’s no need to lurk in the shadows or operate purely at night for Professor X, he can just roll up right in front of someone and not be seen.
If that’s not enough, Professor X is also able to project decoys and mental illusions in those he wishes to distract. Additionally, just in case the invisibility and decoys don’t work when he’s trying to sneak into a secret facility somewhere, he is able to take manipulate memories in someone; say, someone who saw him where he shouldn’t be just a few seconds ago. So a quick mind wipe, a decoy, and an invisibility cloak embedded in their brain later, and Professor X is good to go, ready to keep using his powers in ways that every mutant around the world would be jealous of.
The fascinating thing about Professor X’s origin is just how advanced and well-thought out his powers were, especially considering when he was created. In the early 1960s, research into the brain was just starting to take off and enter the modern era of science, which is why it’s all the more impressive to think of what Professor X can do when compared to the limited understanding of the brain at the time of his publication.
One of these powers would be his ability to inflict pain or paralysis in others, just by blocking certain neurons or transmitters in an enemy’s brain. Simply by getting into someone’s head with his telepathic ability, Professor X is able to reprogram what he sees fit and change any number of “settings” in a very complicated device. With his ability to take away or control all five senses, create pain where there was no pain before, or stop entire limbs or a whole body from moving, Professor X’s powers represented a complex understanding of brain structure and an even more complex hero whose powers operated within the realm of fiction as well as hard science.
It would be strange if this power ever made it into the X-Men films, but nonetheless it is canon and part of Professor X’s less known host of abilities. Perhaps only being useful on a handful of occasions, Professor X has the ability to speak to animals and gain insight from their lives and perceptions of the world. This lends credit to just how powerful Professor X is, as most mutant telepaths aren’t skilled enough to pull off a feat like this; no matter how useless it may seem.
Similar to Aquaman or Ant-Man, Professor X’s abilities to communicate with animals would enable him to control them should he so choose. Despite the fact that an animal’s brain is a different beast entirely from that of a human, and that speaking English is clearly not an option, Xavier’s animal communication trick once again showcases the many forms that his powers can take on.
Entire X-Men plots have been centered around humans trying to figure out a way to identify and tag those with the mutant gene; if only they knew that Professor X had this power within himself. Able to detect a mutant around him by identifying distinct brain waves that only mutants possess, Professor X has a unique advantage above other X-Men by being able to tell who is a mutant and thus who may be a threat – or an ally – in any given scenario.
Through the use of Cerebro, Professor X is able to amplify this ability and use it throughout the entire world. This is one power that has actually been shown in the X-Men films, as it was key to one of the best scenes in First Class; the one where Professor X went looking for mutants and came across an uninterested Wolverine.
It seems that every superhero needs a physically damaging power in order to be taken seriously, and on that front Professor X isn’t the odd man out. Not one to just sit back and use his mind for fighting, Professor X is actually able to project “mind bolts” into his enemies’ brains, thus stunning them and causing them whatever pain he so desires.
Composed of psychic energy, Professor X’s mind bolts are perhaps a little ridiculous – which could explain why they haven’t showed up on-screen as of yet – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a big part of Xavier’s defensive capabilities. Although the bolts don’t actually inflict damage on a body, they have the capacity to render someone unconscious, to cause severe mental trauma, or even – should Professor X so choose – to cause death. They are one of the few physical manifestations of Professor X’s powers and just another reason why he’s more powerful than most people think.
Like the best heroes in the Marvel Universe, Professor X is a genius with extensive schooling and a wide variety of world-leading knowledge that will always come in handy when trying to save the world. From ground-breaking research on genetics and mutation to his invention of Cerebro, Charles Xavier has the intelligence of Tony Stark, Hank Pym, and Bruce Banner all rolled into one.
Technically proficient when it comes to creating equipment that will help boost his telepathic powers, Professor X’s intelligence isn’t just a footnote to his character; it’s one of the reasons he’s such a force to be reckoned with. We’ve seen Professor X always thinking five steps ahead of his enemies and perhaps we’ve attributed it to his telepathic abilities, but some of that may just be good old fashioned intelligence; one overlooked power that you don’t need to be a mutant to possess.
Yet another reason why you should never underestimate Professor X: as it turns out, Charles Xavier is actually able to hold his own in a fight. Having learned martial arts while he traveled Asia, Professor X’s combat skills rank pretty high on the list of Marvel Superheroes. And while we’ve seen Xavier fight on-screen in X-Men: First Class, his real talents for kicking (or punching) ass come when he uses his telepathic abilities to augment his physical prowess.
As explained in the comic books, Xavier is able to sense his opponent’s intentions and upcoming moves, which enables him to prepare a counterattack that he knows will land on the enemy. Even with a few well-timed dodges and hits, Professor X would be able to tire out an enemy and prove that fighting him would be futile; he’s simply too good to hit. Coupled with his encyclopedic knowledge of the human body and pressure points, Professor X would need only a few seconds to stop an enemy in his tracks, which is more than you can say for most heroes; even the ones whose primary powers are hand-to-hand combat.
Which powers were your surprised to learn that Professor X had? Which do you wish you had? Let us know in the comments!