Mystique has seen a great spike in popularity over the last few years due to her portrayal by Jennifer Lawrence in the recent X-Men movies. Although she made her film debut in the original X-Men almost twenty years ago, the character was given very little to do until 2011’s X-Men: First Class.
This was upsetting to many fans, as Mystique has a long legacy in the comics, having been an enemy and occasional ally to the X-Men, as well as marrying Sabretooth and being the mother of famous characters like Nightcrawler, Rogue and Graydon Creed.
While her power might seem straightforward, it comes with a surprising number of imaginative applications. Mystique is, true to her name, a mystery. Even now, it’s not known exactly how old she is.
She’s one of the most skilled assassins and hand-to-hand fighters in the Marvel Universe. Mystique doesn’t simply have the ability look like other people, she can also become them and has lived years under different faces and identities.
It's time to take a look at some of the most surprising and inventive skills and powers that Mystique has displayed over the course of decades, from the comics to movies, TV and more.
With that said, here are the 15 Powers You Didn't Know Mystique Has.
Traditionally, Mystique has always been able to shift her size to some degree. It happens every time she turns into someone or something else. No one is ever exactly the same size.
The rule of thumb regarding her mutation states that she has always been able to shift anywhere from four to seven feet tall. However, when her powers were amplified in the pages of X-Men Forever, she became able to shrink or grow to much more dramatic lengths.
This makes sense as it’s kind of a natural part of her ability, not even an extension of it. She grows or shrinks to some degree every single time she uses her power.
Given that the comics have always been somewhat inconsistent with her mutation, it’s unclear if she still retains such an extensive range of power, though the comics have still sometimes shown her growing well beyond seven feet and well below four feet.
14 Copycat Abilities
A culmination of her intelligence and her fighting style, Mystique can physically mimic anyone almost perfectly. This is most famously showcased in the original X-Men movie, in which Mystique is drawn into a fight with Wolverine, mimicking his claws and fighting style after only just meeting him.
The two of them are so identical that the other X-Men can’t even tell them apart. This has been a major element of her role in the comics from the time she was first introduced.
Although she cannot mimic the powers of others, the limits of this have been leniently defined in the past. It’s widely accepted that she can’t do anything like teleport when she turns into Nightcrawler or shoot beams out of her eyes when she turns into Cyclops, but she has adopted Sabretooth’s healing and heightened senses when turning into him.
13 Healing Factor
Even serious fans tend to forget about Mystique’s very useful ability to self-heal. Sure, she’s been seriously wounded before and it’s not nearly as powerful as Wolverine’s or Deadpool’s power, but it’s an ability that she has nonetheless and one that has often proved to be incredibly useful.
Any superficial wound, anything that’s not too life-threatening can be taken care of as long as she can concentrate on it. This is an extension of Mystique’s shape-changing abilities.
Every time Mystique transforms, she’s changing and reforming her own body, so it makes sense that she could close a wound as an extension of that power. She can even shift her organs around to avoid would-be fatal wounds.
The limits of this ability have never really been tested, so it’s tough to gauge just how powerful her healing factor truly is. Her shape-shifting ability hasn’t helped her overcome too serious injuries in the past, but it’s not crazy to think that she could regrow a lost limb, at least for a while, as an extent of her power.
12 Turning Into Animals
An ability that’s often been utilized in the comics but surprisingly never once addressed in the films, Mystique’s shape-changing powers aren’t simply limited to people. She can transform into any living creature within reason, in terms of relative size and mobility.
Mystique has demonstrated this ability in the animated series as well. In Ultimate X-Men many suspected that since Xavier’s cat was named Mystique, that she was living as a spy in the mansion, disguised as the feline.
That turned out not to be true, but it was because of fans knowing that she had this particular power that led to the speculation in the first place.
Mystique has also taken to partial animal transformation in the past by growing wings out of her back and even briefly turning into a mermaid in order to more effectively leap out of the water.
Like many abilities on the list, this is an imaginative application of Mystique’s primary shape-shifting mutation. Given her ability to transform into anyone she can think of, Mystique also has the power to completely camouflage herself— something she’s found herself doing on multiple occasions.
If she’s standing still, especially with her back against a flat surface like a wall, she can completely disappear into the environment.
While Mystique can’t necessarily turn into inanimate objects, she’s found ways around this by disguising herself by essentially painting the background behind her onto her own body.
This makes her even harder to track, as she could also easily turn into anyone if she were to get lost in a crowd. In the original X-Men film, Mystique even disguises herself by turning into a model of the Statue of Liberty.
10 Blocking Telepathy
Many of the more inventive applications and explorations of Mystique’s powers stem from Brian K. Vaughn’s Mystique solo title.
In that series, Mystique is working as an shadow operative for Professor X, working missions that he would never ask the X-Men to do. The series was among the first to explore a dynamic between the two characters before a close relationship between them was established in the films.
Because much of that plot hinges on distrust, it’s revealed that Xavier can’t actually read Mystique’s mind because her brain is too erratic, constantly changing. It’s hard to read something that’s always reshaping itself.
Given that the X-Men world features no shortage of psychics, this is one of Mystique’s most useful abilities, if not one of her most inconsistent.
9 Extreme Combat Training
One thing about Mystique that the movies have gotten right from the get-go is the fact that she’s one of the most skilled hand-to-hand fighters in the Marvel Universe.
Mystique is a fascinating character well beyond her shape-shifting abilities, though those powers affect who she is on a fundamental level. If she has to convincingly portray someone else, she can’t just look like them. Mystique has to try to convincingly match the fighting style of anyone she might assume the identity of.
Because of this, she is incredibly versatile and skilled in almost every kind of combat. On the comic page, her skill in this area has been made much clearer in recent years, with it definitely being a focus in her early 2000s solo series.
8 Growing Her Own Clothes
Fans might never look at Mystique the same way once they realize that, even in the comics, she is never wearing clothing.
No matter what she appears to be wearing, her clothes are simply a part of her mutation, and even if they look and feel like clothes, they’re basically just folds of her skin. It might seem gross, but it’s certainly necessary when Mystique needs to change from form to form at any given moment.
In the Ultimate series, that incarnation of Mystique actually couldn’t shape-change into what someone was wearing and had to instead carry their clothes with her, which seriously hindered her effectiveness. It was a smart call on the part of the movies to embrace the fact that Mystique wasn't wearing clothes at all in order for her power to really make sense.
7 Changing Her Scent
This has to be one of Mystique’s most obscure abilities, but it is still one that definitely makes sense. There are no shortage of Marvel characters with superhuman senses.
From Mystique’s ex-lover Sabretooth to Daredevil and, of course, Wolverine. Looking like someone else is a powerful skill but it’s not enough when fighting someone who’s other senses are incredibly heightened. Because of this, Mystique has over time developed the ability to mask her own scent.
Generating a new scent or disguising her scent as someone else’s actually has nothing to do with physical shape-shifting, so it’s one of the few abilities on the list that would possibly count as a secondary mutation, even if it operates on the same basic principle.
It’s also another ability that the comics have been inconsistent with, as there have been plenty of times that Wolverine has singled Mystique out by her scent.
6 Extreme Intelligence
Whether or not this power of Mystique’s gets highlighted in the comics tends to depend on the writer. Some people forget it, others embrace it and explore it in fascinating ways.
Like most of Mystique’s abilities, this one ultimately stems out of necessity. She has to be able to think like anyone in order to effectively disguise herself as that person.
Even if she doesn’t specifically have the scientific knowledge of Tony Stark or Reed Richards, she knows exactly how to fake it. She is one of the most cunning, resourceful characters in the Marvel Universe.
More than anything else, Mystique is a survivor. Only part of that is dependent on her mutation. The rest comes down to her ability to think herself out of virtually any situation. She is incredibly skilled at determining people’s behavior and often uses that to her advantage.
5 Deadly Accuracy
Because Mystique’s powers don’t give her any laser beams or ranged attacks of her very own, she’s often dependent on weapons. As an assassin, she is one of the best in the world.
This was another major element of her solo series, as it was basically her skill as an assassin that Xavier enlisted her for, tasking her with wet works and tasks he would never ask even his most morally compromised X-Men to do.
While Mystique doesn’t have the accuracy of characters like Hawkeye or Bullseye, she’s not all that far off, either. She’s gained serious skill with just about every kind of firearm, from pistols to sniper rifles. Already a skilled combatant, Mystique is truly a force to be reckoned with when she gets a weapon in her hands.
4 Inability To Age
True to her name, Mystique is, well, mysterious. While her alter ego, Raven Darkholme, is widely known, it’s unclear if that’s even her real name. Nobody actually knows how old she is.
She first met longtime lover Destiny around the dawn of the 20th century, but also notes at one point that she was not born in the twentieth or even nineteenth century. It’s unclear why exactly she has kept her origin in the dark for so long, but it’s possible and more than likely at this point that she simply doesn’t remember it herself.
Even tracking her life back prior to the start of the 19th century makes her one of the oldest major mutants in X-Men history, even if she falls well behind an ancient mutant like Apocalypse.
Living so long has allowed her to acquire no shortage of skills in many, many different areas, developing her abilities as a fighter and a marksman over long periods of time. It has also allowed her to parent several major characters in the X-Men universe.
Technically, Mystique stretches every time she transforms. Any time she turns into someone of a different size than herself and every time she shifts into different clothes, she’s stretching.
While most early incarnations of the character simply used her powers to depict turning into different people, there are many other, weirder applications. Mystique can grow extra limbs, can reform herself into anything at will. Her body is as malleable as she wants it to be and does not always have to shift itself into a single, concrete form.
This allows her to stretch like Mr. Fantastic, even if not to such a large degree. She can still stretch to reach things in close distance or even stretch or reshape any part of herself like the alien creature in John Carpenter’s The Thing, if she so chooses.
One of Mystique’s most basic abilities, it is also on that has frequently come in handy in a fight: while she can’t copy the powers of others, she can copy any abilities that are physical attributes.
She has often used this while fighting Wolverine by duplicating his claws. Mystique generating her own Wolverine claws is the centerpiece of their fight in the first X-Men movie. The downside of this power is that while she could easily replicate Wolverine’s bone claws if she so chose, she can't replicate adamantium.
As a result, her claws are mostly for intimidation or a last resort in a fight rather than anything she could actually use long-term as a weapon. Still, they’ve proven to come in handy several times in the past.
Mystique might not be able to go toe-to-toe with Colossus, but she can definitely hold her own. Her incredible strength stems largely from the fact that she can change her muscular structure at will.
Within reason, she can make herself as strong as she needs to be at any moment. Even in her regular form, she has proven herself to be incredibly strong, going up against larger enemies and still being able to land several hits.
Her increased metabolism allows for both her hyper-agility and above average strength, making her a powerful fighter even without changing out of her given form.
Changing into a more muscular form has traditionally made Mystique much stronger, as she is changing herself at a molecular level and reshaping her own muscles, not simply changing her appearance.
Did you know about any of these powers? Can you think of any other unique powers that Mystique has? Sound off in the comments!