You don't need us to tell you how popular and enduring the X-Men have been. Charles Xavier's band of mutant misfits have been a comic mainstay for decades and spawned some of Marvel's most beloved characters.
From the very start, the X-Men comics have celebrated difference and diversity, striking a chord with comic book fans who may have felt like outcasts and related to the team.
Like with all long-running comic properties, there are inconsistencies in their backstories. With such a huge shifting roster of characters, it's perfectly understandable that some things may not quite line up.
Characters have had their origins and motivations written, rewritten and retconned multiple times over the years, leading to some confusion over their true natures and the accepted continuity.
With the recent announcement that Disney have acquired Fox's superhero assets in their landmark deal, internet chatter has reached an all-time peak over how and when the X-Men will join the MCU. It's going to happen, but Marvel Studios may want to avoid some of the more baffling and nonsensical additions to the X-Men canon.
Here are the 15 Things That Make No Absolutely Sense About The X-Men.
15 Wolverine's origins
As many of you already know, Wolverine wasn't intended to be a long-running character, let alone a member of the X-Men. He was invented as a throwaway villain of the week for the Hulk to tangle with. Wolverine made his first appearance in a teaser panel of The Incredible Hulk #180, but made his fully-fledged debut in the next issue. Not much was revealed about the character in the early days, other than the fact he was some kind of Canadian secret agent. This changed when the character was brought back in Giant-Size X-Men #1 and subsequent appearances delved into his past.
The agreed-upon backstory is that James Howlett was a mutant with a long and tragic past. After decades of tragedy and torment, he was recruited by the government for their shady anti-mutant program and was given his adamantium skeleton. However, there have been numerous tweaks and additions to his character that don't make much sense. There was some odd business in 2007 when it was retconned that Wolverine wasn't a mutant, but actually a lupine, a separate race of humans that evolved from wolves, not apes. Fans hated the change and several years later it was decided that all the lupine stuff was a lie and that Howlett was indeed a “normal” mutant.
14 Complaints and cures
Being a mutant in the Marvel universe is based entirely on luck. It's all very well for Charles Xavier to talk about responsibility and altruism, but he looks normal and his powers don't really change his day-to-day life for the worse. There are X-Men whose abilities really are a curse.
Rogue is perhaps the best known character to be conflicted over her powers, but there are many others. Take Wither, for example-- a mutant whose powers decay organic material. He can't touch anything or anybody.
However, these mutants probably wouldn't have to look very far for an answer to their problems. The X-Men have had many tales about people, devices, and drugs that stop mutant powers from working.
While most of them turn out to have horrible side-effects, not all do. With the prevalence of things like the Hope Serum and big world-changing events like M-Day, surely our afflicted mutants just have to play the waiting game until the next big thing comes along to get relief from their powers.
13 Jean Grey's original resurrection
At the end of The Dark Phoenix Saga, Jean Grey is fully possessed by the evil Phoenix Force. After battling the X-Men, she eventually gains some semblance of control back and even manages to say goodbye to Cyclops before sacrificing herself.
However, that wasn't the end of the tale by a long shot. In her absence, we had Madelyne Pryor, a failed Jean clone who was imbued with part of the Phoenix Force when Jean died. She was granted life and some of Jean's memories because she was so similar to the Phoenix Force's original host.
Pryor made her way to the X-Mansion, where Cyclops fell head over heels in love with her. The two eventually married and had a son, Nathan Summers, aka Cable.
If that wasn't convoluted enough, a handy retcon meant that the original Jean was later revealed to be alive, kept in stasis at the bottom of Jamaica Bay. Logic was stretched to ensure that Jean Grey was blameless for the Phoenix's crimes and it did serious damage to Cyclops' character, who straight-up left his family to go back to his old girlfriend.
12 The Summers family tree
In terms of superhero lineages, Scott Summers' family is one of the most complicated. Not only do we have the aforementioned clones involved, but we also have alternate timelines to consider.
Most of this is down to Mr. Sinister, who has had a perpetual obsession with the Summers family and has manipulated the family tree for his own purposes for many years. To put it bluntly, the Summers family timeline is weird and uncomfortably insular.
Including alternate realities, Scott and Jean (or at least versions of them) have had four kids-- Nathan Summers, aka Cable, Nate Grey, Rachel Summers, and Stryfe (a Cable clone).
When the OG Jean returns, Scott neglects Maddie and she finds comfort with his brother, Havok. Then there's the kiss that Nate Grey and Madelyne share in spin-off X-Man #25, despite the fact that Maddie is his alternate reality clone of his mother.
There's also the case of Lee Forrester, Cyclops' rebound girl after the death of Jean, who later becomes romantically interested in Cable. Luckily, she breaks things off when she learns the truth, preventing things from getting too icky.
11 The infamous Archangel/Husk hookup
The basic thrust of Chuck Austen' Uncanny X-Men #440 is: Archangel has been in a relationship with a young mutant named Paige Guthrie, aka Husk, a woman about 12 years his junior. The couple and the rest of the X-Men visit Paige's mother in Kentucky.
Ma Guthrie has a few choice words about the relationship and Warren's treatment of her daughter. Warren admits that he's been pulling away not because of the eyebrow-raising age gap, but because he wouldn't be able to handle her dying. Paige overhears this and gets angry. The couple's argument spills outside, in front of the assembled X-Men.
Husk scores a low-blow by mentioning Betsy, aka Psylocke, Warren's previous lover. In a surprise move, Archangel takes it on the chin. He admits that he was wrong and the two get back together... in the sky.
Momma Guthrie moves indoors as the items of clothing fall from the sky, but the rest of the X-Men watch no problem, with Wolverine even catching Husk's dress like a bouquet at a wedding. The whole thing is incredibly creepy.
10 Nightcrawler is actually a demon
Time for another controversial Chuck Austen story. Nightcrawler has been a fan-favorite character for a long time. Not only are his acrobatics and teleportation abilities awesome, but he usually has a great attitude about everything, taking his past of being labelled a freak in his stride and finding strength in his faith.
The idea of a character that looks like a demon and is often treated as such, turning out to have religious beliefs and faith in a higher power is great and rich with dramatic irony and possibilities.
However, this was changed when the decision was made to make Nightcrawler an actual demon. A half-demon to be exact-- the spawn of mutant Mystique and demon Azazel. It turns out this was a long-gestating nefarious plan by Azazel to create a number of demon kids that would act as portals to help him escape Hell.
You may question how he got to Earth to carry out said impregnation and you'd be right to. It doesn't make any sense and also serves to make Nightcrawler less interesting in the process.
9 They've lost fights they should have won
In many ways, the X-Men are the ultimate superteam. However, that doesn't mean they haven't been embarrassed by heroes and villains that, on paper at least, shouldn't have posed a significant threat.
One of the most famous examples happens the Secret Wars. A huge number of Marvel's heroes and villains are transported to Battleworld and forced to duke it out. Xavier suggests that they should join with Magneto and Spider-Man overhears them.
He swings down to confront them, dodging their attacks with ease and webbing up several of the X-Team. Spidey makes them look foolish in his efforts to tell Reed Richards of their supposed betrayal and the matter is only resolved when Xavier steps in and wipes his mind of the whole affair.
Then there's Obnoxio the Clown. Obnoxio was the mascot of Marvel's Crazy magazine, a parody of Mad Magazine. In a special one-shot issue, Obnoxio is hired by Charles Xavier for Kitty Pryde's birthday. The clown arrives at the X-Mansion, but the X-Men aren't aware that he's the entertainment.
They attack, but Obnoxio dodges their moves and manages to hold his own using acrobatics, a seltzer bottle, and panel after panel of terrible jokes.
8 The irrational fear of mutants
From their inception, the X-Men were always allegorical for the fight for equal rights, be they based on race or sexuality. The idea being that these stories would educate their young readership into not judging others.
The irony of the X-Men was that they were fighting to protect the very same people who hated and feared them. Often, characters would talk about the irrational prejudices that humanity had against them, but would never tip the balance into becoming like Magneto and his Brotherhood.
However, there is some logic to humanity's behaviour. Magneto and his team of villains attack and terrorize humans on a regular basis. Then there are the unlucky mutants whose mutant powers are dangerous and unstable.
Perhaps the best example of this is in Ultimate X-Men #41, where an unnamed teen's toxic powers kill over 200 people. The teenager's mutation is so out of control that Wolverine is sent to step in and regrettably has to kill him. It's a genuinely affecting story, but it outlines precisely why humans may fear the mutants that live among them.
7 Nobody stays dead
This isn't a problem exclusive to the X-Men, but the X-Men comics deal with death and resurrection way more than most. Charles Xavier is probably the king of the comeback, having died and returned to life many times.
He's faked his death, been infected with a alien parasite and died, been exploded, and even killed by his own son Legion, taking the fatal hit to protect his frenemy Magneto. Xavier eventually died “properly” in 2012 at the hands and visor of Cyclops, but sooner or later he's bound to return.
The same goes for Jean Grey. As the Phoenix's whole thing is resurrection, she has died multiple times over the years. Although her past self has been active in the present, the original Jean Grey died in 2003.
Considering the sheer number of comebacks, it should serve as no surprise that Marvel recently sought to change that and she's scheduled to return, once again rocking the Dark Phoenix look, on the 27th December of this year in the appropriately titled Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey.
6 The Scarlet Witch/Quicksilver relationship
Growing up together through tough times, it makes sense that the Maximoff twins, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, are close. In fact, “close” doesn't even begin to cover it.
They've been portrayed as seriously co-dependent and incredibly protective of each other, as one would expect from siblings who had to band together to survive numerous traumatic events. There was always an implied creepiness to their utter devotion to each other, but The Ultimates made the implicit explicit, with disastrous results.
It turns out that the brother and sister have a physical relationship with each other, which is all kinds of wrong. Wolverine even saw them going at it once (thankfully off-panel). Here's the thing, though: what does that actually add to anything?
Their characters didn't change with this revelation and for most fans it was a cheap “shocking” addition to the story that took away way more than it added. The pervading question is “why?” but we're not sure we want to know the answer.
5 The reprint run
In the late '60s and early '70s, X-Men sales were flagging. Marvel briefly cancelled the title, only to bring them back in a truly bizarre way. Marvel decided to reprint the earlier X-Men adventures as new comics, with different cover art in an effort to apparently trick consumers and make longtime fans mad.
For issues #67-#93, the stories from the mutants' original run were republished with seemingly no rhyme or reason behind it all. Worst of all, they weren't changed in any way, meaning that the X-Men were stuck in a weird time loop from a handful of years previous.
This resulted in some of the events and crossovers the X-Men had making no sense in the ongoing comic continuity. It's hard to imagine something like this happening these days, but to early devotees to the comics, this must have been incredibly confusing at best and a slap in the face at worst.
This lasted for five long years before the series was overhauled and relaunched with Giant-Size X-Men in 1975.
4 Charles Xavier is kind of a hypocritical jerk
Charles Xavier serves as the guiding light for the X-Men. He's the wise mentor that young and troubled mutants can turn to for life lessons and advice. This is all well and good, but there are times when Charles' actions haven't been befitting of someone in such a position of influence and power.
Firstly, his students are often young, malleable minds which he basically uses as his own personal army. In comparison, Magneto tended to only recruit adults to his Brotherhood of Mutants.
Secondly, despite being able to literally read minds, Xavier doesn't really know what it's like to be a true outcast. He's white, comes from a wealthy family, and his mutation is not an immediately obvious one.
In fact, he kept up the ruse that he was human until he was outed against his will. When tasked with playing Xavier in X-Men: First Class, James McAvoy reportedly kept these things in mind to play him, commenting that he was well meaning, but misguided. Charles' message of peace comes from a good place, but it's easy to see why mutants may not trust his ideals.
3 Constant heel/face turns
Again, this is a comics problem, not specifically an X-Men issue, but it's certainly very noticeable in the various titles over the decades. As readers, we love a good yarn about a hero turning bad or a villain turning good.
It's one of the oldest dramatic devices and when used properly, it can still have a huge impact. For a recent example of this, look no further than the Captain America/Hydra revelation and how many Cap fans felt betrayed by it.
The X-Men has a constantly shifting roster of characters, many of whom used to fight against them. Magneto is probably the biggest. The idea that he and Charles' ideals line up once in a while prevents the character from becoming just another evil villain, but Magneto has changed his tune more times than a jukebox.
The same goes for Gambit. Charm is literally one of his powers, but the fact he's been allowed to flip flop as many times as he has is crazy. This is why, when the X-Men end up trusting these people over and over again, it makes them look rather gullible.
2 Xavier is a manipulative liar
Don't get us wrong, Charles Xavier is awesome. However, he does have a history of lying to his loyal team for his own personal gain. Let's look at the time he faked his death and only told Jean Grey.
The team were left grieving and distraught for months before he suddenly reappeared and informed them that the shape-shifting Changeling had taken his place and died, whilst he was in a hidden basement preparing a counter-attack against an alien threat. Hmm.
He also lied to Wolverine for years. Wolvie had been sent to kill Xavier, but Charles wiped his mind of his mission and then had his own feral Canadian weapon to wield.
In Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men run, the X-Mansion's Danger Room becomes sentient and goes rogue. Everyone's shocked, except Charles, who had heard its thoughts before, didn't tell anyone and ignored them to train up his team. Xavier is kind of a dick.
1 Wolverine's claws
Probably one of the biggest retcons was in the X-Men comics was after the Fatal Attractions event, where it was revealed that Wolverine's claws were part of his mutation. However, earlier issues had used the fact that his claws weren't a part of his powers as plot points.
In Uncanny X-Men #222, the X-Men face off against Scrambler, a mutant with the power to interfere with other mutants' powers. Wolverine gets in a scrap with nemesis Sabretooth whilst under Scrambler's influence and is able to pop his claws because they're not part of his mutant power set.
In Uncanny X-Men #236, Rogue and Wolverine find their powers gone again, but despite struggling with no healing powers, Logan can still activate his claws and use them to cut an army down to size. Even during the Weapon X storyline, the claws were explicitly described as pure adamantium.
Still, Logan eventually popped some bone claws after having his adamantium gorily removed by Magneto and the whole thing was retconned and cemented with Wolverine: Origin. Still doesn't make any sense, but there you have it.
Can you think of any ways that the X-Men don't make sense? Sound off in the comments!