Despite her over 30 years in the comics, Mystique had never been one of the most popular mutants or members of the X-Men. That honor would have easily fallen to characters like Wolverine, Magneto, or Jean Grey, just to name a few. Thanks to the film series, there’s been a newfound interest in the character, which is largely thanks to Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of Mystique ever since 2011’s X-Men: First Class.
Mystique, also known by her birth name Raven Darkholme, made her debut back in Ms. Marvel #16 in 1978. Here, the mutant's shapeshifting abilities were already on full display, as the character set out to destroy her enemies by mimicking the very people she wished to defeat. In the subsequent years, Mystique’s powers and natural appearance have largely stayed the same. However, she’s also been subject to multiple incarnations and her fair share of inconsistencies along the way.
In 2000, Mystique made her big screen debut in X-Men, where she was cast as the mostly silent sidekick of Magneto — something she was not necessarily known for in the comics. Ever since the prequel series came out, Mystique has graduated from a sidekick to key player. In Days of Future Past, she was even the mutant most responsible for resetting the entire series timeline. Mystique has since become a beacon of hope for mutants everywhere. How much do you really know about the character from both the page and screen?
Here are 20 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Mystique.
20 Shapeshifting isn’t her only power
Everyone knows that Mystique can change the cells in her body to look and sound like anyone she desires. This also includes manipulating her cells to mimic non-organic materials, such as clothing and accessories. You might not have known that this ability has also granted her the power of youth and regenerative healing. Mystique has even been known to regrow limbs and survive what otherwise would have been fatal injuries, similarly to Deadpool and Wolverine.
Throughout her time in the comics, Mystique's powers have also been buffed to include everything from night vision to poison resistance. She has also been granted the ability of mass manipulation — meaning that she need not be the same size as the person or object she wishes to mimic.
19 She’s much older than most people think
With the timeline of the X-Men films being all over the place, many characters don’t look the age they’re supposed to. For instance, Magneto is 53 years old in Apocalypse despite Michael Fassbender looking almost exactly the same as he did in First Class — which took place two decades prior. Mystique is arguably the one character who can get away with this discrepancy, as her ability to manipulate cells has given her prolonged life.
In the comics, there’s a much bigger difference than just looking a few decades younger. While Mystique’s exact age remains unknown, she’s been said many times to be over 100 years old. In fact, in the early 1900s Mystique already had the appearance of a young woman, implying that she might have already been around for centuries.
18 Her origin story is all over the place
Plenty of comic book characters have had their powers, origins stories, and personalities reworked over the years. F or a character as popular as Mystique, her true origin is particularly hard to pin down. Even if you ignore the film series — which massively reworked the character’s comic book roots — her history on the page is far from consistent.
Over the decades, there have been multiple variations of the character, where she has done everything from found her own chapter of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants to serve as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Mystique's origins and true allegiance might be purposefully shrouded in mystery to keep the character interesting, but it seems far more likely that Mystique's backstory is at the mercy of her current writer.
17 She’s Nightcrawler's mother
X-Men: Apocalypse found the teleporting Nightcrawler returning to the big screen after appearing in X2 over a decade earlier. The much younger incarnation of the character ended up being rescued by Mystique after he’s forced to fight against Angel in a mutant fighting club.
Why did Mystique give special treatment to Nightcrawler while ignoring the other mutants? This may have been a nod to the comic books, where Mystique is eventually revealed to be Nightcrawler’s biological mother. While Mystique had been married an affluent German native at the time of Nightcrawler’s conception, Nightcrawler's actual father is the fellow mutant Azazel — whom Mystique was having an affair with at the time. However, this relationship dynamic has never been fully explored in the films.
16 She’s not straight
In some of the earliest storylines of the character, Mystique struck up a relationship with fellow mutant Irene Adler, better known as Destiny. Together, the two helped raise a child, and served as founding members of the revived Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
The writers even had plans to take romantic relationship between Mystique and Destiny to the next level, but the Comics Code prevented them from doing so. Apparently, they wanted Mystique to transform into a man and have a biological child with Destiny. This child would have been Nightcrawler, which could have taken Mystique’s story in even more interesting directions. Unfortunately, these events never came to pass, and Mystique is better known for the relationships she's had with male mutants since.
15 She had a relationship with Wolverine
Mystique has certainly had no shortage of romantic endeavors. Many people know that Mystique was involved with Magneto throughout her time on the page and screen, but few remember the fling she once had with Wolverine. Though Wolverine spends much of his time in pursuit of Mystique, it turns out that the two had crossed paths in the early 1900s.
After both facing execution in the American West, the two mutants briefly team-up before Mystique ultimately betrays Logan. It's worth noting that this course of events is only recalled by Mystique, as Wolverine ended up having his memories erased during the Weapon X Project.
14 The movies retconned her origin story
Many of the misconceptions that audiences have about Mystique stem from her appearances in the X-Men prequel series. While the original trilogy left much of the character’s backstory shrouded in mystery, X-Men: First Class gave Raven Darkholme a definitive origin story, which saw the mutant as an adopted sibling of Charles Xavier.
Mystique’s origin story has never been cut and dry in the comics, but one thing that’s remained consistent about the character is her old age. Mystique's cell manipulation significantly slows down her aging process, making her much older than Charles and Magneto. Raven also wasn’t a founding member of the X-Men in the comics, but rather of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, which really sets her apart from her big-screen incarnation.
13 She originally wasn’t a hero
X-Men: First Class shows Raven helping Charles form the earliest incarnation of the X-Men. Raven is ultimately drawn more toward Erik Lehnsherr’s way of thinking about the mutants and their place on Earth. This eventually pushes her more into the realm of anti-hero.
In the comics, Mystique’s character arc has almost gone in the exact opposite direction. While she is usually portrayed as a sympathetic character, her motives are undeniably evil upon her debut. She seeks to destroy S.H.I.E.L.D., the X-Men, and other heroes throughout her early days. Only more recently has she been seen fighting alongside her former foes. Even in these instances, Mystique rarely does anything that doesn't benefit herself.
12 She adopted Rogue
For years, Rogue’s origin story remained shrouded in mystery in the pages of the comics. Though the character was originally going to appear in Ms. Marvel in 1979 the story’s cancellation resulted in Rogue having to wait a few more years before she would appear.
In the original X-Men trilogy, Rogue is shown running away from home as a teenager before she makes her way to Professor X’s School for Gifted Youngsters. In the comics, she is actually taken in by Mystique at a much younger age. Rogue goes on to aid her adoptive mother for a number of years before eventually making her way over to join the X-Men. Suffice it to say, the two have had a complicated relationship ever since.
11 She married Xavier
Mystique has been both a friend and foe of Charles Xavier throughout their time on the page and screen. Sometimes they’re depicted as childhood friends with a close, albeit, complicated relationship. Other times they’re mortal enemies. On a few occasions, they’ve even been depicted as romantic interests.
In the Battle of the Atom limited series, which ran for 10 issues back in 2013, it was revealed that Mystique and Charles actually had a son. However, Mystique was under the guise of Moira MacTaggart at this time. In an issue of Uncanny X-Men, titled "The Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier", the two mutants are actually shown to have gotten married at one point. Unfortunately, this plot point seemingly comes out of nowhere and is never really expanded upon.
10 She has a child with Sabretooth
Making his comic debut a year before Mystique, one of Sabretooth’s earlier storylines involved the mutant embarking on an undercover mission with Team X. During this time, he crosses paths with a German spy named Leni Zauber, who is actually Mystique in disguise. The relationship between the two is brief, but it results in Mystique giving birth to a son, named Graydon Creed.
Despite having two mutant parents, Graydon himself doesn’t possess the mutant gene and he goes on to found the Friends of Humanity, a mutant hate-group which seeks to destroy anyone remotely like the parents who abandoned him. Graydon eventually climbs the political ladder. In a bizarre turn of events, he is assassinated by a time-traveling Mystique who is looking for revenge against Graydon's hate-group.
9 Her powers vary dramatically
Although the X-Men timeline may be a little wonky, the films have actually done a great job when it comes to keeping Mystique’s powers consistent. She’s been an accomplished shapeshifter from the very beginning, and also has no shortage of fighting abilities. She’s also one of the few characters who did not see their powers buffed to ridiculous levels throughout the course of X-Men: Apocalypse.
In the comics, Mystique’s powers seem to vary almost as much as her allegiance. We’ve seen her able to accomplish everything from growing airplane wings as arms to sprouting an extra head and another set of hands. With powers like these, it almost seems like mimicking someone else would be obsolete — which is what made the character so intriguing in the first place.
8 She’s multilingual
Mystique has shown us countless times how advantageous it would to be able to look and sound exactly like someone else, but this skill wouldn’t amount to much without some serious acting chops. Not only is Mystique an expert impersonator, but she’s also so good at reading people’s body language that she can even tell when someone else is shapeshifting.
Once again, this acting ability still wouldn’t be enough if the individual Mystique was impersonating spoke another language. Since Mystique is unable to take on the powers of those she mimics, it’s safe to assume that shapeshifting also wouldn’t result in her automatically knowing the native language of the person she's impersonating. Yet, Mystique’s been known to be fluent in multiple languages, making it just another tool she has in her spy belt.
7 She originally didn’t have scales
Mystique has such a distinct appearance in the X-Men movies that it seems like the design would have been ripped straight out of the comics. However, the character was not previously depicted with scale-like skin.
When Mystique made her proper debut — in other words, when she was first revealed in her original, mutant form — she was depicted with smooth blue skin and red hair. The movies at least decided to keep this iconic design, but took it a step further and gave the character a highly detailed skin pattern. This was probably done to make the character's metamorphosis into other characters look a lot cooler on screen, but it certainly added hours when it came to applying the makeup and prosthetics.
6 She wore clothes in the comics
Although the Comics Code was easing up at the time the character made her debut in 1978, Mystique was originally depicted wearing clothes — often times a white leotard or a dress with matching white boots and gloves. Instead of giving the character a gimmicky outfit in the movies, the filmmakers instead decided to remove the costumes nd give the mutant a scale-like appearance.
This lack of clothing was more prevalent in the original trilogy, where Mystique had fully embraced her mutant form. Earlier in the timeline, Mystique is more often depicted in her human disguise or while wearing an outfit — likely to save Jennifer Lawrence hours’ worth of time in the makeup chair.
5 Jennifer Lawrence wore a bodysuit while filming
The process of applying Mystique’s makeup and prosthetic was incredibly involved. Many fans of the film franchise know that actresses Rebecca Romijn and Jennifer Lawrence would have to spend upwards of six or seven hours just getting into character. For the vast majority of X-Men films, this meant the actresses would have various patches of scales placed directly on their body, which was then filled in with airbrushing.
By the time Days of Future Past rolled around, Jennifer Lawrence had upgraded to a bodysuit. This meant Lawrence would only have to be painted from the neck up — cutting down on hours in the makeup trailer as well as the amount of real skin that’s shown on screen.
4 Her powers continue to grow
Like any popular comic book character, Mystique’s powers have continued to expand throughout her decades on the page. At first, the mutant was only known for her shape-shifting abilities, which allowed her to impersonate anyone who was roughly the same size as her, all the way down to an eye scan or a fingerprint.
Her shapeshifting powers have continued to increase over the years, eventually allowing the mutant to change her mass and even take on the shape of inorganic materials. She’s even been shown to be capable of hiding objects underneath her skin, along with the ability to turn her limbs into any number of tactical weapons-- including blades, tentacles, talons, and wings.
3 Her allegiance changes on a story-to-story basis
In the original X-Men film trilogy, Mystique is portrayed as a loyal servant to an evil Magneto. In the prequel series, Mystique makes the decision to betray Magneto, aligning herself closer to Xavier’s ideals and subsequently resetting the entire timeline.
The character’s allegiance is even far more convoluted in the comics, where Mystique can be portrayed as a hero in one issue and an outright villain in the next. In 2005's House of M, Mystique is working as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., where she fights alongside her children as well as her lover, Wolverine. In Battle of the Atom, she has a son with Charles. Then in Ultimate Marvel, her hatred of Charles draws her back toward Magneto. It's not unusual for characters to change loyalties, but Mystique does it as quickly as she changes appearance.
2 She was originally an adversary of Ms. Marvel
Though she’s often depicted as an adversary of the X-Men, Mystique originally wasn’t an X-Men villain at all. Instead, she had her first cameo in Ms. Marvel #16 in May of 1978 before making a proper appearance in the following issue.
Mystique caused trouble for Ms. Marvel, Nick Fury, and S.H.I.E.L.D. for a number of years before developing a relationship with the fellow mutant Rogue. This relationship eventually led Mystique to head-up her own branch of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. From here on out, Mystique played a much bigger role in the happenings of the X-Men, though she's still been known to cross paths with the Avengers and other Marvel factions as well.
1 No one knows what her true form looks like
Fans of both the X-Men comics and movies have come to accept Mystique's true form is that of a blue-skinned, red-haired mutant. After all, this is the form that the character eventually comes to embrace on the screen, especially after spending years trying to hide it. In the comics, it’s impossible to know if this is actually the character's true form. Her birth has never been depicted on the page, and it’s even unclear what year Raven was actually born.
What we do know about mutants, however, is that many of their abilities don’t show themselves until puberty. In the case of Mystique, this either could have meant that she was born blue but didn’t develop her shapeshifting abilities until later, or that she was born looking like a completely normal baby.
What surprises you about Mystique in X-Men? Let us know!