The X-Men have one of the widest ranging rogue’s galleries in all of comics. A ton of them are really great villains, and a ton of them…. not so much. Anyway, here are my top 10 X-Men villains.
10. The Phoenix
Yeah, Jean Grey was one of the most beloved X-Men, but the Phoenix force is just too much mojo for anyone to handle. Every time the Phoenix gets involved in the X-Men’s world, bad things happen. It has been using Rachel Summers, Cyclops and Jean Grey’s daughter from the future, like a puppet for years. It led to Jean Grey’s death not once, but TWICE. In fact, just having a small piece of the Phoenix force inside her drove Madelyne Pryor, Jean Grey’s clone and Cyclops’ wife (and the mother of his child- Cable), completely batshit crazy. And now it’s here again, searching for Hope Summers, Cable’s ‘daughter’ and Cyclops’ ‘grandaughter’. This led to an all-out war between the X-Men and the Avengers, in which the Phoenix force was split amongst an unwilling Cyclops, Emma Frost, Magik, Colossus, and Namor. Eventually the power all went to- who else- Cyclops, who lost control (duh), went Dark Phoenix, and killed Charles Xavier (and also handed a huge collection of Avengers and X-Men their collective asses).
9. The Brotherhood
Formerly known as the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, this group has gone through more line-up changes than just about anyone. At one point, when they were led by Mystique, they even worked for the US Government as Freedom Force. But the majority of the time they’ve been a giant pain in the X-Men’s ass. Originally comprised of Magneto, Mastermind, Toad, and Magneto’s children: Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, they’ve gone on to have lineups that included people like Rogue, Avalanche, Pyro, the Blob, Destiny, Sauron, Phantazia, Mammomax, Sabretooth, Exodus, Juggernaut, and Black Tom, among others. Apparently they’re going to be making a comeback, but honestly they’ve been obsolete since the next group showed up.
8. The Acolytes
When Chris Claremont and Jim Lee launched 1991’s “X-Men”, they broke every comic book sales record you could think of. They knew their new title was going to be big, and they wanted to up the stakes in the X-Men’s world. Magneto was the X-Men’s biggest, baddest foe, and he had always had a knack for gathering followers (the Brotherhood). But the Acolytes were different. They weren’t confused teens that Magneto was recruiting, or established supervillains he knew had a mad-0n for the X-Men. The Acolytes were all adult mutants that looked at Magneto as a messiah. They believed that he was mutantkind’s savior, and all dedicated themselves to him completely. Unbeknownst to them, their alpha male, Fabian Cortez, attempted to kill Magneto, and it appeared he was successful. He used the power vacuum to take over the ever-expanding group of Acolytes, and used them to push Magneto’s ‘dream’ to the extreme. They became mutant terrorists, and struck at humans often and aggressively. They wiped out orphanages, hospitals, schools, etc. The X-Men usually handed them their asses, but when Magneto returned, along with the nearly invincible Exodus, and took them back over, they really became a force to be reckoned with. Most recently they allied themselves with Sinister and his Marauders, but haven’t been seen since their most recent face stomping at the hands of the X-Men.
7. The Marauders
Holy crap, are these people monsters. The Marauders are Sinister’s personal kill squad, and there are VERY few names that will get the X-Men in kill mode faster than theirs. When they first showed up they slaughtered the vast majority of the Morlocks (a large group of mutants that couldn’t fit into society that lived in the sewers beneath Manhattan), horribly injured Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Shadowcat, and destroyed Angel’s wings (which led to Apocalypse remaking him into Archangel, the horseman Death). They don’t show up a lot, but when they do, it’s trouble. You know at least one or two X-Men will be horribly injured (at best).
Not the most evil of villains, but Cain Marko is one dangerous mofo. Charles Xavier’s stepbrother, Cain has been granted the power of the demon Cyttorak, which turned him into a human Juggernaut. Once he gets a head of steam going, he is unstoppable. He’s also strong enough to stand toe-to-toe with the Hulk, and is nearly impossible to hurt. It’s been a good long while since the X-Men had to fight him, though. At one point he was actually a member of their team! He doesn’t really seem to hate Xavier, or anyone for that matter, as much as he used to. His slow turn away from Cyttorak’s mandate: DESTROY EVERYTHING, coupled with his possession in Fear Itself, led to Cyttorak choosing a new avatar: Colossus!!! Their seemingly inevitable showdown never really happened in one of the saddest things ever 😦
5. The Hellfire Club
The inner circle of the Hellfire Club has had a rather ridiculous amount of turnover since they first showed up, but they’ve never been anywhere near as effective as they were then. The original inner circle was comprised of Sebastian Shaw, Emma Frost, Harry LeLand, Donald Pierce, and the Mastermind. They used Mastermind’s ability to create illusions to seduce Jean Grey/Phoenix to their side, and made her their new Black Queen. They wanted the power of the Phoenix for themselves, which led to their downfall. Jean snapped back to herself as soon as they started hurting Cyclops and she and the X-Men destroyed the inner circle, at least as far as effectiveness. They havent’ ever been the same since. At one point Shaw looked like he was about to turn the tide and make them an unbelievable force, when he recruited Selene to be the Black Queen and freaking Magneto to be the White King. Unfortunately, nothing ever really came of it. Recently the inner circle has been made mutant free, but it’s full of totally insane children. These kids have already has as big an impact as the Hellfire Club ever has, and led to the rift that currently exists between Cyclops’ X-Men and Wolverine’s X-Men.
The twisted geneticist who has made himself all but immortal, Sinister’s biggest goal for so long was to get his hands on the child of Jean Grey and Scott Summers. He knew that their kid would be the most powerful mutant the world has ever seen, and he wanted to use that kid as a weapon against HIS master, Apocalypse. Sinister has been fucking with Cyclops since Scott was a child. He posed as Nathan Milbury and ran the orphanage Scott and his brother Alex (Havok) were sent to. He adopted Alex out and told Scott nobody wanted him, all because he wanted to break the kid’s spirit so he would be easier to manipulate. Unfortunately for Sinister, Cyclops met Charles Xavier, and when they finally met face to face, Sinister met with a bit of a rude surprise: he was vaporized by Cyclops’ blast. Turns out Scott is the only one that can hurt him (or so we thought). Of course, Sinister, being the master geneticist, has cloned himself over and over again, and found a way to transfer his consciousness to a new body each time he dies. He has also manipulated the living hell out of Gambit, going so far as to make him part of his Marauders when Gambit didn’t have much choice. He sent the Marauders to kill the Morlocks, used the body-less mutant Malice to possess Polaris, and accidentally released Stryfe’s Legacy Virus (an airborn virus that only targetted mutants). When Hope Summers was born he sent his Marauders to get her, and eventually was killed (or so everyone thought) when Mystique held his face against Rogue’s. He turned up alive and well, and had built a crazy underground city full of clones of himself as citizens with Sabretooth clones as guard dogs, for lack of a better term, and Madelyne Pryor clones as his harem. This dude just can’t stop being a piece of shit for more than five seconds.
OK, the eternal mutant has done some fucked up shit. He turned Angel into Archangel. He rebonded adamantium to Wolverine’s skeleton, in a process that was so traumatic that Logan’s mind snapped, and he was brainwashed into replacing Archangel as the Horseman Death. He kidnapped a bunch of mutants to try to give himself a new body, and was stopped when Cyclops sacrificed himself. The two of them were joined body and mind until Jean and Cable saved their husband/father from him. All of this has changed Cyclops dramatically. He is far from the character he was before their merging, and he said a lot of that has to do with what Apocalypse did while he was in his head. He kind of redecorated the place a bit. Finally, his most horrible moment: Apocalypse kidnapped Cyclops’ infant son and infected him with a techo-organic virus. Essentially a virus that turned baby Nathan’s body into a machine, destroying the human part of him as it went. Before it could kill him Cyclops was forced to send his only son thousands of years into the future to save him. Apocalypse was recently reborn as a child, but was killed by Archange’s X-Force (Fantomex in particular). He was then reborn again and is a student at the Jean Grey Institute (Wolverine’s school). He has no idea that he was once Apocalypse (he goes by Genesis now).
How in the hell can he be number 2? Simple. He is currently a member of the X-Men. Also, he’s been the freaking headmaster of the Xavier institute! Magneto never hated the X-Men (other than Wolverine, really). He respected them, and even liked a few of them. All he ever wanted was to unite mutants so that they’d be safe from humans, and when Cyclops did just that he literally knelt in front of him! He is now one of the most powerful weapons Cyclops has, and doesn’t seem to have any problems putting his past behind him (although a lot of other people do). Magneto is one of the most iconic villains in comics’ history. Hell, the guy’s been in 4 movies, and has been the main villain of every X-Men animated series and most of their video games. If he were a villain today, he’d likely be at number 1. Instead, that honor goes to…..
Seriously. Most of the worst things the X-Men have ever encountered were because of humans and their fear and prejudice towards mutants. Can you say Sentinels? People are so freaked out by mutants that the built giant robot killing machines to hunt them down and kill them. Holy hell, can you say overkill? The thing that freaks people out about mutants is the idea that anybody can be one; that you can be born with something and not even know it until you’re in puberty, then all of a sudden the whole world is against you for something you have no control over. Also, the arrival of mutants essentially means the end of the road for humans, as the arrival of homo sapiens meant the end of the neanderthal. There are numerous mutant hate groups in the Marvel universe, and no government or police force ever even attempts to go after them. The ‘heroes’ in SHIELD and on the Avengers are even wary around/about most mutants. Sure they may like Wolverine, or Beast, but that’s because they KNOW those mutants. “Some of my best friends are…” In the end, regardless of what mayhem is caused by people like Magneto, Sinister or Apocalypse, the X-Men’s greatest enemy- mutantkind’s greatest enemy- are humans. Charles Xavier’s dream was the peaceful coexistence of humans and mutants. That dream looks further and further from reality every time some humongous robot tears the roof off of a house and vaporizes some kid, just because he was born different.