95 X-Men Members Ranked From Worst To Best

The X-Men fight for equality, but mutants are not all created equal.

Daniel Acuna/Marvel Comics

95. Broo

Nick Bradshaw/Marvel Comics

Broo is not just the worst X-Man ever – he may be one of the most awful and obnoxious characters in the history of the Marvel Universe. His over-the-top nerdiness and obsequiousness is meant to be endearing, but it’s really just incredibly cloying and grating.

94. Slipstream

Marvel Comics

Slipstream is about as generic and forgettable as a superhero can be, but at least he’s not annoying like Broo.

93. Lifeguard

Salvador Larocca/Marvel Comics

Lifeguard joined the X-Men along with her brother Slipstream, and is only slightly less forgettable than him. At least she gets to be “oh, wait, is that the gold-skinned one?” when anyone tries to recall anything that happened in X-Treme X-Men.

92. Thunderbird (Neal Shaara)

Marvel Comics

Poor Neal Shaara! He’s so dull he doesn’t even get to have a unique codename. How sad is it to be the second-best Thunderbird when no one really liked the first one?

91. Joseph

Marvel Comics

Remember when there was a mysterious amnesiac guy who was basically a young Magneto, if Magneto was kinda like Fabio? And then it turned out that he was just a clone of Magneto? Oh, you blocked that out from your memory? Understandable!

90. Mimic

Simone Bianchi/Marvel Comics

Mimic was a human who was given the powers of all five of the original X-Men. But he was such a loser that he never did anything notable with all that power. Sad.

89. Warbird

Dustin Weaver/Marvel Comics

Warbird is a Shi’ar warrior who doesn’t really get humanity, is secretly way into art, and is extremely boring.

88. Toad

Chris Bachalo/Marvel Comics

Toad is not a full member of the X-Men so much as he’s a former villain who Wolverine is forcing to serve as an unpaid janitor on the grounds of the Jean Grey School without even getting to have his own bed. Which is extremely unfair given that mass murderers have been allowed to live like royalty on the estate. Wolverine is a bully. Poor Toad.

87. X-Man

Marvel Comics

Nate Grey, the second-best clone offspring of Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor! He overcompensates for his lameness and completely unimaginative codename by showing off his abs at every given opportunity.

86. Hepzibah

Salvador Larocca/Marvel Comics

Hepbzibah is a skunk-like alien who was a member of the Starjammers and joined the X-Men for a brief period in the mid-’00s. The only interesting thing about her is that despite being an alien skunk-person, she is really into hooking up with human dudes like Warpath and Cyclops’ dad Corsair.

85. Omega Sentinel

Leinl Yu/Marvel Comics

Karima Shapandar is a human who was transformed into a cyborg who was meant to hunt and kill mutants, but ended up being one of the good guys anyway. She’s been possessed a few times too. Everyone loves a totally passive character, right?

84. Stacy X

Sean Philips/Marvel Comics

Stacy X was a mutant prostitute who briefly joined the X-Men during Joe Casey’s run in the early ’00s. She was basically an attempt to do something “mature” in the series, but it didn’t really work out.

83. Cloak and Dagger

Terry Dodson/Marvel Comics

This codependent crime-fighting duo have been around since the early ’80s, but joined the X-Men for about five minutes in the late ’00s. They’re fine on their own, but only just footnotes in the history of the X-Men.

82. Maggott

Carlos Pacheco/Marvel Comics

Maggott wasn’t necessarily a bad character, but he was so contrived – his digestive system were two mecha-slugs and when he re-absorbed them into his body he’d grow to be this huge hulking dude – that he was quickly written out of the comics without getting much of a chance to develop.

81. Dust

Marvel Comics

Sooraya Qadir is mainly notable as one of the few positive portrayals of a Muslim character in comics, but has generally been kinda underwritten or ignored. Too bad.

80. Legion

Marvel Comics

David Haller is Charles Xavier’s insane, ridiculously powerful son. He’s usually written as a threat to either the X-Men or the New Mutants, but is sometimes played as a protagonist by writers who love writing lots of contrived, borderline unreadable psychic mumbo-jumbo.

79. Blindfold

Joy Ang/Marvel Comics

Pity poor Blindfold! Not only was she born without eyes and cursed with horrible precognitive visions, but her creator Joss Whedon insisted on giving her one of the most grating speech patterns this side of Yoda.

78. Frenzy

Clay Mann/Marvel Comics

Frenzy was a terrorist for a long time, but ended up joining the X-Men when she ran out of options. She’s a character who has the potential to be very interesting, but has never really had the chance to thrive.

77. Thunderbird (James Proudstar)

Marvel Comics

Thunderbird is mainly notable for joining the X-Men, and then almost immediately dying afterward. He’s the guy who died to give the series a sense of stakes, and is basically the only dead X-Man to never come back to life.

76. Juggernaut

Marvel Comics

Juggernaut is traditionally an X-Men villain, but joined the team for a while during Chuck Austen’s legendarily awful run in the mid-’00s. He’s a lot better as a villain, let’s just put it that way.

75. Firestar

Ed McGuinness/Marvel Comics

Firestar has been around for ages – she was first introduced in the ’80s cartoon Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends – but only recently joined the X-Men. It’s hard to tell whether she’ll end up being a notable member or not, but right now, she’s just OK.

74. Sage

Salvador Larocca/Marvel Comics

A lot of Chris Claremont’s pet characters during his early ’00s X-Men work were non-starters, but Sage wasn’t that bad. She started out as a bit character in his Hellfire Club stories in the ’80s, but was revamped as a living computer who had been working as a spy for Charles Xavier. She’s not that exciting, but was a useful character for a time.

73. Genesis

Jerome Opena/Marvel Comics

Evan Sabahnur, a clone of Apocalypse raised on a farm on Fantomex’s virtual world, isn’t so much a character as he is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode in the X-Men’s faces. It seems inevitable that he’ll end up as Apocalypse, so it’s like watching a very pessimism pro-nature, anti-nurture argument play out in slow motion.

72. Marrow

Joe Madureira/Marvel Comics

Marrow was an angry Morlock kid who started out as a mutant terrorist, but ended up joining the X-Men for a while. Her arc is similar to Rogue, but she’s not nearly as charming.

71. Doop

Michael Allred/Marvel Comics

Doop – a weird guy who looks like a floating dill pickle, speaks an incomprehensible language, and is implied to have a very complicated and sordid history – is basically a joke character, but at least when he’s written by his creator Peter Milligan, it’s a funny joke.

70. Aurora

Marvel Comics

Northstar’s mentally unstable twin sister is a rich and interesting character in Alpha Flight but has barely served any time in the X-Men, so it’s kinda unfair to rate her very highly in terms of X-Men members. But she’s a pretty good character, no doubt about it.

69. Darwin

Marvel Comics

Darwin, a guy who is able to physically adapt to survive any situation, was a character who was revealed to be among a group of mutants Charles Xavier recruited to save the original X-Men before the “all-new, all-different” batch featuring Storm, Wolverine, et al. He later joined the X-Men for real, but didn’t stick around for long. He’s an interesting character, but his power is very passive, so writers can have a hard time writing him into action stories. Peter David developed him nicely over in X-Factor, though.

68. Husk

Chris Bachalo/Marvel Comics

Cannonball’s little sister is a little underused, but she works well when her mutant ability to tear off her skin and become some unpredictable monster is used as a metaphor for someone who keeps ugly, violent parts of themselves hidden under a seemingly normal surface.

67. Goldballs

Chris Bachalo/Marvel Comics

Fabio Medina is one of five new mutants Brian Michael Bendis has introduced in his current run on Uncanny X-Men. He’s an ordinary dude with the ridiculous power to shoot gold balls out of his body who has joined Cyclops’ revolutionary X-Men under extreme duress. He hasn’t been developed all that much yet, but there’s some charm to the character.

66. Angel Salvadore

Frank Quitely/Marvel Comics

Angel was meant to be the opposite of Kitty Pryde – a delinquent with disgusting fly-like powers who ended up becoming a teen mom. She was a great counterpoint to the Kitty archetype, but has basically disappeared from the comics since Grant Morrison left the franchise in 2003.

65. Lady Mastermind

Stuart Immonen/Marvel Comics

Mastermind’s daughter was a member of the X-Men briefly before betraying them as part of an elaborate con by Mystique and the Marauders. Her illusion-casting powers are inherently deceptive, so she’s better as a villain.

64. Armor

John Cassaday/Marvel Comics

Armor isn’t a bad character, but she’s a bit dull – a good student with a sorta contrived power that involves her drawing on the spirits of her ancestors or something like that. She’s of the few new mutants that Joss Whedon introduced to the X-Men, and he wasn’t really bringing his A-game.

63. Madison Jeffries

Daniel Acuna/Marvel Comics

Madison Jeffries served in the X-Men for a while as the group’s resident tech expert. He’s usually used for exposition, but his ability to converse with machines and develop emotional relationships with them hinted at the possibility for him to become a more interesting and complex character.

62. Deadpool

Daniel Acuna/Marvel Comics

Calm down! Deadpool is only this low because he’s only kinda sorta a member of the X-Men.

61. Wolfsbane

Marvel Comics

Rahne Sinclair, a deeply religious Scottish werewolf, was one of the more interesting members of the New Mutants back in the ’80s. Sadly, she’s been kinda one-note and overly emo ever since. She’s also the only New Mutant to never formally join the X-Men, though she’s closely associated with the team enough to qualify for this list.

60. Magma

Marvel Comics

Magma was only an active X-Man for a blip of time, but she was always a solid part of the New Mutants ensemble. Her backstory is a mess, but her complicated relationships with Sunspot and the villain Empath are interesting and unusual.

59. Polaris

Marvel Comics

Writers can never seem to decide who Lorna Dane is, so she ends up being this wildly erratic character who is mainly defined by her codependent relationship with Havok, or by the question of whether or not Magneto is her real father. Her bipolar personality seems about right for a character called Polaris, but it mostly just seems like a happy accident brought on by decades of inconsistent writing.

58. Danger

Carlos Pacheco/Marvel Comics

Danger was the original Danger Room in the X-Mansion until Joss Whedon wrote a story that revealed that Charles Xavier had basically enslaved an artificial intelligence to serve as a practice space. Danger eventually gained independence and turned against the X-Men, but eventually ended up joining the team as the warden of their jail for evil mutants. The character, particularly when written by Kieron Gillen, works pretty well when she serves as a vehicle for questioning the morality of prisons.

57. Warlock

Arthur Adams/Marvel Comics

Warlock is a shape-shifting robotic alien with annoying speech patterns and an extremely close relationship with his Cypher. If the New Mutants were the cast of Community, he’d be the Troy to Cypher’s Abed.

56. Cypher

Marvel Comics

Cypher is a mutant who can automatically understand all forms of communication – human, alien, computers, whatever – which seems like a much more impressive power now, but was considered pretty wimpy back in the ’80s. He was killed off because he was unpopular among fans, but came back in the ’00s as a sort of distant, vaguely Aspergers-y dude who sorta freaked out his old friends. He’s a pretty good character, and generally underused.

55. Hijack

Frazier Irving/Marvel Comics

David Bond is an interesting character – he didn’t manifest his mutant power to control machines until he turned 30, so he’s the rare case of a character who has lived for a long time as a human before having to adjust to life as a mutant. He’s still very new, but hopefully his creator Brian Michael Bendis will get around to exploring the fact that he’s much older than his fellow New Xavier School students, and about the same age as his teachers.

54. Chamber

Chris Bachalo/Marvel Comics

Chamber is a striking and original character – he’s a British guy whose mouth and chest has been replaced by glowing energy and communicates entirely with his psychic powers – but he’s kinda hard to work into stories, so he hasn’t had much time in the spotlight since the late ’90s.

53. Sunfire

John Cassaday/Marvel Comics

Sunfire was among the second generation of X-Men along with Wolverine and Storm, but immediately quit because…well, he’s just kind of an asshole. He’s mainly been written as an arrogant antihero over the years, but lately he’s being developed into more of a well-rounded character in Rick Remender’s Uncanny Avengers.

52. Warpath

Salvador Larocca/Marvel Comics

Warpath is the little brother of the first Thunderbird, and joined the X-Men despite blaming Charles Xavier for his sibling’s death. He has his moments, but is mainly used as more of a background character outside of X-Force comics.

51. Domino

Marvel Comics

Domino is traditionally more of an X-Force character, but she was a semi-regular presence during Matt Fraction’s run. You never really know what you’re going to get with Domino – writers can never quite decide on what her personality is like. She’s definitely at her best when she’s written to be a carefree badass.

50. X-23

Marvel Comics

X-23 is a female clone created from Wolverine’s DNA, and is a far better character than you’d ever expect based on that description. She’s certainly a lot scarier than her “dad” these days – she’s so traumatized by her horrible past that you never really know what she’s going to do in a story.

49. Dr. Cecilia Reyes

Carlos Pacheco/Marvel Comics

Cecilia was a successful ER doctor who lived as a closeted mutant until she was outed and forced to join the X-Men. She’s only served a few brief terms as a member, but is always an interesting contrast to the characters who seem happy to embrace lives as superheroes.

48. Beak

Ethan Van Sciver/Marvel Comics

Beak was essentially the mascot of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run: He started off as the gawkiest outcast at a school for weirdos, but ended up a true hero by the end. Beak hasn’t turned up much since Morrison departed the series, but that’s OK since his character arc reached a satisfying conclusion in “Planet X.”

47. Longshot

Arthur Adams/Marvel Comics

Longshot was a sort of unusual addition to the X-Men – he’s an alien blessed with extremely good luck and a flawless mullet – but he brought a bit of levity and naïvete to the team during a particularly dark phase of Chris Claremont’s run in the late ’80s.

46. Blink

Marvel Comics

Blink is best remembered as one of the core members of the X-Men in the alternate “Age of Apocalypse” timeline, but she eventually ended up in the real X-Men too. She’s OK in regular continuity, but easily one of the best characters in the AoA world.

45. M

Terry Dodson/Marvel Comics

Monet St. Croix is a powerhouse with psychic powers and a raging superiority complex. She ought to be insufferable, but the best writers know to make her funny and just a bit tragic underneath it all.

44. Sabretooth

Chris Bachalo/Marvel Comics

Sabretooth is a classic X-Men villain, but was kind of an iffy addition to the actual X-Men team in the ’00s. He was never really played as a hero – he was more of a captive at the time – but the character is just a lot better when he’s totally out of control.

43. Hope

Jim Cheung/Marvel Comics

Hope is a fairly convoluted character – she was the first mutant born after the Scarlet Witch seemingly ended the mutant race, she was raised in the future by Cable, and eventually brought back the mutants when she was briefly possessed by the Phoenix. It was heavily implied that she was in fact created by the Phoenix in the image of Jean Grey, but never really confirmed on page. She’s basically a plot device that served a purpose, but is now is lacking a real direction aside from being Cable’s badass daughter.

42. Sunspot

Marvel Comics

It’s actually kinda weird that Sunspot hasn’t been used as a regular X-Men cast member more often: He’s visually striking, and his backstory as the son of a wealthy member of the Hellfire Club lends him a nice touch of pathos. He’s one of the Avengers now, so…yeah.

41. Pixie

David Lopez/Marvel Comics

Pixie is basically like a mashup of Magik and Jubilee – she’s got the former’s teleportation and magical powers, but has the spunky, sarcastic qualities of the latter. For a while it seemed like she was brought into the cast to fill the obligatory “teenage girl” role, but she’s developed into a more nuanced character over time despite having an increasingly smaller role in the franchise.

40. Northstar

Dustin Weaver/Marvel Comics

Northstar is a pretty good character in the context of Alpha Flight, but as a member of the X-Men he suffers a bit for being used primarily as The Gay Mutant. (Even though there’s actually lots of LGBT X-characters now.) But when he’s allowed to just be a dude – an arrogant, elitist dude – he thrives.

39. Banshee

Jim Lee/Marvel Comics

Banshee has never really fit in as a team member: He’s always a bit older, and he can’t help but seem a bit dull in comparison to cooler, more visually striking characters like Wolverine and Colossus. The only time he’s ever really stood out is when he and Forge were basically the only active X-Men in the very early ’90s.

38. Bishop

Ariel Olivetti/Marvel Comics

Bishop is a dude who was a militaristic X-Man from the future who came to the present to accuse Gambit of being a traitor, but went on to shoot Charles Xavier in the head in a fit of blind rage and hunt a small child through space and time because he was convinced she’d wreck the future. Depending on your point of view, he’s either a psychotic mess or a tragic figure.

37. Karma

Dustin Weaver/Marvel Comics

Karma is a woman who has the power to psychically possess people who seldom has any control over her life, and has been possessed by other evil psychics. She’s got a lot of interesting issues, and that’s even before you bring in her relationship with her younger siblings or losing her leg in battle.

36. Forge

Marvel Comics

Forge has the power to intuitively invent mechanical devices, but his imagination is so limited that he rarely makes anything more than fancy guns. He’s a great metaphor for a person with the raw talent to change the world who just doesn’t have what it takes to do anything with it. This underlying theme made his relationship with Storm in the ’80s particularly poignant – she saw his potential, but he always let her down.

35. Triage

Frazier Irving/Marvel Comics

Christopher Muse is another member of Brian Michael Bendis’ new Uncanny X-Men squad. He’s a kid from Michigan with the power to heal people, or possibly even resurrect the dead. He’s a very subtle character – clearly a little worried about being out of his depth, but also excited to leave his old life behind for the excitement of joining the X-Men.

34. Oya

Marvel Comics

Idie Okonkwo is a devout Christian from Nigeria who is convinced that she’s evil for having her power to control extreme temperatures. She’s a fascinating and deeply conflicted character despite a lot of her edginess getting filed down considerably in Jason Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men series.

33. Tempus

Chris Bachalo/Marvel Comics

Eva Bell was just an ordinary girl living in Gold Coast, Australia until she learned she had the power to literally stop time, or move objects backwards or forwards through time. She’s a cool, assertive presence in Brian Michael Bendis’ Uncanny X-Men, though it’s heavily hinted that the vast potential of her powers could lead to huge problems down the line.

32. Morph

Chris Bachalo/Marvel Comics

Benjamin Deeds was first introduced as a quiet dude who kinda blended in the background until it was revealed that blending into the background was part of his mutant power. He can instinctively transform into whatever makes people feel comfortable, so naturally Cyclops and Emma Frost are training this nervous young man to become the X-Men’s ultimate spy.

31. Dr. Nemesis

Terry Dodson/Marvel Comics

The X-Men were around for a very, very long time before anyone thought to bring a sarcastic, hugely condescending scientist into the cast. Now it seems like something is missing when Dr. Nemesis is not around.

30. Cable

Ariel Olivetti/Marvel Comics

Cable is as convoluted as fictional characters can get – he’s the child of Cyclops and a clone of Jean Grey who was raised in the future, a cyborg with vast psychic powers who’s always carrying a big gun, and he’s come to the present to…do miscellaneous badass stuff. But despite all this, he’s often a compelling character who represents what happens if the X-Men give up on peaceful coexistence with humans in favor of just ruthlessly fighting for survival.

29. Xorn

Frank Quitely/Marvel Comics

In a perfect world where Marvel never messed with the ending of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, Xorn would not be a real character, but rather a disguise assumed by Magneto to infiltrate the X-Men. The retconned version of Xorn is pretty awful, so let’s not even think about that. Let’s just focus on that wonderful time when we all thought that Xorn – a seemingly peaceful Chinese man with a tiny sun for a brain – was a new character and everybody loved him. The reveal that he was really Magneto is one of the best moments in the entire X-canon, and it would never have been as powerful if readers had not come to love Xorn so much.

28. Jubilee

Terry Dodson/Marvel Comics

Jubilee isn’t always taken seriously, but she’s a better character than most people give her credit for being. Her current status quo as a vampire – don’t ask – who has become the adoptive mother of a baby boy named Shogo has put her in an interesting position of a once goofy person who’s been forced to grow up way too soon.

27. Dani Moonstar

Marvel Comics

Dani Moonstar hasn’t spent all that much time as a core member of the X-Men, but is a truly excellent character in various incarnations of the New Mutants team. She’s been through a lot – she’s struggled with the Demon Bear, became a Valkyrie in Asgard, and more recently lost her powers – but she’s always tough, resilient, and proud.

26. Gambit

David Yardin/Marvel Comics

Gambit can seem like the idealized self-image of a P.U.A. – he’s a charming thief with a thick Cajun accent who wears a duster and throws playing cards at people – but in the hands of the right writers, he’s a pretty decent character. His relationship with Rogue in the ’90s is one of the defining X-romances, and his often dubious morality makes him a good foil for the more traditionally heroic members of the X-Men.

25. The Stepford Cuckoos

Mike Mayhew/Marvel Comics

The Cuckoos are a clever spin on the archetype of the mean girl clique at school – a trio of identical girls who are part of a psychic hive mind. They can’t help but be snobby and insular! These days the girls are starting to develop their own personalities and looks, but they whole hive mind thing is always going to be a bit creepy.

24. Rachel Summers

John Romita Jr/Marvel Comics

Oh, you know, just another child of Cyclops and some alternate version of Jean Grey! Rachel hails from the “Day of Future Past” timeline where she was enslaved as a mutant-hunting “hound” and most of the X-Men were dead or captured by the government. Rachel came to the present in the ’80s and was written as a traumatized, volatile character who was especially dangerous because she was tapped into the Phoenix force like her mother, but in recent years she’s changed her name to Rachel Grey and is a more reasonable, peaceful person. She was more interesting in the ’80s, to be honest.

23. Namor

Terry Dodson/Marvel Comics

Namor actually pre-dates the X-Men by over 20 years, and was a mainstay of the Marvel Universe for ages before finally joining the X-Men in the late ’00s. It seemed weird at first, but the arrogant and temperamental king of Atlantis quickly became an essential cast member, and served as the ideal foil to Cyclops once that character was separated from Wolverine after Schism.

22. Dazzler

Chris Bachalo/Marvel Comics

Dazzler gets dismissed by a lot of X-Men fans for all the wrong reasons, but is a really important character to have in the X-World. For one thing, she’s one of the few X-Men characters who truly has a life and career outside of being a (mostly reluctant) superhero. But her gig as a pop star is crucial to the X-Men’s mission of integration, and you can make a strong argument that she does more to encourage acceptance of mutant in culture than any of her peers who mainly specialize in smashing stuff.

21. Fantomex

Marvel Comics

Fantomex is a scoundral, a thief, and a master of misdirection, and one of the best things to happen to the X-Men in years. He was created by Grant Morrison as a meta-commentary on amoral badass heroes, but has evolved into a complex figure who has served as a foil to characters like Wolverine and Angel, and the ideal romantic interest for Psylocke.

20. Mystique

Adam Hughes/Marvel Comics

Mystique has only served a few brief terms as an actual member of the X-Men, and was there mainly as a means to an end in one of her many elaborate, self-serving schemes. So, like, she’s an awful X-Man, but easily one of the best X-Men characters and arguably the greatest female supervillain of all time. She poses as someone who acts in the interest of mutant rights, but is mostly just selfish and opportunistic, and she’s so thoroughly corrupted by her shape-shifting power that she probably doesn’t fully realize that she’s a total sociopath.

19. Quentin Quire

Quentin Quire/Marvel Comics

Quentin Quire is the archetype of a kid who fancies himself as a rebellious revolutionary, but is really just an insecure person who’s always acting out. The character works best when his impulsive behavior and lack of control leads to disaster, but the darker side of the character has been toned down recently by Jason Aaron’s portrayal of him as a more heroic figure who is prone to being a little bratty.

18. Havok

Marc Silvestri/Marvel Comics

Alex Summers is always stuck living in the shadow of his older brother Cyclops, but that’s part of what makes him an interesting character. For the longest time, he struggled to live up to his brother’s example as the leader of the X-Men, but since Cyclops has become more of a separatist anti-hero, he’s now working hard to promote Charles Xavier’s ideal of human/mutant coexistence as the leader of the Uncanny Avengers.

17. Iceman

Chris Bachalo/Marvel Comics

Iceman is the late bloomer of the X-Men – he spent years of his life as the class clown who rarely used his ability to make, control, and inhabit ice to its fullest potential. In recent years he’s stepped up a lot, mastered his power, and become a crucial part of Wolverine’s Jean Grey School.

16. Cannonball

Marvel Comics

Cannonball was the first member of the New Mutants to graduate to being a full member of the X-Men, and has been a mainstay ever since. For a while there his characterization was really inconsistent, and writers couldn’t decide whether he was a competent leader or an insecure yokel, but he’s been given a lot more respect over the years. He’s recently become a member of the Avengers along with his BFF Sunspot, which is maybe Marvel’s way of acknowledging that he is, in fact, a classic character.

15. Angel

Marvel Comics

Angel started off as the X-Men’s resident rich pretty boy, but he eventually became the team’s most tragic member after Apocalypse transformed him into the violent, grotesque Archangel. He eventually was killed by his lover Psylocke after the Archangel part of his mind overtook him completely, and has been replaced by a vapid amnesiac in a replica of his old body.

14. Psylocke

Olivier Coipel/Marvel Comics

Psylocke has an absurdly complicated backstory – she’s had her mind and body tampered with a few times over, and currently inhabits the body of a Japanese ninja despite being a British woman by birth. She was never a bad character, but really came into her own in Rick Remender’s excellent Uncanny X-Force series in which she confronted her dark past and was the center of a messed-up love triangle with Angel and Fantomex. (Two men who definitely can relate to having their bodies and minds shaped and corrupted by outside forces.)

13. Colossus

Terry Dodson/Marvel Comics

Colossus is a sad, vulnerable guy who can transform into an immensely strong man with armored skin. Get it? Some writers can go a bit overboard in terms of making him miserable, but the character is definitely more compelling when he’s dealing with dark stuff rather than just standing around and being the obligatory big strong dude on a superhero team.

12. Magik

Chris Bachalo/Marvel Comics

Magik is somehow even more messed up than her brother, Colossus. Illyana Rasputin is a tragic character – she grew up in a hell dimension, so she can’t help but be hardened, amoral, and aloof. She’s very scary, but deep down, she’s a deeply traumatized girl in an immensely powerful sorceress’ body.

11. Professor X

Frank Quitely/Marvel Comics

Charles Xavier is a complicated guy: He’s the visionary idealist who founded the X-Men, but he’s also a powerful telepath who can’t help but be a little corrupted by his ability to influence minds. Some writers have gone a little overboard in exploring Xavier’s dark side, but ever since he was killed off in Avengers Vs. X-Men, he’s gone back to being a symbol of peace and tolerance.

10. Magneto

Daniel Acuna/Marvel Comics

Magneto may be the single best character in the X-Men mythos, but he’s only occasionally been an actual member of the team. The first time he joined he was actively attempting to atone for his past as a terrorist by embracing his old friend Charles Xavier’s dream and mentoring the New Mutants. But more recently, he joined the X-Men because Cyclops’ radical, militaristic, and isolationist leadership meant that the team had finally come around to his cynical worldview.

9. Emma Frost

Terry Dodson/Marvel Comics

Emma Frost started off as a member of the sinister Hellfire Club, but eventually joined the X-Men as the headmistress of the school. She’s reformed a bit, but her elitist, cynical attitude has been a corrupting influence on her romantic partner Cyclops, and by extension, the rest of the X-Men. Emma is rarely portrayed as a purely negative character – she’s just as invested in the good of mutantkind as anyone in the X-Men, and she’s ultimately ashamed of her pettiness and vanity.

8. Jean Grey

Daniel Acuna/Marvel Comics

Jean Grey is a decent person who struggles to contain her immense power, so it makes some sense that her primary love interests are Cyclops and Wolverine, who deal with the same issue in their own way. Funny, but Jean tends to be sort of boring when she’s an active member of the X-Men – she’s far more iconic when she snaps and becomes the world-destroying Dark Phoenix, and her presence is better felt in the periods when she’s been dead and the other characters are haunted by their memory of her.

7. Storm

Daniel Acuna/Marvel Comics

If this list was made in the ’80s, there is no question that Storm would be at the top. Ororo Munroe was the central character during much of Chris Claremont’s original, definitive run on Uncanny X-Men. She’s a character full of contradictions – the thief who becomes a weather goddess, the principled hero who can’t help but give in her street justice roots in bleak situations. There haven’t been all that many compelling Storm-centric stories over the past couple decades, but there ought to be since she’s always going to be one of the best X-Men.

6. Nightcrawler

Ed McGuinness/Marvel Comics

Nightcrawler is the soul of the X-Men. He’s a guy who looks like a devil but has the soul of an angel, and insists on a positive, joyful outlook on life despite the impossibility of ever living a normal life. He’s one of the best characters for action scenes – the gymnastics, the swords, the teleporation! – and he’s a valuable source of comic relief in darker stories.

5. Rogue

Chris Bachalo/Marvel Comics

Rogue isn’t always the best-written character in the X-Men, but she’s easily one of the best characters on a purely thematic level. She’s a walking, talking metaphor for sexual anxiety, particularly during the AIDS epidemic of the ’80s – she can’t touch ANYONE without absorbing part of them and potentially killing them. The character has suffered a bit in recent years thanks to writers insisting on giving her control over her powers and reversing a lot of what makes her special, but Rick Remender has done a good job of reconnecting Rogue with her impulsive, surly roots over in Uncanny Avengers.

4. Beast

John Cassaday/Marvel Comics

Dr. Henry McCoy has the mind of a scientist, the heart of a poet, and the body of…well, a beast. He’s friendly and extremely competent, but deep down he’s insecure and deeply frustrated by the loss of his original human form. Beast is also fairly self-righteous – he abandoned his friendship with Cyclops because he couldn’t stand his increasingly militaristic leadership of the X-Men, and potentially put the space-time continuum in danger by bringing the original X-Men to the present just to spite his old friend.

3. Kitty Pryde

Paul Smith/Marvel Comics

Kitty Pryde can be a bit of Mary Sue – She’s a genius! She’s a ninja! She’s best pals with Wolverine and her boyfriend is Colossus! – but there is no question that she’s one of the most crucial and beloved members of the X-Men. She’s essentially the model for most teen girl superheroes that have come along since the early ’80s, and she often serves as the moral compass for the X-Men in times of trouble. These days she has stepped up to replace Professor X as the mentor of the time-displaced original X-Men, so she’s gone all the way from the youngest, greenest X-Man to a position of great responsibilty.

2. Wolverine

John Romita Jr/Marvel Comics

Does this even need explanation? He’s Wolverine, the most famous X-Man, and arguably the biggest reason the series went on to became a pop culture phenomenon. He’s changed a lot over the years – he started off as an unhinged loose cannon, became a foil to steady leaders like Cyclops and Storm, and eventually opened his own version of the X-Men’s school to help the next generation of mutants and offer an alternative to Cyclops’ militaristic direction. Wolverine is a hugely versatile character, and easily one of the most iconic superheroes of all time.

1. Cyclops

Daniel Acuna/Marvel Comics

Wolverine may be the most famous member of the X-Men, but Cyclops is the definitive X-Man. He’s essentially the main character of the franchise since day one, and has one of the most complex arcs of any major superhero. Scott Summers’ story begins with him being a straight-arrow hero and protege of Charles Xavier, but over time he deviates from Xavier’s dream to develop a radical, separatist, militaristic version of the X-Men in the name of protecting mutants. Recently he crossed a horrible line by accidentally killing Xavier – his father figure! – in a fit of rage while possessed by the Phoenix, and has become an outlaw revolutionary and a pariah among his old friends. Everything about Cyclops comes down to two essential metaphors – that he’s a man who is always struggling against his own body to stay in control of a destructive power, and that his myopic obsession leads to all his triumphs and all his failings.

Oh, and then there’s his gloriously messy love life! His relationship with Jean Grey as a young man is fine but after she dies for the first time, he goes off and impulsively marries a woman who looks exactly like her – we later find out she’s a clone – but he abandons her and their infant child immediately after learning that the real Jean has come back to life. He’s a total cad. And then he ends up having a psychic affair with Emma Frost while he’s married to Jean Grey, and shacks up with Emma immediately after Jean dies for a second time. He’s a mess. And seriously, what is up with him only getting seriously involved with incredibly powerful psychics? And why does his intense rivalry with Wolverine often seem weirdly sexual?

Anyway, Cyclops is frustrating and profoundly uptight and wonderful and probably the best superhero ever.

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