Movies and TV can be wonderful things when paired with comics. Being able to see some of our favorite characters and stories brought to life can be a dream come true. For the X-Men, we were privileged to see stories like the Phoenix Saga and the Phalanx Covenant (and many others) adapted by the 90’s animated series. And for the most part, it was done faithfully.
But you can only cover so much in a 24-minute TV show. Parts get left out and key components get twisted to work or be suitable for younger audiences. This can get cracked up to the umpteenth degree when these same stories make it to live-action Hollywood. The worst part about that is the sheer amount of people that get exposed to these mediums. The number of people that read books will never stand up to the hordes of TV and movie fans.
So, what happens? Well, no matter how many people know the truth, they’ll ultimately be drowned out by the hordes of the less educated. Here are 10 misconceptions often made about the X-Men.
1. Gambit Does Not Have The Power To Throw Cards
This is a misconception most adopted by non-comic book readers. Anyone that received their X-Men education only by way of X-Men: The Animated Series, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, or that ridiculous YouTube spoof probably isn’t aware that Gambit chooses to throw cards.
He does this for a couple of reasons. The first being that he can carry a lot of them in just about anything he’s wearing. Especially his trench coat. The second is directly connected to how his powers actually work. Gambit has the power to release an object’s kinetic potential. The larger (or denser) the object, the more intense of a reaction. In fact, he’s able to manipulate smaller, lightly packed objects faster. The cards, being as small as they are, allow him a greater degree of control over the explosions. The last reason is… well, it’s style. He throws them because he can. Matter of fact, he has an innate talent to throw small objects with an uncanny amount of accuracy. This includes; blades, balls, discs, darts, etc.
2. Those Aren’t Fireworks, Baby!
Jubilee has found popularity for two things. Her bright yellow coat and shooting “fireworks” from her hands. Heck, her introduction from the X-Men Animated Series included a fireworks display seemingly generated by her powers. Seeing as she was barely used at all during the Fox run of X-Men movies, this wasn’t addressed to the wider audience of X-Men fans. Sadly, ladies and gentleman, any comic book fan worth their salt will tell you; Jubilee does not shoot fireworks. What we are actually seeing are plasma globes. The energy projected from her hands superheats air, combusts and creates plasma. Depending on the intensity, Jubilee’s blasts can blind someone’s vision or punch a hole through solid steel. The best example of this was in Age of Apocalypse. I don’t think the word “fireworks” was ever used in that dreary universe.
3. Cyclops’ Optic Blast Is Not A Laser
Another common misconception, even among characters within the comics themselves is what Cyclops’ powers do. In at least two movies we see Cyclops’ power create fires in its aftermath. But this is how it all works. After absorbing an adequate amount of cosmic energy, Cyclops can project beams of pure concussive force from his eyes.
How he actually does this is still under debate. Either his body converts the cosmic energy into the beams, or he opens tiny portals into a dimension brimming with concussive energy. If it’s the latter, the portals act much like a water spout releasing more power as they open wider. In either case, the energy itself does not create heat. Concussive energy is pure force. Its crimson color is probably most to blame for their misunderstanding. While the beams are not heat-based, they can cause heat damage via friction. Matter making contact with matter at high speeds can create heat.
4. Professor-X Does Not Have Telekinesis At All
Professor Charles Francis Xavier has one of the most powerful minds in the galaxy. He can project his thoughts into the minds of others over great distances, enter the astral, block beings from accessing portions of their powers, erase, manipulate and implant memories, and even shut down the minds of others. What he cannot do, is move objects by the same means. If that were the case he wouldn’t need a chair to move around. In the past, there may have been one or two instances where an illustrator or writer had forgotten this fact, but it’s still a fact. Inconsistencies are common. One time I saw Gambit with green eyes. Doesn’t mean he wears contacts. Past comic book bloopers, I’m not even sure where this misconception came from.
5. Mystique: How Shapeshifters Actually Work
Because Mystique was portrayed by an Oscar-winning Hollywood starlet, the character got way more development than she deserved. The constant usage of her powers also created a couple of misconceptions about her powers. All of a sudden, viewers (not readers) looked at her ability to change her form as a one-size fits all problem-solver. Her abilities lend themselves perfectly for infiltration and getting lost in a crowd, but not much else. If you’re getting into the books or looking forward to the Disney take on the X-Men you have to understand this. Shapeshifters can only change their form to other forms, but it’s only superficial. Their mass and density do not change. Their strength does not increase if they become larger. Mystique doesn’t gain the abilities of Wolverine, by aping his form.
Bonus: Mystique Is Not An X-Man
Along with several larger changes to come, I also suspect that Mystique’s career as an X-Man and being a focal point within the X-Men film series will come to an end. I’m sorry JenLaw fans, Mystique is not an X-Man. In her 40+ year comic book history, she’s only sided with them on two, maybe three, occasions within the main universe. Each time it was steeped in her best interests and ulterior motives. Mystique sometimes shares an objective with the X-Men but, more often than not, they disagree on how to achieve their goals.
6. The Xavier Institute for Higher Learning Is A School… But Not That Kind Of School
This one’s a little hard to explain. But I’ll give it a shot anyways. In the beginning, Professor Xavier sought out to teach a group of young mutants about themselves. In turn, they’d show humanity what mutants can offer them. Over the years, many mutants would become X-Men, move on, and sometimes died for their cause. Ultimately, the school was a cover for the team. They’d save the world 100 times over, but still, find ways to better the lives of their members. Then the first X-Men movie came and changed everything. And I mean everything. The Xavier Institute became a real school, with a real student body and the X-Men, became real teachers. With classes, and papers, and tests, and all. I could tell you that this is exclusive to the movies, but that would be wrong.
After the movie’s success, Marvel dove head first into the school concept. The comics and even the next two animated series (“Evolution” and “Wolverine and the X-Men”) adopted it and turned the institute into a boarding school for rather large student bodies. To this day, the X-Men are still weighed down with mutant ankle bitters. While it’s not traditional, it is the new status quo, however, it seems Marvel Comics has begun to take steps to separate themselves from the concept. During the past decade, as the comics go, the Disney-owned movies are not too far behind. Let’s hope this is a precursor to better, more interesting times.
7. Wolverine & Deadpool Don’t Have The Same Powers
It’s hard to convince people about this one, mostly because it’s an inaccuracy that’s seen in both the movies as well as the comics. Wolverine’s mutant healing factor allows him to repair his body for almost any among of damage. This keeps him young for a longer period of time than normal humans, as well as survive wounds that would otherwise kill a person. As long as his body is intact, he has a chance to put himself back in one piece.
Deadpool is similar, but not nearly the same. His healing factor is a bit more extreme. As seen several times in the books and even in his movies, Deadpool not only repairs damage, he regenerates at a hyperactive rate. As long as he has a cell intact, Deadpool should be able to recover. Not only his body but his mind, memories- everything. It also might be what’s driven him nuts. The difference here is, if Wolverine lost an arm or an eye, it ain’t coming back. Or at least, it shouldn’t
8. Magneto Can Do More Than Just Control Metal – Like A Whole Lot More
The Master of Magnetism has been a staple within the X-Men books since the very beginning. Over the years using his powers, he’s been able to create shields, project blasts of electromagnetic energy, manipulate energy fields, disrupt bodily functions of others, levitate and, of course, manipulate metals. He’s done other truly godlike feats such as putting a small landmass into orbit and creating a space bridge that extended all the way to the Shi’Ar Empire!
So, where’s the confusion? Well, if you’re an X-Man fan via the movies, then you’ve only seen him do three of what I listed. By which I mean, fly, pull the iron out of someone’s body and mangle metallic objects. Magneto is so much more than that, but because he’s been portrayed by such fine actors with tremendous amounts of gravitas, it wasn’t missed so much. That and I’m sure visual effects are expensive.
9. X-Force Was Created By Cable. Not Deadpool.
Listen, I loved Deadpool 2 as much as anyone else. It was hilarious, action-packed, and had more Easter eggs than I expected from a movie starring Wade. Even though most of those eggs died soon after being featured. One thing does bother me though. Possibly even before the debut of the first Deadpool movie, there were mutterings of an X-Force movie in development.
When the New Mutants movie went into production starring several of the characters, I thought that was the end that. At least for the time being. Then the promos of Deadpool 2 premiered and I saw those dreams go up in comedic smoke. Despite the inclusion of Cable and even Domino, Deadpool would go on to create X-Force… for like 15 sidesplitting minutes. All jokes aside, X-Force was canonically created by Cable out of the pages of the New Mutants. Funny enough, Deadpool debuted in the same book, not too long before the creation of Cable’s mutant hit-squad.
10. The Phoenix Force Is More Than A Jean Grey Power Level
If there is one thing that has bothered me more than anything else since the end of X2: X-Men United, was the way Bryan Singer interpreted Jean’s connection to the Phoenix Force. Well, I’m getting ahead of myself. Since the introduction of the concept, it’s actually never been addressed as such. Heck, it’s not getting the name until this summer’s Dark Phoenix feature film. To make matters worse, it’s only called the Phoenix thanks to some students giving Jean the name after having survived a brush with death. I suspect it has mostly to do with how grounded Singer wanted the series to be. In my opinion, if that were the case, they should have stayed away from the concept altogether and tackled other, more terrestrial stories like Extinction Agenda or OZT.
When we saw the image of the Firebird soaring under the water of the flooded valley just before the credits of X2, images of the Shi’Ar and space battles flashed through our collective comic book reading, XTAS viewing, and imaginations. What we got instead, not just in the following movie, but ever since, was something else entirely. The Phoenix became Jean’s Super Saiyan mode. While kinda fun to look at, it’s a complete bastardization of the whole concept. It took something the size of a blue whale and reduced it to that of an elephant. Better yet, it was like comparing the Pacific Ocean to a koi pond in your backyard. The Dark Phoenix movie may be the closest we’ll ever get to the real thing, but from the looks of it, it’s still a far cry from what the story deserved.
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