Thursday, May 22, 2014

Beta's Top Ten X-Men Villains (Part Two)

Sorry this took so long. I was really busy then I was suddenly sick.

Some of these guys are actually X-Men, but the image is cool nonetheless
And X-Men Month is back. Here we are with Part Two of my Top X-Men Villain List, where I’m counting down my personal favorite adversaries of my favorite superhero team. You can find Part One here but if you’re lazy (and I suspect you might be) then let’s do a quick recap of the list so far.

#10: Sabretooth 
 #9: Sentinels 
#8: Mojo 
#7: Dark Beast 
#6: Mystique 

So let’s get back to the list and see who made the top of the list. But first let’s take a quick look at another Honorable Mention that wasn’t good enough to be on the list.

The Brotherhood of Mutants: Or “The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants” if you prefer. I’m pretty much just lumping them all together as the vast majority of its members won’t appear on this list. The Brotherhood are the closest thing the X-Men have to an evil opposite team, being similar with a different ideology. Here’s the thing; the Brotherhood is pretty much completely different with a different roster every time we see them and every incarnation has a much different modus operandi than the last. Hell, originally they didn’t do shit about mutant freedom and just want to conquer the Earth. There’s no consistency so I tend not to care too much when a new group of villainous mutant that Marvel Comics labels “The Brotherhood of Mutants” show up.

Final Five after the jump.

#5: Cassandra Nova 
 "Xavier's Evil Twin Sister" because comic books are ridiculous
Cassandra Nova is the most recent villain to appear on this list, first showing up in 2001. She’s also the weirdest which I’m sure you can appreciate that statement having read the list so far. I will attempt to simplify her backstory: so she was born a non-corporeal parasite that wound up in the same womb as pre-birth Charles Xavier and used its DNA to make herself a body. Pre-Xavier apparently sensed her evil and killed her in the womb (so many things wrong with this origin) causing her to be “born” stillborn. She somehow survived and, over the course of some time, re-built herself and waited for an opportune time to resurface and take revenge on Xavier. Berceuse she’s a deranged sociopath who wouldn’t know empathy if it moved in with her she believes that she and Xavier are the only two things in the world that actually exist, everything else being a delusion. Thus she wants to destroy all of Charles favorite dreams, like the X-Men or his girlfriend Lilandra.

Cassandra is sort of a double edge sword. One the one hand she’s a terrifying villain, easily the most unnerving one in this list, and is not only responsible for one of the worst genocides in Marvel Comics history (she sent a giant sentinel to attack Genosha which resulted in the death of sixteen million mutants) but is an expert on psychological manipulation and psychic manipulation to the point that if she wanted to she could turn you into the mental equivalent of a salad on a total whim. On the other hand she is ridiculously overpowered; she not only possesses all the mutant powers of Professor X but also a larger range of psionic ability (including telekinesis which Xavier does NOT possess), phasing powers, astral projection, a rapid healing factor and the ability to copy the DNA of others. It almost seems as she just develops powers as she needs them in order to be UNBEATABLE. However I have warmed up to Cassandra since her initial debut, specifically during Joss Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men, where I realized that when used correctly and sporadically she’s an excellent behind the scenes manipulator more suit for psyching urging others to do her dirty work rather than getting into a fist fight with the X-Men. I came to the conclusion that she’s probably the best new X-Men villain form the 2000s or really since her debut. With all the tools she possesses she’s a more dangerous and interesting threat than all but the most elite of X-Men adversaries.

We have to except that the concept of “Professor X’s evil twin sister who hates him because he killed her in the womb” is silly as f**k.

Cassandra Nova, as of this writing, has not only never appeared in an X-Men film (because how the hell do you work her into a Hollywood film?) but she has yet to appear in any non-comic media that I’m aware of. It may be just a matter of time.

#4: Apocalypse
Would make a good conservative news correspondent
If there is one X-Men villain that you could call “super evil” Apocalypse would be the most likely candidate. The 5,000 year old Egyptian mutant En Sabah Nur adheres to an insane version of Social Darwinism where he takes the concept of “survival of the fittest” very literally. Despite being a mutant Apocalypse does not care about his own people or humans for that matter. He only believes in the weak being destroyed and the strong ruling over all, with himself on top of the heap. To that end he seems mostly interested in burning the world and leading the survivors in his own twisted image. To make matters worse not only does he possesses a ridiculous amount of superpowers for any one character but also holds a cache of Celestial technology. He has a connection to several other characters and is the personal nemesis of Cable, who is something of a messiah figure supposedly destined to kill him, and Angel, whom he brainwashed into becoming the Horsemen of Death (Archangel). Speaking of that the ancient mutant has his own team, the Horsemen of Apocalypse, that are usually made up of four genetically altered and mind controlled mutants that carry the monikers of Famine, Pestilence, War, and Death who act as his elite minions. He has a habit of kidnapping X-Men and turning them into Horsemen but after the first time (with Angel) it was never as shocking and has become pretty cliché at this point.

Apocalypse is that perfect mix of being visually striking, incredibly powerful and appropriately irredeemable that make for an awesome villain; someone you want to see show up and fight the good guys rather than someone, like say Magneto, who fans like so much that he’s periodically turned heroic. There ain’t one nice bone in this guy’s body and when he shows up in the comic it’s usually a super big deal and part of a large storyline that calls for many X-Men and their allies to survive, let alone defeat him. As a character who debuted in the late Bronze/early Dark Age of Comics where things were becoming morally greyer apocalypse is refreshingly evil and there’s something about that I like.

I should also mention that an alternate version of Apocalypse was the primary antagonist of the Age of Apocalypse crossover where he succeeds in his quest to create a world where the strong rule over all (while committing many acts of genocide along the way). The main version of Apocalypse s basically same as his AoA counterpart except he’s, you know, less successful.

AoA Apocalypse is also a snappier dresser
Apocalypse has not made any appearances in any X-Men films but you have to assume that with X-Men: Apocalypse set to his theaters in a few years he’ll finally be making his big screen debut. Hell, there may even be some hinting of that in X-Men: Days of Future Past. We’ll see.

#3: Mister Sinister
Recently a buddy of mine mentioned to me that Mister Sinister was his favorite X-Men villain and I totally get why. Despite his somewhat goofy name the man is likely the most dangerous person on this list, not because he is the most powerful but rather because he’s probably the smartest and certainly the most patient; the deadliest two traits a super villain can have. One part mad scientist, one part chess master Mister Sinister has been playing a game for a long, long time. He’s a different villain from Apocalypse, who is more of a dark overlord type, or Magneto, who is more of “good man gone bad” type of guy; Sinister’s plan has always been to master evolution itself and share it with the masses, taking humanity to its fullest potential. It’s just that he believes morality has no place in science and that it’s justifiable to break hundreds, if not thousands or millions, of eggs in the form of living experiments to achieve this goal. He’s similar to Dark Beast, no surprise as Dark Beast was Sinister’s pupil in the AoA universe, but he’s more goal oriented and more willing to plant seeds and watch them grow even if it takes decades. For example he manipulated a young Cyclops for pretty much his entire life for the sole purpose of getting him to conceive a child that he could then take and use as a weapon against Apocalypse meaning he was willing to spend two whole generations waiting around for this plan to be hatched. That’s dedication. Insanely terrifying, “never sleep again” dedication.

Also it’s worth noting that I’m not certain Mister Sinister gives a crap about the X-Men at all. It seems that he considers them annoyances that temporarily slow his progress or pawns to move it forward even when they don’t realize it. I’ve always thought that as a mastermind he tended to work better as a villain than the vast majority of X-Men adversaries. Yeah, the Juggernaut might smash you and Apocalypse might burn your whole city down but Sinister will capture your, lock you up and experiment on you and if you’re lucky you’ll die but if you’re unlucky he’ll just re-clone you over and over again for decades as he continues trying to figure out what makes you tick. Even his henchmen, the Marauders, are just the same dudes re-clones whenever he needs extra hands. The one thing that bugs me about Mister Sinister is how powerful he is. He has just about every super power you can think of and every time I see him I’m usually confused by this new ability I had no idea he had. The only saving grace is that at least it makes perfect sense why this would be the case. If you were an insane scientist trying to create the perfect, most powerful mutant on Earth then why wouldn’t you splice some of that awesome goodness into yourself as well?

Also you can’t argue with that character design.

Mister Sinister has not appeared in any X-Men movies to date (have you noticed that most of my favorite villains have never made it to film?) but he is present in several X-Men cartoons where he’s usually pretty close to the source material.

#2: Magneto 
Half of the pictures of him involve him on a throne, looking mencing
Yeah, dude, he's a super villain
Every Top X-Men Villain list I’ve ever seen published online has listed Magneto as the number pick so it may be somewhat controversial to put the X-Men’s oldest and most frequent adversary as number two on this list. But we can get into my justification from top pick when we get there.

As for Magneto it’s hard to argue against the X-Men’s archenemy. He is usually considered one of the best villains ever conceived due to his overall motivation. He’s not simply evil but strongly believes that humanity will wipe out his people (mutants) if left to their own devices. Being a Holocaust survivor Magneto justifies his mindset by saying “it’s happened before; I won’t let it happen again.” He’s not the same type of villain as, say, Doctor Doom or Lex Luthor; Magneto was a good man made cruel and brutal by the tragic events of his past and his singular goal of saving mutantkind. Of course just because he had noble goals doesn’t mean he’s not a crazy old man with a messiah complex. Magneto has murdered more than his fair share of innocent people and done many things that should have had him thrown into prison. Add to the fact that he’s a particularly powerful adversary with a cool design and you got the recipe for an awesome villain.

One major problem with Magneto is that some fans, and some writers and artists, really like the idea of Magneto as this noble, almost heroic figure. I’m not against villains turning good guys…when it’s right, when it makes sense to the story. So the idea of Magneto reforming isn’t something I’d be against. However it seems that Marvel has tried to do this on att least three separate occasions and it always ends with the creators reverting him back to his evil ways, likely because there aren’t a huge amount of villains who could take his spot in the X-Men’s rogue gallery. Sometimes though it seems as though fans react a little too protectively of that image. For example in Gran Morrison’s penultimate storyline on his run on New X-Men, “Planet X”, it was revealed that recent X-Men recruit Xorn was actually Magneto is disguise having survived his supposed death on Genosha (See Cassandra Nova’s entry). Likely insane with survivor’s guilt and certainly on drugs (mind controlling drugs from a another villain Sublime) Magneto planned to kill a shit ton of humans in very less than humane ways. Many people objected to this as being out of character for Magneto (because a super villain out of his mind and killing people is “controversial” apperently) and Marvel retconned the whole thing as being Xorn pretending to be Magneto pretending to Xorn while the real Magneto was revealed to have been sitting in Genosha the whole time. Awesome.

Magneto the White, Servant of the Secret Fire
Anyway currently Magneto is a member of Cyclops’ X-Men (Magneto has been associated with the team for some time now) but it sounds as if that’s coming to an end with as he’ll be starring in his own ongoing solo series this year.  

Sir Ian McKellen portrayed Magneto in the first three X-Men films while Michael Fassbender played a younger version of the character in X-Men: First Class. Both are set to reprise their roles in X-Men: Days of Future Past.

#1: Professor X
Takes a bunch of teenagers and turns them into expendable soldiers
No one ever calls him on it
This is not a joke nor a fake out; I consider Professor Charles Xavier to the top X-Men villain. Now if you’ve read some of my essays about the X-Men you likely won’t be very surprised by this. Here’s the thing: Chuck founded the X-Men on certain principles and the “Xavier's Dream” has been the main rallying cry for the team for pretty much their entire fifty year history however the man himself has done pretty badly by his team over the years, and I’m not just talking about the more recent stuff either.

Consider the purpose for which Professor X formed the X-men to begin with; to provide a safe environment for young mutants to control their powers. Except that’s bullshit. If you read those earliest books it’s very clear that “controlling their powers” was only step one while step two was “act as my personal superhero team.” Not the same damn thing. But hey, lots of people in comic books have done the same thing, from Nick Fury to Amanda Waller…however the difference with Xavier is that his recruits were teenagers. You know, minors. And those same books make it extremely clear that their parents had no idea what their kids were doing with the old man. They thought (because he told them) that they were sending their children to an exclusive private school when truthfully they were sending them to a mutant boot camp. So Xavier kidnaps, because that’s what’s going on here, children under false pretense and the first chance he gets he sends them out to fight his personal nemesis Magneto. That’d be like if, twenty years from now, I kidnap a bunch of teens and then send them out to beat up a guy I had a falling out with in college (presumably over a video game loan). Professor X is a f**king monster!

That time Xavier's inner rage took form and tried to kill the X-Men
...I mean the FIRST time it happened
Oh and to make it creepier one panel from those early books reveals that Xavier was secretly in love with teenage Jean Grey. It’s never dealt with and it never even gets mentioned again until the 1990s (and even then no one believes it) but it happened! And it’s gross.

Speaking of the 90s there was that whole Onslaught mess where Xavier gets some of Magneto’s evil planted into his mind and it grows strong enough to become a sentient and malevolent being that wreaks havoc across the Marvel Universe until it finally killed (or at least we thought it killed) the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. Now I’d say that, as Onslaught was NOT simply Xavier under a helmet and was rather a physical manifestation of his own rage and hatred, Professor X was not 100% responsible for this but I will mention that when you’re the most powerful telepathic mind in history and your dark side periodically comes to life and tries to kill everyone you should invest in some damn therapy.

But there’s also the time that, after hooking Shi’ar technology into it, the Danger Room came to life and Xavier just said “huh, that’s weird” before enslaving it for the next fifteen years and never mentioning it to anyone. Because oppression is super okay when you can claim you’re being oppressed by someone else, I guess. Or the time he sent an under trained team of X-Men on a mission and when they all died horribly he brainwashed everyone involved so they forgot all about them, including Cyclops and Havok despite one of the casualties being their brother. Oh and let’s not forget the time he joined a secret cabal of superheroes who secretly controlled events from behind the scenes for years, most of which were not morally sound, which resulted in the Skrull’s deciding to infiltrat Earth in Secret Invasion (to be fair he shares equal blame with Iron Man and Mister Fantastic, who are both also assholes).

That other time Xavier's inner rage took form
This time the inner rage worked on its abs
But you know what really makes me think Charles Xavier is a villain? It’s that he’s a cult leader. The X-Men are his cult and he is their messiah. The X-Men live to fulfill his dream and most of them put him on a huge pedestal. I never really thought about him like that until I read his dialogue in the Avengers vs. X-Men storyline where he “forgives” the X-Men for siding with Cyclops. It was super creepy and no one really seemed to notice it. Even when Cyclops, possessed by an evil force but held responsible for his actions anyway (which of course Chuck wouldn’t know anything about-HEY WAIT A MINUTE), killed the Professor the entire superhero community acted like he was the Romans and Xavier was Jesus. It was crazy. And since we know, for a fact, that Xavier has a history of brainwashing people for his own ends how can I be certain he wasn’t controlling everyone into loving him and constantly forgiving him?

Anyway I don’t trust Charles Xavier and I think he’s always been more of a threat than a helping hand for the team but since it’s his team that threat seems to always be coming from within and they never seem to see it coming. Which, in my opinion, makes him the biggest threat of all.

Seriously! This f**king happened!
God created Sir Patrick Stewart in 1940 and ordained him to play Xavier in the first three X-Men flicks. A younger Xavier is played by James McAvoy in X-Men: First Class and he’s pretty good too. They’ll both reprise their roles in X-Men: Days of Future Past.

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