Last month I talked about my favorite heroes from my favorite title, X-Men. But where would heroes be without their villains. Bored, and stuck wearing uncomfortable costumes, that’s where. With that in mind, here are my top 5 favorite X-Men villains.
It’s nearly impossible to have a list of X-Men villains without the original. Magneto has been both friend and enemy to various X-teams over the years. From the mustache twirling, scenery chewing super-villain of the Silver Age, to the far more complex and sympathetic character that confronts modern readers, Magneto is a force to be reckoned with. Aside from being the primary nemesis for early the X-Men, Magneto provides a brilliant, dramatic foil for Charles Xavier. In the end, both men desire the same thing, but the means they employ and the lengths to which they are willing to go to achieve those goals are vastly different.
Admittedly, my enjoyment of Apocalypse has more to do with his ridiculous appearance than anything else. Don’t get me wrong, in the context of comic books this guy is intimidating as hell, but that doesn’t mean I can’t chuckle in terror. I think Apocalypse’s strengths are not necessarily in himself, but those he surrounds himself with, namely his horsemen. Just about everyone is familiar with the Biblical concept of the horsemen and it’s something that so easily captures the imagination that it fits perfectly into the comic book medium. His horsemen are fearsome on their own, but Apocalypse himself has done some terrible things, such as what he did to Angel when turning him into Death (later Archangel). His actions there especially have had long lasting consequences and made for awesome stories.
3. Mister Sinister
Despite looking like a bad caricature of a vampire, Sinister is a fascinating character, and probably the greatest master manipulator in the X-universe. Sure, it’s almost all retcon, but this guy is behind some of the craziest events that have happened. He has manipulated the Summer’s family line in an attempt to make the perfect mutant to defeat Apocalypse. And of course there are all the Jean Grey clones. Sooooo many clones. He’s also the one holding the reins of the Marauders, a group that has a pretty impressive mutant body count, so that’s got to give him some extra villain cred.
Holy s%!t. Mystique is something else entirely. If I have learned one thing about X-Men villains, it’s that this woman’s allegiance to any particular team or school of thought is about as concrete as wet spaghetti. While she might be fiercely loyal to those she chooses to attach herself to, trying to figure out who those attachments are is a tangled web that I’m not even sure she understands any more. It doesn’t help that she’s very old (potentially older than Wolverine). And yes, my admiration has grown since she has been played by Jennifer Lawrence, though I must admit that I don’t think the movie versions of the character give the audience an adequate view inside the twisted maze that is Mystique.
By far my favorite X-Men villain. It might have something to do with the fact that my first introduction to the X-Men was via the animated series, which premiered with “Night of the Sentinels.” Even more than that, I think there is something particularly perverse about people wanting to destroy mutants because they aren’t human and deciding to use robots, which are also not human, to do so. I’m also a big fan of their design. First appearing in X-Men #14, they were the final Jack Kirby addition to the X-Men, and their design reflects it. They’ve also frequently been near the edges of major X-Men events like the “Phoenix Saga.” The X-Men wouldn’t have even been in space if they hadn’t been chasing after Sentinels, and without their time in space, there would have been no Phoenix Force. The Sentinels are even more terrifying when you realize all of the horrible variations they come in. In addition to the standard models, there is Master Mold, which is a giant Sentinel that makes Sentinels, Nimrod, which is a super effective Sentinel from the future, and even Nano Sentinels, which can infect the blood and kill mutants from the inside.
Honorable Mention – Cyclops
While not an X-Men villain, Cyclops has been one of the more interesting antagonists in recent X-Men. In the years leading up to “Schism,” Cykes wasn’t a particularly interesting hero. He was often written as being very unsympathetic and ineffective, which made me want to like him as little as possible. After AvX, Scott became a much more interesting character, plagued by guilt after killing Xavier and wholly convinced of the righteousness of his cause. Becoming the fringe element, Cyclops was technically not a villain but at the same time very much not a hero. As a result, he became the driving force behind much of what happened in the X-universe.