It’s not easy being a superhero, and it’s harder to be a mutant. Being a mutant superhero, particularly as a member of the X-Men, is perhaps the most difficult of all. Despite their cheery epithet, Marvel’s Merry Mutants are continually battered, facing hate, death, discrimination, and loss on all fronts.

And yet the team pushes on. For every event that has threatened the team with destruction, the heroes have made it through. While the threads that hold the team together can be frayed by distrust, violence, or even genocide, the story of the X-Men is one of hope, even in the face of adversity.

10 The Original X-Men Coming to the Present


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From Marvel’s main X-Men comics to Fall of X tie-ins, and limited series, every month offers dozens of adventures for new and dedicated fans to enjoy.

What almost tore the X-Men apart: Beast bringing younger versions of the original five X-Men to the present

The latter half of the 2010s were a strange decade for the X-Men. One of the most intriguing directions the books took was bringing the original five X-Men to the present. After Beast became worried by Cyclops’s revolutionary direction, he brought the team’s younger counterparts to the present to make Cyclops reconsider his behavior.

While initially a cause of crisis for both the younger X-Men and their older counterparts, Beast’s still-questionable decision to bring the younger X-Men to the present ultimately helped the team bond. Iceman came to terms with his sexuality while Jean Grey came into her own as more of a leader. Though nearly all the X-Men were troubled by Beast’s gambit, it ultimately made the bond of the O5 stronger.

9 Onslaught Shattered The Marvel Universe And The X-Men

What almost tore the X-Men apart: Professor X being behind Onslaught; the Avengers and Fantastic Four seemingly dying

One of the most infamous of 90s X-crossovers, Onslaught also roped in the majority of the Marvel Universe, including the Avengers and Fantastic Four. The giant psychic entity Onslaught captured New York City and threatened humanity with extinction. It was only stopped by the X-Men, Avengers, and Fantastic Four battling the entity, the latter two groups sacrificing themselves to allow the X-Men to win.

Despite the violence of the crossover, the true test of the X-Men was when the team learned that Onslaught was a banished aspect of Professor X’s psyche and the “X-Traitor” Bishop had warned them about. After defeating the monster, the X-Men were able to talk to their mentor and learn to trust him again, even as the government imprisoned him.

8 Deadly Genesis Revealed Xavier’s Darkest Secret


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Despite their awesome powers, the X-Men suffered successive defeats in their early years, highlighting the teenage heroes’ inexperience.

What almost tore the X-Men apart: The revelation that Professor X had a secret, failed team of X-Men; Vulcan coming back and attacking the team

Like Onslaught, Deadly Genesis was another event that sorely tested the X-Men’s trust in Professor X. In the story, it is revealed that the All-New, All-Different team of X-Men (Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler and company) was actually the second team picked for the job by Xavier. The first (which included Cyclops’s youngest brother, Vulcan) all seemingly or actually died in the attempted rescue. Xavier mindwiped Cyclops to spare him the pain.

This revelation, coupled with the fact that Vulcan was both alive and supervillainous, sorely tested the X-Men. After Vulcan killed Banshee and told the X-Men the truth about the first Krakoa rescue mission, the X-Men beat Vulcan and sent him to space. Though Xavier was exiled for a time, the remaining X-Men bonded over their survival.

7 Mutant Massacre Broke Multiple X-Men

What almost tore the X-Men apart: The Morlocks being slaughtered and many X-Men injured

Despite the Mutant Massacre being the original X-Men crossover, its ramifications continue to this day. The Massacre saw Mister Sinister’s Marauders venture into the sewer tunnels of the outcast mutant Morlocks and attack them without mercy. The group was nearly destroyed, a huge blow to the mutant population.

As superheroes, the X-Men stepped in to defend the innocents. However, the fight was tougher than anticipated. Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Shadowcat all suffered major injuries on the X-Men side, while X-Factor’s Angel was crucified and lost his wings. The shock of these losses hit the X-Men and X-Factor hard. Despite the incapacitation of many members, both teams continued on, determined more than ever to protect Charles Xavier’s dream.

6 Operation: Zero Tolerance

What almost tore the X-Men apart: Government forces leading Sentinels to capture the team and take over the Mansion

Operation: Zero Tolerance felt like the culmination of decades of threatened and actualized anti-mutant government activity. Futuristic Sentinel Bastion laced the world with dozens of sleeper-agent Sentinels and used them to successfully battle the X-Men. Bastion captured the X-Men, tortured them, and even stole all the furniture from the X-Mansion, releasing feeder nanites that ate everything in the house down to the floorboards.

Despite the X-Men being split up, injured, and locked away, the team actually left the crossover with more members than when they began. Iceman teamed with new mutants Marrow, Maggott, and Doctor Cecelia Reyes, using the crossover to make the team larger and begin to help dissolve the tensions that existed between mutants and the general populace.

5 Second Coming Showed The Fragility Of Mutant Hope

What almost tore the X-Men apart: Bastion and his allies hunting and besieging Utopia

The X-Men are caught in a constant cycle of mutant population booms and busts. One of the X-Men’s lowest points was during the events of Second Coming. After Decimation reduced the mutant population to a mere 198 individuals, there was again a flash of optimism as Hope Summers was born. In Second Coming, she returned with Cable to the present after training in the future.

However, various bigoted humans and robots sought to end the mutants once and for all. Sentinels, the Friends of Humanity, and others laid siege to the X-Men, killing fan-favorite characters like Nightcrawler and Cable. Despite heavy losses, the X-Men prevailed, seeing new hope in the appearance of five new mutants around the globe.

4 Inferno Burned The Team

What almost tore the X-Men apart: the demons of Limbo entering the real world; Magik reverting to a child; Madelyne Pryor betraying the X-Men

While the Mutant Massacre may have been the original X-Men crossover, Inferno was the one that began the tradition of years-long build-up. Under the worthy pens of Chris Claremont and Louise Simonson, the X-Men, New Mutants, Excalibur, and X-Factor battled the demonic hordes of Limbo alongside their own inner demons and secret desires.

Inferno was not without casualties. Team ally-turned-villain Madelyne Pryor perished at the climax of the crossover while Magik lost her memories and became a seven-year-old child again. Still, the crossover also allowed for happiness, finally reunitinig Colossus and Magik as well as giving Cyclops some closure about his childhood when he (seemingly) destroyed Mister Sinister. Though Inferno brought out the worst in many, it also allowed the X-Men’s ultimate good to shine through.

3 The Dark Phoenix Saga Showed The Team True Sadness


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Of all the X-Men who received the Phoenix’s touch, there are a special few who exhibited more control than the others.

What almost tore the X-Men apart: The Phoenix Force posing as Jean Grey and attempting to destroy the universe

It’s often said that the X-Men are at their best when their backs are against the wall, so it makes sense that the franchise-defining Dark Phoenix Saga includes plenty of that element. After the team reeled from the loss of Jean Grey and rejoiced at her sudden resurrection, they were forced to combat the wealthy elite, an alien empire, and finally the cosmic might of Phoenix herself to save Jean Grey and the rest of the universe.

It was torturous for Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine, and their teammates to watch a woman they all loved dearly consumed by a cosmic being. When Phoenix finally died on the Moon, it brought pain to the X-Men, but also closure. The X-Men were unified by crisis and loss, newly dedicated to preserving the memory of Jean Grey.

What almost tore the X-Men apart: The Phoenix Force returning to Earth and possessing Cyclops, Emma Frost, Magik, Colossus, and Namor; the Phoenix Five taking over the earth

Avengers Vs. X-Men was one of Marvel’s biggest crossovers ever, pitting its two premier superteams against one another. As the Phoenix Force again prepared to return to Earth, the Avengers sought to stop it while the X-Men embraced it. It cosmically empowered the X-Men’s Phoenix Five, who fought each other, the Avengers, and the rest of the X-Men until only Cyclops remained.

While possessed by the Phoenix Force, Cyclops killed Professor X. The venerable hero surrendered himself and went to prison, but only after battling his friends and fighting off the influence of the Phoenix Force. In the aftermath, the remaining X-Men were at first unsure of how to proceed. With the Phoenix Force indeed reinvigorating the mutant population, the heroes rededicated themselves to protecting mutants worldwide.

1 Schism Split The Mutant Race In Twain


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What almost tore the X-Men apart: Wolverine and Cyclops disagreeing over each others’ methods

While many of the X-Men’s direst moments came during crossovers, only one crossover was actually predicated on the team splitting up. In Schism, Cyclops’s revolutionary actions finally came to a head when Wolverine challenged Cyclops on the morality of his actions. As the two locked horns, the X-Men split down the middle with whom they aligned.

Ultimately, about half of the X-Men’s main cast left with Wolverine while half stayed with Cyclops. Despite the forming of two distinct teams, Schism actually made the X-Men stronger. Under Wolverine, the Jean Grey School for Gifted Youngsters was established, allowing for greater mutant education. Under Cyclops’s revolutionary forces, further gains were made for mutant rights and power. Wolverine, Cyclops, and the rest of the X-Men eventually made up, the lessons they learned in Schism making them all the stronger.

 The X-Men have had a rough road, but some defeats were more grievous than others.  Read More