Tuesday, February 12, 2008

X Men

The X-Men is a fictional Marvel Comics superhero team. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, they debuted in The X-Men #1, published in September 1963. The X-Men are fictitious mutants who, as a result of a sudden leap in evolution, are born with latent superhuman abilities, which generally manifest themselves at puberty. In the stories, many ordinary humans harbor an intense fear and/or distrust of mutants (often referred to as Homo sapiens superior), who are regarded by a number of scientists as the next step in human evolution and are thus widely viewed as a threat to human civilizations; mutants who use their powers for criminal ends exacerbate the tensions. The X-Men were formed by the benevolent Professor Charles Xavier, (a.k.a. Professor X), a wealthy mutant who founded an academy to train young mutants to protect themselves and the world from Magneto, the Brotherhood of Mutants and other mutant threats.

The X-Men comic book series was one of comicdom’s earliest and most influential trendsetters in adopting a multicultural central cast; during the 1970s, the roster was diversified, adding characters from Canada, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, and the Soviet Union. Characters representing many other ethnicities and cultural backgrounds have subsequently been added. The stories themselves have often included themes relating to the status of minorities, including assimilation, tolerance, and beliefs regarding a "superior race".

The X-Men have been adapated into films and television shows. The television shows have included one of the most successful Saturday morning programs, X-Men: The Animated Series and the hit Kids WB! animated series X-Men: Evolution. In 2000, the X-Men movie directed by Bryan Singer was released and featured Halle Berry (as Storm) and Hugh Jackman (as Wolverine). Its sequel X2: X-Men United was released in 2003, again directed by Singer. A third X-Men movie, X-Men: The Last Stand, directed by Brett Ratner, was released May 26, 2006. By 2008, two more films were in development, one featuring the origin of Wolverine and the other featuring the origins of Magneto.

The team's name is a reference to the "X factor", an unknown gene that causes mutant evolution. Co-creator Stan Lee recalled in his book Son of Origins of Marvel Comics that he devised the series title after Marvel publisher Martin Goodman turned down the initial name, "The Mutants." In addition to this "official" explanation, the X-Men are widely regarded, within the Marvel Universe as well as by the readers of the series) to have been named after Xavier himself. In Uncanny X-Men #309, Xavier claims that the name "X-Men" was never intended to be a self-tribute.

The X-Men were founded by the paraplegic telepath Professor Charles Francis Xavier a.k.a. Professor X. Xavier gathered the X-Men under the cover of Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters at a large country estate at 1407 Graymalkin Lane in Salem Center, a small town in Westchester County, New York. The original X-Men consisted of five teenagers each of whom the professor taught to control their powers: Angel/Warren Worthington III, Beast/Hank McCoy, Cyclops/Scott Summers, Iceman/Bobby Drake, and Marvel Girl/Jean Grey.

Early X-Men issues introduced the team's arch nemesis Magneto and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants featuring Mastermind, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and the Toad. Ironically, the cast of this comic book series, which would later become a vehicle for stories about prejudice and racism, was originally racially and ethnically homogeneous, seemingly comprised entirely of the WASP-type character that was the de facto model for most comic book heroes at that time. Furthermore, their arch nemesis was Magneto, a character later portrayed as a Jewish concentration camp survivor, whose key followers, son and daughter, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch were Gypsies (Roma). Only one new member of the X-Men was added, Mimic/Calvin Rankin, but soon left due to his temporary loss of power.

In 1969, writer Roy Thomas and artist Neal Adams rejuvenated the comic book and gave regular roles to two recently introduced characters: Havok/Alex Summers (who had been introduced by Roy Thomas before Adams began work on the strip) and Lorna Dane, later called Polaris (created by Arnold Drake and Jim Steranko). However, these early X-Men issues failed to attract sales and Marvel stopped producing new stories with issue #66, although a number of the older comics were later reprinted as issues 67-93.

#1 (1975), writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockrum introduced a new team which was featured in new issues of The X-Men beginning with issue #94. Rather than teenagers, this group consisted of adults who hailed from a variety of nations and cultures. The "all-new, all-different X-Men" were led by Cyclops from the original team and consisted of the newly created Colossus, Nightcrawler, Storm, and Thunderbird, along with three previously introduced characters, Banshee, Sunfire, and most notably, Wolverine, who became the most popular character. A revamped Jean Grey soon rejoined the X-Men as the popular Phoenix; Angel, Beast, Havok, and Polaris also made significant guest appearances.

The revived series was illustrated by Dave Cockrum, and later John Byrne, and written by Chris Claremont. Claremont became the series' longest-running contributor. The run met great critical acclaim and produced the "Proteus Saga", "Dark Phoenix Saga", and later the early 1980s "Days of Future Past", arguably some of the greatest story arcs in Marvel Comics, as well as X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, the basis for the 2003 movie X2. Other characters introduced at time include Kitty Pryde, the Hellfire Club, Multiple Man, Mystique, and Moira MacTaggert along with her genetic research facility on Muir Island.

In the 1980s, the growing popularity of Uncanny X-Men and the rise of comic book specialty stores led to the introduction of several spin-off series nicknamed "X-Books", most notably Excalibur, The New Mutants, and X-Factor and a solo Wolverine title. This plethora of X-Men-related titles led to the rise of crossovers, sometimes called "X-Overs", storylines which would overlap into several X-Books and included The Fall of the Mutants, Inferno and the Mutant Massacre.

Notable additions to the X-Men were Dazzler, Forge, Longshot, Psylocke, Rogue, and Rachel Summers. A controversial move was to have Professor X relocate to space in 1986 to be with his beloved Lilandra, Majestrix of the Shi'ar Empire, making Magneto a member of the X-Men and the headmaster of the New Mutants. This period also included the arrival of the mysterious Madelyne Pryor, and the villains Apocalypse, Mister Sinister, and Sabretooth.

In 1991 Marvel revised the entire lineup of X-Books, centered on the launch of a second X-Men series, simply titled X-Men. With the return of Xavier and the original X-Men to the team, the bloated roster was split into two strike forces: Cyclops' "Blue Team" (chronicled in the pages of X-Men) and Storm's "Gold Team" (in Uncanny X-Men).

Its first issues were written by longstanding X-Men writer Chris Claremont and drawn and co-plotted by superstar artist Jim Lee. Another new X-book released at the time was X-Force featuring the characters from the The New Mutants led by Cable written by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza. Internal friction soon split the X-Books' creative teams. Claremont left after only three issues of X-Men due to clashes with Lee and the Marvel editors, thus ending his sixteen-year run as X-Men writer. In his void, Fabian Nicieza and Scott Lobdell would take over the majority of writing duties for the X-Men. Months later, Lee and Rob Liefeld would leave Marvel with several other popular artists (including former X-Men artists Marc Silvestri and Whilce Portacio) to form Image Comics. Their major grievance had been Marvel's heavy merchandising of their work with little compensation. Jim Lee's X-Men became the definitive X-Men for the 90s, and his designs would be the basis for much of the X-Men animated series and action figure line as well as several Capcom video games.

The 1990s saw an even greater number of X-books with numerous ongoing series and miniseries running concurrently. Notable story arcs of this time are the "The X-Tinction Agenda" in 1990, "The Muir Island Saga" in 1991, "X-Cutioner's Song" in 1992, "Fatal Attractions" in 1993, "Phalanx Covenant" in 1994, "Legion Quest"/"Age of Apocalypse" in 1995, "Onslaught" in 1996 and "Operation: Zero Tolerance" in 1997. Some new characters were introduced and became instant hits (Bishop, Cable, Gambit and Jubilee), but many of the later additions to the team came and went (Joseph, Maggott, Marrow, Cecilia Reyes, and a new Thunderbird). Xavier's New Mutants grew up and became X-Force, and the next generation of students began with Generation X, featuring Jubilee and other teenage mutants led and schooled by Banshee and former villainess Emma Frost at her Massachusetts Academy. In 1998 Excalibur and X-Factor ended and the latter was replaced with Mutant X, starring Havok stranded in a parallel universe. Marvel launched a number of solo series, including Bishop, Cable, Deadpool, Gambit, and X-Man, but none, save the now-merged Cable & Deadpool, would survive the decade.

In the 2000s, Claremont returned to Marvel and was put back on the primary X-Men titles during an event called "Revolution". He was soon removed from his two flagship titles in early 2001 and created his own spin-off series, X-Treme X-Men, which debuted a few months after his departure.

X-Men had its title changed at this time to New X-Men and new writer Grant Morrison took over. This era is often referred to as the Morrison-era, due to the drastic changes he made to the series, beginning with "E Is for Extinction", where a new villainess, Cassandra Nova, destroys Genosha, killing sixteen million mutants. Morrison also brought reformed ex-villainess Emma Frost into the primary X-Men team, and opened the doors of the school by having Xavier "out" himself to the public about being a mutant. The bright spandex costumes that had become iconic over the previous decades were also gone, replaced by black leather street clothes reminiscent of the uniforms of the X-Men movies. Morrison also added a new character, Xorn, who would figure prominently in the climax of the writer's run. In the meantime, Ultimate X-Men was launched, set in Marvel's revised imprint. Chuck Austen also began his controversial run on Uncanny X-Men.

Notable additions to the X-Men have been Caliban, Chamber, Emma Frost, Hepzibah, Husk, Northstar, Omega Sentinel, Sage, and Warpath. This decade also included former villains becoming X-Men such as: Juggernaut, Lady Mastermind, Mystique, and Sabretooth. Several short-lived spin-offs and miniseries started featuring several X-Men in solo series, such as Emma Frost, Gambit, Mystique, Nightcrawler, and Rogue. Another book, Exiles, started at the same time and is concluding in December 2007 but with a new book in January 2008, "New Exiles" written by Chris Claremont. Cable and Deadpool's books were also rolled into one book, called Cable & Deadpool. A third core X-Men title was also introduced called Astonishing X-Men, written by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon, following Morrison's departure. Another X-Book titled New X-Men: Academy X took its place focusing on the lives of the new young mutants at the Institute.

This period included the resurrections of Colossus and Psylocke, the (temporary) death of Jean Grey and the start of a relationship between Cyclops and Emma Frost, who have become the new leaders of the Institute. The Institute formerly ran as a large-scale school, until the depowering of most of the mutant population. It now serves as a safe haven to those mutants who are still powered, and as the home of the X-Men.

October 2007, saw the start of Messiah Complex which Marvel Editors believe to be one of the most turning points in the X-Men's 40 year history. With new titles spanning out of it including Cable, X-Force and Young X-Men, some old ones will be cancelled such as New X-Men. X-Men will also be renamed X-Men: Legacy. Marvel has stated the X-Men will come out of Messiah Complex completely changed and fans will be talking about it for years. The current team will disband in the aftermath of Messiah CompleX, but will reform in Uncanny X-Men #500 which will be the only Marvel comic to date to reach #500 without renumbering throughout the years.

Notable story arcs of this decade are "Eve of Destruction", "E Is for Extinction", "Planet X", "Gifted", "X-Men: Phoenix - Endsong", "House of M", "Decimation", "Deadly Genesis", "Endangered Species", and "Messiah Complex".

* Cyclops (Co-Headmaster & Leader) - First member of the team and first student of the Xavier Institute. He was a member of the original team. During his time with the X-Men he has served as a Field Leader. In 2002, when Xavier retired, Cyclops became co-headmaster of the Institute alongside Emma Frost.

* Iceman - Second student of the Xavier Institute and second member of the original team of X-Men. He left alongside the rest of the original team (besides Cyclops) when the new team (in 1975) joined. He later returned when the team split into 2 squads (blue & gold teams). Since then he has served as an X-Man on and off.

* Angel - Third student of the Xavier Institute and third member of the original team of X-Men. He left alongside the rest of the original team (besides Cyclops) when the new team joined. He later returned when Cyclops went on a leave of absence after Jean's death, but soon left after clashing with Wolverine. He returned when the team split into 2 squads in 1991 and since then has served on the team on and off.

* Beast (Medical Doctor) - Fourth student of the Xavier Institute and second member of the original team of X-Men. He left early on because he thought he was too old to be apart of the team any longer. He later returned when the team split into two squads in 1991. Since then he has acted as a part-time fighter to the team and full-time scientist, teacher, engineer, and medical doctor.

* Nightcrawler - Joined the X-Men as the new team in 1975 sent to save the original team from the evil island of Krakoa. Left the X-Men alongside Colossus and Shadowcat in 1987 and didn't come back until 1998, where he has remained an active member of the team since.

* Wolverine - Joined the X-Men as the new team in 1975 sent to save the original team from the evil island of Krakoa. Has since served as a member of the team on and off, leaving on various occasions for various reasons. Now also leads the killing team, X-Force.

* Storm (Field Leader) - Joined the X-Men as the leader of the new team in 1975 sent to save the original team from the evil island of Krakoa. Excluding interim periods, she remained a member of the team or the X-Treme X-Men since. She has also led the Fantastic Four and is Queen of Wakanda.

* Colossus - Joined the X-Men of the new team in 1975 sent to save the original team from the evil island of Krakoa. Served as on and off active member of the team until 1992 when he joined Magneto's Acolytes, and later joined Excalibur. He joined the X-Men again in 1998 until his death in 2001. He was later resurrected in 2004 and has been an active member of the X-Men since.

* Shadowcat - Joined the X-Men following Jean's death and Cyclops's departure in Uncanny X-Men #139. On and off, she remained a member of the team until 1987. She left alongside Nightcrawler to join Excalibur, until he return to the X-Men in 1998. Since then she has been an active member of the team.

* Rogue (Field Leader) - Joined the X-Men in Uncanny X-Men #171 (1983) after leaving Mystique's Brotherhood incarnation. Remained on the team until her accidental death by Dazzler. She was later revived and joined again when the team split into two squads in 1991. Since then she has been an on and off member of the X-Men and Storm's X.S.E.

* Cannonball - First to graduate from New Mutants to X-Men status (in 1995). Since he joined the team he has been an active member on and off, also teaming with X-Force in the late 90's.

* Emma Frost (Co-Headmistress & Leader) - Former White Queen of the Hellfire Club and big X-Men villain. In the 90's she led Generation X (a team of young mutants). In 2001, she joined the X-Men and eventually fell in love with Cyclops and fought with Jean about it from time to time. Jean later saved Emma when Emma's diamond form was shattered into pieces by using her powers to place together the pieces and weld them back together. Xavier soon retired from the X-Men and Emma be
came Co-Headmistress of the X-Men alongside Cyclops. She has served as an active member since.

X-Men The Movie
Hugh Jackman ... Logan / Wolverine
Patrick Stewart ... Professor Charles Xavier
Ian McKellen ... Eric Lensherr / Magneto
Famke Janssen ... Jean Grey
James Marsden ... Scott Summers / Cyclops
Halle Berry ... Ororo Munroe / Storm
Anna Paquin ... Rogue / Marie D'Ancanto
Tyler Mane ... Sabretooth
Ray Park ... Toad
Rebecca Romijn ... Mystique (as Rebecca Romijn-Stamos)
Bruce Davison ... Senator Kelly
Matthew Sharp ... Henry Gyrich
Rhona Shekter ... Magneto's Mother
Kenneth McGregor ... Magneto's Father
Shawn Roberts ... Rogue's Boyfriend

x2 (X Men 2)
Patrick Stewart ... Professor Charles Xavier
Hugh Jackman ... Logan / Wolverine
Ian McKellen ... Eric Lensherr / Magneto
Halle Berry ... Storm / Ororo Munroe
Famke Janssen ... Jean Grey
James Marsden ... Scott Summers / Cyclops
Anna Paquin ... Rogue / Marie D'Ancanto
Rebecca Romijn ... Mystique / Grace (as Rebecca Romijn-Stamos)
Brian Cox ... William Stryker
Alan Cumming ... Kurt Wagner / Nightcrawler
Bruce Davison ... Senator Kelly
Aaron Stanford ... John Allerdyce / Pyro
Shawn Ashmore ... Bobby Drake / Iceman
Kelly Hu ... Yuriko Oyama / Deathstrike
Katie Stuart ... Kitty Pryde

X-Men: The Last Stand
Hugh Jackman ... Logan / Wolverine
Halle Berry ... Ororo Munroe / Storm
Ian McKellen ... Eric Lehnsherr / Magneto
Patrick Stewart ... Professor Charles Xavier
Famke Janssen ... Jean Grey / Phoenix
Anna Paquin ... Marie / Rogue
Kelsey Grammer ... Dr. Henry 'Hank' McCoy / Beast
James Marsden ... Scott Summers / Cyclops
Rebecca Romijn ... Raven Darkholme / Mystique
Shawn Ashmore ... Bobby Drake / Iceman
Aaron Stanford ... John Allerdyce / Pyro
Vinnie Jones ... Cain Marko / Juggernaut
Ellen Page ... Kitty Pryde
Daniel Cudmore ... Peter Rasputin / Colossus
Ben Foster ... Warren Worthington III / Angel

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