The Genetic Lottery: Marvel’s 10 Coolest Mutant Powers (And Its 10 Worst)

The Genetic Lottery: Marvel’s 10 Coolest Mutant Powers (And Its 10 Worst)

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The Genetic Lottery: Marvel’s 10 Coolest Mutant Powers (And Its 10 Worst)

Being a mutant is no joke. Whether you’re a noble X-Man or a villainous member of the Brotherhood, someone is always trying to kill you. If it isn’t the other team, then it’s all the humans who think you’re a freak trying to usurp their place in the evolutionary chain. And that’s not even counting all the times the Avengers show up looking to start a fight for no discernible reason. Fortunately, mutants get an edge with the very powers that make them hated. Gifted since birth and manifesting during puberty, mutant powers have long been a curse and a blessing, and not necessarily just because you have powers.

Maybe you got lucky and you got something great. You could have a set of wings that allow you to fly, or be naturally, hypnotically beautiful to anyone that speaks to you. Or maybe the fates were against you, and you’re cursed with a deformed, bird-like appearance. Or worse, cursed with a terrible mutant power that seems completely useless, like skin made of a waxy, translucent substance or a one-time explosion. Here are the 10 coolest mutant powers you could hope to get, and 10 that you’d be unlucky to have.

WORST: OMNILINGUAL TRANSLATION

Being a mutant is definitely a mixed bag. Your powers are just as likely to leave you deformed or hideous as they are to be incredibly awesome. But even worse than that would have to be getting a boring superpower. Such was the fate of The New Mutants‘ Doug Ramsey. Ramsey, given the code name Cypher, had the mutant ability to read and translate any language. Admittedly, this is a pretty great gift all things considered. Cypher found himself in possession of great intelligence and the world of knowledge literally at his fingertips.

Unfortunately, from a story perspective, it bombed.

Many stories had to find more for Ramsey to even need to use his powers to remain relevant. As such, Cypher met his end just a few years into New Mutants and would remain dead for years (aside from a bizarre Ramsey and Warlock hybrid dubbed Douglock). Revived in the 2010s, an attempt was made to update his powers for the modern age by stretching the definition of these powers to define computer programming and body language as something Doug could read with ease, turning him into the X-Men’s foremost hacker and a capable combatant. Unfortunately, this power also turned out to have the worst downside, as Cypher recently re-emerged during The Hunt for Wolverine suffering from extreme Internet addiction, having lost his mind trying to decipher the web.

COOLEST: ENERGY PLASMOIDS

Jubilee was the inadvertent poster child of the X-Men for a long while. Her popularity on the animated series and her ties to Wolverine meant she showed up regularly, and her unique fireworks power made her an easy target for a flashy drawing or impressively stylized shot. It also made her a target for many fans who ridiculed her as little more than a mallrat who had the ability to shoot balls of light. It doesn’t help that she’s typically portrayed as such throughout her comics history, but Jubilee’s energy plasmoids might actually be the most potent of the X-Men’s arsenal.

The plasmoids aren’t fireworks, but closer to superheated plasma. She can create a bolt of bright light, but she can also push out enough power to bend steel or destroy a tree, and with precision can even detonate microbursts inside someone’s brain. However, it goes even beyond that, as Jubilee’s former Generation X instructor Emma Frost once speculated that if wielded properly, Jubilee could detonate objects on a subatomic level. This would create a devastating explosion on par with a fusion explosion, making Jubilee yet another incredibly powerful walking, talking nuclear bomb in the X-Men’s arsenal.

WORST: ACCELERATED BONE GROWTH

Your bones are already a big pain in your life. They cause you incredible pain when you’re growing up, and if you break one it’s possible you could never fully recover. But now imagine for a moment that they never stopped growing. And imagine that they kept growing out of your skin in an unpredictable fashion. Such is the plight of the Morlock girl Sara, who would later join the X-Men in the wake of “Operation: Zero Tolerance” as Marrow. Marrow’s power was one of the more unusual and unsettling ones in the X-Men pantheon, albeit one that has made her a fan favorite for years.

Marrow’s bones grew at an accelerated rate, jutting out of her skin uncontrollably. They did offer her some advantages, in that the bones were naturally incredibly dense, and could either be formed into makeshift armor or broken off and used as weapons. The powers were unfortunately also wildly unpredictable and, worst of all, they hurt. The bones jutting through the skin was painful enough, so you can imagine how it must have felt to break them off. There was also the odd secondary mutation of a second heart, which helped her body provide the energy needed to continue growing bones at the accelerated rate.

COOLEST: MOLECULAR ACCELERATION

Part of what makes Gambit one of the most popular and sensational X-Men characters is his unique and visually impressive mutant power. Gambit has molecular acceleration abilities, allowing him to convert the potential energy of an object and kinetically excite the molecules to the point that they explode on contact. This gives Gambit a limitless arsenal, with anything he can get his hands on becoming a deadly weapon. And it shows too, complementing his fluid, acrobatic combat style with a sense of improvisation that involves using anything at hand as a super-charged, explosive weapon. Typically, Gambit falls back on his old favorites, a deck of playing cards.

Nobody is on brand more than Gambit, but the playing cards are as much a practical choice as they are a stylistic one.

The playing cards are small enough to charge very quickly, but hold a potent blast on par with a hand grenade. There are seemingly no limits to what Gambit can charge up, so long as it isn’t organic material, and has charged larger and larger objects over time. As an added bonus of this ability, Gambit can charge an object rather than detonate it, allowing him to supercharge his trademark bo staff with devastating consequences.

WORST: TELEPATHY

Telepathy is the go-to superpower that a lot of fans want. Right up there with flight and invisibility, fans think about how great it would be to have the ability to read minds. It’s a fair desire, too. Just starting out, being able to read anyone’s mind at any time opens you up to a world of possibilities. And there are a host of benefits as well. Most telepaths are able to control an individual’s actions by planting suggestions and even hide by planting a suggestion that they aren’t really there. But then you have to really start to think about what being a telepath actually means.

Most telepaths are depicted as experiencing crippling headaches as their powers develop, so you’re starting off your new role as a telepathic powerhouse in incredible pain. On top of this, there’s always the long, arduous process of trying to learn to use your powers. Many telepaths have a long period where they’re unable to control their powers, opening them up to hearing the thoughts of everyone, whether they want to or not. The powers have also proven fatal on a number of occasions, with an accidental psychic backlash killing someone or rewriting their brain so they’re a blank slate. Being a telepath sounds like a lot of fun on paper, but in practice, it may be the worst power a mutant could get.

COOLEST: WEATHER MANIPULATION

Storm’s been a stand-up member of the X-Men for decades now, and her ability to control the weather is one of the most impressive powers around. Hailing from a tribe in Kenya, Storm’s powers manifested and she was perceived to be a goddess. She would live among the tribe as their worshiped goddess until Charles Xavier arrived and explained to her the true nature of her ability to control the weather at will. Under Xavier’s tutelage, Storm mastered here control over the weather in an impressive way, becoming one of the most prominent X-Men members and a respected leader for many years.

Technically speaking, Storm’s powers consist of control over an atomic level of weather elements in her surroundings, powers which extend to the weather even on off-world planets. Storm has demonstrated the ability to change temperature and climate, cause rain and generate lightning clouds, as well as the ability to create weather-related phenomena such as tornadoes and hurricanes. She also has precise control over the weather, in the past manipulating the air to suffocate or even increasing air pressure to throw off an opponent’s balance. The weather manipulation power set has been a long-running joke about the effectiveness of the powers at a picnic, but underestimating these abilities would be a grave mistake.

WORST: TRANSITIONAL OMNI-MORPH

The Guthries are a mutant dynasty. Eldest son Sam could create a blast field that launched him at superhuman speeds, earning him the name Cannonball and a respected position as one of the original New Mutants, and later as an Avenger! Joshua Guthrie had wings and a voice that could hypnotize, which he utilized through his music. Melody Guthrie gained the ability to soar on airwaves. Among all these unique abilities that gifted flight and hypnotism, Paige Guthrie discovered she had the uncanny ability to rip off her skin at will, revealing a variety of different bodily compositions underneath.

Underneath her skin, her body can take on the form of numerous natural materials, ranging from wood to diamond or even glass.

Paige, who would become known as Husk, is a transitional omni-morph. This was originally completely random, although training with the X-Men would eventually grant her a level of control over the form she chose. There was a host of secondary mutations to benefit this one, including buffs to her strength and speed, or form-specific ones such as increased elasticity when she had a rubber form or the ability to project fire when in a magma form. Unfortunately, this pretty disgusting and unsettling mutant power also came with a secondary mutation that resulted in mental instability, sending Paige into a deep depression and causing her to molt.

COOLEST: INTANGIBILITY

Think about how much time you could save if you were able to walk through walls instead of having to open doors. A few of the X-Men are lucky enough to be granted intangibility powers, allowing them to phase through solid objects. Longtime member and current X-Men leader Kitty Pryde, aka Shadowcat, has been one of the most prevalent mutants to use such an ability. Kitty’s often seen passing through walls, ceilings, floors, any solid object to get around, whether it’s moving into position to combat a dangerous enemy or just trying to get to the kitchen at the X-Mansion.

Kitty’s intangibility isn’t just something that she uses to get around though, it has a wealth of offensive capabilities. By phasing through an electronic object, Kitty can cause the circuitry to short out, and is resistant to psychic attacks when intangible. Perhaps most terrifying has been her tactical use of her ability to go solid, threatening to solidify her arms while they’re inside the body of an opponent. Kitty has also had the ability to make other objects intangible, phasing objects such as a giant world-destroying bullet to allow it to pass through entire planets unharmed. Impressively, when Kitty phased the giant bullet and was trapped in her intangible form for years, it was revealed she had survived inside it without eating, drinking or sleeping.

WORST: SENTIENT DIGESTIVE SYSTEM

The X-Men have had their fair share of strange characters with strange powers. Transparent skin, bird-like features, or even an excessive amount of skin. But these all pale in comparison to the powers of the South African X-Man Japheth, who would come to be known as Maggott. Maggott had a sentient digestive system in the form of two bizarre slug creatures that lived in his abdomen, functioning as his stomach. Maggott would release the slugs several times a day to absorb food, which he required to survive but would also provide him with increased strength and durability.

This bizarre power seemed to rob Maggott of a lot of simple pleasures in life. He spent most of his childhood in crippling pain, with doctors attributing the bizarre slug creatures to cancer until Magneto forcibly removed them from his body. Maggott himself couldn’t eat, as he had no stomach, relying entirely on the slugs for sustenance. It also had the side effect of turning his skin blue and deforming his musculature to hideous, overblown proportions at his peak power. Maggott had more than a share of benefits, including the ability to absorb the memories of anyone the slugs would consume, but it still doesn’t change the fact that his mutant power was an external stomach in the form of techno-organic slugs.

COOLEST: SHAPESHIFTING

How cool would it be to just change your appearance on a daily basis? Shapeshifters are commonplace among the X-Men, though perhaps none more so than classic villain Mystique. With the ability to shapeshift into any form at will, Mystique became the ultimate assassin and spy of the Marvel Universe, feared by virtually everyone she came across. Her shapeshifting is among the most potent in the Marvel Universe, and recent enhancements following a resurrection by The Hand have made her so gifted that she could even disguise herself from an acute hunter such as Wolverine.

Mystique’s shapeshifting allows her to also shift her organs and also mimic different materials and textures.

Shapeshift typically comes with a host of secondary mutations as well. Plenty of other mutant shapeshifters have appeared over the years, each with their own unique twists on the ability. Morph of The Exiles, for example, had a malleability power which gave him the ability to shapeshift, though he used his powers more to change his body than to assume other forms. These abilities offer their users enhanced durability as well, a side effect of their body’s ability to change shapes. Shapeshifters will also typically have reduced or altogether stopped aging, with Mystique easily being over 100 years old.

WORST: ACIDIC VOMIT

Peter Milligan and Mike Allred drastically reworked the X-Force concept when they took over the title in 2001 and introduced a host of bizarre and terrifying mutants. Acidic sweat, enhanced sensitivity so strong that one couldn’t function without a special suit and enlarging fat deposits are just the beginning of a number of powers which defined the strangest team of mutants ever assembled. But even stranger was the powerset of one-time leader Zeitgeist, who died in the team’s very first appearance. He had the ability to spew acidic vomit.

This power is every bit as terrible as it sounds. It was an effective power, all things considered, shown to be capable of melting through thick steel, but it obviously ruined Zeitgeist’s life. For starters, he could only spew his acidic vomit as far as a normal human could, so his range was pretty ineffective. He also couldn’t control the acidic flow from his mouth, and as such always had to wear a special mouthpiece so he wouldn’t melt someone’s face off just by talking to them. Zeitgeist died as something of a joke in his first appearance, though he had a legacy through the remaining X-Force run, and remained popular enough with fans to earn an appearance in Deadpool 2.

COOLEST: SANGUINE COMBUSTION

Sanguine Combustion might be one of the coolest powers to exist in the Marvel Universe. By exposing the blood to higher than normal levels of oxygen, Adam-X was able to spark ignition in the blood, burning his opponents from the inside out. The ability proved incredibly effective. When fighting Eric the Red alongside the second Captain Marvel, Genis-Vell, a small nick on the shoulder of Eric the Red was enough for Adam-X to explode him from the inside out, detonating his ship along with it.

There are definitely a number of drawbacks behind this power, though. As previously mentioned, the blood has to be exposed to oxygen in order for the trick to work. Adam-X worked around this by wearing a suit covered in razor-sharp blades and carrying a pair of sharp swords. He fought with a style built around cutting his opponents, opening up wounds to allow him to strike with his powers. It also doesn’t counteract the existing powers of a target. When facing a Juggernaut enhanced by the powers of The Serpent in Fear Itself, Adam-X was able to ignite Juggernaut’s blood, but it only turned him into an unstoppable enemy who was able to light anything he touched on fire.

WORST: IMPERCEPTIBILITY

Imagine living your life in a perpetual clean slate. No matter who you talk to, no matter what you do, the second you’re out of sight, you’re literally written out of existence. Videos erase themselves, conversations are forgotten. You exist in a state of being where you simply are not. This is the curse of ForgetMeNot, one of the most peculiar and obscure X-Men characters. ForgetMeNot is a living Schrodinger’s Cat, except he can never truly be viewed.

Once you take your eyes off him, even just for a second, you completely forget he ever existed.

It’s a plague for ForgetMeNot. He thought he had a workaround when Professor Xavier created a psychic alarm clock that would remind him once an hour of ForgetMeNot’s existence, but when Xavier died, so too did anyone who remembered he was alive. And an attempt to have his powers removed by Omega and Mimic proved troublesome when they realized he would have no identity, as a person or legally, once he lost his powers. Still, ForgetMeNot proved a loyal X-Man, retroactively written into several classic stories but explained away as having been forgotten. He would return for the 2014 run of X-Force, where it was revealed that Fantomex’s engineered brain could remember him, but has been notably absent from X-Men titles ever since.

COOLEST: TELEPORTATION

Traffic is the worst. You just need to get from point a to point b as quickly as possible, and you can’t do it because you’re busy dealing with everyone else who is in your way. Fortunately, the mutant race has a pretty quick way around this: teleportation! The various X-Men teams and their villainous counterparts have relied on teleporters for as long as they’ve been around. The most notable of which, Nightcrawler, joined up with the team as a member of the all-new, all-different X-Men. Since then, Kurt’s been regarded as something of a teleportation guru.

Teleportation is pretty straightforward so far as powers go. Kurt’s able to teleport in any direction within a few miles, though he does have to travel through a terrifying Hell dimension in order to do so. There are other teleporters in the X-Men’s repertoire, though they use different means of teleportation to do so. Both Pixie and Magick have been primary means of transportation for various teams, using magic devices and spells to do so. Most impressively, though, would be Blink of Exiles and Age of Apocalypse. With the ability to generate teleportation warps in the form of glowing crystal shards that opened portals, she’s been able to teleport as far as the Moon, with no tested upper limit to her teleportation abilities.

WORST: MINIATURE STAR/BLACK HOLE FOR A BRAIN

The brothers Xorn are already a confusing tale, thanks to the machinations of Magneto and their unique powers. Kuan-Yin Xorn was first introduced during Grant Morrison’s iconic run on New X-Men, a character with an interesting visual design and a mysterious past. Xorn wore a containment helmet because his brain was a miniaturized star, which meant his head emitted a fierce, blinding light that was dangerous to other humans, as well as granting him a degree of gravity-based electromagnetism. Somehow, Xorn also had the ability to change his appearance and posed as Magneto, who was claiming to be posing as Xorn, to infiltrate the X-Men.

Sometime after this was revealed, Kuan-Yin’s brother Shen Xorn would be discovered. He was his brother’s twin, down to his power, although his brain was instead a miniature black hole. Shen would possess the same gravity-based electromagnetism powers as his brother, but appeared to retain his mental faculties. Still, these powers proved to be a burden for the brothers Xorn. Despite being able to survive without needing to eat or even breath and having incredible healing powers, the burden of the respective cosmic bodies in their brains required them to hide behind their helmets for their entire lives and leading to a miserable, tortured childhood.

COOLEST: HEALING FACTOR

The healing factor is probably one of the more common mutant powers to exist in the universe of the X-Men. Many mutants are indicated to have an enhanced healing factor as a secondary mutation, as a means of coping with the incredible strain their powers put on their body. For the sake of this list, we’re talking about the healing factor as a more primary power. Naturally, this means we’re talking about the healing factor possessed by the most popular X-Man of them all, Wolverine, as well as his counterparts such as Sabertooth, Laura (now the all-new Wolverine) and Daken.

Wolverine’s healing factor borders on absurdity. When he first debuted, it was simply an accelerated rate of healing, which ultimately meant that he just healed slightly faster from wounds than a normal person. Over the years, though, this has developed into near-immortality. During Civil War, Wolverine survived a full-on blast from supervillain Nuke, reducing him to a skeleton, yet he still bounced back. What’s more impressive is that the healing factor isn’t even at full potential. It was revealed after he had the adamantium ripped off his bones by Magneto that the indestructible metal was poisoning his system, keeping his healing factor working overtime and diminishing its effectiveness. Once the adamantium was gone, Wolverine’s healing factor went into overdrive, regressing him to a bestial state.

WORST: ACOUSTIKINESIS

One-time villain Sean Cassidy joined the all-new, all-different X-Men on their iconic rescue mission to Krakoa as the bombastic Banshee. A one-time Interpol agent, the Irishman had the unique ability to manipulate the sounds produced by his vocal chords for a number of tasks. He was able to throw his opponents off their guard or even create a concussive force that could crush buildings. He was able to hypnotize opponents, repel attacks by creating a sonic shield and could see in pitch black by using his voice as a sonar ping. Perhaps the most iconic imagery of the character was when Banshee would use his voice to propel himself across airwaves thanks to a set of special wings provided by the X-Men.

To utilize his acoustikinesis he had to use a deafening wail, which made him the last person you’d bring on a stealth mission.

The problem here is this all requires the use of his voice, and thus Sean earned the Banshee codename. Banshee could only utilize his acoustikinesis by literally screaming at the top of his lungs, a deafening wail that made him the last person you’d bring on a stealth mission. Banshee’s powers would prove to be incredibly potent, but also came with the caveat that his vocal chords were a major weakness as well. Using his wail too much could damage his voice and nullify his ability to scream, and he was once rendered powerless after having his throat cut by Mystique.

COOLEST: PROBABILITY FIELD MANIPULATION

“Hope you survive the experience.” The long-running catchphrase for the X-Men uttered sarcastically to every new recruit shouldn’t be taken lightly. The turn over for X-Men is unusually high, with many dying in the line of duty. You’d need a good stretch of luck to make it as one of the longest-tenured X-Men, and fortunately, such a power exists. Probability Field Manipulation basically comes down to the ability to increase your odds of something good happening to you, and it’s a surprisingly common powerset among mutants.

The ability works through a combination of kinetic and psionic manipulations of the environment, steering their luck towards being in their favor and their opponents’ against them. It doesn’t make anything truly insane happen, but it does make subtle shifts happen in the world. Both X-Force member Domino and Mojoverse refugee Longshot have demonstrated this ability, using it to increase their marksmanship and become lethal fighters in their own respects. The key difference is that Longshot’s luck power is more unpredictable and must be triggered, even occasionally backfiring, whereas Domino’s appears to be a response to her current situation. Regardless, despite the gifts, the two rely primarily on their own skills in combat rather than their luck, using it to enhance their natural combat abilities.

WORST: ONE-TIME SELF DETONATION

Bailey Hoskins was a nobody. He didn’t stand out, he wasn’t special, and he didn’t matter to anybody. Then, one day, Bailey found out he was a mutant. His parents were mutants, with his mother being able to turn invisible and his father presumably able to raise his body temperature. Bailey would go to the X-Men to confer with them about his own X-Gene and discover he was a human firework. Bailey had the ability to explode on command and control the size and strength of said explosion. Unfortunately, Bailey didn’t develop a secondary mutation.

Bailey got one explosion, and that was it. His power didn’t evolve to allow him to survive the blast and reform his body, so using his power would kill him in the explosion. Bailey would become an X-Man despite this, relying on a suit of power armor to compensate for the fact that he was basically a normal human and trying to find his place among the various teams. Ultimately he would be responsible for the downfall of humanity, failing to stop the mutant Riches from killing Xavier. Bailey would eventually use his one-time explosion to kill Riches years later, while a reality-warping mutant would prevent Xavier’s death. Bailey hasn’t been seen since, and may not actually exist in the modern continuity.

COOLEST: INSTANTANEOUS ADAPTION

Life’s pretty dangerous, especially if you’re hanging around with a bunch of similarly powered mutants. If you wanted to make sure you had the best chance of survival, you’d want to shoot for something that would help keep you alive. Darwin, a mainstay of X-Factor following M-Day, might have the power you’d most want to have if you were an X-Man. He had the ability to instantaneously adapt to any situation in a manner that would guarantee his survival, allowing him to power through some of the most treacherous attacks in mutant history.

No matter what situation you get put in, instantaneous adaption allows you to survive.

Trapped underwater? You’ll grow a pair of gills so you can breathe indefinitely. Can’t see because all light has been extinguished? Now you have night vision. The power has also demonstrated a surprising scale, including raising Darwin’s intelligence levels so that he could understand alien languages. Of course, this does come with a few caveats. Much like with the healing factor, Darwin is likely immortal or close to it, dooming him to a long life with no means of dying. His powers are also completely reactive and out of his control, resulting in hilariously backfiring on a number of occasions, such as teleporting him to another state when facing down a rampaging Hulk.

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