As ScreenJunkies snarkily wisely noted in "Honest Trailers - X-Men Trilogy":

In the world where people cheer the Fantastic Four, Avengers, Spider-Man, those same people will inexplicably hate the X-Men.

Why is that so? AFAIK, all these superheroes exist in the same exact comic universe, yet X-Men seem to always be significantly more disliked.

The question is primarily about comics, but if X-Men movies are part of MCU, I will accept an answer from MCU as well, since after all it was inspired in second degree by the movies.

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    X-Men isn't part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (at least not yet; do you have something to tell us?)
    – Izkata
    Sep 6, 2014 at 23:23
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    Aside, I'd guess that it's distrust of mutants in general, not simply the X-Men. The other named superheroes, there's only 1 of each, so there's some (limited) level of accountability. Mutants on the other hand can be anyone anywhere with any powers.
    – Izkata
    Sep 6, 2014 at 23:24
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    Honestly, it is the bad press, coupled with the constant assaults of mutant superbads (Magneto, Apocalypse) boasting how mutants will replace humanity (which causes distress among humans not blessed with amazing mutant abilities) or the collateral damage from giant robots screaming at the top of their lungs "Mutant detected. Exterminate the mutant." Then they proceed to destroy the mutant AND the city block he was standing on. This does not lend good PR to mutant/human relations. If I were a human, I would hate to see any known mutant coming. Trouble follows along with them. Sep 7, 2014 at 0:02
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    Does anyone have any canonical evidence that the X-Men live in the same universe as these other superheroes? I always assumed they were separate. Sep 7, 2014 at 23:29
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    Spiderman is pretty hated.
    – jpmc26
    Sep 8, 2014 at 4:21

7 Answers 7


It’s the tyranny of evolution. Sooner or later, you have a species that will have a genetic or technological advantage and that species will always conquer a species without that advantage. Carthage, the triumph of the Homo sapiens over the Neanderthal showed us that. Now what do we have? We have Homo superior versus Homo sapiens. On a level playing field, Homo superior wins every time.

That is a quote by the character Wade in season 4 of Babylon 5, explaining why he believed all telepaths in that universe needed to be either murdered or enslaved for use by “normals” (homo sapiens). The same guidelines clearly apply in the Marvel Universe.

For all their power, the Fantastic Four are not the future of humanity. They will not outcompete, enslave, or otherwise marginalise the human race. Neither is Spider Man. Nor are most of the Avengers. Even people like Captain America, who could theoretically be the first of many super-soldiers with better-than-human abilities, is only that way because he was artificially made that way. Whether by accident or design, most meta-humans in the Marvel Universe are like this. Others, such as Dr Strange or Tony Stark, are usually regular humans who gained their fantastic abilities through hard work, dedication, and sometimes simple luck. While there may be reason to fear such people, there's no reason to fear what they represent to humanity.

Mutants are different. They are the future of humanity; sooner or later, all humans will be mutants. As such, they are a clear and present danger to humanity. The only way to prevent mutants from someday replacing humanity is to kill them. And mutants know this. So even if humans decide to be friendly and peaceful, many mutants will still seek to kill or enslave them for their own protection, as well as the future protection of their offspring. Knowing this, humans are encouraged to act the same way.

This is a conflict that can never, ever be resolved, except by the extinction of one or both parties. It is a writer's dream, as the potential for conflict is unparalleled. There is no long-term threat to the human race posed by Tony Stark; even if he creates a thousand Iron Men and turns them into his private army, he's just a more-powerful than usual human dictator. Someone like the Hulk is an individual; while he may threaten the human race, he can't really change it into something else. Mutants are changing the human race every day, and they may not even know it. Unless you've had extensive genetic testing done, you may well be a mutant; you just don't know it yet. You can't tell them apart by looking at them, you'll never know if your best friend, daughter, or wife is a mutant unless they tell you or you catch them in the act of using their powers, and with every generation, more and more of the human population will be comprised of mutants.

It's the tyranny of evolution, and there are very legitimate reasons to hate and fear it. While it is unfair to transfer that hate and fear onto individual mutants, it is human nature. And mutant nature. After all, they're not different from humans; they are humans. Just better. And nothing can kill or enslave humans more effectively than a better breed of human. Ask Carthage.

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    @Keen Nightcrawler: Then why not stay in disguise all the time? You know, look like everyone else. Mystique: Because we shouldn't have to.
    – phantom42
    Sep 7, 2014 at 1:16
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    That's not always an option. Also, why should they hide what they are? After all they are a stand-in for gays. Sep 7, 2014 at 1:17
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    @phantom42 Oh I meant more like pretending to be a non-mutant superhero. "Oh, I got these powers after being bitten by a radioactive worm!"
    – user1027
    Sep 7, 2014 at 1:26
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    @Keen: It's harder to fight for gay rights if you're pretending to be straight the whole time, isn't it? Sep 7, 2014 at 1:29
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    "likely because racism in America has been completely solved." What world do you live in?
    – phantom42
    Sep 7, 2014 at 18:49

It's partially media, partially paranoia, and an enhanced sense of xenophobia, coupled with the constant assaults of mutant superbads (Magneto, Apocalypse) boasting how mutants will replace humanity. Add to that, the collateral damage from giant robots shouting "Mutant detected. Exterminate the mutant" then destroying the mutant AND the city block he was standing on. This does not lend good PR to mutant/human relations.

A person living in the Marvel Universe has a life very different from yours and mine. His world is an uncertain one.

  • One day he is on his way to work and there is suddenly an invasion of Kree warriors bent on battling the Avengers right on the freeway he's driving over. The battle ties up traffic for hours, costing him money and prestige at his job. Hundreds of people are injured in the collateral damage of buildings and cars being destroyed.

  • A month later, after they managed to repair the bridge, the Mole man ventures up from his subterranean lair and battles the Fantastic Four. Mr. Average's car is destroyed as one of the Mole Man's monsters trudges through the city before being put down by Ben Grimm. Hundreds of people are injured or even killed.

  • Three months after that Mr. Average, riding the bus to work now, finds his bus under attack as a powerful and hidden mutant is riding the bus with him, in disguise. Mr. Average escapes with a few burns and a deep abiding fear of giant robots which randomly attack buses full of normal people to reach "dangerous" mutants.

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Mass Hysteria

Every day after each attack news pundits like J. Jonah Jameson espouse about the dangers of mutants, Spider-Man and superheroes in general. But mutants catch special flack because they could be anyone. You. Your neighbors, the person on the bus next to you could be a mutant.

  • Hysteria is a powerful tool in a world where uncertainty is fanned by fear-promoting pundits and the threat of attack is a regular event at least once every Marvel year, somewhere on the planet. See: Kree-Skrull War, Galactus, Invasion of the Skrulls, Shuma Gorath, Magneto and his Acolytes, Apocalypse, etc.

  • Look how powerful hysteria is on our modern Earth when the random threat of terrorism is used to manipulate how people feel about other HUMANS. We created the Patriot Act, we dropped bombs on foreign countries for the FEAR of terrorism. The single act of the destruction of the World Trade Center over a decade ago STILL has people in the grip of fear.

  • Now imagine you had events like this happening every year, some of them, not all of them are due to the mysterious mutants living among us, with fantastic powers capable of wiping out all of humanity with the blink of an eye, (so the news media sells it, no matter that it in the case of certain mutants is actually TRUE).

A Legitimate Fear of Incredible Power

As an individual without fantastic powers and a need to go to work, protect your family, pay your taxes, be a decent individual and maintain a role in society, the very fact that you may feel insignificant compared to the mutant superbeing carrying away the stadium you were hoping to watch tonight's baseball game in undermines your self esteem, hell, your very sanity as you see the impossible being done before your very eyes.

enter image description here

  • Imagine Mr. Average learns the person carrying away your stadium is a mutant, a being who was born this way and whose probably manifested as a teenager. He has a twelve year old daughter and a ten year old son. Could this happen to him? Is it possible that his children could have this mutant gene you hear so much misinformation about?

  • What about that town that was blown off the map out there when those Young Warriors fought that criminal Nitro? Everyone was killed. Could that happen here? Should mutants and superbeings be registered? (See: Civil War)

  • Maybe Strucker has the right idea. Maybe the best thing that could happen is we kill all the mutants before they take over the world. (Not knowing that it has already happened more than once and been reversed; See: House of M). Being an ordinary human in this world would be a terrifying experience akin to living in a warzone where you had no options but to run and hide whenever anything happened.

We Have Seen the Enemy...

Why do mutants have it worse than the rest of the metahuman community?

  • Most of the metahuman community makes an effort to be seen as being on the same side as normal humans. At least some of them have been revealed to be normal humans (Tony Stark, Hawkeye, Black Widow) resemble normal humans (Thor) or were once normal humans (the Hulk).

  • But mutants were born this way, their appearances vary wildly, along with their powers, many in learning to control their powers, harm innocents and even if they become "good" mutants have blood on their hands. When they are evil mutants, they seem to relish their powers and kill without reservation. There are reports (however unreliable) that more mutants are being born every day.

enter image description here

What is a normal man to do in a world where the uncertainty of his very existence depends on a very thin line of metahumans to protect him from the ever-growing menace of mutant power on an Earth in an ever-expanding hostile universe of threats. Aliens, gods, intelligent machines are terrifying but they are the Other.

Mutants? They are us. And they are everywhere. There is no where to run...

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    yeah this is a good example...i really like this...you could say paranoid and xenophobia though...
    – user24562
    Sep 8, 2014 at 2:00

I should begin by admitting that there is a considerable amount of speculation involved in this answer. However, this speculation, as far as I can see, is consistent with the storylines from the Marvel Universe.

For the most part, other superheroes became superhuman, often because of an accident or some other unforeseen events. For example, Spider-man was a normal person until he was bitten by a radioactive spider. The Hulk was a normal person until he was exposed to a high dosage of gamma radiation.

Mutants, on the other hand, are born mutants. Parents fear that their kids will be born "different". Mutants reinforce this fear. No one knows why babies are suddenly being born with these mutations and superpowers, but it is becoming more prevalent all the time. Parents who don't hate mutants themselves would still be upset if their kids were born as mutants, because they will be subjected to ridicule, discrimination, and even violence. And of course, there is a good chance that they may turn out to be the bad kind of mutant - more Magneto than Xavier (although most people don't make much of a distinction between the two).

Other superheroes are unique and isolated cases. There is no possibility that the world will be overwhelmed by billions of Spider-men. There won't be a million Hulks or Thors or Iron Men or whatever. They are remarkable because they are rare, and they are rare because they only exist due to some sort of mishap or unanticipated event. People in New York might not like Spider-man very much, but they also don't worry about Spider-men taking over the world.

Mutants, on the other hand, are becoming more and more common. The trend of mutant children is, if anything, increasing. There are more mutants being born every day (or at least every month or year). Therefore, whereas other heroes might be disliked, mutants stoke the inherent fear humans have of being replaced or surpassed by something better than us.

Turning to supervillains, they usually work as individuals or small groups. The only thing that makes them occasionally team up is a specific shared objective, which is generally quite temporary in nature. Once they beat their opponents or get what they came for, they go their separate ways. Furthermore, when the bad guys show up, it is pretty easy to tell who is bad and who is good - the good guys are the ones trying to stop the bad guys, and they have little or nothing in common aside from their superpowers.

Mutants, on the other hand, are split into two groups, good guys and bad guys, but to outside observers, they're all just mutants. For whatever reason, people have trouble seeing any difference between the two sides. A big part of this dynamic is probably the influence of the media: as I understand it, the press generally says "some mutants destroyed half the city" or whatever, not "the evil mutants aligned with Magneto were thwarted by the X Men in their attempt to take over the city". Chances are that if the fight was between Thor and Loki, the press would say "Loki tried to take over the city, but Thor stopped him".

All of these factors combined give us the situation you described: people hate and fear mutants far more than they do other superheroes.

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    Donno why this answer didn't get more love Jun 30, 2016 at 23:46

I think that mutants have that feeling of "master race" behind them. They get their powers from a common source, so people instinctively feel like they are a monolithic enemy. So they do what they can to keep mutants down. Now people who get powers from another source. That's different. I think people see that as similar to winning the lottery. They don't want to do anything to harm those guys because they all dream of the day that a freak nuclear mishap will give them powers as well.

I have also heard that it was a deliberate choice by Marvel, to show the irrationality of prejudice.


Mutants are hated because they are feared, and they are feared due to their pottential for growth and overturning the status quo.

Every other superhero is either the result of a freak extraordinary events which will never ever happen again (mutant spider bite, suriviving a cosmic storm) but mutants are the result of something that happens all the time, people having children.

Let's say the chanche of suriving a cosmic storm and gaining powers is 0.000000000000000001 and the chanche of being a mutant is ten thousand times lower. the number of children being born is so much higher than the number of space flights that mutants will allways increase faster than FF knock-offs.

That was growth but now let's talk about threats to the status quo, most hero's would be on the top even without their powers Reed Richards would have just been a world renowned genius, Tony Stark would have been just a bilionare/briliant engineer Charles Xavier would have been just a genetics professor with a huge trust fund.

People are ok with these guys being above them due to their powers because even without them they would be the elite, but mutation can strike anywhere the poorest,most looked down upon of society could pottentialy rise to the top with powers.

Anyone who considers that he/she beenfits form the current power structure would be afraid, there's also the more personal threat that their children could develop at adolescence powers which would remove any force their parents could exert.

  • Isn't this already covered by other answers? Sep 8, 2014 at 16:45

It's perhaps worth revisiting this, given Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season four.

In the actual MCU, we see that Inhumans (not the ones from Attilan) receive the same sort of treatment as mutants do in the X-Men "cinematic universe" (for want of a better term).

As is true of mutants, someone can be an Inhuman without anyone realizing it. While it should logically be a genetic trait, we've seen siblings (the anti-Inhuman Senator and her brother) where one proves to be inhuman and the other apparently does not.

In the comics, we've seen similar dread of NuHumans (members of the general populace who prove to have Inhuman ancestry) as we see of mutants. With terrigenesis stopped (for now at least), much of that may go away; dread of mutants remains.

In the comics, there certainly have been stories where all people with powers were mistrusted - most notably (but not exclusively) the original CIVIL WAR storyline.

The origins of characters like Spider-Man are not publicly known, thus there are probably those in the MU who believe he is a mutant - and many who don't trust him, regardless.

(Just to cover it somewhere: the out-of-universe reason why mutants will always be hated is that they fill in for whatever group the creators feel is most hated without reason in society as a whole. Over the years, you can see parallels to the current "hated and feared" group. This aspect of things got played up much more strongly during the Claremont years. The legacy virus, for example, hit the mutant community hard around the time the HIV virus was hitting the gay community. Recently, there have been talks about deporting mutants, when undocumented immigrants are a major political issue.)


Super heroes are always , by definition working for the good of mankind, whereas mutants are often evil or neutral. Besides, mutants are viewed as unnatural. Super heroes are often in the public eye, whereas mutants are often secretive. Also, many superheroes are often mistrusted or disliked.

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