- "Ladies and gentlemen, we are now seeing the beginnings of another stage of human evolution. These mutations manifest at puberty and are often triggered by periods of heightened emotional stress."
- ―Jean Grey at a United States senate hearing
Mutants are human beings born with what is known as the X-Gene, which usually expresses itself in the form of superhuman abilities that manifest at puberty or periods of heightened emotional stress. Though some mutants can pass as ordinary humans, there are those who have visible physical characteristics that signify their mutant nature. Mutants are believed to be the next evolutionary phase of humanity.
Pre-DiscoveryEn Sabah Nur. James Howlett and Victor Creed, who fought in important wars of American history, were the next, earliest known mutants. By the time of World War II, mutants became a more widespread phenomenon, though humanity at large continued to be ignorant of their existence. Alternatively, the Nuclear Age caused an acceleration of the mutant gene, finally making a species of them.
It was not until the 1960s when the existence of mutantkind was revealed to the U.S. Government during the Cuban Missile Crisis, which was orchestrated by Sebastian Shaw, who sought to destroy baseline humans so that mutants could rule the Earth, with Shaw as their leader. His plans were thwarted by a group of mutant misfits, who used their unique gifts to prevent a nuclear war, effects of which would cause the mutant gene to become truly dominant on the planet, with humanity becoming extinct as a result. However, their heroic actions exposed mutants to the world in irrevocable ways.
First Extermination Attempt
In 2003, Colonel William Stryker, Jr. sought to rid the world of mutantkind by using a combination of his son, Jason Stryker, and Charles Xavier's powers with Cerebro to mentally kill all mutants in the world. His plan backfired on him, and not only caused the near-extermination of humans, but also a full-out war between mutants and humans.
A "Cure" to Mutation
In 2006, the billionaire businessman Warren Worthington II sought to cure his son of his "affliction" and used his corporation to create a mutant cure, using a mutant child as a source. The cure was supposed to be used to cure mutants and make them human again, but it was also used as a weapon by the U.S. military in case dangerous mutants posed a threat to human lives.
Learning of this, mutant supremacist Magneto led an army to the headquarters of Worthington Labs, in San Francisco, to destroy it before it was used to exterminate mutantkind. He was thwarted by the X-Men, fortunately. Later, the cure was discovered to be temporary, as mutants such as Magneto began to regain their powers.
In 1973, the Sentinel Program was used after Bolivar Trask was killed by Mystique. Later on, with her DNA, they created the Sentinel: Mark X, a Sentinel that can adapt to its environment and use mutant abilities. They begin targeting mutants, and eventually, families with the potential to have mutants. The humans who sided with mutants were condemned to concentration camps alongside the mutants they helped. By 2023, the war with the Sentinels has created a dystopian world where most of mutantkind are gone and only the worst of humanity are left.
Relentlessly hunted by the Sentinels, the remainder of the X-Men allied with the Free Mutants to put an end to the Sentinels. Using Shadowcat's powers, Wolverine traveled back in time to 1973 in order to stop Mystique from killing Trask and causing the creation of the Sentinel Program. With the aid of the past versions of Charles Xavier and Hank McCoy, Wolverine was able to change events so that Mystique did not kill Trask and was seen saving the life of President Richard Nixon. As a result, the Sentinel Program was canceled and Trask was arrested for selling secrets to foreign governments, altering the future.
Paris Peace Accords
The existence of mutants became known to the world at the Paris Peace Accords in 1973. Magneto, Beast, and Mystique were caught battling each other on camera, their powers exposed to a crowd of onlookers. When Mystique saved the life of the United States president in Washington, her face became a symbol of peaceful co-existence between humans and mutants by 1983.
Rise of Apocalypse
In 1983, whilst investigating a cult known as Ashir En Sabah Nur, FBI agent Moira MacTaggert uncovered the remains of the pyramid in which En Sabah Nur (Apocalypse) was imprisoned. In doing so, she inadvertently triggered his awakening, allowing Apocalypse to roam through the streets of Cairo. Upon rescuing a mutant street orphan known as Storm, Apocalypse learned that humans have become the dominant species on the planet. Believing them to be "false gods", he decided to assemble a team of powerful mutants to act his "Four Horsemen" in his quest to wipe out humanity.
Apocalypse convinced Storm, Psylocke, Angel, and Magneto to join his crusade against humanity, enhancing their powers to their full potential. When Charles Xavier attempted to reason with Magneto using Cerebro, Apocalypse took control of Charles and disarmed the world of its nuclear weapons using the latter's telepathic powers. He then had his Horsemen kidnap Charles in the hopes of using the professor as his next host.
To transfer his consciousness into Charles' body, Apocalypse created a pyramid to facilitate the ritual. He instructed Magneto to cause magnetic disturbances on Earth that will result in mass destruction and the extinction of humankind. In the midst of transferring his consciousness to Charles, a few of the mutants of Xavier's School - lead by Mystique and Beast - battled Apocalypse's Horsemen to save the professor. Though they are successful in saving Charles, Apocalypse's power proved to be too great when he battled Charles on the astral plane. Weakened, Charles called out to his student Jean Grey and convinced her to unleash the full extent of her powers. Through the combined attack of the mutants and two of his former Horsemen, Storm and Magneto respectively, Apocalypse's physical and mental form is obliterated by Jean's power.
After the mansion is rebuilt from being destroyed during Apocalypse's kidnapping of Charles, Mystique and Beast took on the responsibility of training the students who helped vanquish Apocalypse. They become the next generation of X-Men.
At some point before and during 2004, Transigen and it's partner Alkali covertly implemented a new program to eradicate the mutants. In order to stop the random and natural apparition of everyone that carried an active X-Gene in the general population, Alkali- Transigen created genetically modified corn stalks, and put chemicals in mass produced foods and drinks. The consumption of these items by unknowing consumers was preventing an active mutant X-Gene from being transmitted to their progeny and thus were responsible for the lack of known mutant births, and quick decline of the mutant population from that point onward.
Genetic manipulation, torture methods, and near-death experiences were found to be capable of causing an artificial mutation. The genetic manipulation started with a serum used to awaken the X-Gene inside a normal human, while the human was then subjected to extreme stress, caused by torture and near death experiences, with some human subjects being put on the brink of death to cause a mutation. However, as not all humans have dormant mutant genes, the torture could end up killing the subjects instead of mutating them. These were used to create super-humans, conditioned to become strong and obedient super-soldiers.
They were fitted with a device known as a Control Collar, which made them obedient to whoever the subjects were sold to. The process usually caused a loss of morality, ethics, compassion, and remorse, leaving most subjects indifferent, cruel, and sometimes, sadistic people, without much of a sense of humor. Notable subjects of this are Angel Dust and Ajax, while Wade Wilson, another human given artificial mutations, who wound eventually be known as "Deadpool", retained his sense of humor while losing much of his humanity and sanity, leaving him with a humorous and child-like personality combined with that of a ruthless and brutal killer.
The Westchester Incident
In 2028, at Westchester, Charles Xavier developed Alzheimer’s, which in turn affected his telepathy, and suffered a psychic seizure that injured over 600 people and killed 7 mutants, including several members of the X-Men. After this, Charles was believed dead and Logan states that the X-Men are gone. The X-Men had been disbanded, with the only two surviving members being Logan, whose healing factor started to fail, and an Alzheimer's-afflicted Charles Xavier.
Following their success in stopping the proliferation of mutants, by 2029 no new mutant birth had been officially reported in 25 years, at least in the U.S., with the only ones still alive being hunted and forced to hide, Alkali-Transigen began the next phase of its operation. In order to do so, they genetically engineered mutant children in a Mexican lab, using the DNA of older mutants as templates. Alkali-Transigen made twenty-three attempts through the X-23 children created by Alkali-Transigen’s scientists, to raise them in the facility, a selective and controlled environment, in hopes of turning them into soldiers. When this attempt failed, they created X-24, an adult clone of Wolverine. They planned to terminate the children, though a few Transigen nurses helped most of the children to escape before they could be killed.
After escaping Alkali-Transigen, nurse Gabriela Lopez approached Logan for help in order to protect Laura, Logan's "daughter" from Transigen's experiments. While reluctant to help, Logan agreed to take Laura to Eden in North Dakota, in exchange for a large sum of money. Along the way, the group came into conflict with the Reavers and X-24, resulting in the deaths of Charles and Caliban. Finally, with the help of Logan, the children are able to escape into Canada where they have been promised asylum. The fight to escape left Zander Rice, Donald Pierce, X-24, the Reavers, and Logan all dead. After the fight, Laura and the children mourned the death of Logan. Before crossing the Canadian-American border with the other X-23 children, Laura turned the Christian cross into an X to honor her father's status as the last of the X-Men.
- "We are the children of the atom; radiation gave birth to mutants. What will kill the humans will only make us stronger."
- ―Sebastian Shaw
- "Ladies and Gentlemen, we are now seeing the beginnings of another stage of human evolution. These mutations manifest at puberty and are often triggered by periods of emotional stress."
- ―Jean Grey
- "Mutation: it is the key to our evolution. It is how we have evolved from a single-celled organism into the dominant species on the planet. This process is slow, normally taking thousands and thousands of years. But every few hundred millennia, evolution leaps forward."
- ―Jean Grey and Professor X
- "Mutant and Proud."
- "Tomorrow, mankind will know that mutants exist. They will fear us, and that fear will turn to hatred."
- "Neanderthals, we once believed that they were wiped out by years of conflict with a much more advanced branch of humanity called Cro-Magnon, but recent research into our own DNA suggests that these two species may have inter-bred, evolving into modern humans (asks class) into what? (Class: Us) Us."
- "I always thought we were part of God's plan. Maybe... Maybe we were God's mistake."
- In the Marvel comics, the latin taxonomy of mutants is Homo superior (or Homo sapiens superior) like how humans are classified as Homo sapiens.
- The Marvel Cinematic Universe equivalent of mutants and mutates are referred to as "enhanced" or "enhanced individuals".