The Most Powerful X-Men Characters Ranked

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20th Century Fox

By Joe Garza/July 17, 2022 3:04 pm EDT

When “X-Men” first hit theaters in 2000, it brought comic book characters to life in a way that had never been seen before. The film treated the source material seriously by believably depicting humans born with amazing gifts and all of the problems that arise from being different. The film was a critical and financial success and paved the way for the flood of comic book movies that came in its wake, including Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” trilogy, 2003’s “Daredevil,” 2005’s “Elektra,” 2007’s “Ghost Rider,” and more. “X-Men” was followed by numerous sequels, prequels, and spin-offs of varying quality, but now that Marvel Studios has regained the rights to the Merry Mutants, fans are waiting with bated breath to see the X-Men back in the hands of filmmakers who care about continuity.

While Fox’s “X-Men” films have had their ups and downs, one thing that has been consistent in the franchise was the spectacular portrayal of the characters’ powers. It’s always been an absolute blast to see their colorful abilities lifted from the page and given the big budget treatment on the silver screen. Because of the incredibly wide range of characters who’ve been featured in the “X-Men” films, there’s not enough space here to talk about every single one of them. However, here is a list of the most powerful X-Men characters, ranked.

15. Quicksilver

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Quicksilver’s superpower, superhuman speed, may seem pretty one-dimensional on its surface, but it comes with a host of uses and benefits that more than qualify him for inclusion on this list. In addition to being able to run and move with extreme swiftness, his mind also moves faster than an average person’s, which allows him to make microsecond decisions in even the direst situations. His enhanced speed also enables him to take others along with him so that he can get them out of harm’s way.

Quicksilver (Evan Peters) made his grand debut in “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” and the depiction of his powers is one of the highlights of the film. His first big mission with the X-Men is helping the team break Magneto out of the Pentagon. He rushes Magneto out of his cell, which gives the Master of Magnetism some motion sickness. However, Quicksilver’s big moment comes when he takes out a cadre of armed guards trying to stop the group’s escape. Quicksilver incapacitates each guard in a matter of seconds. “X-Men: Apocalypse” sees the speedy mutant evacuate nearly every student from an exploding X-Mansion, saving their lives. He even manages to have a bit of fun in between each vital rescue. While “Apocalypse” won’t go down as one of the great “X-Men” films, the Quicksilver sequence is a standout in the series.

14. Nightcrawler

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Kurt Wagner, aka Nightcrawler, has a whole arsenal of useful mutant gifts: Teleportation allows him to instantaneously disappear and reappear across great distances, and it even lets him bring along others for the ride. He has a prehensile tail that’s strong enough to wield weapons and throw around his opponents. On top of all of that, Nightcrawler is in peak physical shape, with immense acrobatic skills honed from a life in the circus.

The full extent of Nightcrawler’s superpowers is on spectacular display in “X2: X-Men United.” In one of the franchise’s standout scenes, Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming), while under the influence of the malevolent William Stryker (Brian Cox), infiltrates the White House. He careens and teleports through the halls, gracefully taking out Secret Service agents without breaking a sweat. While his peaceful nature doesn’t help him in his cage fight against Angel (Ben Hardy) in “X-Men: Apocalypse,” when Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) finally taps into his rage, Angel doesn’t stand a chance against a mutant who can quickly appear behind him and fling him into an electrified cage.

13. Beast

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Beast truly lives up to his name in both appearance and physicality. When he was young, his abilities consisted of having large dexterous feet that enabled him to perform superhuman acts like climbing walls. However, in an attempt to develop a serum that would hide his abnormally large feet while retaining his enhanced strength and dexterity, he ended up boosting his powers further and giving himself a more animal-like appearance with blue fur, fangs, and claws. Beast’s powers aren’t just physical, though. He also has an increased intellect that’s demonstrated by his contributions to the X-Men’s advanced technology.

In the original series timeline, Kelsey Grammer brought both intellect and physicality to the role in “X-Men: The Last Stand” in which Beast holds his own against politicians and Magneto’s forces alike. Nicholas Hoult fleshed out the character’s abilities even further in “X-Men: First Class.” Beast’s genius is on full display when it’s revealed that he designed the powerful mutant-detecting machine Cerebro as well as the X-Men’s first X-Jet. Beast’s animal side is also enough to stand up to another ferocious mutant, Wolverine, in “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”

12. Mystique

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Mystique’s primary gift is her shapeshifting ability, making her one of the sliest characters in the “X-Men” franchise. Due to her scale-like skin, she can make herself look exactly like any person, perfectly matching their height, weight, and a wide variety of clothing. Even subtle things like voice and mannerisms are within her capability to mimic. An expert fighter adept in hand-to-hand combat, Mystique can more than hold her own in any brawl, and armed with her shapeshifting abilities, she can turn into her opponent to psyche them out and give her a competitive edge.

Ever since her very first appearance in 2000’s “X-Men,” Mystique, first portrayed by Rebecca Romijn and later by Jennifer Lawrence), has impersonated countless characters. She disguised herself as Wolverine in a fight with the hotheaded mutant, even replicating his claws (though because her claws were organic, they were no match for his adamantium ones). “X-Men: First Class” shows an adolescent Mystique perfectly imitating a young Charles Xavier’s mother (Beth Goddard) despite being considerably shorter than her. Her impersonation of a general allows her to take out Maj. William Stryker (Don Creech) and his men and free the all-mutant squad stationed in Vietnam.

11. Cyclops

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Scott Summers, better known as Cyclops, may have the most singular superpower on this list, and boy is it a doozy! Cyclops’ ability consists of shooting immeasurably powerful energy blasts from his eyes that can only be kept in check by keeping his eyes closed or by wearing special glasses or a visor. That’s right. The crimson energy that his eyes produce is continuous, forcing Cyclops to be on guard at all times. The “X-Men” movies have been somewhat inconsistent in their portrayal of his eye blasts. Typically, they’re shown as being more of a concussive force, but they’re sometimes depicted as being superheated and capable of melting solid objects.

Cyclops’ inability to fully control his eye blasts makes him all the more dangerous. When Toad (Ray Park) removes his visor in “X-Men,” Cyclops (James Marsden) accidentally blows a hole through the roof of a train station. However, armed with his specially-made visor, he has a full range of control over his abilities that allows him to emit everything from precise beams for intricate maneuvers to full-on rays that can take out entire vehicles and structures.

10. Havok

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Move over, Doctor Octopus. Havok has the power of the sun in the palm of his hand. In both hands, to be exact. Alex Summers, aka Havok, can absorb and store plasma energy that he can then shoot out of himself in the form of incredibly destructive energy blasts. These energy blasts were initially only projected from his chest, but he later developed the control to emit them from his hands.

Havok’s (Lucas Till) powers are so strong and uncontrollable that he chose to be put into solitary confinement early on in his military career, as seen in “X-Men: First Class.” However, a young Professor X (James McAvoy) and pre-Magneto Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) were so impressed with him that they recruited him to join their first team of mutant heroes, later dubbed the X-Men. Beast built a containment suit to help him control his powers, which proved to be effective. In the climactic final battle against the Hellfire Club, Havok’s containment unit is damaged, but he manages to muster enough control of his abilities to emit a powerful beam to slice off one of Angel Salvadore’s (Zoë Kravitz) wings.

9. Colossus

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Colossus’ awesome powers make him especially useful in hand-to-hand combat. Born Peter Rasputin, this already tall and muscular person also can turn his body into a form of organic steel that greatly increases his strength, size, durability, and stamina. This, combined with his fighting skills, make him invaluable in any fight. In the original “X-Men” timeline, Colossus is portrayed by Daniel Cudmore. The character is played by Stefan Kapicic in the new timeline in both “Deadpool” movies. However, the depiction of his gifts remains fairly consistent.

“X2: X-Men United” sees Colossus suit up in his metallic form during the attack on the X-Mansion during which he endures a barrage of bullets, takes out several soldiers, and safely evacuates students from the school. In the “Deadpool” films, Colossus takes on the incredibly powerful Angel Dust(Gina Carano) — though his chivalry gives his female opponent the upper hand in the fight when her suit leaves her, ahem, exposed — and distracts the even bigger and stronger Juggernaut long enough for his teammates to join in the fight.

8. Juggernaut

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In terms of brute force, few mutants come close to Juggernaut. While he’s depicted quite differently in the “X-Men” franchise (played by Vinnie Jones in “X-Men: The Last Stand” and by David Leitch and Ryan Reynolds in “Deadpool 2”), his powers remain relatively consistent across films. Once he starts moving, his momentum turns him into a nearly unstoppable force, and his superhuman durability makes him practically impervious to external attacks.

Once released by Magneto in “X-Men: The Last Stand,” Juggernaut becomes one of his strongest allies. He manhandles Wolverine (a difficult feat for anyone else) and plows through squads of soldiers and thick brick walls as if they weren’t even there. Juggernaut is only stopped when he runs into a young mutant with the ability to neutralize the powers of other mutants. “Deadpool 2” sees the character show off his abilities even more, as this version is considerably larger than the previous one. In that film, he memorably uses his enhanced strength to rip Deadpool in half with his bare hands.

7. Wolverine

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Wolverine has a bevy of superpowers that make him someone you’d want to avoid in a fight. He was chosen to participate in a secret government experiment that bonded the virtually indestructible metal adamantium to his skeleton. Because of his accelerated healing abilities, Wolverine was deemed one of the few people capable of surviving the dangerous procedure. Wolverine was born with three retractable claws in each hand that are also enhanced with the metal, making them able to cut through almost anything. Like his animal namesake, Wolverine has heightened senses that make him an expert tracker, and his years of military experience have given him considerable fighting prowess.

“X-Men,” released in 2000, is the live-action debut of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), and it doesn’t skimp on his power set. Even when he doesn’t win the fight, he always survives and quickly heals from wounds that would’ve killed any other human being. However, “X2: X-Men United” pushes his powers even further. Wolverine uses signature berserker rage to take out a squad of highly trained soldiers and walks away from a bullet to the head. “X-Men: The Last Stand” sees Wolverine getting parts of himself disintegrated by Phoenix’s powers. In “The Wolverine,” he heals from a nuclear blast in World War II. While Wolverine’s berserker rages are toned down thanks to a PG-13 rating, we finally get to see what kind of damage he can really dish out in the terrific “Logan.”

6. Deadpool

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Before he became Deadpool, Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) was a retired special forces operative working small mercenary gigs, making him extremely adept at various forms of combat and weapons. However, upon being subjected to a brutal experiment to cure his cancer at the hands of Ajax (Ed Skrein) and Angel Dust, Wade’s latent mutant abilities are triggered, which not only enhances his fighting ability but also greatly accelerates his healing factor and reflexes, making him pretty hard to kill. His most unique (albeit most useless) superpower is his ability to break the fourth wall and talk to the audience, confusing everyone else around him.

From being impaled by Ajax to getting shot to getting a knife to the brain, Deadpool endures all kinds of bodily punishment that would kill any other human being. In “Deadpool 2,” the character’s healing abilities are pushed even further when he’s ripped in half by the Juggernaut, forcing him to regrow everything from the waist down before he can get back to fighting. We even saw the first version of Deadpool survive getting decapitated in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” although the current version of Deadpool made sure that that version was erased from the “X-Men” franchise’s already confusing timeline.

5. Storm

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Ororo Munroe, the mutant known as Storm, is capable of manipulating the weather and controlling the elements. Existing atmospheric conditions are at her mercy, and she can even conjure lightning, thunderstorms, wind gusts, and fog. Storm may be a mutant, but when she commands so much of the natural world, she’s much closer to a figure you’d find in Greek mythology.

In nearly every “X-Men” film, Storm’s command of the weather allows her to take on some of the most dangerous opponents. For example, she’s seen taking down both Sabretooth (Tyler Mane) and Toad in 2000’s “X-Men” with thunderstorms that she summoned. “X-Men: The Last Stand” features Storm (Halle Berry) whipping up a twister that she uses to easily take down Quill (Ken Leung) and Arclight (Omahyra). She then subdues Callisto (Dania Ramirez) in the climactic battle with lightning. In “X-Men: Apocalypse,” a young Storm (Alexandra Shipp) falls under the influence of Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) who gives her powers a boost. Storm is later seen conjuring gusts of wind strong enough to hurl cars.

4. Apocalypse

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Apocalypse is equipped with a whole arsenal of superpowers, making him one of – if not the most – dangerous villains in the “X-Men” franchise. Spanning across both the physical and mental realms, one of his most useful gifts is matter manipulation which allows him to rearrange the molecules of organic and synthetic material into whatever substance he wishes; it can’t be fun to go up against an enemy who can fuse you to a brick wall. He can teleport himself and others across great distances, and create protective force fields that can withstand considerable force. He can even bestow powers to other mutants and enhance their existing abilities.

Even from a young age, En Sabah Nur (Apocalypse’s birth name) was frighteningly powerful, as he’s shown at the end of “X-Men: Days of Future Past” building entire pyramids in ancient Egypt with his mind alone. “X-Men: Apocalypse” sees the character’s abilities develop even further, such as when he gives a wounded Warren Worthington III / Angel new metallic wings that eject flechette. The film also sees Apocalypse going toe to toe with Professor X in the astral plane and even coming close to winning the mental battle. With his godlike powers, it makes sense that Apocalypse would be only brought down by another godlike mutant, Jean Grey in her Phoenix form.

3. Magneto

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It’s best not to bring a knife or a gun to a Magneto fight There aren’t many useful weapons that you can bring to a fight with someone who has magnetokinesis, the ability to control metal and magnetic fields with the mind. With this kind of force at his disposal, Magneto can manipulate any object that has metal in it and use it as a weapon against opponents, create magnetic fields to shield himself and those around him, and levitate.

Having grown up during the Holocaust, Magneto’s powers first manifested when he was a young boy. Torn from his family in a Nazi concentration camp, he ripped apart a barbwire fence. His powers and his ability to control them increased as he grew older. “X2: X-Men United” sees him extracting the iron from the blood of a prison guard, and “X-Men: Days of Future Past” shows him splitting railroad tracks into thin metal strips which he uses to take control of the circuitry of a swarm of mutant-hunting Sentinels. While Wolverine is considered one of the toughest X-Men, he’s completely useless against Magneto because of his adamantium-enhanced skeleton. Who could forget the famous scene from “X-Men: The Last Stand” in which Magneto rips the entire Golden Gate Bridge from its foundations with only his mind?

2. Professor X

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Professor X, portrayed by Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy, may be confined to a wheelchair, but that has done nothing to prevent him from being one of the most powerful characters in the “X-Men” franchise. His primary power is telepathy, which comes with a wide variety of uses. For example, he can read the minds of others, control their thoughts, possess the consciousness of those around him, and create illusions to mask the presence of himself and others. His psychic powers allow him to sense other people, and with the help of Cerebro (a machine that amplifies his mental abilities) can pinpoint anyone around the world. With this much power, Professor X’s real gift is the restraint he displays. How many of us wouldn’t resort to all kinds of dastardly deeds if we had his abilities?

Not only does Professor X have immense power, but he also has precise control over it. In “X-Men,” during the showdown with Magneto at the train station, Professor X takes over the minds of both Sabretooth and Toad — at the same time — using them to try to convince Magneto to drop the guns he has magnetically pointed at the police officers surrounding the scene. However, when Professor X loses control of his powers, he can become extremely dangerous, as depicted in “Logan” when his uncontrollable seizures result in incredible pain for those around him. It’s also implied in the film that it was those seizures that killed the X-Men.

1. Jean Grey / Phoenix

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Even before Jean Grey became the Phoenix, she was an incredibly powerful mutant. One of her abilities is telekinesis, which comes in handy in fights as it allows her to move objects and people with her thoughts alone. Her telekinesis also enables her to levitate herself and create force fields. Telepathy is another one of her abilities, though she needed Professor X to help her strengthen and control it. Still, having any kind of natural gift for reading other people’s minds and controlling their thoughts is nothing to scoff at. Of course, all of these abilities are amplified exponentially when Jean becomes Phoenix, Phoenix’s near godlike powers also include matter manipulation and cosmic fire projection.

While the confusing timelines of Fox’s “X-Men” films have led to two different Jean Greys (played by Famke Janssen and Sophie Turner) with different backstories and experiences, the portrayal of her powers is fairly consistent. Jean’s first demonstration of the magnitude of her powers is on full display in “X-Men: The Last Stand,” which sees her beat Professor X in an intense psychic battle that ends in her vaporizing him and then taking on countless attacking soldiers before being killed by Wolverine. “X-Men: Apocalypse” features a young Jean unleashing her latent psychic abilities to become Phoenix for the first time and single-handedly destroying Apocalypse, one of the most powerful villains in the “X-Men” franchise.

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