Written By: 
Last Updated: 
27th April 2006

Introduction: If you’ve been enjoying the X-Men films (and who hasn’t), the thought might have crossed your mind as to how they differ from the comics. However, while sitting through an enjoyable three movies might be easy, deciphering forty years of comics is a bit more difficult.

Fret not, though. This article is designed for you…

Do I NEED to read the comics to enjoy the X-Men movies? Not really. Millions of people have watched James Bond movies, but far less have read any of the novels upon which they are based. In fact, Casino Royale was the first Bond novel by Ian Fleming, but will be the next Bond film, the 21st so far in the series. How many Bond movie fans knew that? If you can enjoy the Bond films without read the novels, the same can be true about the X-Men. You don’t HAVE to read them…

But you should!

The X-Men of the silver screen is not exactly the same as the one in the comics. And really, no one should expect it to be. However, the characters are basically the same. The problems they face are very much the same. The feel is the same. So, if you enjoyed watching a few hours of their adventures on the silver screen… then know that there are forty years of adventures waiting for you to catch up on!

But what is different? And what did they keep the same? Here are a few interesting facts:

Did you know that… Cyclops, Iceman, Angel, Jean Grey & Beast are actually the first X-Men?

Wolverine, Colossus, Storm and Nightcrawler joined the X-Men at the same time in Giant-Sized X-Men #1 in 1975 as the team’s second generation?

Juggernaut is Charles Xavier’s step-brother?

Rogue is the adopted daughter of Mystique… who is the birth mother of Nightcrawler?!?

Although Magneto and Mystique have each fought against the X-Men, they have never done so together – and that they both have lead separate Brotherhood teams?

Sabretooth and Wolverine have a long rivalry against each other?

Stryker in the comics is actually a reverend?

These are but a few of the eyebrow raising differences to someone who has only seen the X-Men in the movies. But what are the similarities?


Professor X
Real Name: Professor Charles Francis Xavier
Played By: Patrick Stewart
Currently seen in: not currently in a title

Just like the films, Charles Xavier was the founder of the X-Men and, at the time, was the most powerful telepath on the planet. In fact, the X-Men are Xavier’s attempt to oppose the rise of evil mutants; ones very much like Magneto. Ominously, though many consider him a saint, Xavier has also shown his own dark side, willing to make harsh and cold decisions in pursuit of his dream. Partially as a result of these decisions, Xavier’s relationship with the X-Men has been strained, and he no longer resides with them at the Institute.

Real Name: Scott Summers
Played By: James Marsden
Currently seen in: Astonishing X-Men & other X-titles

Scott Summers was one of the first mutants recruited by Xavier and was his first actual X-Man. Because of his constant responsibility for the supervision of mutant powers, Cyclops has a very reserved personality. It was Jean Grey, another of Xavier’s first X-Men, who was able to pull him out of his shell. Eventually, they were married… but it was not to last. During a recent conflict, Jean died (again). Following this, Cyclops began a relationship with another woman named Emma Frost. Together, they are co-headmasters of the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning.

Real Name: Logan (birth name revealed to be James Howlett)
Played By: Hugh Jackman
Currently seen in: Astonishing X-Men, New Avengers, Wolverine & other X-titles

Wolverine was originally a Canadian operative introduced in an issue of Incredible Hulk and later became part of the “new” X-Men that were introduced with the famous Giant-Sized X-Men #1 in 1975. Much like with the movie audience, he was among the most popular X-Men and was the first X-Man to receive his own mini-series and ongoing, solo series. His origins are shrouded in mystery. However, in recent years many clues of these mysteries have been revealed. We now know his real name (James Howlett), where he was born and his early childhood. More recently, Wolverine has recovered all of his lost memories. However, we the readers have yet to learn those secrets ourselves. Yet.

Many of Wolverine’s solo adventures have been collected in trade paperback format (compilation form). If you are interested in learning more, your local comic retailer should be able to provide you plenty of good reading.

Real Name: Robert “Bobby” Drake
Played By: Shawn Ashmore
Currently seen in: X-Men (2nd series)

While he is a young student in the Xavier Institute in the films, the Iceman of the comics was the youngest of the original X-Men. Constantly unlucky in love, the Iceman of the comics would love to have Rogue bat her eyes at him. Partially a class-clown because of his youth, Bobby has also struggled his position on the team. He is also always struggling with his powers, which he knows aren’t as powerful as they could be.

Real Name: Jean Grey-Summers
Played By: Famke Janssen
Currently seen in: deceased in the comics (again)

While she was the fifth X-Man (one of the original five), Jean Grey was Xavier’s first pupil. Through the early years, she was also the heart of the team, as well as the one to bring Cyclops out of his shell. The story of her death and resurrection in X-Men 3 is right out of her story of 1979 & 1980, known as the Dark Phoenix Saga. This was among the most famous of X-Men stories and is a storyline much revisited in the years since. Any comic retailer should have a copy of this story.

At the end of the Dark Phoenix Saga, Jean died. However, as it happens in the world of comics, she got better. After reuniting with Cyclops, they resumed their romance and eventually married. Together, they even ran the Xavier Institute as co-headmasters in Xavier’s absence. However, recently she was killed during a battle with a man purportedly to be Magneto (long story) and is once again dead. However, as she is forever tied to the Phoenix Force, even her gravestone bears the inscription, “She will rise again.”

Real Name: Ororo Munroe
Played By: Halle Berry
Currently seen in: Uncanny X-Men

Many fans of Storm (including Halle Berry, who plays her), were upset at the short amount of screen time she received in the first two films. Indeed, the character of Ororo Monroe has a long and interesting history. Born in Harlem to an American photojournalist and an African princess, she moved to Egypt as a child, where her parents were later killed. She grew up on the streets of Cairo as a pickpocket (right out of Oliver Twist) and moved into the African interior during her early teen years. There, she used her weather manipulating powers to become a goddess to locals in Kenya and helped them with their crops. She was recruited by Xavier in Giant-Sized X-Men #1 as part of the “new” X-Men, and has been a loyal X-Man since. In fact, for much of her time with the team, she has been in a position of leadership.

Real Name: Marie D’Ancanto (films) / Anna Marie (comics)
Played By: Anna Paquin
Currently seen in: X-Men (2nd series)

Believe it or not, but Rogue used to be a villain, and one of the worst. She debuted as the adoptive daughter of Mystique and was a soldier in her Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (the second such group, the first being Magneto’s). Later, when she accidentally and permanently absorbed the powers of another hero named Ms. Marvel, Rogue nearly went insane, as she had absorbed Ms. Marvel’s mind as well. Seeking out the X-Men’s aid, she was eventually accepted and fully reformed. Since then, she has lost the powers of Ms. Marvel (strength, invulnerability & flight) and has permanently absorbed the powers of another, Sunfire, and controls flames.

Also unlike the movie, she has never been romantically involved with Iceman. However, she has had a tumultuous relationship with another X-Man named Gambit, which would put watchers of Soap Operas to shame…

For the longest time, Rogue never told the X-Men her true name... and they never asked. In fact, her own stepmother, who raised her, didn’t know. Recently, however, shortly after the first X-Men movie was released (in which her name was said to be Marie D’Ancanto), her name was revealed to be Anna Marie in the comics. The Anna part seems to come from the first name of the actress who plays her, Anna Paquin, and the second being part of the name the character received in the film. The distinction is negligible, however, as she really only answers to Rogue.

Real Name: Kurt Wagner
Played By: Alan Cumming
Currently seen in: Uncanny X-Men

Nightcrawler of the screen is pretty much like the one of the comics, with the exception of self-mutilation as penance. In fact, the Nightcrawler of the comics long ago came to acceptance of his condition and is quite happy with his appearance, and even seems to enjoy it when friends call him a “fuzzy elf.” Several years ago, it had been discovered that Mystique is actually Nightcrawler’s mother. However, as he grew up on his own, he has no true relationship with Mystique and the X-Men are much more his family.

New Characters:

Real Name: Warren Worthington III
Played By: Ben Foster
Currently seen in: not currently featured in a title

Though he makes his first film appearance in the third X-Men film, the high-flying Angel was one of Xavier’s first five X-Men. Early on, he competed against Cyclops for the affections of Jean Grey, but eventually lost out to his teammate, though all three remain friends. During his youth, Warren hid his wings, however he later embraced them publicly, becoming the first X-Man to reveal his secret identity.

Real Name: Dr. Henry “Hank” McCoy
Played By: Kelsey Grammer
Currently seen in: Astonishing X-Men

Astute viewers of the second X-Men film saw that the Beast actually made his first appearance there during the few seconds of a televised talk show. Hank McCoy (the Beast’s true identity) was debating Sebastian Shaw. However, this was him in his human form (as well as being played by a different actor).

Of the original X-Men from the comics, the Beast is the last to be introduced. Originally, the Beast was not “beastly” in form, except for his oversized hands and feet. His animal-like agility was contrasted by his exceptional intellect, which led to him earning a doctorate in his early twenties. Later, he was involved in an accident, which changed his features to a more beast-like form. Taking this in stride, the Beast’s intellect and wit kept him in good humor. In fact, even among non-mutants, Hank McCoy is known as one of the world’s greatest minds.

Real Name: Piotr Nicoleivitch Rasputin
Played By: Daniel Cudmore
Currently seen in: Astonishing X-Men

Along with Wolverine, Nightcrawler & Storm, Colossus was introduced in Giant-Sized X-Men #1. Originally a simple farm boy living on a Russian collective, the Soviet citizen became a citizen of the world and joined the X-Men to serve it. Much like the Beast’s inner soul was in contrast to his outward appearance, the same was true for Colossus. While his outward body could turn to steel, Piotr Rasputin had the softest heart. It was this heart which attracted Kitty Pryde to him.

Background characters:

Real Name: Katherine “Kitty” Pryde
Played By: Sumela Kay (X1), Katie Stuart (X2), Ellen Page (X3)
Currently seen in: Astonishing X-Men

Kitty Pryde was only 13-years old when she came to the X-Men and became their youngest member ever. She took several codenames early on (Sprite & Ariel), before settling on Shadowcat, a play on her nickname, Kitty. While young, Kitty was never immature, and proved herself both in intelligence and as a hero. Nevertheless, her age was a problem between her and the slightly older Colossus. However, now reunited after being apart for years, they are beginning to explore their feelings for each other.

So far, three different girls have played the character of Kitty. In the first two movies, they had short, cameo roles.

Real Name: Jubilation Lee
Played By: Katrina Florence (X1), Kea Wong (X2 & X3)
Currently seen in: not currently featured in a title

Like the character of Shadowcat, Jubilee has been played by multiple girls in the films.

In contrast to Kitty Pryde’s excessive maturity, Jubilation Lee was a product of the time she was created in, the late 1980s. Jubilee (as she liked to go by) was a wise-mouth, authority disregarding material girl. While never fully an X-Man, Jubilee has been more than a student and has had her share of adventure.

Real Name: Theresa Rourke Cassidy
Played By: Shauna Kain
Currently seen in: X-Factor (3rd series)

People who knew the character could not help but realize that the girl with the sonic scream in X2 was Theresa Cassidy, known in comics as the super hero Siryn.

While he has yet to appear in any X-Men film, Theresa’s father, Banshee (who has similar powers), was among the mutants recruited in Giant-Sized X-Men #1.



Real Name: Magnus / “Eric Lehnsherr”
Played By: Sir Ian McKellen
Currently seen in: irregular appearances as a villain

Of all of the characters, the films’ Magneto is the most similar. The story of his escaping Nazi concentration camps as a boy was well established in the 1980s. In the comics, Xavier and Magneto have had a long history, much like the films. Their philosophical difference on how mutant-kind is to survive has been basis for their conflict. While the Magneto of the comics has occasionally mellowed on his hatred for mankind, actually trying Xavier’s way at one point, the Magneto of the films is definitely in character for when he is on his more villainous trends.

Mystique Real Name: Raven Darkholme
Played By: Rebecca Romijn
Currently seen in: X-Men (2nd series)

While the Mystique of the films has been the loyal right hand of Magneto, the Mystique of the comics never settles for anything less than top position. With her impressive fighting techniques, her language skills and mutant power of deception, she is one of the most deadly women in the world.

While the X-Men had been aware from the beginning that Rogue had been the adoptive daughter of Mystique, they only recently became aware that she was the birth mother of Nightcrawler. Mystique, however, had known this all along. Sentimentalism not being one of her weaknesses, she had treated him like any other of the other X-Men: as an enemy. Such coldness makes Mystique a mutant to be feared.

Juggernaut Real Name: Cain Marko
Played By: Vinnie Jones
Currently seen in: New Excalibur

After Xavier’s father died during an work related accident, his mother remarried to a Kurt Marko. Along with a stepfather he didn’t want, Charles inherited an older stepbrother, who didn’t want him. Cain Marko, Kurt’s son, tormented his Charles though their teen years. However, they went their separate ways when, serving overseas in the military, Cain was exposed to a mystical gem, which transformed him into the unstoppable Juggernaut. For years thereafter, he was a thorn in the side of Xavier and his X-Men. However, Cain eventually grew tired of the constant game of conflict and incarceration. Seeking a new life, he briefly joined the X-Men to atone for past crimes. Today, he works with a British based mutant group called Excalibur, which carries on the X-Men’s dream overseas.

Callisto Real Name: unrevealed
Played By: Dania Ramirez
Currently seen in: not currently featured in a title

Callisto was once leader to a group of mutants who lived in the labyrinth of tunnels beneath New York City’s sewers. These mutants, who wished to live apart from human society, took their name from HG Well’s novel, the Time Machine, and called themselves the Morlocks. Callisto’s tenure with them was severed, however, when another group of mutants called the Marauders massacred the colony. One of the few survivors, Callisto has traveled the world, occasionally helping the X-Men, though usually reluctantly.

Sabretooth Real Name: Victor Creed
Played By: Tyler Mane
Currently seen in: irregular appearances as a villain

The Sabretooth of the first film was hardly the most menacing of Brotherhood. However, this is in stark contrast to the vile, evil & cunning assassin who has tormented Wolverine for decades. Though their exact history is unclear, Sabretooth and Wolverine’s past have definitely been intertwined. Some even suspect that they are related in some way, though it has mainly been speculation. Whatever the connection, they are the deadliest of foes.

Lady Deathstrike Real Name: Yuriko Oyama
Played By: Kelly Hu
Currently seen in: irregular appearances as a villain

Lady Deathstrike, or just Deathstrike as she was known in the film, didn’t have much to say in X2. However, her comic counterpart has had much to say to Wolverine. It was Yuriko’s father who invented the process to bond the unbreakable adamantium alloy to a human skeleton. As a result, when she learned that the process had been used to create Wolverine’s skeleton, she sought him out to make him pay for stealing her father’s secrets. Eventually, she gave up her quest, when it became apparent that Wolverine had had no say in the bonding process. Though no longer an enemy, she is hardly an ally.

Pyro Real Name: St. John Allerdyce
Played By: Aaron Stanford
Currently seen in: deceased in the comics since 2001

Of the characters from the movie franchise, Pyro is one of the biggest changes. In the films, he is an American student in the Xavier Institute, who left to join Magneto’s Brotherhood. However, in the comics, he is an Australian-born mutant, whose first appearance was as a terrorist, working for Mystique’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

Pyro died during a 2001 story as a result of a disease called the Legacy Virus, an artificial disease designed to only affect mutants.

Toad Real Name: Mortimer Toynbee
Played By: Ray Park
Currently seen in: irregular appearances as a villain

Toad is one of the oldest villains of the X-Men, having been a member of Magneto’s first Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Nevertheless, he has hardly ever been a threat. In fact, the character seems to have been a joke or sorts, as he was clearly a “toady” (a sycophant) to Magneto.

Toad is also an example of an adaptation affecting the source material. Since the comic book character of the Toad (a diminutive man) would not easily be portrayed without CGI, the film version of the Toad looked little like the printed version. In his next appearance in the comics, the Toad looked much more like actor Ray Park, which required explanation later.

Stryker Real Name: William Stryker
Played By: Brian Cox
Currently seen in: irregular appearances as a villain

X-Men fans were a little surprised when it was revealed that the villain for the second X2 was to be William Stryker. While the X-Men have a large and regular roster of villains, Stryker was an obscure adversary who had only appeared once, in a one-shot graphic novel in 1982. In using the character for the film, Stryker was greatly altered. In the comics, he was a fundamentalist reverend, who believed that mutants were the result of Satan corrupting people in the womb. In the film, he became a military scientist who was part of the cabal that gave Wolverine his adamantium skeleton. Unlike what happened with the Toad, however, Stryker has remained true to his original premise in the comics.

So there you are. The major differences between X-Men of the comics and those of the films. Not as many as you might think. To the right, you will see what the team would have looked like if the team in the first movie had been like the original team in the comics. Were they wrong to make it different? Absolutely not. As long as each character is true to its original premise (and most of them are) and the X-Men are true to their purpose as it is in its source material (and it is), then all is well.

You’ve sold me. How do I start?

The comics themselves are as good a place as any. However, for someone who has had a limited knowledge of the titles and their history, it might not be best. Fortunately, over the past few years more and more storylines have been collected into what are called “trade paperbacks” or “trades” for short. These are compilation books which are sold in major bookstore chains, online shops and in local comic book shops.

Following are several paperbacks which might be of interest to people who have only seen the moves. As many ideas and storylines are taken directly from the comics… seeing the source material might be interesting.

For purposes of simplicity, we have used links to the 1st issue summary of the storyline. However, we here at the UXN urge people to support your local comic shop. Opening a comic shop is very expensive, difficult to run and no one ever gets rich owning them. Without support by people, they will disappear and make it difficult for lovers of comics to find new issues… which is what this is all about anyway!


Origin In this 2000 mini-series, we are finally given insight into Wolverine’s early years. Here, we discover his true name, his family and his teen years.

Dark Phoenix Dark Phoenix Saga - The story of Jean Grey becoming Dark Phoenix. This is considered one of the major classics in X-Men history.

Early X-Men X-Men Masterworks vol. 1 - this reprints the first 10 issues of the 1963 & 1964 X-Men stories. It features the original X-Men, as well as the first appearance of Magneto and his Brotherhood. This product is a hardcover with high quality paper, making it a more expensive collection.

X-Men Masterworks vol. 2 - this reprints issues #11 through 21 of the early X-Men. Among the stories include the first appearance of the Juggernaut, as well as the mutant-hunting Sentinels. Like the first volume, this is a hardcover collection on high quality paper.

Essential Uncanny X-Men - this reprints the first 24 issues of the early X-Men. This reprints the same material as the first two Masterworks. However, since this is in a “phonebook” format (lower quality paper and in black and white), the product has twice the number of pages at a quarter of the price.

The “new” X-Men – Wolverine, Colossus, Storm, Nightcrawler Uncanny X-Men Masterworks - Like the other Masterworks, this is a high quality hardcover. However, as the other Masterworks reprinted the early X-Men, this begins with Giant-Sized X-Men #1, as well as X-Men #94 – 100. These stories include the first appearance of Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus and Wolverine joining the X-Men.

Essential X-Men - This Essential volume, like the other, is a phonebook format. It reprints Giant-Sized X-Men #1 and X-Men #94 – 119.

The Cure & Dr. Kavita Rao Astonishing X-Men vol. 1: Gifted - The story of the “cure” for mutation from the X3 film was lifted directly from the first 6 issues of he new Astonishing X-Men title. This story was written by famed writer Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly.

Current Titles These trade paperbacks are but a few stories in the world of the X-Men. Each month, the rich history of their story is continued. Again, your local comic shop should be able to provide you with the latest issues. 

X-Men Primer Of course we couldn't leave you totally in the dark about the rich history of the X-Men, so to help you on you're way UXN have written a guide to the 40 years plus history in our X-Men Primer.