While Marvel Comics teams like the Avengers and the Fantastic Four are heroes to the world, saving the planet many times over, the X-Men are very different. Though they also are heroes who have saved the world more than once, humans hate and fear the them because they are mutants born with special powers and are, therefore, different.
The bigotry inherent to X-Men storylines often leads to horrific events that devastate the mutant population. These events come at the hands of the U.S. government, other anti-mutant factions, and even from within the mutant community. In some cases, every mutant on the planet has almost been depowered or killed, only because so much of the world can’t accept mutantkind.
One of the most devastating events in Marvel mutant history occured on the island of Genosha. For years, mutants lived in fear of humans who wanted them dead just for who they were. They soon found a place of their own in the nation of Genosha. After the United Nations ceded the country to Magneto, it became a home for mutants to live in peace, and only mutants were allowed there.
Sadly, this peace wouldn’t last. For years, both the government and private industry used Sentinels to capture and kill mutants. In this case, the evil Cassandra Nova sent Wild Sentinels to attack the island with no warning, and more than 16 million mutants died.
While the X-Men were the face of mutants all over the world and many others lived in secrecy, fearing for their lives if their secrets were learned, there was another faction living in hiding. These were the Morlocks, mutants whose appearance didn’t give them a chance to live in secret among humans.
Mister Sinister wanted these mutants, who lived in the tunnels under New York City, dead. He sent his Acolytes into the tunnels and had them attack the Morlocks with no warning. The X-Men, X-Factor, New Mutants, Power Pack, and Thor all arrived to help, but hundreds of Morlocks died in the attack.
Not all events that devastated the X-Men were about killing mutants. This was true in the case of the Weapon X Program. Movie fans know all about this, as it was the group from X2 that attacked the X-Mansion and kidnapped the mutant children living there. In the comics, it was a similar institution that experimented on mutants.
The goal of the program was to take possible mutants and put them through tests that either brought out their mutations or developed mutations in humans to use as weapons. This was the program that ran unethical experiments on Wolverine, Deadpool, and other.
Long before the Superhero Registration Act started the “Civil War” between Iron Man and Captain America, there was another act that was just as controversial. This was the Mutant Registration Act. It started with a government official named Robert Kelly who felt that all mutants should have to register with the government.
Some mutants ran at the chance, including former members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, which became a government task force. However, the law gave a reward to anyone who turned in unregistered mutants and put the lives of young teen mutants all over the country in danger.
“Onslaught” was an event in Marvel Comics that affected every hero in the world. This was the result of something Professor Charles Xavier did to Magneto that spiraled out of control. Charles wiped Magneto’s mind after a battle, and in doing so, he unleashed a vessel of hate known as Onslaught.
Onslaught was a being who was part Charles Xavier, part Magneto, and more powerful than any hero in the Marvel Universe. Onslaught almost destroyed the world. His attack killed the Avengers and Fantastic Four, and it turned the entire world against the mutants.
“Operation: Zero Tolerance” took place after “Onslaught.” With the Avengers and Fantastic Four gone, mutants became public enemy No. 1. After this war, Graydon Creed ran for President of the United States on an anti-mutant platform. When something killed him, people believed it was mutants.
This led a man known as Bastion to start a government program called Operation: Zero Tolerance. No one knew that Bastion was not human but was, in fact, a Sentinel. He constructed new Prime Sentinels that looked like humans and received government permission to capture or kill all mutants.
“Decimation” was one of the most traumatic events to ever happen to mutants. While this was not as bad as the attack on Genosha, it was in some ways even more devastating because of the lasting effects on mutants. After “House of M” ended, Scarlet Witch, in one of the worst things she ever did, stripped 91.4% of the world’s mutants of their powers.
This caused many mutants to end up unable to continue living after their powers disappeared. It also made Scarlet Witch the most hated person in the world for almost all mutants. Almost a million mutants lost their powers during this devastating event.
After Scarlet Witch stripped almost a million mutants of their powers, it gave anti-mutant haters a chance to attack defenseless people, many of them teenagers and children. One of these groups of X-Men villains was called the Purifiers, which was led by the evil William Stryker, who wanted to rid the world of all mutants.
Even though “Decimation” depowered mutants, making them mostly human, that wasn’t enough for Stryker who wanted them all dead. The depowered mutant children who went to school at the Xavier Institute were leaving by bus when the Purifiers bombed it, killing almost a quarter of the children from the school.
Some of the most devastating events in X-Men history occurred in alternate timelines. The first of these was “Days of Future Past,” which was the first major X-Men alternate timeline story to appear in comics. In this world, Sentinels were sent to capture all mutants but ended up killing regular heroes and taking over the world.
Most of the X-Men were dead when the story started, and it wasn’t until the they sent someone back in time to stop an assassination that the timeline was averted. Sadly, in this specific event, almost every major X-Men member died, including Wolverine, Colossus, Storm, and more.
“Age of Apocalypse” was arguably the biggest alternate timeline event that devastated the X-Men. In this world, Professor X never existed because Legion went back in time to kill Magneto and accidentally caused his father’s death instead. Without Xavier, Apocalypse showed up and took over the world.
This devastated the X-Men, who were unable to defeat Apocalypse and had to watch him conquer Earth. Even when the surviving X-Men beat him, Wolverine eventually turned evil and continued to rule over the world, killing any mutant who resisted him.