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. Although they are also heroes who have saved the world more than once, humans hate and fear them because they are mutants born with special powers and therefore different.
The intolerance inherent in the X-Men stories often leads to horrific events that devastate the mutant population. These events come at the hands of the United States government, other anti-mutant factions, and even from within the mutant community. In some cases, every mutant on the planet has almost been dispossessed or killed, just because much of the world cannot accept mutants.
One of the most devastating events in the history of Marvel’s mutants occurred on the island of Genosha. For years, mutants lived in fear of humans who wanted them dead just for what 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.
Unfortunately, this peace would not last. For years, both 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 without warning, and more than 16 million mutants were killed.
While the X-Men were the face of mutants around the world and many others lived in secret, fearing for their lives if their secrets were discovered, there was another faction that lived in hiding. These were the Morlocks, mutants whose appearance gave them no chance to live in secret among humans.
Mister Sinister wanted these mutants, who lived in the tunnels below New York City, dead. He sent his Acolytes into the tunnels and had them attack the Morlocks without warning. The X-Men, X-Factor, New Mutants, Power Pack, and Thor arrived to help, but hundreds of Morlocks were killed in the attack.
Not all the 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 of X2 who attacked the X-Mansion and kidnapped the mutant children who lived there. In the comics, it was a similar institution that experimented with mutants.
The goal of the program was to take potential mutants and put them through tests that would reveal their mutations or develop mutations in humans to use as weapons. This was the show that ran unethical experiments on Wolverine, Deadpool, and others.
Long before the Superhero Registration Act started the “Civil War” between Iron Man and Captain America, there was another act that was equally controversial. This was the Mutant Registration Law. 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 opportunity, 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 over unregistered mutants and endangered the lives of young teenage mutants across the country.
“Onslaught” was an event in Marvel Comics that affected all the heroes of the world. This was the result of something Professor Charles Xavier did to Magneto that got out of control. Charles cleared Magneto’s mind after a battle and in doing so unleashed a ship of hatred known as the Onslaught.
Onslaught was a being who was part Charles Xavier, part Magneto, and more powerful than any hero in the Marvel Universe. Onslaught nearly destroyed the world. His attack killed the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, and turned the entire world against the mutants.
“Operation: Zero Tolerance” took place after “Onslaught”. With the Avengers and the 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 they were 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 he was, in fact, a sentinel. He built new Prime Sentinels that looked human and received permission from the government to capture or kill all mutants.
The “annihilation” was one of the most traumatic events that ever happened to mutants. While this wasn’t as bad as the attack on Genosha, it was somehow even more devastating due to the long-lasting effects on the 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 by almost all mutants. Almost a million mutants lost their powers during this devastating event.
After Scarlet Witch stripped nearly a million mutants of their powers, she gave anti-mutant haters a chance to attack defenseless people, many of them teenagers and children. One such group of X-Men villains was called Purifiers, which was led by the evil William Stryker, who wanted to rid the world of all mutants.
Even though “Decimation” reduced the power of the mutants, making them mostly human, that was not enough for Stryker who wanted them all dead. The powerless mutant children who went to school at the Xavier Institute were leaving by bus when the Purifiers bombed it, killing nearly a quarter of the school’s children.
Some of the most devastating events in X-Men history occurred on alternate timelines. The first of these was “Days of Future Past,” which was the first major story from the alternate X-Men timeline to appear in the comics. In this world, the Sentinels were sent to capture all the mutants, but they ended up killing regular heroes and taking over the world.
Most of the X-Men were dead when the story began, and it wasn’t until they sent someone back in time to stop a murder that the timeline was averted. Sadly, in this specific event, almost every important member of the X-Men was killed, including Wolverine, Colossus, Storm, and more.
“Age of Apocalypse” was arguably the biggest alternate timeline event to devastate the X-Men. In this world, Professor X never existed because Legion went back in time to kill Magneto and accidentally caused the death of his father. Without Xavier, Apocalypse appeared 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 up, Wolverine eventually turned evil and continued to rule the world, killing any mutants who resisted him.