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The Alternate Meaning of the X-Men’s Team Name Is Brutally Honest

As a fan-favorite franchise, the X-Men and their members like Namor have one of the most dynamic histories in the Marvel Comics Universe. Especially when compared to other teams like the Avengers or the Fantastic Four, Marvel’s Merry Mutants have been through quite a lot since their team was founded. Although unlike their fellow heroes, the X-Men are usually specifically just for existing.


While their shared status as persecuted mutants typically sets them apart from their fellow Marvel heroes both ideologically and politically, the X-Men are also differentiated from their allies based on the threats they face and the cost of their survival. And though he may not be the only one to make the observation, the one and only Namor the Sub-Mariner put it best when explaining just how this special status shapes the concept of the X-Men at is core.

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Uncanny X-Men #2 by Kieron Gillen and Carlos Pacheco finds Cyclops’ Extinction Team going up against an entire city of Mister Sinister clones. When Sinister Prime requests an audience with the heroes to cease hostilities, it’s the Submariner who argues Essex’s ploy is nothing more than a trap. Cyclops agrees, but yields to Sinister’s request to give the normal citizens time to evacuate. IN response, Namor tells his teammates, “I increasingly understand the reason for the ‘X-Men.’ It’s not Xavier or the X-Gene. The ‘X’ is a target pasted on our backs.” While the context of this joke highlights the X-Men’s nature as heroes first and foremost – a trait they share with other most popular teams – that doesn’t diminish its accuracy in describing just how specific the X-Men’s situation really is.


The “X” in X-Men Also Stands For How Targeted They Are In Society.

Heroes like Spider-Man or the Avengers are always going to go out of their way to make themselves a target in order to protect innocents. But what make the X-Men unique isn’t their morality, but rather their insistence on upholding it despite the specific reasons for their being targeted. Without fail, Xavier’s proteges consistently put themselves in the crosshairs of all sorts of mutant-hating foes ranging from groups like the Friends of Humanity to even the Eternals. They don’t let the odds stacked against them get in the way of fighting to protect a world that hates and fears them, and now that Krakoa has finally elevated them to their rightful place on the evolutionary stage, they are better poised than ever to fight back.

Even so, this glib remark further speaks to Namor’s own hesitancy in rejoining his mutant brethren. On more than one occasion, the King of Atlantis has been asked to join the X-Men on Krakoa, and each time he’s turned them away. Unlike many of his fellow mutants, the Sub-Mariner has lived most of his life as a free agent, despite longstanding associations with teams like the Invaders, the Defenders, and currently the Avengers. As such, he’s gained a wider perspective and is more able to clearly appreciate the X-Men for what they really are – unlike many of his fellow Avengers.

Namor’s main priority has always been the preservation of Atlantis and associating himself with one of Marvel’s most targeted groups probably isn’t the best way to keep his homeland safe. While the Sub-Mariner will always have a place on Krakoa, it doesn’t seem as if Imperius Rex will be donning the X again any time soon. And although things have changed drastically for the X-Men since Namor called out their name, Marvel Comics’ mutants are always going to present an awfully big target for a world that hates and fears them.

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