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Top 10 Villains From X-Men: The Animated Series

With X-Men ‘97 halfway through its first season and turning out to be a smash hit, it felt appropriate to rank the ten best villains from the 1990s X-Men animated series:

10. Dark Phoenix: The Dark Phoenix Saga is the most famous X-Men story of all time next to Days of Future Past. Unlike Days of Future Past, most attempts to properly adapt the Dark Phoenix storyline have failed miserably due to poor writing and a lack of understanding for the original source material. However, X-Men: The Animated Series was able to properly adapt the story and did it spectacularly. The show smartly does two separate story arcs on Jean Grey’s transformation into the Dark Phoenix. The first story arc focuses on her gaining these new abilities and the second story arc focuses on her turn against the team. The show does a great job at displaying Jean’s terrifying new powers. It was shocking to see the most kind and empathetic X-Men member turn into their most powerful villain. The Phoenix is much more ruthless than the normal Jean Grey. She is not afraid to kill her enemies and nearly kills thousands of innocent people before she is brought back to normal. Every episode in the Dark Phoenix story has you on the edge of your seat thanks to the title villain of that story. If we do see Jean somehow become to Dark Phoenix again in X-Men ‘97, it will be interesting to see just how much scarier they can make the character. 

9. Sabretooth: The archenemy of Wolverine has often been used poorly in some adaptations of the X-Men. However, X-Men: The Animated Series gave us the best version of the character without a doubt. This version of Sabretooth is not just ruthless and a huge threat to the X-Men, but he is one of the darkest characters within the show. He is not only an imposing figure with immense strength, but he is also very intelligent. He knows how to get under Wolverine’s skin and has often bested him because of that. It goes without saying that he is Wolverine’s most personal enemy, sharing a dark past with Logan. On top of that, he is the father of Graydon Creed, another major villain within the show and it is immediately made clear just how much of an abusive monster he was to his own son. It’s only a matter of time before we see this character return in X-Men ‘97 and I cannot wait to see him and Wolverine inevitably clash once more.

8. Fabien Cortez: You’ll notice that Magneto is not on this list. That is because he really isn’t a villain in this version of the show. He has been a temporary threat at certain points, but he always turns around and does the right thing in the end each time he appears. However, when it comes to his biggest follower Fabien Cortez, that is a completely different story. The leader of the Acolytes, a cult of mutants from the future that worship Magneto, Fabian Cortez is extremely dedicated to his mission of wiping out all of the humans. Like Magneto, Cortez is a mutant supremacist who despises humanity. However, whereas Magneto is a good man deep down and can be reasoned with, Cortez is a complete monster who is only trying to satisfy his petty vindictive urge to be the dominant species. He is desperate to kill all of the humans even if it means all of the other mutants will die in the process. He even renounces Magneto and tries to kill him when it becomes clear that he doesn’t agree with Cortez’s goals. Cortez is not a very scary enemy to the X-Men, but he is one of the easiest to hate. When he inevitably comes back in X-Men ‘97, I truly hope that he finally gets his comeuppance. 

7. Omega Red: If Sabretooth is Wolverine’s most personal enemy, then Omega Red is his most dangerous one. Omega Red is a mutant soldier dedicated to the Soviet Union who is woken up years after being frozen in ice. Think of Captain America if he had absolutely no morals and was made to a weapon for Russia instead of a hero for the United States. Omega Red possesses adamantium skin with tentacles that he can use on his enemies. He has one goal after waking up in the present day and that is to bring the Soviet Union back to its former glory now that the Cold War has ended. Whenever he is defeated by Wolverine and the X-Men, he always manages to come back stronger and more persistent than ever before. The scariest thing about Omega Red is just how much of a demented monster he is. He does not care about the people of Russia. He only cares about what the country used to represent before the Cold War ended. He even turns on Russia and tries to commit a nuclear holocaust on the entire world when he becomes disillusioned with what it has become. Omega Red will more than likely come back in X-Men ‘97 and I have no doubt that he will be an even scarier threat when we do see him.

6. Henry Peter Gyrich: The show has had a plethora of human villains throughout its run and by far one of the most dangerous and despicable of them is Henry Peter Gyrich. The head of the Mutant Registration Program, Gyrich is one of the main human threats of the show’s first season alongside Bolivar Trask and Senator Robert Kelly. Gyrich hates mutants with a passion and is responsible for funding Trask in his Sentinel Program. However, Senator Kelly is more misguided in his crusade against the mutants and Trask, while still a disgusting and racist human being, genuinely believes that he is protecting humanity. However, it is made clear with Gyrich that he is just a hateful bigot who wants to see the mutants all wiped out regardless of if a large number of humans are killed in the process. Even after the Sentinels are dealt with as the main threat, Gyrich returns in the final episode of the show’s original run where he shoots and mortally wounds Charles Xavier. When he shows back up in X-Men ‘97, Gyrich is shown to be just as hateful as ever, having no remorse for seemingly killing Professor X. Gyrich truly is a monster, even more so than some of the other mutant villains on this show. The series does a fantastic job emphasizing that by never showing his eyes, with the character always wearing glasses to highlight how soulless he truly is.


5. Apocalypse: After Magneto, Apocalypse is arguably the most famous X-Men villain of all time and for good reason. Every time he shows up, the stakes are always extremely high. One of the first ever mutants and arguably the most powerful, Apocalypse is a godlike figure with a survival of the fittest mindset. His ultimate goal is to rid the world of the weak. That includes both humans and mutants. He believes that only the strong should rule. Throughout the series, Apocalypse comes extremely close to accomplishing his goal. Every time he faces the X-Men, they are in desperate need of help from other characters such as Magneto, Mystique and even Mister Sinister. While he doesn’t have the most depth, he is certainly one of the most intimidating foes to go up against the X-Men, being the overall main villain of the show. He torments several characters during the course of the series, the most prominent being Archangel, who is brainwashed into becoming one of his four horsemen to commit all kinds of crimes. With how the final season of the original show ended with him escaping from his prison, I have absolutely no doubt that Apocalypse will eventually return in X-Men ‘97. When he does, the X-Men are in for a massive challenge.

4. Graydon Creed: While there are many human villains throughout the run of X-Men: The Animated Series, none of them are as vile and depraved as Grayson Creed. The leader and founder of the terrorist group the Friends of Humanity, Graydon Creed becomes the main human antagonist of the series from the second season onwards. Creed absolutely despises mutants and does everything in his power to try and kill the X-Men whenever he and his group encounter them. Even when he gets himself in mortal peril and the X-Men save him multiple times, he is never thankful for their kindness and instead doubles down on his hatred for them and all of mutantkind. The irony about Creed is that he is the child of Mystique and Sabretooth, two of the most dangerous mutants within the show, which makes him the half-brother of Nightcrawler and the adoptive brother of Rogue. This is a fact that infuriates him to no end and one that eventually gets the group that he started to turn on him. The last time we see Creed, he is handed over by the Friends of Humanity to Sabretooth, who may or may not have killed his own son. If Creed does somehow show up in X-Men ‘97, I have a good feeling that he will be the same hateful bigot as before, possibly even worse as he continues to go insane from his constant string of failures.

3. Mystique: Mystique is a character that exploded in popularity after the Fox X-Men movies thanks to her iconic design and performances by both Rebecca Romijin and Jennifer Lawrence. However, I think X-Men: The Animated Series might honestly have had the best version of the character so far. Mystique is the biological mother of Nightcrawler and Graydon Creed as well as the adoptive mother of Rogue. Being a self-serving character, she willingly abandoned both of her children and felt no remorse for doing so. Despite this, she struggles to find a true purpose. Apocalypse exploits this by forcing her to find innocent mutants to kidnap and turn into his horsemen, one of which was almost her own adoptive daughter Rogue. When she isn’t doing the dirty work for Apocalypse, she is leading the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. She nearly causes the apocalyptic future by assassinating Senator Kelly and framing Gambit for it. The most fascinating thing about this version of Mystique is that she truly is a monster, but you can’t help but pity her. Despite abandoning her own biological children, she truly loved Rogue in her own twisted way, despite all of the torment she put her through during her teenage years. However, at the end of the day Mystique is not a good person and responsible for much of the problems that our heroes face throughout the course of the show. As of the time this list is being made, it is unclear whether or not we will see Mystique appear in X-Men ‘97. However, with this new character Dr. Valerie Cooper appearing, there is a common theory that it is really Mystique. I guess we’ll see.  

2. Master Mold and the Sentinels: The Sentinels have often been used as a recurring threat to the X-Men and they are among the most terrifying villains within the X-Men’s rogues gallery. These giant robots are made by human scientists to protect humans by hunting down mutants. They are always hostile and efficient when it comes to dealing with their targets. Like with any artificial intelligence in media, the Sentinels eventually gain the ability to operate independently and turn on their creators, desiring to take over the world themselves. As stated before, the Days of Future Past storyline is one of the two most iconic X-Men stories of all time and the Sentinels are at the forefront as the main threats. They serve as the main villains of the show’s first season, with the X-Men desperately trying to stop the dark future in which they take over. The Sentinels are among the darkest villains featured on the show, as not only are they capable of being a world ending threat, but they manage to kill Morph, a member of the X-Men in the first episode. The only thing more terrifying than the Sentinels is their leader Master Mold, who has the ability to create more Sentinels at will and is even bigger than them. Despite them being defeated at the end of the first season, Master Mold and the Sentinels return a few times throughout the rest of the show. The most recent episode of X-Men ‘97 features the Sentinels at quite possibly their most horrifying, where a new frightening model destroys Genosha and seemingly kills Magneto and Gambit. Just when you think they couldn’t get worse, these machines managed to be one of the toughest villains to ever go up against the X-Men.

1. Mister Sinister: If there was one comic book villain that I think deserves far more attention than he normally gets, it is definitely Mister Sinister. It baffles me as to why he hasn’t appeared as the villain of an X-Men movie yet. The character has limitless potential and would have worked in any of the Fox X-Men movies. It frustrates me that not a single filmmaker had any interest in using him. I was hoping that the upcoming film Deadpool and Wolverine would finally make him the villain but it seems like they don’t want to use him either. It is especially infuriating as the X-Men movies were finally going to use him as the overarching big bad of the series only for Disney to pull the plug on them when the company bought 20th Century Fox. I am so glad that the 90s cartoon gave him as much love as they could. An immortal mutant scientist with a passion for experimenting on innocent people, Nathaniel Essex/Mister Sinister desires to make the perfect species. To do that, he kidnaps many mutants and brainwashes them into being his slaves. He resurrects Morph and forces him to turn against the X-Men so he can capture Cyclops and Jean Grey. Throughout the show, Mr. Sinister always manages to be one of the biggest threats that the X-Men face, only rivaled by Apocalypse. Sinister also is incapable of being killed. No matter what the X-Men do to him, he will always reassemble himself and come up with an even more dangerous plan to accomplish his goal. Even the optic blast by Cyclops can’t stop him and that seems to be his only weakness. Mister Sinister is both the scariest and most fascinating villain in the entire show. Christopher Britton gives the mad scientist a chilling metallic voice that showcases a lack of humanity on the character, highlighting just how much of a pure evil monster he really is. When Sinister returns in X-Men ‘97, he is just as frightening as ever, tormenting the team with several horrific illusions and creating a clone of Jean that nearly kills not only the team, but Cyclops’ newborn child. I cannot wait to see Mr. Sinister cause more chaos throughout X-Men ‘97. I only wish that the movies and other X-Men cartoons had the desire to do the same for the character.


Adam Grunther

Adam is a freelance writer who is an avid fan of comic book movies and television shows, especially that of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Doom Patrol. He joins the team with a deep understanding for all of the content from both Marvel and DC Comics, and will use this information in future rankings and reviews. He looks forward to sharing posts that will bring a mix of entertainment and his passion for superhero related content to Only Comic Universe.

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