The Greatest Mutant (X-Men)

Over the past couple of days, I’ve been watching all the X-Men movies, from X-Men (2000) to X-Men: Apocalypse (2016). Although vaguely familiar with its characters since when I was a child, I haven’t really known them all, along with their backstories. Watching the movies allowed me to rediscover the characters, their stories, and their powers. As I did, I pondered which of those powers I would’ve liked to have, if I had the choice. (Admit it, once in your life, you’ve fantasized about having some sort of superpower, too.



Being a psychologist, of course I covet Jean Grey’s telepathic abilities. I am also often too lazy to get up from my bed and get a book I want off the bookshelf, for which Grey’s telekinetic abilities would come in handy.

But then again, if we talk about having the perfect combination of offense-defense abilities, Wolverine’s adamantium claws, superhuman senses, and regenerative powers are pretty damn awesome.

The Nightcrawler’s agility and teleportation abilities are also supercool. They’d play right into my avoidant tendencies (haha), and would allow me to escape situations ranging from the awkward and uncomfortable to the downright dangerous.

Seeing the impressive range of all the mutants’ superhuman abilities, I was also tempted to ask which of them is the greatest.

Hmmm…who do you think should earn the title?

Each of us would probably have different opinions on this one, but at least for me, the answer would be Charles Xavier (Professor X).

It seems like the obvious choice, of course. He’s practically the leader of the X-Men. He founded the school and helped other mutants control and make the best out of their own abilities. Not to mention he has vastly powerful telepathic abilities—mind reading, memory manipulation, both mutant and non-mutant location, mind control, psychic attack.

But what makes him the greatest mutant is not exactly any of those things. What makes him the greatest is the fact that he had all those abilities and yet chose to use them for good. How many people, if given the powers of mind reading and mind control, would not be tempted to use them for personal gain? How many would have it in them to choose to use those only for good, every time?

“When an individual acquires great power, the use or misuse of that power is everything, will it be used for the greater good or will it be used for personal or destructive ends? Now this is a question we must all ask ourselves. Why? Because we are mutants.” ~ Charles Xavier

In other words, what made Charles Xavier so great wasn’t his impressive mutant abilities, but simply a human ability—that of making a choice. The strength of character to have those superpowers and yet not use them towards personal or destructive ends.

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Ultimately, it was Charles Xavier’s restraint—his ability to not use his superpowers—that was even more important than his ability to use them. It was what made his a great man, a great leader.

Now whether such strength of character can be found in today’s powerful leaders, or only remains to be the stuff of comic books and fiction movies, continues to be an open question.

And whether such strength of character prevails in each of us, as we too are called to choose how we are to use our energy and abilities, continues to be a never-ending battle. ♣

This entry is part of my undertaking a 30-day challenge Matt Cutts talked about at TED2011. The premise is to “think about something you’ve always wanted to add to your life and try it for the next 30 days.” I am challenging myself to post one blog entry a day for 30 consecutive days. 

Today is Day 18.

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