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Off My Mind: Are the X-Men and Other Mutants Considered Human?

They often claim to be a new species so does that mean they are not human?

There has been many discussions and arguments over what is a mutant. The definition that exists in the Marvel Universe is different than what would be used in the "real world." Early on, the term "Homo superior" was used to describe mutants. Magneto strongly believed that they were different than Homo sapiens and destined to become the dominant life form on the planet.

Because people fear what they don't understand, mutants have long been the targets of attack and hate. Thought to be the next stage in human evolution, mutants are not seen as human but rather a different species altogether. This is a question that the X-Men have constantly faced over the years.

In a recent case of "life imitating art," this question is one Marvel's lawyers are actually discussing with the IRS. Whether or not mutants are considered human could have a big impact on the X-Men in both the real and comic book world. The question that has to be answered is, should mutants be considered human?

== TEASER ==

While this isn't a new argument, a recent article was brought to my attention by a member of our community, Grim. According to the post, Marvel is trying to convince the IRS that the X-Men and mutants should not be considered mutants. The reason is, toys made in other countries and shipped into the US are taxed but figures of non-humans have lower taxes. If mutants can be classified as non-humans, they can save some money on X-Men figures.

In comics, William Stryker was one of the first to make the argument that mutants were not human. To him, mutants are monsters or abominations. Stryker believes we are beings of divine creation but mutants are an "affront to that divinity." It might not be the words Magneto or Professor X would use but they agreed that mutants and humans were different species.

If mutants are not considered human, that would mean they don't have human rights. A mutant's natural or legal rights could be called into question. Does this mean it's okay to put them in mutant concentration camps as seen in Days of Future Past? Should they be allowed to vote? Can they get a mortgage loan to buy a new house? Would it be okay for groups like the Purifiers to hunt them down and kill them for sport?

For the sake of the mutants in the Marvel Universe, it's important that they are considered human. It could be argued that they are human until the x-gene they are born with kicks in (usually at puberty). You could also argue whether or not a mutant is a mutant before that gene kicks in.

Mutants may have extraordinary abilities but it's essential that they are able to retain their rights. At the same time, they should also be held to the same laws and standards. We're reminded of the quote, "If You Cut Me, Do I Not Bleed?" It might be in Marvel's best interest to have mutants designated as non-human but for the survival of mutants in the Marvel Universe, they need to be considered humans. They're just humans that can do some pretty cool things.

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Posted by The Stegman

they're human, just...mutated,with an extra gene, so i say most of them is human

Posted by kamionero

I thought the exact same thing. For a long time I didnt get why they where so mad over HoM and Wanda depowering them, because i thought they wanted integration. They were depowered, but they were alive, they were otherwise ok (with exceptions like Blob and Wing...) but on principle only it wasnt that big a deal. Especially in a universe where to get the powers a mutant has u can just hit the power broker, toss and turn on some radioactive gunk, or just get a power suit like jubilee! Its like, would it matter if all blondes in the world turned brunettes due to the scarlet witch? they can dye their hair... its not the same, but close 'nuff!

Posted by Nudeviking

@The Stegman said:

they're human, just...mutated,with an extra gene, so i say most of them is human

Why most of them rather than all of them then?

Posted by tectonic_prose

Typically, biologically species are indicated by a genetic lock and key, that is to say, mutants are not humans if that do not have regular reproductive capacity with humans, and rather have that only with other mutants. So, I believe mutants appear to be humans who have a genetic anomaly.

This is actually a very serious science discussion which involves both a re-clarifying of technical speciation and a recap of the genetic history of the X-Family. I'm trying to think of mutants who have had genetically human offspring, but can't. Humans have mutants, but do mutants have non-mutant human offspring. Can anyone help me out here?

Posted by Nudeviking

@kamionero said:

I thought the exact same thing. For a long time I didnt get why they where so mad over HoM and Wanda depowering them, because i thought they wanted integration. They were depowered, but they were alive, they were otherwise ok (with exceptions like Blob and Wing...) but on principle only it wasnt that big a deal. Especially in a universe where to get the powers a mutant has u can just hit the power broker, toss and turn on some radioactive gunk, or just get a power suit like jubilee! Its like, would it matter if all blondes in the world turned brunettes due to the scarlet witch? they can dye their hair... its not the same, but close 'nuff!

In an issue of the awfully named, though outstanding comic anthology, "Girl Comics" a recently depowered Jubilee talks about this very thing with Wolverine. Being without powers is less like a blonde suddenly becoming a brunette, and more like a person with 2 functional legs becoming a paraplegic.

Posted by woollymittens

Any animal than can interbreed and produce fertile offspring, is of the same species.

Posted by Nudeviking

@tectonic_prose: Graydon Creed was a human with two mutant parents (Sabretooth & Mystique).

Posted by sora_thekey

They are just a different type of human.

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Posted by Check17

I suppose it's all in the name, they're mutants- mutated humans, so they are humans, in the same way a zombie or a werewolf or a vampire would be a human, but that's just IMO. 
Posted by Soldier zero

@tectonic_prose said:

Typically, biologically species are indicated by a genetic lock and key, that is to say, mutants are not humans if that do not have regular reproductive capacity with humans, and rather have that only with other mutants. So, I believe mutants appear to be humans who have a genetic anomaly.

This is actually a very serious science discussion which involves both a re-clarifying of technical speciation and a recap of the genetic history of the X-Family. I'm trying to think of mutants who have had genetically human offspring, but can't. Humans have mutants, but do mutants have non-mutant human offspring. Can anyone help me out here?

There are at least two cases of mutants with non-mutants children. First was Luna, the daughter of Quicksilver and Crystal. Both her parents are genetic offsprings of baseline humanity, but she has no power nor any discernible x-gene/inhuman genetic element. The other case is Graydon Creed, who is perfectly human in spite that both his parents are mutants. Also there was an old storyline about Magneto's first daughter, Anya wasn't a mutant, but she died very early so she might not count.

So, at least in some cases the process can work in reverse. Which makes sense, given that the x-gene is a genetic trait there's always a possibility for it to become recessive over the course of generations. It's very likely that these offsprings still carry the x-gene, like Moira MacTaggert.

Edited by Grim

as long as they weren't born mutant, and at some point were 100% indistinguishable from other humans, i think they should be considered human. Otherwise, guys like Captain America and IronMan wouldnt have human rights either. The entire hero community would be pissed at the government.

Others should still at the very least be treated like another intelligent life form.

But yeah, i thought it was hilarious that someone at marvel actually though of this as a away to lower the cost of their taxes. Brilliant bastards i the house of ideas.

Posted by Gscythe

They can inter-breed with humans and produce fertile offspring. According to genetics that makes them the same species.

Edited by Illuminatus

Mutants are humans, yes. Although, I wonder how much longer Marvel intends to have a healthy majority of the Earth population ostracize the mutant population and commit hate-crimes towards them. I understand that this has been a recurring theme throughout all of the X-Men literature, but themes have a tendency to wear thin unless they are refreshed with interesting new concepts. 

Posted by darkrider

@The Stegman said:

they're human, just...mutated,with an extra gene, so i say most of them is human
Online
Edited by WhitOro

@kamionero said:

I thought the exact same thing. For a long time I didnt get why they where so mad over HoM and Wanda depowering them, because i thought they wanted integration. They were depowered, but they were alive, they were otherwise ok (with exceptions like Blob and Wing...) but on principle only it wasnt that big a deal. Especially in a universe where to get the powers a mutant has u can just hit the power broker, toss and turn on some radioactive gunk, or just get a power suit like jubilee! Its like, would it matter if all blondes in the world turned brunettes due to the scarlet witch? they can dye their hair... its not the same, but close 'nuff!

Wouldn't that be like black people getting turned into white people to get integrated? Some can think is right, but the majority wants to be part of the community while still be themselves. Be accepted for what you are is the entire concept behind the war against racism and conformism.

I've always imagined mutants as being mutants and humans as being humans, it creates more drama and the fight for integration becomes more difficult and so more relevant when a victory is achiaved. But hey, if we start discussing genetics, yeah, I guess at the end mutants are just human with natural superpowers.

Posted by BritishMonkey

they're human

they're born from humans but get their mutant gene from their father, which is the same as saying a child being born with any other disability due to a faulty gene or irregularity, if that makes any sense

Posted by redhood21

I think they're still human, just a lil more evolved/mutated/whatever.

Posted by Renascence

I think they are, or at least are more compelling thinking of them that way.

I wish there would be a minimalization of animal-humanoid mutants though to not open that can of worms.

Posted by jamesnoele

hmm the government shouldnt be concerned there are other problems they have to face lol

Posted by Spiderslike

I don't think Mutants should count at all as humans because to me they aren't philosophically. Genetically you may be able to say they are still humans just with a mutation, but to me like Magneto and Apocalypse say they are the next step after humans so they aren't humans. To me however this is a good thing because this means Mutants are above humans on the food chain. They shouldn't be held to the same standards as humans, but should be held to their own standards just as every society has it's own rules so to should Mutants. If I were a mutant I would never claim I'm human in anyway that would seem insulting like calling a person a dog.

Posted by oborotyenvpup

Well what are humans in the marvel universe? they where modded by first the celistals, then the cree, and then I'm not sure after that.

Posted by ozeol

@Gscythe said:

They can inter-breed with humans and produce fertile offspring. According to genetics that makes them the same species.

Yeah but in the MU the same can be said about Inhumans (Quicksilver and Crystal had a child) and Shi'ar (Legion was Prof. X and Lilandra's). I mean mutants are born from humans but that just means they are the parent species

Posted by ApatheticAvenger

@ozeol said:

@Gscythe said:

They can inter-breed with humans and produce fertile offspring. According to genetics that makes them the same species.

Yeah but in the MU the same can be said about Inhumans (Quicksilver and Crystal had a child) and Shi'ar (Legion was Prof. X and Lilandra's). I mean mutants are born from humans but that just means they are the parent species

Legion is actually the son of Xavier and Gabrielle Haller (a human).

Posted by xmenfallen

yes they are still called humans being a mutant is just an extra evolution thing................... it is just like you can call a girl "human" but you can also call them as "girl"

Posted by The Devil Tiger

Mutant are human, because they can potentially breed with human. I think Marvel is opening the pandora's box in the name of money with that kind of thinking, and they should be extra-fined by the IRS for all their dumb move. :p

Posted by nivi

If they are capable of producing fertile offspring with humans, they are human. It doesn't matter if the kids are mutants or not, as long as they are fertile.

Posted by tonis

The answer is kind of easy, when you look at human nature.

A person born with a disability is no less considered a human than someone with an 'ability' would be.

The difference is in fear, and the reaction to that

For humans to start having to define that would take that kind of motivation. (or more expensive import costs apparently :)

Posted by kamionero

@WhitOro said:

@kamionero said:

I thought the exact same thing. For a long time I didnt get why they where so mad over HoM and Wanda depowering them, because i thought they wanted integration. They were depowered, but they were alive, they were otherwise ok (with exceptions like Blob and Wing...) but on principle only it wasnt that big a deal. Especially in a universe where to get the powers a mutant has u can just hit the power broker, toss and turn on some radioactive gunk, or just get a power suit like jubilee! Its like, would it matter if all blondes in the world turned brunettes due to the scarlet witch? they can dye their hair... its not the same, but close 'nuff!

Wouldn't that be like black people getting turned into white people to get integrated? Some can think is right, but the majority wants to be part of the community while still be themselves. Be accepted for what you are is the entire concept behind the war against racism and conformism.

I've always imagined mutants as being mutants and humans as being humans, it creates more drama and the fight for integration becomes more difficult and so more relevant when a victory is achiaved. But hey, if we start discussing genetics, yeah, I guess at the end mutants are just human with natural superpowers.

Ah! good point. I see what you're saying. Especially since there is a similar issue of discrimination and integration, so the mutants just turning into humans its almost like they are being subjugated. However, what i really wanted to touch on was that in the Marvel U, there are a TON of ways to go back to what they were, and somewhat undo what the scarlet witch did, maybe not on a genetic level, but on a functional level; as an example, what

Posted by Rasarima

they are like down´s syndrome?

Posted by SpidermanWins

I'd compare mutants and humans to toads and frogs. They are the same...yet different.

Posted by Paracelsus

Given the dismal history of first slavery and then segregation in the US Deep South vis a vis African Americans( never mind the ultimate aphothesis in the Third Reich), I would say YES:

A wider question is to question what IS humanity anyway( esp in the case of supernaturally based beings such as vampires , werewolves and various incarnations of mythological deities, Thor, Hercules, Valkyrie who are functionally immortal, but including artificial life forms such as androids).

In my novel, Seraph states that the provenance of her powers is ultimately irrelevant( whether she was born with them or gained them via artificial means pace the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Daredevil, Spider Man or Captain America)- "God gave them to me" and is mystified as to the extent of anti-mutant prejudice in contemporary "marvel universe" America.

Terry

Edited by Shazam78

Gotta to agree with Paracelsus the only thing that separates the X-Men and other mutants from other heroes like Hulk and the FF is how they got their powers. They are human with slight difference in their DNA. Heck even in an episode of the X-Men cartoon from the 90s Master Mold said mutants are humans.

Posted by sj_esposito

@tectonic_prose said:

Typically, biologically species are indicated by a genetic lock and key, that is to say, mutants are not humans if that do not have regular reproductive capacity with humans, and rather have that only with other mutants. So, I believe mutants appear to be humans who have a genetic anomaly.

This is actually a very serious science discussion which involves both a re-clarifying of technical speciation and a recap of the genetic history of the X-Family. I'm trying to think of mutants who have had genetically human offspring, but can't. Humans have mutants, but do mutants have non-mutant human offspring. Can anyone help me out here?

This answers the question... pretty much.

It's true that, like tectonic_prose said, members of species must be capable of successful reproduction; however, there are some models of speciation that rely on things like genetic diversity and ecological niches. As an example, consider the relationship between neandertals (H. neanderthalensis or H. sapiens neanderthalensis) and humans. Some categorize neandertals as a species of the genus Homo, some characterize it a subspecies of H. sapiens (H. neanderthalensis or H. sapiens neanderthalensis). The problem here, as with Marvel's mutants, lies with how the species is defined. It's becoming clearer, through genomics, that many populations of modern-day humans share a good portion of neandertal DNA -- which leads to the conclusion that there were many 'admixture' events between anatomically modern humans and neandertals sometime in their shared history, somewhere in Eurasia. Basically, this means that neandertals and men were (sufficiently) frequently coital and produced successful offspring.

So, we may consider neandertals and humans to be of the same species based on reproduction and offspring fitness alone, and in the same manner, mutants and humans in the Marvel U. However, neandertals and humans share approximately 99.7 percent of their base pairs (constituents of genes). This may seem like a staggeringly large number, but consider that the .3 percent difference was enough to differentiate humans in such a way that we survived and neandertals died off. This is a major facet of the speciation argument, and it applies to the fictional version addressed here.

In a way, we can look at the mutant/human relationship as one similar to the one that existed between neandertal and humans before the neandertals died out -- they are "slightly" different, significantly genetically diverse (this can be safely assumed since most mutants exhibit much greater phenotypic differences from humans than neandertal did), and are successfully interbreeding. Now, which population dies out and which hangs in for a longer run has yet to be seen in the Marvel U, although HoM brought the mutants dangerously close to spending the rest of eternity with the long-gone neandertals. The parallels are strinkingly similar.

For complex organisms, it's not adequate to separate them into species based only on reproduction, genetics or niche -- those factors have to be considered together and complicated models have to be devised. Admittedly, I'm only complicating things by pointing this out, but such is the nature of science.

Great article, Tony.

Posted by Billy Batson

Not according to Marvel.
BB

Posted by Stompa

@sEsposito7 said:

It's becoming clearer, through genomics, that many populations of modern-day humans share a good portion of neandertal DNA --

I know several of those guys........

Posted by kfhrfdu_89_76k

Kavita Rao, at least, thinks that they are humans.

Posted by jubilee042

@SpidermanWins said:

I'd compare mutants and humans to toads and frogs. They are the same...yet different.

Posted by krilling

I always thought that the mutants are just human beeings with the x-gene.

Posted by Lurkero

I've always been with Magneto on this side of the debate. No matter how much mutants try to claim they are only human, unmutated humans will hold a grudge against them because humans are afraid of what they cannot control. The way of our society has always been that humans are the supreme entity of the Earth.

However, if this new "race" of humans start to evolve and are able to control the other "less powerful" races then there would be worldwide panic. Genetically, if mutants can produce offspring with normals, then they are the same species. I can only imagine the days when Homo sapien started to take over society from Homo erectus. Those must have been some tense times.

Posted by nesagwa

You guys are all coming at this case from the wrong angle. The government taxes what it refers to as "dolls" differently than what it taxes other toys. "Doll" has a very specific definition in the tax code. What they are doing is using characters - despite being human or not (the lawyers didn't actually use mutations as an example outside of characters like Beast or Wolverine that have severe physical differences from what you would call a normal human). The ruling however allows Marvel to classify *all* of their toys as non-human, ie. not "dolls" (this includes Captain America and non-super powered human figures like Daredevil).

In short, this was a tax dodge and had more to do with blue fur and claws than it did genetic mutations.

Posted by KidSupreme

If you consider Homo Erectus / Homo Habilis / Neanderthal ... Human then you can consider Mutants Humans to but with the X gene in them. If we are Homo Sapiens the mutants would be .. Homo Metalahtike (edit: metalahtike means mutated in Greek)

Edited by cmaprice

Mutants are humans, biologically speaking. Distinct species are categorized by reproductive incompatibility.

If group one can mate with group two and produce offspring that can also reproduce, group one and group two are generally considered the same species.

But considering how little the reality of evolutionary biology is reflected in titles like X-Men, I doubt highly that anyone making decisions there really cares about the distinction.

Posted by cmaprice

@KidSupreme said:

If you consider Homo Erectus / Homo Habilis / Neanderthal ... Human then you can consider Mutants Humans to but with the X gene in them. If we are Homo Sapiens the mutants would be .. Homo Metalahtike (edit: metalahtike means mutated in Greek)

And why the mixed Latin and Greek nomenclature? ;)

Posted by Sammo21

I've always thought the argument was that they weren't man, homo sapiens, but that they were the next evolution of homo superior.

Posted by Maki_P

I feel the need to point out that there is no such thing as a "next step of human evolution". You see evolution does not work that way, it's a constant process to adaptation to the species to it's environment. And it's not predetermined, there is not a kind of creature your species it's meant to become, you species just becomes what it's necessary to survive in the environment you and your descendants live in. I don't know enough of the X-Men to know what environmental factor trigger that sort of mutation, but there must be, and it does not mean they're "superior". (Wait, weren't they created by the Celestial or some weir crap like that? That's not Evolution, that Genetic Tampering!)

Ummm. This is not really in topic. Still I think it's important to clarify the point: Mutants aren't the (nonexistent) next step of Human Evolution, they're a mutated form of Humanity.

Thank you, and sorry for any inconvenience

Posted by Primmaster64

Mutants are humans to me.

Posted by Owie

@sEsposito7 said:

@tectonic_prose said:

Typically, biologically species are indicated by a genetic lock and key, that is to say, mutants are not humans if that do not have regular reproductive capacity with humans, and rather have that only with other mutants. So, I believe mutants appear to be humans who have a genetic anomaly.

This is actually a very serious science discussion which involves both a re-clarifying of technical speciation and a recap of the genetic history of the X-Family. I'm trying to think of mutants who have had genetically human offspring, but can't. Humans have mutants, but do mutants have non-mutant human offspring. Can anyone help me out here?

This answers the question... pretty much.

It's true that, like tectonic_prose said, members of species must be capable of successful reproduction; however, there are some models of speciation that rely on things like genetic diversity and ecological niches. As an example, consider the relationship between neandertals (H. neanderthalensis or H. sapiens neanderthalensis) and humans. Some categorize neandertals as a species of the genus Homo, some characterize it a subspecies of H. sapiens (H. neanderthalensis or H. sapiens neanderthalensis). The problem here, as with Marvel's mutants, lies with how the species is defined. It's becoming clearer, through genomics, that many populations of modern-day humans share a good portion of neandertal DNA -- which leads to the conclusion that there were many 'admixture' events between anatomically modern humans and neandertals sometime in their shared history, somewhere in Eurasia. Basically, this means that neandertals and men were (sufficiently) frequently coital and produced successful offspring.

So, we may consider neandertals and humans to be of the same species based on reproduction and offspring fitness alone, and in the same manner, mutants and humans in the Marvel U. However, neandertals and humans share approximately 99.7 percent of their base pairs (constituents of genes). This may seem like a staggeringly large number, but consider that the .3 percent difference was enough to differentiate humans in such a way that we survived and neandertals died off. This is a major facet of the speciation argument, and it applies to the fictional version addressed here.

In a way, we can look at the mutant/human relationship as one similar to the one that existed between neandertal and humans before the neandertals died out -- they are "slightly" different, significantly genetically diverse (this can be safely assumed since most mutants exhibit much greater phenotypic differences from humans than neandertal did), and are successfully interbreeding. Now, which population dies out and which hangs in for a longer run has yet to be seen in the Marvel U, although HoM brought the mutants dangerously close to spending the rest of eternity with the long-gone neandertals. The parallels are strinkingly similar.

For complex organisms, it's not adequate to separate them into species based only on reproduction, genetics or niche -- those factors have to be considered together and complicated models have to be devised. Admittedly, I'm only complicating things by pointing this out, but such is the nature of science.

Great article, Tony.

Two great responses. I'd perhaps add that I believe any species falling under the Homo genus is considered human (with Homo sapiens considered "modern humans") so whether Homo sapiens are a true species or not, they still fall under the Homo genus and thus are still considered human.

Hilarious thing for Marvel to be trying to do in the first place anyway. It's funny how philosophical questions are often brought up in relation to court suits. Early in the 20th century an art gallery was shipping a Brancusi sculpture into the US. There was a different tax on art, so they wanted to make sure i was classified as art. But it was a very abstract sculpture, which many people then didn't consider to be art, and customs wanted to declare it as just raw materials. So the gallery had to sue to get it legally defined as art (they won).

Posted by animemike

mutants are human just the next stage of are evolution

Posted by SC

its on fans interest they aren't considered humans, unless your going to buy all the children toys innit? Real people >> fictional characters. 

Moderator Online
Posted by wowylied

I really don't see why the homo sapiens people in the marvel world are so racist and stupid. They have tons of hero who save their live every day. They can live a new step in evolution and see that in the futur everyone will have power that can be use for improve mankind and yet they want to burn every person that is different...

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