Are there too many characters in the X-Men universe?

For many years, the X-Men has the largest number of characters in any comic book franchise as it has characters that range from different countries to different parts of America. While it is interesting to have a very diverse cast of characters, is it possible that there are too many X-Men characters to keep track of over the years?

Take the situation during the big X-Men event called “M-Day.” “M-Day” was the result of Marvel’s decision to cut out a lot of the X-Men characters because there were too many characters for the writers to keep track of and the easiest solution to Marvel would be to cut off as many characters as they can by killing them off or depowering some of the mutants when Scarlett Witch caused the majority of the mutants to disappear when she stated “No More Mutants.” While the concept of “M-Day” was really interesting since we never really witnessed a situation where the X-Men have to use their survival instincts to survive in a world where mutants are going extinct, there could have been other options as to how to handle the increasing number of characters in the X-Men universe. For one thing, Marvel could have shown us what happened to the depowered mutants after M-Day. It does make sense to not entirely focus an entire story on a dead character, but since the depowered mutants are still alive, why shouldn’t they have their own stories about what happened to them after M-Day and how they coped with the disastrous situation? Maybe, if there was a different writer who could write a story about the depowered mutants or if one of the main X-Men titles (Uncanny X-Men for example) has a little short story about the depowered mutants, then we might get a really good story about the depowered mutants without having to resort to placing the characters in a limbo where they are never mentioned again until the next big event comes up.

Another way that Marvel could have solved the problem of having too many characters in the X-Men franchise is that they could have rotated the cast so that way, everyone would have a fair chance at getting their own stories told. This is definitely needed in Uncanny X-Men since most of the time Uncanny X-Men mainly focuses on Cyclops, Emma Frost and Wolverine and barely focuses on the other characters, although we do have brief glimpses of Colossus, Storm and Beast’s side of the story. If the writers rotated the cast such as having Emma Frost, Cyclops, Wolverine, Hope Summers as the main team on the first issue and then the next issue would have Nightcrawler, Colossus, Shadowcat, Rogue as the main team, then it would help writers to be able to write about a different array of characters without stressing on using all of the characters in one issue and risking some of the characters being put into the background.

Personally, I have no problem with having new characters added to the X-Men universe, as long as it is written correctly. I really like the idea that the X-Men has a very diverse cast of characters and it would sadden me if any of the characters were killed off or never developed fully as memorable characters in the X-Universe. I think the biggest issue here is not the fact that there are too many characters in the X-Men universe but the fact that the writers don’t know how to write so many characters into one issue. It is difficult to write a story that is told from several different characters’ point of view since we might get so many mixed messages about the story since each character might have a different view on the situation, but it isn’t necessary to put all the X-Men characters into one issue, especially if the writer is not going to give some of the characters any dialogue throughout the issue. Also, the X-Men comics need to start focusing on the other characters other than Cyclops, Emma Frost and Wolverine in every issue. Yes, Wolverine, Emma Frost and Cyclops are iconic characters in the X-Men universe, but the X-Men is a team book and so, it needs to center on various members of the X-Men other than just the three members I’ve just mentioned. Furthermore, new characters should possibly be added every five years or so, so that way the writers would have enough time to develop the characters and we would not have that distinct feeling that the characters are just being added just for the sake of shaking things up in the X-Universe. I’m guessing that X-Men: Schism is trying to solve the problem of having too many characters in the X-Universe by splitting the cast into eight different books and whether or not that will work or not will remain to be seen.

So what do you think? Do you think that there are too many characters in the X-Universe and some characters need to be written off or do you think that it’s fine having so many characters and that there just needs to be better writing in writing all of these characters?

19 Comments
19 Comments
Posted by soccersss

There are too many characters in the X-men Universe. As a result not enough characters get a lot exposure. Also Charles Xavier and Storm needs to take an active leadership role. Why on earth is Wolverine head of a Mutant School. The changes in Wolverine has been too drastic and unnecessary. Sorry for my mini rant but yeah they need to cut down some of it members so they can focus more on their members. Maybe they can take the 90s X-men as a model. Those were the good days with Gambit, Psylocke, Jean, & co. Even Cyclops was interesting back then

Posted by Rabbitearsblog

@soccersss said:

There are too many characters in the X-men Universe. As a result not enough characters get a lot exposure. Also Charles Xavier and Storm needs to take an active leadership role. Why on earth is Wolverine head of a Mutant School. The changes in Wolverine has been too drastic and unnecessary. Sorry for my mini rant but yeah they need to cut down some of it members so they can focus more on their members. Maybe they can take the 90s X-men as a model. Those were the good days with Gambit, Psylocke, Jean, & co. Even Cyclops was interesting back then

I definitely agree with you about how Wolverine's character was changed so drastically. I don't mind if Wolverine is a little nicer, but the writers never really developed that idea and it just seemed so awkward. Also, I thought that Storm would have been a better candidate in the Schism than Wolverine due to her having experience in leadership. I really loved the 90's cast also! I like to see them again.

Posted by MyraMyraMyra

I don't think that there are too many characters. One of the reasons I love X-Men is because of the diversity. There are so many different characters to like and so many stories to be told that I personally don't find myself getting bored with the franchise. If you get tired of one character, there are always dozens of other ones to focus on instead. Having a large cast of characters also gives the writers the opportunity to bring out the social allegories related to the series. X-Men deals with, among many other things, diversity, prejudism, oppression, and the tensions between a minority and the rest of the society. One can tell stories about being different with a smaller cast, too, but I think that having a larger cast broadens and reinforces the metaphorical impact of the whole concept of the mutant race.

Naturally, all X-Men characters can't be major players at the same time, and I think that's OK - just as long as they're not forced to play the part of the unimportant sidekick with little or no lines for too long. I actually prefer characters with nothing significant to do to go away for a while instead of hanging around doing nothing just for the sake of it. I don't mind seeing a character going on a hiatus every now and then because sometimes leaving the spotlight between important story arcs can be the right choice for the character for the sake of pacing. Having a minor character be absent from the titles can also mean that a new writer can rediscover and revive that character later. That's why I hated the lazy, stupid & unrewarding M-Day twist: by depowering and even killing off many mutants, it ruined (or at least hindered) many possibilites to reinvent characters who were apparently deemed less interesting than others at the time.

I agree that rotating the characters so that all characters get their stories told is the best way to handle such a broad cast (though I also think that characters need to remain in central roles long enough for any serious drama or character developement to occur) - which, though, isn't always the deal with X-titles, as a selected few major characters tend to hog all the attention all the time. Of course certain characters (Cyclops, Wolverine, Emma Frost) are always going to play central roles more frequently than others, but it would be nice to see a minor character step into the spotlight more often. Having the same characters in the main roles arc after arc is bound to get boring after a while.

I think that Peter David, for instance, manages his large X-Factor line-up very well. The cast just keeps getting bigger and bigger, but all the characters get their stories told, their parts to play, and their chances to shine. Some of the characters are more prominently featured than others, but no character in the title feels like a waste of space.

Posted by Kairan1979

 I think that Peter David, for instance, manages his large X-Factor line-up very well. The cast just keeps getting bigger and bigger, but all the characters get their stories told, their parts to play, and their chances to shine. Some of the characters are more prominently featured than others, but no character in the title feels like a waste of space.

I agree. There are not too many characters. The authors just concentrate on few of them, forgetting that the others need development too.
Posted by Rabbitearsblog

@MyraMyraMyra said:

I don't think that there are too many characters. One of the reasons I love X-Men is because of the diversity. There are so many different characters to like and so many stories to be told that I personally don't find myself getting bored with the franchise. If you get tired of one character, there are always dozens of other ones to focus on instead. Having a large cast of characters also gives the writers the opportunity to bring out the social allegories related to the series. X-Men deals with, among many other things, diversity, prejudism, oppression, and the tensions between a minority and the rest of the society. One can tell stories about being different with a smaller cast, too, but I think that having a larger cast broadens and reinforces the metaphorical impact of the whole concept of the mutant race.

Naturally, all X-Men characters can't be major players at the same time, and I think that's OK - just as long as they're not forced to play the part of the unimportant sidekick with little or no lines for too long. I actually prefer characters with nothing significant to do to go away for a while instead of hanging around doing nothing just for the sake of it. I don't mind seeing a character going on a hiatus every now and then because sometimes leaving the spotlight between important story arcs can be the right choice for the character for the sake of pacing. Having a minor character be absent from the titles can also mean that a new writer can rediscover and revive that character later. That's why I hated the lazy, stupid & unrewarding M-Day twist: by depowering and even killing off many mutants, it ruined (or at least hindered) many possibilites to reinvent characters who were apparently deemed less interesting than others at the time.

I agree that rotating the characters so that all characters get their stories told is the best way to handle such a broad cast (though I also think that characters need to remain in central roles long enough for any serious drama or character developement to occur) - which, though, isn't always the deal with X-titles, as a selected few major characters tend to hog all the attention all the time. Of course certain characters (Cyclops, Wolverine, Emma Frost) are always going to play central roles more frequently than others, but it would be nice to see a minor character step into the spotlight more often. Having the same characters in the main roles arc after arc is bound to get boring after a while.

I think that Peter David, for instance, manages his large X-Factor line-up very well. The cast just keeps getting bigger and bigger, but all the characters get their stories told, their parts to play, and their chances to shine. Some of the characters are more prominently featured than others, but no character in the title feels like a waste of space.

Well said! One of the best things about the X-Men universe was that it had a very diverse cast and I really loved seeing the story from everyone's perspective. I think the major problem with the large cast is that the writers don't really know how to write it where each character has the spotlight. I kind of wish they didn't have M-Day set up as a way to kill off so many characters without giving them more development.

Posted by Rabbitearsblog

bump.

Posted by jhazzroucher

I actually like t that there are a lot of them. I don't think they're too many.

Posted by Rabbitearsblog

@jhazzroucher said:

I actually like t that there are a lot of them. I don't think they're too many.

Me too! It makes the cast more diverse.

Posted by jhazzroucher

@Rabbitearsblog said:

@jhazzroucher said:

I actually like t that there are a lot of them. I don't think they're too many.

Me too! It makes the cast more diverse.

MUtants are the most interesting kind of superheroes. : )

Posted by Rabbitearsblog

@jhazzroucher said:

@Rabbitearsblog said:

@jhazzroucher said:

I actually like t that there are a lot of them. I don't think they're too many.

Me too! It makes the cast more diverse.

MUtants are the most interesting kind of superheroes. : )

Yep! :D

Posted by Darkmount1

They definitely should have used the rotating cast technique used in Justice League Unlimited--it worked really well! We got stories centered on Green Arrow, Black Canary, Hawkman, Stargirl, the Legion of Super-Heroes, Hawk and Dove, the Question, the Huntress, Booster Gold, even the Warlord got one.

Posted by Rabbitearsblog

@Darkmount1 said:

They definitely should have used the rotating cast technique used in Justice League Unlimited--it worked really well! We got stories centered on Green Arrow, Black Canary, Hawkman, Stargirl, the Legion of Super-Heroes, Hawk and Dove, the Question, the Huntress, Booster Gold, even the Warlord got one.

I agree! I really liked the way that Justice League Unlimited rotated the cast and we were able to see stories from everyone's point of view. Now if only the X-Men comics can do that.

Posted by Rabbitearsblog

@MyraMyraMyra said:

I think that Peter David, for instance, manages his large X-Factor line-up very well. The cast just keeps getting bigger and bigger, but all the characters get their stories told, their parts to play, and their chances to shine. Some of the characters are more prominently featured than others, but no character in the title feels like a waste of space.

I agree! And I also liked what Joss Whedon did for his Astonishing X-Men run when he concentrated on all the characters and gave everybody a say in the matter of the situations they were thrown in, so it never felt like that any of the characters were left out.

Edited by jcbart

Personally, I think a massive problem in some X-Men comics is that it never even matters who the characters are in the line up. They go on their adventures and they beat the bad guy, but's there no sense of necessity for any of them to be in that comic. Take adjectiveless X-Men, for instance. Yes, it's an okay B-Movie type comic and yes it involves other Marvel characters interacting with the X-Men team, but that's about it. It's a waste of a title in my opinion which could be spent delving into the characters much like X-Force, X-Factor, Generation Hope and Legacy do.

Take Astonishing X-Men and New X-Men. Could the story have developed the way it did without Kitty on the roster? No. Would the New X-Men arc have had a different outcome should Emma not be there to initiate the affair with Cyclops? It would have changed everything we know about X-Men now. These are the types of stories I want. Comics with characters that affect the story and that matter. Not some dull swashbuckling tale where nothing is explored.

Posted by Rabbitearsblog

@jcbart said:

Personally, I think a massive problem in some X-Men comics is that it never even matters who the characters are in the line up. They go on their adventures and they beat the bad guy, but's there no sense of necessity for any of them to be in that comic. Take adjectiveless X-Men, for instance. Yes, it's an okay B-Movie type comic and yes it involves other Marvel characters interacting with the X-Men team, but that's about it. It's a waste of a title in my opinion which could be spent delving into the characters much like X-Force, X-Factor, Generation Hope and Legacy do.

Take Astonishing X-Men and New X-Men. Could the story have developed the way it did without Kitty on the roster? No. Would the New X-Men arc have had a different outcome should Emma not be there to initiate the affair with Cyclops? It would have changed everything we know about X-Men now. These are the types of stories I want. Comics with characters that affect the story and that matter. Not some dull swashbuckling tale where nothing is explored.

I definitely agree with you that while it is good to have most of the X-Men characters on the roster, I like the stories where the characters actually have a purpose in the story. Like Astonishing X-Men for example, I liked the way that all the characters, mainly Kitty and Colossus, affected the story and it never seem like any of the characters were there for the sake of it, but there because they were needed to move the plot along. As long as the characters have a purpose in the story, then rotating the cast should be no problem.

Posted by Renascence

I think the X-Men emerged as a franchise with such a rich, diverse supporting cast to one that has proliferated into an overpopulated mess of redundant characters.

I largely blame that on a series that I loved, New X-Men: Academy X. There are so many duplicate powersets and personalities in that series. I wouldn't mind it, but the X-Verse hasn't gotten rid of the originals yet (which I am not opposed to).

The X-Verse has been full of shallow cameo queening that it does not feel special and interconnected due to thoughtful relationships, but a blurred mess of power effects and disjointed or non-existent character dynamics.

Posted by cattlebattle
@Renascence said:

I think the X-Men emerged as a franchise with such a rich, diverse supporting cast to one that has proliferated into an overpopulated mess of redundant characters.

I largely blame that on a series that I loved, New X-Men: Academy X. There are so many duplicate powersets and personalities in that series. I wouldn't mind it, but the X-Verse hasn't gotten rid of the originals yet (which I am not opposed to).

The X-Verse has been full of shallow cameo queening that it does not feel special and interconnected due to thoughtful relationships, but a blurred mess of power effects and disjointed or non-existent character dynamics.

exactly, 100%, this
Posted by Rabbitearsblog

@Renascence said:

I think the X-Men emerged as a franchise with such a rich, diverse supporting cast to one that has proliferated into an overpopulated mess of redundant characters.

I largely blame that on a series that I loved, New X-Men: Academy X. There are so many duplicate powersets and personalities in that series. I wouldn't mind it, but the X-Verse hasn't gotten rid of the originals yet (which I am not opposed to).

The X-Verse has been full of shallow cameo queening that it does not feel special and interconnected due to thoughtful relationships, but a blurred mess of power effects and disjointed or non-existent character dynamics.

I definitely agree with this! It was alright that they added in the students as part of the X-Men cast, but after they were introduced, the writers just put them as background characters unless they have their own book series. Also, there's still the original X-Men that are apart of the universe and adding in new characters in a universe without giving time to explore the older characters can end up overflowing the X-Universe. I think to make this more effective, the writers should write more X-Men stories that has the older generation of the X-Men communicate with the younger generation, so that way, both generations can participate in the stories without either side being shoved to the background.

Posted by John Valentine

@Kairan1979 said:

I think that Peter David, for instance, manages his large X-Factor line-up very well. The cast just keeps getting bigger and bigger, but all the characters get their stories told, their parts to play, and their chances to shine. Some of the characters are more prominently featured than others, but no character in the title feels like a waste of space.

I agree. There are not too many characters. The authors just concentrate on few of them, forgetting that the others need development too.

Bang on. Very true.