William Stryker was a soldier in the U.S. military with a connection to the Weapon X program and the Adamantium process that created Wolverine, among others. Some time after his retirement from the military, Stryker had what some may call an epiphany regarding his role and purpose in the world. When his son was born different Stryker knew immediately that his child was a mutant. Distraught, he killed his son, his wife, and attempted to take his own life as well. His suicide attempt failed and he concluded that God must have prevented him from taking his own life so that he could serve God on Earth. Stryker's belief was that God allowed his son to be born a mutant so that he would be guided towards his true calling, to lead the war against all mutants. His hatred of mutants being based on a belief that they represented the Devil's corrupting influence on the world, and in order to save the world, mutants must die.
William Styker first appeared in Marvel Graphic Novel #5 "God Loves Man Kills" by Chris Claremont and Brent Eric Anderson.
Mayor Story Arcs
God Loves, Man Kills
William Stryker became a preacher and Christian televangelist in order to spread his hatred of mutants. He also founded a secret paramilitary group called the Purifiers which carried out violent acts against the mutant population. at one point, the Purifiers managed to capture Professor X and kill several mutant children. After nearly killing Kitty Pryde, Stryker was shot and subdued by the authorities. He was imprisoned and his followers disbanded.
After being released from prison Stryker discovered the whereabouts of Nimrod, a Sentinel from the alternate future time-line chronicled in Days of Future Past. Stryker used the Sentinel's memory system to learn of the affects of M-Day months before it even happened. With this knowledge of the future, Stryker began to rescue human beings from events that history had recorded as having caused their deaths. One of these individuals was the elite sniper, Matthew Risman. With this new base of support, Stryker re-started the Purifiers and continued his assault on mutants and their kind.
The Purifiers believe that God did his part on M-Day by wiping out most of the mutant population, and that it is their job to finish his work by any means necessary. In pursuit of that ultimate goal the Purifiers massacred many mutants, including Wallflower and Icarus of the New X-Men. In revenge, Elixir managed to kill William Stryker. In the wake of his death, Matthew Risman has taken over leadership of the Purifiers who regard Stryker as not just as man who started a movement, but a martyr in a holy war.
He is one of the Humans that Bastion revived with the Techno-organic virus. Risman saw this as an obination. After Rismans death, Stryker has most likely taken over the Purifiers.
Stryker is working with Bastion and fellow Anti-Mutant leaders, Graydon Creed, Bolivar Trask, and Steven Lang. He has re-assumed control of The Purifiers (now forged with the Sapien League). When Bastion locates Hope and Cable, he dispatches the Reverend and his Purifiers to eliminate them. They are intercepted by a group of X-Men. With the help of a "weaponized ritual" weapon, he is able to take Illyana Rasputin out of the fight, her whereabouts unknown. He also temporarily neutralizes Nightcrawlers' teleportation. With the X-Men unable to teleport at will, they are surrounded by the Purifiers. Sensing the battle has shifted and no longer in their favor, Wolverine instructs Angel to transform into his Archangel persona. He is able to quickly dispatch of the Purifiers, and kill William Stryker by slicing him in half.
Earth-295 (Age of Apocalypse)
William Stryker's father was a preacher and William believed he would follow in his footsteps. The arrival of Apocalypse halted all of that when their hometown was destroyed and William's family were forced to become refugees. Ironically, William's parents and two sisters were killed by human scavengers.
Growing up a wanderer; never trusting but always observing, William came to know exactly what to expect of someone before approaching them. Having seen cruelty and hopelessness on both sides, he also saw acts of kindness and heroism on both sides. Putting his faith in the universal goodness of man, William began to realize that the way against Apocalypse could be won.
William became the human freedom fighter known as Prophet (also known in certain circles as Blood Prophet or Red Prophet). Prophet began targeting and murdering allies of Apocalypse such as Krakken, an engineer who built ovens to incinerate humans. He became a rumor and myth among humans and mutants alike. Sometime later he formed a group of like-minded resistance members called the X-Terminated.
Later, following Weapon X becoming the heir to Apocalypse, Prophet and the X-Terminated continue their fight against his similarly tyrannical rule over humanity. After "Weapon Omega" murders most of the remaining members of Magneto's X-Men, Prophet welcomes a depowered Jean Grey and Sabretooth into the Human Resistance, although Sabretooth is forced to face penance for his past crimes as a servant to Apocalypse.
Prophet led the X-Terminated into Hell's Kitchen to save the reporter Harper Simmons from Omega's Hounds for revolutionary crimes. Prophet fought against the leader of the Hounds, Keeper Murdock, as the rest of the team ushered Simmons to safety.
Shortly afterwards, the X-Terminated investigated one of Henry McCoy's abandoned labs where they encountered a resurrected Prelate Summers, formerly one of Apocalypse's most trust lieutenants - now working for Omega. In the fight, Summers and his team of followers captured the X-Terminated's Deadeye while Fiend managed to hide within a computer mainframe being moved to McCoy's new lab. After Goodnight and Horror Show freed Deadeye from Omega's forces, Prophet and the team discovered from Fiend that McCoy and Sugar Man were preparing to bring some of the most powerful mutants who ever lived back from the dead to serve Omega. Prophet led them on an assault on McCoy's lab to halt his plans to revive the dead mutants. As the team destroyed the lab and captured Sugar Man, Prophet stayed behind to ensure that the dead mutants bodies were obliterated but secretly revived the mutant known as M.
Prophet also had Jean Grey train alongside Henry Gyrich so that she could join the X-Terminated. Whether it was because she'd once being the most powerful mutant mind in the world or because she'd been the wife of Weapon Omega, Prophet nevertheless had big plans for her. Prophet and Jean subsequently attempted to recruit Quentin Quire and his Overmind to their cause which failed as Quire was mentally unstable and Jean was too concerned with trying to "save him".
Later, the revived M surfaced, now calling herself Penance, and began gathering her own political following. Prophet, gambling that if Penance rose to power she would be the lesser of two evils, forged an uneasy alliance with Penance. After offering their captive Sugar Man to Penance as a sign of good faith, Prophet convinced eventually managed to convince Penance to agree to designate a safe haven for humans when she ascends to power.
The X-Terminated next went in search of the lost journals of Reed Richards' which took them to the home of Doctor Doom in Latveria. Prophet and Deadeye discovered that Doom possessed a machine capable of capturing the Death Seed (the source of Omega's power) and redirecting it to a new host. The catch was that Doom intended to redirect the power to himself. Through a series of manipulations and double crosses, Prophet had Deadeye fake allegiance to Doom as a means to get close to the dictator and kill him so that the X-Terminated could gain access to his technology anyway.
Under Prophet's leadership, the X-Terminated launched their coordinated attacks again Omega and manage to rob him of his Death Seed power. With Omega disposed, Penance ushers in a new age wherein humanity are free to exist and have their own refugee in Haiwii. No longer at threat with extinction, Prophet settles down and enters a relationship with Deadeye.
The peace was not to last, as Dark Beast and Nightcrawler accidentally tear a rip in the dimensional barriers between Earth-295 and Earth-616 and a group of Exterminators arrive to devour both worlds. In the ensuing conflict, in which the X-Terminated team-up with Earth-616's X-Men, Prophet realizes the necessity of sacrificing his own reality in order to save Earth-616. Although he is willing to stay behind and perish with the rest of his world, he instead is spared and transported to Earth-616. With all his friends dead, and little purpose, Prophet was last seen resting on a beach with the X-Men's Dazzler and the only other survivor from his world; Harper Simmons.
Earth-1610 (Ultimate Universe)
William Stryker first appeared in Ultimate X-Men #98. A preacher and father, he was raising his family in New York City at the time the Ultimatum Wave hit. His family was killed and William was stricken with grief. He began preaching to those in similar situations when men who had served with his father, Admiral Stryker approached him to join their cause in taking revenge to the mutants. Armed with discarded Sentinel tech, they lead an assault on Xavier's School. William shoots and kills Syndicate on the front lawn.
They continue their attack, knocking out Firestar and Toad when Rogue, Juggernaut, Sabretooth and John Wraith arrive to take on Stryker and his men. Stryker is able to gain the upper hand against Wraith and his men kill the Juggernaut. Rogue is able to get a hand on him, draining his energy but also seeing the fate of his family.
William Stryker returns in Ultimate Comics X-men #2 leading the Purifiers in rounding up remaining mutants. He interrogates a woman names Elise Cartwright who harbored mutants after Magneto's attack. After she does not repent to Stryker for this he kills her. Stryker orders his Purifiers to take out all the cops in New York City. The Purifiers unload shipping containers full of mutants as Stryker begins healing them of their powers and killing them if they do not repent their sins. Jimmy Hudson, Iceman, Human Torch and Rogue show up to stop him when Stryker reveals he had Rogue working as a double agent to bring them all to him. Rogue admits it's true when Kitty arrives to stop Stryker. Kitty phases through Stryker's suit, killing him, however it is revealed that he too was a mutant who is able to control technology and machinery. Stryker transfers himself into a wave of oncoming Nimrod Sentinels sent by the government. The Sentinels lose control and begin killing mutants and any human mutant-sympathizers. As the Nimrods ravage across America they begin to construct a Master Mold somewhere in the Arizona desert.
In Other Media
X-2: X-Men United
An altered version of William Stryker appears as the main antagonist of X-2: X-Men United, portrayed by Brian Cox. In the film, he is a United States Army general rather than a televangelist, but is still depicted as harboring intense feelings of bigotry towards mutants.
During the course of the movie, Stryker leads an assault on the Xavier Institute after Nightcrawler nearly kills the president of the United States, and takes a number of the students as his hostages. It is also revealed that he has some sort of past connection to Wolverine, who cannot remember Stryker due to his memories having been wiped. After kidnapping Charles Xavier, it is revealed that Stryker plans to use him, to wipe out the entire mutant race by using Cerebro, and that he was the one who coerced a brainwashed Nightcrawler into attacking the president in order to justify his actions. Using his son Jason (who can create powerful illusions), Stryker attempts to force Xavier to commit genocide, but is defeated by the X-Men. He dies after being chained to a helicopter and left to drown by Magneto.
In the movie, Stryker was portrayed by Bryan Cox.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
A younger version of Stryker is present in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, played by Danny Huston. He is shown using mutants as weapons in an attempt to create the perfect killing machine. The movie was poorly received by critics and fans, and is no longer considered canon in the X-Men film timeline after the release of X-Men: Days of Future Past.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
A young version of Stryker also appears in X-Men: Days of Future Past as a minor antagonist, portrayed by Josh Helman. The film depicts a Stryker 30 years or so before the events of X2, where he is working for industrialist Bolivar Trask.
Though he is not yet as powerful or influential as he was in that movie, he is still shown to have a hatred and mistrust of mutants. At the close of the film, Mystique impersonates Stryker to rescue Wolverine.
X-Men: The Official Game
In the official video game prequel to X-Men: The Last Stand, it is revealed that prior to his death, Stryker had worked with HYDRA to develop the Sentinels.