Professor X: Who is the Founder of The X-Men

X Marks the Professor

Magneto:Doesn’t it ever wake you in the middle of the night? The feeling that someday they will pass that foolish law, or one just like it, and come for you and your children?
Professor Xavier:It does, indeed.”
Magneto:What do you do when you wake up to that?
Professor X:I feel a great swell of pity for the poor soul who comes to that school… looking for trouble.

X-Men (2000)

A man in a wheelchair hobnobs with guests at a fundraiser for inner city schools. His mind reaches out into the crowd, his telepathy peeking behind their masks. A sharp-tongued teacher feigns disinterest, but is estimating how far the funds will stretch. A kind-faced man greases palms in service of his daughter’s gymnastics scholarship offer and future place in society.

Waves of sorrow jar the telepath from his mental eavesdropping. He excuses himself and wheels over to a seemingly-happy woman. His compassion and empathy allow them to talk; his telepathy steers the conversation to her plight. 

The woman admits that her son has developed uncontrolled superpowers. He’s stayed home from school for a week, but that’s not a long term solution. She doesn’t want him to be killed by bigots and doesn’t know where they can go. Professor X offers a kind smile. He knows just the place.

Professor X is the founder of the X-Men. He’s fought for Mutant equality for decades and taught hundreds of heroes. So who is he? How did he get his powers? What happens if he loses control? Let’s find out. Class is in session.

Wandering Mind: Professor X’s Backstory

Professor X: “No amount of words […] can change the truth that each of us… man, woman, Black, Hispanic, Jew, Asian, Native American, homosexual, Mutant, everyone… underneath all the ‘words’… we are related. We are all family.”

Uncanny X-Men #294

Professor X debuted in The X-Men #1 in 1963. He was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, who based his appearance on Oscar-winner Yul Brynner. Modern writers say that they draw his characterization from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Following his father’s fatal lab accident, Xavier discovered his psychic abilities, unmasking a lab employee’s successful plot to kill his father, woo his mother, and usurp the family fortune. However, when a subsequent lab mishap endangered Charles, his guilt-ridden stepfather sacrificed himself to save him.

Xavier excelled in school by reading his teachers’ minds. He served with distinction in the U.S. Army while studying for his advanced degrees. A new superpowered friend named Erik Lehnsherr debated him about whether Mutants and humans could live in peace. Xavier hoped so, but Holocaust survivor Erik believed that their only hope was to conquer the world.

While in Tibet, Xavier learned of a village that was ruled by a tyrant called Lucifer. He led a rebellion against Lucifer and discovered that the tyrant was the vanguard of an alien invasion. Xavier’s legs were crushed in a trap, but he stopped the invasion and returned to America.

With Mutants becoming more common and threats like Lucifer lurking in the stars, Xavier knew peace wouldn’t last. He founded a school for Mutants and assembled a team named for the X-Gene that empowered them all: The X-Men.

To Me, My X-Men!: Professor X’s History

Xavier: “This mansion is still a school, and I consider all those who live under its roof students. Even you still have something to learn. If not from me… then, perhaps, from Kitty.

Wolverine: First Class

Professor X led the X-Men through many adventures, fighting aliens, criminals, and Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. He eventually appointed Cyclops as the field team’s commander and took a support role. Professor X briefly dated an alien empress named Lilandra, granting the X-Men access to Shi’ar technology, including a hovering wheelchair for himself.

The X-Men’s numbers swelled and started including adult heroes. Professor X struggled to find a balance between trusting his new students and micromanaging them. The balance became more important when Professor X’s long-lost sister outed him as both a Mutant and the X-Men’s leader. He rolled with the reveal and became Mutantkind’s best known symbol.

Dying Dream: Xavier’s Modern Stories

Xavier:Just because someone stumbles and loses their way, it doesn’t mean they’re lost forever.”

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Professor X helped many Mutants, but the never-ending battle for equality eventually wore him down. He decided that Magneto was right: Mutants and humans cannot coexist. Professor X gathered many of the X-Men’s greatest foes on the mutant island Krakoa and ironed out an agreement to make Krakoa a Mutant-led nation.

Mutants flocked to Krakoa for safety while The X-Men were restructured into an army. Their influence exploded when non-Mutants learned that five Mutants working together could resurrect people with no downside. Professor Xavier now leads the Quiet Council, Krakoa’s executive and judicial branch. That power unfortunately went to his head, making him a cynic ruling through realpolitik.

Mind Over Matter: Professor X’s Powers and Personality

Xavier:Of course, there’s a risk in accepting [Rogue], but consider the alternative. At least with us she has a chance for a better life, deny her and we condemn her outright… and that I will never do, to any Mutant, so long as breath remains within me.

X-Men #171

Professor X is the strongest telepath in the Marvel Universe. He can read minds, possess bodies, “upload” information into others’ minds, and fire blasts of psychic energy. When focused through the psionic computer Cerebro, Professor X can project thoughts across the galaxy.

Xavier (probably) didn’t earn his professorship through mind control. He has doctorates in many fields and specializes in genetics. Xavier’s also an experienced statesman, tactician, and martial artist. Admittedly, it’s challenging to use that last skill set in a wheelchair, but he makes it work when needed.

Professor X is wise, empathic, patient, and a skilled teacher. He’s also manipulative, hides important information, and bottles his darker emotions until they manifest to attack others in a psychic outburst. Xavier respects humans, but he is jaded after years of struggling against bigotry.

The Actors Who Play Professor X

Professor X has been in every X-Men project and even more Marvel works besides. We’ll stick with the best.

Cedric Smith – X-Men: the Animated Series, Spider-Man: the Animated Series
David Kaye – X-Men: Evolution
Jim Ward – Wolverine and the X-Men, The Super Hero Squad Show
Patrick Stewart – X-Men, Logan, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, more
James McAvoy – X-Men: First Class, Days of Future Past, Deadpool 2, more

Didya Get All That

A psychic teacher dreaming of a brighter world.

Image: Tye Sheridan, James McAvoy, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Alexandra Shipp in Dark Phoenix. Photo courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.

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