With the X-Men movie franchise still going strong, let’s look at the meaning behind some of the characters’ names. The X-Men were created by Stan Lee and Jake Kirby and first appeared in a comic book in 1963. Since then over 100 X-Men characters have been created and the franchise has expanded from comics to cartoons, video games and Hollywood movies. Many of the names have interesting meanings behind them with roots in Greek and Roman mythology, science or stem from the animal kingdom.
Originally appearing in the X-Men comic book series in 1981, Caliban is probably the most poetic of all the X-Men character names, in that it is a reference to the ugly, beastlike slave of Prospero in Shakespeare’s play The Tempest.
This character first appeared in an X-Men comic back in 1975 and has featured regularly throughout the series’ various incarnations. With a leading role in the latest film, Colossus refers to anything colossal, meaning gigantic or very powerful. At 6’ 7” and by far the most physically powerful member of the X-Men team his name is perfect of his appearance.
A Cyclops in both Greek and Roman mythology was a member of an ancient race of giants, each with a single eye in the middle of their forehead. The name is widely thought to mean ‘round eye’ or ‘circle eye’. In X-Men the character awarded the title of Cyclops emits a powerful laser beam from his eyes, often wearing sunglasses to contain it. In uniform he wears a visor running eye-to-eye, resulting in the one-eyed appearance of the mythical creature.
The primary villain in the X-Men film franchise, Magneto appeared in the first X-Men comic book back in 1963 and has been a regular fixture ever since as both an enemy and ally of the X-Men, and even at times a member. A Magneto is an electric generator that uses permanent magnets to produce periodic pulses of alternating current and the character is so called because of his ability to manipulate electromagnetic fields with all kinds of devastating effects.
In Greek mythology a Phoenix was a long-lived bird that is cyclically regenerated and a symbol of immortality. Associated with the sun, the bird mythically rises from the ashes of a funeral pyre to live again full of the freshness of youth. In the X-Men series the name is awarded to a female founding member of the X-Men, who possesses both telepathic and telekinetic powers.
A rogue is a dishonest or unscrupulous person. In X-Men the name is given to a female villain who has been become one of the most consistent characters in the series, both for the regularity of her appearances and popularity amongst fans. Due to the fact she uses her powers – which include the absorption of memories, skills and powers through skin-to-skin contact – primarily for evil deeds rather than good, the name rogue seems rather appropriate.
Probably the most famous, popular and recognisable character of all the X-Men, a Wolverine is a stocky, carnivorous (meat-eating) North American predatory animal descended from the weasel family, notable for its blackish, shaggy hair and distinctive white markings. First appearing in the comic book series and now the main star of the X-Men film franchise, the character of Wolverine possesses animal-keen senses, enhanced physical capabilities and a healing factor that allows him to recover from virtually any wound, disease or toxin at an accelerated rate. His most distinctive feature is his retractable wolf-like claws on each hand that the character can summon as he chooses.
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