X-Men Who Have Turned It Around from Villain to Hero

When it comes to reformed villains, Professor X and the X-Men have a pretty generous open door policy. Magneto is the most obvious example. He was the mutant team’s first archenemy and over the decades he has progressed from reluctant ally to trusted leader. It’s easier to overlook differences when the whole world is against you — or, at least, it should be.

The Marvel mutants definitely know how to throw down against an enemy but, on the other hand, they’ve also made a habit of welcoming many former foes into the fold. Just look at the most recent incarnation of the Hellions! That’s a group of legal liabilities if we ever saw one. Even Krakoa, the beloved current home of mutantkind, used to be an enemy! Along the spectrum of heroics, the following mutants really stand out in their journey from villain to hero.


Emma Frost

Emma Frost is one of the most high-profile villain to hero stories. And her time as a villain wasn’t just, “I’ll knock over some buildings and rob a bank.” No, in her time as the White Queen of the Hellfire Club, Emma’s actions led to the creation of Dark Phoenix. This cosmic entity still continues to wreak havoc on the X-Men. Without Emma, Jean Grey might never have succumbed to her darker desires.

In addition, Emma was part of the breakup between fan favorite mutant couple Cyclops and Jean Grey. She also had a troublesome habit of possessing others’ bodies, from Storm to Iceman. Of course, Emma has always had a soft spot for children — she really is in it for the kids. Over the years, Emma has grown from heartless ice queen to benevolent mentor.


Gambit

Before Remy LeBeau was throwing cards and melting hearts, he was stealing diamonds (and any other valuables he could get his hands on). Gambit’s past as a thief is no surprise, especially considering he often acts as King of Thieves for the Thieves Guild, the society he was born into. However, his close relationship with a fellow mutant once uncovered Gambit’s darkest secret.

Gambit and Rogue are probably the X-Men’s most enduring couple. But this love was tested when Rogue’s powers accidentally set loose a terrible secret: Gambit once worked for Mister Sinister. That’s bad enough on its own, but Gambit was also responsible for assembling the Marauders for Sinister. This group of mutants would later massacre the Morlocks as well as gravely injure many of the X-Men. Eventually, Gambit was forgiven and accepted among the X-Men again. Now, he fights alongside the new Excalibur in Otherworld.


Rogue

Rogue’s villainous past is very well known, considering many of her modern abilities are due to using her powers with reckless abandon. Raised by Mystique and her wife Destiny, Rogue was a valuable tool in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants’ fight against the X-Men. When Rogue let her touch linger a little too long on Carol Danvers, she permanently stole Ms. Marvel’s powers — as well as her psyche for a time. Rogue’s place in society has always been tumultuous because of the dangerous, power-stealing nature of her own mutant skin.


Blob

Frederick Dukes, AKA Blob, has endured betrayal from both humans and fellow mutants. Originally, he was approached by Professor X to join the X-Men but this recruitment failed. He joined Magneto’s Brotherhood, only to learn that the Master of Magnetism didn’t care about him either. Blob would later work for various other teams, such as Mystique’s Brotherhood and Freedom Force, before losing his powers on M-Day. Now, Blob is the friendly bartender at the Green Lagoon on Krakoa, dispensing advice and much-needed drinks.


Apocalypse

His name says it all — Apocalypse’s purpose has always been remaking the world in his own image. The self-proclaimed first mutant has corrupted countless heroes, from Angel to Gambit and even the Hulk. While his evil deeds could warrant their own list of grievances, the Age of Krakoa has seen a new side of Apocalypse. Now that all mutants are working together to establish their rightful place in the world order, Apocalypse has lent his vast knowledge to mutant magic. Thanks to Apocalypse, mutants are now accessing the furthest reaches of power combination.


Daken

Akihiro, AKA Daken, is the poster boy for daddy issues. No, really — much of his existence has been spent battling his father’s legacy. And when your dad is Wolverine, that’s a tall stack of Adamantium to live up to. Of course, Daken originally went about this mission by way of anger and violence. He was part of Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers and even ruled the criminal underworld of Madripoor. Eventually, he began working alongside his sister, Laura Kinney AKA X-23. Her influence and years of fighting with Wolverine have led to a completely different Daken in the Age of Krakoa: a big brother to the Honey Badger and a valued member of X-Factor.


Pyro

Alongside Blob, Pyro was another recruit to Mystique’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and later Freedom Force. He participated in the assassination attempt on Senator Robert Kelly as well as joined Toad’s Brotherhood. After a rough time with the Legacy Virus, St. John Allerdyce, AKA Pyro, died in Senator Kelly’s arms after making a plea for mutant and human peace.

Pyro was one of the first mutants of Krakoa to be brought back. At this stage, the resurrection protocols were still in the testing stages. However, Kate Pryde and Storm adopted Pyro as a member of the new Marauders. He has since shown his dedication to the team with a face tattoo and bravery in battle.


Black Tom Cassidy

Thomas Cassidy, once known as Black Tom Cassidy, has really gone from devious murderer to reformed mutant hero. Tom is the cousin of Sean Cassidy, AKA Banshee, and he raised Sean’s daughter, Siryn. In the height of his criminal career, Tom also shared a close companionship with Juggernaut.

His powers, especially, are interesting when used in the context of Krakoa. Tom is able to generate blasts of concussive force using wood as a conduit. Once he began living on Krakoa, Tom’s affinity for wood allowed him to develop a unique symbiosis with the island and he began acting as Krakoa’s chief of security.


Callisto

Callisto was leader of the Morlocks, an underground mutant society who shunned the world above. Many of these people had mutations which deemed them ugly, scary, or dangerous to society, leading them to form their own mutant community. As leader, Callisto was especially trusted by her people — that is, until Storm beat her in hand-to-hand combat.

In truth, Callisto was never really an enemy of the X-Men, even if her views as a Morlock were sometimes opposed to the mutant team’s righteous vision. That’s why Emma Frost embraced her as the White Knight of the Hellfire Trading Company, an ambassador between apprehensive mutants and Frost’s global designs for Krakoa.


In the Age of Krakoa, many mutants have redeemed themselves. Angry feuds have ended, bitter rage has given way to newfound purpose. However, there are still those mutants who evade the simple classification of good or evil, like Mystique and Destiny, and those whose selfish goals will always rise above anything else. Lookin’ at you, Mister Sinister.

Who is your favorite villain-to-hero mutant? Join the conversation over at side.show/geekgroup, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!