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To Better Know a Hero: Professor X

Xavier

Real Name
Charles Francis Xavier

First Appearance
X-Men #1 (September 1963)

Nicknames and Aliases
Chuck, Baldy, the Entity, Onslaught

Powers and Abilities
Xavier possess the foremost mutant mind on Earth, and is a telepathy of vast power and skill, including the ability to read minds and projects thoughts, even at great distances, take control of other minds, wipe or implant memories and thoughts, and enter the Astral Plane. Occasionally, he has exhibited low level telekinetic abilities.

Xavier is also an accomplished geneticist, inventor, and teacher.

Weaknesses and Achilles’ Heels
Stairs, his female patients.

Gadgets and Accessories
Cerebro (and more recently, Cerebra) a high tech computer capable of detecting mutants and amplifying the telepathic powers of the user. For a time, Xavier supplanted his more traditional wheel chair for a hover chair that utilized advanced alien Shi’Ar technology. He also owns a sweet mansion in upstate New York that serves as the X-Men’s headquarters and is fitted out with all kinds of high tech and alien upgrades.

Friends and Allies
The X-Men, Lilandra (his long time girlfriend, Empress of the Shi’Ar Empire) Legion (Daniel Haller, his son), Gabrielle Haller (his Baby Momma), Moira MacTaggert (his long time colleague, one-time lover, acclaimed geneticist)

Foes and Antagonists
Magneto (Erik “Magnus” Lensherr, his friend and adversary), Juggernaut (Cain Marko, his step-brother), Cassandra Nova (his evil twin sister), the Shadow King, prejudice and intolerance.

Movies and Appearances
Professor X was played by Captain Picard in all three X-Men films, and also made cameos in the two solo Wolverine films. Professor X was a featured character on Fox’s animated series in the 90s and shows up just about anywhere else the X-Men appear in the media. A younger version of the character was played by James McAvoy in X-Men: First Class, and both actors will reprise their roles as young and old Professor X in the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past.

McAvoy

One-Sentence Origin
Born a mutant with vast telepathic powers, Professor X dedicates his life to bringing about peaceful co-existence between humans and mutants, and to that end, founded a school to serve as a haven for and teach young mutants, and formed the X-Men to defend humanity from those mutants who would rule over them.

Memorable Moment
X-Men (vol. 2) #25 (October 1993). After Magneto devastates Earth with a planet-wide electromagnetic pulse, Professor X leads a small strike team of X-Men against Magneto abroad his orbital headquarters. During the battle, Magneto rips the adamantium from Wolverine’s bones, and Xavier, pushed to the limit, destroys Magneto’s mind, leaving him a mental vegetable and preventing him from doing any more harm (and inadvertently setting in motion Xavier’s later pseudo-transformation into the villainous Onslaught).

Xmen25

Fun Fact
In his lifetime, Professor X has managed to cripple two different bodies.

He originally lost the use of his legs when injured in battle with an advanced scout for an alien invasion (but not the same alien invasion he later went underground and lied to the X-Men in order to prevent).

Walk1

After being implanted with a Brood embryo and transformed into a Brood Queen, Xavier’s consciousness was transferred into a body cloned by the Starjammers. After overcoming a psychosomatic inability to walk, Xavier two-stepped his way through life until a battle with the Shadow King on the Astral Plane shattered the spine of his clone body, once again costing him the ability to walk.

Walk2

In the wake of the Scarlet Witch’s alteration of reality which eliminated 90% of the world’s mutant population, Xavier lost his powers but regained the ability to walk. Apparently, as far as the Scarlet Witch is concerned “no more mutants” also means “no more paraplegics.” He eventually regained his powers, but managed to retain the use of his legs until his recent untimely death.

Austin’s Analysis
For a writer, Professor X is a tough nut to crack. He’s arguably one of the three or four most powerful mutants on the planet, alongside Magneto, the Scarlet Witch, and Franklin Richards (the son of the Fantastic Four’s Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman), which means he should be able to do just about anything to solve the X-Men’s problems. Of course, when ol’ Chuck is solving all their problems, the fun of reading about the X-Men’s adventures kind of goes away.

So to keep Xavier and his abilities around without creating incredibly dull X-Men stories, the solution has always been twofold: Xavier’s iconic (and thematically strong) circumstance of being a paraplegic, the greatest mind trapped in a weak, flawed body, and a moral fortitude that prevents him from using his power to just change everyone’s mind about mutants. This keeps Xavier effectively sidelined from the main action of the X-Men where he can serve best as a mentor, teacher and inspirational figure, Martin Luther King Jr. to Magento’s Malcolm X. Even when this status quo is changed (as it is from time to time) and Xavier finds himself able to walk, other limitations are created to prevent Xavier from contributing too much to the X-Men’s adventures: he’s missing, he’s dead, he recognizes he’s not a field leader, he suffers injuries that inhibit his powers, he’s off in space with his alien bird girlfriend.

WalkAway

But the X-Men can never stray too far from Xavier. He may not be the most interesting character, or the easiest to write, but in the end, he and his dream for peaceful coexistence represent everything that separates the X-Men from other teams: they fight to bring about the vision of this idealist who dares to dream of a better world. Whether present as a character or just as a symbol, Xavier is critical to the success of the X-Men. So no matter how long the detour, eventually Professor X makes his way back to the book, physically limited in some way to keep him out of the action, or unable to wield his power in such a manner as it renders the actions of the other characters moot, but he always makes it back. After all, there’d be no X-Men without Professor X.

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