We all know and love the X-Men. Most of us are familiar with the super-powered crew from the film franchise starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and Halle Berry. While the films are amazing and expand upon some of the franchise’s most iconic characters, they hardly even scratch the surface of the rich X-Men universe.
The X-Men movies are based on a comic series written by some of Marvel Comics’ top talent, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, that dates back to 1963. For over 50 years now comic writers have been digging deeper into the world of these mutants, discovering new characters, revealing rich backstories, and creating parallels in prejudice to the realities of the reader. Though long series of issues have centered around some of the favorite villains of the franchise, such as Magneto, Apocalypse, and the general polity of characters like Colonel Stryker, there are some villains and anti-heroes of lesser note with just as much sensational backstory that have been wholly unexamined by fans of the franchise.
Meet Stryfe. If you’re a big fan of the comics, you ought to remember his name and may not be so surprised by some of the items on this list. If you’ve only ever watched the animated cartoon or the movies, his name might not ring many bells; however such a powerful and ominous character is likely to make his big screen debut any day now, considering how often they crank out new movies, so you’d better learn his name. Here are fifteen things you need to know about Stryfe.
15. He’s a Clone
Stryfe wasn’t exactly born by natural means. It’s a long story, but we’ll try to boil it down for you: his mutant parents had a son naturally and named him Nathan. However, the child was infected during infancy by the super villain we all know and hate so dearly, Apocalypse, with a techno-organic virus (frequently referred to in the comics as the T-O Virus). The T-O Virus, manifesting itself as both machinery and living tissue, infects its host and essentially turns its mutant hosts into cyborg-type beings. The immensely painful virus was inflicted on this young mutant child and desperate attempts were made to save the baby. The child was cloned in case nothing could be done to spare his life, in hopes that perhaps a clone variant of the baby would survive. Fortunately, both lived; unfortunately, one went on to become X-Men hero, Cable, while the clone became one of the most dangerous foes the superhero team ever encounters, Stryfe.
14. The Child of Jean and Scott
Our favorite mutant couple, Jean and Scott, are the parents of Nathan and, thus, Stryfe. Jean Grey, also known as Phoenix or Marvel Girl, and Scott Summers, better known as Cyclops, fell in love early on in the comics. The two had their first child together, Nathan, when fighting Apocalypse. It was because of their contention that young Nathan was ever infected, and the two were distraught over how to cure him. They sought the help of a woman called Mother Askani, a group actually founded by a future version of another Summers child, who transported Nathan 2,000 years into the future to try to save him; it was here that Nathan was cloned and Stryfe was made. Cyclops and Jean Grey knew nothing about Stryfe being created and unfortunately they were never given a chance to get to know him. The Askani hideout where Nathan was being cured was attacked and Stryfe was taken.
13. Raised by Apocalypse
The Askani hideout wasn’t attacked by any random group of thieves or barbarians; it is Apocalypse himself that attacks and takes Stryfe. Apocalypse, who was the very cause of Nathan’s infection and thus Stryfe’s creation, took the child under his protection and was the one to name him. While young Stryfe was desperate to see a reliable supporter in Apocalypse, as his entire life seemed muddled in a confusing birth story, Apocalypse had a specific purpose intended for Stryfe’s future: he intended to use Stryfe as his next host body, when the time came for him to move on. However, Apocalypse never realized that he had taken a clone baby, which is unfit to house his essence. When the time came for him to transfer bodies, his essence had nowhere to go and thus evaporated. For the rest of his youth Stryfe was raised by Apocalypse’s second in command, Ch’vayre.
12. Daddy Problems
So his biological dad didn’t know he existed until they had to fight each other and the father that “adopted” (aka kidnapped) him only intended to use his body as a host, as if he were just a skin suit. Is it any wonder that this guy had some daddy issues? Stryfe felt forsaken by the parents that should have been his, Scott and Jean, and he felt betrayed and abandoned by the man who raised him to be his evil successor. Preoccupied entirely with his sense of solitude and detachment from love and family, most of Stryfe’s attacks and endeavors are driven by the goal of getting revenge on one of his sets of parents or the other. He kidnaps Jean Grey and Scott Summers, he drives Apocalypse out of his own domain, and he targets the Summers children in attacks. It’s hard to blame the guy for feeling abandoned by all those who were supposed to protect him.
11. He Can Control Other Mutants (and Their Powers)
Stryfe obviously got his powers from the child he was cloned from, Nathan Summers. Nathan got his powers from his mother, Jean Grey. All three are immensely powerful psionic mutants, possessing the abilities of telepathy (the ability to read minds), telekinesis (the ability to move objects with your mind). However, Stryfe is significantly more powerful than you might’ve expected.
Stryfe is stronger than Nathan, supposedly because Nathan Summers still must constantly use some of his psionic abilities to keep the remnants of the T-O Virus at bay. Stryfe is stronger even than Jean Grey herself as well as Cyclops. Furthermore, Stryfe possesses powers alien to his family members, including telekinetic flight, force fields, mind transference, and, most importantly, the ability to negate or utilize the abilities of another mutant. He frequently uses these powers to cause the X-Men to turn on each other, which is an ongoing struggle in the battle against him.
10. He Tried to Kill Professor Xavier
HOW DARE HE. Yes, we have established that Stryfe is a bad guy and that his goal is to get his revenge on Apocalypse, Jean Grey, Scott Summers, and pretty much anyone else that seems happier than him (so basically, the world). But to try to kill The Professor? That is low. That is disrespectful. THAT IS CROSSING A LINE.
In a really horrific (but also, really gripping and well written) series of comics, Stryfe reveals to Cable that he is his clone. He then disguises himself as Cable, infiltrates the X-Men, shoots The Professor with a bullet infected with a lethal strain of the T-O virus, and then kidnaps Cyclops and Jean Grey. Of course, The Professor survived the assassination attempt: the cure comes from Apocalypse himself, who seeks refuge with the X-Men when Stryfe attempts to assassinate him. Though it was a bad day for The Professor, you’ve got to hand it to Stryfe: he got a lot of work done.
9. The Most Unlikely of Heroes Team Up to Defeat Stryfe
We’re only about halfway through this article and it’s already entirely clear: Stryfe is a bad-ass. He’s a tough, bitter, angry man with a lot of power and reckless abandon. To make matters worse, he makes targets out of the people that he feels have betrayed and failed him and he pursues them relentlessly. By the time the series came out, “The Messiah War,” he was infamously renowned as a villain not to be trifled with. Some of the most bad-ass heroes (and anti-heroes) joined forces to take down Stryfe once and for all: Apocalypse, his surrogate father; Deadpool, the occasional ally to the X-Men; Cable, better known as Nathan Summers; and X-Force, Nathan’s fighting team consisting of Wolverine, Gambit, Sunspot, and Siryn. While this sure was an unlikely team, it may be one of the most bad-ass alliances ever forged in X-Men history! They defeat Stryfe and Apocalypse takes him away with the intentions of using him as his next host body.
8. Defeats the Dark Riders and Apocalypse
Anyone who saw the last X-Men movie, Apocalypse, knows that he is no villain to take lightly. The world’s first mutant, this guy has been around for thousands of years and has taken that time to craft himself and his team into the most formidable and dangerous forces possible. He has stayed youthful for so long through his ability to transfer his essence into younger and stronger bodies. In doing this, he’s faced challengers and enemies over the millennia and always prevailed. That is, until Stryfe.
In his efforts to avenge the wrongs Apocalypse committed as a guardian, Stryfe goes head to head with Apocalypse’s dark riders and defeats them all. He then proceeds to stab and defeat Apocalypse. By the oaths the riders swear, their allegiance is in turn owed to Stryfe if he defeats their leader. In one short battle, Stryfe wins everything Apocalypse had and nearly kills him. Apocalypse only survives because he seeks the help of Professor Xavier.
7. He Violated Jenskot…
Jenskot is a lesser known hero of the X-Men universe, but her heroism and sacrifices merit the love and attention of any other heralded hero from the team. Otherwise known as Aliya Dayspring, Jenskot was a member of the Askani, the same group that saved Nathan Summers’ life as a baby. After Nathan saved Aliya from a group of New Canaanite fighters, the regime that usurped Apocalypse’s, the two fell in love and married. Fun fact: she adopted the name ‘Jenskot’ in tribute to Jean and Scott Summers, the parents of not only Nathan but of the Askani movement.
During a later raid committed by the New Canaanites, Stryfe captured Jenskot and held her captive. She was eventually rescued by Nathan, but not before enduring a horrific tenure in captivity. Though she never truly spoke at length about what happened to her, it is believed that Stryfe not only tortured her but raped her.
6. And Fathered Tyler Dayspring (Cable is not the father)
Suspiciously shortly after Jenskot was kidnapped and tortured by Stryfe and The New Canaanites (about nine months later, to give a rough estimate), Aliya gave birth to a beautiful baby boy: Tyler Dayspring. Since the pregnancy came shortly after Aliya and Nathan Summers were wed and the two were of course in love and desirous of a family, they assumed that the child was of traditional parentage. After all, Tyler looked just like his father! Aliya never liked to divulge details of her capture to Nathan or anyone else anyways; for all Nathan knew, there was nothing to be suspicious of. The two raised Tyler together and when he came of age, he joined the ranks of his mother’s freedom fighters as they battled The New Canaanites. Nathan was always good to Tyler, but any reader who pays attention to the details knows that Nathan is not his father: Stryfe is.
5. Kills Jenskot and Brainwashes Tyler Dayspring
As if Stryfe had not yet done enough wrong by this woman, he somehow found a way to make it worse! Though he professed to have affectionate feelings for Jenskot when he raped her, he never forgave her for being a member of the Askani or the Clan Chosen. After years had passed since Stryfe kidnapped and raped Jenskot, he orchestrated another attack on the group. In his attack, he did not mean to take prisoners or show mercy: he meant to destroy his opposing forces. He detonated a bomb that mortally wounded Jenskot and she died in Nathan’s arms, asking that he take care of Tyler. Little did she know that Stryfe had kidnapped Tyler and brainwashed him. It would take decades for Nathan to have the opportunity to see Tyler again and, when he did, he had to shoot Tyler to save a fellow Clan Chosen fighter. This only turned Tyler further from Nathan, who only ever meant to love him, and he traveled back in time to assure Apocalypse’s rise.
4. Stryfe Suffered From Depression [Cable Defeats Stryfe and He Can’t Bounce Back]
It’s not like you can be surprised, can you? The man had no family to speak of; no guardians, parents, or mentors that truly cared for him growing up; no model of love in his life; no teammates or friends he could rely on. Stryfe has nothing but himself and, as powerful as he is, he can’t help but admit that it’s a lonely, scary, and sad life.
After Stryfe is defeated by Cable and his X-Men teammates, he struggles for years to make a return to a physical presence (since Cable destroyed his physical body). Time and time again, every effort he makes is rendered futile. Finally, the X-Men find a cure for his life work: The Legacy Virus, which was essentially a plague that would kill both mutants and humans. Though he continues to make attempts to return to his malevolent work, he regrets that he feels he “has to be” the bad guy and that this is what his life has come to.
3. Stryfe Sacrifices Himself to Save the World…
Perhaps he wanted to repent for his sins. Maybe he was suicidal and it was just an easy way out. Maybe, at the end of the day, he knew that if he destroyed the world he’d just be too bored. No matter what his reasons truly were at heart, Stryfe stepped up and stopped his own plan from destroying the world at the expense of his own life.
In an attempt to unleash worldwide chaos and devastation, Stryfe tries to team up with the malevolent La Bete Noir who has possessed the body of X-Men hero Bishop. As he begins to carry out his evil plan, he has a sort of revelation. Instead of unleashing doom on the planet, he fights to free Bishop from La Bete Noire’s grasp. In saving Bishop and the world, he sacrifices his life to stop La Bete Noir. While the sacrifice in no way compensates for the atrocities he’d committed nor the evil acts he’d done, it certainly earned him some forgiveness in the hearts of many X-Men.
2. Or Did Cable Make Him Kill Himself?
It’s nice to think that Stryfe realized what a horrible and evil life he’d led. It warms our hearts to think that he truly did see the error in his ways and that he came to his senses. How tragic that his revelation ended in a suicidal sacrifice, neglecting Stryfe the chance to apologize to Cable and all those he’d wronged and the opportunity to make amends. How unfortunate… or how perfect?
After Stryfe dies saving the world from La Bete Noir’s attack, the ever-suspicious Gambit, a member of Cable’s team and longtime ally, theorizes that perhaps Stryfe didn’t have a revelation at all; maybe Cable telepathically controlled Stryfe and forced him to be the martyr the situation called for. Though Stryfe was a terrifying antagonist and inflicted much pain and suffering on Nathan Summers, manipulating his mind into committing suicide would be plainly horrific, though possible. The prospect has creepy implications for Cable’s character, though the act would make him no more despicable than Deadpool.
1. He Just WON’T DIE
We know you’ve got to be a little confused. Stryfe killed himself to save the world… but didn’t we also mention that Stryfe was defeated by the unlikely team of Deadpool, Apocalypse, and Cable? Wasn’t he already dead? How can he die again?
Here’s the thing: Stryfe will never, ever die. Not truly, at least it doesn’t seem like it. He was killed the first time by Cable detonating a bomb in a temporal rift that somehow destroys his body but leaves his consciousness in tact which then skips between several different characters, including Cable and Warpath. He then somehow comes back into being and is defeated again. He then returns and controls Prime Sentinels for a while, but is again nearly killed. Even after sacrificing himself to save the planet, he somehow reappears in the future when Bishop is time traveling! Maybe spontaneous reincarnation is one of his lesser known powers; HE JUST WON’T STAY DEAD!