For 60 years, the X-Men have been fighting for a world that fears and hates them. And over the decades, the mutant students of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters have had many, many different teams across Marvel Comics. Some X-Men teams are iconic and instantly come to mind when someone says “X-Men.” Others X-Men teams are made up of awesome characters, but largely forgotten. Here are our choices for the 10 best X-Men teams across comics, TV, games, and film. For the purposes of this list, we’re sticking only with teams called “X-Men” here. If we covered adjacent groups like the New Mutants, X-Factor, X-Force, and others, this list would be a whole lot longer.
10. The Australian Outback X-Men Team
The late ‘80s was a weird era for the X-Men. However, we have a special place in our hearts for this oddball lineup. In 1987, the Fall of the Mutants event saw all members of the X-Men die to save the city of Dallas. But, the goddess Roma secretly resurrected them. To the world at large, and to their former teammates who were not there, the X-Men were dead. So, team leader Storm took advantage of this public perception as a better way to strike their enemies with surprise. No one in Marvel’s world expected to be fighting a bunch of dead mutants.
Instead of going back to Xavier’s School, this X-Men team lived in an old base in the Australian Outback. Storm, Wolverine, Colossus, and Rogue remained a part of the team (all sporting some wild ’80s hair, courtesy of artist Marc Silvestri). New X-Men members Psylocke, pop star Dazzler, Cyclops’ brother Havok, and their first non-mutant member, Longshot, joined them. They also had an Aboriginal member for a time, the teleporter Gateway. This character allowed the X-Men to pop up anywhere in the world at will. This roster only lasted three years, but the members of this X-Men team remain one of the most punk rock and badass lineups in their long history.
Members of the Australian Outback X-Men
Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Rogue, Havok, Psylocke, Dazzler, Longshot, Gateway, Madelyne Pryor (ally)
9. The Original X-Men
Back in 1963, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were mandated by their bosses at Marvel Comics to make “another Fantastic Four.” After co-creating characters like Spider-Man and the Hulk, Lee couldn’t think of a way to give his new team powers, so he came up with Marvel’s mutants. They were all just born that way. The original concept of the X-Men, the one that gained them worldwide popularity decades later, was there from day one.
Professor Charles Xavier gathered younger mutants into his School for Gifted Youngsters. That first class included Cyclops, whose eye beams could level mountains, the telekinetic Marvel Girl, the animal-like Beast, the flying Angel, and the youngest, the polar-powered Iceman. Each student fit their role in the team dynamic perfectly; Cyclops was the serious brooder, and Marvel Girl was the princess. Iceman was the joker, Angel was the “popular good looking rich guy,” and Beast was the brain. Heck, one can say they did the Breakfast Club before the Breakfast Club. When Lee and Kirby left the book, it lost whatever steam it had, and Marvel canceled it.
Although the original team of X-Men was never a huge seller, there’s something undeniably special about this mix of characters. Every time Marvel regroups them, either as X-Factor, or as the All-New X-Men, it brings all the nostalgic feels.
Members of the Original X-Men
Professor Xavier, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Angel, Iceman
8. The Konami Arcade Game X-Men Team
In 1992, X-Men: The Animated Series launched on Fox Kids, making the Jim Lee version of the team into superstars for kids who had never picked up a comic. But another X-Men roster found big mainstream appeal that year, when Konami introduced the X-Men video game to arcades everywhere. This classic beat ‘em up game was one of the most successful games of its kind. And the X-Men arcade game is often voted one of the best superhero video games of all time.
Despite launching the same year as the cartoon, the team lineup in the X-Men game wasn’t based on the show. In fact, the roster came from the Pryde of the X-Men animated pilot from 1989. Only one episode was ever produced, and it featured a version of the early ‘80s team and their costumes from that time. That pilot, however, replaced Rogue with the light-powered Dazzler. This X-Men team found a whole new life thanks to the game. The Konami arcade game was so popular, many credit it as much as the cartoon with making Marvel’s mutants into pop culture icons.
Members of the Konami Arcade Game X-Men
Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Dazzler, Kitty Pryde, Professor Xavier
7. Grant Morrison’s New X-Men Roster
By the early 2000s, the Jim Lee/X-Men: The Animated Series roster and look had become a bit long in the tooth—something very emblematic of the previous decade. Comics were changing, and as the X-Men were by definition all about change, they had to update too. Enter writer Grant Morrison. The Scottish scribe had reinvigorated DC’s Justice League a few years earlier, and was tasked to do the same for Marvel’s premiere mutant team. He pared down the main X-Men lineup, focusing on the characters of Professor X, Cyclops, Wolverine, Jean Grey, and Beast.
However, Morrison also added a wild card, the X-Men’s former enemy Emma Frost. The ex-White Queen of the Hellfire Club created a volatile love triangle between Cyclops, Jean, and herself. It created the kind of soap opera spice the team hadn’t seen since Rogue and Gambit. Morrison also added Xorn, a mutant with a star for a brain. This team’s leather costumes, designed by artist Frank Quitely, drew inspiration from the 2000 film, but the bold yellow and black also recalled the original 1963 team.
Members of the New X-Men
Professor Xavier, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Wolverine, Beast, Emma Frost
6. Wolverine and the X-Men‘s Team
In terms of X-Men cartoons, most fans think of the ’92 show, or the early 2000s’ X-Men: Evolution. But in 2008, there was another X-Men series that lasted one brief season, titled Wolverine and the X-Men. More like the comics than either of its predecessors, Wolverine and the X-Men saw Logan gather a team of mutants both old and new when both Professor X and Jean Grey were presumed dead.
By the end of this show’s run, we had one of the best X-Men teams ever, a truly all-star lineup. Among the roster of Marvel mutants were the titular Wolverine, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Beast, Iceman, Angel, Nightcrawler, Storm, Rogue, Kitty Pryde, Forge, and briefly, Colossus. Other iconic members appeared on the show, like Psylocke and Gambit, but they were adversaries and not actual X-Men. Rumors suggest if there had been a year two, they’d have made the roster too.
Members of Wolverine’s X-Men
Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Iceman, Angel, Beast, Kitty Pryde, Nightcrawler, Emma Frost, Rogue, Colossus, (in absentia) Professor Xavier, Jean Grey
5. The X2: X-Men United Roster of Characters
The Fox movie X-Men were usually a smaller team than in the comics. The first X-Men in 2000 really only had Wolverine, Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Storm as members. Even the original X-Men comics team had five in the lineup. But by X2: X-Men United, we started to get a formidable team, one that reflected the comics at their best. Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine was still front and center, as was Halle Berry’s Storm, James Marsden’s Cyclops, and Famke Janssen’s Jean Grey.
But Rogue (Anna Paquin) and Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) actually got to use their powers in battle as proper X-Men in this Marvel movie. Also, Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming) joined and was introduced in one of the coolest opening scenes in superhero movie history. Even Colossus made a cameo, helping the younger students escape the X-Mansion. And with Magneto (Ian McKellen) and Mystique (Rebecca Romijn) aiding the team in their fight, we count them as temporary members. We love the X-Men: First Class team as well, but to us, this is the live-action X-Men lineup to beat.
Members of the X2 X-Men
Professor Xavier, Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Iceman, Pyro, Colossus, Magneto, Mystique
4. The X-Men: The Animated Series Team
It’s hard to oversell the importance of X-Men: The Animated Series to the brand of X-Men overall. Heck, to the very Marvel brand in non-comics media, period. Using the 1991 X-Men #1 comic book roster as its template, the Fox Kids series pared the team down to an essential nine members: Cyclops, Jean Grey, Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, Gambit, Beast, Jubilee, and of course, team leader and mentor, Professor Xavier. And it also included the occasionally dead Morph, based on the old ’60s character Changeling.
X-Men: The Animated Series balanced the characters’ personalities perfectly, in some ways better than the comics at the time. This was in large part because they perfectly cast the voice actors. Only because certain X-Men members from the comics became reduced to guest star roles, like Colossus, Archangel, and Nightcrawler, do we relegate this iteration of Marvel’s mutants to the fourth slot. But for an entire generation of kids, we know this was the GOAT team lineup.
Members of the X-Men: The Animated Series X-Men
Professor Xavier, Cyclops, Wolverine, Jean Grey, Storm, Rogue, Gambit, Beast, Jubilee, Morph
3. The “All-New, All-Different” X-Men
In 1970, Marvel canceled the original X-Men series due to low sales of the mutants’ story. But in 1975, in an effort to court an international audience, the X-Men were revived as a team made up of heroes from all over the world. There was Storm from Kenya, Nightcrawler from Germany, Colossus from Russia, Banshee from Ireland, and some guy named Wolverine from Canada. Led by original team leader Cyclops, the “All-New, All-Different X-Men,” as Marvel advertised them, became a critically acclaimed darling.
Later, when writer Chris Claremont upgraded Marvel Girl/Jean Grey into the godlike Phoenix, he really started to cook with fire. When artist John Byrne joined Claremont on the book, and put these characters through The Dark Phoenix Saga, the X-Men suddenly became Marvel Comics’ biggest brand next to Spider-Man. It’s no wonder that heroes from this version of the X-Men team, particularly Wolverine and Storm, became cornerstone characters for the franchise for the rest of its history.
Members of the All-New, All-Different X-Men
Professor Xavier, Cyclops, Phoenix, Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Banshee, Thunderbird (deceased)
2. The ’80s X-Men
Coming off The Dark Phoenix Saga in the early to mid-’80s, The Uncanny X-Men was now the biggest hit in comics, regularly boasting over 100,000 in monthly sales. Not bad for a comic Marvel canned only a decade earlier. This was writer Chris Claremont’s creative high point for the team in many ways, and it saw the introduction of iconic team members to Xavier’s School like Kitty Pryde, Rogue, and the second Phoenix character, Rachel Summers.
Storm both lost her powers and became team leader in this era, and Cyclops married the clone of his dead girlfriend (it’s complicated). The X-Men’s arch-enemy Magneto even reformed and joined the X-Men at this point, shocking fandom. This X-Men roster fought the alien Brood, battled in the epic Secret Wars event, and tangled with Loki of Asgard. They even teamed up with DC’s Teen Titans. Some of their costumes were not so great at this time, reflecting a very ’80s MTV aesthetic. But otherwise, this X-Men team absolutely ruled.
Members of the ’80s X-Men
Professor Xavier, Cyclops, Angel, Storm, Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Kitty Pryde, Rogue, Phoenix II, Magneto
Honorable Mentions for Great X-Men Teams
Before we get to our number one entry, here are some honorable mentions who almost made the top 10: the cast of the X-Men: Evolution animated series from 2000, the all-women team from the 2013 X-Men series, the third Astonishing X-Men team line-up from 2018, and the first X-Men team from the modern Krakoan era.
1. X-Men Blue and X-Men Gold Is the Best X-Men Team Ever
By the early ‘90s, the Uncanny X-Men had been Marvel’s biggest-selling comic for over a decade. It spun off titles like New Mutants, X-Factor, and Excalibur. But there had never been a proper second X-Men title. So, in 1991, Marvel launched a companion ongoing comic for Xavier’s students. The creative team was longtime writer Chris Claremont and a new superstar artist by the name of Jim Lee on pencils. Lee, whose popularity was rising, redesigned the X-Men’s costumes, making some of them THE costumes people think of when they think of these characters.
X-Men #1, which sold a still-record eight million copies, was the beginning of the end of Chris Claremont’s 16-year run. However, it saw the return of the original five members together as X-Men for the first time in decades. It also saw the return of iconic members like Storm, Wolverine, Colossus, and Rogue. Plus, newer Marvel mutants like Gambit, Bishop, and Jubilee became icons themselves just for their membership in this roster, as did the “transformed into a ninja” character of Psylocke. (Our only roster complaint? No Nightcrawler and Kitty). Although split into a Blue Squad and a Gold Squad, they really were two halves of one team. Within a few years, these X-Men would drop the squads and formally become one team. This version of the group even inspired a series of wildly popular trading cards. And, of course X-Men Blue and X-Men Gold inspired the 1992 X-Men: The Animated Series, launching the team into mainstream popularity. It’s why for many, it’ll always be the best.
Members of the Blue and Gold X-Men Team
Professor X/Blue Team: Cyclops, Wolverine, Psylocke, Beast, Gambit, Rogue, Jubilee/ Gold Team: Storm, Jean Grey, Iceman, Colossus, Archangel, Bishop, Forge and Banshee (tech support)