Mutating America: A Sociohistorical Analysis of the X-Men


Emma Wasserman

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This study assesses the historical and social influences on the X-Men mythos through examination of Chris Claremont?s Uncanny X-Men , beginning with Giant Size X-Men #1 (1975). In 1963, Marvel Comics introduced the public to what would become one of the most popular comic book teams of all time?the Uncanny X-Men . Over the past forty years, The X-Men has mutated from a straightforward title in the backwaters of cultural consciousness to a major popular cultural phenomenon. While the original team of X-Men added little to the generic conventions of the superhero, under the aid of writers and artists like Chris Claremont and John Byrne, the X-Men eventually evolved to become one of the most ethnically and sexually diverse teams of superheroes. In time, the X-Men gained a significant position in the pantheon of American superheroes as well as the reputation of being a socially progressive mainstream superhero title. By assessing the characterization of the heroes and villains, the plot lines, and the allegorical narratives present in the comics, this study connects the shift in the superhero paradigm represented by the X-Men with changes in cultural perceptions about diversity, difference, and individuality, as well as Americans? growing wariness of the U.S. government in the post-Vietnam era.


Jamie Angell




Ford Research Endowment

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