3:58pm PT by Graeme McMillan
Death Times X: 10 Times Charles Xavier Was Killed Off
Via Hugh Jackman's Twitter account, the first synopsis of March's Logan has been released, reminding everyone of the true purpose of Professor Charles Xavier: his ability to die.
Admittedly, Xavier isn't dead in the Logan synopsis; he's merely "ailing." But the possibility — the likelihood, in fact — that Xavier's death is on the table in the "near future" setting of the movie is unmistakable. Not only will it heighten the movie's dramatic stakes, it'll also make the dwindling of mutantkind as teased by the first trailer all the more pronounced: Even the most famous, iconic mutant of them all is gone now!
The thing is, when it comes to superhero deaths, Professor X's death in Logan really wouldn't have as much impact as it arguably deserves because it wouldn't be the first time it happened. In fact, it wouldn't be the second … or the third … or even the 10th. When it comes to deaths — or, at least, near-death experiences — Xavier is an old hand. Here are the many, many deaths of Charles Xavier.
If I Should Die…!
X-Men Vol. 1 No. 42 (1968)
The stunning climax at the end of this pivotal issue of the X-Men's original series was hardly a secret; indeed, the cover of the issue announced "The Death of Professor X" in lettering bigger than the series' logo, with the tagline "Not a hoax! Not a dream! Not an imaginary tale! This is for real!" Turns out, it really was a hoax; although Xavier dies after sacrificing himself for his students, revealing that he had a fatal illness anyway, he would return in 1970's 65th issue, explaining that he actually had just faked his death so that he could rest up ahead of an upcoming alien invasion. As one does.
The Goldilocks Syndrome! (or: "Who's Been Sleeping in My Head?")
Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1 No. 167 (1983)
As surreal as it sounds, the second death of Charles Xavier actually saw him die for real. Or, at least, his first body. After having been transformed into a member of an alien race called the Brood, it was declared that he couldn't be changed back into a human — but, as luck would have it, he didn't have to be. Instead, fantastical alien science simply cloned a whole new body for him and then simply transferred his brain into it. Sure, it sounds risky, but this is comics: It worked perfectly.
The Trial of Magneto!
Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1 No. 200 (1985)
Things really didn't work out too well with that whole cloned-body thing, though; within two years, it was breaking down, leading to Xavier having a heart attack and making Magneto promise to take over the school in his absence as part of this anniversary issue. The issue ended with Xavier taken into space to try and let the same alien science that created his body save his life, followed by a telepath saying that she felt no trace of his mind when she looked at it. Was he dead or alive? Magneto certainly believed that it was the former, although — of course — it would be revealed to be the latter in the very next issue, when it also was revealed that he was trapped in space as a result. Still, at least he was alive.
Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1 No. 294 (1992)
After finally being reunited with the X-Men (and returning to Earth) in 1991, it only took a year before Xavier's life was in danger once again. The first chapter of the 12-part X-Cutioner's Song storyline saw him shot and left for dead, apparently by Cable, leader of the affiliate team X-Force. "Oh, God!" a character screams. "Storm, Bishop … we're losing him!" "You've already lost him," the ultimately revealed-to-be-fake Cable sneers. The issue ends with a news report saying that Xavier had been taken into the hospital, and it was "impossible to determine his condition … Xavier may or may not have survived an assassination attempt …" Although he'd remain in critical condition for some time, the prognosis turned out to be good, and Xavier pulled through even healthier than he had been before being shot.
X-Men Vol. 2 No. 41 (1995)
For once, Xavier actually, really, honestly died. There were complications, of course; when he was murdered by his own son in the past — years before he had founded the X-Men and, more importantly, years before he had fathered the man who would kill him — his death broke time and led into a four-month period when all the regular X-Men comics were replaced by an alternate timeline called the "Age of Apocalypse." No surprise, then, that when time returned to normal, Xavier would be alive once more.
House of M
House of M Vol. 1 No. 1 (2005)
A decade after the Age of Apocalypse, reality was changed once again when the Scarlet Witch rewrote history and created the fan-favorite House of M reality. In this timeline, Magneto ruled over a reality where mutantkind was beloved, and humanity was feared and hated by the majority. Xavier didn't get to see this alternate reality, though; as part of the rewritten history, he had died many years previously to save mutantkind. Once again, when traditional reality reasserted itself, Xavier was returned to life. Can nothing kill this man?
The Last Stand
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Logan wouldn't even be the first time Professor X had died on the big screen. Remember this from the third X-Men movie?
Just how Xavier stopped being dead in time to show up in 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past may forever remain a mystery — the post-credit scene showed a previously comatose patient speak with his voice, so perhaps his ghost possessed the body of someone else and then had surgery so that it looked just like him, but also couldn't walk? As unlikely as that is, it's at least more of an explanation than has ever been offered in the movies themselves.
X-Men Vol. 2 No. 207 (2008)
By 2007, Xavier's "deaths" were beginning to get a little repetitive. At the end of the 13-part Messiah Complex storyline, Charles Xavier is once again shot by an X-Man, a la the X-Cutioner's Song storyline (this time, however, it's not an imposter; it really is Bishop, who's turned against the team), and once again, the issue ends with the strong suggestion that Xavier is dead, only for the very next issue to reveal otherwise. Instead, he'd managed to survive multiple shots to the head — and a considerable amount of time afterward lying on the ground, bleeding out — because … the plot demanded it? The wonders of being a main character in a beloved franchise, apparently.
Ultimatum Vol. 1 No. 2 (2009)
Even in alternate timelines, Charles Xavier wasn't safe. In the second issue of the disaster movie on paper that was Ultimatum, the Xavier of Marvel's Ultimate Universe is murdered by that universe's Magneto as a practical way to remove an obstacle in his latest murderous plan to rule the world by reversing the Earth's magnetic poles. He would've gotten away with it, if it hadn't been for the story's complete lack of common sense. (Unusually, this Xavier stayed dead all the way through the end of the Ultimate imprint.)
Avengers vs. X-Men
Avengers vs. X-Men Vol. 1 No. 11 (2012)
The most recent of Xavier's deaths came in the big 2012 event series that pit Marvel's two biggest superteams against each other. It wasn't an Avenger who was responsible, however; it was leader of the X-Men Cyclops, who was supercharged to the point of arguable insanity by the cosmic entity known as the Phoenix Force. So far, Xavier has remained dead, but that is always open to change, especially as the comic book X-Men franchise heads toward a relaunch this spring suspiciously called "ResurrXion." Could it possibly be … nah. Surely this time, Professor X is going to stay Professor Ex ... right?