The idea of a mutant
is a common trope in comic books
and science fiction
. The new phenotypes
that appear in fictional mutations generally go far beyond what is typically seen in biological mutants
, and often result in the mutated life form exhibiting superhuman
abilities or qualities.
In Marvel Comics
, genetic mutation has been used as an explanation for super-powers since the 1950s(
). Mutants have played a major role in Marvel comics, particularly the X-Men
and related series. In the Marvel Comics universe, they are a heavily-persecuted minority. The Marvel Universe redefines the term to beings who are in a higher stage of evolution known as Homo sapiens
superior and are not yet accepted by the human race.
DC Comics: metahuman
Mutants play a smaller, but still substantial role, in the DC Comics
universe, where they form part of the population known as metahumans
. DC Comics does not make a semantic or an abstract distinction between humans (or superheroes/villains) born with mutations making them different and humans mutated by outside sources. All humans with powers are simply referred to, and treated as, one group collectively known as metahumans
. The term mutant does still exists for humans born with actual powers instead of attaining them. For instance, a select group of minor characters in groups such as the Team Titans, Justice Society
and Infinity Inc.
are seldom referred to as mutants, not metahumans.
Those who gain powers after their birth may be called as metahumans, but in the Justice League cartoon, the Royal Flush Gang were called mutants by the Joker because they were born with superpowers. Likewise, the mid-50's DC superhero Captain Comet was born with his powers and was described as a mutant. Batman's enemy Killer Croc has also been called a mutant.
Usually writers tend to use the term for parodying purposes. Doom Force, a mutant group which mimics the Marvel Universe at the time, toils with the fact that X-Force is a revamped Doom Patrol. Another group of Mutants are the Outcasts. Much like the X-men, Outcasts are a group of mutants in a dystopian future struggling to survive.
Also characters who were transformed through radiation or a mutagenic gas are sometimes identified as mutants instead of Marvel's term, 'mutates'. In the Static Shock animated series Virgil Hawkins was first described as one before introducing the term metahuman.
Mutants in the DC Universe use the traditional terminology of there being a genetic deformity.
In the Judge Dredd
comic stories Mutants are caused by the effects of radiation after the Atomic Wars
. All Mutants are banned from Mega-City One
and are deported into the Cursed Earth
Wasteland. This policy has left the mutants resentful and they often attack the city. Dredd himself has voiced doubts about the policy and when on duty in the Cursed Earth treats mutants the same as any other beings. He will however carry out the law when they enter the city.
In at least one version of this world's future, (see Strontium Dog and Durham Red) this will lead to the normals attempting genocide against mutants in the mid 2160's, and a long war called the Bloodshed in the 24th century.
Mutants in other media
Mutants also are a frequent topic in other comic books
, and in many science fiction stories.
- The movie version of This Island Earth (1955) features a mutant, not present in the original novel, as a menace to the film's heroine. Its large-brained appearance is now somewhat of a cliché of how mutants look.
- World Without End (1955) portrayed one-eyed mutants who dominated the primitive remnants of humanity.
- The original Planet of the Apes (1968) film series is about a world where mutated apes replaced humanity as the dominant species.
- Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) features radiation-scarred mutants with telepathic powers who worship an unexploded nuclear bomb.
- The Toxic Avenger (1985) is another mutated character.
- Hell Comes To Frogtown (1987) features a post-nuclear world in which humanity is endangered by a race of mutated frogs.
- The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) franchise involves mutants as both heroes and villains.
- In Total Recall (1990), mutants are the descendants of Martian colonists inadequately shielded against cosmic rays. Some, such as Kuato, have psychic powers.
- The Spanish film Acción mutante (1993) is a dark comedy about future mutants who take up arms (those who have them) against "beautiful people".
- Freaked (1993) revolves around a bunch of mutated people in the form of freaks.
- Bill Plympton made an animated film called Mutant Aliens (2001).
- Godzilla: Final Wars (2004) features a race of mutant humans that share an extra DNA base with the aliens and most monsters. Many of them acted as soldiers for the Earth Defense Force's M Organization, but when the Xilians arrived, the leader managed to take control of them, having telepathic power over those with the extra DNA base. Godzilla himself is also a mutant. And so are Rodan and Anguirus.
- The remake of The Hills Have Eyes (2006) and its sequel portrays the films villains as mutants who are the result of nuclear testing and radiation.
- The Mariner of Waterworld is a mutant born with functioning gills.
- Aberration, a low-budget film about mutant lizards.
- I Am Legend (2007) film is about humans infected by a 'retrovirus' engineered from measles which has the effect of turning them into bloodthirsty mutants.
- The Tomorrow People featured a homo superior race born to humans, that manifested psionic powers in adolescence and were discriminated against.
- In the television series Futurama, there is a race of mutants living in the sewers of New New York City. In this setting, the mutations are the result of exposure to "radioactive waste, chemical runoff and good old American feces." The mutants are normally confined below ground, in a caste system. One of the main characters in the series, Leela, is eventually revealed to be a mutant.
- James Cameron's television series Dark Angel featured a large cast of "mutant" supersoldiers created by Manticore, a military genetic engineering project (while often referred to as mutants, most were in fact genetically engineered human/animal hybrids).
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series and recent animated series
- In the Japanese anime and manga series Naruto, some special abilities referred to as are caused by genetic mutations/traits.
- NBC's series Heroes is based on the theory of evolutionary mutation in individuals, who can be traced through an equation which shows their DNA to be one with abnormalties.
- Godzilla: The Series had the original characters as well as the offspring of the creature from the 1998 film Godzilla battle various mutant monsters around the globe. See Monsters in Godzilla: The Series.
- The animated series Thundarr the Barbarian portrayed many mutant races and monsters in a post-apocalyptic world.
- On the series Stargate SG-1, the Goa'uld Nirrti used an alien device called a DNA Resequencer to mutate human beings, as part of an experiment to produce a superior host body for her symbiote. Though most of these subjects were severely deformed, some developed abilities such as telepathy, telekinesis and precognition.
- On the television series Mutant X, a group of genetically engineered superhumans are referred to as "New Mutants", presumably to distinguish them from naturally occurring mutations.
- The popular manga and anime series Dragon Ball Z, various villains and heroes are mutants.
- Genesis II was a television film by Gene Roddenberry which portrayed genetically advanced humans enslaving normal humans 150 years in the future.
- The short-lived series Prey was about a new offshoot of humanity called the Dominants.
- The enemies of the ThunderCats were animal-like mutants from the planet Plun-Darr.
- An episode of the original Outer Limits series called, appropriately enough, The Mutant, showed a bug-eyed, telepathic psychopath born after a radiation storm.
- A Doctor Who serial called The Mutants was about humans on a distant planet who found themselves transforming into strange creatures. Recurring villains the Daleks are mutants created through genetic tampering by Kaled scientist Davros.
- The animated series Mutant League, based on the videogames Mutant League Football and Mutant League Hockey.
- Street Sharks
- Extreme Dinosaurs
- The show Power Rangers: Time Force used mutant characters as their monsters-of-the-week. (See List of Mutants in Power Rangers: Time Force.)
- The television series The X-Files features several mutants over the course of the series, such as Eugene Victor Tooms and Flukeman. There are also numerous characters in the series with various unusual characteristics or paranormal powers whose origins are unexplained, some of whom may in fact be mutants.
- On the Adult Swim live-action series Saul of the Mole Men, there is a mutant Mole Person named Fallopia (played by Irina Voronina) who is lacking in fur, fangs, claws, and whose unusual body proportions and coloration make her a hideous freak by Mole Men standards, and a blonde, voluptuous knockout by human standards.
- In the 1994 Spider-Man: The Animated Series, an anti-mutant scientist named Dr. Herbert Landon, after falling into his liquid batch of "mutant disposal" serum, turned into a four-armed mutant that needed to feed off of electricity to survive. When he was defeated by Spider-Man and the X-Men with the help of Landon's mutant assistant, he remained a "half-mutant" (i.e. his body was normal on the right and mutant humanoid form on the left).
- In the Japanese manga and anime series Elfen Lied, the diclonius is a humanoid mutant possessing highly lethal telekinetic abilities. Due to the abuse that most humans subject the diclonii to, a few become evil and sadistic killers.
- In the Brazilian soap opera Os Mutantes - Caminhos do Coração in english "The Mutants - Ways of Heart", there are mutants created by means of genetic manipulation by the mad cientist and main antagonist of the series, Dr. Julia Zacarias. They possess powers similar to characters of the well-know X-Men and Heroes and the main enemies include mutants vampires, werewolves and aliens came from Mars now as Reptilian Army. Also introduce concepts from several books such The Island of Dr. Moreau, Dracula, as one of the main vampire villains of the soap opera is a mutant called Dracula and his lieutenants are three vampires called Bram, Stoker and Tsepes, refering over Dracula's author Bram Stoker and his inspiration the real figure Vlad III the Impaler. Other mutants include Chris, a psicokinetic vampire hunter with his mermaid lover Yara, Clare, a girl with power to heal the others, Nati, a vampire woman struggling with her nature, Danilo, a homossexual high-class femboy with super-streght and agility, Pachola, a werewolf and his wolf-son Vává, Achilles a teenage speedster and several other mutants who serve as main focus of the series
- Baraka's race from the Mortal Kombat series was referred to as mutants before the creators of the game gave them the designation of Tarkata, human/demon hybrids.
- The first Fallout game features an army of super mutants as well as mutated animals and humans. The sequel, Fallout 2, also features mutant beings.
- The Resident Evil/Biohazard series features Hunters and other mutants created by viruses along with zombies.
- Timesplitters: Future Perfect features mutants with the ability to attack by projecting an arc of electricity and turn invisible for a short time. They are a prototype of the Timesplitters race. Timesplitters 2 features mutants in the Siberia level who were created by exposure to the Timesplitter remains.
- Cold Fear features zombie-like creatures that are originally humans, but are mutated by a parasitic creature that goes into their heads via the mouth. This game also features failed mutated dog experiments, invisibility experiments, and giant behemoths that resemble Tyrants (creatures from Resident Evil).
- Wolfenstein 3D & Spear of Destiny features mutants created by the manical Doctor Schabbs. These mutants had white skin, green clothes, black hair, red eyes, held cleavers in both hands, had a gun lodged into their chests, had black boots on and had purple blood.
- The MMORPG City of Heroes and its stand-alone expansion City of Villains allow the player to choose "Mutant" as an origin for their hero or villain.
- The game Command & Conquer: Renegade features a Nod plot to use Tiberium and biochemistry to make mutant supersoldiers. Another game in the Tiberium universe, Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, features mutants as part of the storyline.
- The Game Destroy All Humans! features a group of mutated humans who have had the Furon (alien) DNA in their brain stems unlocked, giving them powers similar to that of the Furons.
- The Ooze
- Mutants appear in the game Red Faction
- Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Anniversary both have mutants in the form of Atlanteans, with many variations, including crawling Atlanteans, flying Atlanteans, Centaurs and a giant legless Atlantean - known as Torso or The Abombination .
- Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Three; The Adventures of Lara Croft features an evil scientist, bent on turning the human race into mutants with the power of the Meteorite artefacts. He believes that it is a natural excelleration of growth advancement and had Darwin discovered this angle on evolution - he too would have done the same.
- In The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants, Bart Simpson defends Springfield against the titular squishy beings.
- Pig Cops, Vermen, and Sharks from the Duke Nukem series.
- In the turn based strategy game Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, Homo Superior is a technological breakthrough that implies human evolution (mutation) in the form of complete symbiosis between the biological and mechanical, via centuries of nanocellular human-cybernetic integration. This mutation results in keener senses and heightened abilities, such as improved night vision and more rapid muscle response.
- The Half-Life series features zombies, mutated by alien parasitoids called headcrabs which attach to the heads of humans.
- In Ape Escape Million Monkeys, there are a number of mutants lead by the cyborg Burobukoa And Mother Tenntakuru, and lesser mutants: Burobu, Tentakuru, infant Tentakuru and the Giant Burobu
- In S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl there are featured many creatures that are result of radioactive poisoning and are referred as mutants.
- In Resistance: Fall Of Man the Chimera are speculated by some characters to be mutated humans, originally created by the Russian Empire.
- In Rampage: Total Destruction, 30 people had drink scum-soda, then they mutated themselves into monsters. Also the other games in the Rampage series.
In addition to the above Marvel, DC and 2001 mutants:
- The David Bowie song "Oh! You Pretty Things" contains the repeated line "You gotta make way for the Homo superior."
- The Pete Shelley song "Homosapien" has the line "Homo superior / In my interior / But from the skin out / I'm Homo sapien too"
- The Mutants (Os Mutantes) were a Brazilian rock band of the 1960s. There are also several punk and rock bands called The Mutants.
- Mutant Pop was a short-lived pop/punk record label in the '90s.
- The Amtrak Wars, a post-apocalyptic science fiction/fantasy series by Patrick Tilley, features a race of mutant survivors called Mutes who suffer physical deformities and poor memory living as warring tribes.
- Slan is about a race of evolved superior humans and the persecution by ordinary humans in fear of their perceived potential dominance.
- In The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray, wych-kin hunters such as Thaniel Fox are described as being mutants.
- In the pulp series Perry Rhodan many mutants where the children of survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
- In the science fiction novels Deathlands and many others, mutants with unusual abilities are the result of a nuclear war.
- In the science fiction novel A Canticle for Leibowitz, mutants are the often deformed humans as a result of a nuclear war.
- In The Foundation Series, The Mule was speculated to have developed his powers because he was a mutant. This was later revealed as a deception.
- In Tarzan Alive and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life, Philip Jose Farmer theorize that Tarzan, Doc Savage, Sherlock Holmes, and other fictional characters were part of a mutant family known as the Wold Newton family.
- A clan of golden-eyed mutants with limited psychic powers are the stars of a 4-part novel series written by Karen Haber and Robert Silverberg, starting with The Mutant Season, followed by Mutant Prime, Mutant Star and Mutant Legacy.
- The Psi-Man series written by Peter David describes mutant characters, some with psychic abilities.
- Robert A. Heinlein's fictional character Lazarus Long is said to derive his unusual longevity from a mutation.
- In Stephen King's Dark Tower series, a group of creatures called slow mutants are the result of a long-past nuclear war.
- In John Ridley's novel Those Who Walk In Darkness and its sequel What Fire Cannot Burn, super-powered mutants are called "metanormals" and have been officially banished from the United States by an executive order. Those who stay are hunted down by an elite police force called MTAC.
- Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb by Philip K. Dick has several post-nuclear mutants, including some with telekinetic powers.
- Mute, by Piers Anthony, involves a future galaxy-spanning society where mutants, while socially shunned, are found useful for terraforming and other dangerous or specialized work; a rare few have powerful psionic abilities, and there are also hidden societies of mutant animals who have achieved (near) human intelligence.
- The Chrysalids by John Wyndham is a novel portraying a long post-apocalyptic world. It involves a society that purifies and isolates the many mutants they create in attempt to create a perfect community. Amidst this, a group of children develop telepathic powers unknown to the other people of their community.
Role playing games
- A December, 1953 article in Mechanix Illustrated Magazine called "How Nuclear Radiation Can Change Our Race", warned that in the event of an "Atom War", a mutant species of supermen might arise to assist --or to dominate-- humanity. The article was writted by "O. O. Binder", and opened with a two-page illustration drawn by comic book artist Kurt Schaffenberger, which shows bald, large-craniumed mutants either helping humanity with their superior intellects (in a small section of the picture) or dominating mankind as slavemasters (in the much bigger splash image).