Technically, a mutant is a plant or animal with inheritable characteristics that differ from those of its parents. Therefore a Marvel Universe mutant is a being who was born with a physical or mental characteristic not possessed by either of its parents.

This does not mean that every character who mutates is a mutant. The Fantastic Four, Hulk, and Spider-Man were all born human and later mutated: that is, the character was exposed to a mutagenic agent which allowed the character to acquire a different physical or mental characteristic than normally possessed by humans.

True mutants are born with this genetic difference, and it must be a genetic difference that is not possessed by the child's Which leads us to another question…

What Causes Mutations?

The Celestials - massively powerful, star-faring aliens-visited Earth over a million years ago and performed gene-altering experiments in an effort to evolve different races. It was at this time that dormant genetic mutations were introduced into mankind's gene pool, but it was not until recently that these mutations became evident.

The current increase of radiation in the Earth's environment is chiefly responsible for these mutations. The radiation increase can be individually triggered (like a lab test that bombards a character with radiation) or is result from the many atmospheric nuclear tests in the past. These mutations take different forms.

Some mutants, like Nightcrawler, have obvious physical mutations. Other mutants, like Professor Xavier, have physical differences in their brains that give them added mental powers, but physically they appear human.

Why Don't Other Super-powered Characters Suffer Hysterical Prejudice?

This is a common misconception. Some super powered characters and teams have had plenty of problems in the past. At first, the Fantastic Four were thought to be freaks, especially the Thing, and the military was sent after them. Spider-Man constantly gets roasted by the Daily Bugle as a monster.

Whenever a character has a special ability that others do not have, there is bound to be jealousy and fear (usually of the unknown), which is a good reason for secret identities. The difference with mutants is that they are seen as a separate race and people can easily stereotype them ("all those dirty muties are alike").

Racism has long been a problem in mankind's history. Mutant racism seems justified to many people due to villains such as Magneto and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

Overall, humans view mutants as unknown, different, and sometimes very, very dangerous. The fact that mutants sometimes refer to themselves as homo sapiens superior, the next step in the evolution of mankind, does not help calm those fears.

The question has been asked - how afraid of mutants are the general public? How will people react to an obvious mutant or altered human?

The answer? It depends. If the person in question is a well known hero, such as the Thing, they aren't going to hassle him or her about it. Except if Ben's on Yancy Street.

Chances are, if someone isn't known as an alien or altered human, people will assume any unusual abilities are the result of the person being a mutant. So, if Racoon Boy, who got his powers from weating a radioactive coonskin cap, climbs up the side of a building, people will probably assume he's a mutant. People won't do the same for Reed Richards, whose origin is very public.

Now, how will people react to a perceived mutant? It sort of depends on circumstance and location. In some places, usually smaller towns with strong religious biases, mutants might very well be treated much like a black man might if he flirted with a white woman in the 1950s. There might very well be mob activity and an attempted lynching. In larger cities, however, and especially in New York City, this sort of behavior is frowned upon. City folk like to think they are more cosmopolitan. New Yorkers, especially. After all, you can't go five feet in New York without running into an Avenger. That being said, many people in NYC do experience a knee jerk reaction to obvious "mutants". They probably won't say anything out loud but they very well may make an excuse to exit a conversation or location. Mutants may get poor service at stores. Occasionally someone may say something about 'their kind not being welcome'. However, very few New Yorkers are going to flee in fear at the sight of a mutant or try to organize a lynch mob. Truth be told, your average New Yorker is too busy and self-absorbed to even bother.


Alpha Level - if they have a normal human appearance and their mutation is powerful, useful and controllable (i.e. turn it on and off, direct it at will.). This classification accounts for less than 10%% of the mutant population.

Beta Level - if they have a normal human appearance (or close to it) and their mutation is powerful, useful, but less controllable, like Cyclops who can't willingly turn off his optic blasts, but can still lead a normal life with only minor preparation (wearing special glasses). Wolverine, who has healing powers, can't ever decide NOT to rapidly heal from an injury, but this does not impair him in any reasonable way.

Gamma Level - if their mutation is powerful, uncontrollable, sometimes useful but usually detrimental to living a normal life, such as a monstrously inhuman appearance that can't be switched off at will.

Delta Level - are like Alpha mutants in that they don't have many significant flaws. The only problem is that Delta mutants don't have powers that match an Alpha mutant, or even a Beta or Gamma mutant. At least 50%% of mutants are Delta mutants making them the most common type of mutant. Some examples of Delta mutants are Forge, Domino and Callisto.

Epsilon-Delta Level - mutants are mutants that don't always manifest their power. An Epsilon-Delta's power will only manifest in certain circumstances and they don't use their powers very often. Their powers my manifest due to trauma, influence from somebody or somebody else or physical contact with someone.

Epsilon Level - if they have an inhuman appearance or their mutation makes it impossible for them to function normally. Any accompanying "superpowers" would be next to useless. Epsilon mutants are differentiated from Gamma mutants in that a Gamma mutant's inhuman appearance would provide a compensating benefit like superior strength. They account for 20%% of the mutant population. IE: Beak.

Zeta Level - are not mutants that have powers like the X-Men and other mutants. Zeta mutants are simply humans that have defects. So Zeta mutants would include humans that people would refuse to as "circus freaks".

Omega Level - mutants are the most powerful class of mutants. Omega mutants can control matter and energy, have unlimited potential and are possibly even immortal. All Omega mutants are also Alpha mutants but not all Alpha mutants are Omega mutants. For example Jean Grey is an Alpha mutant because of her power and lack of flaws and is also an Omega mutant because of how powerful she is. Gambit on the other hand falls under Alpha mutant for the same reasons but isn't powerful enough to be an Omega mutant.

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