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Marvel's X-Men vs. Avengers: The top battles for supremacy inside the Marvel Universe

The greatest battles between the X-Men and the Avengers

Avengers vs. X-Men #1 cover cropped
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Let’s get ready to rumble! In one corner we have the Avengers, Earth’s mightiest heroes. In the other corner we have the X-Men, a team of mutants fighting to save a world that hates them. Without a doubt these are the two biggest supergroups in the Marvel Universe. While the Avengers and the X-Men both fight for the forces of good, at times they’ve found themselves at odds. What happens when you mix massive egos with massive powers? That’s right, you get a big superhero rumble.

Some of these fights have been for understandable reasons, while others have questionable motives. Either way, there’s a long history of Avengers versus X-Men fights. Let’s break down some of their most notable squabbles.

‘Enter, The Avengers’

The first battle between the X-Men and the Avengers (X-Men #9)
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Published in: X-Men #9 (1964)

Avengers roster: Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Giant-Man, and Wasp

X-Men roster: Cyclops, Angel, Beast, Iceman, and Marvel Girl

Reasons for fighting: Lack of basic communication

The rundown: The first meeting between the X-Men and the Avengers occurred in the Balkan Mountains. The X-Men had been summoned by Professor Xavier to fight Lucifer. Once the X-Men arrived, the Professor told them to standby for further orders. Xavier had learned that Lucifer had triggered a detonator to go off if there were any fluctuations in his heartbeat. Because of this, any battle against the X-Men could trigger an apocalyptic explosion.

Before long, the Avengers also showed up in the Balkan Mountains. Evidentially Thor’s hammer Mjolnir had detected Lucifer’s evil energy (Mjolnir can do that???) and lured the Avengers to his vicinity. The X-Men could have warned the Avengers about Lucifer’s heartrate detonator, but instead the two teams battled. After a few pages of battling, Xavier telepathically communicated with Thor, explaining their predicament. The God of Thunder told the Avengers to stand down and let the X-Men handle the Lucifer situation. This was part of a trend seen throughout the Silver Age, where Marvel heroes would constantly battle over a problem that could be solved with a simple conversation.

The winner: This skirmish ended in a draw, but the Avengers seemed to have the upper hand.

‘In Battle Joined’

X-Men vs. The Avengers (Avengers #53)
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Published in: Avengers #53 (1968)

Avengers roster: Black Panther, Hawkeye, Goliath, and Wasp

X-Men roster: Cyclops, Angel, Beast, Iceman, and Marvel Girl

Reasons for fighting: A wacky misunderstanding

The rundown: Magneto thought it would be fun to pit the Avengers and the X-Men against each other. Through a series of manipulations, Magneto convinces each team that the other one is evil. The Avengers and X-Men briefly duke it out, but eventually overcome their differences and stop Magneto. Once again, this was one of those battles that could have been avoided had the teams simply had a conversation.

The winner: This one clearly went to the Avengers.

‘Justice For All’

X-Men vs. The Avengers #4
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Published in: X-Men vs. Avengers #1-4 (1987)

Avengers roster: Captain America, Captain Marvel, Thor, She-Hulk, Black Knight, and Dr. Druid

X-Men roster: Magneto, Storm, Havok, Dazzler, Wolverine, and Rogue

Reasons for fighting: The X-Men’s controversial roster change

The rundown: By 1987 Magneto had reformed and was leading the X-Men. While the X-Men were willing to give the former villain a second chance, the rest of the world wasn’t as quick to forgive him. The Avengers were tasked with bringing Magneto in, ensuring that he would stand trial for his crimes. The X-Men wanted to defend their new leader, so they feverously battled the Avengers. Magneto eventually realized the best way to avoid further bloodshed would be to face the music and surrender.

The winner: Magneto’s surrender gave the Avengers another victory.

‘The Children’s Crusade’

X-Men and the Avengers fight for the fate of Wanda Maximoff (Avengers: The Children's Crusade)
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Published in: Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #1-9 (2010)

Avengers roster: Captain America, Iron Man, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Ms. Marvel, and Hawkeye

X-Men roster: Cyclops, Emma Frost, Storm, Rogue, Gambit, Colossus, and Iceman

Reasons for fighting: Scarlet Witch drama

The rundown: The X-Men wanted to bring the Scarlet Witch in for her crimes against mutants. The Avengers wanted to protect their former teammate. A big fight ensued, with the teenage group known as the Young Avengers getting caught in the middle. It’s interesting to note that Wolverine fought alongside the Avengers this time around. The various teams eventually put aside their differences to fight Doctor Doom.

The winner: This one appears to be a true draw.

‘Avengers vs. X-Men’

Avengers vs. X-Men #12
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Published in: Avengers vs. X-Men #1-12 (2012) and tons of tie-in issues

Avengers roster: Too many to name! This event included various Avengers teams, and some former members.

X-Men roster: Once again, various X-Men showed up to play, along with some former members.

Reasons for fighting: Disagreement over a girl

The rundown: This is by far the biggest skirmish between the two teams ever published. The X-Men learn that the Phoenix Force is approaching Earth, seeking to bond with the mutant Hope Summers. The Avengers are apprehensive about this, since the Phoenix Force has a history of causing carnage. The X-Men are willing to look past the risks, hoping the Phoenix Force can undo the mutant apocalypse that occurred during the House of M storyline.

Neither side is willing to yield, and the two teams have a massive brawl. This battle took place over the course of a 12 issue limited series, and numerous tie-ins. Things got messy. Cyclops bonded with the Phoenix Force and killed Charles Xavier (he got better). This was the fight to end all fights.

The winner: This one is a tough call, because the battle is basically a draw. However, Hope becomes a vessel for the Phoenix Force, which was specifically what the Avengers were fighting to prevent. Because of that, Popverse is calling this battle for the X-Men.

Honorable Mentions

Tension between the Avengers and X-Men during Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #1
Image credit: Marvel Comics

There are a few notable Avengers and X-Men stories that didn’t make the main list for various reasons. Some of them involve the teams arguing, but never battling. Other comics involve individual members of each group fighting, but not a full-scale battle between both teams. However, if you’re a fan of the X-Men and Avengers, these comics are worth checking out.

Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #1-12 (1984) – The X-Men and the Avengers both participate in a massive heroes vs. villains skirmish on a planet called Battleworld. Tensions run high between the two teams, which results in the X-Men temporarily abandoning the Avengers to form their own Battleworld faction.

Avengers/X-Men: Bloodties (1993) – The X-Men and the Avengers work together to quash a civil war between humans and mutants. This is a quintessential ‘90s crossover with lots of action, lots of weapons, and tons of angst.

Ultimate War #1-4 (2002) – The X-Men battle with the Ultimates over the fate of Magneto. This limited series takes place in the Ultimate universe, an alternate continuity within the Marvel multiverse. The Ultimates exist as their own team, separate from the Avengers, which is why this comic didn’t make the list. However, It’s still a worthwhile read, with explosive action.

Avengers vs. X-Men: Versus #1-6 (2012) – This limited series focuses on the individual battles that occurred during the Avengers vs. X-Men event. If you’re a fan of superhero battles, you’ll love this series. We highly recommend issue 3, which has a great battle between Spider-Man and Colossus.

Have the X-Men and the Avengers learned their lesson and put these conflicts behind them? I sure hope not! As a longtime Marvel fan, it’s fun to see the Avengers and the X-Men trade punches. In fact, as this article demonstrates, it’s a time-honored Marvel Universe tradition. The two groups seem to be getting along for the moment, but it’s only a matter of time before a glass of spilled milk ignites the next major X-Men versus Avengers war. When that happens, Popverse will be there on the frontlines to bring you the play by play.

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Joshua Lapin-Bertone

Joshua Lapin-Bertone: Joshua is a pop culture writer specializing in comic book media. His work has appeared on the official DC Comics website, the DC Universe subscription service, HBO Max promotional videos, the Batman Universe fansite, and more. In between traveling around the country to cover various comic conventions, Joshua resides in Florida where he binges superhero television and reads obscure comics from yesteryear.


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