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Not all X-Men are created equal. On the one hand, you have powerhouses like Storm, who can bend nature to her will. On the other hand, you have mutants like Beak who – well, he has a beak. The mutants of the Marvel Universe are classified by four different power levels. What’s the difference between an Epsilon, Beta, Alpha, and Omega mutant? What about the unofficial classifications? Here’s everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the X-Men’s mutant classification system.
First of all, what is a mutant?
Before we get into the different classifications of mutants, let’s clearly define what a mutant is. While the word has many different meanings in the real world, the definition is narrower within the Marvel Universe. A mutant is an individual who is born with the X-Gene. Individuals with the X-Gene usually manifest their powers during puberty, but in some cases it could happen earlier.
In other words, mutants are born with their unique genetics. Spider-Man and Captain America are not considered mutants, because their unique genetics come from external forces rather than being born with the X-Gene. However, just because somebody was born with powers, it does not automatically make them a mutant. For example, members of the group known as the Inhumans have been born with powers, but they don’t come from the X-Gene.
Mayday Parker, Spider-Man’s daughter from the MC2 timeline, was born with her enhanced genetics, but she does not possess the X-Gene. As a result, Mayday Parker would not be considered a mutant. At times the classification has been inconsistent depending on the writer or the character. To keep it simple, you can identify a mutant by asking two simple questions – was this person born with their powers, and do they possess the X-Gene? If the answer to both of these questions is yes, then you have a mutant.
Mutant power level classifications
Some mutants have the power to annihilate all life on the planet, while other mutants can barely move a paperclip. As of this writing mutants are divided into four power level classifications, Epsilon, Beta, Alpha, and Omega. Let’s break them down.Epsilon Level Mutants
An Epsilon Level Mutant is an individual with a powerset that is significantly weak or useless. For example, if you were a mutant with the power to conjure lint, you would be an Epsilon Level Mutant. You would have cool party tricks, but you wouldn’t last long against Magneto or Apocalypse. If a mutant has powers that are useless in combat, and don’t endanger anyone, then they are an Epsilon Level Mutant. In some cases, the mutation may be purely cosmetic, like unusually colored skin or an extra body part.
Notable Epsilon Level Mutants: Artie Maddicks and BeakBeta Level Mutants
A Beta Level Mutant is an individual with a powerset that could be dangerous. Their mutant genes give them unique abilities, but they have limits. Their powers can be used in combat and would most likely be deadly against normal humans. However, a Beta Level Mutant would not be a global threat if they went rogue. Some mutants are classified as Beta Level due to flaws within their powers. For example, Rogue can absorb someone’s powers and memories. However, these powers give her a lower quality of life since she can’t touch anyone. During her early days serving Mystique, Rogue had trouble controlling her powers, which led to a chaotic confrontation with Ms. Marvel. Unable to moderate her power consumption, Rogue ended up absorbing Carol Danvers’ memories, which brought untold mental trauma to both women. Many of the minor X-Men characters are classified as Beta Level Mutants.
Notable Beta Level Mutants: Sabretooth, Gambit, Colossus, Beast, and AngelAlpha Level Mutants
Alpha Level is the second most powerful mutant classification. If you go up against an Alpha Level Mutant, you would be lucky to survive the experience. An Alpha has enough power to become a global threat. The thing that separates Alphas from Omegas (the highest power classification), is that Alpha Level Mutants have limits to their powers. They might be able to cause untold amounts of destruction, but they aren’t omnipotent. An Alpha Level Mutant can be weakened, or have their powers depleted.
Notable Alpha Level Mutants: Cyclops, Wolverine, Namor, and BishopOmega Level Mutants
An Omega Level Mutant is the most powerful of all the mutant classifications. Some have the power to alter the fabric of reality, and most of them can wipe out entire civilizations. To be an Omega Level Mutant, your powers must be limitless. For example, Storm can generate vicious storms for hours on end without breaking a sweat. An Omega Level Mutant never “runs out of ammo” so to speak. Some of them, such as Franklin Richards and Proteus have the power to rearrange reality.
Notable Omega Level Mutants: Jean Grey, Storm, Magneto, Franklin Richards, Proteus, and Iceman
As you make your way through the X-Men comics or browse the internet, you might come across some other mutant classifications. While Epsilon, Beta, Alpha, and Omega are the official ones used in canon, a few other names have popped up over the years. Some have been mentioned in alternate realities, or as off-hand jokes. Others have made their way through fan communities, popping up on internet forums and websites. They may not be “official” mutant classifications, but they’re worth looking at. If you come across any of these names in your reading, here’s what they mean.
- Delta: A mutant is more powerful than a Epsilon, but weaker than a Betta. Basically, a mutant with a lower tier powerset.
- Zeta: An individual with mutant genes, but no powers. Their powers might develop later, or they may go through life powerless. Their genetics make them mutants, but for all intents and purposes, they appear as regular humans.
- Gamma: An individual whose mutation has given them an altered appearance. For example, Nightcrawler’s blue fur or the Blob’s large mass. This classification is determined by appearance rather than power level.
- Omicron: A mutant so powerful that they are omnipotent. Beast used this classification for a mutant named Miranda in the limited series X-Men: Worst X-Man Ever. He came up with this classification after determining that Miranda was too powerful to be classified as an Omega Level Mutant. It should be noted that the story this came from is not canon.
It’s also worth noting that mutant power classification is an evolving study within the Marvel Universe. For example, Alpha Level Mutants were the most powerful classification before Omega Level existed. The rules regarding classification might vary depending on the comic or the writer. In fact, some of the classifications listed above might become canonized in the future. The Marvel Universe is malleable, and we’re always learning more about mutants. The power classification system might look completely different a decade from now.
It’s possible that while looking through our listing of notable mutants, you might have noticed somebody in the wrong place. Mutant classification can be complicated, especially in an evolving narrative like the X-Men saga. As a result, some characters have received different classifications over the years. For example, Jean Grey and Franklin Richards were both listed as Alpha Level Mutants in the ‘90s storyline ‘The Shattering.’ However, Jean and Franklin are both listed as Omega Level Mutants in House of X #1 (2019).
In this case, Omega Level had not been introduced as a classification at the time ‘The Shattering’ was published. In other cases, the way a mutant is classified could vary depending on the writer. It’s also possible for a mutant to graduate from one power classification to another. For example, in the storyline ‘The Messiah Complex’ Rogue is reclassified from Beta to Alpha after mastering her abilities.
In some cases, a mutant might fall under two different classifications if they have multiple powersets. Wolverine’s enhanced senses are a Beta Level powerset, while his healing factor makes him an Alpha Level Mutant. In these situations, the mutant is classified based on whichever powerset is the strongest.
For more on the X-Men, and all the mutants across the Marvel Universe, keep your eyes peeled to Popverse for more guides, features, and other bits of fandom fun.
Editor's note: A previous version of this article listed an error, which has now been corrected.
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