'Fantastic Four' Vs. 'X-Men': A Beginner's Guide To The Two Superhero Teams

Super powers, superhero teamwork, sexy spandex outfits — these are just a few of the things the heroes of Fantastic Four and X-Men have in common. But what really separates the two — when it comes down to Fantastic Four vs. X-Men, what makes each superhero team stand out? After all, the new Fantastic Four features young, attractive people with powers, just like X-Men. So what's the difference?

Well, a lot. There are plenty of reasons that the two franchises are separate (other than the short answer, money — why have one franchise when you can have two?) Even the most casual superhero fans are probably familiar with them both by now, thanks to their overwhelming presence at the box office (Marvel has released seven X-Men movies since 2000's X-Men, and the new Fantastic Four reboot hits theaters on Friday). Recently, the X-Men have become even more prevalent, with Oscar-winner and Hollywood favorite Jennifer Lawrence starring in the reboot films X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past, and the Fantastic Four movie coming so soon. If you don't know how to separate the two yet, it's high time; here's a bit of a deeper analysis of the differences between X-Men and Fantastic Four to help you Marvel newbies.

History: The Origin Story

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Marvel's Fantastic Four and X-Men were both founded by the same Marvel masterminds, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Created in 1961, Fantastic Four's Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm are known as Marvel's 'First Family.' The original Fantastic Four was born when scientists Reed Sue and Johnny, as well as pilot Ben, as traveled into space, where they were hit with cosmic radiation that altered their DNA. Reed Richards developed the ability to stretch his body, Sue Storm discovered she could turn invisible, Johnny could set himself on fire and Ben turned into a giant rock-human. When they returned to earth, they became the Fantastic Four, taking on superhero identities Mr. Fantastic (Reed), the Invisible Woman (Sue), the Human Torch (Johnny) and The Thing (Ben). (It's worth pointing out that this newest adaptation of Fantastic Four will feature a slightly altered origin story, based on The Fantastic Four Ultimate comics.)

X-Men followed two years later, in 1963, and its origin story is more concerned with how a team of mutants came together to protect the world, as opposed to how they got their powers. The X-Men as we know them today were assembled by Professor Xavier (played on screen by both Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy), who teaches mutants at a private school for the gifted, where he also houses the X-Men. Furthermore, X-Men's first issue began with a team already in place.

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Simply put: the X-Men are, for the most part, born with their powers, while the members of the Fantastic Four are not. For the X-Men, their powers are in their DNA, hence their being labeled "mutants." The X-Men are also constantly being hunted down by various government organizations — in X-Men: Days of Future Past, they are even the victims of a robot-conducted genocide — while the Fantastic Four are, in general, more persecution-free.

Powers And Members

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Ok, this should be the easiest way to tell the difference between members of the Fantastic Four and X-Men: there are way more members of the X-Men than there are of the Fantastic Four. The X-Men universe is so vast, it contains hundreds of characters, each with their own unique abilities.

If you go see Fantastic Four this weekend, try this method to tell them apart from X-Men: memorize the members of the Fantastic Four (it's easy, guys, there are literally only four of them). And, voila! From now on, if you spot a superhero jumping around with an unfamiliar name and/or power, it's a mutant and it's X-Men.

Am I Watching X-Men Or Fantastic Four?

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Finally, here are some even more basic pop-culture ways to tell the two groups apart when you go to the movies. If you're sitting in the movie theater wondering if what you're seeing is more Fantastic Four or X-Men, consider these questions:

  • Is there a naked blue girl in the movie who looks alarmingly like Jennifer Lawrence?
  • Is a superhero reading other people's minds?
  • Are you finding yourself sexually attracted to a man named Magneto who can't shut up about killing the human race and letting mutants rule the world?

If you answered yes to any/all of the above, you're watching an X-Men movie.

If you're still unsure, move on to the set of questions below:

  • Is there a brother/sister superhero pair in the film?
  • Is there a superhero made of rocks who uses the oddly and aggressively sexual catch phrase "It's Clobberin' Time"?
  • Do all FOUR superheroes look like they could be in their twenties?

If you answered yes to at least two of these questions, congratulations, you're watching Fantastic Four!

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Now, if there is ever a Fantastic Four/X-Men cross-over, you're on your own...

Images: 20th Century Fox; Giphy (2)