The Greatest Betrayals in the Marvel Universe
From the Avengers and the X-Men to the Runaways and the Illuminati, no one is safe from betrayal in the Marvel Universe!
In IMMORAL X-MEN (2023) #2, Hope Summers learned the hard way that betrayal can happen at any time—and she is far from the first Marvel Comics character to suffer such a fate. Over the decades, many heroes and villains have turned on each other. Just in time for the Ides of March, here are seven of the most iconic betrayals in the Marvel Universe.
Scarlet Witch Disassembles the Avengers
In the ’80s, Wanda Maximoff—AKA Scarlet Witch—used her powers to create two children for herself and Vision. When she eventually lost them, her mentor Agatha Harkness made her forget their entire existence, believing this would help her heal and move on without realizing this very act was essentially a betrayal in and of itself. Then, years later, Wanda’s remembrance of that loss set AVENGERS DISASSEMBLED into motion.
In that storyline, Scarlet Witch learned the devastating truth about what happened and became unstable. She soon launched an attack on the Avengers, killing several members of the team in the process.
Scarlet Witch’s turn in AVENGERS DISASSEMBLED set the stage for much of what happened in the Marvel Universe in the 2000s. In fact, many of the decade’s biggest events have their roots in that story, including HOUSE OF M (2005), MESSIAH COMPLEX (2007), and MESSIAH WAR (2009).
Alex Wilder Betrays the Runaways
RUNAWAYS (2003) introduced the comic’s titular teens to the Marvel Universe. In that story, Alex Wilder, Nico Minoru, Karolina Dean, Gertrude Yorkes, Molly Hayes, and Chase Stein leaned that their parents were Super Villains attempting to end the world with help from an alien race called the Gibborim. After running away, they tried to stop their parents through their very limited means.
Eventually, the series revealed that Wilder—who had acted as the group’s leader—betrayed his friends to their parents and was secretly working with them. While the remaining Runaways successfully defeated their parents, Wilder’s betrayal continues to affect the group in major ways to this day. It also set the stage for the Runaways to take on a bigger role in the Marvel Universe, and while they don’t always have an active series of their own, many members play key roles in other books.
Mister Sinister Takes Over Krakoa
If there’s one constant with Nathaniel Essex, AKA Mister Sinister, it’s that he is inevitably going to betray someone—but his most recent betrayal may be one of his most successful acts of villainy yet.
At the start of mutantkind’s time on Krakoa, Sinister joined the Quiet Council, as they needed his knowledge of genetics and cloning to successfully create their Resurrection Protocols. Unbeknownst to the rest of Krakoa’s residents, though, Sinister was manipulating the timeline and implanting his DNA in those who were resurrected, which allowed him to seize control of the Quiet Council and, later, the world.
Even in a few short issues, SINS OF SINISTER (2023)—which explores a timeline in which Essex leads Krakoa—has proven to be one of the villain’s greatest betrayals. To make matters worse, his influence on the Quiet Council has led to more treachery amongst one another, including Exodus’ betrayal of Hope in IMMORAL X-MEN (2023) #2.
Sharon Carter Shoots Steve Rogers
At the end of CIVIL WAR (2006), Steve Rogers—AKA Captain America—found himself on trial for his opposition to the Superhuman Registration Act. After Rogers surrendered to the authorities, Crossbones shot him. However, that’s not where the attempt on Captain America’s life ended. Making matters worse, Doctor Faustus used his powers to implant a hypnotic suggestion in Sharon Carter that compelled her to shoot Rogers at close range, seemingly ensuring his death.
Strictly speaking, this wasn’t Carter’s fault. However, the act still left a major effect on her and led to several important storylines, including CAPTAIN AMERICA: REBORN (2009), which brought Rogers back into the Marvel Universe.
Cyclops Kills Professor Xavier
For decades, Scott Summers—AKA Cyclops—seemed to be the heir apparent to Professor Charles Xavier’s dream of cooperation between humans and mutants. On many occasions, the two seemed more like father and son than mentor and mentee. However, Summers eventually became more militant, which culminated in a deadly showdown between him and Xavier in AVENGERS VS. X-MEN (2012).
In that series, Xavier attempted to intervene when Summers received the power of the Phoenix Force and began using it against such heroes as the Avengers. The confrontation ended with Summers killing Xavier, which set Cyclops down a dark path for several years and forever altered the trajectory of mutantkind in the Marvel Universe.
Steve Rogers Betrays Everyone
At the start of AVENGERS: STANDOFF! (2016), Rogers no longer had the Super Soldier Serum in his blood, which made him appear older than ever before. However, during that series, Kobik—a physical manifestation of the reality-altering Cosmic Cube—turned Rogers back into his younger self. Due to Red Skull’s meddling, though, there was one important change: this version of Rogers had been a Hydra agent since childhood.
This change led directly to SECRET EMPIRE (2017), an event that saw Hydra, S.H.I.E.L.D., and Captain America taking over the United States, turning the Land of the Free into a fascist dictatorship. SECRET EMPIRE changed the Marvel Universe in some big ways that are still being felt in new comics today. For instance, S.H.I.E.L.D. was dissolved in the immediate aftermath of the event, and multiple books have dealt with the status quo changes and destruction SECRET EMPIRE wrought.
The Illuminati Sends Hulk Into Space
Bruce Banner, AKA Hulk, has always been something of a wild card. While generally on the side of the angels, Hulk’s unpredictable rampages have put him at odds with Marvel’s heroes on several occasions. This came to a head in the “Planet Hulk” storyline, which saw the Illuminati—a secret group of heroes dedicated to making the difficult decisions necessary to keep Earth safe—trick Hulk into going to outer space. As a result, Hulk landed on Sakaar, where he was enslaved and forced to fight in a gladiatorial arena.
The Illuminati’s attempt to stop Banner blew up in their faces in a profound way. Not only did Hulk survive and thrive on Sakaar, but he developed a new thirst for vengeance while there, leading directly to WORLD WAR HULK (2007), a crossover that pit the Green Goliath against some of the Marvel Universe’s best and brightest heroes.
Why would Exodus betray Hope? Find out in IMMORAL X-MEN (2023) #2 by Kieron Gillen and Andrea Di Vito, on sale now!
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