The X-Men are a fictional team of superheroes appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by artist/co-plotter Jack Kirby and writer/editor Stan Lee, the characters first appeared in The X-Men #1 (September 1963) and formed one of the most recognizable and successful franchises of Marvel Comics, appearing in numerous books, television shows, films, and video games.
In the Marvel Universe, mutants are humans who are born with natural superhuman abilities, and most normal humans fear and hate them. The X-Men are a paramilitary group of mutants that fights for peace and equality between normal humans and mutants. They are led by Charles Xavier, also known as Professor X, a powerful telepath. Professor X runs a school for mutant children out of his mansion in Westchester, New York, which secretly is also the headquarters of the X-Men. The X-Men’s archenemy is Magneto, a mutant with magnetic abilities who leads a mutant supremacist group known as the Brotherhood of Mutants.
The series’ creator and fans have suspected that Marvel Comics copied the basic concept of Doom Patrol from DC Comics to create the X-Men, which debuted a few months later, but other fans also speculate that they share similarities with another Marvel superhero team, the Fantastic Four. In 1963, with the success of Spider-Man, the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, and the Fantastic Four, co-creator Stan Lee wanted to create another group of superheroes but did not want to have to explain how they got their powers. In 2004, Lee recalled, “I couldn’t have everybody bitten by a radioactive spider or exposed to a gamma ray explosion. And I took the cowardly way out. I said to myself, ‘Why don’t I just say they’re mutants? They are born that way.’”In a 1987 interview, Kirby said:
The X-Men, I did the natural thing there. What would you do with mutants who were just plain boys and girls and certainly not dangerous? You school them. You develop their skills. So I gave them a teacher, Professor X. Of course, it was the natural thing to do, instead of disorienting or alienating people who were different from us, I made the X-Men part of the human race, which they were. Possibly, radiation, if it is beneficial, may create mutants that’ll save us instead of doing us harm. I felt that if we train the mutants our way, they’ll help us – and not only help us, but achieve a measure of growth in their own sense. And so, we could all live together.