Who was the very first mutant?

Mutants have captured our imagination for decades. Their incredible powers and struggles for acceptance have made them iconic figures in pop culture. But who was the very first mutant to emerge in the fictional X-Men universe? Their origin story has evolved over the years across various comic books, TV shows, and movies. Let’s explore the history and debate around the identity of the first mutant.

Apocalypse as the first mutant

Many fans assume Apocalypse, one of the X-Men’s greatest foes, was the first mutant. He is thousands of years old and referred to as the “First One” in the X-Men animated series from the 1990s. However, his origins were not fully established in the comics. While Apocalypse is ancient and powerful, evidence suggests he was not actually the first mutant.

Selene Gallio as a potential first mutant

Another candidate for the first mutant is Selene Gallio, a long-lived mutant villainess. Selene has energy absorbing and manipulation abilities that slow her aging. She claims to be over 17,000 years old. If her longevity is natural and not tied to external factors, she would predate other known mutants by millennia. However, her exact origins are unclear so there is debate around whether she should hold the title of first mutant.

En Sabah Nur and the rise of Apocalypse

The X-Men film timeline provides more backstory on Apocalypse. His birth name is said to be En Sabah Nur and he was born in ancient Egypt circa 3000 BCE. The comics also support Egypt as being the birthplace of the man who would become Apocalypse. If he was born with his signature mutation of gray skin and advanced abilities, En Sabah Nur would indeed be the first verifiable mutant in human history.

Natural versus artificial mutation

The debate around the first mutant often centers on whether mutation has to be natural and from birth. Apocalypse and Selene’s mutations may have unnatural origins or came later in life. Meanwhile, mutants like Charles Xavier were born with the X-gene and their abilities manifested during adolescence or young adulthood when mutation typically occurs.

If mutation has to develop naturally and be present from birth, that would disqualify Apocalypse and Selene as the first mutants despite their ancient lives. The title would fall to either an unknown early mutant or another established character revealed to have been born a mutant.

Exodus as the first known mutant

The artificial mutation debate tends to favor Exodus, also known as Bennet du Paris, as potentially the first mutant. Exodus was born in the 12th century CE with advanced telepathic and telekinetic abilities. His mutation seems to be natural, not tied to any life-extending enhancements. While not as old as Apocalypse or Selene, Exodus being born in the 1100s would make him the first verifiable naturally-born mutant.

Mystique’s prolonged lifespan

Mystique is another contender for being one of the earliest born mutants. Like Selene, Mystique has a prolonged lifespan stemming from her mutation. She ages slowly, allowing her to live for over 100 years while retaining a youthful appearance. If her longevity comes solely from her natural mutation, Mystique could potentially be the first or one of the first mutants in existence. Her exact age and place of origin remain uncertain.

Destiny and precognitive abilities

Destiny, also known as Irene Adler, is an interesting case when it comes to pinpointing the first mutant. Destiny naturally possessed the mutant ability of precognition – the power to see into the future. Because of her ability to foresee major events in mutant history before they occurred, Destiny could have a unique perspective on the origins of mutation. However, Destiny herself was likely not the first mutant based on her estimated age.

The missing link of mutation origins

No definitive evidence has emerged tying any specific mutant to definitively being the first of their kind. The origins of mutation itself also remain vague. Various events have been proposed as triggering the rise of mutation – cosmic radiation, nuclear tests, gradual natural evolution. But there is no confirmed “patient zero” mutant who was the progenitor of the X-gene in the population.

Possible scenarios for the first mutant

Given the complex history around mutants in the Marvel universe, here are some possible scenarios for who the first mutant might be:

  • An ancient ancestor like En Sabah Nur born with powers in prehistoric times
  • A younger mutant like Exodus with a verifiable natural mutation emergence
  • An early precognitive mutant who predicted the rise of mutation
  • An undiscovered mutant from clandestine government experiments
  • A mutant from an isolated population that vanished

The first mutant may remain forever unnamed and lost to history. But their legacy lives on in the hundreds of thousands of mutants documented over the past century. The questions around mutation origins continue to intrigue X-Men fans and scholars alike.

Key takeaways on the first mutant debate

Here are some key conclusions we can draw from the ongoing debate over the first mutant:

  • Apocalypse’s status as the “first” is dubious at best
  • Other ancient mutants like Selene and Exodus further complicate the timeline
  • Definitions of mutation may exclude artificially-derived abilities
  • No single mutant has an airtight claim as the definitively first
  • The origins of mutation itself remain ill-defined

While the identity of patient zero for mutation is unclear, the emergence of mutants like Apocalypse and Selene millennia ago hints at just how long mutants have lived among typical humans. The X-gene is ancient and mutants have evolved right alongside Homo sapiens for untold generations. Their full history remains untraced and much about the dawn of mutation is still shrouded in mystery.

Tracking the timeline of early notable mutants

Although the precise origins are debatable, the emergence of notable early mutants can be roughly charted as follows:

Name Estimated Year of Birth Abilities
En Sabah Nur/Apocalypse c. 3000 BCE Advanced strength, speed, durability, and technology manipulation
Selene Gallio c. 10,000 BCE Psychic abilities, energy manipulation, longevity
Destiny c. late 1800s Precognition
Mystique c. early 1900s Shape-shifting, slowed aging
Exodus 12th Century Telepathy, telekinesis

This table summarizes some of the earliest known and most powerful mutants from ancient times through the 19th century. While not comprehensive, it provides an overview of key mutants relevant to the question of who was first. As more mutant histories are uncovered, this timeline will continue to evolve.

The legacy of the first mutant

While their identity may never be known, the first mutant’s legacy lives on through their descendants. That initial act of mutation planted the seeds for Homo superior to gradually emerge. Now mutants number in the thousands, if not millions when counting minor manifestations of the X-gene. They remain feared by many, but also persecuted because of their differences. The struggle for mutant rights began with this unnamed individual whose abilities made them a target long ago. Their courage to persevere in spite of discrimination inspired Professor X, Magneto, and all who followed in their footsteps.

One day, the first mutant’s name may be found etched into some ancient tablet or scroll. For now, they remain the genesis of a species that has only begun to grasp its potential. Hated and hounded they may have been, but the first mutant’s power changed the course of human evolution forever.


The question of who was the first mutant in the X-Men universe remains shrouded in mystery. Ancient mutants like Apocalypse and Selene are likely contenders, though their exact origins are unclear. Younger mutants with verifiable naturally-occurring mutations like Exodus and Destiny help set benchmarks for the dawn of mutation. But the full timeline from patient zero to the rise of modern mutants with the X-gene remains vague. While the first mutant’s identity is still up for debate, their legacy has led to the emergence of a new species that continues to fascinate fans and evolve new powers and stories decade after decade.

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