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X-Men: Beast's Secret Power Is So Much Better if It's a Lie

Often referred to as the heart of the X-Men, Professor Hank McCoy – aka the Beast – is one of few mutants who has traditionally been as at-home in the ranks of the Avengers as on Charles Xavier’s team. Charming, educated, and loquacious, with a fondness for alliteration topped only by his co-creator Stan Lee, it’s not surprising that Beast is generally well-liked by fans and other heroes. However, X-Men lore implies that part of his beloved status is a secret power that actually forces people to find Beast charming.

With enlarged hands and feets, Beast’s original mutant power was simply an altered form which allowed for superhuman strength and agility. However, after experimenting on himself, Beast was damaged on a genetic level, leading to new transformations throughout his life that gave him sharp teeth and claws, feline features, and thick blue fur. Along with these abilities, Beast believes that the less human his body becomes, the more he releases pheromones that make others feel positively towards him. But what if that isn’t true?

Related: X-Men: Beast’s Most Disgusting Form Was Beyond His Worst Nightmare

Beast’s pheromones are a power which few writers have engaged with, surviving more due to exhaustive fan wikis than their relevance to modern stories. Because of this, there are precious few mentions of them, however they are part of Marvel lore. Beast discovered this mutation through his own experimentation, most famously citing it to Mephisto when Marvel’s Devil offered to transform him back into a handsome, human form. However, while he might be a genius, many of his experiments – such as the one that made his powers unstable – show that he’s not always right. If Beast has a failing as a scientist, it’s that he extrapolates too far from what he actually knows. Failings such as bringing the original X-Men forward in time only for them to become stuck, or his recent strike against the nation of Terra Verde, show that Beast is prone to making logical leaps that don’t actually pan out in the real world.

Because of this, it makes sense that while Beast may have at one time detected that his altered form emitted pheromones, he may have overestimated their effect on others. This is helped rather than hindered by these powers being vouched for by Mephisto, a character literally known as the Prince of Lies who was trying to manipulate him at the time. This reading is compelling because it taps into Beast’s deep well of self-loathing. Hank McCoy has always faced prejudice because of his mutation, but his further transformations have brought constant public attention and humiliation. Grant Morrison’s New X-Men tenure explored Beast’s fear that he’s actually devolving into an animal, with later stories toying with the idea that he’d be willing to take the mutant ‘Cure’ and lose his powers to feel human again.

It’s entirely within Beast’s self-hating, scientific-to-a-fault character to assume any affection he receives while in his more animalistic form is due to mutant pheromones forcing people to like him. Since this factor would only be in place while he’s physically present, Beast would have a way to take the very common fear that his friends secretly hate him and dress it up in ‘logic’ that isn’t actually true. Recent X-Force comics have seen Beast take a turn for the villainous, running the mutant race’s cutthroat version of the CIA. While longtime fans are hoping some explanation will come along to absolve him of this major heel turn (such as that he’s been replaced by Dark Beast), it also makes sense that he’s making himself useful to people he believes would otherwise shun him.

As it currently stands, Beast’s pheromones are a forgotten power that Marvel basically never mentions. However, reinterpreting this idea as a self-hating misapprehension that Mephisto helped Beast accept as fact makes for a much deeper study of who Hank McCoy is as a character, and could perhaps even chart a course back to the big-hearted, joyous hero X-Men fans love.

Next: X-Men’s Beast Gets the Respect He Deserves in Motion Poster Fan Art

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