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  1. #1
    Incredible Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    Default Is "mutate" a term actually used in the Marvel Universe?

    If you were born with powers via the X-gene, you're a mutant. If you were born a baseline human who got powers via a foreign element, you're a mutate.

    Or, for the longest time, that's what I thought. However, I've been wondering if this terminology is actually used in-universe.

    All the wiki sites will refer to people like Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Wasp, the Hulk, Black Panther and so on as "human mutate", and I never questioned it before. However, I was talking to someone on another site and this subject came up. He said he never heard the term "mutate" in a Marvel comic, and he's been a fan for decades. He's played RPGs where they're referred to as "altered humans".

    And the more I think about it, I've never seen the term within a comic I've read either. I am aware of the Savage Land Mutates, but that's something completely different. Mutate here is used as a general term for superpowered beings that aren't mutants, or aliens, inhumans, asgardians, magic or whatever.

    The distinction between mutant and mutate is important, given the heavy amounts of discrimination the former receive that the latter are usually spared from. In fact, if I've seen cases where if a mutate is feared and hated, it's assumed they must be a mutant. It doesn't make sense, but then, neither does real world racism. That was the point.

    So, is mutate in this context ever used in-universe? Or it is strictly an out-of-universe term meant for convenience? Just curious.

  2. #2
    Tyrant Sun User leokearon's Avatar
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    Apart from as you mention the Savage Land Mutates, I don't think I have ever heard the term mutate used to describe anyone
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  3. #3
    Incredible Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    Huh, it seems odd if they've never used mutate in-universe. You would think it'd be useful for a number of reasons. Such as:
    • It would make the terminology clear.
    • It could make for good scenes (like a mutant trying to pass off as a mutate to avoid discrimination).
    • It would be useful for establishing how the universe works, because them not saying "mutate" just means having superpowers is without a name unless you're a mutant. And being a mutant is a very different thing.
    • It would help establish the culture of the MU (there are distinct mutant cultures that often exclude mutates, but the line isn't quite clear. You could have a scene where a mutant says "Wait, he's a mutate. He's a phony, and not one of us").
    • In general, just much more useful. Without them saying "mutate", it feels like calling them that is a fan term. I continue to call them that for lack of a better term, however.

  4. #4
    Ultimate Member Digifiend's Avatar
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    It is dumb if they have no umbrella term. DC uses "metahumans", which applies to anyone with powers (including aliens) - so people like Superman, Wonder Woman, and Flash, but not Batman or Green Arrow, who are what TV Tropes calls Badass Normals. In Marvel, the "mutate" term should relate to anyone who has natural powers (i.e. not granted by a costume) and isn't a mutant, an Inhuman, or a God - Iron Man and Nova don't count as their powers are tech, nor does Thor whose powers are divine, but people like Spider-Man and Hulk do.

  5. #5
    Incredible Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    Wait, does metahuman really apply to everyone with powers? I thought it was just humans with superpowers, as in Flash is a metahuman but not Superman and Wonder Woman.

    To be fair, I'm not as versed with DC as I am with Marvel, but it always seemed that way.

  6. #6
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    I think they're more apt to jusr call those people "super powered" or something. Sort of makes it annoying when you're trying to compare them to mutants.

  7. #7
    Astonishing Member Panic's Avatar
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    I seem to recall Thunderbolt Ross describing the Abomination as a gamma-ray mutate. This would have been in the late seventies. I'm not sure I've seen the term used much since.

  8. #8
    Incredible Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    That's insane. You would think that with how much importance Marvel places on the difference between mutants and mutates that they would actually make this terminology clear.

    I haven't read any official databook, but for anyone who has, did they use the term mutate there?

  9. #9
    Extraordinary Member Mike_Murdock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leokearon View Post
    Apart from as you mention the Savage Land Mutates, I don't think I have ever heard the term mutate used to describe anyone
    Almost certain they said Genoshan Mutates.
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  10. #10
    Mighty Member
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    Afaik DC has a "Metahuman Gene" which gives you superpowers. Jay Garrick for example is a user of the Speedforce, an extradimensionsal energy that lets you run at superhuman speeds, hes also a metahuman though who's ability is superhuman speed.

  11. #11
    Fantastic Member
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    mutatesthor3.jpg
    From Thor #163, and specifically referring to people who had started out as normal humans.

    So the term has been used in comic.

  12. #12
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    As I understood it, back in the day, thanks to Celestial tampering, humanity had the potential for mutation. A small percentage would be born with that potential unlocked, and become mutants around puberty (or sooner, in some cases). Most would remain 'latent' through life, but could get triggered by something, like cosmic rays, gamma rays, a radioactive spider-bite, a super-soldier serum, Terrigenesis, etc.

    According to Days of Future Past's future scenario, there was also a percentage of humanity that had *no* potential for mutation, latent or otherwise, and, presumably, if exposed to a massive dose of gamma radiation, etc. would just die horribly crapping out their intestines.

    So, based on that, anyone who isn't a straight-up mutant, and isn't getting their powers from tech, or being related to a god, or magic, or some alien or extra-dimensional stuff, people ranging from Spider-Man to the Hulk to the Fantastic Four to Captain America to the entire Inhuman race, are 'mutates' or 'latents.' (With the Inhumans, it was Kree technology that awakened their latent mutation, but the Terrigen didn't give them the ability to mutate, or else it would have worked on the Kree themselves, and they never would have needed to use it on humans.)

    Presumably anyone who has internalized the size-changing ability granted by Pym particles (such as Hank, Cassie and Janet, at least), also counts. (And perhaps Scott is *not* a latent, explaining why he has never gotten with the program, and still needs a fresh dose of particles whenever he wants to shrink or grow?)

    That all said, I'm fairly certain anyone currently at Marvel has forgotten Days of Future Past, or that the Celestials gave humanity the X-gene, or what the word 'mutate' means. Several stories have had whole towns turned into Hulks or Spider-Peeps, which, according to their own theory, would have flat-out murdered whatever percent of said towns were *not* latents, and would have just suffered the usual effect of massive radiation exposure instead of 'Hulking out.'

    Marvel itself likely doesn't remember this stuff, and it's pretty clear that they either don't have, or don't bother to read, any sort of story bible, like the old Marvel Handbook days, when everything was sort of codified in one central place, and, however imperfect they were at it, the editors at least *tried* for some semblance of internal consistency across the titles.

  13. #13
    Incredible Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sutekh View Post
    As I understood it, back in the day, thanks to Celestial tampering, humanity had the potential for mutation. A small percentage would be born with that potential unlocked, and become mutants around puberty (or sooner, in some cases). Most would remain 'latent' through life, but could get triggered by something, like cosmic rays, gamma rays, a radioactive spider-bite, a super-soldier serum, Terrigenesis, etc.

    According to Days of Future Past's future scenario, there was also a percentage of humanity that had *no* potential for mutation, latent or otherwise, and, presumably, if exposed to a massive dose of gamma radiation, etc. would just die horribly crapping out their intestines.

    So, based on that, anyone who isn't a straight-up mutant, and isn't getting their powers from tech, or being related to a god, or magic, or some alien or extra-dimensional stuff, people ranging from Spider-Man to the Hulk to the Fantastic Four to Captain America to the entire Inhuman race, are 'mutates' or 'latents.' (With the Inhumans, it was Kree technology that awakened their latent mutation, but the Terrigen didn't give them the ability to mutate, or else it would have worked on the Kree themselves, and they never would have needed to use it on humans.)

    Presumably anyone who has internalized the size-changing ability granted by Pym particles (such as Hank, Cassie and Janet, at least), also counts. (And perhaps Scott is *not* a latent, explaining why he has never gotten with the program, and still needs a fresh dose of particles whenever he wants to shrink or grow?)

    That all said, I'm fairly certain anyone currently at Marvel has forgotten Days of Future Past, or that the Celestials gave humanity the X-gene, or what the word 'mutate' means. Several stories have had whole towns turned into Hulks or Spider-Peeps, which, according to their own theory, would have flat-out murdered whatever percent of said towns were *not* latents, and would have just suffered the usual effect of massive radiation exposure instead of 'Hulking out.'

    Marvel itself likely doesn't remember this stuff, and it's pretty clear that they either don't have, or don't bother to read, any sort of story bible, like the old Marvel Handbook days, when everything was sort of codified in one central place, and, however imperfect they were at it, the editors at least *tried* for some semblance of internal consistency across the titles.
    Sometimes I wonder how "superpower" can be defined in these settings. I mean, theoretically Tony Stark doesn't have powers. However, Iron Man has a super advanced suit of power armor that allows him to throw-down with gods, and he carries spares that he can summon on command. Could that be considered a superpower?

    Even further, there's Scott Lang as the second Ant-Man. He doesn't have any powers, on paper. His powers come from his suit, helmet and belt carrying Pym Particles, but said powers include shrinking and controlling ants. Those sound like superhuman abilities.

    If you really want to split hairs, consider that Doctor Doom isn't officially superhuman. Everything from his advanced science, gadgets, armor, magitek and even the sorcery itself, are things that he learned. He has no real powers to call his own. That's the core of his appeal to, as he's a guy who went from a peasant to the most dangerous supervillain who ever lived.

    Honestly, it's a little difficult to say these people are just "normal", and you could make an argument for them having powers. I do find that appealing, to be honest. They're human, but have extraordinary abilities. In particular, I've always preferred Scott over Hank in part for that reason, because he always came across as an Average Joe who puts on a suit and acts as a superhero when needed. The fact that his powers aren't innate makes him more relatable in a way.

  14. #14
    All-New Member Mutant_Lover's Avatar
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    Weren't Cloak and Dagger referred to as Mutates and not Mutants?

  15. #15
    The King Fears NO ONE! Triniking1234's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hybrid View Post
    Wait, does metahuman really apply to everyone with powers? I thought it was just humans with superpowers, as in Flash is a metahuman but not Superman and Wonder Woman.

    To be fair, I'm not as versed with DC as I am with Marvel, but it always seemed that way.
    In Young Justice the term is used to describe a group of super-powered people or they just use "metas". They still call Supes and J'onn aliens.
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