The X-Men is not only one of the most important titles in the history of Marvel Comics, or comic books in general for that matter, but it has become one of the biggest film franchises in history over the years. Stan Lee, as is the case with so many characters, was responsible for co-creating the classic Marvel mutant team. But it turns out that if Stan Lee had his way, the X-Men would have been called something completely different.
As reported by Comicbook.com, Stan Lee recently attended Wizard World Nashville and, as he regularly does, he entertained the crowd with stories from his long career. At one point, he was talking about creating the X-Men and revealed that he originally wanted to call them The Mutants. However, Marvel's publisher at the time, Marvin Goodman, shot that down. Here's what Stan Lee had to say about it.
"I wanted originally to call them The Mutants and he said, 'you can't call them The Mutants' and I said, 'why not?' He said, 'our readers, they aren't that smart.' He had no respect for comic book readers. He said, 'they won't know what a mutant is.' Well, I disagreed with him, but he was the boss so I had to think of another name. So, I went home and I thought and thought and I came up with the X-Men and I mentioned it to him the next day and he said, 'that's okay' and as I walked out of his office I thought, that was very peculiar. If nobody would know what a mutant is how will anybody know what an X-Man is? But he had okayed the name and I used it."
The Mutants, considering that the central characters in the X-Men are all mutants, would have been a fitting name for the book. However, Marvin Goodman felt differently. So, we know Cyclops, Professor X, Wolverine and the gang as the X-Men instead. In case you aren't familiar, Marvin Goodman is a very important figure in the history of comics. He started Timely Comics in 1939, which was rebranded as Marvel Comics in 1961. That is where Stan Lee Got his start and eventually became president of the company after Marvin's son Chip briefly took over in 1972. Lee also joked at the panel that he didn't feel Goodman was "very smart."
"I can say that now because I'm not working for him anymore."
Who knows what would have happened if Stan Lee had his way with the X-Men and titled it The Mutants? Would it still be what we all know and love today? The first X-Men movie helped usher in the modern age of comic book movies as we know it, which is a huge deal. Not to mention that on the comic book side of things, the X-Men has given us some of the greatest stories ever told. Maybe that wouldn't have happened if the title were different. It's impossible to say, but this is definitely an interesting bit of history from Stan the man.