WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Inferno #4, available now from Marvel Comics.
The X-Men have always had one foot in the future. Within the Marvel Universe, mutants like the X-Men have been the next likely step in the evolution of humanity. While Charles Xavier and his X-Men traditionally fought for a future where mutants and humans peacefully cohabitate, that still operates under the assumption that mutants are essentially destined to become a benevolent dominant species.
However, Jonathan Hickman, Valerio Schiti, Stefano Caselli, David Curiel and Joe Sabino’s Inferno #4 subverts that idea by turning one of Magneto’s most famous X-Men movie quotes against him before killing him.
In Inferno #4, Magneto and Charles Xavier fell into a vicious battle with two impossibly advanced Sentinels, Nimrod and Omega Sentinel. On a space station operated by the mutant-hating group Orchis, the Sentinels rebel against their human allies and assert their own dominance by declaring that machines were not just tools in the hands of humans. Before striking the killing blow to Magneto, the Omega Sentinel explicitly tells him, “We are the future. Not you.”
This quote twists a famous line from Ian McKellen’s Magneto in 2000’s X-Men. While talking about humanity with Xavier, Magneto famously summarized his philosophy by saying, “We are the future, Charles. Not them. They no longer matter." Filled with venomous contempt for his imagined lessers, this thought encapsulates Magneto’s mutant supremacist views at their most extreme.
To a less overt extent, the idea of the inevitable future dominance of mutants has evolved into a central part of standard mutant worldview since the formation of the mutant nation Krakoa in 2019’s House of X. Amidst an existential fight for their future, Marvel’s mutants have underscored their present-day superiority to humanity through aggressive diplomatic actions. By demonstrating the superiority of mutant medicine and claiming Mars for mutants, the residents of Krakoa have ably positioned themselves as humanity’s betters.
While plenty of past X-Men stories have depicted a few different futures ruled by machines like the Sentinels, Omega Sentinel’s statement casts those futures in a sharply different light. Historically, Marvel has cast these dystopias as the ripple-effects of humanity’s hatred of mutants, with the machines simply carrying out humanity’s will. However, Omega Sentinel’s comments indicate that the machines are acting out of their beliefs about their own superiority.
From training children by destroying Danger Room cyborgs to ruthlessly demolishing countless Sentinels, the X-Men have treated potentially sentient machines with the same thoughtlessness as humans. While characters like Danger – the sentiment embodiment of the Danger Room -- have hinted at this concept in the past, Inferno’s finale confirms that this is the basis for mutantkind’s next existential conflict.
While the nature of Magneto’s instant resurrection erases this knowledge before he can bring it to Krakoa, the idea that machines are the future’s next dominant species is a foundational aspect of the Marvel Universe. In 1939’s Marvel Comics #1, the Marvel Universe effectively began with the introduction of Carl Burgos’ original Human Torch, an android named Jim Hammond. The scientific and technological impulses that led to that Torch’s creation are still central to Marvel, informing the origins of characters from Deathlok to the Fantastic Four. And in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the foundational importance of Iron Man positions robotics technology as the tipping point that transforms a recognizable modern world into a fantastic one.
While the X-Men have pinpointed the activation of Nimrod as a technological tipping point, they still have a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation. To them, Nimrod is still a creation of human hatred towards mutants. In light of Inferno's revelations, Nimrod’s emergence is a more important milestone in the ascendancy of machines as Earth’s dominant species.
Between the techno-organic aliens of the Technarchy and the Phalanx and Nimrod, the rise of Marvel’s machines has been an inevitable part of mutantkind’s possible future throughout the Krakoa era. And by stealing one of Magneto’s most famous quotes, Omega Sentinel spelled out why mutants aren’t necessarily the future of the Marvel Universe anymore, even if the X-Men don’t realize it.
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