Mister Sinister using his powers in X-Men '97 Season 1

X-Men ’97: What Are Mister Sinister’s Powers?

Warning: The following article contains spoilers for X-Men ’97 Season 1, Episode 9, “Tolerance Is Extinction – Part 2.”

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The latest X-Men ’97 episode, “Tolerance Is Extinction – Part 2,” sees Mister Sinister go toe-to-toe with Jean Grey. He displays an overwhelmingly broad range of superhuman abilities during the fight – so what exactly are Mister Sinister’s powers?

Related: X-Men ’97: How Are Bastion and Nimrod Connected?

Mister Sinister’s Powers in X-Men ’97, Explained

Mister Sinister possesses a vast array of superpowers in Marvel’s X-Men comics – many of which he’s also displayed in both X-Men: The Animated Series and X-Men ’97. He’s much stronger and faster than an ordinary human and can recover from injuries that would ordinarily prove fatal. Sinister also has telekinesis, which he uses for offensive blasts, defensive shields, flight, and just generally moving stuff around with his mind. And speaking of Sinister’s mind, the chalky-skinned baddie is also a formidable telepath (as he demonstrated by taking control of Cable in “Tolerance Is Extinction – Part 2”). Mister Sinister also has low-level technopathy, in that he can mentally operate hardware he’s personally developed. And on top of all this, he’s a shapeshifter and seemingly immortal too.

Related: X-Men ’97: Every Major Marvel Cameo In Season 1

Clearly, Sinister is a tough cookie – but does he have any weaknesses? A few, although none of them has ever put him down for the count permanently. For example, X-Men: The Animated Series establishes that Cyclops’ optic blasts can overload Sinister’s healing factor, however, he returns even after Cyclops destroys his body! Sinister can also be poisoned with certain substances, such as the comics’ Terrigen Mists. All that said, as Sinister regularly utilizes clone bodies in the comics – and possibly the cartoons too – it’s not always clear how vulnerable he is to certain attacks versus his copies. So, Wolverine’s claws can (and have) dispatched Sinister’s clones, but probably wouldn’t have the same lasting effect on Sinister himself.

How Did Mister Sinister Get His Powers?

Given Mister Sinister’s laundry list of powers, you’re probably wondering how he acquired them all. The short answer is “science.” The long (and very complicated) answer is that Sinister is Victorian-era scientist Doctor Nathaniel Essex, transformed by uber-powerful mutant Apocalypse. This transformation granted Sinister some but not all of his powers; the rest came via self-experimentation with various mutants’ DNA. More recent X-Men comics have further complicated Sinister’s backstory, with the supervillain’s current incarnation outed as a mutant clone of the original Essex.

Related: X-Men ’97 Is the First X-Adaptation to Spotlight Mutantkind’s Greatest Enemy: Evolution

X-Men: The Animated Series presents a more streamlined version of Mister Sinister’s comic book origin story. Here, Sinister and Essex are one and the same, without any of the “clone successor” business. Apocalypse doesn’t play any part in Essex becoming Sinister, either. Essex is solely responsible for his powers in this continuity, having devised a serum by experimenting on mutants.

X-Men ’97 is now streaming on Disney+, with new episodes dropping Wednesdays.


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Leon Miller
Leon is a freelance contributor at The Escapist, covering movies, TV, video games, and comics. Active in the industry since 2016, Leon's previous by-lines include articles for Polygon, Popverse, Screen Rant, CBR, Dexerto, Cultured Vultures, PanelxPanel, Taste of Cinema, and more.