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Battleships: X-Men edition

By Sara Century, Stephanie Williams & Clare McBride
X-Men: The Last Stand

We've had a lot of time to think lately. And, as ever, our thoughts are with our families, our friends, our loved ones, and America's Ass. When the going gets tough, the tough look to the X-Men — for the heroes, the friendship, the heroism, and the ships. On this day, we're focusing on the ships.

We took a look at the biggest ships from canon to fanon to our wildest dreams and discuss them in a very special Battleships: X-Men edition.

X-Men: First Class


Clare: Cherik as a ship has been around ever since we learned that Professor X and Magneto used to be best buds but had a tragic falling out over their differing views on mutant politics (1982’s Uncanny X-Men #161, true believers). The original X-Men films play into this — who can forget Erik’s “Oh, Charles, have you come to rescue me?” — but it’s X-Men: First Class that made the ship explode, what with them now being played by younger, hotter actors.

Steph: I believe I might be here for this ship because it combines some of my favorite romance tropes. Charles and Erik have their own version of friends to enemies to frenemies to maybe they could make out at any given moment, going on. It’s problematic, I know, but I love mess and that’s their relationship. Actually, it’s most of the relationships on this list. I think all of the drama between these two could be solved if they took a couples' trip to some quaint B&B in the woods or maybe in the desert? I don’t know, but it just has to be a B&B that's known locally to mend relationships and breathe new life into them. Whatever needs to stop Charles and Magneto from bringing any new young mutants into their child soldier wars.

Sara: The thing that makes me feel like this relationship is good is that no matter how messed up it gets is that it’s still the least possible problematic any of their respective relationships have ever been. Xavier manipulates all of his exes, Magneto’s exes are deceased. Not great. I’ve been reading X-Men comics for a long time, and between these two guys, their relationships are hecking bad across the board. Both Stewart/McKellen and McAvoy/Fassbender have wild levels of chemistry with each other and literally no other character in the films. It! Was! Meant! To! Be!

Clare: I’m a sucker for a complex, nuanced, and decades-long ship like this (ask me my thoughts on Spock and Kirk sometime and then stand back). It’s especially tasty when they know they can’t be together because their political worldviews will never allow them to coexist… and also because Charles is suuuuuuuuch a jerk. Honestly, the ideal Cherik fic to me is kind of the same as the ideal non-shippy Cherik comic. Despite being enemies, they have to work together for some reason, rekindle their affection for one another, and then Charles is like “Erik, do you think we could ever… again…” and Erik is like “it’s tempting, but your politics still suuuuuck” and then he floats away.

Raven and Hank


Clare: I just don’t… get it? Like, I know the Mystique of the X-Men films, especially the later ones where she becomes Charles’ foster sister, is wildly different from comics! Mystique, but in my heart, all I hear is “Hank, you leave that nice queer lady alone!” I like Hank and I especially like Nicholas Hoult’s Hank, but I just don’t see the inherent appeal of “awkward scientist/fun babe” without something a little extra. 

Steph: This relationship is one I have to move my imaginary bang to the side for because what even is happening?? The X-Men movies have given us a lot I didn’t ask for and this is one of those things. For starters, I feel like this ship exists purely because they're both blue? Raven being any kind of straight feels like a Dhalsim-level reach. Also, it’s the X-Men movie franchise of Hank. He’s so stiff, but then again so is this version of Raven. Maybe they should be together after all. 

Sara: This ship is absolutely hilarious as this last-ditch attempt to avoid addressing Raven’s inherent queerness and as such, I can never take it seriously, but it’s also kind of messed up. Hank is such an angry nerd to her. There are multiple times when he openly says that she will never be beautiful if she doesn’t actively attempt to hide her mutation. My Raven/Dazzler ship is so much more validating than this.

Clare: (gasp) That would be so sparkly!

Shadowcat Pyro Iceman Rogue


Clare: A classic of X-Men: teen romance so byzantine it can only be described as “theatre kid-esque.” Emerging powers and emerging feelings! While I do not have any particularly fond feelings for any iteration of this ship (let Kitty be queer, dammit!), I do absolutely love that X-Men contains both philosophical (albeit allegorical) discussion about marginalized communities and this level of sloppy teen drama. 

Steph: Who am I not to like a foursome? The Iceman/Pyro/Kitty/Rogue ship is an ocean liner of a ship. Like Erik/Charles, this ship is messy and I love mess. It’s also extremely chaotic. You have Iceman and Rogue trying to figure out how to navigate a touchless relationship. Then there is Pyro sitting across from them, and I would argue that he’s in love with Iceman and Rogue. Then Kitty gets added to the mix and starts a thing with Iceman while Rogue is in crisis and needs Iceman’s support the most. It’s all so bad and good at the same time. Honestly, this makes me wish Colossus had been involved in some way because then we’d really have a hell of a ship.

Clare: That would be the equivalent of, like, the Titanic but in space.

Sara: This is my favorite ship in the movie franchise because Pyro and Bobby are Good Twink/Bad Twink, and that’s a queer dynamic that we should see a lot more of in media. Meanwhile, Rogue and Kitty don’t interact that much in the movies, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t kiss. It’s a huge deal that Bobby and Pyro have opposite power sets, but kind of so does Rogue and Kitty. I know the love story is technically supposed to be a Rogue/Kitty/Iceman triangle, but… is that really the message anyone took from watching the scenes of Bobby and Pyro hardcore flirting through every appearance together? The chemistry! It overwhelms my gay heart.

Jean Grey, Logan, Scott Summers


Sara: Zzzzzzzzzz this ship bores the heck out of me.

Clare: When I wrote down this ship name so we could talk about it, I wrote it down as “Logan/Cyclops/Jean,” so I think that kind of tells you how I feel about Scott generally. Which is: I love ragging on that guy! I do like the classic romcom love triangle at work here — she’s dating a standup but kind of boring guy and in comes this compelling guy with rough edges — but I feel like Jean gets shunted off into “the pretty redheaded love interest” role rather than getting to be, idk, JEAN GREY?

Steph: Oh look, a ship as old as time. You couldn’t avoid this ship even if you tried. It's a ship I’m only willing to defend if it's a true polyamorous situation, and not just two guys wanting to claim Jean for themselves. Jean has the most aggressive fack eyes from X-Men to X3, eyes that show the same insatiable hunger of the Phoenix. I remember the look when she first encountered an unconscious Logan. Meanwhile, Logan and Scott are just a pair of frenemies that are a tense first kiss away from being lovers.

Sara: *bangs table* Throuple! Throuple! Seriously, though, this ship is way better when it’s just Scott and Logan working out their feelings via sex with each other. Cut out the middleman, my dudes. Besides, Jean’s busy in a later ship on this list.

Clare: Point in this ship’s favor: X3 implies that Dark Phoenix! Jean just straight-up ate Scott and coughed up his sunglasses, and I’d pay money to see Jean and Scott try to make things work after that.

Sara: It is kind of funny that she just shows up and murders him and it’s not really that big of a deal in the long run.

The Wolverine

Wolverine/Mariko/Jean's Mean Ghost

Clare: Wolverine is lucky he only had to deal with a Ghosts of Girlfriends Past situation once. The trail of dead women behind that man!

Sara: Every love interest, deceased.

Clare: I am intrigued by it? Honestly, having Jean’s mean ghost around necessarily provides more accountability and complication than just “YOU CAN’T TRUST ME, I’VE DONE SOME BAD THINGS” and I just like the idea of Jean taking someone to task, even if it’s as a hallucination in somebody else’s head. Plus, I like Mariko’s actor, Tao Okamoto. Not as sold as some of the other ships on here, but I’ll read some fic.

Steph: I’m only here for the ship because of Jean’s mean ghost. The ghost of Phoenix Past spent the entire movie trying to bully Logan into a sweet death. Once Logan and Mariko started a little situationship, Mean Jean the ghost just ramped up the bullying. Actually, I changed my mind about being here for this ship. Mariko doesn’t deserve the headache of dealing with the stress created by Logan’s dead unrequited love. If this ship were modified to Wolverine/Jean’s mean ghost/ Scott’s sad ghost, that would be a ship I could get on.

Sara: I could do the expected thing here and say that I ship Mariko and Jean’s mean ghost sans Logan, but… that’s exactly what I’m going to do, those two are the ones I ship! They’re in love and I hope they get married! Also, The Wolverine ended with Yukio giving him the classic yellow Wolverine costume… a teaser that actually goes absolutely nowhere so it’s weird in hindsight but my point is that he should have had a buddy movie with Yukio. Meanwhile, Jean’s mean ghost showed up at Mariko’s like, hey. And then Mariko was like, hey. That’s it, that’s the fanfiction. It's a Choose Your Own Adventure.

Cable and Deadpool


Clare: Does anybody else get big Batman Forever Riddler and Two-Face vibes off of these two, or is quarantine just slowly driving me mad?

Steph: I kind of get those vibes from this ship, but I’ve also been driven within an inch of insanity thanks to quarantine. The Deadpool/Cable ship works both on- and off-screen. I mean we all felt like at any moment during the second Deadpool movie that he and Cable were going to hate fack right? Well, more hate on Cable’s end but definitely some tears of happiness from Deadpool. I for one don’t know why anyone would want to be involved with a member of the Summer family but I guess if it has to be someone, then Deadpool could handle it. The relationship kind of reminds me of Batman and Catwoman, but with a better friendship.

Clare: I think it’s fun. I always love when two characters conceived of totally separately from one another become inextricably linked, like Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. While the Deadpool movies can run a little too grotesque for my blood (I am fully aware this is incredibly hypocritical coming from a Hannibal fan), this kind of buddy-cop dynamic — one wild and kooky guy with one gruff and more aggressive guy — is always a classic. And this comes with the added bonus that the Deadpool end of the Cinematic X-pool does actually feature queer representation.

Sara: I have a lot of Bear/Otter, opposites-attract feelings around this ship, but the fact is that I ship them mostly because, like Erik and Charles, I think they should give the rest of the world a break.

Jean Grey and Storm


Sara: The movies don’t give this one much room to breathe, but where would we be without my favorite ship that will probably never happen but should, JeanRo. Or, um, Stormix, we haven’t agreed on a name yet but we’ll send out an email when we do. Why do I ship these two in the movies despite them basically never interacting with one another? Pretty much, they both got sold up the river by this franchise. It’s up to them to provide for each other the loving, supportive environment these films could not create for them. Storm barely gets to do anything through the whole series, and Jean dies more than once, so my AU fanfic is just them getting married and running an extremely boring podcast where they talk about mundane things that happen in their relationship, like what to have for dinner or how they used their combined powers to successfully fit a Christmas tree into the back of their Subaru.

I feel like Jean would have definitely cracked up at that “You know what happens when a toad gets struck by lightning?” line. Storm’s dad jokes are legendary, they’re just waiting for the proper audience.

Storm and Wolverine


Steph: Here me out, the Kirk/Ororo/Logan ship is the one that ships are made of. The chemistry between Nightcrawler and Storm is present in both comics and the movies. Nightcrawler never misses an opportunity to compliment Storm or just outright flirt with her, and Storm is for it every single time. Nightcrawler is also an excellent friend to Ororo, and vice versa. So, where does Wolverine fit in all this? Well, I’m sure he fits right in the middle just fine. It’s also because of the nature of his relationships with Nightcrawler and Storm. Logan and Kirk have a hate/love relationship. The hate is more of a front put up by Logan when he tries to play off not liking when Kirk messes with him. Logan loves it though and that’s why Kirk keeps doing it. Logan and Ororo have that whole, watch this goddess tame this beast, thing going on. No explanation needed there. This is my dreamship because I know deep in my nerd heart it's a ship that’s always splashing.


Jean/Catching a dang break

Clare: I want to throw Jean Grey’s phone in a lake and drop her off at an all-expenses-paid resort. I want her to not have to deal with men, be it romantically, platonically, or professional for at least 30 business days. Men thinking they know what’s best for Jean (Charles literally prevented her from processing the trauma of losing her mom) is what’s behind every problem in her life, so they are no longer invited!

I want to see Jean on the beach, themed margarita in her hand, telepathically speedreading through a mountain of romance novels, and not a worry in her head. Charles’ increasingly terse e-mails and telepathic communiques receive only the most generic out of office message. Scott texts every once in a while to check in and she sends him a photo of a beautiful vista she saw out on a hike. She considers sending a postcard to Logan, before realizing she has no idea where he is and buying a novelty T-shirt instead. She is wearing a lot of sunscreen and a big hat and she is, for once, completely relaxed and happy.

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