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"Kurt's gone. But I did it. No one died. No blood on his hands. I'll find him wherever he is. I'm not giving up. I'm not letting go. Because my son would never give up on me."
Raven Darkholme (Mystique)
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Raven Darkholme, better known as Mystique, is a Marvel Comics mutant supervillainess who mostly appears as an enemy of X-Men and other associated comic books. She's introduced into Marvel Universe in Ms. Marvel #16 (May 1978). She's created by Dave Cockrum and Chris Claremont.

Mystique is a 100-year old shapeshifting mutant. Originally, she could take on the appearance of any humanoid being by having complete control over the cells of her body, in addition to being able to morph the material in her clothes to suit any situation. She later got a superpower upgrade allowing her to produce weapons by morphing her organs and such into wings and talons. For years she was involved in espionage, with her long-time romantic partner Destiny - a blind mutant precognitive. For a time, Destiny and Mystique separated for personal reasons, and Mystique became romantically involved with Sabretooth and a German Baron, resulting in the birth of her two sons - Graydon Creed and Kurt Wagner. Destiny and Mystique reunited, and depending on the writer - either adopted Rogue or conceived her via Mystique's shapeshifting powers. After this, Destiny and Mystique revived the Brotherhood of Mutants to assassinate anti-mutant politicians and began their conflict with the X-Men. Mystique usually has her own personal goals she's fighting for and is usually constantly involved in multiple webs of deception.

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Although she is never paired with Magneto in the comics (they led two completely different incarnations of the Brotherhood), adaptations like to make her into his Dragon.

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  • Aborted Arc: Is part one of the most famous one of these in the House of Ideas, as originally Chris Claremont intended for Nightcrawler's parents to be Mystique and Destiny, meaning that the former would technically be Nightcrawler's father. As this plot was conceived in the 80's it was aborted before it could even be fully introduced.
  • Abusive Parents: She has very little memory of her actual past, possibly as a result of assuming so many identities over the years, but one thing she does recall is that her father was... not very nice to her. "Don't let Papa get you" is her Survival Mantra at one point. She is also an abusive parent to her own children, Nightcrawler, Rogue, and Graydon Creed, considering she's either abandoned, manipulated, attacked, or killed all of them at some point with little to no remorse.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Played with in the X-Men Film Series: while the Mystique of the first three films is very faithful to her comic counterpart, the reboot of the series that started with X-Men: First Class introduced a very different take on Mystique, one in which she was Charles Xavier's adopted sister and a founding member of the X-Men. The later films would only very heighten this heroism, giving her a realistic and sympathetic motivation for her Start of Darkness in X-Men: Days of Future Past before finally just redeeming her outright in X-Men: Apocalypse.
  • Adaptational Wimp: In the first season of X-Men: Evolution, she is simply pathetic, belittled by Magneto frequently and chronically knocked out by her enemies (barely even lasting a minute in any fight).
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Explored, as she believes herself to be a case of this, expressing resentment that both humans and mutants distrust her for being a shapeshifter, when in truth the distrust has nothing to do with her being a shapeshifter (proven by the multiple heroic shapeshifter mutants the X-Men have welcomed into their ranks such as Morph) and everything to do with her manipulative and sadistic personality.
  • Always Save the Girl: Played unsympathetically in Wolverines: the entire plot turns out to have been an elaborate ploy, including the intentional betrayal of her entire team, to resurrect her dead lover, Destiny. When she learns at the last moment that this plan was actually a deception by Destiny to make Mystique resurrect Wolverine, with the fate of the world depending on Wolverine's return to life, she smashes the MacGuffin she needs to do so and leaves the dimensional nexus, cursing to herself that she'd rather let the world be destroyed than bring Wolverine back in Destiny's place.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Her blue skin is a cornerstone of her character design. In the movies it's expanded upon, showing that her skin is not just blue but rough and scaly like a reptile.
  • Arch-Enemy: Originally she was this to Carol Danvers aka Ms. Marvel. Since the Heel–Face Turn of Rogue she's become one of these to her instead, as well as an...
  • Archnemesis Mom: Towards Rogue, as mentioned above.
  • “Awesome McCool” Name: Raven Darkholme
  • Bi the Way: Mystique's early characterization had her ambiguously paired with the female clairvoyant Destiny (at least, until her death). For several decades the editorial staff would not admit the depth of their relationship (and, under The Comics Code, couldn't). Since then, she has had at least two children by male lovers retconned into her backstory. One of said lovers becoming a retconned off & on love interest that writers are determined to keep throwing her back with.
  • Big Bad: In the old days when she was Ms. Marvel's arch nemesis she acted this way in her stories. Nowadays whenever Rogue has her own spin-off Mystique will act like this most of the time and was the leader of her own Brotherhood of Mutants at one point.
  • Boxed Crook: When she decided things were getting too dangerous, she took her Brotherhood of Evil Mutants- herself, Destiny, Pyro, Avalanche, and the Blob- and offered their services to the US Government as "Freedom Force". The arrangement lasted a surprisingly long time.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Her most infamous trait that she is commonly known for by friend and foe. In one issue, Cable (time-traveler from the future) even mentioned that in his time, "Mystique" was used in much the same way that "Judas" is used now.
  • Chronic Villainy: Despite multiple efforts to reform herself over the years, or at the very least put her talents to use for a higher cause than herself, inevitably Mystique always slides back into villainy. She believes it's because she is misunderstood and feared for being a shapeshifter, when in truth it's her love for Manipulative Bastard-style mind games and penchant for Sadism.
  • Combo Platter Powers: Her mutation has steadily become an example of this over time. Originally a bog-standard Shapeshifter, after she became a Rogues-Gallery Transplant her powerset increased to include reduced aging, psychic resistance, accelerating healing and resistance to toxins & diseases.
  • "Common Knowledge": The average casual comics fan believes that Mystique is a long-serving member of the Brotherhood of Mutants and a loyal follower of Magneto. In fact, Mystique originally began as a lone-wolf mutant terrorist; she didn't have any interaction with the Brotherhood until she founded the second incarnation of the group, which Magneto wasn't involved in at all. Even in the 90s cartoon, where she is shown working alongside Avalanche, Pyro and the Blob, Mystique is an agent of Apocalypse and never has anything to do with Magneto. The idea of any connection between them stems from the Fox films series.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: The death of Charles Xavier causes her to completely give up on helping mutants, whether they be good or bad. She decides to "screw them all" and steal enough to retire to an island somewhere.
  • Dark Action Girl: Though her powers don't offer any real advantage in a fight, she's a skilled martial artist who supplements her physical prowess with an arsenal of firearms.
  • Dating Catwoman: Her relationship with Forge.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Subverted. Her relationships with Destiny and others are used to humanize her.
  • The Dragon: Some adaptations have her as this to Magneto. She was also introduced as Apocalypse's Dragon in the X-Men Animated Series
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Her betraying the boss in charge is almost expected at this point, such as when she killed Mr. Sinister in a Batman Gambit to save Rogue's life.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Originally, she was an enemy to Ms Marvel, not the X-Men. In her first appearances, she was hinted to be an advance agent of some alien invasion, rather than a mutant, and possibly linked to the Dire Wraiths.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Destiny is one of very few people whom she genuinely loves. Sometimes, Rogue and Nightcrawler, too, when she's not becoming a horrible Evil Matriarch to them. Just see the quote above.
  • Evil All Along: Every time Mystique seems like she is going through a Heel–Face Turn, it will end like this. In one alternate future her name becomes the equivalent of Judas. Somehow she's just that good at faking it that people who know her full history still get taken in when she pretends to be reformed.
  • Evil Redhead: Her default body is a combination of blue skin and red hair. When she was once depowered, her human form was a redheaded woman.
  • Fantastic Racism: After she formally became an X-Men foe, she adopted a distinct disdain for humans, complete with usage of the mutant-created anti-human slur "Flatscan". This is why "Common Knowledge" portrays her as working alongside Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants. That said, Depending on the Writer, she sometimes evidences an equal disdain for her fellow mutants, since mutants are just as disturbed by her shapeshifting powers as humans are.
  • Fatal Flaw: Simply being unscrupulous and underhanded isn't enough to disqualify Mystique as a hero; if her personality was wired just a little differently she could be a hell of a Guile Hero, but unfortunately she's also a Sadist through and through. Even when her motives are geared towards helping mutants she still defaults to manipulation and violence as her go-to tactics, clearly enjoys them, and can't seem to help herself from indulging in petty acts of cruelty committed against everyone from her teammates to innocent passerby who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • Femme Fatale Spy: She is not above playing this role from time to time. Being a shapeshifter helps.
  • For the Evulz: Depending on the Writer, but in some stories, such as X-Men: Black, she's been shown using her powers to inconvenience and hurt people just because it amuses her to make them suffer.
  • Freudian Excuse: Like Magneto before her, writers have attempted to excuse Mystique's villainy by way of With Great Power Comes Great Insanity. Read the trope entry on that further below for specifics.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: In the Wolverine arc, "Get Mystique", she switches off her powers before loading up with heavy weaponry and going into the final battle wearing an ammo belt and a Slasher Smile. Since her clothes are a product of her powers, she's naked for the whole fight.
  • Gender Bender: While she's normally a woman, she can shapeshift into a man at will. In fact, her creator almost made her as Kurt's father with Destiny as the mother.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Her encounter with the high-order telepath Exodus ended so badly for her that she was briefly driven into schizophrenia, until Psylocke stabilized her mind.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Though she and her Brotherhood briefly flirted with this in their Freedom Force phase, it wasn't until recent years when she really started riding the revolving door, particularly after the X-Men movie reboot starting with X-Men: First Class which depicted Mystique in a near-unambiguously heroic role.
  • Joker Immunity: Mystique has been suffering from this in the last 5 years. No matter how many times she screws with them and how much Darker and Edgier and willing to kill the X-Men get, they always let Mystique escape.
  • Julius Beethoven da Vinci: With the reveal that Mystique's longtime lover Destiny was in fact the Irene Adler of Sherlock Holmes fame, it was hinted that the titular Sherlock may well have been Mystique herself, under yet another of her many aliases.
  • Karma Houdini: Related to her Joker Immunity above. Despite her long, long body count (which includes Ms. Marvel's psychiatrist Michael Barnett, her own son Graydon Creed and even Moira MacTaggert) and her general lack of anything resembling morals, she largely avoids any consequences for her crimes, with the worst thing she has endured in recent years being a Mind Rape attack courtesy of Exodus.
  • Kick Chick: In nearly every incarnation, Mystique has an abundance of martial arts skill, but great emphasis is put on the many ways she can contort herself just to plant a foot in an enemy's face. It helps that her costume (or lack thereof) is custom-made to show a lot of leg.
  • Kick the Dog: Many times, but the ultimate example is where she first impersonates the first Miss Marvel with her boyfriend, and then savagely beats him to death in a mess of Bloody Horror. And then smiles disturbingly, specifically pleased with the idea that he died thinking it was Carol who killed him.
    • Her relationship with her son Graydon Creed is also a noteworthy example, as she abused him so badly he became a fanatical Boomerang Bigot as an adult.
    • In her focus issue in X-Men: Black, she "saves" a scared mutant girl who has been imprisoned by Trask Industries... only so she can frame that same girl for Mystique's own murder of the human employees in the office where she was being held.
  • Magic Pants: Inversion. She shapeshifts fully clothed, and it's eventually revealed that she doesn't wear actual clothes, but shapeshifts them.
  • Mama Bear: Messing with her favorite kids can, Depending on the Writer, elicit a fierce protective wrath, as Sinister found out the hard way (he got better).
  • Manipulative Bitch: She frequently makes fake Heel Face Turns that turn out to be Batman Gambits to screw the X-Men over, and when she betrays them, she naturally shoots or beats the shit out of whichever X-Man she'd gotten especially close to while she was "good" (See Iceman. And Forge, twice.). Somehow they always fall for it, because she's just that good at deceiving and manipulating people.
  • Master of Disguise: Naturally, given her mutation. She's used it to become a master of spycraft.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Mystique doesn't naturally age since her shapeshifting cells are constantly renewing themselves, and the most difficult part of her relationship with Destiny was helplessly watching Irene grow old through the years. During the late 2000s she had a distinctly more pronounced one of these with Iceman of all people (though it was eventually revealed that she was just manipulating him).
  • Mister Seahorse: Inverted if you subscribe to the theory that she's Rogue's and/or Nightcrawler's FATHER.
  • My Beloved Smother: To Rogue in their earliest mother-daughter relationship. When Rogue left her to join X-Men because Rogue believed Xavier was the only person in the world who could help her control her powers where Mystique cannot, Mystique was not happy. Even after she reluctantly agreed to let Rogue stay with X-Men, she still continued to check in on Rogue from time to time. Then over the years, Mystique began to resent Xavier and the X-Men, believing that they had stolen one of the few special people in her life.
    • In a What If? story, Children in the Attic, she raises Nightcrawler as a single mom instead of dumping him. She raised him in a sheltered life in their house's attic, never allowed him to go out of the house because of his blue demonic appearance. When she found out her son fell in love with Rogue and the feelings are mutual, she is not very happy.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Whilst she's not a hero, it's a recurring issue for Mystique that her efforts to do good often go horribly wrong, due to her impulsive tendency to use manipulation and violence as her go-to methods. Most prominently, Mystique created the Days of Future Past Bad Future, when she tried to protect mutants by assassinating an outspoken anti-mutant presidential candidate.
  • Offing the Offspring: She killed her son Graydon Creed for his part in murdering Destiny's grandson.
  • Older Than They Look: She reveals that she's over 80 years old, but thanks to her powers she doesn't look older than 30. It is later revealed that she is older than even that, having been alive since "the dawn of the 20th century", and with the reveal that her longtime lover Destiny was in fact the historical Irene Adler, it is possible she could be up to 150 years old.
  • Painful Transformation: She explains at one point that shapeshifting hurts, as she is rearranging her own body after all. As if that didn't parallel Wolverine enough, she says shapeshifting into him hurts the most as she emulates his claws.
  • Personality Powers: A woman who could be pictured in the dictionary under 'manipulative' manifested the mutant ability to take on the form of any person she chooses. Amazingly, this became even more pronounced later down the line (in the mid to late 2000s), where after becoming more unstable and erratic she manifested the ability to form Shapeshifter Weapons out of her limbs at will. And as mentioned elsewhere, enduring a psychic attack made her succumb to Power Incontinence and shapeshift uncontrollably, the strongest sign yet that Mystique is a woman whose powers are irrevocably tied (for better or worse) to her personality.
  • Pet the Dog: Towards Rogue, and occasionally Nightcrawler, which, for some, softens her more "evil" moments.
    • She also lets a trans woman leave with enough gold to fund her transition surgery, as she sympathizes with her dysmorphia.
  • Psychic Block Defense: A downplayed example, as her mutation gives her a natural resistance to telepathy, but it's not strong enough to keep high-order telepaths like Exodus out of her head.
  • Really Gets Around: She has a long list of ex-husbands and an even longer list of people she has slept with. Her official stats page lists two sons (Kurt and Graydon) and two ex-husbands. Neither husband was the father of either child. And the one who could be considered as her true love without being manipulated by her is another bisexual woman, of all people, named Irene Adler, later known as Destiny. The reading of Xavier's will revealed that she was his wife at the time of the will's writing.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: In the movies, where her skin is not just blue but is rough and scaly like a reptile's skin. The comics briefly adapted this aspect of her, but it was just as quickly forgotten and in the comics she is usually just blue, not scaly.
  • Required Secondary Powers: She can copy the appearance of other people down to fingerprints, voice and retina patterns closely enough to pass biometric scanners. In addition to the Photographic Memory required to remember all this perfectly, she must have some kind of ESP to detect such things in the first place just from a brief encounter. She's certainly never shown scanning and studying the retinas of people she is going to copy.
    • It was shown in her side series that she requires a minimum of eight words to adequately mimic someone's voice. How this allows her to pick up speech idiosyncrasies is anyone's guess.
  • The Right of a Superior Species: During her Super Supremacist turns as a leader or member of the Brotherhood she has usually justified her acts of terrorism with this rhetoric, arguing that mutants are mankind's future and are therefore justified in any actions they take to seize power over the rest of humanity.
  • Rogues-Gallery Transplant: She was originally a Ms. Marvel villain and one of her deadliest enemies, before becoming more closely associated with the X-Men.
  • Shapeshifter Baggage: Defied, as it is explicitly stated that her mass remains the same regardless of the form she has taken, and the longer she maintains a form physically larger than her own the greater strains she feels. In recent years this has largely gone the way of an informed limitation, with fewer and fewer writers seeming to get the memo that she can't draw mass out of nowhere.
  • Shapeshifter Guilt Trip: She's not above pulling this card out in battle if she thinks it'll give her an edge. Wolverine even lampshades it in one of their fights, dryly asking Mystique if this is the part where she changes into all his old girlfriends to try and throw him off.
  • Shapeshifter Identity Crisis: In Ruins.
  • Shapeshifter Weapon: She can do this with some effort, but usually doesn't because she still has organs and needs to remember where they are. Instead, for example, she'll shift most of the muscles of her upper body into her right arm just as she delivers a punch, thereby increasing its power. She's also been known to hide guns inside herself. At one point she even gave herself two heads and four arms to fight on two fronts at once.
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: Mystique's does, which is why she just forms clothing out of her own body.
  • Shapeshifting Seducer: She has been known to use her shapeshifting for this purpose on occasion.
    • The "Bizarre Love Triangle" arc involves her efforts to seduce Gambit by such a method - first by inventing the false identity of "Foxx" and, when that fails, taking Rogue's form instead - specifically in order to get him to cheat on Rogue and thus prove to Rogue that he isn't good enough for her.
    • She transformed into different attractive women for Wolverine years earlier. The first time when she needed protection against Spiral and the second when she needed protection against Sabretooth. In a recent story arc it was revealed that she had in fact started using this tactic against Wolverine nearly a century ago.
  • Shapeshifting Squick: She often uses her ability to invoke rape by deception, in one case turning into a gorgeous young blonde that Wolverine considered so hot that he accepted her advances despite that he knew who she was. Later in the bedroom she turned into a copy of Jean Grey. One story in 2005 (Bizarre Love Triangle) has her try and do this to break up Rogue and Gambit, because she thinks he's not good enough for her daughter. She even turns into Rogue to try and succeed! And as noted above in Gender Bender, it's also possible for her to shapeshift into a man and impregnate another woman.
    • Wolverine notes after fighting he and Mystique's son from a possible future that he now can't risk having sex with anyone.
  • Skeletons in the Coat Closet: In her natural form she wears a belt of skulls.
  • Super Supremacist: As mentioned above, she developed into one of these after her Rogues-Gallery Transplant into an X-Men villain, and while she's since reverted to her more usual cynical and out-for-herself motivation after years of fruitless efforts to change the mutant status quo, this is usually a constant in adaptations featuring her, to the point where even the heroic Mystique of the later X-Men movies is at best a Good Is Not Nice mutant supremacist.
  • Supernaturally Young Parent: She doesn't look any older than Rogue, as her powers allows her to maintain a youthful look.
  • Technically Naked Shapeshifter: She usually forms clothing, including her trademark white dress with yellow skull-motif belt, out of herself when she changes form.
  • The Vamp: She is the absolute embodiment of this trope.
  • Token Evil Teammate: In her X-Factor days in the late 90s and in X-Men in mid-2000s.
  • Transgender Fetishization: One of the most prominent fanservice characters in comics, and her gender-bending powers are often fetishized and sexualized.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Mystique can actually hide weapons inside herself. In "Get Mystique" she pulls a 9mm Glock out of a pouch at the base of her spine and shoots Wolverine in the middle of the face; she is stark naked at the time.
  • Villainesses Want Heroes: She has had a thing for Forge, Iceman, and Wolverine at various points in time.
  • Villain Protagonist: Like Sabretooth, she briefly had her own series.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Mystique's morphing ability allows her to morph into anyone/anything (including a wooden chair and a giant dragon on separate occasions), but she retains her "default mode" mass (her larger transformations would, well, tear like a hot-air balloon filled with blood if damaged... which is what happened to her as Bishop in Uncanny X-Men #301).
  • Wild Card: There's some contention of whether she belongs here or in Heel–Face Revolving Door, i.e. whether she's actually changing sides as the plot demands or just allying herself with whoever's convenient. Not that most of them are under any illusions.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Overlaps with Retcon, as it has been suggested in recent years that Mystique's volatile personality and psychotic behavior is caused by her brain constantly shifting structure. After enduring a psychic attack by Exodus, this supposed instability caused her to degenerate into outright schizophrenia. Psylocke used her psychic blade to stabilize her but it's unclear how long it'll last. In Ruins this is much more pronounced, as she uncontrollably shapeshifts into every person around her believing she's actually absorbing their identities.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Originally one of these, to the point that she threw her own infant son to his death to save her own skin and was later willing to risk baby Hope's life during Messiah Complex. Depending on the Writer, this can swing the other way into...
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: When written by sympathetic writers, this becomes one of her redeeming qualities.

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