Anatomically speaking, Warren Worthington III/Angel seems fairly straightforward on the spectrum of weird X-Men mutants. Dummy mutated into a sentient gas with no anatomy at all, and Mystique’s anatomy seems to be always in flux. But Angel’s body, with its prominently featured wings, seems quite tame in comparison.
Still, Angel has been through a lot of physical changes throughout the years, and has used his body in some fairly unexpected ways. Here’s a look at five of the weirder aspects of his physiology.
No discussion of Angel’s body could be complete without mentioning his wings. They are fairly hard to miss, after all. Warren’s wings have undergone some drastic changes throughout the decades. He started with beautiful, feathered white wings, which emerged during his adolescence and helped him earn his superhero moniker. As a fire raged through his dorm, Warren raided the school’s drama costumes to make himself appear as a heavenly savior so as to hide his wings from those who fear and hated mutants. The best option to make his weird, new body acceptable was to impersonate a celestial being.
Every now and then angels do fall, and Warren is no different. Later in his life those very wings were destroyed by a Marauder, Harpoon, leaving Angel’s body beaten, broken and suffering from gangrene. Against his wishes, his wings were amputated from his body and replaced with metallic monstrosities by Apocalypse, transforming Angel into Archangel, the Horseman of Death. As Archangel, his wings take on much more offensive capability than his natural ones. These metallic wings are bladed and offer him the ability to cut through just about anything and shoot projectile feather-blades with devastating accuracy.
With all that flying around, one would think that Angel would own an extensive collection of goggles, glasses and visors to keep those peepers protected. His costumes have featured masks and other decorative adornments around his eyes, but where is this guy’s PPE? Angel’s aerial abilities are quite impressive as he can fly under his own power for up to half a day, but the air is riddled with all sorts of particulate matter, and tiniest mote of dust in an eye can render even the most powerful heroes useless. On top of this, how does all that high speed air pressure not simply liquify his eyeballs?
It’s part of his mutation. With his ability to fly as high above sea level as the peak of Mount Everest, his body allows for some more avian adaptations than just his wings. Much like a bird, Warren’s eyes can withstand some truly uncanny circumstances. They can hold up against high speed wind and decreased air pressure, and seem to be able to block out particles as well as withstand harsh rays of unfiltered sunshine. All of which would render your average human blind, but it is becoming plain to see that if Warren Worthington III is anything, he’s certainly not average.
We have established that Angel can fly, and that doing so won’t completely debilitate one of the five major senses. His eyes can withstand a whole lot, and his wings have gone through drastic changes. The next burning question is: How does a creature as non-aerodynamic as a full grown six foot tall, 150 pound man actually fly?
To start with, Angel has more in common with a pigeon than he does with his heavenly namesake, because he has hollow bones which drop his body weight below that of a man of his height and build. His wings actually possess super strength, allowing him to carry a bit more than three and a third times his own body weight — that’s up to 500 pounds! When Angel flaps, he must do so with a mighty force to provide enough lift for his body plus the equivalent weight of five porcelain toilets. The skeletal structure of his wings is also incredibly flexible. This allows him to hide his wings when he wants to, but more importantly, gives him the capacity to be able to ride air currents with ease as his natural wings adjust for minute changes without snapping like twigs under the constant fluctuations.
Consistently changing appearances in X-Men are nothing new. Look at Hank McCoy, for example. He started off as an acrobatic man with large feet, and over time has gone from furry and grey, to fuzzy and blue, to a lionesque appearance, to that of a hairless cat. Warren too has had lots of transformations, but none more iconic than the shifting tone of his skin.
Angel began his crime fighting career as a Caucasian man who just so happened to have wings. When Apocalpyse used his abilities to remake Warren as the Horseman of Death, not only was he adorned with shiny and deadly metallic wings, but his skin became blue hue. Presumably the intent with this was to align Warren’s appearance more with that of his new posse. After all, a good team can’t come together without some kind of unifying element. As the blue-skinned Archangel, Warren became instantly and easily identifiable as one of En Sabah Nur’s closest warriors.
It remains to be seen if Angel’s blood skews closer to avian than human, but one thing his can do is heal.
Despite being called Angel, Warren’s ability to heal does not come from any divine source. In fact, like so many Marvel superheroes, his healing ability is rooted in trauma. During a bout with Black Tom Cassidy, the villain defeated the X-Men with a swatch of weird plant-based tentacles. This neutralized all of the X-Men’s powers, except for Angel’s. His body’s reaction was to revert his blue skin tone back to that of his birth, and this somehow also initiated a secondary mutation in the form of a healing factor. One of the cooler elements of Warren’s healing factor is that it does not only apply to him. His blood can be used to heal others. In fact, it is this very ability that lead to his relationship with Husk.
Taken all together, these weird elements of Angel’s anatomy add up to a hero who is sometimes troubled, sometimes villainous, sometimes self-sacrificing but always at the top of his game.
While Warren Worthington III/Angel might not be the most complicated member of the X-Men, there are a lot of interesting facts about his physiology.