The untold truth of The Juggernaut

In Deadpool 2, Deadpool reveals that he's a Juggernaut fan. Despite the latter's interest in nothing but destruction and chaos, the titular anti-hero can't stop talking about how cool the helmeted giant is. Of course, as superheroes go, Deadpool is also pretty far into destruction and chaos. Now that we've all seen the Juggernaut onscreen, as well as a pretty perfect depiction of what he's capable of, you may be wondering what his deal is.

In the movie, the Juggernaut briefly mentions having a psychic brother in a wheelchair, and even if you've never read a comic, it's probably not hard to guess that he's talking about the X-Men's leader Charles Xavier, a.k.a. Professor X (especially since Deadpool rides around in that same wheelchair earlier in the movie).

So what's the Juggernaut's story? Despite having been around for more than 50 years, he's not the most well-known supervillain. Here's a look at the history he's compiled, and his place in the X-Men comics and movies since his arrival in 1965. This is the untold truth of Juggernaut.

Professor X's stepbrother

In Uncanny X-Men #12, Professor Xavier fills the X-Men in on the Juggernaut's origin. Charles Xavier was a smart and sensitive young boy. He had an older stepbrother named Cain Marko, however, who was a boor and a bully. They were rivals their whole lives, although Xavier was able to get the upper hand once his psychic powers manifested. As young adults, the two were overseas (originally because they were fighting in the Korean War, although that got left out of later versions) and happened upon a cave that contained "the sacred, lost Temple of Cyttorak." Cain grabbed a ruby from a strange-looking statue, and it transformed him into the unstoppable behemoth known as the Juggernaut.

The cave collapsed with Xavier barely escaping, and years later, Marko hunted down his hated stepbrother to destroy him. The Juggernaut's distinctive helmet makes him immune to Professor X's psychic powers, and that first battle with the X-Men, like many that followed, revolved around the X-Men maneuvering the Juggernaut into a position where they could get his helmet off, enabling Xavier to lay down the psychic whammy.

Powered by the Demon Cyttorak

Those early stories weren't very interested in Cyttorak, but eventually, he was revealed to be a demon who had once been worshipped as a god on Earth before being banished to a dimension where time stands still. First appearing in Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #44, he's a being of destruction and chaos, which is why he chooses destruction-prone Earthly avatars (of which Cain Marko was not the first) and grants them the power to cause untold devastation in his name.

In Amazing X-Men Vol. 2 #15-19, artist Jorge Fornes established Cyttorak's definitive look by making him a gigantic inhuman version of the Juggernaut himself. Whereas the Juggernaut traditionally wears red armor with a large domed helmet, Cyttorak is a red creature with a large domed head. By giving shape to the character and his motivations, later stories retroactively introduce greater intention to the Juggernaut's early stories, where his behavior had previously seemed driven solely by impulse. Cain Marko's actions were chaotic, but they were exactly as chaotic as Cyttorak wanted them to be.

Best friends with Black Tom Cassidy

In Uncanny X-Man #101, the Juggernaut begins a long-running villainous partnership with the Irish florokinetic Black Tom Cassidy. In the first story, their alliance really only existed to justify the Juggernaut's surprising presence in Cassidy Keep, the Irish castle belonging the family of Black Tom and his cousin Sean Cassidy, the X-Man known as Banshee. 

Black Tom and the Juggernaut remained close allies for years, however. It's a standard sort of supervillain partnership: Black Tom has plans and schemes, while the Juggernaut has the muscle to carry them out. Black Tom favors florid speech (pun intended) and has the demeanor of a gregarious, talkative villain, while the Juggernaut just tells you he's going to destroy you and then does his best to follow through.

The two were partners for so long that it became common among X-Men fans to view them as a subtextual romantic couple, although this never became canon in the comics, and has fallen by the wayside with end of their partnership in more recent years.

Not just an X-Men villain

More than most X-Men villains, the Juggernaut expanded his scope to threaten just about any Marvel hero. Despite his familial connection to Professor X, not being a mutant himself makes the Juggernaut easy to separate from the X-mythology. Furthermore, a huge guy who smashes through walls and can't be stopped by any known force is a useful sort of all-purpose villain to have around.

He met Doctor Strange in 1969's Doctor Strange #182. Gaining his powers from a demonic artifact made him a natural Strange villain, and as noted above, it was in a Doctor Strange story that Cyttorak first appeared on panel. While the X-Men were taking a break from new stories in the early 1970s, the Juggernaut fought the newly solo (and newly blue) Beast in Amazing Adventures #16, as well as facing Marvel's other famous unstoppable behemoth in The Incredible Hulk #172. The Juggernaut would also fight Thor several times, most notably in Thor #411–412.

The Juggernaut's greatest battle with a non-mutant superhero, however, might also have been the single best story he ever appeared in.

Spider-Man battles the Juggernaut

The Juggernaut has faced the X-Men many times, but well-read comics fans will agree that one of the very best Juggernaut stories doesn't feature the X-Men at all. That story is "Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut," from Amazing Spider-Man #229 and 230. Juggernaut arrives in New York City in search of the psychic Madame Web, because he and Black Tom think her powers might give them an upper hand over the X-Men. Spider-Man fails to prevent the Juggernaut from reaching Web, and after she's sent to the hospital, he tracks down the lumbering behemoth and makes a last-ditch effort to defeat him.

It works so well because stopping the unstoppable is what Spider-Man does. One of his most important traits is his unwillingness to give up, no matter how many times he fails or how hopeless he feels. This makes the Juggernaut a great enemy, because he's basically the human equivalent of the giant hunk of machinery that Spider-Man struggles to lift in "The Final Chapter" from Amazing Spider-Man #33 — often discussed as the greatest Spider-Man story ever.

Bar fight with Colossus

One of the Juggernaut's other most memorable appearances during the '80s was in Uncanny X-Men #183, which takes place in the aftermath of the original Secret Wars crossover. On Battleworld, where that crossover was set, Colossus fell in love with an alien woman who died tragically. When he returns to Earth with the other adult X-Men, he tells Kitty Pryde about this encounter, which breaks her heart because of her own feelings for Colossus. Wolverine, who's always been protective of Kitty, decides to take Colossus out to a bar, get him drunk, and beat him up. 

He's spared the trouble, however, by the coincidental appearance of an out-of-costume Cain Marko. Wolverine manipulates the two into fighting, and then he and Nightcrawler stand back and watch as the two super-strong giants have one of the greatest barroom brawls of all time. The entire establishment is destroyed in the fight, although the Juggernaut surprises everyone by donating a massive roll of cash to fund its reconstruction. He takes off, Colossus learns his lesson, and Wolverine is satisfied.

An Unstoppable X-Men

During Chuck Austin's run as X-Men writer, Black Tom Cassidy came up with a plan for the Juggernaut to manipulate his stepbrother into letting him join the X-Men so he could destroy the team from within. Once he started residing at the Xavier School, however, the Juggernaut found that he was making friends and finding a place to belong for the first time. In particular he befriended a young mutant known as Squid Boy — and when Black Tom killed Squid Boy, that was the final straw for their longstanding partnership. The Juggernaut became a true ally to the X-Men, and stayed on the team for years.

Inevitably, thanks to the nature of superhero comics storytelling, Juggernaut would return to supervillainy. Still, his time in the X-Men served to deepen his character and show that despite being a lifelong bully and a hardened criminal, he's still a human being with emotions, and not beyond redemption.

X-Men: The Last Stand

The Juggernaut made his cinematic debut in 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand, the third film in the X-Men series. With a 58 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Last Stand is commonly regarded as a bit of a mess, partly because it introduces a ton of characters from the comics without taking the time to provide any backstory or character development. The Juggernaut, played by Vinnie Jones, particularly suffers from this problem, as they don't even bother to make him Xavier's stepbrother. They also simplify things by making him a mutant, rather than empowered by a mystical ruby, which would be a weird fit for the X-movie universe.

However, the Juggernaut does get one truly memorable scene, chasing Kitty Pryde through a large building, with her mutant powers enabling her to pass through the walls while he simply smashes through them as he goes. It's a fun bit that fits the characters, but overall this was still a disappointing adaptation.

Fear Itself

Marvel's 2011 crossover story Fear Itself, created by Matt Fraction and Stuart Immonen, featured seven mystical evil hammers created by the Asgardian God of Fear known as the Serpent. Each of those hammers ends up in the hands of a Marvel villain or hero who then becomes an avatar of the Serpent. The Juggernaut receives one such hammer and becomes Kuurth, the Breaker of Stone. While most of these characters go back to their usual selves after the story, it messed things up for the Juggernaut.

Cyttorak didn't like his champion being empowered by another god, and was convinced by the X-Man known as Magik to remove his power from Cain Marko. Magik meant to become the new Juggernaut herself, but Cyttorak instead chose her brother Colossus and gave him the Juggernaut powers, on top of his own metal skin and super-strength. When the crossover ended, Colossus remained the Juggernaut and Marko was left more or less a normal man (although still a huge muscular one).

Reconnecting with Cyttorak

Keeping Colossus as the Juggernaut made for some interesting stories for a while, but the looping nature of superhero comics storytelling meant that Cain Marko would eventually return to the role. That happened in a story aptly titled "The Once and Future Juggernaut," which ran through Amazing X-Men Vol. 2 #15-19, written by Chris Yost and drawn by Jorge Fornes. 

After Colossus rid himself of the Juggernaut powers with Magik's help, Cyttorak psychically called recent and potential Juggernauts, including Colossus, Magik, and Cain Marko, to his temple. The X-Men villain called the Living Monolith, who grows to giant size when he absorbs sufficient energy, briefly assumed Cyttorak's power and became an unthinkably huge Juggernaut. Colossus, against the wishes of his sister Magik and the other X-Men, demanded that Cyttorak give him back the power, but the demon gave it to Cain Marko again, making him the most powerful Juggernaut he's ever been.

Deadpool 2

The Juggernaut's appearance in Deadpool 2 wasn't advertised, so his arrival could be a surprise, but at this point the word is out. There's a lot of setup about a monster in the basement of the mutant prison called the Ice Box before a truly massive Juggernaut emerges to become an ally to Russell, the troubled mutant teen at the center of the film's plot. This Juggernaut is an entirely digital creation (credited as "himself," but screenwriter Rhett Reese revealed that he's played by Ryan Reynolds), which enables him to embody the absurd proportions of the comic book version of the character in a way that Vinnie Jones never could. He also gets to have a massively over-the-top fight with his old comics rival, Colossus.

Colossus, Negasonic Teenage Warhead, and Yukio manage to knock out the Juggernaut at the end of the film, but he's seen stirring as the movie ends, and his return for future sequels seems inevitable. After all, he's the Juggernaut, and no force can stop him.