|First appearance||X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills (Nov. 1982)|
|Team affiliations||Weapon X, formerly Stryker's Crusade and the Purifiers|
The Reverend William Stryker is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. A minister and former sergeant with a strong hatred for mutants, he is usually depicted as an enemy of the X-Men. He is also the father of Jason Stryker.
The character has appeared in the X-Men film series, portrayed by Brian Cox in X2 (2003), Danny Huston in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), and Josh Helman in X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) and X-Men: Apocalypse (2016). In 2009, William Stryker was ranked by IGN’s as the 70th-greatest comic book villain of all time.
Created by writer Chris Claremont and artist Brent Anderson, William Stryker first appeared in the 1982 graphic novel X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills. His character was modeled after Jerry Falwell.
The Reverend William Stryker is a religious fanatic with a military history. Characterized by his unequivocal hatred of mutants, Stryker's hatred goes so far as to kill his own wife Marcy Stryker and their mutant son immediately after birth in Nevada. Crazed and outraged, Stryker then makes a suicide attempt. As time passes, he is convinced that Satan has a plot to destroy humankind by corrupting prenatal souls, the result of this corruption being mutants. Additionally, Stryker eventually comes to see his mutant son's birth as a sign from God, directing him to his true calling: ensuring the eradication of all mutants.
Driven by this conviction, Stryker then becomes a popular but controversial preacher and televangelist. While his followers, including a secret paramilitary Purifiers group, commit hate crimes against mutants, Stryker arranges to have Professor Xavier kidnapped, brainwashed, and attached to a brainpower machine that will kill all living mutants. In order to stop this scheme, the X-Men are forced to join forces with Magneto. His bigotry's extent becomes obvious when he attempts to kill Kitty Pryde in front of a television audience resulting in a NYPD officer shooting him.
Stryker appeared in the X-Treme X-Men storyline (as he was assumed forgotten in-universe). This time, it was revealed that Stryker had been serving a prison sentence as a result of the events of his previous actions. Lady Deathstrike makes way onto the airplane where Stryker was being transferred. Once there, his ally kills his guards and rescues him, then it is revealed that the two are lovers, and he immediately begins a crusade against the X-Men, focusing on Wolverine, Cannonball, the X-Treme X-Men team and Shadowcat against whom he apparently keeps a grudge. Stryker sent a group of his followers against several of the X-Men, and kidnapped Pryde. Along the way, Kitty convinced Stryker that mutants were not an abomination, and he seemed to turn over a new leaf as he merged with the sentient artificial intelligence calling itself Reverend Paul and put inside a containment tube.
However, Stryker returns as a major player at the start of the 2005 "Decimation" storyline, following the "House of M" storyline, in which he deemed the mutant population's sudden massive reduction in numbers as a sign of God, saying "[God] made the first step and now we have to take the next", basically rallying for genocide on TV. He was featured mostly in New X-Men as the main villain, but also appeared in other comics set during this time frame. With the Xavier Institute's student Icarus's help, he caused a bus to explode, killing about one quarter of the academy's de-powered students. Then he planned Wallflower's assassination, ordering one of his snipers to shoot Wallflower in the head. He next tried to kill Dust, though it was actually X-23. The deaths of Wallflower and Dust were Stryker's prime objectives, as he had been informed by Nimrod that both females would destroy his army. Stryker finally attacked the institute with the Purifiers, killing Quill, leaving Onyxx and Cannonball critically wounded, and hurting Bishop, Emma Frost and other students. After the Purifiers were defeated, Stryker was killed by Elixir, Wallflower's enraged boyfriend who causes catastrophic damage to Stryker's brain via a tumor's rapid growth.
Bastion resurrected Stryker with a Technarch to join Bastion's new Purifiers. Bastion revealed Stryker has the second highest number of mutant kills as the Purifiers' founder, and is surpassed only by the Sentinels' creator Bolivar Trask.
Bastion charges Stryker to locate Hope Summers and Cable, following the two's return from the future in the "Second Coming" event. His Purifiers, in conjunction with Cameron Hodge's Right footsoldiers, engage the X-Men and New Mutants. The Purifiers take out Magik with a weaponized ritual, Illyana Rasputin is abducted by demons. They also disrupt Nightcrawler's teleportation with a sonic attack, leading to disorientation. The battle culminates when Wolverine orders Archangel to take out Stryker, shifting into the Death persona and slices Stryker in half at the waist via wings.
It is later revealed that Stryker did not actually murder his son Jason Stryker, and had in fact raised the boy in secret, alleviating his son's apparently debilitating mutation with the help of A.I.M. After Stryker's death, Jason continues his father's work by joining the Purifiers.
During the "Weapons of Mutant Destruction" storyline, Stryker made his presence known (after being restored to life as a cyborg) and has formed the Weapon X Project's latest incarnation with some humans' help that he swayed to his side like Dr. Aliana Alba. He sets his sights on having his scientists work on Adamantium cyborgs to eradicate mankind. In order to refine these Adamantium cyborgs, Stryker has the Weapon X Project target Old Man Logan, Sabretooth, Warpath, Domino and Lady Deathstrike because these mutants have special abilities within Weapon X's interest. After the Adamantium cyborgs apprehend Lady Deathstrike to harvest genetic material for the Weapon X Project to use for their Adamantium Cyborgs, Old Man Logan and Sabretooth evade the Adamantium cyborgs as Stryker and the Weapon X Project were able to get their tissue samples. In addition, Stryker also has the Adamantium cyborgs target Amadeus Cho's Hulk form for a blood sample. When the Hulk and the mutants on Old Man Logan's side raid the Weapon X Project's base and frees Lady Deathstrike and Warpath, Stryker sets the base to self-destruct where its employees were killed in the process. It was also shown that Stryker was starting a project that involves the Hulk's blood that is part of ingredients for Mutant/Hulk hybrids. Following some further investigations, Old Man Logan's group and the Hulk raided the Weapon X Project's central command. The Hulk did not want Old Man Logan, Sabretooth and Lady Deathstrike to kill him. As Old Man Logan, Sabretooth, and Lady Deathstrike disputed with the Hulk, Stryker took the opportunity to get away as the group soon join the fight against Bobby Andrews's mutated H-Beta form. As the Hulk fights H-Beta and then the H-Alpha after it killed H-Beta, Stryker and Dr. Alba escaped in their helicopter upon them losing control of H-Alpha.
In the alternate timeline seen in the 2005 Age of Apocalypse storyline, William Stryker was raised by a preacher father who cared for him and other children from their town after most were slaughtered by mutants. However, in a horrible stroke of irony his father was later killed by other surviving humans. As such he had to live in hiding, learning to depend on the kindness of both humans and mutants, making this version a far more tolerant person than his 616 universe counterpart. He takes the Prophet guise and begins to avenge humanity along with X-Terminated. He breaks into the apartment of Krakken, an engineer who built ovens to incinerate humans, and murders him but not his family. Before killing Krakken, Prophet reveals he previously destroyed one of Krakken's eyes and then finished the job by cutting off his head. William studies the Sentinels and mutants hunt of humans in order to refine his skills in taking them down. He says he has learned their weaknesses and despite their powers, his will and skill is more powerful. With ease, Prophet makes his way up an attacking Sentinel, cuts into its head and flips away as the robot is destroyed from the damage. He says his talents were obtained by watching the slaughter of thousands and his victories honor them. As Weapon X leads his final attack on the last surviving City of Men, Prophet allows them to escape by throwing an explosive at Weapon X. He then leads his team out of the city. Once clear the city is destroyed by Weapon X.
The Ultimate Marvel iteration is an Admiral named William Stryker Sr., the leader of the anti-mutant conspiracy within the U.S. Government, and also linked to the Legacy Virus's creation before presumably killing himself. Stryker's views on mutants were also passed onto his son.
The Ultimate version of William Stryker Jr. was a reverend. Living in Manhattan with his wife Kate Stryker and son John Stryker, he suffered a great tragedy when his family was killed when the "Ultimatum Wave" struck New York. William miraculously survived, but could not come to grips with his grief. He attempted to lead a spiritual congregation of survivors at a special tent set up in Central Park, but was unable to successfully conduct his service. Stryker met a group of men who knew that the mutant Magneto was responsible for the Ultimatum Wave and encouraged his rapidly-growing hatred of all mutants. They provided him with armaments and weaponry acquired from a cache of destroyed Sentinels and Stryker became the leader of an anti-mutant militia. Stryker led the Purifier forces in an attack on the Xavier Mansion during the Ultimatum Wave and emerged as the only survivor after the reformed Weapon X Team led by Rogue managed to slaughter all the Purifiers present except himself. Stryker escaped and began hallucinating visions of his deceased abusive father who egged on his hatred of mutants and religious fervor until he was ready to once again strike back against the mutants. After the reveal that mutants were the creation of human experimentation, Stryker orchestrated a massive attack in Times Square and began rounding up mutants to force them to repent under punishment of death. The X-Men appeared but were betrayed by Rogue who had made a deal with Stryker to make her normal beforehand in exchange for her services. During the struggle, the Shroud killed him by phasing an arm through his abdomen. With his last breath, he manipulated a wave of Nimrod Sentinels to kill every mutant in the country. While the numerous waves of Nimrods started hunting mutants around the whole country, others had the command to build a giant Sentinel, where Stryker's mind was transferred. With his new body, Stryker led an assault against Kitty Pryde's team of mutants before Pryde managed to damage Stryker's machine body enough to destroy him permanently.
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