Although Thomas Kinkade passed away in 2012, his legacy lives on at Thomas Kinkade Studios, which partnered with Marvel Comics in 2021 to release an art print of a baseball game played by the original X-Men lineup, as well than a few more obscure mutant buddies. The painting recently resurfaced thanks to a viral tweet from ComicBook.com editor Jamie Lovettand since then, we here at Polygon have been preoccupied with identifying all the cameos and Easter eggs in this kitschy masterpiece.
First, let’s discuss the X-Men baseball phenomenon. A little like Duskthe vampire familythe X-Men often play baseball using the full range of their superpowers; they are also known to play basketball and American football. Sports powered by mutants are collectively referred to as “mutant ball” by the characters.
That said, Kinkade Studios’ description of this painting clarifies that it represents one of the rare times when the X-Men play baseball. without using their powers. Not unknown, but not necessarily the norm. Isn’t that the norm either? Performing in their full superhero outfits. Additionally, Iceman and Colossus are visibly using their powers. Anyway, here’s the official description:
In this scene, Professor Xavier has brought the superheroes together to compete in a friendly baseball game to strengthen their teamwork. The golden rule of this game is: “Play without using your superhero powers”. As Cyclops hurls at his girlfriend Jean Grey, Professor X sits quietly at the mansion, acting as referee using his telepathic ability. Which team will win the match, or are the X-Men even counting the score?
Apparently Xavier is allowed to use his abilities, but no one else is. (It looks like him.) If you’re having trouble spotting Professor X, cast your eyes over the balcony of the X-Mansion; it’s him in his chair, with a woman in red beside him who I assume is Moira Mactaggert.
Most of the other actors here are easy to identify, despite the fact that their costumes all belong to different time periods. As the description states, we see Scott Summers, aka Cyclops, introduce Jean Grey, aka Marvel Girl. Jean’s team consists of Beast (the runner on first base), Wolverine (the one on second base – funny enough that Logan is on Jean’s team but not Scott), and Rogue (on third base). Scott’s teammates are Colossus (catcher), Shadowcat (first base), Storm (second base), Jubilee (shortstop), and Iceman (third base).
The outfield poses a bit of a challenge. The most obvious character here is Banshee in right field, whose outfit is easily recognizable. But what about the center and left fielders? The centre-back has long blonde hair and a cocked hip; it could be Magik. The left fielder is standing near Lockheed, the little purple dragon perched on the stone wall, but that doesn’t provide much clue as to their identity (Lockheed belongs to Kitty, although he was the pet of Iliana in The New Mutants movie adaptation). My colleague Susana Polo guessed Cypher, who has short, fair hair but seems like a very random choice.
Then there are the mutants who don’t participate in the game. Warren Worthington III is high up in the sky, working his wings. Someone is piloting the Blackbird; maybe it’s the missing Kurt Wagner? There is also another flying creature on the right side of the sky, but it seems to be an ordinary bird. (Or it’s Sauron.)
Have we forgotten anyone? You can zoom in more on the painting yourself at thomaskinkade.com. I guess you can buy it too if that’s your thing.