Though 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, plus a few more obscure mutant friends. . The painting has recently resurfaced thanks to a viral tweet from ComicBook.com editor Jamie Lovettand since then, here at Polygon, we’ve been identifying all the cameos and Easter eggs in this kitschy masterpiece.
First of all, let’s discuss the X-Men baseball phenomenon. Like Twilightvampire family, the X-Men often play baseball using the full range of their superpowers; they are also known to play basketball and American football. Mutant powered sports are collectively referred to as “mutant ball” by the characters.
That said, Kinkade Studios’ description of this painting indicates that it depicts one of the rare moments when the X-Men play baseball. without use their powers. Not unheard of, but not necessarily the norm. Not even the norm? Play in their full superhero outfits. Furthermore, Iceman and Colossus are: visible use their powers. Anyway, here’s the official description:
In this scene, Professor Xavier has gathered the superheroes to compete in a friendly game of baseball to further build their teamwork. The golden rule of this game is: “Play without using your superhero powers.” While Cyclops throws at his girlfriend Jean Grey, Professor X sits quietly at the mansion and acts as a referee with his telepathic ability. Which side will win the game, or will the X-Men even keep the score?
Apparently Xavier is allowed to use his abilities, but no one else. (That sounds like him.) If you’re having trouble spotting Professor X, look up at the balcony of the X-Mansion; that’s him in his chair, with a woman in red by his side who I’m guessing is Moira Mactaggert.
Most of the rest of the cast here are easy to identify, despite the fact that their costumes are all from different time periods. As the description implies, we see Scott Summers, aka Cyclops, pitching against Jean Grey, aka Marvel Girl. Jean’s team consists of Beast (the runner on first base), Wolverine (the one on second base – kinda funny that Logan is on Jean’s team, but Scott isn’t), and Rogue (on third base). Scott’s teammates are Colossus (the 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 midfielder has long blond hair and a tense hip; that could be Magik. The left fielder is close to Lockheed, the little purple dragon sitting on the stone wall, but that doesn’t really give a clue to their identities (Lockheed belongs to Kitty, although he was Ilyana’s pet in The new mutants filming). My colleague Susana Polo recommended Cypher, who has short, light hair but seems like a very random choice.
Then there are the mutants that don’t participate in the game. Warren Worthington III is far in the air training his wings. Someone is flying the Blackbird; maybe it’s the conspicuously absent Kurt Wagner? There is also another flying creature on the right side of the sky, but it appears to be an ordinary bird. (Or it’s Sauron.)
Did we miss someone? You can zoom in on the painting yourself at thomaskinkade.com. I think you can buy it too if that’s your thing.