Although Thomas Kinkade died in 2012, his legacy lives on at Thomas Kinkade Studios, which partnered with Marvel Comics back in 2021 to release an art print of a baseball game played by the original X-Men lineup, plus a few more obscure mutant pals. The painting recently resurfaced thanks to a viral tweet from ComicBook.com editor Jamie Lovett, and since then, we here at Polygon have been preoccupied with identifying all of the cameos and Easter eggs in this kitsch masterpiece.
First things first: Let’s discuss the phenomenon of X-Men baseball. Much like Twilight’s vampire family, the X-Men often play baseball while using the full range of their superpowers; they’ve also been known to play basketball and American football. Mutant-powered sports are collectively referred to as “mutant ball” by the characters.
All that said, Kinkade Studios’ description of this painting specifies that it depicts one of the rare moments when the X-Men are playing baseball without using their powers. Not unheard of, but not necessarily the norm. Also not the norm? Playing in their full superhero outfits. Furthermore, Iceman and Colossus are visibly using their powers. Anyway, here’s the official description:
In this scene, Professor Xavier has gathered the Super Heroes to square off against each other in a friendly baseball game to build their teamwork further. The Golden Rule of this game is, “Play without the use of your Super Hero powers.” As Cyclops pitches to his girlfriend Jean Grey, Professor X sits quietly at the mansion, acting as umpire using his telepathic ability. Which side will win the game, or are the X-Men even keeping score?
Apparently, Xavier is allowed to use his abilities, but nobody else is. (That does sound like him.) If you’re having trouble spotting Professor X, cast your eyes up to the balcony of the X-Mansion; that’s him in his chair, with a woman in red at his side who I’m guessing is Moira Mactaggert.
Most of the rest of the cast here is easy to identify, despite the fact that their costumes are all from different time periods. As the description states, we see Scott Summers, akaCyclops pitching to Jean Grey, aka Marvel Girl. Jean’s team is comprised of Beast (the runner on first base), Wolverine (the one on second base — quite amusing that Logan’s 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 center fielder has long blond hair and a cocked hip; that could be Magik. The left fielder is standing close to Lockheed, the small purple dragon perched on the stone wall, but that doesn’t provide much of a clue as to their identity (Lockheed belongs to Kitty, although he was Ilyana’s pet in The New Mutants film adaptation). My colleague Susana Polo guessed Cypher, who does have short, light hair but seems like a very random choice.
Then there are the mutants who aren’t taking part in the game. Warren Worthington III is way up in the sky, giving his wings a workout. Somebody is flying the Blackbird; maybe it’s the conspicuously absent Kurt Wagner? There’s another flying creature on the right side of the sky as well, but it appears to be a regular bird. (Or it’s Sauron.)
Did we miss anybody? You can zoom in further on the painting yourself at thomaskinkade.com. I guess you can also buy it if that’s your thing.