- "Just the thought of wiping the floor with those Mavericks makes my trigger finger itch!"
- ―Axl, Mega Man X8
Axl (アクセル Akuseru) is a playable character and the tritagonist of the Mega Man X series. He is a prototype of the new generation Reploids with the unique ability to mimic the external and internal characteristics of anyone he encounters. Axl has held important roles in two of the games he has appeared in so far, effectively making him the third playable protagonist of the Mega Man X series alongside Mega Man X and Zero.
Axl appears as a teenager with green eyes, an X-shaped scar on his face and spiky auburn hair that sprouts outward rather than flow down. His basic armor design is somewhat similar to X with a black sheen (or indigo sheen in X7) featuring red accents. His shoulder guards are pointed and his legs feature small booster-like compartments. Jutting from his upper back are two long, white retractable "wings." His helmet design, when viewed from topside, resembles an upside down 'A' with a circular camera-like lens in the center.
Axl is a teenager-like Reploid who is very cocky and has a sassy sense of humor. Although he can be very whiny when there is nothing to do, which can get on X and Zero's nerves, Axl is kind-hearted and always cares about his friends, whether they be old Red Alert allies or the Maverick Hunters. He often brags about how he is one of the best Hunters, and this can get him into trouble. He may be immature and naive, but he has his heart in the right place and still tries his best to fight for justice.
Axl has a sort of fondness for battle and can be quite ruthless, putting him in direct contrast with the more pacifistic X. During his days in Red Alert he would gun down targets with no hesitation and proved to be a useful assassin to the syndicate, even carrying over some of his previous mercilessness to his time as a Maveick Hunter. At first he was easily influenced by those around him, blindly following Red Alert at the beginning of Mega Man X7, but he later developed a moral compass and started making choices of his own. This started when he decided to help the Maverick Hunters and do what's right in Mega Man X7, and later peaked when he was unaffected by Lumine's discouraging remarks during their final confrontation in Mega Man X8, encouraging X and Zero to ignore him.
In Axl's debut, he was a member of the bounty hunter/vigilante syndicate, Red Alert. One of his missions under Red Alert had him attacking the base of a suspected Maverick and then kill them. He managed to accomplish this by killing the suspect's second-in-command, and then masqueraded as him to let down the Maverick's defenses before shooting him in the back and stealing a briefcase that he was protecting. However, after questioning their methods, he escapes their base, and was "captured" by Zero. When the conflict between his old group and the Maverick Hunters began, Axl felt himself responsible, since Red Alert was challenging the Hunters for his custody. In order to make up for his mistakes, he joins forces with Zero and the Hunters to stop Red Alert, although they were initially reluctant to let him join. It was through Axl and Zero's combined efforts during the conflict that X came out of retirement to fight again. While working with Zero in regards to fighting Red Alert, he also explained his history with Red Alert to Zero, along with the circumstances that eventually caused him to defect to the Maverick Hunters.
Together, the three infiltrate Red Alert's base of operations, the Crimson Palace, and confronted the leader, Red, himself. After defeating Red, the Hunters learn that Sigma is at it again, manipulating Red Alert from the shadows. Even after defeating Sigma, twice, he manages to rise again and punches Axl through a wall. Sigma then swore to have a new form when he does return. Surprisingly, Red reappears, and just when Sigma is presumably attempting to possess him, Red uses Axl's pistol to blast Sigma out of the palace through a window. It turns out that "Red" was actually Axl copying his DNA to trick Sigma. X, Zero, and Axl then escape the crumbling palace.
In his ending, he is shocked to learn that despite helping to defeat Sigma, X refuses to make him a Hunter (not believing him to be ready due to thinking being one is only about terminating Mavericks). Axl tries to defend himself by saying he only did what he did (referencing X2-X6), only for X to rebut that he was wrong to do so. Suddenly, Alia reports another Maverick attack, and Axl heads out, determined to prove his worth to X.
Axl joins X and Zero in the forest outskirts of the Jakob Orbital Elevator, investigating an out of control crab-like Mechaniloid. This time around, Axl is now a full-time member of the Maverick Hunters and was trusted by both X and Zero.
After subduing the Mechaniloid, the three encounter (Axl for the first time) Vile, who kidnaps the director of the Jakob project, Lumine. After this incident, a series of Maverick attacks begin, all revolving around the involvement of New Generation Reploids. It is revealed that Axl is a prototype of these Reploids, since they all possess the same copy chip as him. Some of the Reploid Mavericks consider Axl a traitor for siding with the Hunters, as they refer to X and Zero, as the "old" Reploids.
The "mastermind" of the incident is revealed to be Sigma once again, and the three Hunters chase him to his palace on the Moon (and Sigma reveals that, even if Axl didn't side with the "old" Reploids, he still wouldn't have allowed Axl to join anyways, as Axl was nothing more than a "flimsy prototype"). After Sigma is defeated (presumably for the last time), Lumine enters the scene, much to the delight of Axl and his friends; however, this delight is quickly dispelled by Lumine's revelation that he, not Sigma, was the true mastermind: Sigma had merely helped his plan along. He reveals that the copy chips of all New Generation Reploids, including himself, contain the data of dozens of Reploids, including Sigma. Lumine then explains that Sigma rebelled against the world, but had his own reasons for doing so. So what about himself? Lumine states that Sigma's data allows for him and all the New Generation Reploids to go Maverick at will.
Axl and his friends defeat Lumine, but the latter has one last trick up his sleeve: something lashes out of Lumine's lifeless shell as Axl approaches, striking and breaking the lens on his forehead, knocking him unconscious before Lumine's shell is destroyed by X and Zero.
When the group begins their descent back to Earth, a comatose Axl is carried in X's arms. In his broken forehead lens shines a fragment of what Lumine hit him with.
Axl is now promoted to class S Hunter status. He heads to Giga City a short time after X and Zero did, believing that his copy abilities may have originated there. He joins X's party midway through a mission to infiltrate Mach Jentra's Ulfat Factory. Also, he tells X that someone was using his copy ability to mimic Wild Jango to infiltrate Giga City shortly after they defeated Jango a second time (the culprit later revealed to be Colonel Redips himself). Presumably, his copying abilities grew stronger, as he is now able to copy many of the bosses DNA and transform into them, whereas it was mentioned in X7 that he can't copy bosses, just their abilities.
Axl has a special ability called Copy Shot, which allows him to disguise himself as certain non-boss enemies; in the games that it's featured in (particularly in Mega Man X8), these transformations can be used to solve puzzles. In Mega Man X: Command Mission, Axl's Action Trigger is a special command introduced in the game that allows him to turn into, and use a powerful attack from, one of half the defeated bosses in the game. He can turn into Wild Jango, Silver Horn, Mad Nautilus, Mach Jentra, Incentas, Depth Dragoon, Rafflesian and Ninetails, but cannot turn into Hippopressor, Shadow, Duckbill Mole, Botos, Ferham, Scarface, Epsilon and Colonel Redips. This somewhat makes him take a role akin to a summoner in more traditional RPGs.
Following the trend started by his partners X and Zero, Axl can upgrade his armor to improve his abilities. In Command Mission, his Hyper Mode allows him to turn invisible and become invulnerable while it lasts. Like most Hyper Modes, however, this is only temporary.
Other game appearances
- Axl appears as a card in SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters DS.
- Axl has a cameo in Zero's ending of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars, where he, Alia, and X discover Zero injured on Earth's moon.
- Axl appears as an advanced-type Support Spirit in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. When equipped, it allows for the user to start off with the Ray Gun equipped.
- Axl appeared as an event characters in Dragon Poker.
- Axl is an unit card in Teppen.
Axl appeared in Rockman X7 4Koma Manga Kingdom.
"The only design work I did for 'X7' was to give advice on Axl. I said, 'If we're bringing in a new character, just make sure you give him a distinct silhouette.' Over the years, I came to realize that when you draw robot characters, it's mighty easy for them to fall into similar shapes. That's why I was very careful about X and Zero's silhouettes when I was designing them. Axl ended up with protrusions on his head and a gun in his hand to make him unique." - Keiji Inafune 
"Since Axl wasn't supposed to have come from the typical 'good guy' mold, I gave him a nice big scar on his face and went with a lot of black in his coloring to give him an overall dark feel. I wanted his hair and the details of his face to exude youth to emphasize the fact that he was born after X and Zero." - Tatsuya Yoshikawa 
- Some have said that Axl may have been inspired by Bass, as they both have similarities in terms of color and other things. Each one was first introduced in the 7th game of the respective series.
- Interestingly, even though Biometal Model A was an unofficial homage for Axl, how he copies and mimics enemies DNA cores is slightly different: Axl uses Copy Shot to transform into them, while Model A just copies their DNA core data by defeating them. Also, it seems as though Model A's ability is limited to enemies with Biometals (Pseudoroids and Mega Men), while Axl can copy various enemies, and even bosses to a certain extent.
- One of Zero's alternate colors in Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds is inspired by Axl.
- Although his reddish hair gives the impression of referencing Axl Rose of Guns 'n' Roses, the name Accel in the original Japanese implies a different namesake and a misspelling (and nothing to do with the actual Axl Rose reference with Spike Rosered's original english name Axle the Red in Mega Man X5).
- ↑ Axl: "Oh yeah! I forgot to tell you. This is the reason I ran away from Red Alert." ... "Cause I can copy the shape and abilities of Reploids." ... "But it's far from perfect. Even with the Copy Shot, I can only copy the form of Reploids my own size. For the rest, it's only possible to copy their abilities." // Zero: "Where did you learn such a skill?!" // Axl: "Heh! That's the thing - even I don't know where I picked this up." // Zero: "You don't KNOW?! How could you not know?" // Axl: "Dunno...I don't remember. Red found me, and I've been defeating enemies ever since." --Mega Man X7 in-game dialogue
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Mega Man X Official Complete Works. UDON Entertainment Corp., 2009, pg. 65.