Henry Philip “Hank” McCoy was born in Dundee, Illinois, in the United States, to Norton and Edna McCoy. His father, Norton McCoy, is employed at a local nuclear power plant before Henry’s birth and was once exposed to intense nuclear radiation, which appears to have caused his son’s mutation. Hank is born with a vast intellect, unusually long arms and legs, and unusually large hands and feet for a human; in fact, his body’s proportions are comparable to those of a gorilla and later stories reveal his nickname in school was “Magilla Gorilla”.
Powers and abilities
It is possible that Beast’s mutation is a result of genetic atavism. However, he also possesses neotenous characteristics, which may explain him having a genius-level intellect despite his animal physique. He also possesses superhuman strength, speed and agility. He is an excellent hand-to-hand combatant, employing a unique style of acrobatic combat, from combat training he received at Professor Xavier’s and coaching from Captain America.
Anthropoid / Simian physique
Originally, Hank McCoy retains the basic features of a normal human alongside a generally simian physiology (e.g., elongated limbs and enlarged extremities) equivalent to that of a Great Ape. This mutation gives him superhuman strength, speed, reflexes, agility, flexibility, dexterity, coordination, balance, and endurance. Hank is equally dexterous with all four limbs; able to perform tasks with his feet or hands with equal ease. Because of his talents and training, Beast can outperform any Olympic-level athlete, contorting his body and performing aerial feats gracefully. His strength and dexterity allow him to climb vertical surfaces with just his hands and/or feet, jump great distances and survive falls that would kill any ordinary person. He also possesses enhanced senses and can track people for great distances over open terrain and his feet are sensitive enough to detect electronic signals (from bombs, listening devices, etc.) through solid walls and floors. Later, he drank an experimental solution of his own making and mutated further through the growth of grey fur covering his entire body and the enhancement of all of his existing abilities, especially his strength, and Hank also gained a nearly instantaneous healing factor. The psychological impact of this first transformation caused Beast to experience short-term amnesia and also made it difficult for him to control his animalistic instincts, which would cause him to slip into an uncontrollable berserker rage during combat. However, his body suddenly mutated again after a short time, changing his fur color from grey to black (although comic book printing technology depicted it as blue), returning his strength back to previous levels, and losing his healing factor. He was also able to more easily control his animal instincts after this second mutation. Beast gained the ability to emit mood altering pheromones, causing sexual attraction in women. During this time he was occasionally depicted with claws and fangs, but these were not a part of his original mutation. Hank McCoy briefly returned to his humanoid/simian form with his hair color now being depicted as black, not reddish-brown. However, as a result of being touched by Pestilence his strength began to increase exponentially while his intellect began to decrease.
After Infectia’s kiss restored Hank to his simian physique, his intellect had stabilized and returned to his previous genius-level, and his strength had increased to superhuman proportions. Beast’s fangs and claws became a consistent part of his appearance after this return to his “blue and furry” form.
After being critically wounded, Hank’s body undergoes a secondary mutation, jump started by Sage. The result is a more feline appearance equivalent to that of a big cat. His strength, speed, stamina, sturdiness, and senses increase further with this change. He gains cat-like agility, flexibility, coordination, and balance, and all his senses are enhanced to twenty times that of a normal human being. In addition, Beast develops an accelerated healing factor that allows him to repair mild to moderate injuries within the span of a few hours. However, as his hands and feet change from simian to feline (going from a normal human set of four fingers to just three, retaining the opposable thumb), he loses his superhuman dexterity, once admitting that he used to play the guitar, but is now learning to play the drums instead. Following the X-Men’s relocation to San Francisco, Beast discovers that he had regained some of his old manual dexterity. In the first issue of Warren Ellis’ Astonishing X-Men run, Beast also comments he no longer needs full sleep.
It is later discovered that his secondary feline mutation is still detrimental to his health: as such, with the combined efforts of past versions of Jean Grey and himself, Beast’s condition was stabilized in a more human-like form, possessing blue fur and larger than the average human male but otherwise fairly human.
Hank possesses a brilliant intellect. He is a world-renowned biochemist, having earned Ph.D.s in Biophysics and Genetics, and is the man who cured the Legacy Virus. He frequently functions as both field medic and in-house physician for the X-Men, despite not technically having an MD. His intelligence and expertise in genetics rival that of Professor X, Moira McTaggert, and Kavita Rao. Despite this, he has never received a Nobel Prize or been elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences. A Renaissance man, McCoy is well-versed in many fields including languages (fluent in English, German, French, Latin, Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, and Russian as well as the fictional language Latverian), literature, philosophy, psychology, and sociology, history, art and art history, anthropology, linguistics, and music, as well as in political science and economics with a special affinity for science and technology and a penchant for quoting literary classics. His vast scientific knowledge ranges from theoretical physics, quantum mechanics, differential equations, nanotechnology, anatomy, biomedicine, analytical chemistry, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering to the construction of a hyper-magnetic device. An electronics expert, he often repairs Cerebro and makes upgrades to the Danger Room settings. He has made several deus ex machina devices on par with Reed Richards, including a device that strips entities of cosmic powers.