Sean Cassidy (Banshee)

bansheefilmTime for the last recurring character appearing in X-Men: Apocalypse, before going to the newcomers: Banshee, portrayed by Caleb Landry Jones. In the movie, he appears very briefly in a series of flashbacks aimed to remind Magneto who he was before breaking bad; the archive footage is all from X-Men: First Class, where Banshee was portrayed as one of Xavier‘s first recruits for both his school and the X-Men, and he was one of his most successful students, learning also to fly under the telepath’s tutelage. Unfortunately, he’s one of Bolivar Trask‘s victims, and he dies between First Class and Days of Future Past. The character had already appeared in X-Men Origins: Wolverine as one of William Stryker‘s prisoners (he’s the red-haired boy with a muzzle preventing him from screaming), and of course in Generation X, portrayed by Jeremy Ratchford. In this version, Banshee is the director of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters along with Emma Frost, and he acts as a mentor to Jubilee and the other young mutants. Now, let’s see together who this iconic Irish mutant is in the comics.

Sean Cassidy was born in Ireland, the heir of the wealthy and ancient Cassidy family. Rich since his childhood, he could afford the best studies, and he became a Bachelor of Science after graduating from Trinity College in Dublin. With his parents dead, Sean had other plans for himself rather than come back home and run the family’s castle, Cassidy Keep, nurturing the Cassidys’ fortune, and he joined Interpol as a detective. During his first years in the police force, he met Maeve Rourke, a girl she fell in love with: with all the passion and the haste of their youth,bansheecomics1 Sean and Maeve got married. There had been another turning point in Sean’s life during those years: he had found out he was a mutant, with the power of emitting powerful sonic waves with his voice; he preferred to keep this secret, and hid it from both his wife and his colleagues at Interpol. During a special mission that kept Sean away from home for nearly a year, Maeve found out she was pregnant, and she gave birth to a daughter, Theresa, without her husband knowing anything about it; when Maeve was tragically killed during an IRA attack, Sean mourned over his dead wife without knowing that he had had a daughter (Theresa, still alive, had been taken by Sean’s cousin and all time rival, Black Tom Cassidy, who was also the only person in the world who knew about Sean’s powers, being a mutant himself). At first, Sean tried to stop pain by throwing himself completely into work, but soon not even Interpol could distract him from his loss; promoted inspector, he nevertheless gave up his work becoming a freelance detective, and soon he ended up being involved in not-so-legal activities. Another mutant, Changeling, found out about his crimes, and invited him to join Factor Three, an all-mutant terrorist organization; seeing how similar Factor Three was to his wife’s killers, Sean refused, but Changeling reacted by having him kidnapped: an explosive headband was placed on Sean’s head, a bomb that would have exploded if Sean refused to follow Factor Three’s orders, or if he tried to remove it. Forced to cooperate, Sean joined Factor Three: code-named Banshee, he performed a number of crimes, always closely controlled by his “teammates”.

While on a mission in New York City, Banshee and the Ogre (his guardian) clashed with a team of mutant superheroes, the X-Men, who eventually captured them both. When the team’s leader, Professor X, learned about the collar, he helped Banshee get rid of it, so Sean was free and willing to help the X-Men take down Factor Three: he led them to the European base of the organization, and together with them he defeated the alien Mutant Master, Factor Three’s leader. After that, Sean was ready to start a new life… but he was soon targeted by the Sentinels, bansheecomics2mutant-hunting robots: he survived the experience, but now his true nature as a mutant had been exposed, and it attracted other unwanted attention. The secret organization known as the Secret Empire tried to abduct him to harness his powers and, on the run from them, Banshee fought against Captain America and the Falcon, mistaking them for hunter as well. Finally, free from all his pursuers, Sean came back to Cassidy Keep, where he could resume a peaceful and honest existence… that until Professor X called him, asking him for help: the X-Men had gone missing while investigating on a massively powerful mutant, and Banshee was asked to be a part of a second team to join a rescue mission. Still grateful after the Factor Three incident, Banshee accepted Xavier’s request, and joined Storm, Wolverine, Thunderbird, Nightcrawler and Colossus in the second incarnation of the X-Men. The rescue mission put the new X-Men against not just a simple mutant, but a living island, Krakoa, who was keeping the original team captive to feed on their energy. After defeating the monster, both teams could come back to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, where the newcomers were invited to stay: wanting to catch the opportunity to give a new direction to his life, Banshee accepted, and despite some initial friction with Cyclops and the other (first) X-Men he settled in pretty well, even learning to use his powers better thanks to the training in the Danger Room. During his time with the X-Men, Sean also met Dr. Moira McTaggart, Xavier’s ex fiancée and long time friend, and he fell in love with her: maybe, this was exactly the turning point Sean was waiting for.

Sean Cassidy is a smart and passionate man, used to live in luxury but still selfless and gentle (if not exactly humble). Gallant and brave, he’s also subject to depression, and it also happened that he fell into alcoholism following some emotional trauma. As Banshee, his lungs, throat and vocal cords are mutated to allow his acoustikinesis, which is the ability to emit powerful sound waves through voice: his trademark ability is the sonic scream, powerful enough to stun and physically arm an opponent, but he can use his powers also to fly (thanks to special wings designed by Professor X), to create sonic shields, to become a living sonar and much more; he’s also a skilled detective, tactician and unarmed combatant, and he’s also a good teacher and educator and a capable businessman. A leader born and a loyal friend and ally, Banshee is usually the eldest member of the X-Men in nearly every version of the team he’s been in… but that’s one of the reasons he’s also one of the most reliable ones, a reference for his teammates and his students alike.


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