Robert Edward Kelly

Mav keeps us in the X-Men world, as the next character in his list is Senator Robert Kelly, one of the early nemesis of the heroes, later turned ally… at least in the comics. Bruce Davison portrays him in the first X-Men movie, an anti-mutant politician who fuels people’s fear of mutants with his hatred campaign. He’s later kidnapped by Magneto and turned into an artificial mutant, specifically an amphibious jelly-man, but he dies shortly after as the mutation is not stable. He however appears again in X2: X-Men United, as Mystique uses his appearance to spy on mutants’ enemies, and made him a mutant supporter in opposition to his original character. In the comics, both the “real Kelly” and the “fake Kelly” are the same Kelly, as he changes in mind with time. Let’s see together.

Robert Kelly was born in Farmingham, Massachusetts, the pupil of a traditional family, raised with traditional values. He studied law and got interested in politics, basing most of his positions on a threat that everyone seemed to ignore: the growing presence of mutants, people gifted with extraordinary abilities since birth, who were clearly a menace to national security. Kelly’s campaign in his home country was a success, and he became a US Senator for Massachusetts. Once he arrived in Washington, his policy and style didn’t change the least, quite the opposite: he became the promoter and supporter of the Mutant Registration Act, a law that would have forced all mutants to register in special governmental lists and denounce their powers. This position and proposal brought to him a lot of opponents, especially from the human rights defense side, but also a number of influential supporters, including the elitist Hellfire Club, that invited Kelly to a number of meetings. During one of these meetings, Kelly witnessed in person one of the so-called mutant heroes, Cyclops from the X-Men, shooting randomly in a crowd, thus strengthening his anti-mutant position; unbeknownst to him, what he saw was actually an illusion cast by Mastermind. The mysterious Black King of the Club offered Kelly a remarkable amount of funds for his campaign, and as a bonus Robert even fell in love with one of the maids, Sharon, who soon became his wife. With the King’s money, Kelly supported and brought to public attention Project: Wideawake, that would have introduced the Sentinels built by the Hellfire Club as public law enforcers specifically designed to hunt down and restrain mutants. This extreme proposition earned the enmity of just as extreme mutant groups, like the second Brotherhood of Evil Mutants led by Mystique.

Not exactly a diplomat, Mystique organized an assassination attempt against Kelly, but her attack was thwarted at the last second by the X-Men, who saved his life (and averted a dystopian future by doing so). Just as he was about to reconsider his positions, Kelly suffered a major trauma: when he and his wife were coming back from a meeting with Shaw, his limo was caught in the middle of a fight between the X-Man Rogue and the robot Master Mold, and in the battle Sharon got killed. This made Kelly’s hatred for mutantkind grow even more, and he ordered the production of even more Sentinels. Years later, he was approached by the mysterious Bastion, who convinced him to support his Operation: Zero Tolerance to solve the “mutant problem” at its roots. He changed his mind about this the moment he realized that Bastion was turning American citizens into Prime Sentinels against their will: as he retreated he became a target, but the X-Men once again saved him. He used his influence to direct S.H.I.E.L.D. against Bastion, had him arrested and his operation dismantled… but this didn’t change his political views, quite the opposite: he announced his candidacy for president, obviously starting from his usual anti-mutant positions. To avoid any other attempt on his life by the Brotherhood, Kelly even accepted the mutant Cable in his security detail, but even this didn’t make him reconsider his positions… until a fateful day in Boston, when he became the target of another mutant extremist, Post. The one who saved him this time wasn’t one of the X-Men as usual, but Pyro, a former member of the Brotherhood who had tried to kill him years before, and who was now dying for the Legacy Virus. With the last of his powers and his life, Pyro saved him, and in front of this selfless act of sacrifice, Senator Kelly couldn’t but reconsider his anti-mutant stance. Maybe it wasn’t too late to change his presidential campaign, after all…

Senator Robert Kelly is a man moved by a sincere, yet misdirected concern for his people and his nation, a politician who believes every mutant to be a potential threat for national security because of their very nature. Intelligent yet stubborn, Kelly accepts without problems the fact that “good mutants” exist, but he remains consistent in his anti-constitutional views of having them all registered and monitored with regards to the few “bad ones”. A man with power and influence, a charismatic speaker who enthralls thousands with his words, Kelly is a tremendous tool for spreading fear and hatred, but he can be just as well a formidable preacher for unity and mutual understanding.


Yuriko Oyama (Lady Deathstrike)

The second character in Mav‘s list is another cool villain, Lady Deathstrike. She appears in X2: X-Men United portrayed by Kelly Hu, a mutant with the same powers of Wolverine brainwashed by Stryker to be his bodyguard. She’s apparently killed by Wolverine in their fight, but the novelization and videogame state she survived, and she’s later revealed to be an agent of Hydra working for the Silver Samurai. Her DNA, then, is used in X-Men: Days of Future Past to power-up the Sentinels, as one of them shows her same powers. In the comics, Deathstrike is definitely different: not only she is a villain on her own, without the aid of mind control, but she’s not even a mutant. Let’s see together.

Yuriko Oyama was born in Osaka, Japan, the daughter of Kenji Oyama, head of Oyama Heavy Industries. Yuriko’s father wasn’t just a regular captain of industry, though: during World War II, he had been a kamikaze pilot, but his suicide attack had failed, and as a result he didn’t die, but only had his face horribly scarred. The dishonor drove Kenji mad, and he disfigured Yuriko and her brothers with a kanji burnt on their faces, then he became the crime master Lord Dark Wind. Yuriko’s brothers died under Dark Wind’s service, and she started to hate her father for everything he was doing to their family. When, as a young woman, she fell in love with Kira, a man who was also in Dark Wind’s service, she committed herself to stop her father. The chance arrived when Yuriko was still little more than a girl: Lord Dark Wind was an accomplished scientist, and had invented a procedure to bond the indestructible metal Adamantium to human bones; he offered his services to the crippled assassin Bullseye, making him able to walk again and demanding as payment the homicide of a politician who opposed him. Also the hero Daredevil arrived in Osaka to pursue Bullseye, and Yuriko allied with him, helping him in infiltrating her father’s industries. As the battle started, Bullseye fled, leaving Dark Wind alone against Daredevil. As the crime lord was having the upper hand, Yuriko intervened, and killed her own father, saving Daredevil’s life and putting an end to Dark Wind’s crime empire. Or so she thought: much to her shock, the moment that Kenji’s death was acknowledged by his subordinates, many of them committed suicide, including her beloved Kira. This death eroded her way of viewing the world and her father, and she committed herself to pursue Kenji’s ways, obtaining revenge on whoever had dishonored him. She donned a samurai armor, and led what remained of her father’s warrior to the United States to pursue Bullseye and kill him for his cowardice.

The only way she had to track the assassin was to use her father’s technology and locate his Adamantium skeleton, but the machine led her to the mutant Wolverine, who also had Adamantium attached to his bones. The moment she realized Wolverine had been empowered thanks to the theft of her father’s work, Yuriko attacked him along with her men, but she was defeated by him and Vindicator from Alpha Flight. Totally vanquished, Yuriko realized she had to fight Wolverine on equal terms, so she reached Spiral in her Body Shop, paying her to be transformed into a cyborg: after the process, her facial scars were gone, but she had little human left, and she sported ten Adamantium claws to rival Wolverine’s. She also enlisted the aid of three ex-Hellfire Soldiers, Cole, Macon and Reese, who had been crippled by Wolverine. She turned them also in cyborgs and led them into a revenge mission against the clawed mutant, reaching him in New York City. The four cyborgs were defeated once again, as this time Wolverine was aided by Katie Power from the Power Pack. Seeking new allies, Yuriko, who now went under the name Lady Deathstrike, joined Donald Pierce and his team of cyborgs, the Reavers, bringing along also her three original companions. This time, numbers won the war: the Reavers ambushed Wolverine in Australia, they defeated him and crucified him in the desert, leaving him to die a slow and painful death that not even his healing factor would have prevented. What the cyborgs didn’t foresee was the arrival of young Jubilee, who saved her mentor and then escaped with him. From the intel they had collected, the Reavers believed that the two mutants had escaped to the research facility on Muir Island, so left for Scotland: here, however, they found resistance in the form of the X-Men and Freedom Force. Not scared at all, Lady Deathstrike led her teammates to battle: nothing, not even certain death, would have prevented her from obtaining her vengeance.

Yuriko Oyama is a woman driven mad by her own honor, and she’s now obsessed with vengeance over anyone she believes ever hurt or dishonor her family in any way. As Lady Deathstrike, she’s a cyborg with superhuman strength, speed, durability and agility, and she had her fingers replaced with indestructible Adamantium claws; she’s a superb fighter trained in classic samurai styles, and she’s also capable of interfacing her brain with external computers, to the point of downloading her own consciousness in external systems; her body also self-repairs in a way similar to Wolverine’s healing factor, albeit not as efficiently. Emotionally scarred and unstable, Lady Deathstrike lets from time to time the old, life-loving and caring Yuriko resurface, but this has become increasingly rarer, as she’s now more machine than woman, a vengeance-driven assassin who’ll reach her goal, with no regard even for the price she’ll have to pay in first person for it.

St. John Allerdyce (Pyro)

pyrofilmThis week several tv series are starting the new season, but waiting for them, let’s see another character from Brick89‘s list, another mutant, another villain: Pyro. Pyro first appeared in the very first X-Men movie as one of the Xavier Institute‘s students, portrayed by Alex Burton: he tries to flirt with the newcomer Rogue by creating a fire ball, but Iceman freezes it ruining his effort. In X2: X-Men United he’s portrayed by Aaron Stanford, and he’s one of the few students who manages to avoid being captured by William Stryker and his men; he follows the remaining X-Men in the rescue mission, but he ends up being seduced by Magneto‘s philosophy, and joins him by the end. In X-Men: The Last Stand he’s become Magneto’s right hand man, and follows him everywhere, committing terrorist attacks under his orders. During the battle of Alcatraz he’s defeated by Iceman, and flees when the Dark Phoenix unleashes her power. His trademark zippo on a memorial in X-Men: Days of Future Past informs us that he’s been killed by the Sentinels, but it remains to be seen if he’ll ever return in the new timeline. In the meanwhile, let’s take a look at the original one.

St. John Allerdyce was born in SydneyAustralia, from an unknown family. Growing up, he found out he was a mutant with the power of controlling and manipulating fire (but not of creating it): since he couldn’t think of any useful way to use his ability, he preferred to keep it secret for most of his early life, and soon became a journalist, living for some years in Southeast Asia (especially Vietnam and Indonesia). His travels gave him enough material to start working on his true dream, becoming a writer, and he actually managed to do it, first writing novels based on his experiences in Asia, then Gothic romance novels: in both cases, the critics hated his books just as much as other novelists did, but he had quite a success with the wide public that encouraged him in continuing his work. St. John met many readers and fans every day, but once the woman who approached him turned out to be something else entirely: she was a mutant as well, the shapeshifter known as Mystique, and she offered him a different kind of pyrocomics1contract. Mystique was recruiting mutants to form a second Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, following the disappearance of Magneto and the disbandment of the previous one, and she needed someone with John’s… talents. Allerdyce didn’t know how she had learnt he was a mutant, since he only used his powers for emergencies and it had been a while since the last time, but he was intrigued by the woman’s offer, and by the perspective of doing something more with his life than writing Gothic romance for old dreaming women. Convinced, he joined Mystique and the other mutants she had already recruited: the precog Destiny, the immovable Blob and the destructive Avalanche (the last one soon became his best friend). Mystique helped him develop his power, so that he could manipulate fire to higher levels; since he wasn’t fireproof, however, he was given a special isolating suit that protected him from the flames, and to compensate his inability to create fire, he was also equipped with a portable flamethrower he mounted on his wrists. Pyro was born.

The first mission for the new Brotherhood was to kill Senator Robert Kelly, a strong anti-mutant activist. A time-traveling mutant, Kate Pryde, arrived from the future to thwart the assassination, as Kelly’s murder would have started a chain reaction that eventually brought the robotic Sentinels to annihilate mutants and superhumans, taking over the world. Pyro and the others didn’t care much for this warnings (they had their own future teller, after all), but the X-Men did: the two teams clashed, and eventually the Brotherhood was defeated and the Senator saved. Pyro was arrested, but the authorities made the mistake of putting all the mutant terrorists together in the same prison: as soon as they realized this, they put together their efforts to break out… or at least to try to, as the Avengers were called to face the emergency, and in the ensuing fight the Brotherhood was defeated once again. Pyro stayed imprisoned for months, until the US Government offered the members of the Brotherhood a deal: they would have served under them, in exchange of pardon for their past crimes (this was a chance for the Government to have a “public face” to their newly signed Mutant Registration Act, in the effort of making the law pyrocomics2more popular). The Brotherhood accepted the offer, and they became Freedom Force, a law-abiding team used as an obedient puppet by the Government agents. During their first mission, Freedom Force faced the Avengers again, with the order of arresting America’s most popular (and powerful) heroes. Pyro accomplished several missions with Freedom Force, and proved pivotal in the arrest of Rusty Collins, a sailor with pyrokinetic powers: every time they battled, usually with groups like X-FactorX-Terminators, the New Mutants or even the Mutant Liberation Front, Pyro used his powers to manipulate the fire created by Collins, turning it against him and his allies. He was fundamental even during the massive breakout in the Vault, where his pyrokinesis was the only thing able to keep at bay Venom. Eventually, FF was disbanded, and Pyro and Blob were abandoned in Kuwait after a disastrous mission: being betrayed like this wasn’t exactly what John had signed for, and after being a war prisoner, his feelings towards the Government were so friendly that he immediately decided to come back to the new Brotherhood, this time led by Toad.

St. John Allerdyce is a pragmatic man, not evil, but surely ready to do pretty much everything for some profit. Despite being usually one of the “bad guys”, John has also acted heroically in his life, proving to be selfless and brave if situation required it. As Pyro, he has the power to control and manipulate fire, giving it any shape he desires (usually animal shapes) and moving it as he likes it; he’s not able to create fire, but he can increase the dimension of existing ones, so he carries a flamethrower on his wrists to light a fire that he later controls. Both a hero and a villain depending on the circumstances (or simply the mood), Pyro is a mutant mercenary who will always take care of one person in the world: himself.

Jason Wyngarde (Mastermind)

mastermindfilmAnother villain from Brick89‘s list, this time from the mutants‘ world: Mastermind. His movie adaptation is an amalgam of different characters, the first being him, following the unnamed son killed by William Stryker (a recent retcon resurrected him) and Mutant 146: all three together form Jason Stryker, a lobotomized mutant able to cast illusions so powerful that they can trick even the world’s most powerful telepath, Professor X. Jason first appears in X2: X-Men United, portrayed by Michael Reid McKay: in here, he’s Stryker’s son, who as a child was so resentful towards his mutant-hating parents that he tortured them with his powers, leading his mother to suicide. As Stryker started working on Weapon X, he used his son as his first guinea pig, and transformed him into a mindless drone in his total control, and he unleashed him against Professor X to force him to kill all mutants on the planet. He then briefly appeared in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, portrayed by an unnamed kid, frozen by his father in a cryogenic stasis. Now, let’s see who Jason (Wyngarde, not Stryker) is in the comics.

Little or nothing is known about Jason Wyngarde’s early life. He was born somewhere in the South of the United States of America, and he was a mutant in a moment in which most people didn’t even know mutants existed. He had the remarkable advantage of not suffering a physical mutation, as he was capable of projecting extremely accurate and complex illusions in the mind of anybody. As an adult, he trained in the use of his powers bringing them to perfection, so that they could influence every single sense of his target; he used this talent in quite an underwhelming way, however, as he joined a carnival and started working as a mentalist. His show was extremely popular, but nobody could see behind the “trick” Wyngarde used… nobody but a stranger passing by, who immediately recognized him as a mutant. The man turned out to be Magneto, the mutant terrorist, who was mastermindcomics1gathering other mutants from all around the country to form a team able to face the X-Men, the mutant superheroes who had stopped him from taking over Cape Citadel. Jason Wyngarde was exactly the kind of man Magneto was looking for, and the mentalist liked the terrorist’s idea of protecting mutantkind from an inevitable racist uprising of humanity: Jason joined the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants as Mastermind, and along with his teammates ToadQuicksilver and Scarlet Witch battled the X-Men more than once. Mastermind proved to be more ambitious than his idealistic leader, and aimed to conquer the world to form a mutant utopia… one in which he would have been much more than the carnival trickster he had always been. Along with his ambition, he also developed a strong desire towards his teammate Scarlet Witch, but her overprotective brother Quicksilver always kept him away from her. Mastermind was kept in high consideration by Magneto, and he was also sent to recruit other mutants to the cause in his stead (even if he failed in convincing Unus the Untouchable). His cooperation with the Brotherhood ended when the cosmic being The Stranger, enraged at Magneto, transformed Mastermind into a statue and brought the Master of Magnetism and Toad on another planet.

Luckily enough, The Stranger’s spell wasn’t permanent, and after a while Mastermind returned to his old fleshy self. Without Magneto around, with his ambition not the least quelled, Wyngarde joined Factor Three, another mutant-based organization with similar aims and ideals to the Brotherhood, but much more pragmatical: they aimed to create a mutant nation capable of rivaling USA and URSS for world supremacy. Factor Three’s plan nearly worked, especially thanks to the forced “help” of Banshee, until the X-Men intervened once again, exposing the team’s leader, Mutant Master, as an alien who sought to conquer Earth. Factor Three and X-Men teamed up to defeat the Mutant Master, and managed to save the planet from an invasion… but the battle attracted the attention of the mutant hunting robots Sentinels, against whom Mastermind’s psychic powers were pretty much useless. Wyngarde was saved by his sworn enemies, the X-Men, and apparently abandoned his criminal ways as a result… but he was the mastermindcomics2master of illusions, and even his “conversion” was nothing but a trick to take time and decide what to do next. He joined the reborn Brotherhood along with fellow Factor Three members Blob and Unus, and finally Magneto came back on Earth and claimed back his leadership. He even created the first artificial mutant, the extremely powerful Alpha… but that proved to be not much of a good idea, as during a fight against the Defenders Alpha rebelled to his creators, and turned them all into children, thus annihilating their powers (mutant powers developed through puberty). At least, Mastermind had learnt to bring his powers to a whole other level, as with Magneto’s help he had cast a powerful illusion on an entire nation (Santo Marco, in South America), helping the Brotherhood to conquer it. As a result, as soon as he came back to his adult age he was contacted by the powerful Hellfire Club, who had become interested in the illusionist. As a test for admission, he managed to manipulate the powerful X-Woman Jean Grey into becoming the new Black Queen in the Club. Finally, Mastermind had found someone who could fully appreciate his talent, someone who could also reward his personal ambition just the way he wanted it…

Jason Wyngarde is an ambitious man, frustrated by the lack of recognition his talent suffered through all his life. As Mastermind, he has the mutant power to cast powerful illusions on his targets, able to affect every sense; his illusions are so complex and realistic that he’s actually able to kill someone with them (once he made someone believe he was drowning, and even if there wasn’t any actual water the man ceased to breath and died), and he can envelop in his power more than one person per time, once even an entire country. Manipulative and clever, he’s one of the most dangerous mutants around, mostly because he’s constantly, and wrongfully, underestimated… a thing he obviously uses at his own advantage.

Sebastian Hiram Shaw (Black King)

blackkingfilmOn with casualgamer‘s list, we find another Marvel villain: Sebastian Shaw, the Black King from the infamous Hellfire Club. Shaw first appeared in a very brief cameo in X2: X-Men United, portrayed by Charles Siegel: he’s see debating on television with Hank McCoy the “mutant problem”, with the audience unaware that both the speakers are, in fact, mutants. He then appeared as the big baddie in X-Men: First Class, portrayed by Kevin Bacon (and his fate in the movie makes his cameo in X2 quite a major continuity problem…). In here, he was introduced as a Nazi scientist named Klaus Schmidt, who finds out about young Erik Lensherr‘s mutant powers and experiments on him during his years in Auschwitz; thanks to his powers he can be eternally young, and he resurfaces in the 1960s as Sebastian Shaw, the head of the secret organization Hellfire Club, bent on causing a war between USA and USSR to make humans extinct and letting mutants inherit the planet… an ideal that will inspire Erik into becoming the terrorist Magneto, after settling his score with Shaw. Now, let’s see who this powerful villain is in the comics.

Sebastian Shaw was born in PittsburghPennsylvania, the son of Jacob Shaw. The Shaws were once a noble and wealthy family, but were now impoverished and socially excluded. Sebastian grew up determined to restore his family’s name and fortune, and dedicated all his life to study and to build himself. The same year his father died he was admitted to engineering school, and that was also the year he found out he was a mutant: after receiving a severe beating in a bar, he realized he could convert the energy his body received (in this case the kinetic one of the punches) into physical strength. Totally dedicated to his goal, he didn’t pay much attention to his true nature, and founded Shaw Industries immediately after finishing his studies; by the age of 30 he was a millionaire, and ten years later he was a billionaire: finally, he had accomplished his life mission. Now able to focus on himself, Shaw became engaged to a Spanish mutant, Lourdes Chantel, a teleporter; thanks to his fortune and his growing power, he also attracted the attention of Ned Buckman, the White King, who offered him to join the Hellfire Club, a secret and powerful blackkingcomics1organization aiming to world domination. Shaw was initiated along with Warren Worthington Jr., John Braddock and Howard Stark, but he was the only one to stay (much to Lourdes’ regret, since she didn’t trust Buckman, and feared that the nature of the Hellfire Club would have corrupted Sebastian). Shaw was undoubtedly an exceptional individual, and he managed to enter the Council of the Chosen and to be appointed the Black Bishop of the Hellfire Club… but he was far too ambitious to be satisfied with that. He started gathering other mutants, such as the telepath Emma Frost, to create a personal inner circle, but the final push was given by Buckman himself: a racist and a human supremacist, the White King supported Stephen Lang and his Sentinels, and when Project: Armageddon, aimed to kill all mutants, started, Lourdes Chantel was among the victims. Enraged, Shaw used Emma’s telepathy to force Buckman to kill Paris Seville, the White Queen, and then himself. After that, he appointed himself as the Black King, and Emma Frost as the new White Queen: the Hellfire Club was now his to command.

In the following years, the new Black King expanded the Hellfire Club’s power and influence even more, and recruited as his Lords Cardinal other powerful superhumans, such as the immortal Selene as the Black Queen, the mass-manipulator Harry Leland as his Black Bishop and the cyborg Donald Pierce as the White Bishop. To the outside world, the Hellfire Club was still run by humans, and Shaw maintained this facade keeping financing the construction of Sentinels, with the double result of having anti-mutant bigots like Robert Kelly or Henry Gyrich trust him as one of them, and of constantly keeping in check and under his direct control the anti-mutant robots. Looking for an all-mutant army to recruit, Sebastian Shaw set sight on the X-Men: he ordered the assassin Warhawk to bug Cerebro, so that everytime Professor X used it to locate a new mutant Shaw knew it; this way, he believed he would have had the chance to recruit said mutant before the X-Men did. This attempt failed twice, since the X-Men were more powerful in battle than the Club’s operatives, and it even revealed to the heroes blackkingcomics2the Club’s existence. The X-Men managed to infiltrate the Hellfire Club and to attack the inner circle, but Shaw defeated them, and led some mind-controlling experiments on them that later brought Jean Grey to lose control and become the Dark Phoenix. The X-Men managed to escape, and the Hellfire Club lost much of his strength: Pearce turned out to be a traitor and an anti-mutant himself, and Selene began plotting against Shaw to take control (having murdered the previous inner circle to gain his position, Shaw was always ready for betrayal, and saw it coming with great advantage). If inner conflicts weren’t enough, a sentinel from the future, Nimrod, threatened to exterminate all mutants, and the Hellfire Club was forced to form an uneasy alliance with the X-Men to stop it: Shaw himself destroyed the Sentinel with Leland’s help, but at the end of the battle both Leland and Friedrich Von Roem, the White Rook. To replace the lost members and to solidify the new alliance, Shaw admitted Storm and Magneto in the Hellfire Club, knowing far too well that their presence would have mined even more his weakening authority over the group. Not that there was much to worry about: he had created himself from nothing, and he would have done it again, if necessity called for it.

Sebastian Shaw is a brilliant and ambitious man, a natural tactician who uses his great intellect and his vast resources to make reality match with his (high) idea of himself. Self-important, arrogant and far too aware of his own power and gifts, he’s a cunning megalomaniac who aims at world domination, no less. As the Black King, he’s a powerful mutant, able to absorb any kind of energy (even if kinetic one works best) and to convert it into physical strength, durability, speed and stamina, using it also to rejuvenate or heal himself: in a battle, the more Shaw is hit, the stronger he gets, thus being a formidable opponent for anybody, managing to easily overpower even a power-house like Colossus after receiving sufficient blows. A proficient combatant and a natural-born leader, Shaw has at his disposal the remarkable resources of both his personal fortune and the Hellfire Club, making him one of the most influential, and dangerous, people on the planet. He’ll never be powerful or rich enough to satisfy his ambitions, and new limits are just made to be exceeded… but taking over the world would be a good start nevertheless.

Jubilation Lee (Jubilee)

JubileeLast character appearing in the pics officially released for X-Men: Apocalypse, another woman: Jubilee, who’ll be portrayed by Lana Condor. In the movie, she’ll be one of Charles Xavier‘s new students, a pyrotechnic mutant with a taste for fashion. She already appeared in the original trilogy, portrayed by Katrina Florence in the first movie, and by Kea Wong in the second and third ones. She only had minor cameos, appearing in the background and usually not even speaking. Her first live action appearance, however, was in tv movie Generation X, where she was portrayed by Heather McComb: she was one of the protagonists, a new student entering Emma Frost‘s and Sean Cassidy‘s school for mutants along with Skin… and doing her best for getting along with the other, more experienced students. This time she’ll be in the middle of the action, and that’s quite intriguing, especially considering she has one of the most useless mutant powers ever. Let’s see together.

Jubilation Lee, Jubilee for friends, was born in Beverly HillsCalifornia, the daughter of two wealthy Chinese immigrants. She grew up having quite a perfect life: she was one of the most popular girls in her exclusive high school, and she was even one of the most proficient gymnasts in California, with her teacher sure she would have attended the Olympic Games with such a skill. She spent most of her time in the malls with her best friend, and the two of them often engaged in petty robberies, just for fun, escaping from the surveillance on roller blades. One day, she was cornered by a couple of guards, and panicked: in that occasion, she manifested for the first times her mutant powers, firing colorful lights from her hands. The surprise for the guards was enough to allow her to escape, jubileecomics1and later that evening she told her parents about it… but they didn’t even flinch: the ability itself was pretty harmless, and they loved their daughter even as a mutant. Her life could continue as always… if not for a dreadful night, during which Jubilation lost everything: her parents got killed by two hitmen, Reno and Molokai, who were hired by Hunter Brawn, a powerful man whose illegal schemes the girl’s father wanted to expose. Brawn also messed with the Lees’ bank accounts, so Jubilee found herself alone, orphan and penniless from a day to another. Waiting to be adopted by another family, she was sent to an orphanage, but she didn’t want to have anything to do with it, and she escaped pretty soon, taking shelter in the closest place to a home she knew: a shopping mall in Hollywood. She survived with petty thefts, frustrating the guards who were always unable to catch her; she also started to use her powers to entertain the mall’s customers and making some money with her “fireworks”, as always escaping from the guards whenever they approached. Eventually, the mall decided to hire the M-Squad, a private police force specialized in hunting mutants. Jubilee soon found out these people were not the usual guards as, despite frying some of their equipment, she ended up caught in no time. But fate had other plans for her.

Luckily for Jubilee, there were four very particular customers that day at the mall: Ororo MunroeAnne Marie, Betsy Braddock and Alison Blaire, better known as StormRoguePsylocke and Dazzler from the X-Men. The four women fought and defeated the M-Squad, saving Jubilee in the process. The girl was now extremely curious of her saviors, and she decided to follow them: when the X-Women jumped through a portal, Jubilee followed them, careful not to be seen. At the other side of the portal, Jubilee found herself in Australia, in the temporary base of the X-Men. She stayed hidden, stealing food and clothes from nearly everyone there, with only the old mutant Gateway (the one who had created the portal) knowing she was there, but remaining silent. Jubilee was still jubileecomics2in hiding when the villainous Reavers conquered the Australian base, and kidnapped and tortured Wolverine. While sneaking around as always, Jubilee found Wolverine nailed to an iron cross, near death. Instinctively, she freed him and nurtured him back to health, and helped him defeat the Reavers. A strange relationship grew between them, as Jubilee was in desperate need of a father figure, while Wolverine enjoyed the joy and peace of mind that a kid could give him: they became inseparable, and when the Canadian mutant started traveling the world on his own, Jubilee followed him as his unofficial “sidekick”, never leaving his side. Together, they faced quite a number of threats, and Wolverine trained her also in fighting. Young Jubilee proved to be skilled enough to hold her ground against The Hand‘s ninjas, and she even provided an escape for her and Wolverine when the duo was captured by the Mandarin, using her powers (much stronger now) to blow up a portion of the Chinese warlord castle. The duo then became a trio, with Psylocke joining Wolverine in his “missions”: together, the three mutants battled foes such as Sabretooth and Omega Red, and of course a remarkable number of Sentinels, until they left the Far East to go to Genosha, where the local mutant population was under a fierce attack. The adventure on Genosha served to Jubilee as a “final test”, and back to the United States she was officially welcomed as a member of the X-Men.

Jubilation Lee is an easy-going and dynamic girl, always cheerful despite her somewhat tragic past. She has a special bond with strong personalities, especially Wolverine and Storm, but with the years she’s developed some leader’s skill of her own. As Jubilee, she’s able to generate “fireworks”, technically lumikinetic explosive light blasts, globules of pure energy that at first manifested themselves just as colorful sparkles able, at maximum, to momentarily blind somebody; with time, Jubilee learnt to control them better, and she’s now able to increase their explosive power, transforming them into real energy bombs. She’s also an extremely proficient gymnast, and a skilled hand-to-hand combatant trained directly by Wolverine and Psylocke. A fashion-lover and a player at heart, Jubilee has been for years some kind of mascot for the X-Men, but she’s now ready to be something more for her teammates and friends.

Kurt Wagner (Nightcrawler)

NightcrawlerSurprise surprise, we already have an official image from the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse, featuring a character we didn’t see for a while: Nightcrawler, who’ll be portrayed by Kodi Smit-McPhee. Not much is known about Nightcrawler’s role in the film, apart from the fact that he’ll be part of the new team of teenager X-Men gathered by Charles Xavier (maybe his relation with Mystique will be finally explored). Of course, he already appeared in X2: X-Men United in an older version, portrayed by Alan Cumming: in the movie, he was brainwashed by William Stryker into attacking the President of the United States, and he later joined the X-Men in defeating Stryker and his men. Behind the scenes, we know that he abandoned the X-Men since he didn’t like their violent methods (actually, it was just Cumming who didn’t want to undergo the make-up again for the small part they asked from him in X-Men: The Last Stand). Waiting to see what Smit-McPhee will do with a character that thanks to Cummings remains one of the best portrayals in the franchise yet, let’s see who the original one is.

The birth of Kurt Wagner wasn’t exactly a normal story: a German noblewoman, Raven Darkholme (actually the mutant shapeshifter Mystique) had married Baron Christian Wagner, a noble from a remote village on the Bavarian Alps, in Germany. During one of her husband’s receptions, Raven had met one of the Baron’s business partners, Azazel, a mysterious and fascinating stranger from La Isla des Demonas. The two started a relationship, and Raven got pregnant. Soon after, Azazel abandoned his heartbroken lover, telling her to raise their son as if he was the Baron’s one. The Baron knew he was sterile, so he had some doubts regarding the baby’s paternity… but Raven cut short his doubts by killing him, making it look like a tragic incident. Unfortunately, while nightcrawlercomics1she was delivering the baby, the uncommon shape of the newborn made her labor even harder, and she lost concentration, revealing her true, blue-skinned appearance; plus, her baby was covered with a thin blue fur, with a pointy tail and ten fingers between hands and feet. The Baron’s servants, horrified, spread the word, and soon a mob of superstitious peasants gathered around the castles with torches and pitchforks: forced to run for her life, Raven escaped with the baby, but during the running she dropped the newborn in a well. Believing baby Kurt to be dead, Mystique fled. Actually, the demonic mutant Azazel used his powers as a teleporter to save the baby, and brought him to another one of his paramours, the sorceress Margali Szardos, telling her to raise him. Margali brought Kurt to the circus she worked in as a fortuneteller, and the baby grew up happily, “adopted” by all the circus artists, who had no prejudice at all towards his weird appearance, and spending his time playing with Margali’s biological children, Stephan and Jimaine. Because of his unnatural agility, Kurt became the acrobatic star of the circus, and started hiding in plain sight: during the show, he could show himself freely, as the audience believed him to be a man in a scary costume. With his enlarged family to take care of him and free to be himself in front of everyone, Kurt was happy.

When Kurt got older, a Texan millionaire, Arnos Jardine, made an offer to the circus owner Herr Getmann to “buy” the blue boy and to lock him in his freak show. Wanting to save her adopted son, Margali allowed him to escape, helped by her friend Armen Freilich. Getmann, however, spotted him, and as he was about to shoot Kurt, the young mutant teleported for the first time, escaping certain death. He sought refuge in a nearby church, where he was welcomed by the local priest, Father Wagner. During his time spent with the priest, Kurt became a devout nightcrawlercomics2Catholic, and embraced his own humanity despite his demonic appearance. Kurt spent good time with the priest, but it was short: Getmann tried to torture the boy’s location out of Freilich, who ended up taking shelter in that same church. Surrounded with an angry mob once again, Kurt teleported Armen to safety, then came back to save Father Wagner: Kurt was more than able to subdue and kill Getmann, but Wagner reminded him of his newfound humanity, and the young mutant refused to react. Just before the crowd gathered by Getmann shot and killed both Kurt and the priest, everybody around the church stopped, as if they were frozen, with the only exception of Kurt himself: it was an effect of the powers of Charles Xavier, an American telepath who had come to recruit Kurt for a new generation of X-Men. Xavier modified the presents’ memories so that they remembered the blue mutant to have died in the church’s fire, and offered Kurt a new house and family, promising he would have never been seen as a monster again. Kurt agreed to follow Professor X, and, with the nickname Nightcrawler, he joined Cyclops and the other new members of the X-Men in a mission to save the original team from the living island Krakoa. The mission was a success, but the integration between the old X-Men team and the new one wasn’t exactly an easy process; eventually Kurt’s attitude and good heart won the respect and the affection of every single teammate. With time, Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters became truly a new home for Kurt: finally, he had the family he had always looked for.

Kurt Wagner is an extremely gentle and good-hearted man, with a kind and sensitive soul that clashes with his horrific appearance. As Nightcrawler, his mutant powers make him extremely agile and athletic, and allows him to teleport to short distances traveling through Brimestone Dimension; he can perfectly see in the dark, and has become with years of training an extremely proficient swordsman, wielding even three swords at a time thanks to his prehensile tail. The most loyal of friends and the kindest person who ever entered Xavier’s School, Nightcrawler is the living demonstration that physical appearance doesn’t determine nor reflect a person’s inner nature, a pacifist at heart who desperately fights for a future in which humans and mutants can coexist in mutual respect… and maybe love.