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 continuining 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 disapperance 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 superumans, 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 realised 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 fundumental 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 recognised 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 mutankind from an inevitable racist uprise 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 casted 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 apreciate 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 realised 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 ecceptional 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 mantained 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 influent, 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 protrayed by Lana Condor. In the movie, she’ll be one of Charles Xavier‘s new students, a pyrotecnic 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 unuseful 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 surveilance on roller blades. One day, she was cornerned 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 armless, 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 pennyless 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 specialised 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. Istinctively, 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 colourful 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 mascotte 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 labour 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 peasans 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 freakshow. 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 seeked 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 cohabitate in mutual respect…and maybe love.

Scott Summers (Cyclops)

cyclopsfilmAnd now we begin with the spoilerish characters: at the end of X-Men: Days of Future Past, when Wolverine comes back to his present, it’s immediately clear his actions have indeed changed history, as he finds himself in the rebuilt Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, and finds, alive and well, Jean Grey and even Scott Summers, portrayed by James Marsden. Scott already appeared in most of the movies in the series: in the first two films, he was Cyclops, the leader of the X-Men, but in the third one, depressed because of Jean’s death, he’s pretty much the shadow of what he used to be (no problem about it: he’s killed by his revived girlfriend in the first ten minutes of the show). A teenager version of him appeared in X-Men Origins: Wolverine portrayed by Tim Pocock: he is kidnapped from school by Sabretooth and brought to Weapon X program, so that his powers can be transferred into Deadpool. He also makes a small, uncredited cameo in First Class, as a young boy with red sunglasses seen when Charles Xavier uses Cerebro to detect mutants. Just let’s hope that his resurrection will lead to a proper evolution of the character. In the meanwhile, let’s see who the real Cyclops is.

Son of test pilot Christopher Summers and his wife Katherine Ann, Scott Summers was the older child of the family, acting as cyclopscomics1the big brother to Alex. He and his family led normal lives, and from time to time Christopher brought his wife and sons on family trips with his vintage plane; during one of these vacations, when Scott and Alex were still little boys, a Shi’ar ship suddenly appeared on the plane’s route, setting it aflame. Trying to save her sons, Katherine gave them the only parachute on board, with Scott embracing Alex not to let him fall. A moment after the children jumped, the plane exploded, and the parachute was set ablaze: while falling, Scott’s mutant powers manifested for the first time, and the boy used his optic blas to slow his and his brother’s fall; he however hit his head upon falling, and suffered a major brain damage that impaired the part of the brain which would have allowed him to control his optic blast, thus making it always active. Both Scott and Alex suffered from a traumatic amnesia of the events that had led to their parents’ (apparent) death, and they were hospitalized and taken under the protective wing of a skilled geneticist. Unfortunately, the scientist was Nathaniel Essex, aka Mr. Sinister, who took interest in Scott’s power. He sent Alex away, in order to make the boy emotionally vulnerable. After accidentally destroying the hospital’s roof with his blast, Scott was sent to an orphanage, were he was followed by the owner, Mr. Milbury, and bullied by his roomate, Lefty (both of them were cover identities for Sinister, who prevented him from being adopted more than once). When he started suffering from painful headaches, Scott was sent to a specialist (Sinister again), who forged for him special ruby-quartz lenses, able to restrain his blast. When he first used his powers to save some people from falling debris, however, Scott was charged by a mob, who believed he had tried to kill the people he had actually saved: this bad experience led him to crime boss Jack O’Diamonds.

cyclopscomics2Jack O’Diamonds forced the young boy to work for him, abusing him when he refused. When FBI agent Fred Duncan assaulted O’Diamonds’ lair and arrested him, Scott was sure he would have been arrested as well, but Duncan was working with Charles Xavier, a telepath who understood the boy’s history, and decided to take him with him. Taken to Xavier’s institute, Scott found in Xavier the first family in a long time, and started to see him as a father figure. He was also trained to become Cyclops, the first X-Men, the founder of a team of young mutants who would have helped normal people to accept mutants’ presence among them through their heroic deeds. When Xavier found other mutants for his school (Hank “Beast” McCoy, Warren “Angel” WorthingtonBobby “Iceman” Drake and Jean “Marvel Girl” Grey), Scott was elected leader of the X-Men, and although he proved to be an excellent tactician and a good leader, he however suffered from major lacks in social capabilities. He also fell in love with Jean, but, being extremely shy, he didn’t even try to confess her his feelings. He was also afraid he would have hurt her sooner or later with his uncontrollable power, and wanted to keep her at a distance; also Jean, however, liked him, and she made the first move: the two finally started dating, becoming the first official couple in the X-Men. From the first moment he had entered the School, Scott faced many difficult moments: he created the identity of Eric the Red to infiltrate Magneto‘s criminal organization that was threatening to destroy the X-Men for good, and he acted as Xavier’s successor during his (many) apparent deaths. He even found his brother, who joined the team and become Havok, and even his father, who had become the space pirate Corsair, but wasn’t able to entertain good relationships with either of them. In everything he faced, however, he had now a family to support him, and Jean by his side.

Scott Summers is a brilliant and intelligent man, strenghtened and hardened by a number of personal tragedies, a young man who rapidly grew up in order to face the many responsibilities he had been entrusted with. Scott has found in the X-Men the family he lost as a small child, and is ready to sacrifice himself to protect his teammates. As Cyclops, he’s a well trained hand-to-hand fighter and a superb tactician, but his trademark is the extremely powerful optic blast he emits from his eyes, an uncontrollable burst of energy that forces him to always wear the visor and lenses Xavier built for him copying Sinister’s technology. A great leader and a good man, Cyclops is an anchorage for all his X-Men (with the possible exception of Wolverine, who he shares a not-always-friendly rivalry with), a mutant who fights for the peaceful cohabitation with humans, following the dream of his “father” Xavier.

Jean Grey (Dark Phoenix)

darkphoenixmovieLast character appearing in X-Men: Days of Future Past outside the main storyline: when young Charles Xavier uses his newly refound powers to explore Logan‘s mind, he gets some glimpses of his tragic future, from the experiments under Weapon X program and his killing of the love of his life, Jean Grey, portrayed by Famke Janssen. In Xavier’s vision, Jean doesn’t appear in her “normal” human form, but in the twisted and deformed version of the Phoenix as she appeared in X-Men: The Last Stand. This version pretty much differed from the original one in the comics, as in the movie the Phoenix (or rather the Dark Phoenix she becomes during the battle of Alcatraz) is the result of Jean’s personality disorder, a destructive second identity her powerful brain created in which Xavier locked up all of the girl’s aggressiveness, violence and impulsiveness (freed by the traumatic events of X2). In the comics, the Dark Phoenix’s origins are a little bit more alien and a little less psychological. Let’s see together.

When the aliens Z’Nox tried to conquer Earth, the X-Men repelled their forces, and Professor X made sure there was no Z’Nox darkphoenixcomics1remained on the planet. The Fantastic Four, however, feared Xavier’s plan wasn’t enough to guarantee Earth’s safety, and organized a mission in space to reach the enemy planet: Mr. Fantastic teleported the whole planet in the Negative Zone, thus ending the menace. While in space, Jean Grey’s was reached by an ancient and powerful entity, the Phoenix Force, which became fascinated by the unlimited potential of the young girl. Years after that episode, Stephen Lang and his Sentinels kidnapped Jean Grey, Professor X, Banshee and Wolverine, bringing them to his spacestation. The X-Men fought back and escaped from the station, but a solar storm engulfed the shuttle they were escaping on: Jean had psychically absorbed the skills to pilot the shuttle, and she was alone in the cockpit in order to keep the others safe from the radiations, but she was dying because of the exposure. In that moment, the Phoenix Force came back, and offered Jean the chance to grant her deepest wish: the girl only wanted to save her teammates, but her approaching death would have prevented that. The Phoenix thus possessed Jean, and brought the X-Men safely back to Earth, while the shuttle crashed into Jamaica Bay. The Phoenix, however, created a copy of Jean Grey’s consciousness and body, and while the original one was put into a coma, slowly healing from her injuries at the bottom of the bay in a telekinetic cocoon, the “other Jean”, possessed by the Phoenix Force, emerged unscathed from the remains of the shuttle. Without even realising why (Phoenix’s and Jean’s personalities had merged, with no memory of what had happened during the fall), Jean announced to her teammates that, from that moment, since she had risen from her ashes, she would have called herself “Phoenix”.

Nobody, not even her boyfriend Scott “Cyclops” Summers, realised what had happened to Jean. Her powers, however, kept increasing esponentially: she was able to repair the M’Kraan Crystal (a mystical artifact that served as the nexus of all realities), saving the universe, and she blocked Scott’s powers to allow him to truly see her for the first time in his life. Starting to fear her own darkphoenixcomics2powers, however, Jean tried to restrain herself…until she became the target of the psychical attack of Mastermind and Emma Frost, who used their powers to project a powerful illusion into her mind, and to transform her into the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club. The battle that ensued between Cyclops and Mastermind broke the last barriers Jean had erected to contain her powers, and she let them go, transforming into the Dark Phoenix. After driving Mastermind insane with a simple glance, the Dark Phoenix, wanting to tie her bonds with the weak identity of Jean Grey, defeated the X-Men single-handedly, and then abandoned Earth, looking for a fitter environment to the goddess she had become. While trying to refuel the energies she had lost in her space travel, Jean consumed a star, starting a chain reaction that killed billions of people in the nearby planets. Both the Shi’ars and the Skrulls tried to stop her from consuming other stars, but the Dark Phoenix easily destroyed the aliens’ fleets. Only Professor X’s intervention managed to rebuild the barriers Jean had created herself, and to bring the woman back to her sense. Jean, however, was later arrested by the Shi’ars, and sentenced to death for genocide: trying to save his pupil, Xavier challenged the Shi’ar empress Lilandra to Arin’n Haelar, a honor duel in which the victor was the rightful. The X-Men battled the Imperial Guard, but were defeated, and when Cyclops was apparently killed, Jean lost control again: the Dark Phoenix was back.

Jean Grey’s psychical clone is identical to the original: strong, intelligent, caring, she’s a beacon for her friends and teammates. When the Dark Phoenix persona prevails, however, she’s a being of pure instinct, conscious of her own power and greatness and eager to prove herself; whenever she feeds, galaxies die, and whenever she gets angry, the universe trembles. Her telekinetical and telepathic powers are brought to an incredibly wide extent, and she’s able to manipulate matter and energy at will. She’s also able to survive in open space, to fly, to create destructive cosmic flames, to manipulate time and the very strings of existence, and, of course, to resurrect from her own ashes. Immortal and unstoppable, the Dark Phoenix is a malevolent yet pure being, like an almighty child barely aware of the consequences of her catastrophic actions.