Continuing my series exploring the surprising and unusual lives of the X-Men, here are 10 curious facts about Psylocke — the mutant assassin who I believe may well be the breakout star of #XMenApocalypse!
1. Psylocke was originally created as part of Marvel UK!
Betsy Braddock was created by legendary Marvel writer Chris Claremont, and was the sister of Captain Britain. At the time, Marvel were running a separate imprint — Marvel UK — geared towards British audiences. In fact, Betsy even donned the Captain Britain outfit for a time — it didn't go well, as the vicious Slaymaster literally blinded her.
Claremont brought Betsy over from the Marvel UK line into the X-Men, granting her the code-name Psylocke.
2. Psylocke's powers vary between telepathy and telekinesis!
Psylocke was originally designed as a telepath, and a fairly formidable one; she could focus her telepathic power in her trademark 'psychic blade,' which she used to fry the mind of anyone she struck. Into the 2000s, Marvel launched the "Revolution" strategy — a six-month time-jump that allowed them to change the status quo for various X-Men. For Psylocke, this meant that she'd swapped powers with Jean Grey, becoming a telekinetic. The swap was never really explained.
This kind of got forgotten as time passed, and writers blurred the lines between telepathy and telekinesis. In the "Dark Angel Saga," Psylocke encountered the Jean Grey from another timeline — and was given a serious power-up. Jean unlocked all of Psylocke's powers, leaving her an 'Omega-level' mutant of unlimited potential, both as a telepath and as a telekinetic.
In spite of her remarkable increase in power, Psylocke prefers to be up close and personal when she takes on her enemies...
3. Psylocke is actually bisexual!
Psylocke has always been highly sexual — more on that later — but the recent Uncanny X-Force book threw a new twist into it all. Psylocke fell in love with a strange character by the name of Fantomex, who was then somehow divided into male and female parts. It turned out the part Psylocke loved got a female form, but that didn't slow the relationship down much.
The pleasing thing about this arc is that an overtly sexual character wasn't turned bisexual just for titillation; the plot, while seriously in the realm of bizarre, was pretty well put together.
4. Psylocke's greatest nemesis is Sabretooth!
You could be forgiven for thinking Sabretooth is only Wolverine's nemesis, but he has quite a history with Psylocke too. In Uncanny X-Men #213, the X-Men were reeling after a brutal mutant slaughter. With most of the X-Men out searching for survivors, Sabretooth — once of the monsters responsible for the so-called 'Mutant Massacre' — broke into the Mansion. It fell to Psylocke, a rookie, to protect the injured and keep Sabretooth busy until Wolverine could get there.
Since that first encounter, Psylocke and Sabretooth have clashed many times. The most brutal was undoubtedly in Uncanny X-Men #328, where Sabretooth and Psylocke fought to the death. Psylocke was left, broken and bleeding, while Sabretooth went on a bloodthirsty rampage. She only survived thanks to Wolverine tapping into a mystic energy force...
Incredibly, in the comics Sabretooth has become a hero, and he and Psylocke are uneasy allies.
5. Psylocke is a member of the Hellfire Club!
The Hellfire Club are best known as enemies of the X-Men, with an Inner Circle consisting of powerful mutants such as Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost. Movie fans may remember them from X-Men: First Class, while they're going to be central to Fox's aptly-named Hellfire TV series.
What you may not know, though, is that a number of powerful and wealthy heroes have ties to the Hellfire Club. The Braddock family have been members for generations, and Psylocke inherited that membership.
Interestingly enough, Tony Stark is also a member!
6. Psylocke was body-swapped with a ninja assassin!
In perhaps the most confusing plot-twist of Psylocke's life, Chris Claremont had the character plunge into the Siege Perilous — a mystic portal that granted your heart's desires. For Psylocke, her desire to be a true warrior plunged her into a situation where her mind was body-swapped with that of the ninja assassin Kwannon. For a time Psylocke lost herself in Kwannon's identity, even becoming Lady Mandarin; she was rescued by #Wolverine and Jubilee.
In the '90s, Kwannon returned — in Betsy's old body, of course — as Revanche (French for 'revenge'). The two initially clashed, but actually wound up working together for a while!
7. Psylocke once attempted to seduce Cyclops!
In X-Men circles, there's a common joke that Cyclops seems irresistible to telepaths. Psylocke was no exception; in the '90s she attempted to seduce him, using her telepathic power to react to his lustful thoughts with heavy flirtation. She ultimately dressed up and stalked through the mansion, hunting him down; after one passionate kiss (above), he fled, confused. To add insult to injury, only moments later Psylocke crossed paths with Jean Grey, and seemed to rather enjoy Jean's suspicions!
Scott Lobdell and Fabian Nicieza used the plot for one purpose; they had Cyclops and Jean come through it stronger, and ultimately marry. Surprisingly, Psylocke and Jean were able to make peace over it all, with Psylocke explaining that she'd "just wanted to see Cyclops smile for a change."
8. Psylocke killed the love of her life, Archangel!
For all the relationships Psylocke has been in, one name has constantly recurred; Archangel. The two had much in common: a background of wealth and privilege, identity confusion, and a certain inner darkness. Things haven't always gone smoothly for the couple (their relationship can best be described as 'on-again-off-again'), but their love has always been clear to readers.
Then came the "Dark Angel Saga," in which Archangel claimed his heritage as heir of Apocalypse. In a devastating twist, Psylocke chose to kill him rather than leave him threatening the world. Naturally, this is comics; he was resurrected, but the cost was the erasing of everything he had ever been before.
The two are currently working together in the pages of Uncanny X-Men, with Archangel a 'tabula rasa.' That's to change in the forthcoming "Apocalypse Wars" event...
9. In the comics, Psylocke has become addicted to killing!
The death of Archangel left Psylocke emotionally wounded, and she found solace in a particularly disturbing addiction — an addiction to killing. Matters weren't helped by her being part of a black ops team assembled by Cable, none of whom had many qualms about killing!
Although writer Simon Spurrier brought this to a head with Psylocke's choosing to spare a man she deeply wanted to kill, hinting that the addiction had been broken, it looks as though she's reverted to type. Psylocke is currently showing no qualms about killing in the pages of Uncanny X-Men, where she's working with a dark-and-dangerous team led by Magneto!
10. Olivia Munn performed all her own stunts in 'X-Men: Apocalypse'!
To fans' excitement, Olivia Munn is playing the part of Psylocke in X-Men: Apocalypse. She's committed to the role, insisting on the costume being purple and - surprisingly - doing her own stunts. As she told Collider:
“Psylocke is such a powerful, lethal character. It was important to me that I was able to do all of the stunts because the more believable it is, the better it is for the audience — and the only way to make it believable is for me to actually do it.”
This even included swordcraft, as she demonstrated on social media!
So there you have it — 10 fantastic facts about Psylocke, soon to hit the big screen as a Horseman of Apocalypse! For more X-Men facts, check out my previous posts on APOCALYPSE himself, CYCLOPS, and NIGHTCRAWLER!