As superhero franchises go, one of the first to make its mark was X-Men, which made its debut way back in 2000. A slew of movies would follow, and many claim that the original X-Men movie was one of the primary catalysts behind the surge of popularity that ushered in the modern superhero genre. Billions in box-office receipts have followed, a whole sub-genre was born, and the wave of cinematic outings from multiple comic book characters doesn’t look to be stopping soon. However, X-Men was unique for one other reason, something that still has fans giddy in their seats to this day.
Where many fans watch their favourite heroes because it’s always interesting to see a comic book character come to vivid life on the screen, there are some die-hard fans that watch the movies to spot their favorite heroes. X-Men is unique because the universe is so diverse and expanded — there are hundreds of mutants that could take a starring role, cameo, fleeting glimpse, or simply speak off camera at any second; it adds a whole other level to the franchise’s appeal, and it is one primary reason behind multiple viewings.
That is why it remains a mystery that Psylocke, one of the more popular X-Men (or women), took so long to appear on our screens in her full power-displaying glory. She made a minor, subdued cameo in X-Men: The Last Stand, but she nabbed a main role in X-Men: Apocalypse, and the character’s divided motivations help shed some light on why she hasn’t really featured as a main character until now. Olivia Munn recently spoke about the role and tried to explain these motivations. Be warned, if you haven’t seen X-Men: Apocalypse yet, major spoilers lie ahead.
Olivia Munn recently attended the X-Men: Apocalypse press day in London along with co-stars Sophie Turner (Jean Grey) and Evan Peters (Quicksilver). Speaking to Cinema Blend, she revealed the following about Psylocke and explained why her character was motivated so.
“I know it’s not really shown in the movie that much. It’s something that I talked to Simon Kinberg and Bryan [Singer] about, saying that we’re not really showing the audience the genesis of who Psylocke is and why she would go with him. But the backstory of Psylocke that I brought into it just in my head that you can’t see on screen was that she lost her entire family. She has these really great abilities, these powers, and she’s been manipulated by many different leaders because she’s been looking for her righteous path and looking for a family again.”
Psylocke, a.k.a Elizabeth Braddock, originally appears as a bodyguard for Caliban, a mutant who can sense and track other mutants. After an initial exchange of heated words, Apocalypse soon recruits her to be one of his Four Horsemen, and it’s her burning desire for a righteous path and family that makes the decision to join his ranks a no-brainer. She finds a sense of family in the group alongside fellow mutants Apocalypse, Magneto, Storm, and Angel. The actress explains that Apocalypse may actually be manipulating Psylocke and using her one weakness against her — similar to another popular mutant.
“Much like Wolverine in the comics, he’s got these really amazing abilities and he was manipulated by a lot of people to do their bidding. So that’s what she sees in Apocalypse – yet another maybe righteous leader. She’s looking for someone who will show her the way, and looking for a family.”
So Psylocke is just looking for some direction, it seems. In the X-Men universe, it’s not uncommon for a mutant to be lost in their way and see their abilities and powers as more of a hindrance than a gift. We’ve seen it in previous movies with Rogue, who has the unfortunate ability to absorb and remove memories, physical strength, and even life from her touch alone, which essentially cripples her existence as a curious teenage girl. This was also evident with fellow teenagers Iceman and Pyro, who struggle to exist with their powers and, more in the case of the latter, keep them under control.
This dispute of powers versus personal freedom has been exploited multiple times in the X-Men movies. Many characters are faced with a tough choice; exist as a mutant and face expulsion, or try to be normal and blend into society. Surprisingly, many mutants struggle with this. Even Wolverine has been shown to loathe his powers, abilities that were forced on him through the Weapon X program; because he regenerates and cannot age, he has seen multiple loved ones pass while he continues to walk the Earth, seemingly immortal. Naturally, these abilities have been exploited by various antagonistic characters, as explained by Munn herself.
So, after 16 years, we finally see one of the main X-Men make an impressive mark in the universe. Psylocke is a popular character in the mythos, and with more movies on the horizon, it’s a testament to the depth of the universe itself that the franchise can still introduce someone so popular and keep it fresh. Who will be the next character to make a huge impact? The good money is on Mr. Sinister, who makes a cheeky cameo in the post-credit scenes of X-Men: Apocalypse —as reported last week. With Gambit and a third Wolverine movie imminent, and a whole host of new mutants ready to be introduced, it’s true to say that anything can happen in the X-Men universe.
X-Men: Apocalypse is showing in theaters now.
[Image via 20th Century Fox]