With a universe as sprawling as Marvel’s, there will always be characters who are deserving of more screen time in the cinematic adaptations than they get. However, when it comes to Fox’s take on the X-Men, there is one in particular who stands out to fans as being overdue for some serious attention: Psylocke. A long-standing member of the X-Men with incredible weaponry and a fascinating backstory, Psylocke is the epitome of cool, yet thus far we only got a half-cocked glimpse of her in X-Men: The Last Stand.
With X-Men: Apocalypse coming to theatres later this spring (May 27th), our purple-haired ninja (played by Olivia Munn) will finally get seem real screen-time, and we cannot wait! While existing fans will be on the edge of their seats, if your X-perience with the team is limited to the existing movies (and maybe the classic animated series), you might be wondering who this new horseman is. Although Psylocke has a long and complicated history, we’re here to bring you some of the most important elements of Betsy Braddock before she leaps onto screens, psi-blades swinging. Here are 10 Thing You Need To Know About Psylocke.
10 Her Real Name is Betsy Braddock
She may not rock an alter-ego the way that some other superheroes do, but Psylocke does have a “real” name — Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Braddock. She also has a brother, Brian Braddock, aka Captain Britain (who may be getting his own series). In her early days, Betsy Braddock was a model, and dyed her blonde hair purple in order to stand out from the crowd. She was also a trained pilot, a skill which has come in handy more than once.
Her precognitive and telepathic powers developed after a battle with Dr Synne, during which he took over her mind. The intrusion jump-started her abilities, and she was soon recruited to the psi division of STRIKE (a British counterpart to S.H.I.E.L.D.). After some time with the agency and a brief stint as Captain Britain herself, Betsy was kidnapped by Mojo before being rescued by the New Mutants and brought to Professor Xavier’s school to learn to control her powers and eventually become a member of the X-Men.
9 Her Current Body Is Not Her Original One
After she learned to control and develop her powers of telepathy with the X-Men, Psylocke had a vision of their deaths, and used a device known as the Siege Perilous to create new lives for herself and her team. She herself woke up in China with no memory, and was taken in by The Hand (yep, that Hand).
The Hand’s leader callously decided to use her body to try and save his own lover, Kwannon, who was brain-dead after falling off a cliff in an honor battle. Matsuo Tsurayaba swapped the bodies of Betsy and Kwannon, simultaneously merging their souls. Now with half of Kwannon’s memories, Betsy had the skills and knowledge of a ninja assassin, as well as half of her own telepathic abilities. Without her own memories, Psylocke became an assassin for the Mandarin, putting her new skills and abilities to deadly use before a battle with Wolverine reminded her of who she really is.
8 She Is Telepathic and Telekinetic
Psylocke’s powers have developed and changed as her story progressed, but she is first and foremost a powerful telepath. Originally, she was a pre-cog, and these powers developed into her telepathy. Before her body-swap and the sharing of her abilities, she was one of the most powerful telepaths in the world.
Like many other high-level telepaths, she has the ability to physically scan, to read minds, project thoughts, and project illusions into the minds of others. When using her powers, a butterfly-shaped aura would often appear around her head. She also had the ability to use physics blasts to damage her opponents in a fight. After the body-swap with Kwannon, her powers were lessened (as half were now part of Kwannon/Revanche), but she gained ninja skills from Kwannon’s soul. Cue head scratching.
7 She Uses Psychic Weaponry
In addition to the martial arts skills that Psylocke developed after her soul-swap at the hands of The Hand, Psylocke developed a new and unique ability. She learned to channel her psychic ability into psi-blades — weapons made of pure mental energy.
These are now her signature weapon, as they replaced her earlier use of psychic blasts in battle. Her blades appear as light energy in battle, and are usually depicted as having a purple hue. Her blades, along with her powers, have developed over time. Originally, she used a single, relatively small, psi-knife, though she later began channeling her energies into full-sized swords, and a psi-katana. As we've glimpsed in recent trailers for Apocalypse, it looks like this ability will very much be making its way onto the big screen.
6 She Has Been A Member Of Multiple “Good” Teams...
Obviously, Psylocke’s primary allegiance is to the X-Men, but that’s not the only team that she’s been associated with over the length of her comic book history. When she was Captain Britain, she became a member of the Captain Britain Corps, a team created of different versions of the hero from different worlds in the multiverse. However, her time as the hero of Britain was so short-lived that it is doubtful we will ever see this come to the screen.
Psylocke was also a prominent member of X-Force, a team created by Cable. X-Force was essentially a mutant black-ops team, though more violent and aggressive that the core X-Men. Psylocke has also been a member of the Exiles, a team of time and reality-travelers.
Assuming Psylocke manages to survive the upcoming Apocalypse, she's a prime candidate to appear in the upcoming X-Force movie, a film which remains a priority according to Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds.
5 …As Well As Quite A Few “Bad” Teams
While Psylocke is more commonly fighting alongside the good guys, she’s had several story arcs where she crosses over to the darker side of comic books. Early on, she infiltrated the Hellfire Club, using the membership that she inherited from her father, though that didn't last very long.
She was also a member of the Sisterhood of Mutants, an all-female team brought together by Madelyne Pryor, Jean Grey's clone and Cable's mother. Psylocke, like most of the other members, was manipulated by Pryor into joining, and was not fully committed to the group. Her most relevant time on an “evil” team, however, is her role as a Horseman of the Apocalypse - the same role that we will (presumably) see in the upcoming films. Psylocke briefly took on the role of the Horseman Death, although we are sure to see a new twist on this in the movie.
4 She Has A Romantic History With Angel
Both rich heirs and members of the Hellfire club through their families, Psylocke and Warren Worthington have a long and tragic history together. They were a couple for quite some time, with the kind of on-again, off-again relationship that would put Ross and Rachel to shame. Despite the somewhat volatile nature of their relationship, they loved each other passionately – and each has saved the other’s life in the past. Angel was one of the X-Men who went to the Crimson Dawn to heal Psylocke when she was on the brink of death, and Psylocke helped Angel attempt to control his Death persona.
Their relationship comes to a tragic end, however, when Angel becomes Apocalypse’s heir. Psylocke becomes Death to Archangel, but rebels against him, stabbing him through the heart and killing him to save the rest of the world. He died in her arms, to be reborn as a blank slate, with no memory of the woman he loved.
3 She And Cyclops Had A Thing
Although Psylocke and Angel have a long history, and he is arguably the love of her life, Psylocke has had the occasional flirtation with other characters over the course of the past forty years. One of the most interesting in terms of the new X-Men universe on screen is her history with Cyclops – we all know that Scott Summers will inevitably end up with Jean Grey, but we could see Jean, Betsy and Scott’s love triangle played out on the big screen (or at least alluded to).
When Psylocke was (relatively) new to the Mansion, she set her sights on Cyclops, and it ended with some not-so-subtle moves to try to win him for herself. Not surprisingly, Jean wasn’t best pleased with this situation, and the two women faced off over Scott. Everything worked out in the end, Scott married Jean and Psylocke got together with Angel, but Jean had some real competition there for a while!
2 She Has Had The Ability to Teleport
In addition to her impressive telepathy and psi-blades, at one point, Psylocke had the ability to teleport as well. She gained these new powers after being brutally beaten by Sabretooth. Near death, her life was only saved when Angel (along with Wolverine and Dr Strange) went to the Crimson Dawn to find a magical healing potion. It worked, but left her with a red dagger mark over one eye, and the new ability to teleport through shadows.
We saw this red mark when Psylocke made a brief appearance in X-Men: The Final Stand, but it doesn’t look like she has it in the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse. While Fox may end up using this storyline later in the franchise, for now, it seems Psylocke won’t be doing any teleportation. Perhaps she doesn't want to step on the toes of a certain blue-skinned superhero with whom she'll be sharing the screen this May?
1 She Has Died And Been Resurrected
It’s not unusual for comic book characters to cheat death, and Psylocke joined the list of resurrected superheroes when she battled swordsman Vargas. Killed while protecting Rogue and Beast, she was buried and a memorial to her was erected at the Mansion.
A year later of course, Betsy mysteriously reappeared on the spot she was killed, without her Crimson Dawn tattoo or teleportation powers. Her brother Jamie was discovered to be the one behind her resurrection, as he had hoped to use her as a weapon. Her return came with some changes to her powers, as she returned immune to psychic and telepathic manipulation and with enhanced telekinetic powers. We expect the film adaptation to keep her slightly powered-down for now, however.
Did we miss any of your favorite Psylocke facts? Do you think Olivia Munn is going to steal the show in the upcoming Apocalypse? Let us know in the comments section!
X-Men: Apocalypse arrives in theaters on May 27th, 2016.