Psylocke is one of the most popular members of the X-Men. She was originally created by Chris Claremont as a secondary character in the pages of Captain Britain before being brought into the X-Men comics. Psylocke reached new heights of popularity in the ’90s, as a member of the X-Men’s Blue Team, at the time when the X-Men comics were the best-selling books at Marvel.
So why do people love Psylocke so much? Is it because she is a psychic ninja, who can beat almost every other member of the X-Men (and their enemies) in hand-to-hand combat, or is it just the outfit?
We are here today to look into the bizarre history of one of the greatest mutants of all time. From the totally different original version of the character to the questionable casting choice behind the Psylocke of the X-Men movies.
Here are Fifteen Things You Didn’t Know About Psylocke!
15. The UK Origin Of Psylocke
The original version of Psylocke was totally different from the character that we know today.
Betsy Braddock was created by Chris Claremont in the pages of Captain Britain #8, which was made for Marvel UK. She was introduced as the sister of the title character. Betsy was originally a blonde white woman from England. She was originally a charter pilot, which would later give her the skills to pilot the Blackbird Jet.
It was established early on that Betsy was a mutant, with powerful telepathic abilities. She would go on dye her hair purple and become a model. Betsy would join S.T.R.I.K.E (the British equivalent to S.H.I.E.L.D) and became a secret agent.
Some of these original aspects of Psylocke’s character were ignored in later comics. This is partly due to the fact that there are legal issues concerning the original comics that appeared as part of Marvel UK, like unsanctioned crossovers with Doctor Who that might cause problems if they were referenced.
14. The Switching Of Psylocke’s Body
The version of Psylocke that most fans are familiar with is a Japanese woman, who was trained to be a ninja. So how did Psylocke change into a totally new person?
In Uncanny X-Men #251, the X-Men are forced to flee through a magical portal, known as the Siege Perilous. The portal will send them to safety but will also remove their memories. The next time we see Psylocke, she has switched minds into a new body and is a servant of the Hand. Wolverine manages to free Psylocke from the Hand’s control and they both return to the X-Men.
The question of how Psylocke ended up in a new body was changed and retconned on several occasions. Originally, she was transformed into a new woman by Mojo. It was later established that Psylocke’s new body originally belonged to an assassin, named Kwannon, who was the lover of a high-ranking member of the Hand. Kwannon’s lover found Psylocke after she passed through the Siege Perilous and switched the minds of both women (with the aid of Mojo and the Mandarin). He did this because Kwannon was gravely injured after falling from a cliff. By switching the minds of the two women, he could at least allow Kwannon’s body to live.
13. The Return Of Kwannon
It turned out that Kwannon wasn’t quite as dead as everyone thought.
Kwannon, while in Psylocke’s original body, eventually recovered from the mind swap. She traveled to America, in order to seek out Psylocke. The magic & technology that allowed the mind swap also connected the DNA of the two women, which is what allowed them to share the same mutant power. Psylocke and Kwannon also shared pieces of each other’s memories and personality. Kwannon hunted down Psylocke, with the intention of killing her in order to reclaim the missing parts of her identity.
The X-Men stopped Kwannon from killing Psylocke. The truth of what happened finally came to light and Kwannon realized that murdering Psylocke would not restore her body. Kwannon actually joined the X-Men for a while, calling herself Revanche (the French word for “revenge”). This meant that there were two Psylockes on the team for a while.
Kwannon contracted the Legacy Virus, which was going to claim her life. She made peace with Psylocke and reunited with her old lover, so that he could kill her, in order to save her from suffering at the hands of the Legacy Virus.
12. The Original Movie Psylocke
Olivia Munn’s portrayal of Psylocke in X-Men: Apocalypse has been the most high-profile version of the character to appear on the screen. She had a major role in the film, as one of Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen. Psylocke fought against the X-Men in some amazing fight scenes, which has been the high point of the character’s screen adaptations.
There was a version of Psylocke that appeared in an earlier X-Men film, though you may not have realized it. Psylocke was a member of the Omegas in X-Men: Last Stand. She was played by Mei Melançon, who dyed her hair purple for the role (which is as much clue as you’re getting that she is supposed to be Psylocke).
The X-Men: Last Stand version of Psylocke only exhibits the ability to teleport through shadows (which Psylocke could do for a brief period of time in the comics). This version of Psylocke never uses the iconic psi-blades at any point, she never uses any ninja skills, and she is killed by the Dark Phoenix before doing anything related to the character.
11. The Overblown Deadpool Cameo
Psylocke used to be a popular choice for a playable character in the X-Men video games. This is due to the fact that her powers & skill set were well suited for games in the 16-bit era. Psylocke is an acrobatic character, with a range of melee fighting moves, and a mutant power that can act as a weapon. This made her far more suitable for a 2D game than her female colleagues on the team. Storm, Rogue, and Jean Grey were too strong, in a way that wouldn’t be fun for a video game.
In 2014, Deadpool starred in his own video game. Psylocke was featured prominently in the advertising for the game. Despite this, she barely did anything. Psylocke only had a single line of dialogue and was mainly there so that she could bend over and have Deadpool ogle her backside. Rogue and Domino also appeared in the game and they were given a role in the story. Psylocke was reduced to nothing more than eye candy.
10. Psylocke Is One Of The Few Bisexual Marvel Heroes
The X-Men comics have long used the mutant race as an allegory for discrimination. When X-Men debuted, this was tied to racism. As time went on, the struggle of the X-Men changed from representing race to sexuality. As such, the number of LGBT characters across the X-Men books increased. The first ever gay wedding to happen in the pages of Marvel comics involved Northstar, who is the first openly gay Marvel character, and also, a mutant. This happened a year before DC prevented a lesbian wedding from happening in the pages of Batwoman, which prompted the entire creative team to leave in protest.
Psylocke is one of the LGBT members of the X-Men, and she has been shown in relationships with both men and women. Psylocke used to date Archangel, during the period when he had blue skin and metal wings (given to him by Apocalypse) which was a prominent storyline throughout the X-Men comics of the ’90s. She would later enter a relationship with Cluster, who is a female clone of one of the three brains of Fantomex. It seems that Psylocke will only date people whose backstories are as messed up as hers.
9. Psylocke Isn’t Popular With Animators
Psylocke is one of the most popular members of the X-Men… or at least she is in the comics. She has been popular in the video games as well (such as in the Marvel fighting games produced by Capcom), but it took a long time for her to hit the screen.
The first movie version of Psylocke has barely any resemblance to the character from the comics, and the second one (in X-Men: Apocalypse) was added late during the film’s development. This is unusual, due to how popular Psylocke is and how easy it would be to replicate her powers on screen.
It isn’t just movie producers who don’t like Psylocke, however, as she has barely appeared in any of the major X-Men cartoons. Psylocke only spoke in two episodes of the ’90s X-Men cartoon (though she appeared in background shots of other episodes) and only appeared in one episode of Wolverine and the X-Men. She never appeared at all in X-Men: Evolution, even though the show ran for four seasons.
8. The Queen Of The House Of M
Marvel ran a company-wide event in 2005, called the House of M. The Scarlet Witch’s powers had gone out of control and she remade reality in such a way that all of the Marvel heroes would be happy. The truth is eventually revealed and the new reality begins to crumble. Before the old universe was restored, Scarlet Witch decreed that there would be no more mutants. Once reality returned, around 99% of all of the world’s mutants had lost their powers.
In the House of M reality, Psylocke is actually the rightful Queen of England. This is due to the fact that she was born a few minutes earlier than her twin brother. She willingly abdicated the throne and allowed her brother to become the king. Psylocke preferred to travel the world with Rachel Summers and go on wacky adventures than deal with ruling a kingdom. For some unexplained reason, this version of Psylocke retained the body of Kwannon. This might mean that she prefers this form, rather than her original body.
7. The Psylocke Codename Was Created By Mojo & Spiral
The vast majority of superheroes and villains get to choose their own secret identity. Psylocke is one of the exceptions to this. She always used her birth name, even when she was a secret agent. She did use the Captain Britain name for a while before she was forced to abandon the position after losing her eyes in battle.
Psylocke was given her codename by two of the X-Men’s villains, who kidnapped her and took her to another reality. After Psylocke lost her eyes, she was forced to use her telepathy to see through the eyes of others. She was captured by Mojo and Spiral, who gave her a pair of bionic eyes. Mojo referred to her as “The Psylocke” and intended to use her powers for his own ends. Psylocke was later rescued by the New Mutants, which led to her association with the X-Men. She kept the codename afterward, despite Spiral becoming one of her archenemies.
6. Psylocke & The Psi-War
After the Onslaught event, Professor Xavier briefly lost his powers. This allowed his old nemesis, the Shadow King, to escape from the astral plane. With no other telepaths around to stop him, it fell to Psylocke to enter the astral plane and take the battle to the Shadow King. This event became known as the Psi-War, as Psylocke desperately fought to stop the Shadow King from taking over the world. After receiving more power from the Crimson Dawn elixir, Psylocke was able to imprison the Shadow King with her telepathy. This meant that she could not use her telepathy ever again, without freeing him.
It was originally planned for Psylocke to die during the Psi-War and for her consciousness to be trapped in the astral plane. This would cause massive trauma for the remaining psychics in the world. It was going to be up to Jean Grey to try and find Psylocke’s spirit. This was going to lead into a new story, where Jean became the Phoenix once more. This idea was scrapped and replaced with Psylocke defeating the Shadow King instead.
5. The Absent Assassin Of The Age Of Apocalypse
The Age of Apocalypse was an event run by Marvel that started in 1995. It was a storyline that took over all of the X-Men comics of the time. The Age of Apocalypse was set in an alternate reality that was created by Legion when he went back in time to try and kill Magneto. Legion accidentally killed Charles Xavier instead. This created a world where Apocalypse took over America and Magneto is leading his own team of X-Men in rebellion against him.
Psylocke did not appear at all in the original version of the Age of Apocalypse. She was the most high profile member of the X-Men to not be included and no word was given of her fate. This lead many fans to believe that she had died at some point in the past.
When a new Age of Apocalypse series was released in 2005, Psylocke was now part of the X-Men. No explanation was given for her absence in the earlier series. She was also in the body of Kwannon, with no explanation for how she got there.
4. The Ever Changing Nature Of Psylocke’s Powers
Psylocke’s powers have changed drastically over the years. This is tied to her numerous major character changes, like switching bodies with Kwannon and being resurrected by a magic potion. These have changed her powers a lot from her early days in Captain Britain.
When Psylocke was first introduced, she possessed the power of telepathy. She wasn’t as powerful as Jean Grey or Charles Xavier, but she could still perform impressive feats with her psionic abilities. When she switched bodies with Kwannon, her telepathy was weakened, but she gained the ability to create a powerful psi-blade, which could be used as a weapon. After Kwannon’s death, Psylocke’s telepathy returned to normal.
After drinking the Crimson Dawn elixir, Psylocke gained the ability to teleport by stepping through shadows. She later gained the power of telekinesis, after losing her telepathy to the Shadow King (which later returned). Her ability to create psionic weapons increased, which allowed her to create swords and bow & arrows from telepathic energy.
3. Psylocke Was Once Captain Britain
Psylocke’s brother is a man named Brian Braddock, who is also the superhero known as Captain Britain. It is his job to protect the British Isles from danger. Unlike his American counterpart, Captain Britain mainly deals with mystical foes. While Captain America is fighting HYDRA, it is up to Captain Britain to fight the disgruntled rejects of Hogwarts.
Brian Braddock is not the only person to don the mantle of Captain Britain. Long before Betsy Braddock took on the mantle of Psylocke, she was Captain Britain. She took on the role during a period when her brother was trapped in another reality. She used an augmented battle suit, as well as her telepathic abilities, to serve as the protector of Britain.
2. The Marvel Editors Prevented Psylocke’s Resurrection
Psylocke once drank a mystical elixir, known as the Crimson Dawn. It was sought out by the X-Men, as Psylocke was critically injured by Sabretooth and it was the only thing that could save her. Once she drank the Crimson Dawn, it gave her some new powers and a red tattoo on her face.
Chris Claremont wasn’t fond of these changes to his character, so he killed Psylocke in the second issue of X-Treme X-Men. He had intended to revive her a few issues later, with the Crimson Dawn tattoo/powers being removed. The problem was, Marvel had issued an edict that banned all resurrections of characters. This was intended to make the deaths of characters carry more weight. Psylocke was forced to stay dead, as the editorial staff at Marvel were determined to make their ruling stick.
1. Olivia Munn Turned Down Deadpool To Play Psylocke
The appearance of Psylocke in X-Men: Apocalypse has helped the character reach a new level of mainstream popularity. A lot of this can be attributed to Olivia Munn’s portrayal of the character. Munn fought hard for Psylocke to be an action-oriented character and her fight scenes are some of the highlights of the film.
Olivia Munn almost missed out on the chance to play Psylocke, as she was offered the role of Vanessa in Deadpool. She turned it down, as she was sick of playing the damsel in distress and wanted to play an action role. Munn was fed up of playing eye candy and wanted to do something more involved. That’s not to say that the creators of the film weren’t determined to turn her into eye candy, as Psylocke retained her fetishistic ninja outfit from the comics (and is one of the few characters in the X-Men movies to retain their costume from the comic).
The decision to skip Deadpool may not have been wise, however, as the movie was a smash hit. Deadpool became the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time. X-Men: Apocalypse, meanwhile, was critically panned and made less than Days of Future Past did. Olivia Munn should still be commended for wanting to branch out. She has brought some much-needed love for Psylocke on the big screen, which may pave the way for future film appearances for the character.
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