Everything you need to know about Psylocke before her big screen redemption!
On Friday, May 27, 20th Century Fox‘s X-Men franchise will return to the big screen with X-Men: Apocalypse. There, Oscar Isaac’s title character rains death and destruction down upon the ‘80s. X-Men: Apocalypse also marks the onscreen debut of Olivia Munn as Psylocke, one of the most popular X-Men who hasn’t really gotten her due on the big screen before.
Despite being one of the most prominent X-Men in the ‘90s, Psylocke tends to get left out of the adaptations. She’s barely appeared in the various X-Men animated series and most fans don’t even realize that Psylocke was in X-Men: The Last Stand. That version of the character was barely recognizable at all, and X-Men: Apocalypse is more or less ignoring The Last Stand. Munn’s take on the character represents a fresh start for the character, and she’s even wearing a costume very similar to the one Psylocke wore in the comics.
Ahead of X-Men: Apocalypse, ComingSoon.net has put together a quick guide to Psylocke that will bring you up to speed about her comic book incarnation. Everything you need to know about her is right here!
Psylocke, a.k.a. Elizabeth “Betsy” Braddock, made her debut 40 years ago in the pages of Captain Britain. That was a comic book published by Marvel UK, with future X-Men writer Chris Claremont and legendary artist Herb Trimpe, both of whom created Psylocke during their run. Betsy was the sister of Captain Britain, a.k.a. Brian Braddock, the magically-empowered defender of the United Kingdom. But Psylocke had powers of her own, which have wildly varied over the years. To start with, Psylocke had precognitive abilities.
At one point, Psylocke even became Captain Britain herself and dyed her hair purple, which has become her signature visual. Psylocke was also blinded in combat and sidelined as a character for the better part of a decade.
The Mutant Massacre
In 1986, Claremont was writing the Uncanny X-Men comic for Marvel and he decided to bring in Psylocke as a supporting character. Psylocke received bionic eyes as a “gift” from the tyrant known as Mojo, who used her eyes to spy on the team and broadcast their adventures in his home dimension. This was around the time that Psylocke’s powers became more telepathic in nature.
But it wasn’t until the Mutant Massacre storyline that Psylocke came into her own as a heroine, when she hold to off Sabretooth despite being unable to physically confront him. For her bravery, Psylocke was fully embraced by the X-Men as a member of the team.
Acts of Vengeance
It would take far too long to explain how Psylocke and the other members of the X-Men had been corrupted in the late ‘80s. It’s enough to say that Psylocke manipulated the team into the mysterious gateway known as the Siege Perilous in order to save their lives and give them a chance to be reborn. Psylocke resurfaced during the Acts of Vengeance crossover, when she was brainwashed by the ninja cult known as the Hand and transformed into an Asian woman with superior fighting skills.
This is the incarnation of Psylocke that earned her a fan following, as well as the infamous swimsuit costume designed by Jim Lee.
Too Many Psylockes
While Claremont was content to let “magic” be the explanation for Psylocke’s ethnicity change, writer Fabian Nicieza reintroduced a woman named Kwannon, who claimed to be the real Betsy Braddock. This led to the revelation that Betsy and Kwannon’s souls were linked when their bodies were switched (thanks in part to Mojo’s “body shoppe”).
Kwannon eventually died from the Legacy Virus, leaving Betsy as the one and only Psylocke.
During a later X-Men storyline, Psylocke was nearly killed by Sabretooth. To save her life, her lover, Angel went to the Crimson Dawn dimension to find a way to heal her. It worked, and the Crimson Dawn left its mark on Psylocke’s face in the form of a tattoo while also giving her powers to travel through shadows.
Soon after, Psylocke lost her telepathic abilities while fighting the entity known as the Shadow King. To keep the Shadow King from escaping the prison in her mind, she had to refrain from using telepathy.
After a lengthy hiatus, Chris Claremont returned to the X-Men titles and redefined Psylocke’s powers again. This time, Psylocke became a telekinetic, as Claremont argued that she had somehow swapped her powers with Jean Grey. That made no sense and mutant powers don’t work that way, but that’s never stopped Marvel before!
Claremont eventually spun out his favorite characters into the X-Treme X-Men title, where Psylocke was promptly murdered by the man known as Vargas.
You can never keep a superhero dead in Marvel comics. Claremont returned for a third time to the X-Men books, and he promptly resurrected Psylocke with little explanation about how she was brought back. It turned out to be the work of Jamie Braddock, Psylocke’s magically empowered and totally crazy older brother as part of a plot to use her against a cosmic enemy known as the First Fallen.
After a brief stint with the X-Men, Psylocke was placed as one of the main characters of the relaunched Exiles comic, with Claremont once again writing her adventures.
Once Psylocke was back on Earth, she rejoined the X-Men during writer Matt Fraction’s run. But she once again rose to prominence as a core cast member of Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force title. There, Psylocke, Wolverine, Deadpool, Fantomex, and Archangel served as an unsanctioned X-Men team that used lethal force against the enemies of mutants everywhere.
Archangel eventually succumbed to the influence of Apocalypse, and he even briefly transformed Betsy into one of the new Horsemen of Apocalypse as well. However, Psylocke was freed from his control and she was heartbroken when Archangel’s mind was seemingly destroyed in the battle with his darker side.
After a few additional stints on different iterations of X-Force, Psylocke is now a member of Magneto’s renegade X-Men team that shares a willingness to kill in order to protect mutantkind. Psylocke is essentially the female lead of this new Uncanny X-Men series, which is written by Cullen Bunn and drawn by Greg Land.
A seemingly mindless Archangel has also returned, and in the current “Apocalypse War” storyline, Psylocke is exploring how Archangel and his human self, Warren Worthington have seemingly split into two different people.