Originally Published: May 25, 2011, on Comicvine.com

We are all very aware that there are clearly going to be many differences between the X-Men: First Class movie and the comics it is based off of. Another story arc that we are sure to see some loose liberties taken with in the movie will be the Hellfire Club and its leader, Sebastian Shaw, played by Kevin Bacon.

Sebastian Shaw first appeared in January 1980 in X-Men #129 as the Black King of the now infamous Hellfire Club. A shrewd businessman and strategist, Shaw was a self-made billionaire by age 40. This rapid influx of wealth caught the attention of Ned Buckman, the head of the New York branch of the Hellfire Club, which at the time had a very anti-mutant agenda unbeknownst to Shaw.

Shaw was invited into the club’s Inner Circle as the Black Bishop. But when Shaw and his lover came under attack for being mutants, his lover being killed, Shaw used Emma Frost to coerce Buckman into killing himself and all other members of the club’s Inner Circle instead. This left a power vacuum that Shaw quickly plugged as he announced himself the new Black King and began his pro-mutant machinations for the club and his ultimate goal of world domination.

Shaw’s first appearance in the comics would help set up one of the most dramatic story arcs in X-Men history as it would start The Dark Phoenix Saga and also marked the first appearance of two other very popular characters, Kitty Pryde and Emma Frost. Emma was Shaw’s right hand lady with her psychic abilities and Shaw had sent Emma to distract the X-Men and test their limits when they went to investigate the manifestations of Kitty’s powers. This was all to allow original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants member, Jason Wyngarde, the original Mastermind, a clearer chance to manipulate Jean Grey’s mind while the X-Men were distracted and split up (Storm, Wolverine, Colossus, and Professor X went to see Kitty while Cyclops, Jean, and Nightcrawler went looking for Dazzler in New York) and begin preparing her to become Shaw’s Black Queen for his vision of the Hellfire Club. Of course, this would backfire, drive Jean mad, and unleash the Dark Phoenix, but that’s another story for another time.

Aside from being a brilliant tactician, Shaw also possesses a mutant power similar to that of Bishop’s in that he can absorb kinetic energy and re-metabolize it. Shaw cannot redirect the energy into blasts of his own like Bishop, but like Bishop he can use it to increase his strength, speed, stamina, and invulnerability and often takes a pummeling early in a fight from his foes in order to build up his reserves and dish out punishment on a more personal level with his fists later on.

Now we haven’t seen much of Shaw in trailers or whatnot except that members of his Hellfire Club usually accompany him or there is one shot where he is talking to Angel Salvadore. Since I highly doubt we’ll see anything in regards to Dark Phoenix, I think it would make sense for Shaw and his Hellfire Club to have their own agenda for the mutant race and this is what puts them in conflict with the X-Men and maybe even gives Magneto the inspiration to form the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants later on. And this would at least stay true to Shaw as a character who plans for world domination through force and his vast fortune.

Also, even though Kevin Bacon is not nearly as imposing a physical force as Shaw comes across as in the comics, I’d at least like to see him get his hands dirty and slug it out with some of First Class’s heavy hitters like Beast, Havok, and maybe even Darwin. You could very easily have him absorb one of Havok’s blasts and go to town on some of the X-Men who use more hand-to-hand techniques when fighting their foes. No matter what though, this classic X-Men villain is sure to give these First Class recruits a run for their money.

So what do you guys think? Just how far will Shaw and the Hellfire Club go in the movie? Will Shaw get his hands dirty when push comes to shove or will he remain more simply as the brilliant tactician behind this odd roster of the Inner Circle of Emma, Riptide, and Azazel? Let us know what you think with comments below!

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