As fans have seen multiple times in comic book history, a big part of Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Apocalypse has the titular villain recruiting his Four Horsemen: a group of extremely powerful mutants whom Apocalypse is able to convince to do his bidding and serve as his personal bodyguards. In the film, this group consists of Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Angel (Ben Hardy) and Psylocke (Olivia Munn), but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, most early drafts actually only included three of those Horsemen, with Psylocke only entering the fray late in the screenwriting process.
Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of sitting down for an interview with X-Men: Apocalypse writer/producer Simon Kinberg, and knowing how big comic book blockbusters tend to change through development, the first question I posed was in regard to other characters who were considered to be a part of the Four Horsemen team. As it turns out, original drafts of the script really only featured three primary Horsemen, with Apocalypse kidnapping James McAvoy’s Professor Charles Xavier with the hope of getting him to switch teams. Kinberg explained,
The one person we didn’t know was Psylocke, and the reason why is because originally in the script we sort of… I don’t know why we made this decision, but we knew that Professor X was abducted in the middle of the movie, and we thought that almost counted as a fourth Horseman. And so that’s the way we constructed the original draft of the script. There wasn’t going to be a fourth one. The ‘surprise’ was that Xavier was the fourth Horseman. And then when we were working on the script, Bryan and I at one particular point – pretty late in the process – said, ‘He’s not really a Horseman – he’s not doing anything in the third act of the movie.’
Also taking into consideration the shape of a pyramid (which Apocalypse erects as a home base), and the fact that it has four different sides, it was decided that another mutant should be brought in to provide the villain with protection on all fronts. In order to decide who the final member of the team would be, Simon Kinberg and Bryan Singer consulted a list of all of the Horsemen used in comic book history, and found Psylocke to be an interesting choice. Not only that, Kinberg also realized that he had just met with a great potential actress for the part just a couple weeks prior. Said the filmmaker,
We started talking about who that would be, and just literally looked at the list of different Horsemen over the history of the comics, and Psylocke was the one we thought was the most intriguing. And, ironically, or as fate would have it, I had just met with Olivia Munn about Deadpool - like a week or two before. And Bryan and I were up in Montreal, and I said, ‘You know, Olivia Munn could be an interesting Psylocke,’ so we went on the internet and Googled her images. And one of the first things that popped up was a piece of fan art of Olivia as Psylocke.
Olivia Munn officially signed on to X-Men: Apocalypse in mid-April 2015 - rounding out the Four Horseman team just a couple weeks before production later that same month. Given how key Magneto, Storm, Angel and Psylocke have been for the marketing for the film leading up to its release, it’s interesting to think about how things could have been completely different.
X-Men: Apocalypse will arrive in theaters on May 27th, and be sure to stay tuned for more from our interviews with the movie’s cast and filmmakers!