Sebastian Shaw
Sebastian Shaw promo
Alias(es) Dr. Shaw
Klaus Schmidt
Appeared in X-Men: First Class
Status Deceased
Actor Kevin Bacon
"We are the children of the atom. Radiation gave birth to mutants. What will kill the humans, will only make us stronger."
―Sebastian Shaw [src]

Sebastian Hiram Shaw was a mutant with the ability to absorb almost any type of energy and transform it into raw strength or release it through a simple touch, a powerful punch, or a stomp to the floor.


X-Men: First Class: High Hand

In 1959 Shaw runs the Hellfire Club: a small gambling establishment in Las Vegas. One day, Shaw is approached by Lavecchia, a member of the Maria who Shaw has refused to pay protection money to. During a game of poker with Lavecchia he brings out Emma Frost: a mutant telepath to read his mind. When she does, Shaw reveals he knows she’s a mutant too much to her surprise. After refusing to pay the protection fee again, Lavecchia leaves in anger and orders his men to secretly kill Shaw by setting fire to the building and locking Shaw inside. When this fails, Lavecchias men attack Shaw only to be killed by Shaw and his servant and fellow mutant Riptide.

Later, Shaw, Riptide, and Azazel attack Lavecchias territory. As Riptide and Azazel take care of the guards Shaw confronts Emma inside the house who uses her powers to knock Shaw unconscious. Lavecchia tells Shaw he plans to dismember him alive to send a message. However, Shaw manages to convince Emma that she can be so much greater then what she is at the moment and along with Lavecchia beginning to physically abuse her Emma proceeds to kill Lavecchia with the strength of her new secondary mutation. With Emma recruited to their ranks, Shaw decides to have a helmet made to protect his mind against psychic attacks.

X-Men: First Class

Sebastian Shaw (under the alias Dr. Klaus Schmidt) was a scientist working for the Nazis during WWII. He was present in the concentration camp where a young Erik Lehnsherr's mutant powers first manifested. Shaw attempted to coax the boy into consciously using his ability, but to no avail. He then threatened to shoot the boy's mother if he did not move a small coin made out of Nazi gold by the time he counted to three. When Erik failed to do so, Shaw executed his mother. Enraged, the boy lashed out with his powers, killing two guards by crushing their steel helmets and causing the metal objects in the adjacent examination room to fly about violently. Shaw was delighted and congratulated the traumatized young mutant.

18 years later, Sebastian emerged as the leader of the Hellfire Club, a group of mutants with aspirations of world domination. He was observed in Las Vegas by CIA Agent Moira MacTaggert meeting with U.S. Army Colonel Hendry where he threatens him into supporting the building of American missile sites in Turkey, near the Russian border. When MacTaggert witnesses Shaw's henchmen Azazel and Riptide using their powers, she attempts to warn her superiors; but Shaw has Azazel teleport Hendry to a Joint Chiefs meeting where he voices his support of the plan. Later, when Hendry comes to Sebastian's yacht to collect his payment, he  threatens to kill himself and everyone with a hand grenade if they refuse to let him go. Shaw takes the grenade and pulls the pin himself, displaying his mutant power by absorbing the energy from the blast and using it to kill Hendry himself. That night, a now adult and vengeful Erik Lehnsherr, who had been hunting Shaw, sneaks aboard the yacht and attempts to murder the man who'd tortured him; only to be overwhelmed by Emma Frost's telepathy. At the same time, the U.S. Coast Guard arrived along with MacTaggert and mutant telepath Charles Xavier to apprehend him. Frost used her powers to shield Shaw from him and they all made their way to their submarine and narrowly escaped capture.

On their way to meet with a Soviet general, Frost senses Xavier's enhanced telepathy (through use of Cerebro) and informs Sebastian that he is recruiting his own team of mutants, consisting of Dr. Hank McCoy, Angel Salvadore, Sean Cassidy, Alex Summers, Raven Darkholme and Armando Muñoz. Shaw reveals a helmet he had built by the Russians that shields him from telepathic influence and orders her to meet with the general in his place. He, Azazel and Riptide track Charles and his team to a secret CIA facility where they proceed to kill everyone, leaving the young mutants as the only ones left. He then offers them a chance to join him in the upcoming war with humankind, an offer that only Angel accepts. When the others attempt to stop her, Shaw absorbs Summers' energy blast and kills Muñoz before leaving.

Shaw proceeds to Russia, where he meets with the Soviet general he sent Frost to see during which she was captured by Lehnsherr and Xavier; forcing the man to send Soviet missiles to Cuba. It is his plan to goad the U.S. and Soviet Union to use nuclear weapons on each other, causing WWIII which will cripple human civilization and allow mutants to rise up and rule. He accompanies the Russian fleet in his submarine to assure that the missiles reach their destination, but he is tracked by Xavier and his team. Lehnsherr uses his powers to lift the sub from the water before they both crash on a nearby beach. Shaw attempts to absorb the energy from the sub's nuclear reactor (becoming a human atom bomb) but is foiled by Lehnsherr. The two fight and Sebastian has the upper hand, until Erik manages to remove his helmet allowing Xavier to mentally freeze his body. Lehnsherr then takes Shaw's helmet for himself and uses his ability to force the Nazi gold coin he still kept through Shaw's brain, killing him. His body was then used by Erik, as a means of showing he was now in charge of Shaw's former comrades.

Character traits

Sebastian's personality seems to be very cunning, able to project himself to be friendly on the surface but deep down, he was an evil man with a complete disregard for innocent lives; humans and mutants alike.

Powers and Abilities


  • Energy Absorption: As a mutant, Sebastian had the unique ability to absorb energy, and once absorbed into his body it can be used to empower his physical abilities. He was also able to absorb the energy of any blow he is struck by, including not only physical strikes, but also bullets, and energy blasts.
    • Superhuman Condition: Sebastian use this energy to augment his strength, vitality, recuperation and speed to superhuman levels.
    • Energy Projection: Sebastian was able to project the stored energy into something like an energy ball, allowing him to kill people.
    • Invulnerability: Sebastian could not be affected by any form of physical attacks, ballistic attacks or any explosions, as the energy was absorbed much faster than it can even start to affect him. This trait did make him almost impossible to defeat.
    • Superhuman Longevity: Sebastian could also use the energy he had absorbed to keep himself young; that was why he can live for multiple lifetimes.


  • Master Tactician: Sebastian not only prides himself on his power and the connections it allows him, but on knowing his opponents and how best to defeat them, whether in battle or in business.
  • Telepathy Blocker: Sebastian also possessed technology that can block telepathic intrusions by mutants like Professor X and Emma Frost.


  • Kineticless Assault: If someone does not apply any measure of force while attacking him, Sebastian can easily get injured or killed; this was proven when Magneto killed him with a coin moving at a very slow momentum, thereby not applying any kinetic friction, whatsoever.


Sebastian possessed a powerful and mysterious metallic helmet given to him by the Russians. The helmet was made of an unknown magnetic metal that could block any telepath that planned to read Sebastian's mind. The helmet was later doned by Erik Lehnsherr, who took it as both a token of victory and to hide him from Charles Xavier.


Behind the scenes

  • The filmmakers top two choices for the role of Sebastian Shaw were Kevin Bacon and Colin Firth. They decided to cast Kevin Bacon because he was American and seemed more menacing.
  • Bryan Cranston was offered the role of Sebastian Shaw but he turned it down because he wanted to do another movie instead.


  • The character "Mr. Shaw" shown on TV in X2 was originally intended to be Sebastian Shaw, as an easter egg for fanservice to those who reads the comics. However since he died in X-Men: First Class it is more likely that this is merely a different person with the same surname. It is possible that they are related.
  • In the comics, Shaw's powers are slightly different, since he only can absorb kinetic energy and transform it into physical strength.
  • Curiously, Shaw's Nazi alias, Klaus Schmidt, has got the same surname as the Red Skull.
  • As his death predates the point of divergence from the original timeline in 1973, Shaw is the only deceased main antagonist in the series, the others being William Stryker and Ichirō Yashida, whose death is known to remain certain by the revised 2023.




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