Sebastian Hiram Shaw is a mutant and an enemy of the X-Men. He possesses the ability to absorb kinetic energy and transform it into raw strength. He is the leader of the New York branch of the Hellfire Club, an exclusive secret society bent on world domination, although to the public, he is a legitimate businessman and ordinary human. He once funded the mutant-hunting Sentinel program to keep it under his thumb.
He was portrayed by Kevin Bacon in the live action film, X-Men: First Class and serves as the film's main antagonist.
The Black King of the Manhattan's clandestine Hellfire Club, Sebastian Shaw led a campaign against the X-Men, kidnapping Jean Grey in the process. Although he has been defeated time and again by the heroes, Shaw nevertheless continues to utilize his kinetic energy redirection powers to challenge his foes.
Although born poor, Sebastian Shaw's brilliant mind for business helped him become a millionaire by the age of 20. He became head of Shaw Industries and was invited to join the Hellfire Club, an elite club for the wealthy and powerful. Shaw joined the club's secret Council of the Chosen, which schemed to achieve world domination. Seizing control of the club and becoming the Black King, he changed its name to the Inner Circle and teamed with fellow mutant Emma Frost, the White Queen in secretly creating mutant-hunting Sentinels.
Powers and Abilities
Shaw is a mutant with the unique ability to absorb kinetic energy and other forms of energy like electricity, although to a lesser degree, and use this energy to augment his strength, speed, stamina and recuperation capabilities to superhuman levels. He absorbs the energy of any blow he is struck by, including not only physical strikes, but also bullets, and less successfully, concussive energy beams; notably Cyclops' optic blasts.
By absorbing enough blows from an opponent, Shaw can surpass the strength level of said opponent and then over power them. Whether it is possible for him to reach Hulk-level strength (or surpass it) is unknown, but he has, in the past, been known to over power Colossus who is close to 100 ton strength level. He is capable of absorbing the cutting, piercing and thrusting energy from a blade which makes it exceedingly difficult to cut or stab him with sharp edged weapons.
While Shaw is highly resistant to injury, especially kinetic ones, even he can be damaged by powerful enough blows. In the "Torn" story arc, Shaw is savagely beaten by Colossus (Shaw's plan was to allow the armored Russian to repeatedly hit him to up his strength and then turn it back on him) and while he did become immensely powerful from all the absorbed blows and won the fight, afterward, he was seen riddled with bruises and holding an ice pack over his right eye. Because of this, it would stand to reason that with enough physical punishment, even Shaw could possibly be killed during a fight, but, so far, no one has caused him any more damage from a physical fight than moderate bruising.
Without any absorbed kinetic energy Shaw is merely a strong ordinary human in excellent physical condition, but regularly works to keep his strength at a superhuman level. For example, in one instance, he was shown to spend time hitting a wall after waking in order to build up his power reserves before starting the day. It is not known how long these power levels can be maintained without absorbing more kinetic energy. If Shaw is captured and bound so he could not move at all, he would be helpless. (But even the slightest give could start to increase his strength, such as friction from rubbing against his bonds.)
Shaw also can forgo sleep if he receives enough kinetic energy. Often he will have his mercenaries pummel him so that he need not sleep for some time. As a way of aiding himself in combat, Shaw is adept at taunting, and will not let enemies realize his power until they have hit him one too many times. Members of the X-Men have learned the best way to defeat him is to remove him from the field of battle. The most dramatic example of which was when Rogue threw him hundreds of feet directly up into the air and away from the fight, essentially temporarily defeating him. It is not known if other human limits apply to Shaw, such as, among other things, whether he can be hurt or killed from drowning or from a lack of air.
Shaw is, however, vulnerable to being incapacitated, or being attacked psionically. During the "Dark Phoenix" story arc where the X-Men first encountered Shaw and the Hellfire Club, after realizing that direct physical battle was not working, Storm dramatically lowered the temperature of the room to sub-arctic conditions, temporarily causing Shaw to flee and recuperate. While it did not take Shaw out of the battle for long, it was just enough to turn the tide of their battle. Shaw has also been overloaded by being struck by lightning and by falling a great distance when his gravity was increased.
In the early 1990s, Shaw was given a son in the comics, Shinobi Shaw, who manifested powers very similar to those of Harry Leland, another Hellfire potentate, and who, for a time at least, appeared to have killed Sebastian. With his father's return, Shinobi, presumably in fear of his life, faded back into the shadows.
Other key traits are his successful business acumen and his access to sophisticated weaponry. He 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. He also possesses technology that can block telepathic intrusions by Professor X.
X-Men: First Class
- Main article: Sebastian Shaw (X-Men Movies)
X-Men: The Animated Series
Sebastian Shaw appears in the Dark Phoenix Saga in the X-Men animated series. When Jean Grey was brainwashed into joining the Inner Circle, she believed that Jason Wyngarde was her husband. Shaw lost his place as the chairman of the club to Jason after being voted down by Harry Leland, Pierce, and the White Queen. After the X-Men defeated the Inner Circle, Shaw escapes from their headquarters along with Donald Pierce.
Wolverine and the X-Men
Sebastian Shaw appears at the season finale of Wolverine and the X-Men. He is shown as a member of the Hellfire Club. Shaw and the Hellfire Club prepare a ritual to extract the Phoenix Force from Jean Grey and place it inside the Stepford Cuckoos to control the Phoenix for their own purposes.