Sebastian Shaw is a mutant supervillain from Marvel Comics and primarily an enemy of the X-Men. He possesses the mutant power to absorb energy into his body which refreshes his cells, slows his ageing process and grants him superior strength. He can also redirect the energy he absorbs, allowing him to destroy his enemies with a touch. Shaw is the leader of the Hellfire Club, an elitist group of mutant terrorists intent on world domination.
Shaw serves as the primary antagonist of X-Men: First Class, the only X-Men production to feature a version of the character who dies. He is portrayed in this film by Kevin Bacon.
Shaw's earliest known activities were in Poland, 1944. Assuming the name of Dr. Klaus Schmidt, he conducted unethical experiments on Jewish prisoners for the Nazis. He was present at the Auschwitz concentration camp when young Erik Lenscherr's mutant power of magnetism first manifested, and he took it upon himself to unlock the secret behind the boy's ability. He had Erik and his mother brought to his laboratory and threatened to shoot Erik's mother unless the boy used his power to manipulate a coin. Erik was unable to do so and Schmidt shot his mother right in front of him. This barbarous act sent Erik into a fit of rage and he unleashed a magnetic wave that crushed every metallic object in Schmidt's office. It is unknown how far he went with his experimentation with Erik beyond this incident.
By 1962, Shaw had established the Hellfire Club in Las Vegas. He was observed in Las Vegas by CIA agent Moira MacTaggert meeting with U.S. Army Colonel Hendry, where he threatened him into supporting the placement of American Jupiter missiles in Turkey, near the Russian border.
Later, when Hendry came aboard Shaw's yacht to collect his payment, he attempts to have him killed. However, Hendry pulls out a grenade and threatens to blow them all up with him if they refuse to let him go. Shaw soon takes the grenade and pulls the pin himself with confidence, displaying his mutant power by absorbing the energy from the blast and killing Hendry himself by a single touch. 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 had 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 capture him. Emma used her powers to shield Shaw from him, and they all made their way to his submarine and narrowly escaped capture. On their way to meet with the Soviet defense minister, Emma senses Xavier's enhanced telepathy (through use of Cerebro) and informs Shaw that he is recruiting his own team of mutants, consisting of Dr. Hank McCoy (Beast), Angel Salvadore (Angel), Sean Cassidy (Banshee), Alex Summers (Havok), Raven Darkholme (Mystique) and Armando Muñoz (Darwin). Shaw reveals a helmet he had built by the Russians that shields him from telepathic influence. He asks Emma if she can read his mind, but is shocked and says she can't. He then orders Frost to meet with the general in his place where he, Azazel and Riptide track Charles and his team to a secret CIA facility called Division X, 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, Darwin says he will join before he suddenly yells out to Havok. Havok shoots Shaw, but he absorbs his energy blast and kills Darwin with it.
Shaw proceeds to Russia, where he meets with the Soviet defense minister he had sent Frost to see, during which she was captured by Lehnsherr and Xavier. He and the Hellfire Club force the minister to send Soviet missiles to Cuba. It is his plan to goad the U.S. and Soviet Union to use nuclear weapons against each other, which would cause WWIII and cripple human civilization, allowing mutants to rise up and rule. He accompanies the Russian fleet in his submarine to assure that the missiles reach their destination, but is tracked by Xavier and his team. Lehnsherr uses his powers to lift the submarine 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 Shaw 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 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 to Shaw's former comrades.