“No matter how much you pretend to be someone else, Caliban knows who you are. If there’s anything worth knowing about mutants, Caliban knows it.”
―Caliban to Mystique[src]
Caliban was a mutant who locates other mutants for a price and had a former tendency to address himself in third-person. Later in his life, he became an acquaintance of Logan and helped him tend to an ailing Charles Xavier.
In 1983, Caliban worked as a dealer in the black market alongside his bodyguard Psylocke. During one of his business ordeals, Caliban helped Mystique locate Nightcrawler. After the mutant later returns, Caliban advises her to take Nightcrawler to the X-Mansion before cryptically informing her of Magneto’s return.
Later, Caliban is approached by En Sabah Nur and Storm. Caliban, however, does not identify En Sabah Nur (“Apocalypse”), and stated he doesn’t know who he is. When the mutant broker asks if he has any money, Apocalypse says he doesn’t have any currency, and demands him for help. Caliban then pulls a gun on Apocalypse, but Apocalypse disintegrates it, and Psylocke rushes to protect Caliban. Apocalypse then recruits her as the second member of his Four Horsemen.
“Beware the light.”
―Caliban’s final words[src]
During the 2020s, Caliban worked as a tracker for Transigen Project helping them hunt down the few mutants that remained. Eventually, he saw the horror in his actions and left, going into hiding like the mutants he helped hunt.
Sometime after leaving Transigen, Caliban is recruited by Logan to take care of the ill Charles Xavier in exchange for shelter and protection in Mexico. He often puts himself at risk when caring for Xavier, being victim to Xavier’s frequent seizures that freeze him and nearly chokes him to death. When Laura is inadvertently taken back to their shelter and Donald Pierce is knocked out by her, Caliban is tasked by Logan to dump Pierce outside the shelter. Before he can do this, Caliban is held at gunpoint by Pierce, and the Reavers capture him. When Logan, Xavier and Laura escape his clutches, Pierce tortures Caliban to track them by exposing him to sunlight, severely burning him and taunting Caliban by saying “beware the light”.
Caliban does track them, but manages to give partially significant information, but does ultimately lead the Reavers to Oklahoma City, where he and the people around him are victim to Xavier’s seizure. After failing to capture Logan, Xavier and Laura, Caliban is visited by Zander Rice, the surgical head of Transigen. Rice convinces Caliban to cooperate when he promises him that the Reavers will only take Laura and not harm either Logan or Xavier.
Reaching the Munson farm, Caliban is shocked to discover that Rice has released an identical clone of Logan, X-24, to kill Logan and Xavier. Deciding to rebel against them, Caliban takes two nearby fragmentation grenades into his cage. Taking the pins out, he tauntingly says to Pierce, “Beware the light” – referencing a previous taunt Pierce said to him earlier – and tosses them at Pierce and another Reaver. The grenades combust, killing Caliban and the Reaver, but Pierce dives off the van in time to clear the explosion.
Caliban’s charred body is later seen in a gym. Zander Rice tells his scientists to save tissue from Caliban for future experiments, due to his tracking ability and high intellect.
Caliban is shown to be extremely greedy and only interested in money, as shown when he pulled a gun on En Sabah Nur when he said that he didn’t have any money. He was willing to betray all of the mutant kind to Transigen for the right price in his apparent past.
By 2029, Caliban had a drastic change in his personality. Becoming much more humble and caring, he became one of few remaining close friends of Logan, helping him in taking care of a mentally-declining Xavier and also attempting to help Logan with his own demons. Ultimately, he showed himself very selfless, as he committed suicide in an attempt to save Logan from X-24.
Powers and Abilities
“Thought you were supposed to see shit coming.” “I can track mutants. I’m a glorified truffle pig, not a clairvoyant.”
―Wolverine and Caliban[src]
X-Gene Detection: Caliban was able to sensorily identify those who possess the X-Gene.
Superhuman Smell: Caliban’s tracking ability was tied with his sense of smell. He could detect and track scents similar to a bloodhound. He was even able to smell the sickness living in Logan’s body and to smell a bullet, even telling that the latter was made of Adamantium.
Longevity: Aside from gaining a much paler skin tone, Caliban had not visibly aged in the several decades between Apocalypse’s campaign in 1983 and his death in 2029.
Gifted Intellect: Caliban was exceptionally intelligent and perceptive, usually extending to his hunting and investigative skills. However, he is shown to sometimes use poor judgement.
Master Investigator: Thanks to his high intellect and superhuman smell, Caliban was incredibly skilled in the art of investigation, though he himself admitted that he is not either perfect or all-knowing.
Direct Sunlight: Due to his albinism, Caliban’s skin becomes burned and scarred when it comes into contact with direct sunlight. The Reavers used this weakness to torture Caliban into helping them.
In the comics, “Caliban” is not the character’s birth name, his abusive father gave him the name as a form of ridicule towards the young mutant’s albino appearance and frail body. “Caliban” originates from William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, it is the name of a bumbling minor antagonist known for his weak physical appearance and meek personality.
Also in the comics, Caliban is one of the founding members of the Morlocks, a group of physically-deformed mutants who live in the sewers beneath New York. With the help of his powers to detect other mutants, Caliban recruited most of the Morlock’s original roster. After losing most of his Morlock comrades during the Mutant Massacre caused by the mutant assassins, The Marauders, Caliban is recruited by Apocalypse to become one of his Four Horsemen, replacing Angel as the horsemen Death. He is given super-human physical strength and enhanced psychic power. During the second incarnation of the Four Horsemen, Caliban becomes Pestilence, with the added power of causing a psychic plague.
In X-Men: Apocalypse, Caliban appears to be of Icelandic origin and his albinism does not appear to be an issue (possibly due to living in low light underground dwellings). However in Logan he appears to be taller and older, but no longer has an Icelandic accent when speaking English (implying mastery over the language/accent over the years). His albinism seems to be extremely severe to the point of his skin peeling in sunlight implying this condition may have developed/worsened with age.
Behind the Scenes
Dan Downs was a stunt double for Stephen Merchant in the role of Caliban.