Skip to main content

Who is Cassandra Nova? Meet the MCU’s first X-Men villain for Marvel Studios

Get to know Cassandra Nova ahead of her appearance in Marvel’s Deadpool & Wolverine

Cassandra Nova in Deadpool & Wolverine
Image credit: Marvel Studios

Popverse's top stories of the day

After years of waiting, the X-Men have finally arrived to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Recent Marvel Studios productions have given us hints and cameos, but Deadpool & Wolverine is set to be the MCU’s first official X-Men film. The summer 2024 film will put Deadpool and Wolverine up against Cassandra Nova, one of the deadliest mutants in the Marvel Universe.

Deadpool and Wolverine are both strong, fierce, and resilient, but Cassandra Nova is a villain that easily challenges both of them. She might not have the name recognition of Magneto or Mister Sinister, but Cassandra Nova is easily one of the deadliest foes the X-Men have ever faced. You might have caught Cassandra in the Deadpool & Wolverine trailer and may be wondering who this mysterious villain is. Let’s dive into Cassandra Nova, and learn about the MCU’s first official X-Men villain.

Who is Cassandra Nova?

Cassandra Nova attacks her twin brother Charles Xavier in the womb.
Image credit: Marvel

Cassandra Nova is a Mummudrai. According to Shi’ar legend, Mummadrai are evil opposites of living creatures. Mummadrai come from the Astral Plane and seek to destroy their counterparts. However, Cassandra is different from other Mummadrai, because she was able to grow a human body. When Charles Xavier was growing in his mother’s womb, his Mummadrai copied his DNA, growing herself a body. Cassandra Nova grew inside the womb alongside Charles as his twin.

Once she had enough strength, Cassandra attacked Charles, choking her twin with his own umbilical cord. Charles fought back, using a psychic blast to destroy Cassandra. As a result, Xavier’s mother miscarried the twin, and Cassandra was forgotten (New X-Men #121). However, this wasn’t the end of Xavier’s evil counterpart. Cassandra survived as chaotic cellular matter, spending decades in the sewer. She was eventually able to grow herself a new body (New X-Men #126).

This brings us to Cassandra’s introduction during Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s New X-Men run. Cassandra is seen for the first time in New X-Men #114, where she tricks Bolivar Trask’s cousin Donald into activating a mutant-hunting Sentinel army. Once Donald Trask outlived his usefulness, Cassandra copied his DNA, and killed him. Trask DNA is required to control Sentinels, and now that Cassandra had that, she was able to move onto the next phase of her plan – mutant genocide.

As a Mummudrai, all Cassandra cared about was destroying Charles Xavier and everything he loves, so the villain resolved to destroy all mutants, and dismantle the Shi’ar empire. Using her newly designed Wild Sentinels, Cassandra attacked the mutant nation of Genosha, slaughtering 16 million mutants (New X-Men #115). That was a catastrophic event in mutant history, and the ramifications are still being felt today.

Using her psychic powers, Cassandra took control of Xavier’s body, using it to throw the X-Men and the Shi’ar empire into chaos. The X-Men were able to defeat her by placing her consciousness inside the alien shapeshifter Stuff (New X-Men #126). Cassandra eventually escaped Nova’s body, and has returned to battle the X-Men on numerous occasions.

What are Cassandra Nova’s powers?

Cassandra Nova vs. Wolverine
Image credit: Marvel

Cassandra Nova might look like a weak old woman, but she is one of the most powerful mutants in the Marvel Universe. As Charles Xavier’s genetic twin, she possesses all his psychic powers. This means she has the power to enter other people’s minds and rewrite their brains. Don’t forget, Charles has the power to lobotomize most of the population, but his morality prevents him from doing so. Cassandra doesn’t have that same morality.

Cassandra also has the ability to transfer her consciousness between bodies. She can rewrite her DNA, copying the genetic structure of others in order to replicate their blood. In addition, Cassandra can phase through solid objects. Cassandra also has a healing factor, allowing her to regrow organs and appendages. As a result, she can recover from most attacks, and is nearly impossible to kill. Cassandra has telekinetic abilities which allow her to levitate objects, fire energy blasts, or create a shield.

What kind of role will Cassandra Nova play in the MCU?

Cassandra Nova vs. Wolverine
Image credit: Marvel Studios

Cassandra Nova will be making her MCU debut in the Marvel Studios film Deadpool & Wolverine. This gives Cassandra the distinction of being the first X-Men villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The character will be played by Emma Corrin, an English actor best known for their portrayal as Princess Diana in the Netflix drama The Crown. Corrin is a non-binary actor who uses they/them pronouns.

Comic book fans might recognize Corrin from their stint as Esme Winikus, Alfred Pennyworth’s murdered fiancée in the Batman prequel Pennyworth. Corrin also portrayed Thessaly in The Sandman Audible adaptation. However, Cassandra Nova is Corrin’s first Marvel role, and they couldn’t be more excited.

“I feel really excited to play a villain. I haven’t done that, and it’s an itch I want to scratch,” Corrin told Empire. “There’s so much to it, it’s an absolute mind-fuck. All the language and the Easter eggs, and this person is related to that person who did this, and this person came back and this person’s dead…it’s amazing. I really understand why it means as much as it does to so many people. It’s a phenomenon and I feel really lucky to be a part of it. Especially Deadpool, because I love the fact that it’s self-aware, and critical of its own inner workings.”

Not much is known about Nova’s storyline for the film, or how closely her backstory will resemble her background from the comics. The April 22 trailer featured a brief snippet of Nova battling Wolverine, mirroring their battle from New X-Men #116. If Cassandra is even half as powerful as her comic counterpart, then she’ll give Wolverine and Deadpool a run for their money.

Where can I learn more about Cassandra Nova?

Cassandra Nova - Marvel comics
Image credit: Marvel

If you’re interested in learning more about Cassandra Nova, then you should start with Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s New X-Men run. This is where the character was first introduced, and where she committed her most heinous crime – the Genosha genocide. The storyline runs in New X-Men #114-126, which is collected in New X-Men by Grant Morrison Ultimate Collection Book 1. The storyline is commonly referred to as ‘E is for Extinction,’ but that only covers the first three issues of Morrison and Quitely’s Cassanda Nova saga.

The 2022 Marauders series features Cassandra Nova as a member of the team. This creates an interesting dynamic as some of her teammates (like Kate Pryde) haven’t forgotten about her causing the Genosha genocide. This storyline is collected in two volumes titled Marauders by Steve Orlando.

Stay tuned to Popverse for more news and deep dives on the Marvel Universe and other bits of pop culture fun.