Charles clearly understands that Erik is preparing to kill Shaw with the coin, and is emphatically trying to telepathically talk him out if it. When Charles realizes he is about to fail at this, why does he continue to hold Shaw immobile?

In doing so, Charles is literally holding Shaw helpless to Erik's attack. Why didn't he just release Shaw and allow his life to be spared, which he was so desperate to do just a moment earlier? At least Shaw would then have had a fighting chance to defend himself.

Warning: NSFW (bit gory)

  • 4
    Is the answer 'terrible writing'?
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 13, 2019 at 23:58
  • 12
    I'm assuming that although Charles isn't keen on Shaw dying, he also isn't keen on Erik (his friend) dying either. If he released Shaw, Erik will be dead within seconds.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 0:18

1 Answer 1


Shaw had just swallowed a massive amount of energy and and would use it as soon as Charles released him.

Shaw's mutant ability was to absorb energy and redirect it and his goal was to create a world without non mutants.

“We are the children of the atom. Radiation gave birth to mutants. What will kill the humans will only make us stronger.” ―Sebastian Shaw, X-Men: First Class

He had just swallowed nearly the entire submarine's nuclear reactor. X-Men: First Class, 1:43:49Image from X-Men: First Class, 1:43:49

At the beginning of the fight Shaw didn't see Erik as a threat and was just playing around with him, trying to get Erik to join his side. And he also knew that Charles wasn't a threat as long as he had the helmet on.

If Charles had let him go I imagine he would have gotten serious and ignited the spark needed for World War 3. While Charles abhors killing he also always thinks about the greater good.

While I don't know the energy a nuclear submarine has or how big an explosion it would be, Shaw could basically just self destruct and take the ships with him. Russia and America would probably take that as a go for nuclear launches.

This scene shows Shaw absorbing a grenade and practically obliterating the person he redirects the energy to, imagine what he could do with the energy from a nuclear reactor.

  • 3
    Of course there is also the problem where all that energy went when he died..
    – Pingu510
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 1:47
  • Thank you everyone for all the great insight! Appreciate it. :)
    – Ze Cat
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 0:07
  • @ZeCat No problem, if you feel that the question is answered sufficiently please mark the answer as correct. Otherwise write a comment or edit to specify what you feel is missing.
    – Pingu510
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 0:18

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