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When Apocalypse woke up, he seemed to recruit the first four mutants that were willing to join him as his personal guards. Psylocke, Angel, Storm and Magneto:

X-men's Four Horsemen

They were associated to the literary Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from the last book of the New Testament:

Bible's Four Horsemen

Yet, these mutants do not seem to be particularly related to or even symbolize Death, Famine, War or Conquest/Pestilence...

So were they randomly chosen by Apocalypse and associated to these literary references?

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    It is also relevant perhaps that when Apocalypse encounters Angel's carcass after the X-Jet crash, he uttered his emotions towards this one particular horseman being "useless". With respect to the original horsemen shown at the start of the film, this one surely was. – 299792458 Dec 13 '18 at 12:46
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He didn't choose them at random because he didn't encounter them at random. Each time, his prior recruits take him to see the next one. And while it's not really made clear in the movie, his choices do seem to line up nicely with the traditional roles of the Horsemen.

The order in which Apocalypse acquires his Horsemen is:

  • Storm, whom he randomly encounters on the streets in Cairo. En Sabah Nur makes her a Horsemen and tells her he needs more.
  • Storm takes him to see Caliban -- a guy who helps "traffick" mutants -- where she assumes there will be plenty to pick from. This is the same guy that helped get Kurt Wagner into the US. Here, En Sabah Nur recruits Psylocke.
  • Psylocke knows the whereabouts of plenty of mutants, since she's Caliban's assistant. She picks Angel as the next target, and takes En Sabah Nur to see Angel and recruit him.
  • They then see Magneto on the news, and he's a famously powerful mutant, so En Sabah Nur hunts him down in Poland to recruit him.

So his first recruit was, indeed, random, but afterwards, he clearly selects his recruits carefully. He even ignores one (Caliban) in favor of another (Psylocke), and tracks two of them down where they were and recruited them.

How much of a connection there is to the Biblical Horsemen isn't clear, but there are at least some hints that it was intentional. In the source comics, there are many different mutants playing the Horsemen, but in most cases it's obvious which is which. In this movie, it's less obvious, but the intention appears to be:

  • Magneto - Horseman of War. This one's obvious, because he wants to start a war against humans.
  • Angel - Horseman of Death. He's been the Horsemen of Death in the comics, playing on the "Angel or Death" motif that's common in fiction and mythology.
  • Storm - Horseman of Famine. She has had this role in at least one of the X-Men cartoons. The connection here being that terrible, violent storms can cause severe damage to crops, livestock, etc. and lead to famine.
  • Psylocke - Horseman of Pestilence. This one is the only one that doesn't really seem to make sense. It's especially odd, since Caliban is a Horseman of Pestilence in the comics, and his power to track other mutants could be used to "spread" Apocalypse's influence. Psylocke was a Horseman in the comics, but she was Death. (It appears that Psylocke was a very late choice for a Horseman (thanks @armfoot), so that may explain why she seems unfit for that role.)
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    So what you want to say is that there's no association to the literary references as mentioned in the question and they were indeed chosen randomly with regards to that? Which seems to be what the question is all about, rather than how Apocalypse stumbled over these guys. – Napoleon Wilson Aug 6 '16 at 15:21
  • @NapoleonWilson thanks for asking that, Mike's new edit explains their relation better. Mike, thanks for the detailed answer, I just found that Psylocke seems to have been added as the 4th Horseman almost as a "last minute decision". The only thing that I still don't get quite right is that if Apocalypse could have chosen any mutant in the world and he was the most powerful/knowledgeable mutant that supposedly ever existed, why did he made the first mutant he found into one of his Horsemen and relied on her to find/guide him to the rest of them? – Armfoot Aug 6 '16 at 16:35
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    its possible he thought she was a good candidate -- Storm as the Horseman of Famine makes sense symbolically, and she is one of the most powerful mutants in the world in the comics. Or, maybe he just felt like he needed the help ASAP. – KutuluMike Aug 6 '16 at 17:01
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    He randomly encounters Storm, but he makes her one his horsemen not before getting up-to-date. Therefore he could have known that her power is superior with a little upgrade. (Much better choice than Jubilee for example.) – Chris Aug 6 '16 at 18:19

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