Marvel has released their final trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to explore what we might expect from the next installment. While films have always taken liberties with their source material’s storytelling, the latest trailer reveals a few of these points, for better or worse. For those unfamiliar with the infamous foe, I’ll lay some ground work for his motivation and history. Could this movie be the next great Disney release or just another Wolverine: Origins?
Age of Apocalypse
One of the most iconic stories featuring the X-Men’s greatest nemesis was Age of Apocalypse. Marvel came to a grinding halt to tell the story of an alternate universe in which Apocalypse succeeds in his quest for global domination. The outset is a world where Professor Xavier does not survive long enough to create the extraordinary group known as the X-Men. Only in this timeline do we get to see Magneto pick up where Charles Xavier left off and a one-eyed Cyclops fighting as Apocalypse’s most revered soldier. It’s pretty clear by the trailers, however, that the latest movie will unfortunately not be following this arc. We know that Charles will be leading the charge until his capture in which Mystique must take over. The trailer also reveals that Magneto, Angel, Storm and Psylocke are his chosen horsemen, none of whom play those roles in the comic version. It would also require a bit more setup than I think this movie is willing to allow. If a little forethought had been used during or at the end of X-Men: Days Of Future Past, it would be a lot more plausible.
A must read for any comic fan and an excellent addition to any collection.
One of the unfortunate things about blockbuster Marvel movies is the inability to take risks with established characters, even if it could all be rectified in the end (and don’t say Cyclops at the beginning of Last Stand, because that was Marvel losing James Marsden to Superman Returns). Maybe Last Stand could have ended with Wolverine failing to save Professor X and waking to a war-torn and ravaged world. Hell, they wouldn’t have even needed to change the post credits scene. This could have been an entirely different movie and an interesting take on characters people have seen time and again for the past sixteen years. One thing is for sure though, there’s going to be a lot of destruction on Apocalypse’s part. He’s essentially incinerating cities in the few minutes we’ve already seen. While it may be a more practical version, this is not an enemy to take lightly. What we’ll most likely get is an adaptation more closely resembling that of X-Men: The Animated Series.
“You shall pay for your hubris!”
En Sabah Nur
So who is this Apocalypse, anyway? Does he wake up on a daily basis asking himself “Who am I?” The answer is “NO”. What he’s most likely thinking is, “Only the strong shall survive!” While the credo of survival of the fittest is heavily explored in Age of Apocalypse, it originates from a group known as the Sandstormers. They, specifically their leader Baal, took in Apocalypse at infancy and dubbed him En Sabah Nur, meaning “the Morning light” in Arabic or “The First One” in Marvel speak. We’ll see if the character follows this motivation for the film adaptation or perhaps sticks with a more conventional “Kill all humans!”.
Apocalypse, as he renamed himself later on, is known as the first “mutant” and was born about 5000 years ago in Egypt. He is effectively immortal thanks to his lazarus chambers that are alien in origin, which we see in the latest trailer. Apocalypse believes himself to be a god, and that’s the angle the latest X-Men movie is going with. We can see from the post-credit scene in Days Of Future Past Apocalypse being worshiped like one and specifically mentioned recently as so by Moira MacTaggert. According to Marvel history, he spent many thousands of years acting as a god for many cultures to incite violence and destruction. What makes this character so dangerous is his seemingly unending mutant abilities–he’s like Superman times 911. He has total control over his body’s molecules, allowing him to regenerate from any physical damage or disease. He can transmute his limbs into weapons, wings or jets and essentially give himself any power he wants. And as we can see from the latest trailer, he has the ability to exponentially grow in size. He may even posses more than that as the trailer mentions him “amassing mutants to take their powers”. I wasn’t joking when I said he’s not an enemy to be taken lightly. A search on his Wikipedia for the term “death” will produce a lot of results, but none of which are related to the villain’s demise.
Just a taste of what Apocalypse has to offer
The X-Men in Play
One of the most exciting parts of reading through Age of Apocalypse is discovering which side well established characters land on. Who would have ever guessed Sabretooth could turn out to be one of the most lovable good guys?
Returning to the stage we have a well-stocked cast consisting of (obviously) Professor X, Beast, Jean Grey, Scott Summers and Wolverine. Magneto as a horseman is no surprise considering his past role, and was even hinted at being one in the AoA storyline. Angel is also a given and has known the role of Death several times before. It’s interesting to see Storm in that line up and is unfortunately almost certainly going to switch sides at some point in the movie. Olivia Munn is looking fine as hell as Psylocke and is working hard to do the character justice.
Fun Fact: At one point Wolverine was the horseman Death and Hulk was the horseman War.
One thing I’m not too keen on is Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) taking over as the leader of the X-Men. I get it–she’s the most recognizable face in Hollywood right now. I have nothing against JLaw, but it’s the idea of Mystique as a character running the show which bothers me. As a Marvel persona, she’s always been known as a supervillain. Even in a jumbled universe such as AoA, where she helps humans escape Apocalypse’s oppression, she still takes everything they own to do so. I would have preferred them to continue a more animated series route and planted her as his prime henchman, maybe even as one of the four horsemen herself. Mystique continuing as a goody-two-shoes just doesn’t sit right with me. I also don’t find her lines in the trailer to be all that inspiring or authoritative.
My other gripe is Nightcrawler. It’s good to finally see the trickster back on the big screen, but his lineage seems to be out the window once again. My apologies if no one knows this yet, so minor spoiler warning, but Nightcrawler is supposed to be the son of Mystique herself. However, as a young teenage boy, he seems a bit old to be a late 20 something’s son. It’ll be a shame if this bit of Marvel history is whitewashed. If they don’t tell the story properly, I’d rather they had swapped out Kurt Wagner with another well known and loved X-Man.
What’s a guy gotta do to get Gambit up in this bitch?!
There are a couple characters who have been synonymous with Apocalypse but haven’t shown up in the trailers, first being the gun wielding, time traveling, energy absorbing Bishop. He could plausibly, however unlikely, make an appearance considering he played a minor role in Days of Future Past. He’s usually the one coming from an alternate future to stop so-and-so from killing a vital character in Apocalypse’s defeat. This would however require another time travel subplot which I’m sure isn’t going to be reintroduced (at least not in the main body of the film).
Cable is another time traveler that has his face all up in Apocalypse’s business. His existence is more in line with stopping the greatest foe to have ever lived from taking control in the future, even if that means traveling back in time to do so. Again, I don’t think they will reintroduce a time travel subplot in this movie so Cable is most likely out, but I could easily see a post credit scene with him. Maybe in the future we get to see the aftermath of what the X-Men have or have not accomplished. This could set up another movie in which Cable is a focal character, maybe in relation to the Techno-Organic or Legacy Virus.
X-Men: Apocalypse is shaping up to be a fun, action-packed ride with a load of your favorites. This is probably one of the more compelling X-Men stories we’ve gotten thus far, and has a pretty good chance of being a solid addition to the franchise. I don’t think it will be groundbreaking by any means, and will probably end with the usual good guys overcoming the villain in the last moments of the third act. When I saw the image of Apocalypse for the first time, I was a bit worried considering he looked like something out of Power Rangers, but now that we’ve seen him a bit in action from the latest trailer, I’ve begun to take his threat more seriously. Whatever happens in the end, though, I don’t believe this will be the last time we see Apocalypse on the silver screen.
Apocalypse looking like a bonafide pimp
What are your predictions? Is Storm an obvious defector? Does Mystique make a good leader of the X-Men? Will we get a definitive conclusion to this movie or will it be a lead in to a sequel? Come back on May 28th to find out!
Some further material to keep you appeased until the movie’s release:
X-Men: The Animated Series: