‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ will, without a doubt, be the most comic book-y of the franchise so far. The previous movies have largely dealt with the greater symbolism of mutants– how mutants are super powered stand-ins representing the disenfranchised, persecuted and misunderstood. In this one, the title heroes fight a giant blue mutant god.
Keep in mind, 2000’s ‘X-Men’ was only the second major comic book movie of the modern age. It had been only a few years since the campy ‘Batman & Robin’ had seemingly killed the superhero genre, so perhaps as a precaution, ‘X-Men’ was stripped of the gaudier elements from the comics (like the “yellow spandex” uniforms) for a more grounded take. But in this age of bright, energetic Marvel Studios supremacy, it should be an easier transition for the pioneers of the X-Men to embrace their colorful roots.
Fans who stayed through the end credits of 2014’s ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ were treated to the first glimpse of Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse, the world’s first mutant, living as a pharaoh in ancient Egypt, who emerges in the modern world of 1983… and doesn’t like what he sees.
Isaac discussed his role, saying:
“He’s believed to be the first mutant, whatever that means. He is the creative-slash-destructive force of this earth. When things start to go awry, or when things seem like they’re not moving towards evolution, he destroys those civilizations.”
“It’s a chaotic world of conflict and war and destruction. It’s one giant civilization that now requires one giant culling. That’s why he needs special assistants in this process.”
Those assistants are his Four Horsemen. A prior group of these acolytes were glimpsed in the post-credits scene in ‘Days of Future Past’. In 1983, he needs a new squadron and finds them in the form of Magneto, Storm, Psylocke, Angel and a fifth rider… Charles Xavier.
One scene from the movie details Apocalypse and his Four Horsemen teleporting into the Cerebro chamber in the X-Mansion, where Magneto uses his powers to drag Xavier’s wheelchair toward the would-be conqueror and his soldiers.
At the end of ‘Days’ Charles (James McAvoy), Magneto and Mystique went their separate ways. What has Charles been up to in the meantime?
He is on his way to becoming the leader he was in the first ‘X-Men’. He’s picked himself up and opened his school to train the mutants in the world to use their powers.
“He’s not teaching anybody how to fight at the moment. He’s teaching people how to control their abilities so that they can work at a bank. But of course this movie challenges all of that.”
And what about his opposite, Magneto (Michael Fassbender)?
Fassbender explains that his character has gone into seclusion, living a “normal” life in Poland:
“He’s fallen in love and he’s basically left his metal ways behind… Apocalypse finds Erik at a low ebb and recruits him.”
“He’s found Erik at the most vulnerable place in his life, He’s searching for God. Remember, he was a young Jew in a concentration camp when he first lost his family and now here comes this man who was, is, or claims to be God. The power of persuasion is Apocalypse’s greatest power. He’s one of the most pivotal characters. Fassbender really delivers here in non-traditional comic book style. There are scenes here you will not see in any other comic book movie. I really think Erik goes through one of the most complex journeys in the movie.”
The third part of the X-Men trinity is Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique. The movie finds her using her powers to help free enslaved mutants, similarly to the way she freed Havok and others from a military quarantine in ‘Days’. Among her recruits is Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler.
As Lawrence says:
“She hears about what happened to Erik and she wants to seek him out and help him.”
Singer cautions that although she is rescuing mutants, she is not forming her own version of the X-Men (or the Brotherhood):
“She works alone. The very last thing she wants to be is in charge of a group of young mutants. But we find everybody at a certain place in the movie and take them to the very opposite of where they started.”
Olivia Munn plays Psylocke, one of the new characters introduced in this movie. As in the comics, Psylocke is a ninja-like combatant in a very… flattering costume.
“Now it fits like a glove, but on day one I was like, ‘Uh, guys, do we have a backup? Sorry, I popped my crotch.’”
At the beginning of the film, she is working “behind the iron curtain” for “mutant broker Caliban.”
Ben Hardy plays Angel, a character that was previously used in ‘X-Men 3: The Last Stand’, but the events of that film have been negated. Born with feathery bird-like wings, it appears that Hardy’s Angel undergoes a transformation similar to the one from the comics, becoming the exoskeleton-covered Archangel.
When Apocalypse finds him, Angel is duking it out in underground fight clubs in Berlin.
Alexandra Shipp takes on the role of Storm, previously played by Halle Berry.
Apocalypse finds this teenage Storm living on the streets of Cairo. As Singer says, she is “looking for a mother and a father and the village she lost.”
Sophie Turner takes on the role of Jean Grey, previously played by Famkë Jansen. She was glimpsed at the beginning of the trailer, experiencing a dream/vision of death and destruction. DON’T look for this scene to appear in the movie. Or at least not the exact same scene.
As Singer explains:
“The take I used for the movie is a less sincere take, In the movie it’s an intense moment, a psychic moment happens between them and the take is a much more suspicious take.”
Tye Sheridan’s Cyclops starts out the movie “Completely blind,” Singer states, “He can’t even see.” He will be the younger brother of Lucas Till’s Havok who appeared in ‘X-Men: First Class’ and ‘Days’ and Till is known to have a role in ‘Apocalypse’ as well.
Sorry retro fans! Although Lana Condor is playing the fireworks-flinging Jubilee, don’t expect her to have a major role in the movie.
“I very specifically put Jubilee in [the trailer]. There was one cut that did not have her in it – her role is not particularly large, but she is a part of the growing new universe.”
After completely STEALING ‘Days’, Evan Peters’ Quicksilver returns for another go-round.
Singer describes working with Peters again, by saying:
“There’s one sequence that took one and a half months to shoot for three minutes of film. It involves the most complex camera moves, very sophisticated explosive algorithms, 3D Phantom cameras travelling at 50mph while shooting at 3,100 frames per second. Evan worked more days on this movie than any other actor because of this one sequence… This is tonally different to the Pentagon sequence, and a little bittersweet, I’ll leave it at that.
Back to the man whose name is in the movie’s title, Apocalypse.
Writer/producer Simon Kinberg remarked:
“The problem with Days of Future Past is it’s hard to sequelize. Whenever we talked about the sequel, the challenge was that it needed to feel not necessarily bigger visually, but that the stakes needed to feel bigger.”
But also bigger visually.
“The end of the movie becomes an all-out battle with a force that’s very formidable. He’s a hard man to break, Apocalypse. It’s why he thinks he’s God… It’s part of the mythology of Apocalypse’s size, but I couldn’t go full Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man where he’s just Giant Apocalypse, swatting at things. I did something a little interesting in how I addressed the size thing, but I think the audience will get a kick out of it.”
Isaac summarizes saying:
“That last battle is going to be pretty insane. I mean, it’s like freaking Apocalypse fighting all of the X-Men. It’s pretty cool.”
This is Singer’s last X-Men movie and in many ways, closes the door on that incarnation, as most of the original actors have stated that they are done as well.
“This is kind of the introduction to [the new X-Men]. At the same time, it has concluding aspects of those previous stories.”
Among those saying goodbye is Jennifer Lawrence.
“I love working with Bryan, and I love these movies… It’s just the paint, fumes and toxins. Now I’m almost 25 and I’m like, ‘I can’t even pronounce this and that’s going in my nose? I’m breathing that?’”
But she adds, “There is hope… I don’t want to not be asked [back].”