Topic: X-Men Apocalypse

I enjoyed X-MEN APOCALYPSE, but it isn't a great movie. There are great scenes and great sequences and great moments, but they somehow don't add up. The film has a perfect set of competing values. Apocalypse declares that the strong need to take the world for themselves, that our governments and societal structures exist only to support the worthless and powerless. And then Xavier declares that the role of the strong is to protect those who aren't. Elitism versus compassion for the weak.

Somehow, that message gets a bit muted in endless action sequence upon endless action sequence -- all of them very exciting and filled with great uses of mutant power, none of them scoring that point that compassion for the weak is true strength. There is almost no sense of location by the end -- it's Cairo, but it might as well be one of ARROW's many abandoned factories.

Magneto's plot is pitifully repetitive -- once again, his family is killed and he goes on a grief-stricken homicidal rampage until Xavier talks him out of it and we end waiting for it to happen again in the next movie. In this continuity, Magneto has gone crazy on three separate occasions and then Xavier shakes his hand and wishes him well on his way to his next nervous breakdown? Seriously?

The film desperately needed to wrap up Magneto's arc at least for the film -- ideally, by putting Erik in a dreamworld or wiping his memories and giving him a civilian life. The film does a nice job of showing that Apocalypse and mutants have something resembling a grain of truth in considering themselves a superior race -- but the counterargument never quite lands -- in the end, Apocalypse loses because while he's superior, Jean Grey turns out to be more superior.

The best way would have been for Jean to have worked with Nightcrawler and Scott enough to see their powers in action, perhaps in a mishap or two at the shopping mall. Then, in the final fight scene, Jean's telepathy somehow coordinates their powers to use against Apocalypse in a way that gives them victory.

The bizarre thing is that this is more or less the approach used in the first X-MEN movie: Magneto confiscates Cyclops' visor and immobilizes all the X-Men; Jean uses her telepathy to get Cyclops' visor back and aim his optic blast to take out Magneto and free the other teammates, yet Singer completely missed the chance to put his formula into practice.

I mean, as an X-MEN fan, this is a perfectly solid X-MEN product, but as a feature film, it doesn't really work as a standalone piece of cinema much in the way an episode of THE FLASH wouldn't work if shown in theatres without the surrounding context.

There's also some peculiar continuity choices, including an error: Mystique replaced Striker in DAYS OF FUTURE PAST and took custody of Wolverine. That plot seems to be forgotten entirely in APOCALYPSE with Striker running Weapon X and holding Wolverine captive. Looking back at FIRST CLASS, FUTURE PAST and APOCALYPSE, it's kind of shocking to see that FIRST CLASS introduced a new lineup of X-MEN only for FUTURE PAST to disband the team and kill most of them off camera in the Vietnam war with a refocus on restoring the lineup of the first two X-MEN films -- with APOCALYPSE serving as a second FIRST CLASS, this time for the Cyclops/Jean/Nightcrawler team plus Wolverine.

The trajectory of this second trilogy has been truly bizarre and largely due to Matthew Vaughn backing out of DAYS OF FUTURE PAST and Bryan Singer reworking the film from being focused on the FIRST CLASS characters into a Wolverine film that would undo the deaths of Xavier, Cyclops and Jean Grey so that he could use the characters in the next film without the shadow of LAST STAND having killed them off.

I don't fault Singer for saving his people the second he could, and it was great for FUTURE PAST, but it leaves APOCALYPSE in an odd situation of trying to wrap up what's essentially an aborted trilogy. Imagine if the STAR WARS prequels set up Anakin and Obi-Wan as the leads for the trilogy -- only for ATTACK OF THE CLONES have Luke return and take over as the lead through time travel, relegating Obi-Wan and Anakin to background roles.

Ideally, the FIRST CLASS sequel and the DAYS OF FUTURE PAST repair job should have been two separate films, and after the FIRST CLASS team hit a natural endpoint, then Bryan Singer should have done the Cyclops/Jean/Xavier story.

The continuity of the series is hilariously incoherent at this point. X-MEN establishes that Xavier met Magneto in his teens, that Magneto helped him build Cerebro and that Magneto only started using the mind-blocking helmet in the 90s -- and Mystique clearly doesn't know Xavier personally. FIRST CLASS has Xavier meeting Magneto in their 30s, the government already built Cerebro, the helmet exists in the 60s and Mystique and Charles grew up together. Emma Frost, shown as a teenager in the 1979-set WOLVERINE film is in her mid-30s in the 60s-set FIRST CLASS.

One might think that FIRST CLASS is a reboot with the first trilogy references existing as Easter eggs. However, DAYS OF FUTURE PAST has Wolverine interacting with the FIRST CLASS characters while flashing back to footage from the first three X-MEN movies and the first WOLVERINE film.

Which leads us to baffling timeline issues where Jubilee and Angel, teenagers in the first trilogy appear as teenagers in APOCALYPSE which is set over a decade before the first X-MEN. There's also some incomprehensible discrepancies where Magneto is free to wander about in anonymity in the first three X-MEN movies but is shown to be public enemy number one and convicted as John F. Kennedy's murderer in DAYS OF FUTURE PAST even before he tries to take out Nixon.

None of these errors can be explained by the time travel plot of DAYS OF FUTURE PAST because the discrepancies (births, reputations) originate well before Wolverine was transported to the 70s. The only explanation I can think of would be to say that Wolverine made an initial attempt at time travel but vastly overshot the 70s and had an adventure at some point between 1880 (the year he was born) and 1944 (when Xavier meets Mystique) and somehow created ripples that altered history.

These ripples would have to result in certain family trees producing children named Emma, Warren (Angel) and Jubilation (Jubilee) earlier, Mystique meeting Xavier as a child, Erik not being in the right place to meet Xavier as early as they originally did, the government being more aware of mutants at an earlier point and thus building Cerebro, etc..

Probably something for a comic book to do at some point?

Re: X-Men Apocalypse

The movie was so-so for me, but falls on the side of liking it more than hating it.  But the best thing about the movie is the fake 80's tv ad used as a viral promotion: … gsters-ad/

And even better, if you call the 800 number at the end of the ad, you'll get a postcard concerning your application for the school: … nail-mail/

But for me, the foundational problem with the movie is that I never cared for Apocalypse.  In the comics he always seemed to me as a means to an end in changing other characters; and the movie team deserves some credit for recognizing that and using him the same way.

There also may be something to your thought about Jean and her coordinating the team.  There was some missing footage from the mall including a scene at the arcade with some kind of powers mishap and a scene at the record store where they find one of Dazzler's records.  Fox will probably end up double dipping again with a second blu-Ray release called "The Mall Cut" or something.

But on continuity matters, I give a lot of slack to X-men.  From the comics, it's almost a part of X-men's charm how wrecked its continuity is.  At least they seem to be setting up their Wolverine replacement in the post credits scene.  Jackman would be nearly impossible to replace, so they're making the right move if it goes as expected: … ise-debuts

Sinister could also give the avenue for Havok to return given Sinister's obsession with the Summers family in the comics.

Re: X-Men Apocalypse

Also regarding Magneto, this was the perfect set up for the storyline where an overpowered Magneto withdraws from humanity and creates a mutant sanctuary in earth orbit called Asteroid M.  I'm not sure why they didn't take things there; it could have given Magneto a plausible reason for being on the sidelines in case they can't get Fasbender for another movie.

Re: X-Men Apocalypse

I dunno. Having read quite a bit of your writing, you seem very good at sudden tonal shifts where you can integrate absurdity into your story. I don't know if Bryan Singer is as good at it. The X-MEN films he's helmed along with the FIRST CLASS film were largely grounded in a realistic setting that just happened to have mutants. Any advanced technology existed in relation to mutants. The idea of Magneto raising a chunk of rock into orbit with a breathable atmosphere and converting it into a full fledged space station is something I would find very difficult to justify myself.

That said, Singer wants the next film in space, so you may be onto something.

Mark Millar, in ULTIMATE X-MEN, had Magneto subjected to a mindwipe where he lived as a normal human, a teacher at a school for handicapped children -- and Xavier would visit him once a month to reinforce the telepathic blocks that prevented him from accessing his memories or powers.

The only way I can justify the onscreen events -- Xavier letting Magneto traipse off into the world to have another nervous breakdown of deadly consequence -- is that Xavier let everyone think Magneto went off to his happy ending except Xavier planted a hypnotic suggestion for Magneto to return to the campus later under cover of night, hook himself up to an IV drip and remain sedated and under lock and key in the basement infirmary indefinitely. I have plenty of sympathy for Magneto, but the X-Men are crazy irresponsible to let him off the hook so easily.

I love X-23, the female Wolverine. For anyone not familiar with her -- she's River Tam from FIREFLY. With Wolverine's claws.

Re: X-Men Apocalypse

Watching the first X-MEN movie, I'm reminded of the complaints about Bryan Singer clearly not liking the fantasy elements of X-MEN comics, eschewing the yellow spandex, the sci-fi fantasy world building, the hyperstylized action spectacle. It was incredibly ignorant; the costumes needed texture and weight to work in live action and yellow was a flickery, ugly colour on film. The grounded tone of the film made the X-Men feel like they existed in our world as opposed to a superhero universe. The combat had a sense of brutal intimacy and were expressions of the characters. The first X-MEN film also didn't have the money to do widescreen fantasy action; it was made like it was a low-budget TV drama that required imagination and creativity to work past any shortages of resources.

Looking at X-MEN APOCALYPSE, most of what made the first X-MEN special is absent. The budget has rocketed to the point where Cairo can be reduced to rubble and the X-Men battle in a devastated cityscape and the costumes can look comic book crazy now without looking like cheap Halloween costumes -- and the result is that APOCALYPSE, despite some good location shooting and Singer showing normal people react, seems to take place in an exaggerated superhero universe. The limitations that made the first X-MEN film oddly plausible in its absurdities are gone.

I still enjoyed APOCALYPSE plenty, of course, but I would have preferred that Bryan Singer stick to what he's good at -- intimate character pieces. He's not really a crazy action director.

Re: X-Men Apocalypse

To make it somewhat more realistic, they could have instead went with the creation of the island Genosha; but Magneto wasn't really in the right place for that.  He created that new nation when mutant youth were attracted to more radical ideas and made Magneto their hero (sporting t-shirts and propaganda that said "Magneto was right").   Asteroid M was less political and more "just leave me alone", but I suppose they could combine the two ideas.

Though we'll likely never see it, my favorite thing from the Genosha period was Xorn - the mutant who had a star for a brain and could manipulate gravity.  Turned out it just Magneto in an iron mask punking Xavier.  On the reveal, Magneto laughed about it - "I can't believe you thought someone could have a star for a brain; you're so stupid!"

Re: X-Men Apocalypse

I've been re-reading X-MEN comics and I've hit the Xorn era -- really the Grant Morrison era where the civil rights metaphor of X-MEN was updated to being about youth versus age. Xorn was a fascinating creation and revealing him to be Magneto was a serious gut-punch. It's funny how this era of X-MEN wasn't really that different from a storytelling perspective.

While all the characters cast off their costumes for movie-inspired black leather and the X-Men were outed as mutants now operating in public as part of the X-Corporation -- in the end, Grant Morrison wrote his one series, NEW X-MEN, and the other titles simply carried on as they had in the past, albeit with the NEW X-MEN costumes. Wolverine continued with his solo adventures, UNCANNY X-MEN was an incoherent mess as it had been since the 90s, X-TREME X-MEN had veteran X-writer Chris Claremont doing his usual stuff -- Grant Morrison's radical reinvention of X-MEN seemed entirely restricted to NEW X-MEN.

And yet, when Morrison left the book, he seemed to have effectively told the final chapter of the X-MEN. The issues that followed struggled to reverse Morrison's finale and then floundered cluelessly for years with no direction. Xorn was particularly baffling; UNCANNY later had the X-Men find Xorn -- the real one -- suggesting that there was a real Xorn whom Magneto had been impersonating. Except this Xorn claimed to be the brother of the Xorn who'd betrayed the X-Men -- except how could Magneto's false identity have a brother? EXCALIBUR later showed that Magneto had been trapped on his island during the entire Xorn storyline, meaning the Magneto impersonating Xorn had also been impersonating Magneto.

In an issue of HOUSE OF M, Dr. Strange wondered if the Scarlet Witch's reality warping powers had caused some of the confusion here.

An issue of NEW AVENGERS later revealed, quite incomprehensibly, that Xorn (brother of Xorn-2) had joined the X-Men but then decided to falsely reveal himself as Magneto in order to unite the mutants in an army -- a line of logic so confusing that Marvel just gave up and used the HOUSE OF M explanation in the Marvel Handbook. Magneto would later declare that he wasn't Xorn, but he liked people being afraid of him and knowing that he was capable of all the things Xorn did even if Magneto hadn't done them.


Re: X-Men Apocalypse

Having rewatched X-MEN and DAYS OF FUTURE PAST -- I think the problem is that Bryan Singer is just burnt out on X-MEN but perhaps didn't realize it until APOCALYPSE was underway and it was too late to quit.

DAYS OF FUTURE PAST comes off as Singer's final statement on the series, specifically in the scene where Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy meet. The Professor tells Charles that strength comes not from refusing to feel pain but being able to bear both your own and the pain of others and that it will make Charles stronger than ever.

Then there's the blatant metatextual moments where young Charles reads Wolverine's mind, sees flashes of THE LAST STAND and ORIGINS and starts screaming, "I don't want your suffering! I don't want your future!" with compassion and empathy proving to be powerful enough to change that future to Jean Grey and Scott Summers alive and well in a future where the X-Men and their students thrive in a world without Sentinels.

And APOCALYPSE ultimately feels like it's trying to say what DAYS OF FUTURE PAST says with Xavier declaring: "Those of you are strong -- protect those who are not" -- except Singer seems to have used up all the different variations with which he used physical action, mutant superpowers and vivid fight scenes to express those values and that mindset -- or he somehow lost his sense of how to fine-tune the action to reflect these views. It feels like half the film is action and it's largely detached from characterization.

But I think, in addition to being burnt out and having already said everything he had to say about and with X-MEN, Singer also wanted to change his style for APOCALYPSE.

Having done X-MEN, X2 and DOFP as the more intimate action thrillers, he declared in Variety that for APOCALYPSE, he wanted to do a "mass destruction" superhero film that X-MEN movies had never done before. I think he wanted to do a TRANSFORMERS style X-MEN film with his skill and characters -- except this style is simply not suited to Singer's strengths as a director. He was tired out on X-MEN, he tried to reinvigorate himself with a new approach, but he's deeply unsuited to it.

Maybe he should have quit while he was ahead. It's really sad to me, because my fondness for Bryan Singer's work on THE WOLVERINE's tag scene and DAYS OF FUTURE PAST really fuelled SLIDERS REBORN. I'm currently finishing up a script featuring Quinn and Mallory and it's basically inspired by the Charles/Professor scene of DOFP. Singer's been an inspiration.

Re: X-Men Apocalypse

I watched this movie today.  I thought it was fun.  There wasn't any point where I was bored, and it entertained me enough to ignore some of the goofier elements.

The continuity errors I've just chosen to ignore.  It doesn't fit, and it won't fit.  Characters exist in multiple timelines for no reason.  The time travel doesn't help or hurt the process in my opinion because things have already been ripped to shreds.  There are two Trasks, two Angels, two Emma Frosts, two Hank McCoys.  Some of it could possibly be the result of time travel, but a lot of it can't. 

The most bizarre thing about the series is the power that Jennifer Lawrence has had over it.  The series hit the jackpot with Lawrence a) being a pretty great actress and b) being a superstar.  But the problem with that is that she ended up being such a superstar that they had to make her the focus of the whole universe.  In DOFP, she's the key to the whole sentinel project.  In this one, she's basically a messiah figure for the mutants.  It's a wonder she wasn't chosen to be one of the horsemen.

The other bizarre thing is how little understanding I had for Apocalypse, his motives, or his power set.  It's almost a little bit like Scarlet Witch.  I could probably write a paragraph about what I think his powers are, but it's just a guess.  Apocalypse seemed really powerful, and the movie said he was really powerful.  But he never seemed to really put anyone in any danger.  He seemed powerful enough to hold people off, but it was Magneto who was really destroying the world. 

And his plan seemed a little confusing.  If the plan is steal Charles' power and control everyone, why would he want/need Magneto to destroy everything?  If the plan was to destroy everything in some sort of "only the strong survive" scenario, I don't see how some mutants would have any more ability to survive than normal humans.  Charles, for example, is crazy powerful, but Stryker would be much more likely to escape the chaos caused by Magneto. 

I was also surprised that we saw Wolverine as much as we did.  And I was also surprised that the Mystique twist at the end of DOFP didn't go anywhere.  I mean Singer made both films.  Did he just forget?

But it seems like the movies are going in a cool direction.  They have a big enough / young enough cast that they really just need McAvoy to keep coming back.  If they can get Gambit off the ground, then maybe he can be the new Wolverine to appear in most movies. 

But, yeah, I'd maybe like to see another voice get to do this.  I don't know if Singer is burned out, but Matthew Vaughn did a great job with First Class.  Having him do another one or letting someone young give it a shot could be cool.

Re: X-Men Apocalypse

Singer is throwing hints about what he wants the next X-men movie to be, so he seems to want to be involved.  His hints indicate we may see a proper Dark Phoenix saga with the alien Shi'ar introduced:

The interesting bit about that could be the Shi'ar Imperial Guard.  Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum created the Imperial Guard as an analog to Superman and the Legion of Super-heroes (Dave having formerly been an artist for the Legion - in fact, Nightcrawler was conceived to be a Legion character, but Dave took it with him to Marvel before using it at DC).

Re: X-Men Apocalypse

Singer said in interviews that he doesn't want to do the next X-MEN movie and that he needs to do a different genre and refresh himself -- and APOCALYPSE gives me the impression that this burnout took place during as opposed to after APOCALYPSE. As for the Wolverine plot from DOFP -- the original plan was that APOCALYPSE would have Wolverine in a very central role as the team leader, much as he was central in the first three X-MEN films and DOFP.

However, scheduling and the desire to elevate Jennifer Lawrence resulted in Singer deciding to isolate Wolverine to one sequence where the kids are imprisoned in Weapon X and Wolverine helps them escape. This resulted in setting aside the idea that Mystique had saved Wolverine from Weapon X -- so presumably, she failed or was found out and had to escape without him.


Apocalypse's motives seemed pretty clear to me? He wanted the strongest of mutants to be the dominant species (which is in contrast to Magneto simply wanting mutants to kill their exterminators) and destroying the world would leave only the most powerful. Those who weren't equipped to survive weren't of any interest to Apocalypse anyway. A bit like Amara on SUPERNATURAL being appalled by these human rodents ruling existence instead of gods like herself.

Re: X-Men Apocalypse

ireactions wrote:

Apocalypse's motives seemed pretty clear to me? He wanted the strongest of mutants to be the dominant species (which is in contrast to Magneto simply wanting mutants to kill their exterminators) and destroying the world would leave only the most powerful. Those who weren't equipped to survive weren't of any interest to Apocalypse anyway. A bit like Amara on SUPERNATURAL being appalled by these human rodents ruling existence instead of gods like herself.

I mean I get it but it doesn't make sense to me under scrutiny.  The plan in X2 to kill all the humans makes sense. The plot in the original movie to turn all the powerful humans into mutants to shape the world makes sense.

My point is that causing a bunch of earthquakes and buildings to collapse doesn't ensure that the strongest of mutants survives.  It ensures that the people (humans and mutants) with the best ability to survive earthquakes and buildings collapsing survive.

For example.  Let's say that the heroes were one step behind the entire time.  Charles doesn't find Moira so she doesn't get in the fray.  Mystique misses out on the fight between Angel and Nightcrawler so he never gets the info on Magneto.  Quicksilver (and no other mutant) happens to see the news about Magneto.  Presumably, nothing about Apocalypse's plan would change.  He'd gather his horsemen, and he'd have Magneto destroy the world like he destroyed Auschwitz.

With no info on Eric, Charles wouldn't have any reason to find him on Cerebro.  So Apocalypse wouldn't have learned of Charles' existence and so the mansion wouldn't have been destroyed.  The school would've gone on like normal.

(Funny thing.  In the final battle, it's shown to be daytime in Egypt, New York City, and Australia.)

Xavier's school would presumably have the highest concentration of mutants, but I think most of them would've been killed right alongside any humans.  Jean might've been able to stop some of the debris with her telekinesis, but she might not have.  Same with Scott and his energy blast.  Debris could easily kill Jubilee.  Nightcrawler could teleport, but he could also easily teleport to a place with more debris (or, hypothetically, teleport himself *into* debris). 

And, of course, Charles himself is both powerless to stop debris and less mobile than most people.  If the building collapsed on him, he's dead.  And that would've happened before Apocalypse even knew he existed (which ended up being his primary plan).

I get that he wants to destroy the world and rebuild a better one.  And he seemed less "mutant rah rah" as Magento is in the original trilogy so maybe he's cool with killing some mutants in exchange for some wily humans who could survive Magneto's attack.  But it just seemed odd to me because, from the looks of it, humans and mutants had a similar chance of surviving (unless you're a mutant who can take extra punishment like Colossus).

Re: X-Men Apocalypse

I guess, to me, Apocalypse seemed like someone who would be perfectly happy ruling over corpses and rubble. It struck me as a failing of the villain rather than the plot, although I suppose it could just be the latter. While I might theorize that Apocalypse planned on using Rogue, Multiple Man and Wolverine to find and heal all the injured mutants, that's not in the film.

Sebastian Shaw's plan for nuclear war in FIRST CLASS seems to have the same problem.


I wonder what can be done with you're a director of a film budgeted at several hundred million and you're burnt out. I wonder if Singer could have asked someone like Roland Emmerich, a veteran of mass destruction films, to work with him as a co-director to devise the big action sequences while Singer focused on the detailed characterization he's so good at. Finding a collaborator when you're tapped out isn't a bad idea.

Another response is to demote yourself, which Allison Mack did for Season 10 of SMALLVILLE where she was so exhausted from playing Chloe that she wanted to back off before her lack of interest in the role became apparent onscreen (at least that's my read on her from a podcast interview where she talked about having a midlife crisis during SMALLVILLE) -- and doing six episodes instead of 22 meant she could fake it without phoning it in.

I don't know if Singer is the sort to do that. Judging from FIRST CLASS and DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, Singer either takes full control of a project or benches himself. FIRST CLASS was more a reboot of X-MEN than a prequel. Singer was disinclined to interfere and just offered thoughts on how to make the mutant powers awe inspiring and exciting. DAYS OF FUTURE PAST was a FIRST CLASS PART II until Vaughn quit and Singer took over and decided to make it X-MEN: THE LAST STAND: PART II; he wasn't going to facilitate Vaughn's vision.

A third route is to accept that you are tired and just hack out the material, knowing that due to rushing, it will lack detail, subtext, purpose and clarity -- and then go back later and put that stuff in afterwards. Probably not an option for a film director.

Re: X-Men Apocalypse

Has there been any indication on what Vaughn was going to do differently with Days of Future Past?

And, yeah, I think there's always some vagueness and confusion to any villain's plot.  But I just never really understood what Apocalypse's motivations were.  In the opening scene, he's ruling peacefully over Egypt.  He definitely saw normal humans as expendable and inferior, but I never got the idea that he was as hardcore about mutant superiority as Magneto was in the first three films.  If he wanted to exterminate the Egyptians, he could've.  And while they certainly feared him, he still had devout followers thousands of years later so they must've also loved him a bit.

I just found his character vague.  Which I thought was odd in a movie that was 150 minutes long.

Re: X-Men Apocalypse … -wolverine

According to Vaughn, had he stayed aboard X-MEN for a second film, that second film wouldn't have even been DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. It would have been FIRST CLASS II with a recast Wolverine, a younger actor playing him in the 70s. The plot would have involved Magneto assassinating John F. Kennedy (for real). Then his third X-MEN film would be DAYS OF FUTURE PAST with the recast Wolverine meeting Hugh Jackman.

From what I can tell, Vaughn made FIRST CLASS as a reboot, not a prequel. Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Romijn's cameos were simply easter eggs; just because SMALLVILLE uses an ice fortress and the John Williams score doesn't mean it's in continuity with Richard Donner's SUPERMAN.

However, FOX marketed the film as a prequel instead of a reboot. Vaughn intended to continue treating his sequel as a reboot, unconcerned that Wolverine joining the X-Men in the 70s would contradict him joining the gang in 2000. But then Vaughn decided to leave FIRST CLASS II to do KINGSMAN. Singer decided to do DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, the studio supported him, and the result was X-MEN: THE LAST STAND: WE TAKE IT BACK.