SPOILERS FOR X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST AHEAD…DUH
Last December, 20th Century Fox rather quietly re-signed Days of Future Past producer/writer Simon Kinberg to a 3-year deal to help oversee both the X-Men and re-booted Fantastic Four film franchises. Less than a day later, Days of Future Past director Bryan Singer took to Twitter to celebrate this news by officially announcing (and later confirmed by the studio) that Days of Future Past was going to have a sequel named X-Men: Apocalypse, due out in 2016. If that doesn’t seem strange to you just remember that Warner Bros. waited until Godzilla actually came out earlier this month before officially announcing a sequel. Jump ahead 6 months to the present, and it’s suddenly clear why Fox was so willing to give Singer an early green light: it turns out Days of Future Past is kind of awesome. Beyond being the best reviewed X-Men film to date, it’s also posting box office figures the franchise hasn’t seen since its peak with The Last Stand in 2006.
However, since Days of Future Past basically hits the re-set button the X-Men franchise interest in what exactly we can expect in Apocalypse is at a fever pitch. For example, the internet is currently littered with the more comic book literate among us attempting to explain who that guy nonchalantly building the ancient Egyptian pyramids in the Days of Future Past post-credits scene was. Plus, you have Simon Kinberg out there giving interview after interview in which he teases what and who we might expect in Apocalypse. So, now is the perfect time to take a moment to round together everything we know about X-Men: Apocalypse:
Direct links to quoted interviews will be found at the bottom of this article
When will it come out?
May 27, 2016, aka, Memorial Day weekend in the US ala when X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: Days of Future Past came out. Fox will most likely do what they did with Last Stand and Days of Future Past and release Apocalypse pretty much everywhere around the world at the same time.
Who will direct?
Bryan Singer. He was, after all, the first person to officially announce X-Men: Apocalypse, and in subsequent interviews, such as Entertainment Weekly and Empire Magazine cover stories, all involved parties spoke as if Singer would be directing Apocalypse. Industry trades like Variety and THR confirmed as much. Bringing him back is an obvious no-brainer since so much of the artistic success of Days of Future Past is being credited to his sure hand behind the camera.
Wait, what about Bryan Singer’s sex abuse scandal?
Of course, this all depends on what happens with Singer’s curiously timed sex abuse scandal which forced him to step away from promoting Days of Future Past. Should he end up being found guilty of basically raping a male minor over a decade ago there’s no way Fox could stick with him as director. However, there are a variety of reasons to not trust any of the allegations being made against him.
Who’s writing the Script?
With his work writing Days of Future Past, Simon Kinberg has effectively made up for his bungling of the Dark Phoenix story in The Last Stand. Fox clearly agreed, and has him currently writing the script for their Fantastic Four re-boot as well as co-writing X-Men: Apocalypse. Joining him on Apocalypse are X2′s writing duo Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris, making their return to the franchise after bolting along with Bryan Singer to do Superman Returns in 2006.
When will it be set?
First Class was set in 1962, and most of Days of Future Past takes place in 1973. Apocalypse will keep with that pattern and again jump ahead a decade into the 1980s. Singer told Total Film:
“We’re going to deal with the notion of ancient mutants – the fact they were born and existed thousands of years ago. But it’ll be a contemporary movie – well, it’ll take place in the ’80s… The ’80s is a period now – it’s hard for me to believe that!”
It remains to be seen if they’ll try to tie it to some historical event, like the Cuban Missile Crisis (First Class) or Paris Peace Accords (Days of Future Past).
Which of the First Class/Days of Future Past Mutants Will Be Back?
Honestly, after Days of Future Past killed off almost the entire cast of First Class off-screen and in-between movies we’re basically only left with the big 3 – Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Eric/Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) – plus Hank McCoy/Beast (Nicholas Hoult)and Havok (Lucas Till). Well, the big 3 and Beast will all be back; no word on Havok. A new addition from Days of Future Past, Evan Peters’ crowd-pleasing, scene-stealing Quicksilver, will definitely be back, and is in line for a promotion of sorts with the promise of far more screen time in response to the audience’s love for all things Quicksilver in Future Past.
What about the X-Men/X2/The Last Stand Cast? Will Any of Them Be Back?
Hugh Jackman is guaranteed to return as Wolverine, and he’s made it known he hopes to shoot Apocalypse and The Wolverine 3 roughly back-to-back to accommodate the grueling workout schedule he has to follow to maintain his beast-like physique.
Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess at the moment. If you go back far enough, they were talking about Apocalypse as if it would definitely only involve the First Class characters and maybe Wolverine. However, while those characters will likely remain the focus of the film it’s starting to sound like the multi-cast experiment of Days of Future Past might bleed into Apocalypse a little as well. Kinberg told Empire:
“The plan right now at least with the next movie, Apocalypse, is to focus on the First Class characters. Obviously, there’s plenty of room for the older characters to go forward, but there’s still so much growth between where the First Class characters end at Days of Future Past and where we know they end up and how the twists and turns potentially take them into being villains and leaders. That’s sort of interesting, at least creatively, for me going forward. So, definitely the intention going forward is to focus on the First Class cast with maybe some visitation from the original characters.”
What about maybe some younger versions of the the X-Men/X2/The Last Stand characters?
Now you’re talking. Maybe. Everything is just a rumor based on the following quote from Singer’s interview with TotalFilm earlier this year:
“I don’t want to get too specific, but we’ll introduce familiar characters in a younger time […] It all stems back to when I did [the first] X-Men. You always want to know where a character’s going to go, what their future’s going be like. You can always sequelise. But on that film I also had actors asking ‘Who am I? Where did my character come from?’ So as a director you always need a backstory to give your actors. It may not be the right backstory, but it’s one you can give the actor to help them understand their character. These prequels are really exciting for me because they give me a chance to explore ideas I came up with more than a decade ago.”
That has widely been interpreted to mean that Apocalypse will feature younger versions of the X-Men from the first film: Storm, Cyclops, and Jean Grey. There are already dream casting choices out there, such as 12 Years a Slave‘s Lupita Nyong’o for Storm even though her age compared to Halle Berry’s in the 2000-set X-Men makes no sense for her to be a younger version of the character. For now, it matters not until we hear anything official.
Which new mutants should we expect to see?
Define new. Because technically Gambit isn’t new anymore, already played by Taylor Kitsch in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. However, they’re calling a mulligan, and will try to re-introduce Gambit in Apocalypse with an option for a spin-off solo film should he prove popular enough. Channing Tatum is “dying” to play the role, and his people and their people are in heavy negotiations. That means though he’s not officially signed yet most already assume the role is his. Simon Kinberg told Collider:
I think Gambit’s one of the coolest characters that hasn’t been heavily featured. I mean, he was in the first Wolverine movie, but he hasn’t really been heavily featured in the main X-Men movies. I think Channing will be amazing playing him. What I like about the character is that my favorite characters in the comics are anti-heroes like Batman, like Wolverine, like Iron Man. I think Gambit fits into that classification because he’s a thief, he’s rogue, he’s a little destructive. I think he’s one of the more dynamic characters in the X-Men world. He’s certainly one as a fan that could be explored more in the films.
Who the heck is Apocalypse in the comics?
In the comics, Apocalypse is basically the X-Men’s version of Thanos, a central, all-powerful bad guy. He’s the world’s first known mutant, and was orphaned and raised by nomads. His mutant abilities kicked in when Pharaoh Rama-Tut (who was really a young Kang the Conqueror) attempted to kill him. These abilities are pretty much whatever the comic book writers have needed them to be. So, because Apocalypse has mastery over his entire body he can shape change, he’s invulnerable, he’s super strong, he can shoot laser blasts, he can sometimes fly, he can sometimes teleport, and he consistently falls back on salvaged alien technology to add even more powers.
As for his goals, he’s basically a way more severe version of Magneto. Due to his childhood experiences in ancient Egypt, he came to believe that not only is this a world of survival of the fittest but a world in which only the fittest deserve to survive thus making it is his personal duty to ensure all of humankind is eventually exterminated in favor of homo superior mutants. The problem was that he had to wait until there were other mutants around. So, he mostly kicked around the ancient world and became a god to early humans, such as the Egyptians worshiping him as En Sabah Nur. When he got bored of that, he’d hibernate using his alien technology, awakening periodically to check back in on the world to see if there were enough mutants around for him to finally make his move. Along the way, he encountered and fought similarly long-lived Marvel heroes like Thor, but it wasn’t until the 20th century and the establishment of the X-Men that it became time for him to finally awaken for good.
His most famous stories in the comics involve him recruiting members of the X-Men to serve as his Four Horsemen, most famously a resurrected Angel returning as Death, and the big event series from the mid-90s known as Age of Apocalypse, which features multiple big characters deaths, time travel, and alternate realities. You can read more about his comic book history at ComicBookResources.com.
Who will Apocalypse be in the movie?
For one thing, don’t expect to see that young actor from the Days of Future Past stinger return. He’s a relative unknown Canadian actor cast during their re-shoots in Montreal, and his work as Apocalypse is only meant as a brief introduction to the character for the fans, not an exact representation of the character will appear in the movie. So, regardless of who ends up playing him what exactly can we expect from the character? Kinberg told MoviePilot:
“What the comics do best and I think Bryan’s done so well with these movies is humanizing, dramatizing the characters. It’s really been about how do we give him [Apocalypse], most importantly, a very human and relatable motivation so that as extreme and insane as his methods are, there is something, you know, understandable, almost empathetic about his motivation. Some of that is in the books, some of that is us building on that. You know, fully dimensionalizing the character, but it is a huge part of the task of adapting the story of Apocalypse. It is making him, while larger than life also dow to a human, emotional scale. We’re definitely approaching him as a super charismatic leader that will draw people to his cause. So far, in the X-Men movies, there really are two leaders. You know, there’s Eric/Magneto and what he did with the Brotherhood and Charles/Professor Xavier and what he did with the X-Men. Apocalypse presents a new leader, the darkest leader in the franchise.”
Could we see any of the X-Men become Apocalypse’s Horsemen like in the comics?
Maybe. Kinberg told DenOfGeek:
“We’ve also been talking about how to give Apocalypse a real emotional and philosophical underpinning,” he added. “So he’s not just somebody who’s out there destroying the world because he can. What he’s doing is – in his mind – justified and validated by a real compelling, coherent philosophy. He tries to proselytise and convert people – maybe some of our most familiar characters – to come to his cause.”
Will there be any more time travel or alternate realities?
Maybe a little. Kinberg told Empire:
“Days of Future Past is a time travel movie, Apocalypse is a disaster movie. Those are viable genres without superpowers, and when you add comic book characters with superpowers to it then it feels a little bit different then the comic book movies that have come before it. In terms of the alternate realities, there may be a little of that in the film, but we are really still in the early stages. I’ll just say that as the writer I don’t know if I can handle having to figure out more than one linear story anytime soon, and that one linear story still involving 8 characters, 4 or 5 of which you have to give well-constructed story arcs.”
Who will the story focus on?
Even with Apocalypse shaping up to be a Roland Emmerich-level disaster movie we should probably still expect something like First Class and Days of Future Past where the true focus is on character, the former being Magneto’s origin story and the latter being Charles’ redemption story. At this point, the idea for Apocalypse is to give the story over to both of them:
“[Eric and Charles] are both at their peak powers at the start of Apocalypse. So, Apocalypse to me is the culmination of this love story told in three acts.”