X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a long time ago. The X-Men franchise has actually been on a creative hot streak since then, firing off First Class, Wolverine and Days of Future Past with Apocalypse due out next summer. Yet because I was burned by X-Men: The Last Stand and Origins: Wolverine I have this oddly kneejerk pessimism about each new X-Men movie. The First Class wasn’t going to work because it should have always just been a Magneto solo movie, and who’s going to buy Kevin Bacon as a comic book villain. Then I saw it, and liked it a lot. Wolverine wasn’t going to work because who the hell really needs another Wolverine movie. Then I saw it, and was surprised to find an engrossing, low-key character study that didn’t get overly comic book-y until the final third. Days of Future Past wasn’t going to work for….oh so many reasons, but then it managed to hold together far better than it had any right to, albeit at the expense of Jennifer Lawrence, who was turned into the film’s mutant MacGuffin.
So, when I say that I am not overly enthusiastic about today’s newly released X-Men: Apocalypse trailer just know that based on past precedent I’ll probably be right here 6 months from now ranting about how much I enjoyed the movie.
Here’s the trailer:
Why am I not enthusiastic? Partially because the people I know who’ve actually read the Apocalypse saga in the X-Men comics have been pretty down on the entire idea of this movie from the get-go. Days of Future Past was far easier to get behind because that comic book storyline is a classic. Apocalypse, though, is about one of the world’s first mutants, alive since the time of Egypt and regularly trying to end the world or some such standard comic book bad guy nonsense. He converts four at least vaguely well-known mutants to become his extra-powerful horsemen. I’ve heard him unfavorably compared to Thanos, just as I’ve heard Thanos unfavorably compared to Darkseid, just as I’ve heard all three of them dismissed as crappy, way too powerful bad guys without a single compelling motivation between the three of them.
I don’t know. I haven’t read any of the comics those characters have been in. As far as Apocalypse is concerned, ScreenCrush and ComicBookResources seemed pretty pumped in their respective breakdowns of his comic book history.
There’s something about him in the trailer, though, that reminds of Lee Pace’s Ronan in Guardians of the Galaxy. There’s a similar ideology of ethnic cleansing (Apocalypse apparently wants to kill all humans) as well as a similar level of make-up and costume hiding the accomplished actor underneath (Oscar Isaac, in this case). Plus, there’s the hold-nothing-back evil villain speech moment. Ronan has several of those, and Pace goes as over the top as he can each time. Apocalypse has one of those in the trailer, yelling out, “Everything they built [dramatic pause] WILL FALL! AND FROM THE ASHES OF THEIR WORLD [dramatic pause] WE’ll BUILD…A BETTER ONE!” Please, immediately after he says that, someone challenge him to a dance-off. Oh, oh, wouldn’t it be funny if it was Xavier who challenged him? Because, you know, he can’t walk, and so his dancing would be from his wheelchair. That would confuse Apocalypse, right?
Yes. I want that to happen.
Except I don’t, and it obviously will not happen. Instead, we’ll see young versions of Storm, Jean Grey, Cyclops and
Beast Boy Nightcrawler. Magneto will be among the Horsemen as will Angel. Xavier will probably get taken out (not killed, just neutralized) halfway through (based on that scene where Apocalypse attacks him outside of Cerebro) thus forcing Mystique to take charge and lead the young troops into battle. At some point, Xavier will lose his hair because, you know, canon.
The image of the trailer for me, though, is the moment when Xavier appears to be fighting a gigantic version of Apocalypse whose hand easily pins his entire body to the ground.
As long as Magneto is around, the X-Men movies always have a compelling villain on hand, similar to what the Marvel Cinematic Universe has with Loki. That doesn’t mean each individual’s film central antagonist is particularly interesting, despite the best efforts of someone like Peter Dinklage. A lot of the time the true source of drama in these films is the internal struggle going on between the central triumvirate (Xavier, Magneto, Mystique) and the antagonism might not be any more complicated than a general, “Humans fear us….those dumbasses.” Apocalypse, though, that looks like a straight-up comic book villain with nothing interesting about him other than his powers, which is not really what I want out of an X-Men movie.
Like I said, though, I’m probably totally wrong. We’ll find out May 27, 2016.
What do you think of the trailer? It does pretty clearly communicate the basic story set-up. Apocalypse claims he’s the source of our many God figures in world religions (e.g., Yahweh, Krishna). Is that a cool idea? Or a creative overreach on the movie’s part? Is the 80s fashion at all distracting for you? Also, did you know that Rose Byrne was going to be back playing her character from First Class? I sure didn’t.