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Is X-Men: Apocalypse This Year’s Forgotten Comic Book Movie?

I have this sense that X-Men: Apocalypse is this year’s forgotten comic book movie, behind Civil War, Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, even Doctor Strange and obviously Deadpool.  However, I don’t quite know how to prove that. The new trailer debuted yesterday, and all of the geek sites posted their obligatory reactions, which mostly amounted to frame-by-frame analyses breaking down what the new footage tell us about the big plot points of the movie (e.g., Xavier’s school will be completely destroyed at some point and one of the X-Men might die during that attack, Apocalypse will take Xavier hostage thus forcing Mystique to lead the new X-Men, etc.).

I already wrote about my views on Apocalypse at length when the first trailer dropped [here’s the link to my post], and my opinion hasn’t changed since then. The advertising makes this look like a very generic comic book movie with regrettable costumes and overqualified actors, yet my pre-release pessimism about First-Class, The Wolverine and Days of Future Past was proven wrong each time. As such, I don’t trust my own instincts anymore in terms of properly assessing Apocalypse based on the trailers alone. However, can I at least turn to math to verify my sense that Apocalypse is 2016’s forgotten comic book movie?

Here’s the new trailer if you haven’t seen it. Note the word-for-word callback to X-Men’s ending:

As of this writing, X-Men is the 9th highest trending topic on Twitter (fyi, Daredevil is #1). So people clearly noticed the new trailer. Does that really matter? It’s progress.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (12/16), Finding Dory (6/17), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (3/25), Jason Bourne (7/29), Captain America: Civil War (5/6), Star Trek Beyond (7/22) and Independence Day: Resurgence (6/24).

Those are the 7 movies Fandango users voted as being more anticipated than X-Men: Apocalypse in a survey conducted at the start of the year.

Okay. That wasn’t specific to comic book movies, but it at least confirmed Apocalypse was in third position to DC and Marvel’s two biggies. However, the whole survey might be moot since Zoolander 2  came in right behind Apocalypse as the 9th most anticipated film of 2016 and it bombed at the box office last month. Clearly, being voted “most anticipated” in January turned into “most disappointing” in February.

Ei-vlK0fB7xlFandango also asked more specific questions like “Most Anticipated Comic Book Debutant” and “Most Anticipated Female Actors.” Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique was third in the latter category, behind Melissa McCarthy (Ghostbusters) and Scarlet Johansson (Civil War), and that makes sense since those are three big movie stars. However, not a single Apocalypse character was among the most anticipated comic book debuts. That list went (1) Wonder Woman, (2) Deadpool, (3) Harley Quinn, (4) Aquaman, (5) Doctor Strange and (6) Black Panther. Apocalypse was at least represented in the “Most Anticipated Rising Star” category, with Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey at #1 for women and Tye Sheridan’s Cyclopse #3 for the men.

That’s all fine and good, but Fandango debuted those survey results during the first week of January. Apocalypse has dropped two new trailers since then, one during the Super Bowl and the other yesterday. According to Forbes, Apocalypse‘s Super Bowl trailer was the most “loved” across all of social media behind Jason Bourne and The Jungle Book. However, in terms of generating the highest number of social media mentions in the 24 hours after the game Deadline said it trailed Captain America: Civil War, Jason Bourne and the Coke ad with Ant-Man and the Hulk.

10 CloverfieldAgain, you can’t read too much into that because 10 Cloverfield Lane‘s Super Bowl trailer did very little to move the social media needle, yet the movie just posted a solid opening weekend, controversial ending and all. Gods of Egypt‘s Super Bowl trailer, meanwhile, ranked just above 10 Cloverfield Lane‘s in social media mentions, yet Cloverfield Lane has made more in 6 days than Gods of Egypt has in 20.

Okay. Maybe post-Super Bowl social media activity isn’t the best indicator. Let’s look at YouTube views.

Legend of TarzanIn the 24 hours since its debut, Apocalypse‘s new trailer has been viewed 4.7 million times on YouTube. As luck would have it, another summer blockbuster dropped a new trailer yesterday as well, providing us with a solid comparison. Legend of Tarzan’s (7/1) trailer hasn’t even been viewed 700,000 times yet.

Ouch, but of course Apocalypse would trounce Tarzan. The better comparison would be Civil War‘s trailer, which The Hollywood Reporter (via ComicBookResources) said generated 62 million YouTube/Facebook views in its first four days, beating Avengers: Age of Ultron (which earned 50.6 million views in the same time frame) and Jurassic World (53.9 million views upon its release).

Civil War Trailer SpideyBy comparison, Suicide Squad‘s first trailer racked up 36 million views in its first couple of days whereas Batman v Superman‘s second trailer lodged 35 million views. But does that mean Suicide Squad is really more anticipated than Batman v Superman? Or just that fans were understandably more excited for a first look at Suicide Squad than a second look at Dawn of Justice?

Actually, screw YouTube views. What about bloggers? Where is Apocalypse falling in everyone’s “Most Anticipated Comic Book Movies of 2016” lists?

Fifth on DenOfGeek (behind Suicide Squad, Civil War, Dawn of Justice, Doctor Strange). Fourth on Cheatsheet (behind Deadpool, Dawn of Justice, Civil War). Dead last on MoviePilot. Ditto for ComicBookMovie and GirlOnComicBookWorld (she technically ranked Gambit last, but that movie’s no longer coming out this year). Second on ScreenRant (behind Civil War), though. Wasn’t even an honorable mention on SlashFilm’s 10 most anticipated movies of 2016. Similarly failed to make NerdBastard‘s list of 10 most anticipated comic book movies, sequels or reboots.

That’s not necessarily a fair or representative sample. Those are simply the sites which popped up in a quick Google search, but it helps me realize why I think of Apocalypse as being unloved. YouTube views mean nothing to me, and social media mentions only matter as much as it influences the actual people I follow. Where I get a sense of everyone’s anticipation level is through reading pop culture sites, and a cursory Google search just revealed a staggering lack of enthusiasm for Apocalypse in that realm (aside from ScreenRant).

At this point, the stats probably make a more convincing argument that Doctor Strange is the year’s forgotten comic book movie. Since we haven’t seen any footage from it yet, everyone’s just going off of casting rumors and pics of Cumberbatch from the set. Even then, the hardcore nerds who know their comics tend to rank it above Apocalypse.

Or at least that was the case before this new trailer arrived. Did it do anything to change your opinion? Or does that not matter for you because you’re already stoked to see the conclusion to the First Class trilogy? Let me know in the comments.


  1. This new trailer piqued my interest much more than the first one. Even though X-Men have been rebooted like all the other early 2000’s superhero movies, somehow they still haven’t lost that overt campy feeling and it really shows in the costumes. I can’t believe Oscar Isaac is in there somewhere. Still, the X-Men are the best at showing a variety of cool superpowers and I imagine they’ll be here to stay, even if only as a guilty pleasure. I get the feeling the cast will be trashing these movies in a few short years.

    1. There was certainly some more intriguing imagery in this trailer than the last one. We saw more of that sequence of the giant version of Apocalypse battling Xavier either for real or psychically, and it appears to be a real highlight. The spoiler about the Xavier mansion getting destroyed is certainly intriguing as was the early glimpse of Nightcrawler fighting Angel in some kind of cage match, possibly a callback to Wolverine’s cage fights in the first X-Men (except there no one knew he was a mutant, and he was fighting normal humans). I’ll definitely see this movie, and I really like this cast. However, the trailers still give me a “meh” kind of reaction. As for the cast potentially pulling a Sally Field on us, the most obvious pick to be the first to trash the movies is Jennifer Lawrence. She’ll probably get asked in a couple of years if she misses playing Mystique, and she’ll always joke about how she doesn’t miss the costume or make-up. Maybe she’ll also someday confirm the internet’s snarky jokes that at this point she’s over these movies and wants out of franchise contracts as soon as possible since she no longer financially needs them.

    2. I think James and Michael probably will not trash these movies. Lawrence, sure, but not James and Michael. Michael Fassbender actually helped decide his character’s arc in this story and it harkens back to a comics arc that has been mentioned in interviews he did for First Class. Eric starts a domestic life after the events of Days of Future Past with a family and he loses his family, and Apocalypse takes advantage of his low point. Fassbender actually helped decide on that for his character. That seems like someone who cares and who gets input they are happy with. Bryan Singer said Fassbender moved him to tears with some of his acting on Apocalypse.

      Personally, I loved First Class and Days of Future Past. I think Apocalypse will be bad, but I want to see what happens to these characters. Unfortunately, I think spectacle, fan service, and too many characters will leave too little for character development and storytelling. I also feel like that is too bad all-round.

      With respect to being forgotten, comparing social media numbers to Captain America may not be the ideal perspective because the high figures for CA:CW may reflect the success of Civil War rather than the failings to Apocalypse. I mention this because did some write-ups where they mention that earlier Apocalypse was often outperforming Days of Future Past. Deadline also mentioned that Apocalypse lagged CA:CW and B v S but the numbers were slightly higher than Jurassic World last year, and that does not seem so bad in absolute terms. The lack of enthusiasm may be more strongly reflected in numbers coming closer to release and box office did reduce their long range forecast earlier.

      There is a ‘meh’ reaction to the marketing in geek circles and pop culture websites have not been impressed. Presence on social media has also not been consistently strong. Excitement and hype are important, but the movie itself may count most. Unfortunately, it is not looking good.

  2. This movie I’m just not excited about. I’m going to see it. But I’ve just never had this feeling of excitement.

    In all honesty, First Class is still my favorite of this trilogy/series whatever the heck it’s going to be. The heart of First Class was the characters. Exploring them, their dynamics, and how they viewed the world. It was more interesting to really delve into those characters. That fell away quite a bit in Days of Future Past. It was a fun movie, but it certainly wasn’t as interesting. From what I’ve seen of the trailers of this so far, I get the impression that the character study is falling even further away in favor of the spectacle. What Matthew Vaughn did was wonderful and I watch that movie on a semi-regular basis. I can’t help but thing Singer’s influence has taken the series away from the characters.

    I considered writing a post about the trailer today, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I didn’t love it or hate it. Ultimately I just didn’t want to invest the time in that post. Take that for what you will.

    1. “I considered writing a post about the trailer today, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I didn’t love it or hate it. Ultimately I just didn’t want to invest the time in that post. Take that for what you will.”

      The fact that I made this into a post not about the trailer but about whether or not statistics can verify if Apocalypse is the forgotten comic book movies of the year probably says a lot about my own excitement level for the movie.

      “The heart of First Class was the characters. Exploring them, their dynamics, and how they viewed the world. It was more interesting to really delve into those characters. That fell away quite a bit in Days of Future Past. It was a fun movie, but it certainly wasn’t as interesting. From what I’ve seen of the trailers of this so far, I get the impression that the character study is falling even further away in favor of the spectacle.”

      Sums it up perfectly. It was so disheartening to see most of the First Class characters killed off between movies, fodder for a dramatic Magneto speech about everyone who’d died. For as fun as Days of Future Past was, the emotional component for the First Class cast clearly wasn’t the same, not after Mystique was turned into the mutant MacGuffin. McAvoy and Fassbender had their nice moments, and Jackman got that lovely ending meeting back up with the original X-Men in the re-set timeline. Everyone else, not so much, despite at least an effort to give Lawrence a couple of moments.

      I do wonder how much of my indifference about Apocalypse is due to Deadpool. We just saw a really fun, low stakes movie set in the X-Men universe, but Apocalypse will be a huge disaster movie and it looks so generic and late 90s with some of those costumes. Their natural impulse was to escalate everything in scale, but now it just looks like the fourth or fifth disaster porn movie we’ll see in 2016.

      Additionally, my opinion might have been colored negatively by comic book fans. I don’t know my X-Men comics enough to really know if there was a better arc they could have picked than Apocalypse, but ever since this movie was announced I’ve seen comic book sites twisting themselves into knots over “Um, the Apocalypse arc isn’t actually that good. Hopefully they’ll make it better in the movie.”

  3. I share your impression, but then, I am not the best person to ask. I don’t care about this movie at all. Nor about the X-men franchise in general. I just want Fox to scrap the whole thing, hire a new director and make a fresh start. And the only reason I don’t mind them still pushing forward is the fact that those movies have a fanbase….smaller than the MCU or even Batman alone has, but still big enough to warrant making another one. And I don’t begrudge them the fan.

    Now excuse me…I have to rewatch the Civil war trailer again…(actually, that’s a lie, I am busy binging Daredevil, but I am sure I will rewatch it at one point even though I already have seen in multiple times).

    BTW: In my personal Anticipation list, it’s Civil War, Doctor Strange on must watch, Suicide Squad and BvS on maybe. X-men I will skip. There is more than comic book movies after all. The new Harry Potter among other things.

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