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13 Questions I Had After X-Men: Apocalypse

Will these characters ever age?

You’ve seen X-Men: Apocalypse. So have I (here’s my spoiler-lite review). You’ve got some question. So do I.

Of course, everyone’s mileage tends to vary with big franchise movies. So I should note that I grew up on X-Men: The Animated Series, have seen all of the live-action movies (loved X2 and First Class) and am familiar with the short-lived animated series Wolverine and the X-Men. I have not read any X-Men comic books though. As a result, there are certain parts of Apocalypse which were perfectly understandable to me (hello Jubilee), but others which left me asking, “WTF?” For example:

1. What exactly are Apocalypse’s powers?

Whenever his eyes roll back and go all white he’s mutant god, capable of waging a war against Xavier in his mind while simultaneously holding off Magneto, Beast, Quicksilver, Mystique and Cyclops in the physical world. He can put up force fields around his body, and create cosmic portals to anywhere he so desires. He can manipulate matter, turn humans into piles of dust or meld them with stone, and enhance the powers of any mutant he encounters.

Cool, but how exactly did he become so powerful? I know the comic book answer is super complicated, but in the movie it seems like his original ability is transferring his consciousness to other mutants, absorbing their powers in the process while also maintaining all of his old ones. That sort of makes him the X-Men version of Sylar from Heroes, right?

2. Why hadn’t anyone recognized Magneto in Poland until after he used his powers?

EmpireX7Apocalypse takes place on the 10th anniversary of Magneto’s attempted assassination of President Nixon, and the resulting news coverage is watched by several characters, most crucially Apocalypse and Storm. Is none of that footage making it into Poland? Magneto is only discovered by the police in his small Polish town after he uses his power to save someone. Admittedly, I have no idea what the media situation was like in Poland in the 70s and 80s, but if Magneto was really world enemy #1 after 1973 would he truly be able to go an entire decade without being recognized?

3. Did you recognize Havok?

984c6c1f4a1837613fb78d1061ab4fb9xmenapoc31

I sure didn’t. I kept wanting to call Lucas Till “Not-Matt Smith” in this movie. It’s the same actor and character who was one of the original X-Men in First Class and popped up for a “saved by Mystique” cameo in Days of Future Past. However, since it’s been 5 years since Havok was a significant character in any of these movies I had mostly forgotten about him.

4. Why wait until the very end to restore Moira’s memories?

Charles-Xavier-X-Men-First-Class-professor-charles-francis-xavier-27945395-500-213The roofie-kiss is understandably tricky territory for the superhero genre, but at least in First Class you could understand Charles was newly hardened by the Cuba experience. Magneto had been right. The humans did instantly turn on them. Moira meant well and was genuinely trustworthy, but the decision-makers above her weren’t ready to fairly deal with mutants.  Charles cutting her off was First Class‘ way of showing he wasn’t quite so naive anymore, and it was specifically framed around his need to keep the location of his school a secret.

1463598267-3943496692_nBy Apocalypse, though, the secret’s out of the bag. Moira even mentions having read all about Charles’ school. Why doesn’t he just restore her memories on the spot? The whole reason for lying to her back in the 1960s has been negated by time. Was he afraid she’d be upset (and rightfully so) and not share all that information about Apocalypse? Keeping up the lie works to give McAvoy a nervous energy and elicits some big laughs, but poor Rose Byrne is stuck flashing “Wow, this is amazing!” facial expressions half the time when she could have been better served with getting a chance to confront Charles.

5. Did those Polish factory workers understand anything Magneto was saying when he was promising to kill all of them?

He promises to kill all of them, and even explains why. He does it entirely in English, though. One of the workers pleads in his native language, “Please don’t do this,” or something to that effect. Did they all understand what Magneto was saying? Or was it just that one guy?

6. Can Quicksilver really lift and toss people like rag dolls while using his super speed?

Unrelated, this cross-promotional commercial featuring most of the new X-Men is better than some of the actual scenes in Apocalypse.

How do you top “Time in a Bottle”? Have Quicksilver save everyone in Xavier’s mansion as it explodes! As was the case in Days of Futures Past, the result is one of the film’s highlights. However, this time they have Quicksilver lifting and tossing at least 20 different characters around like rag dolls. Make cops punch each other and push bullets out of the air, sure, but throw people out of windows like it’s no problem? Is that something we knew he could do?

7. How exactly did Stryker’s helicoptors show up at Xavier’s mansion so fast?

A huge event just went down at the mansion. All of the world’s nukes are in the air. It’s time to move in. I get that. But Stryker’s helicoptors show up on scene within maybe 5 minutes of the nuclear crisis. Hypothetical explanation for the speedy response: Stryker’s so anti-mutant he’s had a nearby team on standbye for years, ready to swoop in at a moment’s notice.

8. How did Wolverine still end up in Stryker’s Weapon X program after being saved by Mystique at the end of Days of Future Past?

Days of Future Past endingProducer-writer Simon Kinberg chose to end Days of Future Past with Mystique pulling Wolverine from the water, apparently saving him from experimentation, because it echoed Mystique’s opening scene liberating mutants who were about to be experimented on by Stryker. It provided the film a nice bit of symmetry, but it also didn’t make any sense. We knew Wolverine would ultimately become Stryker’s Weapon X. That adamantium had to get into his body and on his claws somehow. How was that going to work with Mystique having saved him while pretending to be Stryker?

Um, shut up about that, that’s how. Clearly something went south along the way because the real Stryker is keeping a newly Weapon X version of Wolverine in a cage in the Alkaline Lake research facility in Apocalypse. A lot could have happened in the decade between movies. Maybe Mystique did save him, but Wolverine was caught a couple of years later because, as Legends of Tomorrow‘s Rip Hunter would be put it, time wants to happen.

9. Was there an almost uncomfortable energy between Jean and Wolverine when she calmed him down?

Jeans Death The Last Stand

Not that Jean, the new one

Wolverine’s one moment of humanity in Apocalypse comes when Jean manages to psychically calm him down and restore an absolutely minimal part of his memory. However – and maybe I only thought this because I was actively aware of the nearly three-decade age difference between Sophie Turner and Hugh Jackman – was there an unexpected sexual energy between the two of them in that moment, him barechested and animal-like and her the only one allowed to touch him without getting hurt? He will eventually fall in love with this woman, and she’ll be content to gaze at him longingly before returning back to Scott. Was this Apocalypse moment meant to hint at Jean and Wolverine’s instant connection?

10. What does it mean for the future that Jean went full-on Phoenix?

Xmen-Apocalypse-Jean-Grey-Unleashed2You knew it was coming. Jean has the oddly red-tinted vision about the end of the world. Everyone in school fears her because she can’t control her powers. During the final battle, she’s the only one who’s clearly still holding back. Jean’s untapped potential was their ace in the hole, and her appearing to go full-on Phoenix decimated Apocalypse. The first time the original trilogy Jean accessed that power on-screen she died, and came back wrong; this Jean is still alive and kicking, training with the rest of the new X-Men. However, has pandora’s box been opened here? And what did Apocalypse mean by “all has been revealed” when witnessing Jean as the Phoenix?

11. Is it odd that Bryan Singer once mocked the notion of comic book-faithful costumes and visuals but now made a clear point with Apocalypse to put everyone into their comic book costumes (or close to it)?

f8d9aa5b51c24f964945e0b33ae7cba9More than that, he allowed comic book easter egg moments like Charles ordering Scott Summers to “unleash havoc!” and Magneto creating a metal X to signal his betrayal of Apocalypse. That being said, the final sequence with everyone in costume and preparing to fight the (holographic?) sentinels in the danger room was pure fan service delight.

12. Will these characters ever age?

As the X-Men enter into the final battle, the new recruits all explain how much Mystique’s “coming out” moment in 1973 changed all of their lives, showing them that they weren’t alone in the world. It’s a wonderful sentiment, one which plays perfectly on the faces of Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan and Kodi Smit-McPhee. That’s largely because this is the first time we’ve ever see them as Jean, Cyclops and Nightcrawler so it’s easy to imagine them as little kids in 1973. However, Quicksilver is also on that war plane with them, and he says the same thing about Mystique changing his life.

One small problem: does it really look like 10 years have passed for this person?

landscape_movies-x-men-quicksilver

Days of Future Past

8407605e6cd887fb5feb33e1d7af4982

Apocalypse

A decade has passed for the character, but Evan Peters is only two years older. They appear to have added some slight lines under his eyes, and greyed his hair a little more to compensate. Otherwise, he looks mostly the same.

Is it a big problem? Not really. It’s to be expected, really. But as Quicksilver undercuts the moment by joking nothing in his life has actually changed, e.g., still living in his mom’s basement, you’re inclined to joke back that nothing about his appearance has significantly changed either.

It’s an issue for all of the returning actors. Around twenty years have passed in the X-Men world in-between First Class and Apocalypse, yet these actors are all only around 5 years older. So, Rose Byrne and James McAvoy have slight hints of grey in their hair now, although I’d swear none of that grey was in Byrne’s hair during the early Cairo scenes. I didn’t personally notice any difference in Fassbender, Hoult or Lawrence, although Mystique’s shape-shifting makes her more or less age-proof.

13. What the heck is the Essex Corp. in the Post-Credits Scene?

i35ok9Guys in suits calmly enter Stryker’s research facility, steal blood samples from the Weapon X program, place them in a suitcase with other samples and fasten it shut, revealing the following engraving: Essex Corp.

Huh?

ComicBookResources, you want to take this one?

The first big reveal, the Essex Corp name, is a major deal because “Essex” is the surname of one of the X-Men’s most prominent villains: Mister Sinister. Essex Corp is most certainly a shout out to the character, a creepy, glam rock geneticist born in the Victorian era and obsessed with genetics, cloning and meddling with the building blocks of life for his own selfish purposes. The fact that this Essex Corp was concerned with snatching a vial of Wolverine’s blood makes the reveal even more Sinister. Then there’s the fact that Richard E. Grant has been cast in “Wolverine 3” as a “mad-scientist type” villain. It looks like “X-Men: Apocalypse” may have confirmed that that “mad-scientist type” is Mister Sinister.

What the Essex Corp men placed in the briefcase is another potentially massive reveal. They took a sample of Logan’s blood to, presumably, take it to a villain known for creating clones (most notably of Jean Grey and his henchmen the Marauders). Wolverine does have a clone in the comics — a very notable one, so it’s possible that this post-credits scene sets up X-23, Wolverine’s teenage female clone.

What about you? What were some of the questions you had after seeing Apocalypse? You can get as nerdy and as nitpicky as you want in the comments section.

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About Kelly Konda (1853 Articles)
Grew up obsessing over movies and TV shows. Worked in a video store. Minored in film at college because my college didn't offer a film major. Worked in academia for a while. Have been freelance writing and running this blog since 2013.

3 Comments on 13 Questions I Had After X-Men: Apocalypse

  1. As a comic reader to at least some degree, I will happily dive on this pile of questions! No research because eh.

    1. What exactly are Apocalypse’s powers?
    So I think that is more of a comics trope thing more than anything. The good guys work in groups generally because they get along. They all have super powers. Villains have a hard time working together, because how will they divide the world they want to conquer? The money they want to steal? Whatever. Can’t all be top dog. So instead, most super villains are WAY more powerful than the heroes on their own, and they must work together to stop them. Like Doctor Doom. What are his powers? Eeeeeehhhhhh? Being vexing? That and doing basically whatever he needs to be able to do or survive. Apocalypse much the same. There’s a bunch of stuff with alien creation and all as well, going back I think to the Celestials. We’ve seen the Celestials now in Marvel Studios movies (the Collector showed them in his handy Infinity Stones powerpoint) so I doubt they could go there in X-Men. But big glowy Pyramid topper still fits with the whole aliens-built-the-pyramids sort of thinking. I’ll get back to this talking about the Phoenix… anyway. he is all-powerful enough that he always gets other bad guys to work for him. Because he is. He can do what the plot requires. In the movie? I think your Sylar comparison is exactly what they explained.
    Oh! And until way late in the movie I thought it was Psylocke teleporting them. It was purple like her other powers. She’s a ninja, it made sense to me. But then late in the movie they show it was totally Apocalypse, because he needed more powers.

    2. Why hadn’t anyone recognized Magneto in Poland until after he used his powers?
    So the fact that the police come to him SO QUICKLY after it happens makes me wonder if they basically knew all along, and were willing to accept him as long as he didn’t ever use his powers. This seems to be supported by them having a response plan in place so quickly that included the world’s most powerful +5 Vorpal non-metal bows. However, that’s all just inferred and not stated I suppose!

    3. Did you recognize Havok?
    Nope, I didn’t know for sure it was the same guy until reading you!

    4. Why wait until the very end to restore Moira’s memories?
    Good question, I was wondering the same things. I was, however, very happy to have her back as she is a fantastic character. Would have been great if the character had been allowed to be herself for the whole film, instead of re-playing herself from the first film.

    5. Did those Polish factory workers understand anything Magneto was saying when he was promising to kill all of them?
    Movie trope? It definitely feels like there are scenes in film or movie where they were talking in a foreign language first with subtitles, then at some point end up in English, where I often wonder if the intent is they’re still technically speaking the foreign language.

    6. Can Quicksilver really lift and toss people like rag dolls while using his super speed?

    Better question: could they re-do this Death Battle with it being the Flash as presented, versus the X-Men movies version of Quicksilver. Because I think the results change. I think physics says he should be able to move them, like the hitting and waiting for them to move… the rag-doll pickup is a different magnitude of force altogether.

    7. How exactly did Stryker’s helicoptors show up at Xavier’s mansion so fast?
    I like your theory, but that would have made more sense with Stryker not there, just like on the radio calling from DC or Alkalai. Otherwise, who knows.

    8. How did Wolverine still end up in Stryker’s Weapon X program after being saved by Mystique at the end of Days of Future Past?
    Your answers are solid, but I will say that this completely re-writes his escape scene, something we’ve seen several times previously in the movies (flashbacks in X-2 and in Origins: Wolverine). So while yes he was caught again and apparently that was a fixed point in history? He’s out now for a different reason. And now it’s like he’s predestined to like Jean Grey and have a connection…

    9. Was there an almost uncomfortable energy between Jean and Wolverine when she calmed him down?
    …except then there’s this. Predestined? Or love at first sight? Speaking of, I literally made a joke about love at first sight regarding Cyclops, since he and Jean fought when they first met, but then when he could actually see her with his glasses all was forgiven. So not love at first meeting, but yes love at first sight! And as to the age difference between Wolverine and Jean, that’s never great to think about. Remember he fought in the Civil War…

    10. What does it mean for the future that Jean went full-on Phoenix?
    So much like Apocalypse in the comics derives his power not only from a mutation but also from a cosmic source, the Phoenix is a cosmic force inhabiting the mutant Jean Grey. This was something that bugged me about The Last Stand, although in hind sight I think that studio ownership stuff probably explains a lot of it. Now I will say, in the late bits of the final battle, I saw a focal point to the Phoenix power, that almost made it look external or like an object, a seed or egg or some such. Might be that Apocalypse saw it too, witnessed a similar origin, and decided that larger powers had made a decision. Not death, but rebirth? That, or as a godhead, and in the comics as someone who believes fully in survival of the fittest, he admitted defeat to the stronger power – something he had never before encountered.
    And the fact that Apocalypse sees Phoenix as more powerful may answer our question about what it means for the future… Dark days ahead!

    11. Is it odd that Bryan Singer once mocked the notion of comic book-faithful costumes and visuals but now made a clear point with Apocalypse to put everyone into their comic book costumes (or close to it)?
    It didn’t go quite as far as the tag-lines of The Last Stand, but it was interesting to see the huge number of nods to their comic costumes. Though most were right at the end of the film, except for the Horsemen. And hey, Magneto even gets a bonding moment with Apocalypse when he’s like, “I made you this helmet, it’s just like your old one except not because I’m the one blocking mental powers, and not the helmet.”

    12. Will these characters ever age?
    Have wondered the same – especially if they’re thinking about a jump to the 90s in the next film? Move on to the younger actors, who will look way too young then?
    Wait, better answer – Havok?

    13. What the heck is the Essex Corp. in the Post-Credits Scene?
    So my thought was Sinister as the villain of the next X-Men film, as he has ever had an unhealthy fascination with Scott and Jean. He’s made clones of them, and mixed their DNA to create children. I can’t remember if Cable is the result of this, since he’s also a time traveler and such. But once I was thinking about Cable, I was also thinking about the other two potential X-movies in the works: X-Force, generally Cable’s team, and Deadpool 2, which is presumed to include Cable. If what you’re saying is right about Sinister for Wolverine 3, they might actually make him a villain larger than 1 film, potentially, or at least his results in this new re-written timeline may be felt in multiple movies.
    In the Age of Apocalypse comics, Sinister was one of the 4 horsemen, and this position pissed him off. But he had Jean, Logan, and both Summers boys, so life was good.

    • Alright. I’m just now getting to responding. Sorry. Let’s dig in:

      1. What exactly are Apocalypse’s powers?
      You can certainly figure out Apocalypse’s powerset through a quick Wikipedia read, and from the context of the film you can figure some of it out. However, there is a general vagueness about his powers in the film which, though ultimately adhering to a genre trope, seems to speak to the impression that Singer and Kinberg never completely figured this character out.

      2. Why hadn’t anyone recognized Magneto in Poland until after he used his powers?
      Agreed. The fact that they not only respond so quickly but also have all non-metal equipment suggests they suspected but were were willing to accept him (although that one officer who verbally rejects Magneto after the whole “But I’ve had dinner in your house with your family” sure seems surprised and disgusted).

      4. Why wait until the very end to restore Moira’s memories?
      I’ve seem some arguments that Moira shouldn’t even be in the movie. I wouldn’t go that far. I don’t reject her presence. That was a loose thread from First Class to tie off of you think of this as a new trilogy. However, they went about it all wrong. It’s funny seeing him be such the non-ladies man, unlike the way we met him in First Class, but it could have been funny and more interesting to see Moira helping them due to the stakes but bickering him with the whole time out of understandable anger.

      5. Did those Polish factory workers understand anything Magneto was saying when he was promising to kill all of them?
      I just really wanted someone to interrupt him at the most inopportune moment and ask, “Erik, what are you saying? You know we don’t speak English.” I guess your explanation kinda works, but if there’s a transition between what we are seeing and what they are seeing there’s usually an establishing moment to demarcate the point of departure and there was nothing like that here.

      6. Can Quicksilver really lift and toss people like rag dolls while using his super speed?
      It’s one of the best scenes in the movie, even if its placement arguably steps over the dramatic impact of Havoc’s death. However, it’s also one of those moments where when you are walking out of the theater with friends they all ask you, the comic book nerd, “Can Quicksilver do that in the comics too?” and you shake your head, “I honestly don’t know, but we are talking about comics so I am going to go with ‘Probably’.”

      8. How did Wolverine still end up in Stryker’s Weapon X program after being saved by Mystique at the end of Days of Future Past?
      What really happened here is a decision they made on a whim with Days of Future Past came back to haunt them. In one of his many interviews to promote DoFP, Simon Kinberg revealed the original ending had Stryker abducting Wolverine, thus establishing how exactly he ended up in the Weapon X in this newly reconfigured timeline which negate parts of Origins. However, that wasn’t really much of an ending, from a cinematic standpoint at least, and Kinberg loved the symmetry of opening Mystique’s journey in the film with her as a roaming mutant savior and ending it in the same spot. So, they added the flash in Styrker’s eyes, but then they were left with no answer to the obvious question, “But what the hell does that mean? Mystique can’t save Wolverine from becoming Weapon X. That’s way too major of an event to change.” And their explanation for what they did with Wolverine in Apocalypse is mostly, like I said, a variation on Legends of Tomorrow’s “time wants to happen.”

      9. Was there an almost uncomfortable energy between Jean and Wolverine when she calmed him down?
      “As to the age difference between Wolverine and Jean, that’s never great to think about. Remember he fought in the Civil War…” Oh, that’s not what I meant. Maybe because I was raised on Highlander: The Series and other such things I’m not overly bothered by the advanced lifeline of an immortal in comparison to a mortal love interest. I meant, more, in a very real world context when Jean and Wolverine were having their moment, which Singer and Kinberg have revealed was meant to establish their bond and hint at the looming love triangle in the original trilogy, I was very aware of the age difference between Sophie Turner and Hugh Jackman.

      10. What does it mean for the future that Jean went full-on Phoenix?
      “In the comics as someone who believes fully in survival of the fittest, he admitted defeat to the stronger power – something he had never before encountered. And the fact that Apocalypse sees Phoenix as more powerful may answer our question about what it means for the future… Dark days ahead!”

      That’s roughly how I read Apocalypse’s reaction as well. He gave in to the superior power, but was able to somehow see the Phoenix’s logical endpoint.

      11. Is it odd that Bryan Singer once mocked the notion of comic book-faithful costumes and visuals but now made a clear point with Apocalypse to put everyone into their comic book costumes (or close to it)?
      There is an oddness to the fact that while the MCU is deviating from what we commonly think of as comic book visuals and cinema the man who first established the darker, grittier, “get the spirit right without the spandex” approach is back making what is at least aesthetically the most thoroughly comic book movie in a while.

      12. Will these characters ever age?
      That’s true. Havok definitely looks older, though that seems to have everything to do with the hair choices that actor has made.

      13. What the heck is the Essex Corp. in the Post-Credits Scene?
      I’ve seen the suggestions about Sinister factoring into Deadpool 2 and/or Wolverine 3, but I look at this way: Deadpool is currently its own thing, as has been the case for the Wolverine movies. DoFP teased Apocalypse, and then the sequel turned out to be Apocalypse. I’m guessing, based on that history alone, that if Apocalypse teased Sinister then he’ll be the villain of the next main X-Men movie, not one of the spin-offs (although I say that while partially assuming The New Mutants will now become the primary X-Men franchise and the First Class trilogy players will be bit parts in the background if anything, depending on contracts). It all depends on whether or not they’re taking a more strategic approach to the post-credits stingers now, or if it’s still fairly straight-forward. Crap. Now that I think about it The Wolverine had the stinger setting up DoFP. Well, that puts my theory to bed.

      • Sorry but not too sorry for my long comment 🙂 A couple of things to say I suppose…

        1. I just looked through that list of powers on Apocalypse’s Wikipedia page. That’s like, most superpowers. There’s a reason he ran his own dystopian alternate reality.
        2. Might make sense that some people totally knew who he was and some were oblivious. And certainly media (and particularly super hero media) loves to have characters who react angrily about being lied to – usually about secret identities.
        6. Probably.
        8. Yeah, it’s an annoying thread to leave. The movie I’m really curious about at this point is Wolverine 3, since The Wolverine has now never happened because of time travel. So it’s a sequel, but also not. I doubt it makes it to final form with that “3” in the title. I’ve seen several initial titles so far, so I suppose this one is in “wait-and-see” territory for now.
        9. Fair enough. Though this is an upgrade for Sophie Turner versus Game of Thrones, in terms of on-screen relationships…
        11. We re-watched First Class and DoFP after seeing Apocalypse, and there’s actually some similar scenes towards the end of one or both of those (trying to remember which now, seeing all three in a week jumbles it a bit) that also did some harkening back to the comic-book looks. So this wasn’t actually completely new.
        12. Dat hair, tho.
        13. Maybe it’ll go the way of the Mystique eye-flash: a trap they set themselves for the future, rather than a planned gift. Heck, the Avengers Initiative ended up being a trap they set for themselves, something Whedon wrote them out of I feel like in Avengers. The art of a good stinger is apparently not as easy as it might seem to you or I.

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