Just when we thought that Bryan Singer won't reveal anything else about X-Men: Apocalypse, the director decided to come and deconstruct one of the most terrible foes of the X-Men. And we can certainly say that, if until now this was one of the most expected flicks of the year, X-Men: Apocalypse is not any longer in our Top 5 movies to see in 2016.
Before anything else, we need to say that we understand certain creative liberties should be taken when adapting a comic book storyline. However, the biggest mistake one can make is to completely mess up the main characters. It has happened before, unfortunately, in the X-Men Universe, when Last Stand was released. It has happened on an even grander scale, in the MCU this time, when the Mandarin, Iron Man's greatest foe (and the perfect opportunity for Marvel to introduce magic in the MCU), became a punchline.
Until now, what we saw and heard about X-Men: Apocalypse looked good. The following pieces of information might have ruined everything for us.
Check it out, if you want - keep in mind, though, that here are some major spoilers.
Apocalypse: The Mission
In the X-Men movies so far, the biggest enemies of the mutants were the humans themselves. In all of the movies, the humans and their fear were the ones who set the plot into motion. X-Men: Apocalypse is the first flick to switch and present a bigger threat, a threat for both the mutants and the humans. And that threat comes in the oldest mutant there is.
In the comics, Apocalypse believes that only the strongest must survive - and this belief puts in peril both the humans and the majority of the mutants.
According to Bryan Singer, this version of En Sabah Nur is a bit different. In the ancient times, the character might have desired to be a savior of the world, the one who puts an end to all the petty wars and who unites the humanity. But, as he became more powerful, he became more corrupted in his ideals. And this lead him to being buried for centuries.
So it can be said that he is shocked to see how the world developed in his absence. The same plagues which ruled the ancient world rule the modern one as well. With the difference that this world separates itself into super-powers and the others. For Apocalypse, even the most evolved countries aren't superpowers. And everything is just a mess, a mess he needs to clean: "But to him it's all just one giant interconnected, overly militarized, screwed up civilization that worships false idols and is self-destructive, and needs to be refined and saved from itself." (via Screen Rant)
And for that he needs followers. The most interesting thing about this is this switch between dictator and cult leader everybody worships. And, until now, all is well, we can say. Especially when Singer hints that his powers are unearthly: "But to him it's all just one giant interconnected, overly militarized, screwed up civilization that worships false idols and is self-destructive, and needs to be refined and saved from itself." Yes, we do believe that the Celestials will be teased in the movie.
What kind of powers and abilities are these? Well, here is where Singer goes off the rails.
Apocalypse: The Powers
Things get weird in here. And in here you will understand why we don't have so high expectations for this movie any longer. In the comics, Apocalypse can do just about everything, from changing size and shape, to teleporting and time-jumping. He is very exotic from this point of view - so, obviously, he needed to be played down a bit for the big screens.
In what sense? In a sense that won't appeal to the fans.
Here's how Singer explains his immortality and the way in which he has amassed so much power: "He moves from body to body. Apocalypse himself is not a physical form, he's an energy. I don't know what he is. What he does is he accumulates powers over the millenia by moving from body to body, and what's wonderful is he thinks in the beginning of the film he's found this great body. I don't want to give away what the power of the body this mutant has but it's a familiar one that you've seen a number of very famous mutants have. It kind of ends up being the wrong one because he gets stuck in it for a long time, but then suddenly he has this opportunity and that becomes his agenda."
So this Apoc is not Apoc at all, right? Because he seems more and more like a combination between this one character and some others, such as Shadow King. This wouldn't be such a biggie - but why do you say he is one character, when he is in fact a multitude of many others?
Apocalypse as a form of energy?!? We get it - he can change bodies in the comics as well. But saying that he is a form of energy is just too much for us.
Leaving this aside, another mystery arises. As we see, Apoc has changed a few bodies over the course of years. The last one, however, gave him the most trouble - the body he possessed did have a unique ability which he wanted, but it proved to be more than he could handle. Hence the burying. But what power was that? Who did he possess? Did he possess, by any chance, the true Apocalypse?!?
The Four Horsemen
Moving on, as far away as possible from this form of energy, we encounter the 4 Horsemen, the powerful beings imbued with even more power and who acted Apocalypse's generals: War, Death, Famine, and Pestilence. And while Apoc himself is a terrible foe, he usually sends his generals to do all the heavy-lifting.
But wait - this is just in the comics, in which mutants with gifts of death, violence, hunger, and infection became the Horsemen. It isn't so in the movie, where these generals have no special name. Magneto is still Magneto, Storm is still Storm, and so on. They just become superpowered when Apocalypse makes them his generals.
However, an interesting change is made, with Singer saying that the 4 Horsemen always need to be 2 males and 2 females. When doing his research for the movie, he said that he found out cult leaders (true cult leaders, the ones who develop god complexes), separate the cult into 4 factions: political, military, youth, and sexual.
Thus Magneto may be said to be the correspondent of the political faction, Archangel is the correspondent of the military one, Storm is in charge with seducing the minds of the young mutants and attracting them on Apocalypse's side, while Psylocke is, obviously, the one who provides the sexual component of the cult. And this is very interesting, this compartmentalization of the attributes. Will it work on-screen? We don't know just yet.
For X-Men: Apocalypse, Bryan Singer brings a different kind of Storm, one which is much darker than in the previous installments. This is explainable at some degree, since the Halle Berry version was an adult one, presented well after joining the ranks of the X-Men (in no way we are saying that she was perfect).
In the comics, Storm's story is a tragic one, with his family killed by a fighter jet. In Cairo, all alone, she wanders the streets until she meets Xavier. All is good, thus - but in X-Men: Apocalypse she encounters En Sabah Nur instead: "The only mutants that she knows are the mutants who use their powers for stealing"¦ It's not like, "Oh, we're going to save the planet," it's like, "Forget the planet, I need money so I'm going to distract you with some wind and then I'm going to pickpocket you." She's in survival mode, so when she meets Apocalypse, she's hit this revelation where she's been struggling to feel like she belongs somewhere. Then this extremely powerful being comes to her and says, "I'm what you've been waiting for, I will take care of you""¦ I don't necessarily see her as a bad person, or as a bad mutant. I don't see her as a villain. She doesn't know that she's a villain. That's just all she's ever known, is just bad." (via Screen Rant)
And this is very interesting, since in this way she sees Apocalypse not as a villain, but as one of her own people. She cannot make the distinction between good and evil so she trusts him when she meets him - she has no reason to do otherwise, since her personality has been molded that way.
So what does she do in the movie? She acts as a protector of Apoc, literally, thus hinting at what kind of mutant was possessed by Apoc: "There is so much that she can do, and what he's looking for is protection because he just woke up after a couple thousand years"¦ He's weak and he's alone, and he's been betrayed, you know"¦ She admires him. She believes in him because for so long humans have treated her like crap. He is like, "Well in my day it was different". She's like, "Let's get back to there, let's get back to that." She's a weather goddess, you know. She's a level, what is she, level 4, level 5 almost? She's almost on Magneto's level when it comes to her power."
We can conclude, from here, that she may join the X-Men towards the end of the movie. How come? Until meeting Apoc, she saw only the bad side of humanity. The contact with mutants that actually want to co-exist with the humans on Earth may change her opinions.
Psylocke is the over-sexualized part of Apocalypse's cult - which doesn't mean at all that she is forced to do anything against her will. There isn't too much to say about this character just yet, since the details have proven to be very scarce. However, if Storm is the protector, Psylocke is the actual bodyguard, the one who stood by Apocalypse's side from the very start (since he awakened, of course).
Here's what Olivia Munn says about her character: "[Apocalypse] first meets her and she's the bodyguard. She's got this amazing skill and she has zero fear when she goes against him, so he needs her. What he sees in her is that she is someone who can protect and has no fear and is an amazing fighter and has amazing abilities. She's doing things because she wants to do them. She's like, "I want to join you. You haven't fooled me into joining you. I get it, I see what you're doing, and I want to be part of it." In the end, they manipulate her, but it's always her choice to join it."
As said, there isn't much about her and we might not see how she was recruited. But, from these words alone we can understand that Psylocke has a very strong personality (or at least she believes she has), besides her exceptional fighting skills.
In this way, we can say that she may turn against Apoc in the end - simply because she understands that she is being manipulated.
Archangel is the last of the Horsemen to be recruited - and Magneto, Storm, and Psylocke are present when he receives his metallic wings and his new powers. There isn't too much known about this character as well. What we do know, and that is new, comes from Alexandra Shipp (Storm): "We just filmed a scene where we bring Angel, and Angel's our final horsemen, and he's getting his suit made, and he and I have this moment where we look at each other and I just smile at him. It's not anything sexual and it's not anything like, "Yeah babe". It's kind of just like a "¦ You know, where you're just like, "This is cool, this is awesome, we're together on this. We are going to take on these people. I don't know who these X-Men are, I don't know who this Xavier dude is. We're going to beat him up. We're going to win. I shoot lightning." (via Screen Rant)
And this is interesting, not knowing anything, since Archangel is one of the most memorable Horsemen from the comics. We do hope that he will leave an impression on us in the movie as well. And we do hope that his arc won't be as short and as unsatisfying as in Last Stand.
The master of magnetism must have his own reasons for joining Apocalypse, right? He must have an angle, something to gain in his path towards the defeat of humanity, right? Well, it's a bit more complicated.
According to Michael Fassbender, Magneto has always tried to protect his family (the Mutants) and all of his relationships were made to that end. In a sense, they weren't based on trust, but rather means towards his goals.
This changes, according to the actor, when he meets Magda, with whom he actually gets involved. But things don't work out for him. And when his lover meets her end, he raises his fists and argues with God (metaphorically, of course). Ultimately, this is what he did his entire life.
And then God arrives - Apocalypse. Of course, he isn't God, but rather someone way stronger than Magneto. And he sees his chance to have his vengeance: "Again we know him as somebody that doesn't like to form relationships that much, in the previous ones that I've done certainly. So yeah, it's just like, "This could work." He hasn't seen a power like anything like Apocalypse, and the more the better in terms of if you look back to when he was trying to form his own armies, he realizes he can't do it alone. That was the thing about Days of Future Past, he was kind of a singular, going out there on his own. But this is more about we need numbers to do damage." (via Screen Rant)
Basically, Magneto is the same Magneto that we know of. However, there is something changed in him, this time, since he has reached his limits. He cannot continue alone any longer and he seeks protection, we might say, as well as an ally: "In a way, it's like that classic thing of joining any cult or radical group, he's caught him at a very low, vulnerable point where he doesn't really care anymore whether he dies or not or what happens, so he's like, "Yeah I'll join this guy. I'll go on this path of judgment." Apocalypse is sort of bringing judgment to the Earth."
And this sounds a bit disturbing, having Magneto being just a mindless minion (even if he represents the political factor of the cult).
Until now, he seemed like one of the strongest minds of the Mutant Universe, one who wouldn't flinch in the face of any danger. It seems pretty weird to see him retreating from a fight he dedicated his life to, only to be with some woman. And then it seems even weirder to have him accept that there is a higher power out there, one without which he cannot win. In a way, it is out of character (at least, the character we saw in the rebooted trilogy).
And then there is the other aspect of apocalypse itself - it will destroy without any discrimination. Thus, humans and mutants alike will perish - will Magneto stand by Apoc’s side, or will he revolt? According to Fassbender's words, it will be the former.