THE END IS HERE! THE DAY OF JUDGEMENT IS AT HAND!! PREPARE YOURSELVES FOR RAGNAROK!!! Wait…that’s a different end of the world story. Sorry. PREPARE YOURSELVES FOR THE APOCALYPSE!!! Apocalypse has come to bring about the…Apocalypse. Well, I suppose technically, his name is En Sabah Nur, but he is here to bring about the Apocalypse. Or something that closely resembles it, at least. Either way, we have reached the third, and probably final chapter of the “First Class” trilogy of movies.
And I don’t mean to imply that I think Fox is finished with X-Men movies by saying this may be the final chapter. Just that it is an untidy wrap up to the origins of Charles Xavier and Magneto that began in X-Men: First Class. And all of that history established in First Class and Days of Future Past is right on display in Apocalypse. I would argue that you don’t need to know anything about X-Men before watching First Class or even Days of Future Past, but you really need a familiarity with those previous two movies before seeing Apocalypse. The emotional payoffs for the First Class group are probably going to fall flat if you don’t have it. There are also some emotional moments with the younger, recast X-Men from the original trilogy. If you don’t know them, I don’t feel it’s as big of a deal. What is an emotional moment for someone that is familiar with the characters should simply be just a cool moment for someone not familiar.
I also want to get one more thing out of the way quickly. I encourage people that may have an extraordinary knowledge of the comics, and the history and abilities of each character, to not get caught up in the fine details. Yes, Psylocke’s psychic blade is able to cut through things in the movie, in its blade form. She also creates a whip, and latches onto people with it. Please do not throw your keyboard in anger. And also…ummmm…Cyclops’ eye blasts may have melted some steel beams to fuse them together. Again, don’t throw keyboard or monitor. That last one is a little vague. The steel could have been fused by the force of the blasts. Or blasts creating friction or something. Or…you know, wouldn’t it just be easier to accept that the eye blasts may have a heat element to them? It works for Superman. Just give it a chance. Remember, this is an adaptation, not a canonical entry in the comics. It can veer away from the comics, because things like psychic knifes take explanations, and “energy weapon” can just be there and look cool.
The movie is set in 1983, a full 20 years after First Class and 10 years after Days of Future Past. Well, the past portion of it. And, you’re just going to have to accept that. No one really looks like they’re 20 years older than they were in First Class. If it helps, think of it as some type of commentary about how adult characters never really age in comics. You can go from being a teen to being an adult, but adults never really go from being adults to being older adults. Anyways, it’s the 80s, and we get the fashion, arcade games, obligatory Return of the Jedi reference, and Reaganomics. I wouldn’t say the dialogue is reflective of the 80s, but really, that’s for the best. If people still wanted to hear all of the ‘80s lingo, we’d still be talking like that.
The movie opens with in ancient Egypt, as movies about the ‘80s often do, showing a ceremony. The purpose of this ceremony is to put En Sabah Nur (further refered to as Apocalypse) into a new body. One that has healing powers. Apocalypse has the ability to pick up the powers of the new host, while also retaining the powers of his previous host. Again, I have no idea if that’s how it is in the comics, but just go with it. But just before the ceremony can be completed, he is betrayed and the pyramid he was in crumbles around him. One of his followers with their dying action, puts a protective field around Apocalypse long enough that the rubble forms a cubby hole for him to survive, and not get crushed. And it stays like this until 1983. Thanks Reagan.
That’s when members of a cult who have been searching for him, actually find him, recite an incantation, and then likely would have had nothing happen. Because they needed sunlight for the ritual, and there wouldn’t have been sunlight, had Moira McTaggert not followed them in there. So, Apocalypse is revived and he goes to learn about the world. He first runs into Ororo Munroe, though I’m not entirely certain they ever actually gave her a name. Surely, they did. You see Ororo using her powers so that some street urchins and she can steal stuff from the market. She gets caught, but Apocalypse saves her. They return to her place, where Apocalypse touches the TV and learns about everything going on, because why wouldn’t someone who hasn’t been outside since 3600 BCE be able to interface with a TV and learn about current events?
Here is as good a time as any to comment on Apocalypse’s look. There was some hullabaloo about how purple Apocalypse looked. Plenty of oh so clever people on the internet compared his look to notorious(?) Power Rangers villain Ivan Ooze. In fact, pretty sure one of the screen caps I’m using in this article is the main basis of that assumption. I can tell you that for the vast majority of the movie, Apocalypse looks like you’d expect, with a blue-gray hue. And I don’t think it’s an issue that Apocalypse isn’t some hulking giant of a being. If they did make him as proportionally big as he is in the comics, then he’d have to be a CGI character, and then people would just complain about the use of CGI.
Meanwhile, you have Charles Xavier with the school up and running, still dreaming of a utopia (not the island) where humans and mutants may co-exist with each other. Magneto has started a life for himself out in Poland with a wife and child. Mystique is out in the world, possibly rescuing mutants. Well, that’s what she is doing when the movie starts, so we’re going to assume that is what she has been doing. And Beast is still at the school, doing…stuff.
Apocalypse’s next recruiting trip takes him to Psylocke. She’s working as hired muscle, or bodyguard, for Caliban, because of course she is. I don’t know. I have no opinion really on this. Even at the end of the movie, she’s really still a blank slate, with no real characterization or development. So, if you were hoping for a great Psylocke story, sorry to burst your bubble. I guess you could infer that she is hungry for power, for some unknown reason, which is why she joined Apocalypse. But on the bright side, they didn’t do anything terrible with the character. If the psychic knife really gets people angry, just say it was something that Apocalypse did to her. You never see it cut anything previous to him meeting her. And also, after everything is resolved, the movie is certain to show you Psylocke sneaking away, so they want the viewers to know that she is still alive and out there. The thought is that she’ll be in the X-Force movie, but who knows.
And then Angel and Magneto join in after different levels of tragedy befell each of them. Angel doesn’t really get any characterization. He’s just kind of there. He was being used as a cage fighter earlier, and now, not so much. He gets the cool metal wings, so that’s something. And it’s always something tragic with Magneto. This is one of the rare examples where I don’t mind sympathetic villains. I like that aspect with Magneto. Deep down, there is a good guy buried within Magneto, but so much crap happens to him, he can’t help but be who he is. A man constantly torn between the light and the dark. I feel like he wants to be a good guy, but he also doesn’t want to see anything bad happen to his friends and fellow mutants. This personal history and desire to protect pulls him to the pessimistic side of things, whereas Xavier doesn’t have that constant personal tragedy, and falls on the optimistic side of things. A ying yang sort of deal between the two. But this isn’t a post about the relationship between Xavier and Magneto. So, enough of that.
The final thing I want to comment on is the recasting of Jean Grey and Scott Summers. Sansa Stark takes over as Jean Grey. Wait, excuse me…Sophie Turner. And some guy who’s not in one of my favorite shows takes over as Scott Summers. It appears that his name is Tye Sheridan. I thought they both did a fine job playing young versions of the characters. I thought they were given enough time to where you got a sense of who the characters are at that moment in time. And yes, I know that Scott Summers is older than Alex Summers in the comics, but I really don’t care. Different version of the universe. But anyways, I think they both fill the roles nicely, and can pull off said roles in the inevitable next installment.
Well, I believe I have rambled on enough. I didn’t talk about much about the story. Thinking back on it, there’s really only a couple sequences that come across as unnecessary fluff. One of those is a Quicksilver moment, in which you essentially have him doing the same thing as in Days of Future Past, where everything slows down, and he rescues a bunch of people. Then that leads into the next fluff segment, in which we go to the Weapon X headquarters and get to see Wolverine. Sure, it was cool to see the Weapon X version of Wolverine, but it’s not really needed for the rest of the movie. And with Wolverine 3 being Hugh Jackman’s last movie as Wolverine, maybe, I doubt this is going to play out in the future. But, it’s a fun moment of just savage Wolverine. And sure, they get flight suits and a transport plane from Weapon X headquarters, but there were other options around that. Otherwise you have some character development or action pertinent to the plot. I will add that I do think the whole “Mystique is a hero icon because of 1973” is a bit silly, but I get it. You have an Academy Award winning actress tied up for a role. You’re going to use her as much as you can.
But yeah, I really loved this movie. I laughed, I cried, I gasped. I was happy, I was sad. It ran the entire gamut of emotions for me. Except boredom. I was never bored with this movie. It does a nice job wrapping up the origin of the X-Men, so whatever comes along next can jump immediately into having the whole team and the dynamics associated with that. I highly suggest that you see this movie.