X-Men Apocalypse was the big finale of the X-Men movie saga. I’m not counting Logan as that doesn’t really involve many of the other X-Men. This movie is it. As a result, the expectations were quite high. The previous movie, X-Men : Day’s of Future Past, which was phenomenal. So it was a very tough act to follow. Looks like we are not done, one more film to the X-Men series featuring the Dark Phoenix is next. But right now – X-Men Apocalypse Explained.
How did X-Men Apocalypse fair? Well it is an average film. It’s definitely not the big bang ending that everyone was looking forward to. Is it a bad film and should be avoided altogether? Heck no, not at all. Do watch it and make your own opinion on which X-Men film was your most favourite.
The film is about Apocalypse (played by Oscar Isaac) who is the first mutant. Over generations Apocalypse has been getting his conscience transferred from one body to another to continue living on and on. Everytime he moves into another body he acquires the powers of that body. Over generations Apocalypse has picked up a variety of powers and is super powerful, way more powerful than the other mutants we have known and loved.
The story is also set in a new universe. Remember how the events of Days of Future Past changed the future to create a new timeline with Jean Grey and Cyclops still alive? This story is set in that altered timeline. The story continues from right after Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) saves the day and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) goes into exile. Charles (James McAvoy) is running the school with Beast (Nicholas Hoult). The story features young mutants Jean Grey (played by Sophie Turner from Game of Thrones) and a young Cyclops (played by Tye Sheridan). The film also features a young Storm (played by Alexandra Shipp) and a mutant by the name Psylocke (played by Olivia Munn). Psylocke wields telekinetic weapons and is the only one who looks and has the costume straight out of the comic (picture below). A young Nightcrawler is played by Kodi Smit-McPhee and Evan Peters is back as Quicksilver. Archangel is played by Ben Hardy.
There are spoilers ahead so do watch the movie before reading further. Apocalypse always works with 4 powerful mutants. He and his 4 mutants (called the 4 horsemen because the bible is shown to get this from him) are rudely interrupted in one of his conscience transfers to a new body. This even happens in the age of the ancient Egyptian civilization. While his 4 horsemen protect him, they end up being killed and buried deep within the earth. Apocalypse lays asleep in the dark bowels of the earth and is woken up by a cult that worships him. Obviously Apocalypse is pissed off because thousands of years have gone by and he didn’t manage his new body. He clearly doesn’t like what the world has become because humans rule the planet and not mutants. A man after Magneto’s heart, or the other way around.
The New Timeline – Great Work
The new timeline which got created as a result of Days of Future Past was an altered one. A timeline different from what we know. This leaves endless possibilities of change. Each of those possibilities were used to create an alternate set of events.
Wolverine is kept in a safety unit container (looks like made of adamantium). Jean, Scott and Nightcrawler release him from that box. Jean gives Wolverine back pieces of his memory. This is not how it happens in the earlier timeline. Wolverine, as we know, escapes from the facility directly after his adamantium fusion. A nice modification.
Mystique has been freeing mutants because of who she becomes in Days of Future Past. As a result, she connects Nightcrawler with the X-Men much earlier in the timeline – as opposed to X2 where Nightcrawler meets the X-Men as an adult.
According to X-Men : Last Stand, both Erik and Charles go to meet the young Jean at her house to take her into the school. Here in Apocalypse, Magneto exiles himself and lives with his family. As a result Jean is in the school but has never met Magneto.
Jean Grey and Scott were both alive at the end of Days of Future Past. This is explained in Apocalypse. Charles asks for Jean’s help and tells her to unleash her full power. Jean unleashes the phoenix force on Apocalypse, crippling him. Since she releases the phoenix early on, Charles probably doesn’t end up containing the beast in her mind. Events from X-Men Last Stand never happen and therefore Jean and Scott were still alive.
Mystique is not with the brotherhood because of the events of Days of Future Past and further more in Apocalypse, she becomes part of the X-Men and is even involved in training them. Although this could be the Oscar Winning JLaw effect.
What Did Not Work
Apocalypse has a couple of main powers – telekinesis, alteration of matter, teleportation and he can enhance the powers of other mutants. Though he has a very powerful mind, he does not have the power of telepathy. His agenda is to wipe the world clean and to rule it. The movie had a lot going on and was long enough. But it constantly felt like something was missing. And stayed that way after the climax and into the credits as well. I took a week to sit down and figure why that was. Here’s some of the reasons I could put together, please do drop your comments if you have more reasons (or disagree with mine).
Before that, the climax was actually pretty cool. The display of super powers that come together and take out Apocalypse was neat. The depiction of the phoenix force in this movie was fantastic, although the non-comicbook-readers would have had quite the difficulty understanding what happened. The early release of the phoenix force also explains how Jean Grey and Scott were still alive at the end of Days of Future Past. The Quicksilver save was amazing too. Also, I’m not a hater. I love the franchise and will end up watching this movie again in the Cinemas. But I just couldn’t ignore these.
It’s not very clear what Apocalypse’s powers are. Looks to be that he also has the power of persuasion in the film. This is not a power he posses in the comics. Even so, there are a lot of inconsistencies.
Apocalypse gets Storm to join him by saying he’s going to make the world a better place. Storm is no idiot. Apocalypse uses his powers of persuasion to convince her. She blindly trusts Apocalypse. Sure, but still doesn’t explain much as to how she overcomes his power and switches back sides. They don’t really show Storm snapping out of it or anything.
Psylocke too, she is shown no reason to join Apocalypse. She’s given no dialogues. Just enhancing one’s mutant abilities seems too weak a reason to be indebted to him. He could have used his powers of persuasion on her too. Which means we have a new character with no depth of her real self. I guess the saving grace is that she is not shown to switch sides. She is just somebody who takes sides based on how it benefits her.
That fight between him and Nightcrawler was weak. In a flash his wings are burnt and Angel is done. If they were going to bring in a fight, it could have been more interesting and better choreographed. Not just a couple of flashes and boom, done. Also, given the earlier film (X-Men : The Last Stand) shows angel to still be a young guy much in the future, there seems to be something wrong with Angel’s age in this film, he should have been much younger. The events of Days of Future Past wouldn’t affect Angel’s age. The fight in the climax between the two of them is similar – bamf, bamf, bamf, bamf, done. (Remember how Nightcrawler takes out everyone in X2’s opening sequence?)
Magneto has been the strongest presence in all of the X-Men movies. Again, Apocalypse persuades Magneto into some kind of a dumbed-down pawn who simply takes orders. Magneto’s character was switched off in this film completely. The zombie treatment was disheartening. Again, there was no proper reason shown for him to switch back sides. Magneto stood for mutant freedom and domination. What he was doing with his new powers was only killing mutants (and humans) on a global scale. That was not in congruence with how Magneto runs the show. He doesn’t go around killing innocent mutants. If he was being persuaded, why his big move against Apocalypse?
If the objective was to stop Magneto from his mass killing, wouldn’t it have been sensible to play the dad-card with Quicksilver? “Magneto, your family is not all dead. You still have a son. He’s right here.” Which might have still half-explained the switching back of sides.
Apocalypse Is Untelepathically Telepathic.
Apocalypse is shown to have no Telepathy (in fact, that is why he wants to take Charles’ body), but is still shown to somehow control Charles and use Cerebro. This wasn’t too clear. Why does Apocalypse have the ability to overpower Charles in a mind war? Is he persuading him here to use cerebro and get rid of the nukes? If so what stops Apocalypse from persuading Charles to just give himself up in the end? If someone could clarify, I can sleep a little at night.
The whole element of Stryker coming in to take the mutants had only one purpose – bring Wolverine in for the cameo (which was ‘killer’ by the way, I loved it). Strykey didn’t otherwise add to the story at all. Might have been better to show the reason behind why Mystique (in the form of Stryker) finds Wolverine at the end of Days of Future Past.
Quicksilver Is Spared
Quicksilver is of no consequence to Apocalypse. Given he was beating Apocalypse silly shouldn’t Apocalypse have just destroyed Quicksilver with a thought? Apocalypse rips apart a city to build himself a pyramid in no time. Quicksilver should have been a dead man. If Apocalypse needed Charles to come out, he could have persuaded everyone around him to go get Charles. Like I mentioned, the power of persuasion was inconsistent and given it was not a comic book power of Apocalypse, it could have been kept out.
So, to summarize, the weak element in the movie was how people took Apocalypse’s side. Why they switched back was also erratic. Given the movie was about 4 powerful mutants helping Apocalypse with his world-ending mission, their reason to do so was not satisfactory. Pinning it on persuasion took away the depth of each of those 4 main characters.
Barry is a technologist who helps start-ups build successful products. His love for movies and production has led him to write his well-received film explanation and analysis articles to help everyone appreciate the films better. He’s regularly available for a chat conversation on his website and consults on storyboarding from time to time.
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