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Non-Review Review: X-Men – Apocalypse

X-Men: Apocalypse is a retro superhero blockbuster, and not just because it happens to be set in the eighties.

At this stage, the X-Men franchise is practically a warhorse of superhero cinema. Although Blade tends to get overlooked in discussions of the current superhero boom, it is fair to trace the current deluge of superhero films back to the twin releases of Bryan Singer’s X-Men and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. Without those two films, released more than a decade-and-a-half ago, the current blockbuster landscape would look a lot different. Those films changed audience expectations and demonstrated what could be done with the format.

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“Shoot me from a low angle to make me seem huge. I’m talking real ‘Triumph of the Will’, here.” (Special Guest Caption by Ed Azad.)

There have two big screen reboots of Spider-Man in the intervening years, with both Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland stepping into the red booties vacated by Tobey Maguire. In contrast, the Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart are still playing the iconic roles they established more than fifteen years ago, with X-Men: Days of Future Past straining to reconcile the original cast with the replacements who appeared in X-Men: First Class. However, in the intervening years, superhero cinema has changed dramatically.

In many respects, Apocalypse feels like the X-Men is playing catch-up with the generation of superhero blockbusters that arrived it its wake, taking the opportunity to do its own big “rock ’em, sock ’em” apocalyptic superhero team-up showdown of the kind that has never really featured in the franchise. Apocalypse finds the X-Men franchise embracing a particular style of superhero brawler typified by The Avengers back in 2012. Ironically, the genre itself has moved on, leaving the entire exercise feeling a little quaint.

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“It was acceptable in the eighties.” (Special Guest Caption by Ed Azad.)

One of the things that Bryan Singer brought to the superhero genre with X-Men was a sense of seriousness. In the wake of neon disasters like Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, Singer grounded the superhero genre. The opening scene of X-Men is set at Auschwitz, and remains one of the most harrowing and effective sequences in the history of the genre. That opening sequence changed everything in a way that seems almost quaint after The Dark Knight. However, Christopher Nolan could never have made Batman Begins without X-Men.

Part of that seriousness involved a relatively muted tone. X-Men was definitely a superhero film; it featured a frog man with giant tongue who could spit bile, and had a sequence in which Bruce Davison literally melted into a puddle. There were plenty of gags, some of which worked well and some of which were “do you know what happens to a toad when it gets hit by lightning?” However, there was a clear emphasis on darkness and seriousness. Magneto wore grey rather than red. The heroes wore black leather instead of blue and gold spandex.

This is not to dismiss or belittle X-Men in any way. However, there was a sense of restraint to the film. The film clocked in at approximately one hundred minutes. The climax unfolded pretty much entirely on and around the Statue of Liberty, with a largely abstract threat posed to the city of New York. Singer very consciously put the emphasis on characters and dynamics rather than on large scale spectacle, and it was something that worked in the movie’s favour. X-Men helped to give the genre credibility and weight.

However, times changed and the superhero movie evolved. As audiences become increasingly comfortable with the narrative conventions and basic rules of the genre, film-makers began to feel comfortable stretching them and playing with them. Marvel began to build its own gigantic shared universe of overlapping properties. Budgets ballooned. Large-scale property damage became the norm. Over time, a basic structure emerged, one honed and perfected by Marvel.

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There wasn’t much left of Singer’s house once the fanboys got through with it. (Special Guest Caption by Ed Azad.)

In contrast, the X-Men movies remained quite apart from all that. The original trilogy took place before these genre conventions settled into place. X-Men II set its big climax at an abandoned dam. X-Men III set its royal rumble on Alcatraz Island. Compared to the siege of New York in The Avengers or the attack on London in Thor: The Dark World or the destruction wrought through Washington in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, these sequences seem positively quaint.

Even when Fox decided to do a loose reboot of the franchise with First Class and Days of Future Past, the franchise remained its own little subgenre of superhero action movie following its own conventions rather than those of the larger genre. Inevitably, Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr would team up; unavoidably, they would clash. There would be mutants on both sides of the conflict. As much as Magneto was the “big bad”, he was always a sympathetic and well-drawn character who was more of an anti-villain than a comic book villain.

Days of Future Past saw Singer return to the franchise, following his departure after X-Men II. That film was largely about bridging the various X-Men films and serving to tie them all together into something loosely resembling a cinematic continuity. Of course, as anybody who has ever tried to read an X-Men comic would attest, the characters seem to resist such “tidying.” It is highly debatable whether the continuity wrangling of Days of Future Past makes sense on its own terms. It is impossible to reconcile it with Apocalypse.

Nevertheless, regardless of whether it actually makes sense or not, Days of Future Past served to clean the slate. It restored Bryan Singer’s stewardship of the franchise and created a clear thematic continuity with the earlier films. It also represented the fifth consecutive X-Men film to take the concept of mutants as a “feared and hated” minority as its central emotional crux. The X-Men have long been a metaphor for minorities or oppressed groups, but there is a sense that the franchise had to look a little bit beyond that basic template.

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Fight night! God versus man. Day versus…damn, wrong franchise. (Special Guest Captions by Ed Azad.)

While the X-Men are an effective metaphor for those with differences, they are also comic book characters. The fifty years of comic book stories that inspired these six feature films have used the X-Men to tell all manner of stories, not all of which are civil rights allegories. Chris Claremont wrote Uncanny X-Men for seventeen years. That would be an impossible length of time for a writer essentially telling variations on the same story over and over and over again. In fact, Claremont’s Uncanny X-Men is notoriously elastic in genre.

Claremont tied the X-Men into all sorts of stories, from space operas to time travel epics to magic adventures to fairytales. Under Claremont’s pen, Uncanny X-Men could go from referencing classic samurai films to riffing on Alien. The X-Men faced more than just other mutants and bigots, they stared down intergalactic empires and clones and demons. There was an extended stretch under Claremont’s pen when Uncanny X-Men was the superhero comic book to read, much like Singer’s X-Men films had once been the superhero films to watch.

Days of Future Past offered a little hint of the flexibility of the X-Men as a film franchise. Although most viewers would recognise the plot as an homage to James Cameron’s The Terminator, with a character travelling back in time to prevent a dystopian future featuring killer robots from coming to pass, the truth is that Chris Claremont and John Byrne had conceived that story years before the release of The Terminator. While the film still fell back on the whole “racist humans oppress mutants” beats, the structure was relatively novel.

In that context, Apocalypse makes a great deal of sense. Apocalypse pretty much amounts to a bit of genre experimentation for the larger X-Men franchise. In particular, it seems to have stemmed from a single core idea, “What if we did what The Avengers did, but with the X-Men?” With that in mind, a lot of the film’s creative choices make a great deal of sense. Apocalypse is a film that takes a great deal of pleasure in running through what is effective a very typical superhero play book.

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Don’t stand. Don’t stand. Don’t stand so close to me. (Special Guest Caption by Ed Azad.)

A lot of the beats in Apocalypse are incredibly generic, feeling almost like stock elements lifted from the kinds of films inspired by Singer’s original X-Men. This is particularly true of the villain. Apocalypse is an iconic and popular X-Men villain, but he is a fairly generic bad guy. He is a genocidal megalomaniac who is tied to the X-Men mythos by the recurring suggestion that he is one of the earliest reported mutants and that his particular brand of mass murder has a consciously Social Darwinist aesthetic.

That is about as much development as the character receives over the course of Apocalypse, to the point that it seems almost perverse to cast Oscar Isaac in the role and cover him in blue paint so that he can wax lyrical about “the strong.” In many ways, the character of Apocalypse resembles the version of the Red Skull who appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger, a stock comic book bad guy who looks like he is up to no good and never really bothers outlining a motivation beyond a desire to inflict casualties on a massive scale.

There are a few hints at a more complex motivation or interpretation of what Apocalypse is and what he represents. Over the course of the film, Singer returns time and time again to the idea of religion and godhood. The first image in the credits sequence is a station of the cross. Apocalypse refers to the inhabitants of the world as his “children” and decries the betrayal of “false gods.” He explains that he has been known by many names, including “Ra.” At one point, the classic Star Trek episode Who Mourns for Adonais? is even playing on television to help signal theme.

There are a few suggestions scattered through the film that Apocalypse represents religious violence. Certainly, his nihilistic apocalyptic philosophy taps into certain interpretations of ISIS. The bulk of the action unfolds in Egypt. Apocalypse looks longingly at Xavier’s ability to literally tap into hearts and minds, to brainwash. Confronting an old friend who has been seduced by Apocalypse’s rhetoric, Xavier urges, “He’s tapping into your rage and anger.” At one point, Apocalypse prepares to stage the public beheading of a captured foe.

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“13 years and they still haven’t updated by wardrobe? I can still smell Alan Cumming’s Newports!” (Special Guest Caption by Ed Azad.)

However, Apocalypse never quite commits to this idea. Apocalypse’s religious violence is contrasted with Kurt Wagner’s more silent and optimistic faith, quietly praying in moment of stress. Similarly, the religious elements of Apocalypse’s rampage are contrasted with quick cuts to the situation room in the Pentagon, in which members of the United States government are shown to be praying. Apocalypse hints at these ideas, but never commits entirely. Apocalypse is himself a relatively blank slate.

In this, the character is true to his comic book roots. Apocalypse is a recurring foe of the X-Men, who likely made a big impression owing to two significant factors. The character featured heavily on X-Men: The Animated Series in the early nineties, which puts him in prime position to capitalise on the wave of nineties nostalgia that is currently sweeping into cinemas. (The trailer for Independence Day: Resurgence played right before this screening of Apocalypse.) The second factor is the character’s prominence in the nineties crossover Age of Apocalypse.

Of course, Apocalypse himself is somewhat tangential to that massive mid-nineties crossover, the big bad who happens to benefit from (rather than instigate) a split in the timeline that sees him successfully conquer the world because the X-Men were not around to stop him. While Apocalypse is a major figure in that crossover, lending it his name, the big selling point of those comics was the opportunity to explore the X-Men in a dystopian alternate present not too far removed from that seen in Days of Future Past. Apocalypse himself is incidental.

While it might have been fun for Apocalypse to run with that big idea of an alternate world in which all of our heroes have transformed into anti-heroes because of a single death all those years ago, the film is not interested in such high-concept storytelling. Days of Future Past just did time travel; it might be a bit much to jump right into parallel timelines. Instead, Apocalypse revels in the relatively one-dimensional nature of its antagonist who engages in large-scale destruction seemingly for the sake of it.

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“This town ain’t big enough for the blue of us.” (Special Guest Caption by Ed Azad.)

When Apocalypse assembles his four horsemen and starts wreaking havoc on a massive scale, Mystique and Beast effectively forced to assemble a rag-tag bunch of teenagers in order to save the world. There is no real emotional core to the conflict. Although Apocalypse features a number of sequences of characters attempting to convince one another not to do terrible things, the film consciously lacks the richness and ambiguity that defined such earlier instalments. Charles and Eric have been having the same fight for over a decade, the edges have dulled.

This is perhaps most obvious in the way that Apocalypse handles the relationship between Charles Xavier and Moira McTaggart. One of the more interesting aspects of First Class was the recurring sense that Charles Xavier was not a good person, certainly not as good as he claimed to be. This is, after all, a man with the ability to control minds who runs a school where he turns vulnerable young teenagers into weapons of mass destruction. While he advocates peaceful coexistence over Erik’s retaliatory violence, Charles comes from a position of privilege.

First Class presented Charles as young and reckless, a man dedicated to pursuing his own agenda with no concern about the experience or welfare of others. The character seemed just as committed to the idea of mutants inheriting the earth as Erik was, to the point that his thesis posited humanity as a species on the verge of extinction. Charles was just willing to wage a war of attrition rather than outright violence, using his family’s money and the bomb shelter under their estate to effectively “wait out” the older species.

Key to this ambiguous portrayal of the character was the recurring suggestion that Charles was not entirely altruistic with his mental powers. First Class framed a narrative of the friendship between Xavier and Erik where the metal-plated telepath-proof helmet seemed like a prudent rather than paranoid fashion choice for Eric. This was underscored at the end of the film, when Charles uses his mental powers to wipe Moira’s memory. It was a scene evoking the iconography of Superman II‘s infamous “kiss of forgetting”, but consciously playing up the creepiness.

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“You might say he has a magnetic personality.” (Special Guest Caption by Ed Azad.)

Days of Future Past toned down this portrayal of Charles, somewhat. The character was still presented as selfish and privileged, disconnected from the world and willing to sit on the margins as terrible things happened, but the film seemed more sympathetic to its protagonist. Charles represented a generation that had allowed their dreams to erode in the gap between the sixties and seventies, hope giving way to cynicism. Charles was not as creepy as he had been in First Class, presented more as a failed and ineffective guardian than a selfish manipulator.

However, Apocalypse strips any hint of ambiguity from the character and opts for a much more conventionally heroic portrayal. Whereas First Class problematicised the character’s abilities, Apocalypse treats them as a standard superhero skillset. When Alex Summers asks if Charles has been using Cerebro to “check up” on Moira, Charles bumbles, “Maybe once… twice. Not in a long time.” While First Class treated Charles’ mental intrusions as voyeuristic and creepily paternalistic, here they serve to make him a superpowered Hugh Grant.

This has the unfortunate side effect of downplaying his violation of Moira at the end of First Class. Singer was widely criticised in Superman Returns for mishandling that infamous “kiss of forgetting” to turn the Man of Steel into a date raping super stalker, and there are faint shades of that here. The movie makes repeated reference to the heavy burden of Charles’ power, with little regard for the violation of Moira. In fact, Moira’s hazy memories of her time with the X-Men are played as a joke, subject to knowing glances from the cast.

Whereas First Class suggested that wiping Moira’s memory was a matter of convenience for Charles, an easy way to tidy up a loose end, Apocalypse attempts to cast him as a martyr who sacrificed love to protect those under his care. When Moira is reintroduced to Cerebra, she gasps, “The CIA would kill for this.” Singer offers a closeup on Charles’ anguished face. “I know,” he solemnly replies, as if justifying past wrongs. When Charles states that wiping Moira’s memory was “for the best”, Alex Summers pointedly asks, “Was it best for you?”

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“Shoulder pads, hair, nukes. Everything’s bigger!” (Special Guest Caption by Ed Azad.)

This is perhaps the biggest misstep and the strongest tonal shift on trying to transition the X-Men film franchise into a more conventional superhero narrative. Apocalypse is drawn a lot broader than First Class or Days of Future Past, which means that Charles is transformed from a flawed leader to a paragon of virtue. Apocalypse is such a clear-cut bad guy that he serves to transform Charles into an unambiguous hero. Charles might use his powers to spy on unsuspecting young women, but Apocalypse has truly evil intentions for them.

Allowing for these issues of tone, there is something quite fun about watching Apocalypse cut loose in a more cartoonish manner than any of its predecessors. Apocalypse is not sympathetic or an anti-hero. At times, the particulars of why he does what he does are somewhat unclear, but the movie is never on the fence. Apocalypse is always doing stuff because it is evil, and he is always opposed by those who are morally righteous. As a result, Apocalypse can indulge in the kind of superhero bombast that defines films like Captain America: Civil War.

It is worth, for example, comparing and contrasting the presentation of the classic X-Men character Psylocke in Apocalypse with her appearance in X-Men III. When the character was employed as part of Brett Ratner’s conclusion to that first trilogy, she was very much toned down to the point that it would be hard to recognise her as the same character. However, by the time that Apocalypse rolls around, it is possible for Bryan Singer to use the character of Psylocke, using her classic (and ridiculous) swimsuit ninja costume.

Of course, it is worth debating whether any of this is a good idea. By its nature, Apocalypse is a fairly hollow film without a lot of the resonance that made so many of the earlier X-Men films so effective. This is arguably reflected in the movie’s eighties setting. While First Class used its sixties setting to help contextualise its civil rights metaphor and embrace the spirit that gave birth to these characters, while Days of Future Past explored how the utopian idealism of the sixties gave way to the cynicism of the seventies, Apocalypse‘s period setting is strangely vapid.

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“May the Odds Be Ever in Your F… Damn! Again!” (Special Guest Caption by Ed Azad.)

It is lovingly recreated. Jennifer Lawrence has a fantastically eighties hairstyle. James McAvoy spends the second half of the film wearing a blazer and purple v-neck combo that would make Don Johnson blush. Ms. Pacman puts in an appearance. The movie’s most joyous set piece is set to Sweet Dreams by the Eurythmics. Ronald Reagan hangs on the wall. However, there is very little of the spirit of the eighties captured on film, in the same way that the First Class embraced the sixties or Days of Future Past ran with the seventies.

There are little touches, here and there. There is more than a little Raiders of the Lost Ark to the sequences of Moira McTaggart investigating a mysterious tomb in Cairo. The ancient circuit boards employed by Apocalypse occasionally light up like Tron. The movie’s focus on Egypt perhaps reflects the way that much of the modern-day strife in the Middle-East can be traced back to the eighties. Perhaps its is even more than that. Perhaps the soullessness of the eighties is the central thematic point of the film. Either way, there is a hollowness to it.

Similarly, as much fun as Singer is having running through the conventional superhero film beats, it feels like Apocalypse has arrived relatively late to the party. This sort of blockbuster should have arrived four or five years ago. The aesthetic of the film is very much that of The Avengers, with its emphasis on a team of losers and their sense of humour and the fairly one-note bad guy played by a lovable actor who might be described as “the internet’s boyfriend.” However, The Avengers feels quite dated at this point. It is a previous generation superhero film.

Contemporary superhero cinema has moved on from those sorts of generic slugfests in favour of experiments with genre. The Winter Soldier is largely an espionage film with political subtext. Guardians of the Galaxy is a space opera. Ant Man is a heist movie. Iron Man III is a Shane Black film. Deadpool is a spoof. It seems like the genre has reached a point where it needs to diversify in order to survive, to the point that Apocalypse’s Social Darwinism feels almost like a cruel punchline. The character himself needs to move on.

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“Angel in America!” (Special Guest Caption by Ed Azad.)

There is an irony in all this. This year has been all about big “hero-against-hero” showdowns; Daredevil, Batman vs. Superman, Civil War. In some respects, it feels like those films learned a lot from the earlier X-Men movies, with their emphasis on a conflict between two sets of reasonably sympathetic characters. Charles and Eric are more convincing frenemies than Tony and Steve or Bruce and Clark. In fact, that aspect of their character has been established much longer. So modern superhero cinema is incorporating a lot from the X-Men films.

At the same time, it feels rather retrograde for Apocalypse to incorporate the rather basic plotting and large-scale destruction that marked so much of the last decade’s superhero films. There is something very quaint and endearing about this, a sense of nostalgic attachment and affection. This is Singer very consciously setting out to do archetypal superhero cinema, even if superhero cinema has begun to focus on concepts like speciation and definition. Singer is going broad at a time when the genre is going narrow.

This nostalgia is something of a recurring thread. Apocalypse returns time and time again to ideas already established in the X-Men film canon, taking them and tweaking them. There are points where it does feel like Singer is repeating himself. There is a return to Auschwitz that does not feel entirely deserved. There is a subplot borrowed pretty much beat-for-beat from X-Men II, even involving the same antagonist. Charles and Erik have the same conversation they had at the end of X-Men almost verbatim.

It is hard to figure out what point Singer is trying to make including these particular sequences. Are these just crowd-pleasing moments remixed for a younger audience because they worked the first time, an example of pop culture effectively eating itself? Are these a wink from Singer assuring viewers that he is perfectly willing to reclaim and reimagine aspects of the mythos already explored? After all, it seems like everybody is expecting another attempt to do the “Dark Phoenix” saga. These elements are not strong enough to hurt the film, but they are distracting.

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“Five curtain calls. I was an actor once, damn it!” (Special Guest Caption by Ed Azad.)

And, yet, in spite of all these issues, there is a certain charm to all of this. Apocalypse knows exactly what it is trying to do, and it knows how to accomplish it. This is pure indulgence, but it is indulgence that has been earned. Singer is an energetic and excited director. Apocalypse is not a short film by any measure, and features perhaps a few too many characters and a few too many diversions, but boy does it move. The film never quits, never slows down, never stops. It is infectious and exciting in its own way.

Singer is clearly relishing the opportunity to put his own slant on superhero set pieces like large-scale urban destruction and unnecessarily complicated exposition. Apocalypse might not be a three-dimensional foil for Charles or Erik, but is make-up and costuming is bold and distinctive. Isaac is not given any nuanced material, but he gladly swings wild. There is very little in Apocalypse that is new or novel, but the point is that it is new and novel to this production team. It feels like everybody involved is glad to have a crack at doing “generic superhero film.”

In its own way, the film embraces its own weird internal comic book logic. One of the joys of the superhero explosion has been in watching the genre incorporate elements from the source medium, whether it is the superhero team-up in The Avengers, the idea of legacy heroes in Ant-Man or even notion of heroes fighting heroes in Civil War. In moving the action forward another decade, Apocalypse seems to embrace the idea of so-called “comic book time”, the idea that time movies slower for these characters than it does in real life.

After all, twenty odd years have passed since the events of First Class. In an early classroom scene, a teacher makes it clear that many years have passed since the events of Days of Future Past. While Mystique is a shape-shifter, Charles and Erik do not look twenty-years older. When Charles encounters his old flame Moira McTaggart, he wryly reflects, “She hasn’t aged a day.” There is a sense that the characters are somehow timeless, frozen in time. It is an interesting approach, one made possible by the “period” trappings of the trilogy.

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Thus Magneto’s sick plot is finally revealed: to invent the 3-D movie twenty years early. (Special Guest Caption by Ed Azad.)

This is a comic book convention. Uncanny X-Men has been in constant publication since the sixties. However, Cyclops is not a septuagenarian. Peter Parker might have graduated high school and college, but he has not aged consistently with the publication of The Amazing Spider-Man. Trying to explain the workings of time within a shared comic book universe is a fascinating topic of discussion, where the world changes around the characters while the characters themselves remain (relatively) static.

Apocalypse embraces this aspect of comic book time-keeping. The characters feel like they have been trapped in amber since the end of Days of Future Past. How close can Charles and Erik really be if they only met once in the sixties and then randomly bumped into one another in the seventies and eighties? It makes no sense if time flows as the audience understands it, but works quite well within the emotional framework of the movie. It feels real, and the film does not care at all that it does not hold up to any scrutiny.

It helps that the X-Men movies have always benefited from great casting. Charles Xavier has been played by Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy. Erik Lensherr has been played by Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender. McAvoy and Fassbender have been somewhat sidelined since First Class, but they remain two of the best actors in superhero cinema at the moment. Watching the pair interact is always fun, even if the material is shallower this time. In particular, McAvoy does “bumbling English charm” particularly well.

Apocalypse is rounded out by veterans including Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult and Rose Byrne. Lawrence is very much the star of the show, her celebrity offering her incredible gravity over the series around her. First Class was phenomenally lucky when it signed Jennifer Lawrence, casting her as a character secondary in importance to the then more recognisable Fassbender and McAvoy. By the time Days of Future Past rolled around, Lawrence was a big enough star that Mystique was the point around which the movie must pivot.

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I’m blue, da ba dee da ba die. (Special Guest Caption by Ed Azad.)

By Apocalypse, Mystique is the de facto lead character. Both Charles and Erik are conspicuously sidelined by the half-way point in Apocalypse, forcing Mystique to effectively assemble a squad of heroes. Lawrence is great in the role, and the script acknowledges how strange the character’s arc must be. Characters repeatedly acknowledge Mystique as “the hero” and “the symbol of a new age”, to the point that seems like the film is aware of how Lawrence’s fame and success have warped the character’s role in the narrative to make her a lead character.

Lawrence is good enough to play that role, and there is something strangely appropriate in allowing Mystique to occupy that space in the story. Mystique was positioned as pawn between Charles and Erik in First Class, fighting for her own agency in Days of Future Past. It makes sense for Mystique to emerge as a hybrid, to effectively chart her own course between Charles’ pacifism and Erik’s more militant sensibilities. Apocalypse never dwells too heavily on it, but the script is sharp enough that works.

The script never takes itself entirely seriously. In fact, despite the apocalyptic scale of the destruction, it is possible to argue that Apocalypse is the lightest of the six primary X-Men films. (The influence of Deadpool might be keenly felt.) Highlights include a charming moment of Nightcrawler trying to count to three, only to realise that he only has two fingers on each hand, and just about any moment featuring Evan Peters as the faster-than-sound mutant Quicksilver. He even gets an extended (and more playful) riff on his scene from Days of Future Past.

There are moments when the script almost seems a little too self-aware for its own good. At one point, Cyclops decides to play hookie from school and takes his friends on a trip to the mall. While there, they catch a screening of Star Wars: Episode VI – The Return of the Jedi. It is an appropriate choice, given that the X-Men films have a continuity that quite clearly mirrors that of the Star Wars series; three original films, followed by three prequels, with a series a standalone adventures in between.

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Some criticized Johnny Depp’s performance as Apocalypse, while others thought it his best since Mortdecai. (Special Guest Caption by Ed Azad.)

Leaving the cinema, the young mutants argue about the respective merits of the various films in the trilogy. Jubilee contends that Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes back is the true classic of the series. Scott Summers, purest that he is, insists that the original must be considered more important. Jean Grey suggests some common ground, “At least we can agree that the third film in the series is always the worst?” she quips. It is a moment that stops just short of having the characters turn to the camera and wink, while leaving a little ambiguity.

Is Singer taking a pot shot at the infamous X-Men III, the first film in the franchise to be directed by somebody other than himself and which is widely blamed for derailing the franchise to the point that a soft reboot was necessary? After all, it seems like a nice way to clear the decks and set up the idea that Singer might finally get a chance to put his own spin on the infamous Dark Phoenix Saga, by completely and utterly disowning the last big budget attempt to do justice to that iconic (and defining) superhero story.

However, it is worth acknowledging that Apocalypse is itself the third film in a trilogy, and Singer might just as easily be making reference to his own work here. It is certainly a wry and self-aware way to preemptively shrug off any criticism, as if conceding right off the bat that Apocalypse is a weaker film than First Class and Days of Future Past. Nevertheless, Singer doesn’t labour the point long enough to make it clear whether the remark is dig at X-Men III or a self-aware ironic jab at Apocalypse at both. There is a lightness and irreverence to it that suits the movie around it.

Apocalypse works very well, despite its noticeable handicaps. It is very much an indulgence that feels out of touch with the cinematic landscape around it, but one that works because of the charm and energy of the cast and crew. The X-Men films effectively birthed the superhero movie genre. It only seems appropriate that they should enjoy some of the spoils.

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25 Responses

  1. Dd they learn nothing from Kelsey Grammar as Beast (who I liked)?

    If anybody needs to be given the Thanos treatment, it is Apoc. The first thing which comes to mind is his sheer size. Take that away, and he’s not very recognizable as Apocalypse… We have all kinds of camera tricks to make actors appear larger than thy are (yer a wizard Harry), and yet they all seem to have been ignored in X-Men United/Apocalypse.

    “Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart are still playing the iconic roles”

    Sure, they probably had some cosmetic work done, but Hugh is just one of those guys who isn’t going to be old. He might age, but he’s not going to be old. Guys like him stay spry till they’re dead. (I was going to say they “dodged a bullet with Dogray Scott”, but he’s held up pretty well, also)

  2. No captions? You’re slipping, Darren! I’ll just have to come up with some myself.

    “Shoot me from a low angle to make me seem huge. I’m talking real “Triumph of the Will”, here.”

    “It Was Acceptable in the Eighties”

    “There wasn’t much left of Singer’s house once the fanboys got through with it.”

    “Fight night! God versus man. Day versus…damn, wrong franchise.”

    “Don’t stand. Don’t stand. Don’t stand so close to me.”

    “13 years and they still haven’t updated by wardrobe? I can still smell Alan Cumming’s Newports!”

    “This town ain’t big enough for the blue of us.”

    “You might say he has a magnetic personality”

    “Shoulder pads, hair, nukes. Everything’s bigger!”

    “May the Odds Be Ever in Your F… Damn! Again!”

    “Angel in America”

    “Five curtain calls. I was an actor once, damn it!”

    “Thus Magneto’s sick plot is finally revealed: to invent the 3-D movie twenty years early”

    “I’m blue, da ba dee da ba die”

    “Some criticized Johnny Depp’s performance as Apocalypse, while others thought it his best since Mortdecai”

    • Yep. I moved into a new house, so the commute is killing me. Up until 1:30am writing the review, so no time for captions.

      I may actually use these and credit you.

      • The film looks very….nondescript. It’s not really deserving of our bon mots, anyway.

      • Yep. I mean, I thought it was charming. But it’s not a franchise, genre or even summer season high. But I think it’s a good old-fashioned superhero blockbuster, and a nice demonstration of expectations around the genre have changed in the past few years. It’s like an old iPhone model; it’s alright, but it’s not really cool.

  3. 1) Eh? Psylocke was in X-Men III? … oh wait, I just proved your point.

    2) I find it interesting that all three major comic book movie franchises decided that building up to a confrontation with a Near Unstoppable Godlike Being (Thanos, Apocalypse, Darkseid) was the way to go. “Interesting” because those are all fairly generic stories about fairly generic villains. I can’t imagine the villains topping Loki or Magneto, and as for the stories, just how much bigger can the Climactic Battles get? There’s a point at which “more” CGI-violence stops being “better.”

    3) Is it me or does that Star Wars conversation sound a lot more like something you’d read on the Internet in the 2010s than hear at a movie theater in the 1980s? It was my understanding that TESB was actually pretty controversial at first, and that it took years before its reputation as “the best of the three” became accepted consensus. Similarly, I wouldn’t want to say the ROTJ-hate didn’t exist before, but I think it’s also gotten much stronger since the Age of the Internet (and also since the prequels, and then Indy IV, knocked the halo off of Lucas’ head).

    • 1.) Yeah, I had to double check that factoid myself. But apparently, yes. She’s played by Mei Melancon. And… has some purple in her hair. But EVERYBODY was in X-Men III.

      2.) You’re entirely correct, and I think that’s the biggest issue with Apocalypse. There are very few emotional stakes in the film, which is a bit of a shame, because the franchise has historically been quite good at that sort of thing. On the other hand, I kinda liked that the climax wasn’t just “Charles vs. Erik” and/or “X-Men vs. Brotherhood” and/or “Charles and Erik vs. a big bad, leading to Charles vs. Erik.” I’m perfectly willing to concede that Apocalypse is getting a something of a pass from me because it’s the first time the franchise has really dabbled on this scale of CGI violence. I imagine that it’ll quickly get numbing (as it has with the Marvel films to a certain extent) if it becomes a feature. Plus I like the cast, the characters, and the direction and script are light enough on their feet for me.

      3.) I suspect a lot of the little things I like about the movie will be things that have people throwing pop corn at the screen; it is very “cute”, perhaps too “cute” at times. The Return of the Jedi conversation is a very definite anachronism, but I don’t mind it because it is so blatantly an anachronism. I’ll admit I’m a little frustrated that the production team couldn’t do more with the eighties setting like they did with the sixties or seventies, but at least they are transparent about it. (In a way, I think, that’s why I seem fonder of the film than most; it seems a lot more transparent about what it is and what it’s trying to do than a lot of blockbusters.)

      • It was pointed out to me on another blog that X-Men *is* going about it differently, because their Near Unstoppable Godlike Being is only around for one movie, with none of the buildup that Thanos has been getting (and, presumably, now Darkseid), so it doesn’t matter so much that he’s generic. I don’t actually mind franchises copying each other like this; it’s often fun to see how different franchises handle the same concept. But I’m also glad they made it a one-off.

        The real missed opportunity from setting it in the eighties is the religion angle, which according to you was brought up but not really explored. Considering that the eighties was when fundamentalist politics came back with a vengeance in all three major Abrahamic religions, there’s a lot you could do with this. (Claremont did it at the time with God Loves Man Kills, though in a very different kind of story).

      • There were definitely points I thought they might be going that direction.

        I really like the revamped opening “cerebra” sequence, which is a feature of the franchise, but which is more focused on history and culture this time (rather than biology or science). In particular, as I noted in the review, the first image is a Station of a Cross. And the film does hit the religion theme pretty hard. But it never really does much beyond “maybe believing you’re a deity intended to bring around the end of the world might not be a good thing?” For all that Apocalypse and his horsemen are presented as a “bad” version of faith, there’s a contrasting portrayal of Christian beliefs (Nightcrawler, the Situation Room) that portrays them as unequivocally “good.” Which is far to simplistic to have any real resonance.

        With regards to the unstoppable big bad, I really liked the episodic nature of the film. Very little energy spent teasing him in earlier movies. No ominous set-up. No easter eggs. It’s just kinda like “well, I guess this is the crap we have to deal with this decade.” Which I liked in a sense. Apocalypse isn’t a particularly ominous big bad guy, but the movie seems sort of ambivalent towards him. It never seems like he might really be a world-ending existential threat in the way that something like Loki or Ultron is. He’s a dude who woke up from his nap and is really cranky. And blue.

        (And, to be clear, I like this aspect of the character. I like a world-ending threat that does seem half-assed and ridiculous instead of “badass” and “insurmountable.” You get the sense that Apocalypse is like “that guy” at genocidal super villain meetings, the one nobody really wants to hang around with because he just doesn’t put the work in. Which makes a nice change from “OMG HE’S SO UNSTOPPABLE HE DOESN’T EVEN APPEAR FOR SEVERAL MOVIES OR GET OUT OF HIS CHAIR!”)

        That said, I suspect the X-Men will be getting their on stoppable godlike antagonist again. Casting Sophie Turner as Jean Grey kinda signals that they want to do Dark Phoenix again, as does every interview with the production team. And that’s without talking about the film itself. However, I think Singer and Kinberg have talked about wanting to do Dark Phoenix differently than X-Men III. And probably taking the X-Men into space. Which would be another nice genre hop.

        Of course, you can still do apocalyptic godlike destruction in a space movie (see: Into Darkness, Guardians of the Galaxy), but it at least feels like it would be removed from the more conventional global destruction of Apocalypse.

  4. Another great review Darren, always enjoy sitting down to read them with consumables by my side. How did you feel about the newcomers (Aka Jubilee, Psylocke etc)? Singer has always seemed to sideline the likes of Bishop & Colossus- I’m hoping the same is not true for AoA.

    • To be fair, the movie is kinda overcrowded. Even established leads like McAvoy and Fassbender do feel a little squeezed out. Hoult is grand, Lawrence is really the only character given her own complete arc. The major students all get small arcs, but none of them are particularly memorable. A lot of Cyclops/Jean stuff leans on what audiences already know. Nightcrawler coasts on the twin fact that his character is fascinating of itself and Kodi Smit-McPhee is really great. Evan Peters is really good as Quicksilver, and the film loves him.

      But as for the newcomers? Psylocke gets no real character development or motivation. It goes without saying that Betty Braddock’s problematic back story is dropped entirely, but there’s also this really weird suggestion that she might be the only “horseman” who is completely committed to Apocalypse without brainwashing or mind control. I don’t know if you want spoilers, but the most interesting aspect of Psylocke’s appearance is her final scene. Being honest, I’m not sure this is a bad thing, if only because I’ve seen Munn act in Ride Along 2.

      Jubilee is very weird. She’s basically a featured extra, like the movie knows how much you want her to be in an X-Men movie. At one point, she even runs away with the characters who do wind up forming the movie’s team of X-Men. I was anticipating that Jubilee would be part of Mystique’s back-up team, because she spends a lot of time with Scott/Jean/Nightcrawler. However, she has like two lines and conveniently drops out of Cyclops’ little cadre of teen heroes right before the movie shifts gears into action mode.

      I’m a little disappointed that Jubilee wasn’t included more, but I’m also weirdly ticked off that she was featured so heavily and then brushed aside. Watching the film, I suspect plans for the character changed at some point. I just can’t figure out if she originally had a big role that was whittled down, or was originally an extra who got elevated too late for the production team to incorporate her into the the action beats.

  5. Interesting review.

    I think I must be the only person who finds Jennifer Lawrence somewhat overrated, by which I mean I think she’s fairly good but her more recent movies (especially Joy) have convinced me that she doesn’t have all that much range as an actress. Though judging by your review it doesn’t seem like this movie will stretch that anyway!

    Does Erik finally get called on his cowardice? I know he’s been played by two charming actors and his banter with Xavier is fun but he is a man who in literally every movie so far has turned another mutant into the one who ‘gets’ to make the heroic sacrifice while he keeps mostly out of danger. For me that, not the violence of his actions, is why I’ve never found him sympathetic – a fun character and certainly a complex character but ultimately a coward and a hypocrite. He’s more like a cult leader than Che Guevara.

    • Nope. In fact, Erik gets yet another clean pass at the end of the film, despite the inferred death toll of his actions. The film really shrugs it off, like it shrugs off a lot of the potential hefty consequences of everything that happens. (Which I don’t mind so much, I found it much more effective than the energy that Civil War spends setting up a moral framework in its first hour that it promptly disregards. Apocalypse is not held together by logic, but it doesn’t really claim to be.)

      As for Lawrence, I like her a lot. I don’t think she’s the next Streep or whatever, and it does speak to the dearth of good female roles that Lawrence dominates the field so thoroughly, but I think she is charming and think she has presence. Which is a lot of what her roles require. Joy is really the only Oscar nomination I’d begrudge her of the four that she has. (I think we talked about this on a Divergent review, you’re fonder of Woodley as an actor?)

      • Yes I think Woodley was more believable and naturalistic as a teenager as against Lawrence’s stoic intensiity which I found rather one note (the presence argument is a good one though.) For the record my favourite actress from that 20-something age group is Emma Stone (a great comic actress which is not something I could say for either Woodley or Lawrence, but ‘Birdman’ showed she can manage drama too.).

        Having seen the movie I was pleased that they finally made it more international – turning Banshee and Moira into generic Americans in ‘First Class’ really left a sour taste in my mouth.

        Speaking of Moira… I think Rose Byrne is awesome, but thank God she had ‘Bad Neighbours 2’ going on this year because her role in this film must have been absolutely thankless. One brief if admittedly fun action sequence, an exposition dump and then huge stretches of screen time as an almost completely passive screen time. In some ways I’d have almost prefered her to be a damsel in distress in traditional Lois Lane fashion (I’m a huge Lois fan but she does damsel frequently). At least a damsel has plot signifigance – Bryne could have been left in Langley in Act One with practically no changes.

      • We can agree on Stone, I think. She is criminally underrated.

        I don’t mind making Banshee American. At least it explains why the character would pick the name of a female spirit.

        Yep. Glad to see Rose Byrne again. Not sure what bringing her back to the fold actually accomplished, beyond drawing attention to one of Xavier’s more douchy decisions while trying to make the audience feel sorry for him. Perhaps the most tonally odd beat in a movie full of tonally odd beats.

  6. Just got back from watching it.

    This movie does not deserve the harsh reviews it’s been getting.

    THAT SAID.

    This movie is an odd one. It is a movie with no story to tell. Or rather, it plays like an extended trailer for the next movie, by setting up the status quo of future movies and putting all the characters in place. It also serves as a transition from the grounded Singerverse to the more comic book-y version of the X-Men. As a result, a LOT of it is exposition and a retread of things we already know. Like, basically the first hour. As a result of that, I did not feel that the movie was long at all. It in fact felt like the movie was barely getting started by the time of the big showdown.

    How I feel about it is most similar to Deadpool. Basically a movie suffering from ‘Episode 1’ syndrome, in which we are introduced to all these characters but we don’t do much with them. Where Deadpool has the edge is the humor, self-awareness and a razor sharp focus on a single character, which makes it more accessible to people.

    I did get goosebumps during the climax and the soundtrack is glorious.

    Apocalypse though? A complete dud. His one-dimensionality (in both the movie and comics) is fitting for an Episode 1 villain, so he works well in this context and is not a waste of potential like how Dark Phoenix was. But there are better ways to pull him off.

    In sum: It is NOT the masterpiece conclusion of the FC trilogy we’ve been waiting for. What it is is the first chapter of a new X-Men era. And it has a lot of heart.

    I have no desire to see this one again so soon (whereas I wanted to rewatch DOFP immediately after it ended), but I am extremely excited for the future of this franchise. It will be such a shame if we don’t get another film with this young cast.

    • Yep, it doesn’t rank with FC or DoFP. Not by a long shot.

      But, on the other hand, it does feel like Singer was having a ball making it, and there’s something quite pleasant in watching him dive deeper into a sandbox that he essentially mapped out over fifteen years earlier. And, after fifteen years of watching Charles and Xavier have philosophical debates, I feel like the franchise earned a big-budget “Avengers-lite” rock-’em sock-’em set-piece driven actioner. I wouldn’t mind seeing it again, although it has made me want to rewatch First Class and Days of Future Past as well. Particularly the Rogue Cut. I haven’t seen the Rogue Cut.

      Singer has hinted that he wants to place with genre a bit in later X-Men movies, and I am very interested in that idea. After all the X-Men are more than civil rights metaphors. That’s a large part of what they are, but that’s not ALL they are.

      • I love that Singer is just doing his own thing regardless whether it’s dated or not. I wonder whether this would bite him in the ass though, especially box office performance wise. I need more movies with this younger cast.

        I personally felt they made the right call by going with the theatrical release instead of the Rogue Cut. That sequence felt a little too flabby and self-indulgent (not unlike a particular sequence we have here in Apocalypse). But some people think it’s definitive, so it is worth looking into.

        Oddly enough, Apocalypse makes me wanna read the comics again. The other movies are, dare I say it, a little more cerebal that I feel a bit of a dissonance (well the ones Singer were involved in). Apocalypse is basically The Last Stand done right, a fun to watch chaotic slugfest only with 100% less character ruination and a lot more heart. Plus, X1 to DOFP (minus Origins: Wolverine) was such a complete story that Apocalypse needs whatever movie comes next to accompany it on rewatches for me.

        It is amazing that a director once dubious about making superhero movies is now so invested in it due to the opportunities with genre bending X-Men affords him.

        What are your thoughts on Lawrence’s Mystique (not her performance, but the direction of her story)? I can’t be the only devoted fan of the comics who actually really likes what’s been done with her. Especially since the whole Xavier attempting to control Mystique and learning from his mistakes storyline in DoFP single handedly redeemed X3 for me.

        Also, I got a little too trigger happy with the Post Comment button when my comment wasn’t appearing. First time poster and subscriber so I wasn’t sure how everything worked, although I’ve stalked your reviews of the X-Men franchise for close to 2 years now. Sorry for the spam!

      • No worries at all, Jim. I assumed you weren’t trying to take down the site. 🙂

        Apocalypse has inspired me to rewatch the First Class trilogy again. I’m curious what I’ll make of Days of Future Past this time around, which I really like but didn’t love as much as everybody else seemed to the first time around.

        With regard to Mystique… I was watching a bit of First Class last night and I was thinking about how the movie is not exactly flattering to Charles Xavier. In a way, the First Class trilogy is very much a film for the modern Twitter age, the “Black lives matter” era of social activism that treats privilege within minority communities as suspect and is wary of assimilation as a political strategy. So while Charles Xavier had traditionally been portrayed as the hero of the piece, First Class comes particularly close to condemning him.

        It’s very easy for Charles to talk about acceptance and understanding when he looks normal (classically handsome even!) and lives in a mansion with its own bomb shelter in the basement. Charles is in a position where he can comfortably wait out the extinction of mankind and the ascension of mutantkind, which is something First Class suggests is his long term objective; Charles believes mankind is doomed and mutantkind will replace them, he just doesn’t want blood on his hands.

        As such, I like the positioning of Mystique as a half-measure between Charles’ self-serving disengagement and pacifism and Magneto’s vindictiveness and anger. Mystique is righteously angry and active. She is out in the world, not apart from it. She would totally be protesting Trump rallies and organising sit-ins, which Charles would see as beneath him. More than that, I really like the idea of the paramilitary X-Men coming from somebody other than Charles, if only because the idea of Charles training a bunch of mutant kids as a walking advertisement of mutantkind as good PR has its own uncomfortable connotations.

  7. *This comment might be a little spoilery for anyone who hasn’t seen this movie yet. Nothing major*

    Great review Darren and got me thinking a lot deeper than I had been on this one.
    I agree with the slight problem of the period setting. This one only seems to be set in the 80s because it was the next logical place to go according to the two prequels, and it didn’t make any impact on the movie at all really.
    Interesting too that you say that Fassbender and McAvoy have been sidelined somewhat in this and DOFP. I’ve seen reviews where people complain that Magneto is again an antagonist here, but it’s very difficult to omit the character, even based on Fassbender’s involvement alone. His early scenes are fantastic in this movie and we’re the highlights for me. As for McEvoy, it’s almost as if they’re intentionally slowing down his impact so that he can become the stoic Xavier that Patrick Stewart embodied. I would have thought it would make sense now that after DOFP, Xavier would become a different sort of character, given that he has seen what can become of the world if mutants continue to be feared as a genuine threat to humanity. It’s also frustrating at this stage that their old friendship shtick is based on an encounter they had for a couple of weeks, where they ended up with differing points of view. These two kingpins are portrayed as genuinely good friends with a long shared history in the original trilogy and it’s beginning to feel a little detached here.
    Which brings me to another point. It doesn’t really resonate with me, but talking to a few people who are not ardent fans of X Men, there seems to be a major problem brewing with continuity. I’m not even sure myself now if I’m supposed to disregard the X Men trilogy of Stewart/McKellen et Al, or just ignore The Last Stand, or ignore aspects of each. I know that DOFP was a useful tool in basically hitting a reset button so that the timeline can go anywhere they want, but then this movie is not veering too far away from heading towards the early 2000s movies’ timeline. That’s my own issue and then with people I’ve talked to, there’s a general confusion as to for example why Mystique is a main character and other such confusing elements.
    It is a disappointment that they went for the big old superhero movie, as you compare it to The Avengers team up style. The attraction of this latest trilogy was the genre film feel. First Class always felt like a cool 60s spy movie in a way, while DOFP was a straight up time travel adventure, complete with changing timelines.
    This one comes across as a tad unimaginative as a result.

    Apocalypse himself was pretty one dimensional. His main power in empowering his four horsemen seemed to be giving them better hair.

    • It’s really strange how non-obsessive fans seem to get hung up on the issue of continuity. Personally, I’d have assumed that the obsessives would have had a harder time with it. Both my father and a fellow reviewer asked me about the continuity mechanics of the series, to which I offered little more than “roll with it.”

      Again, though, I kinda look on it as an example of the comic book nature of Apocalypse, along with the frozen nature of the franchise’s “leaps” in time. It’s something very goofy and illogical, but I love it about it.

  8. Posting the comment here because I can’t seem to reply your last message.

    Days of Future Past is best watched at the end of an X-Men marathon I think, from X1, X2, X3, The Wolverine, First Class and Days of Future Past. The true genius of that movie does not really show itself unless you view it in that context, because the movie serves very much to recontextualise a LOT of the elements of this franchise.

    Why is Mystique of the OT and Mystique of the FC trilogy so different? Because she was tortured and experimented on and may have as a result lost all her compassion and righteous idealism, replaced by a cold almost robotic like ruthlessness and efficiency.

    Wolverine comes full circle from X1 to Days of Future Past.

    The Sentinels in the final fight scene displayed powers similar to those exhibited by characters who have died in the movies (Emma Frost’s diamond skin, Lady Deathstrike’s adamantium claws, Darwin’s rocky skin), hinting that the experimentations have been going on for a lonnggg time. There’s also a scene where a Sentinel absorbs and replicates Colossus’ power, a subtle callback to when ROGUE absorbs and replicates his power in the Danger Room in X3. And surprise surprise in the Rogue Cut, we learn that Rogue is alive and being experimented on to further perfect the Sentinels (which accounts for their ability to replicate mutant powers, something which Mystique’s genetics won’t be able to provide).

    It also presents us the logical climax of the human mutant war brewing since X1, as it is very likely that the destruction of Alcatraz Island by Phoenix may have fast tracked the development of the Sentinels.

    Most importantly, Days of Future Past brings it all back to Charles. This whole franchise is in many ways about Charles’ failures and subsequent redemption. He failed to convince Magneto give up his vengeance and mutant supremacist ways, he was unwilling to cure Jason Stryker which in many ways led to X2, he failed to teach Jean to harness her powers positively and instead chose to control her thus creating Phoenix, he failed to be aware of how stifling he is to Mystique and unwittingly drives her into Magneto’s arms.

    All of these failures eventually led to that dark future we saw in Days of Future Past, and that future is erased when he acknowledges Mystique’s agency.

    Apocalypse serves to put a definite endpoint to that redemption journey. You see it as the movie stripping away his complexities (and the bizarre tonal shifts in the movie makes it a very legitimate takeaway), but the movie is in many ways about him making up for his mistakes with control (particularly with women). He returns Moira’s memories, he encourages Jean to let go.

    This movie is about transitioning the incredibly flawed, self-serving Charles to the perfect paragon of good that he was in the OT (presumably even more a paragon of good now that he is aware of his control issues with women). The movie also gets around with the problem of Charles being the one to assemble a paramilitary team of teens by like you said, making Mystique (and to a lesser extent, Beast) the ones to actually assemble the team. Charles is simply letting it happen because while he may not actually like the idea, they may be necessary. This is in stark contrast to the comics, where the team was Charles’ idea and his alone.

    The writing could have been better, and the flashes of brilliance may not have been what was intended, but I think it holds up pretty well. Charles may no longer be a complex character because the movie now paints him as the too perfect mentor figure, but that is expected given that the franchise is ready to shift the focus from him, Magneto and Mystique to the younger team. By having Charles learn from his mistakes, we get the happy future of Days of Future Past.

    So essentially, my whole rant is about how EVERYTHING ties back to Days of Future Past. I think it’s brilliant.

    • That’s actually a pretty great read of the series, for all its continuity issues. (Which I mind less than most.)

      I rewatched First Class last week and am planning on watching the Rogue Cut of Days of Future Past this weekend along with X2. I’m really looking forward to it.

  9. i am glad you have reviewed Fassbender.

    Fassbender is a good actor and I am glad you reviewed him. Please make this blog Fassbender oriented and i will surely subscribe. I like Fassbender a lot and I hope you review him more.

    Fassbender is very good and also the best. I love Fassbender. Fassbender is really good.

    Good Fassbender.

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