Matthew Vaughn’s 2011 comic book movie prequel X-Men: First Class wasn’t just a return to the dawn of the human/mutant conflict. It was also a return to the themes of teenage insecurity that were woven into the first X-Men movie and, to a certain extent, X2. Professor Xavier assembled the very first X-Men recruits, and for a short time had a team of powerful young mutants from different backgrounds working together for the good of mankind and mutantkind alike.
When audiences next saw Charles Xavier in X-Men: Days of Future Past, things were very different. Most of the original X-Men were either dead or gone, Xavier himself was in a funk of depression, and as a whole the film had a more serious, mature tone. In the upcoming sequel, X-Men: Apocalypse, we may see a return to the spirit of X-Men: First Class as Professor X assembles a new generation of X-Men – many of whom will be teenage versions of characters we’ve seen before.
Among the returning mutants is Scott Summers a.k.a Cyclops, brother to Alex Summers, who was played by James Marsden in the first three X-Men movies and briefly in X-Men: Days of Future Past. 18 year-old Tye Sheridan (Mud) is taking over the role in X-Men: Apocalypse, and in a recent interview with IndieWire he made it clear that Scott doesn’t arrive as a ready-made superhero.
“[Playing Cyclops has] forced me to use everything I’ve learned playing all the characters I have. My character is angry and a bit lost, which I feel like is where I’ve met a lot of my characters – in these sort of young life transitions where they’re struggling to figure things out about themselves. He’s now learning about being a mutant and trying to handle his superhero powers. The arc for the character is really cool for me – it’s not like I’m just stepping into it and I’m a superhero and it’s cool and all that with the suit. You kind of see the progression of this character – where he comes from, what he has to overcome and where he goes at the end of the film. It’s a great arc.”
To quote Jean Grey’s science lesson from the first X-Men movie, mutant abilities “manifest at puberty and are often triggered by periods of heightened emotional stress.” A teenage boy who finds himself suddenly and uncontrollably shooting energy beams out of his eyes is probably going to have more stress to deal with than most.
Sheridan went on to describe James McAvoy (who plays Professor X) as his “idol,” and said that after making his acting debut in indie movies like Mud and upcoming drama The Stanford Prison Experiment, jumping into a massive studio blockbuster was a bit of a shock to the system.
“Having a scene where I’m one on one with [McAvoy] – my god, it’s insane! We were shooting in the X Mansion and I walk on set and there’s 300 people on set, everyone’s walking, it’s like being in the heart of New York City or something, there’s a hustle and bustle. I walk in and I look down and I’m standing on the X of the X Mansion and that’s when it really settled in like, ‘S—, I’m in an X-Men movie!'”
X-Men: Apocalypse was scripted by Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of Future Past) and X2 writers Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris, with Bryan Singer returning to direct. In addition to introducing a younger version of Cyclops, the movie will also feature young versions of Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Storm (Alexandra Shipp) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Oscar Isaac will play the film’s villain, Apocalypse, an ancient mutant who emerges in the 1980s to make trouble for Professor X and his fledgling X-Men.
Fantastic Four opens in theaters on August 7, 2015, followed by Deadpool on February 12, 2016; X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27, 2016; Gambit on October 7, 2016; Wolverine on March 3, 2017; Fantastic Four 2 on June 9, 2017; and some as-yet unspecified X-Men film on July 13, 2018.