Warning: SPOILERS ahead for X-Men: Apocalypse
Ten years have passed since the events of X-Men: Days of Future Past, and director Bryan Singer’s latest entry in the long-running X-Men movie franchise, X-Men: Apocalypse, finds Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) mentoring the next generation of mutants in a time of relative peace. All that changes, however, with the reemergence of an ancient and terrifying powerful mutant called Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), who is intend on purging the earth to make way for a new world of his own design, and recruits a collection of mutant followers to help him do it.
In order to have any hope of defeating Apocalypse, a team of X-Men must assemble from a collection of estranged allies and new students, including Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Quicksilver (Evan Peters). On Apocalypse’s side are his four horsemen – Angel (Ben Hardy), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Storm (Alexandra Shipp) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) – all of whom are more dangerous than ever, with their powers massively amplified by Apocalypse’s influence.
Also in the mix are CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne), the mutant-hating Colonel William Stryker (Josh Helman)… and a wild man known only as Weapon X. Now that X-Men: Apocalypse has arrived in theaters, it’s time to take a look at some of the biggest spoilers, reveals and surprises that the movie had to offer. NOTE: This is not a countdown. We’ve listed the spoilers in (mostly) chronological order.
21. Mutants Have Existed for Thousands of Years
Since the very start of the very first X-Men film, moviegoers have been introduced to the idea of mutants as the next stage of human evolution – something strange and new that humanity is still trying to decide how to react to, even as mutants themselves try to find their place in the world. In the opening scene of X-Men: Apocalypse, however, the audience is shown that not only did a powerful mutant exist in Ancient Egypt, he was also not the only mutant around at the time. As Moira later explains, Apocalypse had already been around for a very long time when he was betrayed, surviving by transferring his consciousness from one mutant body to the next, and collecting powers along the way. This suggests that mutants have been around for as long as humans have, though perhaps in smaller numbers or with their true nature not fully understood.
20. Apocalypse Uses (Generic Brand) Celestial Technology
Though the movie offers no explanation of how exactly Apocalypse’s process of transference works, other than the fact that’s powered by solar energy, the technology appears to be the work of the Celestials – a race of “space gods” from the comics who wield great power and set certain things in the universe in motion. The Celestials will be familiar even to people who haven’t read the universe, since they have appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – specifically in Guardians of the Galaxy. While there are some grey areas when it comes to rights crossovers between Marvel Studios and 20th Century Fox (hence the two on-screen versions of Quicksilver), X-Men: Apocalypse skirts around this one by not naming the Celestials explicitly as the source of this power – thereby avoiding potential legal entanglements while also cutting out some complicated exposition.
19. Apocalypse is ‘Betrayed’ By Mankind
Apparently garnering a reputation for causing mass destruction and genocide with each stage of your reign is a good way for a god to find himself buried under several tons of stone for a few thousand years. When an aging Apocalypse travels to a pyramid in order to transfer his body into that of a new mutant – this one with the power of healing and immortality – some of his not-so-loyal soldiers use his moment of weakness as an opportunity to crush the “false god”. A coordinated attack blocks off all exits to the pyramid and destabilizes its structure, causing it to collapse on top of Apocalypse and his horsemen. Before she dies, however, Death (Monique Ganderton) uses her powers to create a protective cocoon for Apocalypse’s new body, preserving him in sleep beneath the ruins.
18. Apocalypse’s Powers and Plans
Apocalypse possesses a number of different abilities, garnered from the various mutant bodies he has occupied over the years. Chief among them is the ability to break down structures into a fine dust and reshape that dust into elaborate constructs. He is also able to amplify other mutants’ powers, teleport himself and others to anywhere on the planet, use a measure of mind control to convince others to follow his lead, and create forcefields. He has a healing factor similar to Wolverine’s, and is effectively immortal. Based purely on how many different powers Apocalypse exhibits in the movie, it’s likely he has quite a few more tricks up his sleeves that weren’t featured. Because of all this, Apocalypse has a bit of a god complex and believes that it is his right to rule the world and periodically “cleanse” it in order to improve upon it. When he emerges in the 20th century, he sees the trappings of government, laws, economy and religion as false idols and decides that a thorough cleansing is long overdue.
17. Mystique Has Become a Global Symbol of Mutant Pride
While Charles Xavier has been building a refuge for young mutants at his school, Mystique has remained aloof – wandering the globe, finding mutants who have been abused and hunted by humans, and helping them to start new lives. This means that while Charles has been largely sheltered from the nastier side of human-mutant relations, remaining optimistic that the world is moving towards peace, Mystique is aware of just how ugly things still are. Moreover, after her actions in X-Men: Days of Future Past (which helped avert a civil war between humans and mutants) were broadcast on TV worldwide, her true appearance has become the face of mutant pride and liberation, known and loved by young mutants all over the world (including, crucially, Ororo Munroe). Mystique has no interest in being a mutant messiah, however, and stays in her human disguise almost all the time.
16. Storm is a Street Urchin
When Apocalypse emerges into the strange new world, the very first mutant he comes across is Ororo Munroe a.k.a. Storm, the eldest member of a gang of street kids, who scrapes a living by using her powers to steal from market vendors. Storm has had little contact with other mutants, but idolizes Mystique and wants to be just like her. When Apocalypse saves her from losing a hand, Storm takes him home and peppers him with questions while he uses her television to extract information about the world and learn all its languages. He then makes her into his first new horseman – his “goddess” – turning her hair white and increasing her ability to control the weather (which in this film manifests primarily in her use of lightning).
15. Psylocke is Caliban’s Hired Muscle
Mystique’s mutant contact Caliban (Tómas Lemarquis), who according to comic book lore has the ability to detect and track other mutants, has a number of people working for him in his underground base of operations – including psychics to keep him ahead of the curve when it comes to mutant-related events, and Psylocke to deal with any unruly customers. In addition to her enhanced fighting skills, Psylocke has the ability to manifest psychic energy as powerful weapons, such as a sword or a whip. She becomes Apocalypse’s second horseman with seemingly very little convincing, changing allegiances as soon as she sees a demonstration of his power, and tells him that she knows what kind of mutants he’s looking for, and how to find them. First on her list…
14. Angel is a Crippled Cage Fighter
When we first meet Angel, he is the top fighter in an illegal mutant cage fighting ring, forced to battle other mutants or risk being killed by his captors. After defeating the Blob (Giant Gustav Claude Ouimet), Angel faces off against “the devil” – Nightcrawler. Though the blue teleporter is at first reluctant to fight, he finally lashes out in desperation and Angel is hurled wings-first into the electrified wall of the cage, burning and crippling his mutant appendages. Angel then flees and hides himself away in a funk of alcohol, misery and rock music, which is where Apocalypse finds him. Psylocke says that she didn’t know his wings were broken and suggests they move on, but Apocalypse sees potential and gifts Angel with a new set of wings – these ones made out of metal, with feathers that can be hurled as knives. Emboldened by his rediscovered power, Angel becomes the third horseman – Archangel.
13. Magneto Has a Family
With his days of violent freedom fighting behind him, Erik Lehnsherr is living a humble life as steel worker called Henryk, residing in a cottage in Poland with his wife Magda (Carolina Bartczak) and his daughter Nina (T.J. McGibbon), who is a mutant with the ability to communicate with and control animals. When Apocalypse awakens and an earthquake shakes the world, a heavy cauldron of molten metal is shaken loose and falls down towards one of Erik’s fellow factory workers. He uses his abilities to save the man from an unpleasant death, but is spotted by some of his other coworkers, who report him to the local police. Erik attempts to flee with his family, but is too late; his daughter is caught by the police, and when Erik tries to give himself up peacefully Nina panics and causes birds to attack, until a policeman shoots both Nina and Magda with an arrow, killing them. Erik slaughters the policemen before heading to the factory to do the same to his former friends, which is when Apocalypse shows up and carries out the task for him, before choosing Magneto as his fourth horseman.
12. Quicksilver is Magneto’s Son
Though it was hinted at in X-Men: Days of Future Past, it’s not until X-Men: Apocalypse that the truth about Peter Maximoff a.k.a. Quicksilver’s parentage comes out. He is Magneto’s son, conceived during a relationship with Peter’s mother that ended before Magneto found out that she was pregnant. Magneto is not aware of Peter’s existence, but when Peter sees the news about his father’s discovery in Poland he decides that the time is right to make that family connection. Though Quicksilver goes to the ends of the earth to find his father and prevent him from destroying the world, he cannot bring himself to tell Magneto who he really is, and instead tells him cryptically, “I’m here for my family.” By the end of the movie, Peter still hasn’t told Magneto that he is his son.
11. Havok Blows Up the X-Mansion
When the trailers for X-Men: Apocalypse showed Quicksilver speeding around an exploding X-Mansion, many assumed that the destruction was Apocalypse’s work. In fact, the explosion is caused by Alex Summers a.k.a. Havok (Lucas Till) attempting to stop Apocalypse from kidnapping Professor X, and inadvertently blasting Hank McCoy’s war plane, resulting in a cataclysmic explosion. Fortunately Quicksilver shows up in time to execute another one of his super-fast rescues and get all of the students out in time. Not so fortunately, Havok is not among the people that Quicksilver finds and is presumed dead in the explosion since he was standing closest to it (though since we never actually see him die, we won’t write off the possibility that he survived somehow).
10. William Stryker & Alkali Lake
Despite a surface-level appearance of relative peace between humans and mutants, the American government isn’t taking any chances. William Stryker, now promoted to the rank of Colonel, is in charge of a secret military facility out at Alkali Lake, where he is performing experiments and research to try and find out how best to combat and control the mutant threat, and also holding a feral Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) prisoner under the code name Weapon X. Among Stryker’s anti-mutant measures is an electric field that blocks mutant abilities, such as Jean Grey’s psychic powers and Nightcrawler’s teleportation. Stryker’s operation is so high-level that it supersedes the authority of the CIA (as Moira MacTaggert discovers when she demands her freedom), and along with the post-credits scene this sequence in the film demonstrates that the government is working with private science and military companies like Essex Corp (more on that later).
9. How Wolverine Escaped Alkali Lake
After his body was so rudely hijacked by a future version of himself in Days of Future Past, Wolverine was fished out of the Potomac River by Mystique, disguised as William Stryker. At some point in the interim ten years, Wolverine fell into the clutches of the real William Stryker and was transformed into Weapon X (keep in mind that the events of X-Men Origins: Wolverine have been erased from the current continuity). When Jean, Cyclops and Nightcrawler are trying to escape the soldiers at Alkali Lake, they discover Wolverine psychologically damaged, nearly feral, and having a really bad hair day, and set him loose upon his captors – whom he kills mercilessly. Upon seeing that Wolverine is free, William Stryker decides to run away like a big coward, leaving his men to die. Wolverine finds an exit, but before he leaves Jean offers to help him, and uses her powers to give him back a little piece of his past: the name Logan.
8. How Professor X Lost His Hair
Based on teases leading up the movie’s release, we already knew that Charles Xavier would finally lose his hair in X-Men: Apocalypse, and that it would be the result of some kind of trauma. That trauma, the movie reveals, was the process of attempted transference, with Charles’ hair falling out permanently as Apocalypse tried to take possession of his body. Interestingly, when Charles engages in a psychic battle with Apocalypse shortly afterwards, his psychic projection of himself still has hair. Fortunately Moira doesn’t seem to be too put off by Charles’ new look, and when it comes to baldness stories “I lost my hair when I psychologically fought off possession by an ancient god” sounds a lot cooler than “it’s genetic.”
7. Archangel Gets Taken Out in a Plane Crash
Like the death of Alex Summers, Archangel’s death is somewhat ambiguous. He is trapped inside the stolen military plane when Nightcrawler teleports the X-Men away, and is there to take the full brunt of the plane’s crash landing and explosion while Psylocke jumps to safety. Though it seems like that kind of crash would blow him to pieces, Angel is shown lying in the rubble afterwards, unmoving and covered in blood, with Apocalypse deriding him as “useless.” That’s the last time Archangel is shown in the movie, implying that he was killed, but there’s a possibility that he managed to shield himself from the worst of the explosion with his metal wings and could perhaps return in a future sequel.
6. Magneto and Storm Switch Sides
Apocalypse’s powers of influence aren’t quite enough to kill the sparks of good in Magneto and Storm. When the ancient mutant picks up Mystique and begins to strangle her, it marks a turning point in the allegiances of two of his horsemen. Magneto, who has already had the seeds of doubt laid in his mind by Mystique’s reminder that not all of his family is gone, stops trying to rip the world apart and begins hurling metal at Apocalypse, forcing him to go on the defensive by throwing up a forcefield. Storm, who is already disturbed by how easily Apocalypse shrugged off Angel’s death, sees her childhood hero about to be killed and lashes out, using the power of lightning to prevent Apocalypse from teleporting away. When the dust settles and the fight is over, Storm decides to stay at the X-Mansion and Magneto parts ways with Charles on a friendly note.
5. Psylocke Escapes With a Grudge
After being temporarily taken out of the fight when she jumps from the crashing plane, Psylocke (the real Psylocke, not Mystique in disguise) doesn’t regain consciousness until it’s too late and Apocalypse has been defeated. While Archangel lies broken in the rubble and the other two horsemen join the good guys, Psylocke looks upon the scene with a scowl and quietly makes her exit, presumably none too happy about the fact that the X-Men stole her role as lieutenant to a god.
4. Jean Grey Unleashes the Phoenix
The last time we saw Jean Grey unleash the power of her alternate personality, the Phoenix, it didn’t go too well – and we’re not just talking about the reviews for X-Men: The Last Stand. X-Men: Apocalypse features a condensed version of Jean’s character arc from the first three X-Men movies; when the audience meets her, she already has keen control of her telekinetic and telepathic powers, and is having nightmares about the end of the world that are so powerful they scorch the walls around her. Talking with Charles, Jean says that she senses some kind of additional power inside her, but does not know exactly what it is. The Phoenix is finally unleashed in the battle against Apocalypse, blasting through him as he is pinned in place by Magneto and disintegrating him. Fortunately, Jean doesn’t appear to undergo any drastic personality changes as a result of letting the power loose.
3. Moira Recovers Her Memories
Moira MacTaggert has been busy since the events of X-Men: First Class. She’s gotten married (and then divorced), has a son, is a senior agent at the CIA, and has done all of this (as Charles notes) while barely ageing at all. Of course, it helps that in reality only five years passed between the making of X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Apocalypse, while in the X-Men timeline it’s been a couple of decades. Enlisting Moira’s help in defeating Apocalypse rekindles old feelings inside Charles, however, and visiting the X-Mansion stirs a vague sense of deja vu in her. When the battle with Apocalypse is over, Charles gives Moira back her memories of their previous time together – both the good and the bad.
2. The New X-Mansion Has a Danger Room
With the original X-Mansion reduced to a pile of smoking rubble, Jean Grey and Magneto take the opportunity to rebuild it using their combined telekinetic powers (let’s hope it doesn’t immediately fall apart due to the fact that neither of these people know anything about architecture). Whereas Charles had originally intended his school to be a peaceful place where humans and mutants could co-exist, he seems to be a bit more pragmatic in the design of the new version. Not only does he assign Mystique to train his older students to become X-Men, the new X-Mansion also includes the Danger Room – a training area where they can practice battle scenarios. We don’t see much of the Danger Room in action, and the Sentinels that emerge in it appear to be real rather than holograms, but it’s an interesting tease for potential future instalments.
1. Make Way for Mister Sinister
It wouldn’t be a Marvel (Comics-based) movie without a post-credits scene, and X-Men: Apocalypse closes out with an intriguing little tease for a future villain. While a clean-up operation is carried out at Alkali Lake (complete with a special reinforced vacuum cleaner for tidying up bullet casings), some grim-faced men in suits do a little cleaning up of their own – namely, collecting a vial of Weapon X blood and placing it in a briefcase with several other different colored vials. As the briefcase is closed, it’s revealed that it is the property of Essex Corp – a clear nod to Nathan Essex a.k.a. classic X-Men villain Mr. Sinister. For more details on Sinister and what this scene could mean for the future of the X-Men movies, check out our detailed analysis.
X-Men: Apocalypse is now playing in theaters. Wolverine 3 opens in U.S. theaters on March 3rd, 2017, followed by unannounced X-Men films on October 6th, 2017 (possibly Gambit), January 12th, 2018 (possibly Deadpool 2), and July 13th, 2018 (possible New Mutants). X-Force is also in development.