Franchises must continually up the stakes with each passing installment. Hence, after facing off against the adaptive Sentinels — and even time itself — in X-Men: Days of Future Past, the eponymous team of mutants will soon face off against a truly apocalyptic scenario — literally — in director Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Apocalypse.
Now, Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis, Ex Machina) — the man behind the ancient mutant En Sabah Nur, AKA Apocalypse — has talked some more about the task of taking on the X-Men’s most imposing on-screen villain to date.
In a recent interview with Paste, Isaac went into detail about his excitement towards playing the villainous mutant, as well as his thought process towards the role. Given the ancient nature of Apocalypse himself, the actor explained that the character has an otherworldly, “mythical” quality; the character is set apart from the previous human antagonists — as well as Magneto himself — because ultimately Isaac found himself playing Apocalypse as a sort of deity:
I was excited about it. I was excited to explore those worlds. There is something more mythical … basically, you’re playing God. It’s a challenge.
Separately, when interviewed by Indiewire, Isaac elaborated on this idea, explaining that taking on the role of Apocalypse allowed him to deviate from the natural world and embody the character in a more dynamic, expressive manner — something akin to the style of Greek tragedy, or Kabuki theater:
And just because something’s natural doesn’t mean that it’s interesting — and I think [Stanley] Kubrick knew that very well. Sometimes it’s fun to push performance into other places that is not just about the same kind of verité thing. You can go to heightened places in a Greek tragedy or kabuki kind of way. You have these forms that express more than just an individual’s personality. And that’s been really fun to play with in ‘X-Men.’
The footage of Isaac’s performance as Apocalypse shown at San Diego Comic-Con 2015 matches the actor’s description – thus, better illustrating the direction he’s taking the character. Apocalypse is arguably the most powerful villain ever faced by the cinematic X-Men, and the actor seems intent on embodying that notion — theatrical, bombastic, and grandiose. It sets him apart when compared with the franchise’s previous villains, bey they former allies gone bad (like Magneto) or prejudiced, fearful, humans (like William Stryker).
This characterization seems like a logical place to take the character, all things considered. When the X-Men franchise began in 2000, Singer made a concerted effort to keep things grounded and realistic — from the performances to the general aesthetic. Now, as the comic book movie landscape has evolved (and grown more crowded), the franchise is changing, too; judging by X-Men: Apocalypse photos that have been released so far, the costumes and aesthetic will be much more colorful and fantastical than previous outings – again, in keeping with Isaac’s acting style.
Deadpool arrives in theaters on February 12th, 2016, followed by X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27th, 2016, Gambit on October 7th, 2016, Wolverine 3 on March 3rd, 2017, Fantastic Four 2 (?) on June 9th, 2017, and some as-yet unspecified X-Men film on July 13th, 2018. The New Mutants is also in development.