X-Men: Apocalypse is the biggest X-Men film to date in every way possible. Its scale and impact on the franchise will be more significant and it includes more mutant characters from Marvel Comics than any of the previous films. It’s both the conclusion of a trilogy and what director Bryan Singer dubs the “true birth” of the X-Men, the beginning of something new.
This is why the very first X-Men: Apocalypse teaser trailer (watch it here) is an important moment, especially given its timing coming out so shortly after the trailers for Captain America: Civil War and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – three game-changing franchise films for three rival superhero franchises. So, let’s take a look at what Singer and the studio are teasing in the first official X-Men: Apocalypse footage.
As we previously surmised, this teaser is largely the same to that which was played during the Fox panel at San Diego Comic-Con in July, beginning with young Jean Grey having a vision of an apocalyptic future – one that’s very soon about to become a near reality due to the emergence of the most powerful X-Men villain to date…
The First Mutant
En Sabah Nur a.k.a. Apocalypse never appeared in the original X-Men movie timeline which means the events of X-Men: Days of Future Past, which involved time-travel, altered the course of history so much so that it somehow awakened En Sabah Nur earlier than planned in the ’80s. That’s actually a nod to Marvel Comics where Apocalypse awakens as as result of Cable traveling back through time to prevent Apocalypse from doing so, so bring on the theories that Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine is the new Cable (like in the Ultimate Marvel Comics universe).
What’s already been established is that Apocalypse is thousands of years old, hailing from ancient Egypt, and lives by a code where only the strong should survive. He wants to wipe out modern society as we know it, including its “blind leaders,” and let the worthy takeover. He’s in some ways the extreme version of the morals of Magneto who believes the Homo superior should dominate Homo sapiens.
The Four Horsemen
Every time En Sabah Nur appears throughout history he always recruits four henchman to serve him and he grants them special powers. As we explained and detailed this summer, in this movie those four are Psylocke, Archangel, Storm, and Magneto.
How he recruits them and what powers he gives them remains unclear, but in the comics he’s able to use his own powers and that of alien technology to manipulate and enhance himself and his servants. The first and best example of this is when he converted Angel into Death, one of the Four Horsemen..
We already know from the concept art and the official marketing banner that Angel (Ben Hardy) will get mechanical, metal-like wings in this movie, and this trailer depicts him launching deadly metal blades from them just like in the comics and cartoons. The trailer did not, however, show Archangel before this transformation as Warren Worthington with white feather wings (we did see that previously in concept art though).
We’re interested in seeing what happens to Warren after these events. Will he remain in his lethal form, razor wings and all, or return to classic Angel? Will the film take a page from the modern X-Force comics where he’s a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde character who can transform at will, similar to Beast in Days of Future Past?
The New X-Men
The new team heads towards battle, and the surprisingly awesome Quicksilver from the first movie gets far more screen time in the sequel and joins in. Mystique returns as well which begs the question of what she’s been up to since during the years since Days of Future Past.
Suiting Up in New Gear
When the roster takes shape and takes flight they’re in what appears to be a new X-Jet. Did Beast build this one with the CIA’s help too? Or are him and Professor X secretly building underneath the X-Mansion on their own?
The team is all wearing the same dark armor, inspired from the designs the surviving mutants wear in the future segments of X-Men: Days of Future Past. It’s more practical as a field outfit – even if they rely on mutant powers over weapons – since they’re mostly kids heading into a battle, putting their lives on the line. But where are the colors and classic-inspired uniforms?
Attack Close to Home
The X-Men are ready to fight, yet again, but why? What is making them suit up for war? The stakes are higher than ever with Apocalypse threatening to lay waste to the world as only the strong can survive (in this case, mutants).
What seemingly sets them off however, could be the destruction of the X-Mansion. There’s one shot, when Apocalypse is giving his speech with the line “and from the ashes of their world,” we see a fiery explosion inside the mansion with several students in the thick of it. We also see earlier in the trailer Quicksilver vehemently running through the mansion’s interior, and we’re guessing he’s doing his best to save students.
In the books, Mystique’s loyalties and allegiances have always been questionable. At times, she longs for a relationship to her son Nightcrawler or adoptive daughter Rogue, other times she’s a murderous villain.
In the second trilogy of “main” X-Men movies, Mystique is one of the four main leads, and with the star power of Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence being essential to the marketing plans of the films, she’s back at the forefront and isn’t showcased in the character’s natural mutant blue skin once in the trailer. Perhaps because there are now THREE other blue characters?
Hidden In Plain Sight
The trailer makes a point of explaining that mutation is a known commodity. The revelations of mutants have created cults and factions, some of whom fear and hate what’s new and different, others which worship mutants as something god-like. The events of Days of Future Past where Magneto lifted a football stadium into the sky and dropped it around the White House were all very public, yet several key X-Men characters are still depicted in a way where they look “normal” and still do not accept who they are.
Beast still looks like Hank McCoy most of the time and Mystique is never shown as blue. Comfort of the stars seems to take priority over the source material here, except for poor Kodi Smit-McPhee who’s always blue and tattooed as Kurt Wagner a.k.a. Nightcrawler, and Oscar Isaac who wears the Apocalypse getup.
The costume and facial designs of present day En Sabah Nur a.k.a. Apocalypse earned mixed reactions from the early marketing reveals for X-Men: Apocalypse. Some even compared the look to Ivan Ooze of Power Rangers fame, learning little from the harsh criticisms Evan Peters’ Quicksilver took in the last movie. He of course, ended up being a fan favorite which allowed him to come back in a bigger role for X-Men: Apocalypse.
Regardless, Fox and Singer clearly took note and made an effort to not only conceal Apocalypse’s face in most shots of this first teaser trailer, but they included one brief shot of him size-changing and becoming massive, addressing one of the complaints. Apocalypse needs to be an intimidating figure, physically as well as power-wise, and this emphasizes that as he crushes Charles Xavier against the floor with one hand.
It’s unclear however, if this is actually a physical confrontation in the X-Mansion or a battle of wits all in their heads, in the psychic Astral Plane. We suggest that possibility because we see Xavier’s eyes going black when in Cerebro, as if he’s under the influence of Apocalypse or perhaps Psylocke, the one telepathic mutant of the Four Horsemen.
CIA and Moira MacTaggert
Rose Byrne returns as Moira MacTaggert after being introduced as a CIA agent in X-Men: First Class. She, like everyone else, has aged well over the last two decades. We’re unclear how she crosses paths with Charles Xavier and the X-Men in this movie after Charles wiped her memories years ago, but she’s maintained her interests in mutantkind, researching the history of Apocalypse.
We must assume that with mutation now common knowledge, that many government resources are spent researching/harnessing/controlling mutation and that MacTaggert is a part of that initiative. Do the X-Men work with the government in X-Men: Apocalypse or is Moira on her own in sharing this info and suiting up alongside the X-Men?
One of the more curious shots in the X-Men: Apocalypse trailer is when Charles is using Cerbero, joined by Moira, Beast, Havok, and Mystique, presumably to locate Apocalypse… but then his eyes go black as he feels more powerful than ever. Is this Cerebro being tampered with like it was in the original X-Men trilogy to incapacitate Charles? Or is someone (i.e. Psylocke) taking control of him to use Cerebro for themselves?
Go Bald or Go Home
It’s almost laughable that the final shot of the X-Men: Apocalypse trailer is a reveal of a character… going bald, but it’s what the fans want. Fans cheered loudly at this moment at Comic-Con 2015 when a very similar teaser was played and it’s a moment that’s taken three movies to come to fruition.
In the comics, Charles Xavier has always been bald so at least James McAvoy got to keep his hair for nearly three full movies (rumor has it he and Fassbender signed on for a fourth). In the film, McAvoy revealed a few weeks ago that he loses his hair because he pulls a bunch of it out afters something “horrible” happens, and the rest of it falls out.