[WARNING: This breakdown includes MASSIVE potential plot spoilers. Read at your own risk.]
As bright as the future of the X-Men movie series might seem, following the shockingly positive critical and commercial success of X-Men: Days of Future Past, dark days are coming for all the fan-favorite characters. The first trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse teased just how game-changing and terrifying a villain Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) would be – and with the newly released second trailer giving a further glimpse into his origin (and evil plan), the scale, storylines, and consequences of the movie can be grasped.
At least, if you’re looking closely enough. Those who have missed out on our coverage of Apocalypse’s new origin story, and the surprisingly faithful origin for Storm (Alexandra Shipp) from our set visit will want to do so now, since the new footage illustrates several of the changes, tweaks, and larger mysteries. To those elated to hear director Bryan Singer claim that Apocalypse will show the true birth of the X-Men, the trailer won’t disappoint, either. The gang’s all here, and they’re prepared for an all out war.
It’s easy to miss the amount of details condensed into the trailer, and even easier to misunderstand or miss completely the reveals and events being shown. Allow us to break down the trailer shot by shot, and apply our own knowledge gathered on set to provide some clarification, and raise further questions about just how X-Men: Apocalypse will lay the foundations for a new age of the X-Men.
The Final(?) Face-to-Face
The X-Men: Apocalypse trailer begins with a bit of creative (deceptive?) editing, beginning with a voiceover from Magneto (Michael Fassbender) asking Charles (James Mcavoy) if he ever fears the inevitable attack on his school for young mutants. It acts as a fitting opening for the trailer as a whole, since that’s exactly what happens in the course of the film, but pay attention to the shots of Charles that follow. Not only are McAvoy’s lips not quite a match to his dialogue, but the clothing worn by Fassbender is a match for a previous set photo, which featured McAvoy… minus his hair.
That fact would suggest that Fassbender’s side of the scene – and the lines of dialogue – are given at the movie’s end, which colors the entire exchange differently. Is Magneto issuing a threat? Is Charles reacting with one of his own? Just how will these two leave their relationship by the film’s end?
The Origin of En Sabah Nur
The post-credits scene of Days of Future Past took a trip a few thousand years back in time, with the people of Egypt watching as a young mutant built the pyramids with nothing but his mind. Comic book fans instantly knew that they were seeing Apocalypse building his legacy, so it’s only right that the trailer should focus on the same setting.
Once the action heads inside the pyramid, things are a lot more complicated. For starters, the worshippers of the the ‘First Mutant’ aren’t just gathered around their blue-skinned, strange-suited demigod, but him and another man. One who happens to possess a famous face, no less.
That’s right, it’s Oscar Isaac’s unconscious(?) form that Apocalypse is splayed out beside – and here’s where things get really interesting. As was explained to us by director Bryan Singer while visiting the Apocalypse set, the villain isn’t exactly your typical mutant. That is, he’s more energy than man – capable of passing to any physical form, absorbing that mutant’s special ability, before moving on to the next.
It appears that’s what’s being shown, since the young man clearly takes the form of Apocalypse when battling our X-Men. It’s difficult to make out too much of the body apparently being tossed aside, but from a glance, it definitely appears older than its counterpart – so is Apocalypse making his ceremonial transfer from one mutant to another?
Skipping over the obvious… cosmic questions surrounding the villain’s existence as blue energy, the footage appears to show it leaving one body, after being raised by strange, golden, let’s just say it, alien technology. Even if the exact nature of the bond, the ceremony, or the technology lighting up the ancient stone chamber is explained away, this scene could prove to a be a pivotal one in the end.
A Desperate Storm
After taking some serious heat from comic book fans, Bryan Singer is finally getting around to telling a faithful origin story of Ororo Munroe – also known to X-Men fans as Storm. In the movie, just as the comics, Ororo (Alexandra Shipp) hails from Kenya, having traveled to Egypt with her family before being orphaned. Left to fend for herself on the streets, it’s actually Storm who first finds Apocalypse when he wakes into the modern world. And the villain wastes no time in gathering allies to his side, sensing that this vulnerable young girl is an incredibly powerful mutant in the making.
Moira MacTaggert, Tomb Raider?
The shot may seem more at home in an Indiana Jones adventure than an X-Men movie, but the best we can figure is that the figure above is none other than Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne), the former ally of Charles Xavier, before she had her mind erased for her own safety. Previous trailers revealed that Charles seeks her out, having become something of an expert in mutants. In particular, the first, also known as En Sabah Nur. But just as interesting to her studies is the mutant’s footsoldiers – immortalized in the Biblical Four Horsemen.
When last we saw Magneto, he was fleeing Washington with his tail between his legs, having seen his plan to terrify America, and the world, into believing that mutantkind was going to be calling the shots for the foreseeable future evaporate. With no mission, no plan, and no dignity left, Apocalypse finds Magneto in exile, working in a metal factory without actually using his mutant abilities (think of it as a form of penance).
Whether or not he decides to leave his mutant siblings behind him for good – and regardless of who he’s formed bonds with in the meantime – he can’t hide from what makes him unique. When Apocalypse comes calling, with two of his Horsemen already recruited, he makes Magneto an offer he can’t refuse: in short, promising to give him what he’s always dreamed of.
A new suit of armor comes with the deal, but the piece de resistance comes in the form of a helmet. It’s hard to tell the significance just yet; is this Apocalypse’s way of convincing Magneto that he’s to be trusted – reading his mind to find his signature piece of armor, and hand delivering an upgraded version? Or is this meaningful as a decision to lock Charles Xavier out of his thoughts once again? Only time will tell, but it’s definitely an upgrade from a design standpoint.
The Four Horsemen
Seeing Angel (Ben Hardy) – or Archangel, rather – swoop in through a hole in the ceiling with Psylocke (Olivia Munn) close behind is one heck of an entrance, but take a closer look at the metal structure around them. That’s almost certainly the X-Men’s airplane being torn open, so we can only hope that it’s meant as a diversion. The young heroes could make a stand against any evil mutant, but considering Apocalypse’s ability to amplify the mutations of his Horsemen, we wouldn’t give them much of a chance in such a confined space.
Going by the setting, and the mere presence of the jet, this likely takes place during the final act showdown, when each of the Horsemen play their role to perfection. But for Storm, it means something a little different. According to the actress playing her, Storm acts more like a bodyguard for Apocalypse than an agent of destruction (a better description of both Angel and Psylocke).
That mainly seems to demand that she summon storms to keep prying eyes (or heroes) at bay, but is also shown to be channeling lightning though her hands offensively. Since we know that Storm has a future with the heroic X-Men she’ll be fighting, it would make sense to keep her from doing too much damage. Her introduction emphasizes just how badly she’s in need of a father figure, so expect that no matter how chilling Storm may appear in these scenes, she’ll be anything but villified.
Sadly, the same can’t be said for Magneto – although, his face seems to be sending a message that this is not where he wants to be. That may not be much comfort to the people whose homes have been disintegrated around them, but the depiction of Magneto as fueled by anger, sadness, and loss can’t help but keep him a tragic figure.
We mentioned before how Apocalypse was able to amplify the powers of any mutant he wished, and it shouldn’t be underestimated. Shots from the trailer show entire bridges being torn apart by eruptions of water (presumably courtesy of Storm), but it’s these looks at objects being turned to sand that demand a closer look. The most obvious answer is Magneto, since the trailer seems to show metallic objects (and the paint on top of them) being pulled to a single point. It would explain why the stone structures of the Egyptian city remain standing throughout the attack, not to mention showing what Michael Fassbender meant when he promised a “more extreme” version of Magneto this time around.
The Team Back Home
It’s worth remembering that while Apocalypse is gathering his world-ending army of four, the other half of the story will be visiting each main member of the cast. Hank (Nichaolas Hoult) has taken up teaching alongside Charles, which should hopefully prepare him for tackling the one-of-a-kind personality of Quicksilver (Evan Peters). Pay close attention to the clothing in particular, and it’s possible to discern the entire story focused on Hank, Quicksilver, Moira and Raven (Jennifer Lawrence). But we’ll get there eventually.
It may be only a work of CG spectacle, but fans will still be thrilled to see the X-Jet debut, especially in its retro form, a copy of the Blackbird (as opposed to the more futuristic one seen in the previous films). Exactly what the jet is used for in the movie is a bit of a mystery, since the plane taking the team into the fight later on in the trailer is obviously of a different design. But hey, take nods of fan service where you can get them.
A Mysterious Base… Robbed?
Now begins the detective work – for those not afraid of spoiling plot beats, twists, and turns. With Charles and Moira noticably absent from the above shot, it seems it’s the less heroic, less courageous, or simply less experienced X-Men who are forced to go where the danger lies. In this case, a military(?) installation bearing what looks to be “2 SECTOR” markings on the concrete walls. Even the electronic keypad and surveillance camera don’t offer much information on their own, but it definitely doesn’t look like this is anywhere near the Xavier School. Judging by the clothes, and their recruiting of Quicksilver (not to mention Hank in his Beast form), we’d even say that it’s in hostile territory.
Hostile territory that may, if the brief shots are what they seem, prove beneficial to the young mutants.
There’s one military figure who wouldn’t hesitate to invest in cutting-edge body armor, and whom Raven wouldn’t mind sticking it to, if possible. It’s just speculation on our part, but the body armor worn by the young heroes doesn’t seem like the kind of design that Charles would cook up (since both he and Hank are partial to yellow). Does that mean it’s acquired from the same facility that William Stryker calls home? It’s a cool theory, and one that we’ll continue to flesh out in additional shots.
Charles vs. Goliath
Much has been made of this battle between Charles and a gigantic version of Apocalypse, with some assuming that it is also one of the villain’s mutations. After all, being able to explode in size would come in handy. But the sequence seems a little too much like a nightmare for us to take at face value. Considering this trailer shows Charles using Cerebro, possibly to contact Apocalypse, and other trailers have shown his eyes growing dark, while stating that he’s “never felt so much power,” one answer seems most likely.
Were Charles to establish contact with Apocalypse, it’s not a stretch to imagine something of a fight would ensue, even if it was confined to their own minds. The fact that Charles seems to be on the losing end, and Apocalypse is presumed to take over his mind before long, the answer here might be a simple one.
Quicksilver Saves The Day
By now any fan actually keeping a keen eye focused on the events of Apocalypse knows that Quicksilver has another speed sequence in store, and the explosions surrounding him, the splintered wood, and the Xavier School in ruins leaves little to the imagination. The why of the scene may still be unclear, but the added shot of the speedster running across exploding floorboards to rescue an oblivious student make two things clear: Quicksilver isn’t having fun, but saving the day. And whatever is causing the school to explode from its foundations, it’s powerful. If only the trailer offered some hint…
Not all the noteworthy moments of the trailer have to do with plot twists, as this one scene raises as many possible questions as even the villain’s origin. Seeing a pre-Horsemen Angel doing battle with Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) in a cage match is offered with absolutely no context. Are they actually fighting? Is this a new form of mutant lucha libre? Have they been forced to fight against their will?
Since mutantkind was outed publicly in the 1970s in this new timeline, it’s possible that mutant cage fighting has become something of an underground sport. But how the billionaire Warren Worthington, or the German Nightcrawler wound up inside the cage is beyond us. Most likely, some changes to their origin are in store.
With Apocalypse putting the entire fate of the planet at risk, it seems a bit strange to throw in a man like William Stryker (Josh Helman) who pales in comparison. In way, it almost makes more sense for him to be introduced to move the other plot along, perhaps delivering the young heroes the goods and transportation needed to finish the mission.
Again, that’s just speculation, but if Stryker is going to be taking any mutants under his control, the obvious answer is the characters and mutants he would actually be familiar with: Hank, Quicksilver, Mystique, and the world’s leading expert on mutants, Moira MacTaggert. With that in mind, take a close look at the photo below:
That’s right, that’s the same four, huddled together in what looks to be an underground holding cellar as an exit is blown into the concrete wall. With only the students to save them, it looks like the combined efforts of Cyclops, Jean Grey and Nightcrawler are forced into action to actually rescue their elders. A solid narrative twist to show they’re ready for the fight, but it also explains why the assembled group would all be able to walk freely through a concrete facility, and all ending up in matching body armor.
“You’re Not Students Anymore”
It’s this scene which is of particular interest to our breakdown, since it seems more suited for the final scene of the movie, as opposed to one set before the team head into battle as ‘X-Men.’ For starters, there’s the clothing worn by Mystique, more ceremonial than tactile armor. There’s also the setting, which looks to be Cerebro-esque at first – but on closer inspection, the blue panels accented with points of light are a perfect match for the Danger Room seen in X-Men: The Last Stand.
So, is it possible that this truly is the final scene/shot of the movie, with Mystique accepting the role as a hero, and informing the young heroes that their days of being students are behind them, with a career as X-Men now beginning (and simulated training beginning)? Well, if it were true, then we would definitely expect to see an unlikely hero, like Quicksilver, ready to enter the fight, having designed a superhero suit perfectly tailored to his style and ski–
A Little Help From My Friends
Learning the ropes of superhero combat is not an easy thing, and even more explosive when your weapon of choice is a set of telekinetic energy beams fired from your eyes – making it a bit difficult to actually aim the attack. So, what better time to ask for some friendly assistance. In this case, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) grabbing hold of Scott’s (Tye Sheridan) ears, and aiming him towards a fleeing Storm. It may not be the most elegant tactic, but you can’t argue with the style (and we truly hope this isn’t a one-time decision).
Finally, we arrive at Havok, brother to Cyclops Scott Summers, and a former roster member of X-Men: First Class (and war veteran). The footage thus far has shown Havok to be tagging along with the rest of the characters (possibly) taken prisoner by Stryker. Knowing the evidence that Cerebro accidentally gets Charles in over his head, handing control of his power-amplifying decide to a being hellbent on global destruction seems a bad idea. An idea so bad, Havok might actually let loose an attack just to break Cerebro in place of turning it off.
So, why is Havok not traveling along with the character after this scene? Well, that explosion has to start somewhere. And with Apocalypse able to read minds, and spin powers out of control, Havok seems a likely candidate for what actually brings the house down.
Mystique Within Grasp
Once Mystique decides to shed her clothes and human appearance, she finds herself once again at the mercy of a mutant man, held to the point of choking by Apocalypse. Since we know Mystique isn’t exactly likely to die (Jennifer Lawrence’s cooling interest in the films aside), the prolonged chocking scene here seems a bit out of place.
Unless, of course, seeing Raven almost killed is what finally snaps Magneto out of his path of anger, rage and vengeance. The two did share some happy memories, it would seem.
Those are the shots, frames, suggestions, hints, and theories we think are most worth discussing, but what did you think of the trailer? Does knowing how much was actually put into the second trailer have you more confident, or less?
X-Men: Apocalypse will see theatrical release in the U.S. on May 27th, 2016, followed by Wolverine 3 on March 3rd, 2017, and unannounced X-Men films on October 6th, 2017 (possibly Gambit), January 12th, 2018 (possibly Deadpool 2), and July 13th, 2018. The New Mutants is also in development.