There is so much hinging on the next X-Men movie that it’s almost nerve-wracking. With original X-Men movie director Bryan Singer once again at the helm, X-Men: Days of Future Past will not only try to inject the franchise with an unprecedented amount of sci-fi elements (time-travel) – it will also attempt to rectify the gross missteps in continuity between the original X-Men trilogy, spin-off films like X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the semi-rebooted storyline of X-Men: First Class.
Days of Future Past will also bring together the largest cast of actors the franchise has seen thus far, including original trilogy cast members Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Shawn Ashmore, Anna Paquin, and Ellen Page – as well as First Class stars Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Nicholas Hoult. Add new additions like Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage in a villain role, and The Intouchables star Omar Sy in a yet-unspecified role, and it’s clear why casting has been the main focus of this film’s development.
However, today our focus is on characters, rather than casting. X-Men fans will tell you that the name “Apocalypse” reigns heavy over the franchise; categorized as “the first mutant,” En Sabah Nur was a slave in ancient times whose extreme shape-shifting ability granted him near invulnerability and immortality. In the comics, the character merged with otherworldly technology to become the dark demigod Apocalypse, who has literally plagued the X-Men through all of time, trying to enforce his ‘survival of the fittest’ doctrine upon the world. In modern X-Men comics, Apocalypse transferred his essence into a young boy’s body – a boy who could one day destroy the world (think Damien in The Omen). The moral quandaries of such a scenario are indeed juicy material for a good film.
In a recent interview with Bleeding Cool, director Bryan Singer’s response to direct questioning about the possibility of Apocalypse in Days of Future Past left many fans wondering if a proverbial cat had not been let out of the bag. You can read the interview HERE, but the long-short of it is that Singer tightened up and made evasive comments when questioned about both Apocalypse and realizing the character onscreen through motion-capture performance. Most importantly, he didn’t say “no”; rather he said, “I can’t tell you,” and “This is how it gets started, when somebody starts piecing the little bits together…”
Apocalypse has long been a wish of many X-Men movie fans and would be a welcome sight, no doubt. However, before jumping to conclusions, there are a few things to consider:
At the moment it’s beginning to look like the final stretch for this franchise in its current form. Rising stars like Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Oscar-winner(!) Jennifer Lawrence are unlikely to stay satisfied with splitting up screen time in a comic book movie ensemble (for ensemble-level pay). Similarly, outside of Hugh Jackman, the original trilogy stars (Berry, Stewart, McKellen) are not likely to have many more runs in them (getting them for DOFP seemed like enough of a miracle, as is).
That puts us in a scenario where X-Men will need a fresh start, with some new blood, new characters and new villains to battle. In short: Apocalypse could simply be a late-game reveal in the film, setting the stage for a brand-new direction for the X-Men film franchise. (See: Thanos at the end of The Avengers).
Singer has previously stated that DOFP will take place primarily in the 1970s and focus on politics. We also know that Peter Dinklage will be playing a villain (possibly Bolivar Trask, inventor of the mutant-hunting Sentinel robots?); and that’s not even considering this major plot-point about a “time displaced” mutant (possibly Ellen Page’s Kitty Pryde – or mutant cop, Bishop?)… So, squeezing in Apocalypse into that crowded space seems like it might be a bit of overkill. (We’d also have to see Mr. Sinister in there too, if we have Apocalypse – am I right? So that would make things even more convoluted.)
Injecting the larger sci-fi notions – like time-traveling mutants, killer robots, etc. – into the franchise via a more grounded and focused plot (the same kind of ‘race against destiny’ storyline featured in the original 1980s “Days of Future Past” comic book story arc) seems like a better way to approach things. Then you can move to the threat of an evil mutant who will one day cause the apocalypse – as a little ‘button scene’ to kick off a retooled version of the franchise focused on saving the future. Singer may have acknowledged as much when speaking to Bleeding Cool about where he wants to take Days of Future Past:
The movie is about destiny. What is your fate? What were you supposed to do, what should you have done when you were younger? What didn’t you do that would have made for a better future? And what if you could go back and change that.
I think I’ve got the time travel – I don’t really want to call it time travel, but for want of a better word, time travel figured out. I pitched it to James Cameron and he signed off on it.
That “better future” part is something that has been a focus of both the X-Men comic books and James Cameron’s Terminator films. In the case of the former: In the comics, the apocalyptic future the X-Men are perennially trying to avoid more often than not revolves around the Apocalypse – so it’s easy to see how a cameo in this film could set the stage for a whole new trilogy that (finally) allows an expanded focus beyond the Xavier/Magneto schism.
Apocalypse is definitely a blockbuster-level villain worthy of a several films’ worth of buildup; and with actors like Page, Ashmore, Hoult and Jackman likely still game for more X-Men outings, there will still be enough star wattage to carry the line of continuity over to the new playground. If Omar Sy is, say, playing Apocalypse (Singer’s evasiveness did lend credit to the character being a motion-capture performance – and Sy is a great body model for it) then that’s even more star power to tout in future films.
Finally, given the state of the current X-Men comic books, there’s even room to incorporate characters like Deadpool – who Fox has been toying with as a potential spin-off film character – into a bigger and darker X-Men movie universe.
Do you want to see Apocalypse as the main villain of Days of Future Past – or should he be set up as the main antagonist of the NEXT set of X-Men movies?
X-Men: Days of Future Past will be in theaters on July 18, 2014.
Source: Bleeding Cool