The X-Men movie franchise has been around for over fifteen years now, and is notable among comic movie universes for generally striving to adapt story arcs directly from the comic series on which it’s based. While liberties are taken with some elements, for the most part, the X-Men movies have all been fairly faithful to their source material, especially in the most recent "trilogy" of films, which include First Class, Days of Future Past and the upcoming Apocalypse, which are all taken directly from comic storylines.
The X-Men movies struggle more often with the canon of their own cinematic universe. Characters like Emma Frost and Bolivar Trask have appeared in multiple films in very different guises, and there are plenty of plot holes and continuity errors between movies. For the most part, filmmakers working on various X-Men titles tend to favor freedom of storytelling over the constraints of existing lore.
With the time-travelling, future-altering events of Days of Future Past, the X-Men franchise has been granted a rare opportunity to rework or alter key events within the X-Men universe. Apocalypse director Bryan Singer has a free reign to make a variety of changes to the X-Men world, thanks to the various ripples caused by the previous movie.
Some of these effects are far-reaching, while others involve tweaking key characters slightly. Let’s have a look at How X-Men: Apocalypse Will Change X-Men Canon.
First appearing in X2: X-Men United, Nightcrawler instantly won over fans thanks to a beautifully directed opening scene which sees a brainwashed version of the character attacking the White House. The blue-skinned teleporter later teams up with the X-Men, where he reveals his origins as a circus performer, using his powers to entertain crowds until running into William Stryker and being used for his mutant experiments.
Ever since Nightcrawler’s original appearance, fans have been clamoring to see the character return, and in X-Men: Apocalypse, Bryan Singer’s found the perfect way to reintroduce him. Apparently, an unintended effect of the altered Days of Future Past timeline has led to Professor X finding Nightcrawler a lot earlier, as he makes up one of the young team of X-Men, and as the movie begins, he’s already established as a good friend of Cyclops, Beast, and the rest of the team.
15 Jean Grey
In the earlier version of the X-Men movie canon, Jean was recruited by both Magneto and Professor X, who placed a mental block in her mind because her powers were too dangerous for her to use. The third movie, X-Men: The Last Stand, showed Jean losing control and causing widespread destruction thanks to her split personality, known as the Phoenix.
As Days of Future Past effectively erased the events of The Last Stand, it seems that Apocalypse director Bryan Singer is having another shot at the Phoenix storyline from the comics – or at least, he plans to tease it. Fan speculation argues that Jean’s visions of the end of the world suggest a darker direction for the character, and trailers which center around Jean suggest that the character (and her formidable psychic Phoenix power) may be crucial in defeating Apocalypse. Either way, there’s likely to be more than a few references to the dark power within Jean in the upcoming movie.
Fans of the ‘80s X-Men comic book team, as well as kids who grew up watching the ‘90s cartoon, will likely have a soft spot for Jubilee. As one the youngest member of the X-Men during this era, Jubilee was known for her spunky personality, her explosive mutant powers, and her bizarrely colorful clothing choices.
A character given the name of Jubilee has appeared in the background of two previous X-Men movies as a teenage student at the Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters. In a deleted scene from X2, Jubilee is seen flexing her fingers as they crackle with electricity, but this is the most fans have seen of the character thus far.
In Apocalypse, the character finally gets a big screen role befitting her notoriety from the comic, as a fully-fledged X-Man with a speaking role. While this incarnation of Jubilee is the same age as her teammates, every other aspect of her character is true to the comics – this includes her costume, which Lana Condor, who plays Jubilee, has said is kept in-tact to remind viewers that they’re watching a period piece. Think of it as a mutant John Hughes movie, as Jubilee will remind audiences throughout the film that it’s definitely set in the ‘80s.
The leader of the X-Men was an important character in the first two movies before his untimely off-screen death in first act of The Last Stand. Cyclops was also worked into the plot of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, when he appears as an earnest high school student who is kidnapped for William Stryker’s Weapon X experiments, before being rescued by Professor X.
The events of Days of Future Past have meant drastic changes to the Weapon X program, not least of them being that Scott Summers was never abducted as part of the experiments. Instead, a teenage Scott is one of the students at Xavier’s school, having been there for around ten years at the start of the new movie. This origin is a lot more in line with the events of the comic books, which fans of the source material will no doubt appreciate.
12 Professor X
When, at the end of First Class, Charles Xavier was shot in the back by a stray bullet and left paralyzed, X-Men movie fans cried foul: in previous flashbacks as late as the ‘80s, Professor X was shown to have full use of his legs, hinting that the events which led the character to his wheelchair occurred much later in the timeline. In these earlier appearances of the character, the Professor was also shown to already have a shiny, bald head, suggesting that, like actor Patrick Stewart and millions of men around the world, there was nothing supernatural about his hair loss.
It’s unlikely that fans will see an explanation for why Professor X could walk in flashback scenes from earlier movies. What X-Men: Apocalypse will give audiences, though, is a definitive explanation for Xavier’s hair loss. Actor James McAvoy shaved his head for the role, and while the movie will start with a bushy-haired Professor X, the trailer hints that events during the movie will leave Xavier physically altered – perhaps a psychic battle with Apocalypse won’t go well for the professor?
X-Men: The Last Stand is not a particularly popular film. It’s unsurprising, then, that Days of Future Past went out of its way to erase the movie from X-Men canon entirely – including the token appearance of Warren Worthington III, the angelically winged son of a wealthy businessman who’s aiming to "cure" mutation.
Angel’s appearance in the earlier movie amounted to very limited screen time, and the character only interacted with other X-Men during one scene. In Apocalypse, the character will reappear, and from the looks of the trailer, he’ll be in a far more notable role as one of Apocalypse’s brainwashed Four Horsemen. It’s not known how different his origin story will be, but there’s a good chance that significant changes will have been made to the character’s backstory. Sticklers for detail will also enjoy seeing Angel’s metal wings, which have appeared in the comics multiple times over the years.
In the comics, Havok is Cyclops’ troubled brother, who at times plays the hero and at other times is less than helpful to the X-Men. Havok first appeared in the X-Men movies in First Class, which is set in the 60s, leading many to argue that in the movie universe, Havok is Cyclops’ cousin or uncle rather than his brother.
Havok will return for the newest movie, having been one of the only original X-Men to escape the Vietnam war and experimentation at the hands of Dolivar Trask, but it’s not clear what his relation to Scott Summers will be. The X-Men movies play with characters’ ages a lot – even though twenty years have passed between First Class and Apocalypse, none of the character appear to have aged all that much. For this reason, it’s not certain yet whether Havok will deviate from the comics by being Cyclops’ uncle, or whether he’ll deviate from earlier movies by being Scott’s brother. A twenty-year age gap between siblings isn’t entirely unheard of.
Throughout the trailers, the appearance of Apocalypse is heralded by widespread destruction – the Superbowl trailer in particular spends a lot of time showing the X-Men fighting among the ruins of a city which looks as if it’s been swallowed up by hurricanes at one point. All of this is combined with images of bombs launching, bridges breaking, tidal waves, earthquakes, and a variety of natural disasters that are seen in Jean Grey’s visions of the end of the world. While not all of this vision will necessarily come true, at least one town is going to be leveled by Apocalypse.
Considering the cold, theoretical way that the US senate discusses ‘the mutant problem’ at the beginning of the original X-Men movie, it’s clear that this isn’t a world which has seen a vast amount of destruction or apocalyptic events. It’s possible that the explosive, destructive events in the trailer – which far outstrip the level of any destruction that’s been seen in an X-Men movie thus far – are a new addition to the timeline. The return of Apocalypse and the destruction he causes may be a direct result of Wolverine’s time travelling in Days of Future Past.
One of the biggest upsets to the original X-Men timeline caused by Days of Future Past is the far earlier – and more dramatic – public discovery of mutants. In the first few X-Men movies, mutants are only just becoming a topic of discussion and people begin to understand what they’re capable of. Mystique’s actions in front of the world press throughout Days of Future Past have put mutants on the agenda far earlier than they had been previously, meaning that even at this point in time, the world is already very concerned with the X-Men and their powers.
This provides X-Men: Apocalypse an excellent opportunity to play with established understanding of mutants. Big, bold actions from mutants may lead to a more volatile public opinion on mutants than has been seen in movies before, but at the same time, it’s clear from the end of Days of Future Past that this new timeline doesn’t end in the same level of apocalyptic destruction than the original timeline produced. The movie will likely bring a new twist to the heroes who are hated and feared by the world they aim to protect.
Fans of the X-Men movies are well aware of the fantastic character development that Mystique has enjoyed over the past few movies. While in X-Men and X2 the character was mostly present for titillation, and barely had any speaking lines, and while Mystique was almost entirely absent from X-Men: The Last Stand, in more recent prequel movies Jennifer Lawrence has transformed the character into an emotionally deep, conflicted anti-hero who is far more important to the plot than she’s ever been before.
X-Men: Apocalypse will see Mystique leading the X-Men in the absence of Professor X, which means that the character will have to develop even further to cope with her new responsibilities. This will take Mystique further away from her sidekick cinematic origins, but a more nuanced approach to the character matches up more closely to Mystique’s comic book role.
It’ll also be interesting to see the way that Mystique interacts with Nightcrawler – in X2 the two characters shared a brief scene together but otherwise ignored each other even though, in the comics, Mystique is Nightcrawler’s mother. The new movie may finally show the two sharing a more familial bond, as the inclusion of the red-skinned teleporter Azazel in First Class makes it easy to explain Nightcrawler’s parentage.
Only one X-Men movie so far hasn’t featured Wolverine in the starring role, and even that movie had a brief yet fondly remembered cameo as, in First Class, Wolverine colorfully tells Charles and Erik that he’s not interested in joining their mutant team. While the appearance of Hugh Jackman’s signature character is unlikely in Apocalypse, there’s still a chance a similar cameo might occur. Even if Logan doesn’t physically appear in the movie, his character shaped events dramatically and will likely receive at least a passing mention.
When audiences last saw Wolverine, he was being fished out of the ocean by Mystique, in the guise of a young William Stryker. It’s not clear what happens next for Logan, but without getting involved with Weapon X, it’s likely that his character has gone down a very different path which will be explored further in Hugh Jackman’s final Wolverine movie. In the meantime, audiences can expect at least a passing mention for the character in Apocalypse, which will explain where he’s gone and how things will be different for his final movie.
According to Professor X in the original X-Men movie, Storm was among the first students to take up residence at the X Mansion. It’s never explained where she came from or how closely her origin matches the comics, where she was worshipped as a deity by an African tribe until joining the X-Men. The movie Storm’s character is further confused by Halle Berry’s wildly changing accent, which changes dramatically between the first and second movies.
In X-Men: Apocalypse, Storm (sporting a very ‘80s mohawk) will appear as one of the Four Horsemen. In this version of the timeline, she hasn’t yet been recruited to the X-Men, and certainly isn’t among Xavier’s students. As with Mystique, Storm has experienced a lot of development during her appearances in previous movies, transforming from a one-dimensional sidekick in X-Men to a fully fleshed out character by The Last Stand. As such, it’ll be interesting to see a different take on her character, and to see an alternative origin that doesn’t Xavier teaching Storm to control her powers.
Possibly the most well-developed relationship in the entire X-Men franchise is that of Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr, better known as Professor X and Magneto respectively. Two best friends who share a brotherly love but completely opposing views on mutant’s place in society, the characters often find themselves unwillingly at war with each other. This relationship culminates in Days of Future Past as the aged pair reach for each other’s hands as they wait for death, lamenting the time they lost fighting each other.
The events of Days of Future Past has led to significant changes to Magneto’s timeline. Erik has been freed from prison, but his attempts to assassinate the President will no doubt have had consequences for his cause, and without his Brotherhood of Mutants, Magneto lacks the support he might have had in the former timeline. The trailer for Apocalypse shows the character looking scruffy to say the least, suggesting that he’s spent quite some time directionless and lost, mirroring Charles’ position in the last movie. In this version of the timeline and at this point in time, Magneto isn’t exactly the formidable opponent to the X-Men that he once was.
3 Moira McTaggert
Charles Xavier’s love interest is one of the characters that’s appeared in completely different roles in two different movies. In The Last Stand, Moira is a doctor who cares for Charles’ braindead identical twin brother (it’s a weird film) whereas in First Class, Moira is a CIA agent who’s not above stripping to down to her underwear to infiltrate a mafia base. The discrepancies between Moira’s two appearances suggest that the character must undergo an incredibly bizarre change of career path after Charles erases her memory at the end of the prequel movie.
With the Days of Future Past timeline changes, Apocalypse is able to do away with Moira’s decision to take up medicine in favor of bringing her back as an important provider of exposition regarding Apocalypse and his Four Horsemen.
Probably the most popular new character introduced in Days of Future Past, and the star of everybody’s favorite scene from the film, Quicksilver’s high-speed antics are so enjoyable that there was no way the character could be left out of future instalments. Of course, this doesn’t entirely match up with previous X-Men teams, as while Wolverine mentions knowing Quicksilver in the future, none of the other characters have ever acknowledged him. Especially considering the suspicion that Quicksilver is Magneto’s son, if Peter Maximoff had been working with the heroes at any time in the old timeline it probably would have come up in passing.
The trailer shows Quicksilver running at full speed through the X Mansion, suggesting that, at the very least, Professor X has been keeping tabs on him. It doesn’t seem like Quicksilver’s style to join up with the team for formal schooling, but it could well be the case that, as a result of his helpfulness during Days of Future Past, Xavier decided to keep an eye on Peter in case he ever became useful again.
Whatever happens in X-Men: Apocalypse, it’s likely that the movie will move away from the plot of the original movies to tell a new story and experiment with different characters, while also leaving things open for follow-up solo movies and setting the stage for the happy ending seen in Days of Future Past.
Some of the changes on this list are purely speculation, but it’s very likely that, wherever the opportunity presents itself, Bryan Singer will push to show a new side of popular characters, safe in the knowledge that all inaccuracies can be blamed on time travel.
What do you think of this list? Which X-Men characters would you like to see revisited from a different angle? Let us know if the comments below.