If having your face appear in one of the most watched film teaser trailers ever doesn't prove that you've "made it," perhaps being cast as one of the most powerful and dangerous Marvel Comics villains ever will help seal the deal. Oscar Isaac is having a career-defining week and while promoting this current release, A Most Violent Year, the Guatemalan-born rising star is enjoying the spotlight attention earned from playing a Rebel pilot in Star Wars: Episode VII and recently being cast as the titular antagonist in X-Men: Apocalypse.
With production on the next X-Men beginning in April, when the cast and crew return to Montreal where they also shot X-Men: Days of Future Past, director Bryan Singer and Twentieth Century Fox are deep into casting. While we know the (main) villain, Apocalypse aims to be even "bigger" than its predecessor, and that means a very large cast of characters from the books.
We've known for quite some time from hints by Singer and writer/producer Simon Kinberg that since Apocalypse benefits from Days of Future Past resetting the timeline, and as such, will re-introduce the original X-Men team with younger versions of characters Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm and potentially, several others. The casting process has already begun on some of those and Singer and Kinberg haven't been shy about namedropping other personal favorite characters including Gambit, Nightcrawler and Psylocke. With Deadpool officially greenlit for a theatrical releases several months before X-Men: Apocalypse, Kinberg also hinted to us that the "Merc with a Mouth" (confirmed to be Ryan Reynolds) could be involved as well, while Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld teased that his other popular X-Men creation, Cable, is on his way to the movie franchise too.
Apocalypse stories in the comics frequently involve alternate timelines and time travel, and of course, the time-travelling mutant son of Cyclops, Cable, is commonly involved too. Some of these plots also involve Archangel, a character we've not heard anything about in regards to X-Men: Apocalypse until now. Chatting with IGN, Oscar Isaac spoke a little about playing Apocalypse, a character he admits in the comics is clearly on the side of evil unlike a character like Magneto who's sympathetic. That will be altered in X-Men: Apocalypse.
"Just as Bryan's done with the other films, I think he seeks to find something a little more interesting than the archetypal aspects of the characters, which work really well in print, but for a film I think you want to see a bit more of the -- for lack of a better word - humanity in [Apocalypse]; because ultimately this is a story about humans."
"It's just different symbols for different things that we feel. So with this character I am incredibly interested in the challenge of finding someone that's psychologically interesting and compelling, and actually the spiritual aspects of the character... For me, that's what I'm interested in, in any character that I do. It's a meditation on 'What's their engine? What's their spirit?' Whether that's about Llewyn Davis or Apocalypse, there's an aspect of 'What is it that makes them run? What's their spirit like?' That's what I'm interested in finding out about that character."
As for Archangel, an augmented (by Apocalypse who brainwashed him into becoming one of his four horsemen) and far more menacing and lethal version of Angel, (real name: Warren Worthington III), we first met the character in X-Men: The Last Stand where he was played by Ben Foster. Given that X-Men: Apocalypse takes place in the '80s, there's not really a way to maintain that continuity and bring him back (without using time-travel...) but Isaac is a big fan of Foster and the character in the comics.
"He's a great actor. I don't really know how they're going to put all that together or exactly what characters, or how that's going to work. But I know Angel and Archangel in particular were some of my favorite characters in that storyline. That was such a cool and dark storyline. I think that would be a cool thing to see on film."
There's also always the possibility that Apocalypse could be setup as a reoccurring villain who could return in future movies. In that case, they could tease him recruiting Angel as the horseman known as "Death" for the future.
Isaac however, is a big fan of how Singer and co. quasi-reset the broken continuity of the series and the idea of there being multiple universes or dimensions, much like there are in the Marvel Comics. He's also a team player, hinting that this film version of Apocalypse - like many of the characters in the live-action universe - will be adapted.
"Ultimately, it's about making something compelling and interesting to watch. I think being faithful to certain characters from the comics is very important, but it's a different medium. I think, ultimately, you want to make a great movie. That's the most important part, and then finding, if not the exact details, the soul of the characters, of the stories, of what the whole thing was. Those aspects, even if you're moving certain things around and maybe not being true to this particular storyline and adding this new thing, I think those are much more important. The experience of it will be much more compelling in the end."
Inevitably, X-Men: Apocaylpse will not be the end of the X-Men movie series story or continuity. There are other movies being planned, from a Gambit standalone feature starring Channing Tatum to a third Wolverine solo movie. And there's an untitled X-Men feature coming in 2018 as well. Keep in mind, if Deadpool and Apocalypse are successful at the box office, we can expect to see two Marvel properties per year from Fox. One of the films also in the works is Jeff Wadlow's X-Force, a film that could include characters like Deadpool and Archangel, alongside franchise veterans like Hugh Jackman's Wolverine. The most recent X-Force runs in the comics have involved Archangel in a big way so introducing him in Apocalypse could be a smart way to plan ahead.
Isaac's quickly catching the attention of mainstream moviegoers, first from his supporting roles in high profile films including Robin Hood and Sucker Punch, and most recently, critical acclaim in larger roles in A Most Violent Year and Inside Llewyn Davis. These gigs helped him land two of the most anticipated upcoming projects, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and now his, X-Men: Apocalypse, and we couldn't be more excited to see his performances in both.
Fantastic Four opens August 7th, 2015, Deadpool on February 12, 2016, X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27, 2016, The Wolverine 3 (not the official title) on March 3rd, 2017, Fantastic Four 2 on July 14th, 2017, and some as-yet unspecified X-Men film on July 13th, 2018.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.