While Twentieth Century Fox is more than halfway through principal photography on the X-Men spinoff Deadpool starring Ryan Reynolds and shooting in Vancouver, on the other coast of Canada the rest of the X-Men movie characters (and many new ones) have assembled to begin shooting X-Men: Apocalypse in Montreal.
Director Bryan Singer, returning to the director's chair once again after setting franchise records with X-Men: Days of Future Past, has consistently provided updates via social media on casting and shared behind-the-scenes photos and concept art for the biggest X-Men film yet, and today, another intriguing photo was revealed. Let's talk about the Summers family...
Just a few weeks ago it was confirmed that Lucas Till would be reprising the role of Alex Summers for X-Men: Apocalypse after playing the part as one of Professor X's original mutant heroes in X-Men: First Class. He returned for a small part last year in X-Men: Days of Future Past where the character (codenamed "Havok") was enlisted as part of a mutant special ops team in Vietnam.
With Tye Sheridan cast as a younger, teenage Scott Summers a.k.a. Cyclops (previously played by James Marsden), Apocalypse therefore marks the very first time the Summers family will be seen together on screen - even their parents will show up according to an Instagram photo by the director shared earlier today:
A photo posted by Bryan Singer (@bryanjaysinger) on
It's not so much what's in the photo that's worth noting but the revealing caption by director Bryan Singer. In the story, the world is watching as some terrible apocalyptic event is happening in 1983, and given the very public events of X-Men: Days of Future Past's '70s story, the world is fully aware of mutants a decade later. Recall, from producer Simon Kinberg two weeks ago describing how Apocalypse marks a changed universe:
"From 1973 forward, the world knew about mutants. A mutant took a football stadium and dropped it on the White House. That’s not the history we were raised on. So, instead of ignoring it, all of the movies that come after that in the timeline acknowledge it and embrace it, and it becomes part of the complicated reality of ‘X-Men’ history on film."
For fans of the X-Men comics, they'll be happy to see Singer's confirmation that in the film franchise Scott Summers and Alex Summers are indeed, brothers. But wait, look closer! When Lucas Till was cast as Alex a.k.a. Havok in 2011's X-Men: First class, given his age and the '60s setting compared to the first present day set X-Men films, there were rumors that in the adaptation Alex could be Cyclops' dad, especially when Bryan Singer confirmed that they weren't brothers in an interview with the LA Times:
"Yes, the timeline is different. It wouldn't physically fit for him to be the brother of Cyclops. We take some liberties on that. There are notions, but, um, I don’t want to give away certain interrelations, but let’s just say there are some things that do adhere to the comic books and do so in a way the fans will get a kick out of. And those things can, perhaps, move forward into the future…. That’s one reason we wanted to call the film ‘First Class’ even though it isn't the ‘First Class’ in the comics as fans know it. You couldn't really tell that story without going even earlier and explaining how they got there and how it came to be. I liked the title, so we kept it, but this is a prelude in a way that will eventually lead to the [scenarios] that fit in more clearly with the ‘First Class’ comics and situations."
So, the new photo might depict the Summers' parents but note the careful word usage in his Instagram caption where the word "brother" is not used. It's possible there's no hidden deeper meaning to this and that Alex and Scott are simply brothers and these are their ordinary parents, but fans of Marvel Comics know there's so much more to the Summers family in the source material. And if the films draw from any of that, it's possible this couple could just be foster parents. It just depends on how long-term Singer and the studio are thinking with this film and what direction they want to go in for the future.
Singer was definitely thinking long-term in discussing years ago how the First Class film could lead the franchise down a path where the actual original characters from the comics would come in as youngsters - that's where we are right now with X-Men: Apocalypse introducing a brand new Cyclops, Jean Grey and Angel, alongside young versions of Nightcrawler, Jubilee and potentially many others who we've already seen photos of on set in Montreal.
While the director previously stated Alex and Scott are not brothers due to timeline reasons (see above quote), it seems that they are now. And even if they were adopted, they are still brothers who have a similar energy-based power set so it's a safe assumption Singer and co. changed their minds and that Alex and Scott are indeed biological brothers as they are in the comics (and cartoons). No other explanation really fits from what's been shared to date.
On the flip side of comic book comparisons, fans hoping to see the biological father of the Summers brothers get taken into space to become a space pirate captain, that's not likely in the cards. As much as we may want to see the X-Men movie universe take a page from the Marvel Cinematic Universe playbook in exploring the cosmic side of the comics (see: Guardians of the Galaxy), we're uncertain at this point if Apocalypse (as a character and movie) has any alien connections in the film although Singer did previously release concept art of what looked to be an alien ship (see below), and in the comics, Apocalypse uses alien technology located in Egypt (his birthplace) that was left behind by aliens.
A photo posted by Bryan Singer (@bryanjaysinger) on
Perhaps down the road in sequels to Fantastic Four when we meet the likes of comic book characters Galactus and Silver Surfer and the franchise crosses over with the X-Men (because it will), we'll get into the space-based stories since there is a lot of lore to draw from. Fox owns several of Marvel Comics' most notable alien races and characters (Badoon, Skrulls, etc.) and depending on when/if the studio decides to adapt these stories, the Summers family does actually have a significant role to play off-Earth. They even have another brother who becomes a leader of a galactic space empire but we'll save that conversation for another day...
At the very least, moviegoers may get to see some of the great comic book character interactions of the brothers working together and occasionally against on another with their visually exciting energy-based power sets.
Fantastic Four opens August 7th, 2015, Deadpool on February 12th, 2016, X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27th, 2016, Gambit on October 7th, 2016, Wolverine 3 (not the official title) on March 3rd, 2017, Fantastic Four 2 on June 9th, 2017, and some as-yet unspecified X-Men film on July 13th, 2018.