Comic book movie fans are still buzzing about Warner Bros.' shared Justice League movie universe and Disney/Marvel's Phase 3, but those studios aren't the only ones to have standout 2014s in this genre. Fox bounced back in a big way this past May, when X-Men: Days of Future Past grossed $233.9 million domestically (2nd highest in the franchise) and earned a strong critical reaction that harkened back to the reception Bryan Singer's X2: X-Men United received (read our review).
As such, moviegoers are eagerly anticipating the 2016 followup, X-Men: Apocalypse, which will see Singer return to the director's chair. We know that production will commence on the project in April 2015, but other details (besides casting rumors) are few and far between. Now, however, it seems as if some light has been shed on the sequel's narrative, with reports hinting that the filmmakers will dive into the relationship between Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) with this X-Men film.
In its writeup detailing Lawrence's busy workload over the next year, THR states that a source of theirs got a look at the Apocalypse script and saw that the romance between the two characters will be "front and center." The reasoning behind the decision is to capitalize on the popularity of stars Lawrence and Fassbender, both of whom are firmly ingrained in the A-list.
Apocalypse is being viewed by its creators as the conclusion to the story that began in 2011's X-Men: First Class, with Singer aiming to complete the character arcs First Class helmsman Matthew Vaughn started with his take on the mythos. Since the newer X-Men films have relied heavily on Magneto, Mystique, and Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), it makes sense from both a marketing and artistic level to go this route.
That said, this new report slightly contradicts what we've heard about the story before. Writer Simon Kinberg has previously gone on record saying that he finds the dynamic between Mystique and Beast (Nicholas Hault) "interesting" and that he hoped to use Apocalypse to explore that more. Whether or not that's still the case remains to be seen, but it sounds as if that plot line has been put on the back burner for now.
Some could argue that since so much time has already been dedicated to Mystique's relationships with Eric and Charles, Singer would be better served running with the Raven/Hank aspect to offer something fresh. However, the last two X-Men films were carried largely by Magneto and Xavier (with Mystique being torn between two viewpoints), so in essence the Apocalypse storyline will gel more with what came before and hopefully provide a satisfying resolution to the main characters' journeys. Change is nice, but not when it's strictly for the sake of it.
Besides, First Class served as a prequel of sorts to the early-2000s films, and in those original works, Mystique was one of Magneto's allies in the Brotherhood of Mutants. In that regard, it wouldn't make much sense to commit too much to the Mystique and Beast's budding romance (something that was touched upon in First Class), since the two will be on opposite sides in the end. To be fair, that would make for compelling drama, but the fact that the so-called "big three" have been so fleshed out already makes this the better way to go.
Either way, both First Class and Days of Future Past successfully balanced the typical superhero genre thrills with intriguing looks into the X-Men characters, so there's little reason to start doubting Singer and his cohorts now. Between the 1980s setting and the tease of "very big" set pieces, Apocalypse should be another fun entry in this seminal comic book film series.
X-Men: Apocalypse will be in theaters May 27, 2016.
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