[WARNING: This post contains SPOILERS for X-Men: Days of Future Past.]
Perhaps one of the most contentious superhero flicks to premiere in 2014, X-Men Days of Future Past was tasked with tying the X-Men: First Class reboot into the original X-Men trilogy of the ‘00s as well as correcting timeline continuity issues. Now that the film has premiered and everyone has decided whether or not Days of Future Past was successful in its endeavor (read our review), the major X-Men discussion has turned to the next film in the franchise: X-Men: Apocalypse.
For weeks Simon Kinberg, screenwriter of X-Men: The Last Stand and Days of Future Past, has teased that Apocalypse would be the biggest X-Men film yet - even more so than Days of Future Past, which had a price tag that made it the second most expensive film produced by Fox after James Cameron’s Avatar. Now Kinberg is offering some insight into the followup film’s main villain, who was teased in a Days of Future Past button scene.
In an interview with IGN, Kinberg talked about the difficulties associated with bringing Apocalypse -- the oldest and original mutant, also known as En Sabah Nur -- to life within the established X-Men film universe. Though the visual element of creating Apocalypse will be tough in its own right, Kinberg must also develop this ancient character in a way that makes him as believable and human as well-known characters like Professor X and Magneto, who have had multiple films dedicated to their own character arcs.
We're definitely approaching him as a super charismatic leader that will draw people to his cause. So far, in the X-Men movies, there really are two leaders. You know, there's Eric/Magneto and what [Bryan Singer] did with the Brotherhood and Charles/Professor Xavier and what he did with the X-Men. Apocalypse presents a new leader, the darkest leader in the franchise.
Kinberg, however, doesn’t want Apocalypse to be a simple villain. Unlike the Dark Elves in Thor: The Dark World, Apocalypse will be a fully developed character rather than a villain for the sake of pitting the X-Men against a seemingly undefeatable force:
It's really been about how do we give him [Apocalypse], most importantly, a very human and relatable motivation so that as extreme and insane as his methods are, there is something, you know, understandable, almost empathetic about his motivation.
Fans who want to see the epic destruction associated with Apocalypse, though, will not be disappointed by the next X-Men film. Kinberg said Apocalypse would be “massive” weeks ago, but he expanded on that idea in a recent interview with CBM:
The kind of scope and scale we’re talking about is like disaster movie, extinction level event. Sort of Roland Emmerich-style moviemaking, which you’ve never seen in an X-Men movie, or any superhero movie, which I think is exciting.
Though it may seem impossible that Apocalypse could raise the stakes, action, and price tag above the precedent set by Days of Future Past -- especially so soon after opening night -- Kinberg is already seriously talking up the next X-Men film in a way that may bring out the skeptics. However, it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
Both Days of Future Past and First Class (as well as The Last Stand) had hints of massive destruction seen in an Emmerich disaster movie. In addition to a title like Apocalypse, the creators are already setting the tone for an action-packed, destruction-filled two hours. But, much of Apocalypse's success will hinge -- and Kinberg seems to know this -- on the building of the titular character.
X-Men has built a universe around well-developed and sympathetic characters that fall somewhere in the grey area between good and evil, with neither Magneto nor Professor X falling wholly into either category. Given how much thought Kinberg seems to be giving to the human aspect of Apocalypse as well as his mutant powers, there might be hope that the Days of Future Past followup could outshine its predecessor in story, character, and action.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is currently in theaters; X-Men: Apocalypse is scheduled to premiere on May 27, 2016.