Director Bryan Singer fully embraced the comic book geek culture when making X-Men: Days of Future Past, his return to the X-Men movie franchise in an era where superhero movies have grown into THE biggest business in Hollywood.
While building up to DoFP's successful run in theaters ($750 million worldwide), Singer showed particular savvy in using social media to keep fans buzzing about the film - as well as speculating and guessing about what big X-Men universe reveals we could see. Today we see that Singer social media marketing will continue with the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse - while a trusted cast member is claiming that a character we thought was out of the franchise may still be making a comeback in Apocalypse.
Old Magneto in Apocalypse?
One thing that was surprising to hear about X-Men Apocalypse was that franchise stars Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen - who play the older versions of Prof. X and Magneto, respectively - would not be returning. It's somewhat understandable: Days of Future Past essentially reset the X-Men timeline for James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender - the young versions of Prof. X and Magneto, respectively - to write a new future. Nonetheless, with power names like Stewart and McKellen - and multiple timelines to play with - it was weird to hear them not being involved in the new film.
“Magneto, Ian McKellen, is certainly going to be in it.”
The obvious question here is what kind of story premise would allow for the elder version of Magneto to appear without the elder version of Prof. X close by his side? For hardcore X-Men comic book fans, that speculation could be pretty exciting if we're talking about ending Apocalypse with a lead-in to something like Age of Apocalypse.
Marvel's "Age of Apocalypse" X-Men crossover of the 1990s remains one of the comics' most iconic (and beloved) storylines. The short explanation is that a powerful mutant (Pro X's son) heads into the past to kill Magneto before he can ruin Xavier's peaceful vision of human/mutant relations; things go south when Prof. X sacrifices himself to save Magneto. With no Xavier, there are no X-Men to ever rise up and oppose evil mutants - leaving Apocalypse to conquer Earth in the name of mutant supremacy, creating a hellish alternate timeline where heroes like Cyclops started out as villains, and Magneto became a hero in honor of his late friend Charles Xavier.
That's a wild jump of speculation, but it's not impossible: with important characters like Cable on the way, and the proven success of Days of Future Past, some kind of implementation of timelines and pivotal events resulting in a dark Apocalyptic future (see what I did there?) could very much be in play.
A New Danger Room?
Immediate reaction from fans to this Instagram post form Bryan Singer has been that the "something new" being referred to by Singer could be a full-fledged version of the X-Men's iconic Danger Room - i.e., a sort of gladiator arena/gymnasium where the mutant heroes are put through strenuous (at times life-threatening) training exercises to better hone their mutant powers and team battle tactics.
The Danger Room has also been the site of some epic X-Men conflicts (like Storm and Cyclops battling it out for leadership), and in the mid-2000s, the room actually 'came to life' (so to speak) as a malevolent A.I. that is fully programmed with the X-Men's combat techniques and individual weaknesses. So far in the X-Men movie universe, there haven't really been strong examples of what the Danger Room is all about. In X-Men: The Last Stand, we got a small tease of the Danger Room and its capabilities: The movie opens with a scene of Storm and Wolverine leading younger X-Men like Shadowcat, Colossus and Iceman through a training simulation:
Given that X-Men: Apocalypse will be set in the 1980s, it's probably safe to say that the advanced mechanics and holographic imagery of the X3 Danger Room won't be what we get. Older fans of X-Men comics probably remember the more gymnasium and/or gadgetry style versions of the Danger Room from the '60s and '70s eras - before the Shiar aliens outfitted the room with cool scif-fi hologram tech and such. Following that logic, we'd expect that a Danger Room in X-Men Apocalypse - used to train young recruits like Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) and Storm (Alexandra Shipp) - would fall in line the classic look (top photo) as opposed to the more modern look (bottom photo):
[gallery columns="1" ids="534731,534732"]
Of course, fan speculation tends to run pretty rampant pretty quickly regarding these matters; what Singer teased in the photo could be some other aspect of X-Men HQ, or just an entirely new (read: retro) design of the place. Fingers crossed that we finally do get that true Danger Room experience, though.
X-Men: Apocalypse will be in theaters on May 27, 2016.