Last year's X-Men: Days of Future Past proved itself successful as the franchise's highest-grossing entry worldwide and a critical hit. However, perhaps most importantly for the films' long-term future, the time-bending mutant adventure managed to reset the timeline of the big-screen X-Men universe, blasting wide open the door that was left only slightly ajar by X-Men: The Last Stand in 2006.
Given the epic scope of its title (and the immense power of the character who bears its name), X-Men: Apocalypse promises to be even more epic in scale than its predecessor. The film's cast continues to grow, incorporating both fan-favorite characters from past films and exciting new additions, in a story that could shape the direction of future X-Men films.
IGN caught up with Days of Future Past writer/producer Simon Kinberg and asked him exactly how X-Men: Apocalypse will connect to the other two X-Men films hitting theaters in 2016, namely Deadpool and Gambit. Here's what Kinberg had to say:
"Things that happen in one film are acknowledged by the other movies. The result of the aftermath of 'Apocalypse' is something that will impact the course of history in the world in much the same way that the end of 'Days of Future Past' did. 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."
Fans only got a brief glimpse at how the world of Professor Charles Xavier and company had drastically changed from the bleak future that saw mutants on the run from the deadly Sentinels. So it's fitting that whatever takes place during the course of Apocalypse will have lasting effects that bleed into films with a more modern setting.
It's still unclear, however, when the solo adventures of Deadpool and Gambit fall on the timeline, but the approach Kinberg describes sounds like it may closely resemble how the Marvel Cinematic Universe operates. After all, the world-altering events that took place during the Battle of New York in The Avengers have been tangentially referenced in nearly all the subsequent films as well as series like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Daredevil.
While the events of X-Men: Apocalypse may not directly connect to the plots of Deadpool and Gambit, the fact that the latter films will demonstrate a clear connection to the larger universe is exactly the kind of world-building that Fox needs to embrace to stay competitive with Warner Bros./DC and Marvel Studios. At this point, it wouldn't be much of a surprise if the studio starts to lay the groundwork for the inevitable Fantastic Four crossover as early as possible.
How do you hope X-Men: Apocalypse will affect the films going forward? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Fantastic Four opens on August 7, 2015, Deadpool on February 12, 2016, X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27, 2016, Gambit on October 7, 2016, Wolverine 3 (not the official title) on March 3, 2017, Fantastic Four 2 on June 9, 2017, and an undisclosed X-Men film on July 13, 2018.