When the creative team and some of the actors working on X-Men: Apocalypse described it as the biggest X-Men movie to date, it was easy to understand why the studio might need that to be true. The series is riding the high of last summer's record-breaking X-Men: Days of Future Past which featured a massive, star-studded ensemble cast, one that worked together to craft a project that critics praised.
How does the studio top that success and keep the momentum going, especially with rival studios launching ambitious ensemble blockbusters in 2016 as well? It starts with the title of the movie referencing the most dangerous villain from X-Men comics and the promise that X-Men: Apocalypse will serve as a conclusion of sorts to the second X-Men trilogy.
While promoting The Martian at TIFF, producer and writer Simon Kinberg spoke to Collider on his thoughts on how X-Men: Apocalypse is turning out now that it's done filming and is deep into post-production.
"It delivers on the dramatic story and emotion of the last two movies. It feels like the culmination of the four main characters really — McAvoy, Fassbender, Nic Hoult, and Jen. And it’s a bigger movie in both physical scale and I would say emotional stakes too because it is the culmination of this mini trilogy of stories."
Of course, while X-Men: Apocalypse may be the end of certain character arcs and plot threads established in 2011's X-Men: First Class and 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past, it serves as the beginning of something equally, if not, more important - a new X-Men series.
Director Bryan Singer himself described X-Men: Apocalypse as the "true birth" of the X-Men and with the '80s set film (re)introducing new and younger versions of many key and/or original characters, the franchise will find itself next summer with a fresh start of sorts - one where Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm, Nightcrawler, Psylocke and other mainstay mutant heroes are all part of the team and who can be for years to come (with many other sequels).
As for the four leads Kinberg references: Nicolas Hoult is a fanboy of the X-Men universe as is James McAvoy, so they'd be the most likely and logical to return given their roles in the origins of the X-Men. Mystique and Magneto are easy to write around if necessary in future movies as other villains are introduced.
While all four are busy, high in-demand talent, rumors have it that McAvoy and Fassbander may have already signed with the studio for more movies, likely to help fulfill the long-term story plans of producer Simon Kinberg, who's helping to oversee Fox's Marvel universe and who has ideas of connecting the main X-Men movies with The New Mutants, Gambit, Deadpool, Wolverine 3, and whatever else is in the works.
We'll know more in a matter of months of what's in store post-Apocalypse but it's exciting to see the surviving First Class, Days of Future Past, and Apocalypse character additions inch closer to the modern era.
Deadpool opens in theaters February 12, 2016; X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27, 2016; Gambit on October 7, 2016; Wolverine 3 on March 3, 2017; Fantastic Four 2 on June 9, 2017; and some as-yet unspecified X-Men film on July 13, 2018. The New Mutants is also in development.