Summer blockbuster season is almost upon us. Captain America: Civil War will roll out in a couple days, and the general critical reception and worldwide box office response has been very encouraging. On the other hand, the second major superhero release of this summer, X-Men: Apocalypse, has encountered some criticism ahead of its theatrical bow.
Even though the overall feedback from the film seems positive, there has been some backlash to the next X-Men film. Fans in particular have voiced their concerns about the design of the eponymous villain, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaacs). Director Bryan Singer and his crew have been generally quiet about that issue, up to this point.
During a press visit to the editing suite (via IGN), Singer finally replied to some of the critiques leveled against his portrayal of the mutant villain Apocalypse. One of the primary issues fans had, following the film's first trailer, was that Apocalypse sounded too much like Oscar Isaac. Not that there’s anything wrong with Isaac’s voice, but fans expected something deeper and more primal from the aged ne'er-do-well. Singer replies:
“[The first X-Men: Apocalypse trailer] was simply Oscar using his normal voice -- which is wonderful; his performance is fantastic -- but that was never the intention. We just needed those words to govern the first teaser. So people thought, 'Oh, wait, is that going to be his voice during the whole movie?' It's like, no, but to tell the story of the first teaser, we needed the voice, and I hadn't recreated the voice yet.
“What I'm doing is something very unique. It hasn't been done before. We're rerecording his entire performance because the suit's creaky and makes all kinds of noise, you can't really use any of it anyway. But I want his performance. So he's being recorded in ADR using a standard Sennheiser microphone, but also with a bass mic to his right cheek and a bass drum mic to his left cheek. These two microphones have the ability to pull vocal range out of his voice that the human ear cannot hear. And I can take that vocal range that I've now recorded, and I can pull it and use it to augment his voice -- and that with a little digital magic can create a voice that's both completely governed by his performance but is not natural.
“It ebbs and flows and moves through the movie, and changes, so he doesn't just have one single voice. He speaks with different voices depending on different moments in the film. So it's really kind of cool. It's the first time I've ever had the tools to sculpt a performance in post-production, that was already given to me on set and chosen in the cutting room."
Singer’s explanation makes sense, since it would be reasonable to assume Singer and Co. were forced to slap together a trailer before they had a chance to overdub his voice. Check and mate to Singer on that one, but what about the japes about Apocalypse’s Power Rangers-villain shade in the film. Singer says:
“There was an image released on Entertainment Weekly, where the effect hadn't been put in yet, so everyone was -- the effect has a pink light on it, and everyone got lit up pink, so people thought Apocalypse was going to be pink. I was like, 'No, no, they're all pink. Take a look. Everyone in the picture is pink. It's a pink picture.' They maybe just should have taken the pink out of the picture -- I should have taken the pink out of the picture. I'm going to take some blame for that. My fault, not Entertainment Weekly's. That's the picture I gave them.”
Once again, Singer makes a good point. The entire cast does have the same pink-purplie hue in the EW photos. In most other photos (see below or above), Apocalypse looks more appropriately blue-gray. Another critique fans have leveled at the ancient mutant villain, at least in X-Men: Apocalypse, is that he seems far too short. In the comics, Apocalypse towered over his horsemen and was capable of altering his already impressive size to become a titanic mutant terror. Yet in the film, he almost seems underwhelming at times. Singer responds in kind:
“So then people were like, 'He's small.' I'm like, 'Okay, I got the same s*** when I cast a six-foot-three actor to play five-foot-four Wolverine. I got the same s*** when Quicksilver's very sweet, 1970s costume was released on an Empire Magazine cover.' You know, every time. I could have made him a giant through the whole movie, or some muscle-bound guy who can't act -- I could always do that. But the reality is, among his many powers -- and you will see him change size -- but among his many powers is his power of persuasion, and it was very important that he'd be able to connect with his horsemen, at their level, and that he'd be played by a guy who can actually act like Oscar, who's a fantastic actor.”
Singer offers some well-thought-out retorts to the criticisms leveled against his upcoming X-Men: First Class trilogy closer. While it seems as though some fan concerns were circumstantial, such as the Ivan Ooze-couture and the lack of overdubbing, other aspects of the character (like his size and powers) have been altered to fit the more diminutive Isaac. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time a director chose an actor for his abilities over his physical size. Singer’s example of fellow X-Man, Wolverine, played the by 6’ 2” Hugh Jackman, is only one fitting example.
Certainly being “able to connect with his horsemen” is vital to the character, but will he look threatening enough to command respect and fear? More importantly, Apocalypse needs make his presence felt as a world-rending demigod, as he did in the comics. Isaac has a diverse range and charismatic style well-suited for roles like Poe Dameron in Star Wars, so he should be more than capable of conveying the required menace. It’s then up to Singer and the film's post-production team to create a believable and apt array of fearsome superpowers to bring the world to its knees.
X-Men: Apocalypse will see theatrical release in the U.S. on May 27th, 2016, followed by Wolverine 3 on March 3rd, 2017, and unannounced X-Men films on October 6th, 2017 (possibly Gambit), January 12th, 2018 (possibly Deadpool 2), and July 13th, 2018. The New Mutants is also in development.