2016: Come the Apocalypse

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December 12, 2013 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

It’s July 14, 2000 and there’s a nine year old boy out there who has just walked out of a movie theater with a very strange and unfamiliar feeling.  He’s just seen a movie that he’s been waiting his entire life to see and yet the only thought going through his head is “It’s not what I wanted it to be”.  No matter how he tries to justify it to himself, he can’t shake this dissatisfied feeling.  Years later, he realized that that was the first time he can remember feeling disappointed.

At that point in time, there was nothing I was looking forward to more than to seeing X-Men.  They were my favorite superheroes and here was the chance to see them in a live action feature film.  But walking out of the theater, the only thing I could think about was how much of a letdown it was.  The movie was one big boner for Wolverine, Cyclops was a pussy whipped day player, and there were only four X-Men.  Even as a kid I was an unrelenting purist who couldn’t understand why Rogue had no idea who Mystique was or why the climax involved Cyclops trying not to look at anyone.[1]

X2 not only remedied these feeling of disappoint, but left me waiting impatiently for the sequel that would inevitably feature “The Dark Phoenix Saga” which would thrust Cyclops into a larger role.  But then X-Men: The Last Stand happened and all that went ka-blewy.  And then there were the two Wolverine movies that briefly allude to the comics and then proceed to go in the opposite direction as if to intentionally piss fans off.

Now, for all my complaints with the X-Men film franchise I am cautiously excited for Days of Future Past.  Part of this is because I’m going in already expecting to be disappointed, and the other part of my excitement is because I know Brett Ratner has absolutely nothing to do with this.  As an X-Men movie though, I accept the fact that it’s going to be Wolverine and friends and that Bryan Singer will take more liberties with the licensed franchise and storyline than he objectively should.  Knowing these things, should help to keep things in perspective and keep my impending annoyance from kicking before the movie is even at its halfway point.

But more so than the upcoming movie is the revelation that Bryan Singer dropped on us this past weekend that has my interest piqued.  With but a tweet, Singer has managed to get every fanboy out there to crap his pants in anticipation for the next X-Men movie.  Apocalypse, the most imposing and evil of all the X-Men’s rogues, is going to be the villain in the next movie.  We have no idea what the plot is, or what form Apocalypse will take, but for now, the simple news that he will be the villain is enough to send everyone into a frenzy.[2]  So many questions of eager anticipation arise from the news.  Will Sinister be in the movie?  Will Cable?  Is it going to be another time travel flick?  Age of Apocalypse?  Will we get to see Archangel?[3]  All this optimism and excitement from one tweet about something that’s 30 months away.

Not only is Apocalypse one of the coolest villains in the comics, but he’s also one of the scariest and most imposing and powerful.  He is by every definition a villain.  Whereas Magneto sees himself as trying to prevent another holocaust from taking place, Apocalypse is pro-genocide and as actively tried multiple times to create another holocaust.[4]

The thing that’s hampered the Superman franchise is that every villain in every movie is either Lex Luthor or General Zodd.  When the same villains are recycled, we know what to expect; there’s not excitement anymore.  A hero is only as good as those that oppose them, and it’s for this reason that every Batman movie does phenomenal at the box office.  People pay to see villains, and the Batman franchise took full advantage of Batman’s eclectic and deep rogue’s gallery.  It’ll be interesting to see an X-Men movie with a villain besides Magneto or Weapon X.  One of the biggest problems with The Last Stand is that it destroyed any sense of character growth for Magneto as he reverted to villainous madman as he was in the original movie.  He took a step back in terms of character development.  Apocalypse is a different villain all together as he is someone who wants to destroy the weak regardless of who it is, and rule over the survivors as he sees fit.  If Magneto is akin to a Julius Caesar, a stern but sensible dictator, then Apocalypse is akin to Adolf Hitler, someone who just wants to perpetuate genocide and destruction to reshape the world in his own twisted image.

Apocalypse presents a different kind of threat than did Magneto or Weapon X, as Apocalypse poses a very real threat to the entire world.  Magneto represents the threat of mutants against humans, while Weapon X represents the threat of humans against mutants.  Apocalypse menaces everyone.  By introducing different villains it keeps the franchise from growing stale and redundant.

If Singer and co. and keep Apocalypse true enough to his roots and machinations, every fan of the comics should be in for a real treat.  With Apocalypse there’s so much material to work with that it’s almost impossible to screw him up.  They could hearken back to his original appearance and introduce his four horsemen along with his corruption of Warren Worthington, or they could show him as a grand manipulator who systematically planned to ruin the life of Nathan Summers.[5]  To succeed though, the filmmakers have to convey the sense of the villains imposing physicality.  Not only are his goals scary, but he looks scary.  Apocalypse and Sinister are the two villains in X-Men lore who were designed to either look immensely powerful or to give children nightmares.[6]  For Apocalypse to be real, the threat that he poses has to be as colossal in scale as the aesthetic design is.

With even seeing Days of Future, I’ve decided that I’m all in for the sequel, and it’s based entirely on one word: Apocalypse.  Anyone who’s a fan of the franchise however, understands the immensity of this one word and the excitement that it brings.  At its simplest, it’s something different, and for a series founded in and as celebratory of differences as X-Men is, it’s about time that the film franchise mixes it up a bit.  And there’s no greater game changer than the revelation of Apocalypse.

[1] Some of these gripes come from the fact that the idea of budget limitations was a foreign concept to me as a nine year old.

[2] Here’s hoping they keep true to the comics and keep the omnipotent Darwinist with his kick ass “A” belt buckle, and not have a repeat of the Galactus Cloud from Fantastic Four.  That would really suck.

[3] That would be fucking amazing!

[4] The fact that he has a son named Holocaust should more than prove my point.

[5] And by proxy, everyone else with the last name “Summers”.

[6] Both villains succeeded at both tasks.


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