The Avengers set a benchmark for how comic book movies should be made on the big screen. You can see the influence, good or bad, in upcoming features like The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Batman/Superman and X-Men: Days of Future Past.
It would seem, if a tweet from Bryan Singer is to be believed, that the X-Men franchise is taking it a step further to send the X-Men against one of their greatest foes in 2016: Apocalypse.
Now everything after this tidbit is highly speculative, but /Film is reporting the 2016 film to will lean towards the Age of Apocalypse storyline that dominated in the mid-90s.
That sounds like the film will follow the Age of Apocalypse storyline from the 1990s in which more time travel (Days of Future Past has time travel) creates an alternate timeline and an immortal villain named Apocalypse reigns havoc on the X-Men. Think the Thanos of the X-Men storyline. (via)
Of course I don’t want to think Thanos and I don’t think you really should either. I also don’t want to think about stuffing the Age of Apocalypse storyline into one movie and doubling up on time travel stories two movies in a row.
But what do I know, I’m not a world shaker in Hollywood. I’m nothing more than a lowly janitor turned blogger turned janitor again because of botched paperwork.
And we still have so much speculation left to spew for X-Men: Days of Future Past and viral marketing to comb through. But that doesn’t mean we can’t fill some back story for this Apocalypse character.
Who is Apocalypse?
Apocalypse is a creation from the late 80s/ early 90s that was created to give X-Factor, the original X-Men re-branded, an enemy on the level of Magneto. Louise Simonson managed to create a character that would not only rival Magneto, but would become one of the greatest to ever grace the page.
The character is heralded as the first mutant, being born 5000 years ago around Ancient Egypt. These early days are where he learned his powers and found a niche for the theory of “survival of the fittest” that would drive him throughout his numerous storylines.
Does he have any powers?
Well he seems to have some form of limitless power tied to his mutant abilities and technology from Marvel’s version of Ancient Aliens, the Celestials. He’s sort of like a jack of all trades driven by a desire to eliminate the weakness of the world and replace it with his vision using any power that comes into the writer’s mind.
He also has a set of minions called Horseman named after the famed Four Horseman of the Apocalypse and usually feature at least one well known Marvel character within the fold, most notably Angel, Hulk and Wolverine occupying the role of death in recent years.
Couple all of that with almost limitless knowledge from years of living on Earth and you have a character that has some clear power to sway the entire Marvel Universe.
What are some of these storylines?
Well like I said, Apocalypse first landed in the pages of X-Factor as their mega-villain. After that he became a mainstay of the major X-Men events like X-Cutioners Song and the Marvel-wide Onslaught saga. The most memorable Apocalypse stories involve the alternate timeline Age of Apocalypse and the convoluted The Twelve.
That’s not even including the small bits and cameos all across the Marvel Universe. I remember a classic run on “The Incredible Hulk” where Apocalypse beats up on Hulk and turns him into one of his horsemen. He’s most certainly a major entity throughout the comics.
What is Age of Apocalypse?
Have you ever read any Harry Turtledove? Or maybe Man In The High Castle by Phillip K. Dick? It is sort of like that across the entire Marvel Universe.
The basic idea is that Charles Xavier’s son, Legion, travels to the past to kill Magneto with intentions of creating a brighter future. Instead he kills Xavier and creates an opening for Apocalypse to start his war on humanity ten years earlier than he did in the normal timeline.
The result is a dark future where Apocalypse holds total control over the United States while waging genocidal campaign against humanity with only a Magneto led X-Men to stop him.
It is one of the most popular and successful comic series from the 90s and cemented the X-Men as the creative force it was at the time. I can remember how X-Men comics were the top well up into 1998 and that’s because of storylines like Age of Apocalypse.
How will this fit into the movie?
Well I would assume out time travel adventure in Days of Future Past would allow the Age of Apocalypse to take place or at least provide the chance to introduce elements from the comics into the film series.
It is truly hard to say right now because we haven’t seen Days of Future Past and we’re going off of a tweet here. This would be the most logical conclusion of course given what we know.
Wolverine is going back in time to prevent the Sentinel takeover and change the path of the young Professor Xavier and Magneto introduced in X-Men: First Class. Whether he is successful or how that plays out is up in the air, but a ruling mutant society could flourish without Sentinels to impede mutant life.
Could they kill Professor Xavier and attempt a double time travel narrative two movies in a row? Possibly, but wouldn’t that be overkill?
So we won’t know more until Days of Future Past arrives?
That’s a certainty. The X-Men movies don’t have the luxury of multiple characters built for solo adventures past Wolverine and the possible X-Force movie to tie in with this project.
Days will most likely be the best time to view any glimpse at what is to come for the franchise. So it could be a big jumbled mess or it could be the beginnings of a series of films revolving around the ancient mutant threat.
So is this really news then?
It’s always big to have the director behind the series reveal where he is planning to take the story. It is even better when the revelations involve characters like Apocalypse.
I don’t like to compare him to Thanos from The Avengers because they are cut from a different cloth. Thanos is driven by emotions and passion, a beast of feeling. Apocalypse doesn’t seem to have any such motivations, drawing from the idea of “survival of the fittest” and existing as a being that lives purely to reach that goal.
What I’m saying is that I don’t think they’d be getting coffee together anytime soon. The only real comparison you can make is that they are big bads for both series and provide the kind of character that’d you call an alpha-villain. They are a big deal in the comics and should be a big deal within the movies as well.
It also marks a risk for the series seeing as we are only two movies into a resurgence of quality, with the bad taste of The Last Stand and X-Men origins still lingering. It is a bold move to announce it now, but it could backfire.
Until then I suggest taking the time to read up on X-Men history and enjoy the speculation to come. It’s a very interesting time to be a comic book fan seeing as we are over the origin hump with a lot of these series and can start sinking into the meaty stories within.