In a pre-summer season that feels overloaded with superhero vehicles Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Captain America: Civil War (2016), Deadpool most of which seem to involve pitting superheroes against each other (as X-Men: Apocalypse also does) one is starting to feel superhero fatigue. It is, one suspects, this that led to X-Men: Apocalypses lukewarm box-office, coming as it did on the tail of these other juggernauts. The X-Men franchise has also devolved into a lesser cousin to the Marvel Cinematic Universe one involving a sprawling character ensemble, including a double casting, as well as an internal continuity that is constantly being thrown up in the air or disregarded. As opposed to the Marvel Cinematic Universe where the characters are tightly controlled and their arcs planned out years in advance, the X-Men characters here seem to change with the whims of the particular creative hand.
X-Men: Apocalypse has Bryan Singer at the helm, the figure most associated with the X-Men series who delivered the first two films and then returned for Days of Future Past. This sits X-Men: Apocalypse in good stead above many of the other entries. There are just little touches the way Magneto casually uses a pendant to decimate an entire troupe of Polish militia; the way Apocalypse wields sands to eliminate attackers and buries another inside a wall that shows you you are in the hands of someone who can not only put effects spectacle on the screen but knows how to wield it with effect. Much of Apocalypse has been constructed around the epic mass destruction sequences. There is a good deal of fun to watching the mutants battling one another and Apocalypse at the climax. As in Days of Future Past however, Singers best set-piece involves Evan Peters Quicksilver a dazzling sequence here where he manages to save every single person from the school as it is in the process of exploding.
On the other hand, the problems of the X-Men franchise are becoming increasingly evident there is such a wide cast of characters that each of them get minimal development between each episode and often tend to do little more than make a cameo I mean have we ever learned anything about Beast other than that he is a technical genius? Despite fleshing out Cyclops and Jean Grey, the only thing we know between their appearing in four films together is that they went out together. The main problem with X-Men: Apocalypse is that, aside from a handful of pieces tying the continuity thread together, most of it involves conflicting superheroes and the film doesnt do anything too different to standard. Everything is tied together by a nemesis that you feel should be far more threatening than he is. Apocalypse was first introduced in X-Factor #6 in 1986 and is considered the worlds first mutant according to Marvel continuity. The film is based on the Age of Apocalypse (1995-6) crossover event, which wound through multiple X-Men titles and concerned an alternate timeline in which Apocalypse had destroyed much of the world. The alternate world angle is dumped here and we just get Oscar Isaac looks more like a wizard from a 1980s B fantasy film and another end of the world scenario that seems surprisingly by the book, no matter the degree of visual effects flourish that is brought to bear on it.
We get the ongoing X-Men story (sort of) its been through so many doglegs that it is no longer something particularly consistent. Singer has clearly construed Apocalypse as the third chapter in the trilogy of Young X-Men that began in X: First Class here we get the introduction of a young Jean Grey, a young Cyclops, a young Orora, where James McAvoy finally gets to lose his hair and so on. Id like to say I felt inspired about the way the series is threading the character backstories together but I find it hard to invest much in the X-Men as characters. Also the storyline doglegs whenever the film considers it convenient. For example, in the original X-Men films, Mystique was a Magneto loyalist. However, since being recast with Jennifer Lawrence and she becoming one of the biggest young stars in the world subsequent to First Class, Mystique has been rewritten as one of the good guys here. While Rebecca Romijn-Stamos spent 90% of the original X-Men films in blue skin, here Jennifer Lawrence spends 90% of the film in her own skin, only occasionally turning blue because who wants to hire such a name star and bury her under makeup. The film also blows up the Xavier School for Gifted Children and the end where it is exactingly restored feels exactly like a case of Epic Pooh, of the series hitting the magical reset button that allows them to shock audiences by destroying the familiar and then restore the status quo at the end.
Bryan Singer caught attention with his first film The Usual Suspects (1995) and then went onto the Stephen King adapted Apt Pupil (1998) about the relationship between a teenager and a Nazi war criminal. Singer has also directed Superman Returns (2006), the non-genre Valkyrie (2008) and the fantasy film Jack the Giant Slayer (2013). Bryan Singer has also executive produced the tv mini-series The Triangle (2005) about the Bermuda Triangle, and produced the horror anthology Trick R Treat (2008), X: First Class, the horror films My Eleventh (2014) and The Taking (2014), and the tv series Legion (2017 ).