Please beware that this contains spoilers for the X-Men franchise. If you haven’t seen Apocalypse, then feel free to read my spoiler free review here. Otherwise, read on.
There is some debate as to whether or not the third X-Men film in the First Class trilogy is good or not. Like I said in my other review, it you are a fan of the series, then you will love Apocalypse. The film has many Easter Eggs for fans of the series and comics. It also helps to shift the continuity of the franchise to something a bit more interesting to watch play out instead of trying to sync up to the original trilogy. A few story lines to come in the next set of films was revealed along with some allusions to future Mutants and villains we might see in the future.
One of the worst things The Last Stand did was muck up the whole Dark Phoenix Saga from the comics. Many fans were excited to see Jean Grey become this dark and destructive figure, but she really wasn’t used much in the film other than being a puppet for Magneto’s agenda in eradicating Leech and enslaving humans. By the time Wolverine killed her, I was happy to see this disappointment of a character go.
In Apocalypse, Jean Grey makes her debut to the First Class trilogy as a teenager just learning how to wield her powers. They grew strong quickly and they scare her. Charles and Jean have an older brother/younger sister relationship that feels more sincere than the mentor/mentee relationship from the original trilogy. This is a Charles that has already lost someone he really cares about because of his control issues and has grown up quite a bit (even though he hasn’t aged). This time around he is willing to help these children learn to wield their powers instead of just keeping them under control. At first he and Hank were teaching the young Mutants to use their abilities to form a new version of the X-Men, but Charles has now refused to let his children be used as weapons. He wants his students to feel an ease with their abilities so Humans can feel safe around them. His goal is to build a university where both Mutants and Humans can study and live together in peace.
With Jean, he doesn’t place a block on her mind as before and refuses to control her or her thoughts. When she destroys Apocalypse, she becomes the Phoenix. Not the dark one, but one surrounded by white light signaling that she has not fully become a threat (yet).
Once Apocalypse showed up at Xavier’s School for Gifted Students and took Charles with him, it was pretty obvious at that point that it was going to be Jean tapping into the Phoenix power and destroy Apocalypse. It made the big reveal a little less awesome for me, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit. I’m hoping they don’t jump right into the Dark Phoenix Saga and allow for Jean to become a person before the Dark Phoenix takes over. Maybe even take the next two films to develop Jean and plant the seeds of the Dark Phoenix and then make her the villain in the third film. I know that follows the first trilogy, but I feel like this time they might learn from their mistakes and do the Dark Phoenix Saga right. Or am I being too optimistic?
Magneto and Quicksilver
When we meet Erik in the beginning of the movie, he is living the quiet life in Poland with his wife and daughter under a different name since he is wanted for his role in the Sentinel attack ten years before. He is content to not be Magneto and doesn’t care about the politics of Mutants and Humans. He is even seen getting along with humans. It is after an earthquake (which was Apocalypse waking up), he revealed to be Magneto after he uses his powers to save someone from being killed. The people who see him using his powers report him to the authorities and in the confusion of Erik being taken away, his wife and daughter are killed.
Apocalypse senses his rage and comes to him to convince Magneto to become the linchpin in his plan to cleanse the Earth of unworthy humans. Meanwhile, Peter Maximoff sees Magneto in the news again after the killings in Poland make headlines. He rushes off to Xavier’s School for answers about his father. Eventually he learns from Mystique that Magneto wasn’t always the monster the news has made him out to be, but the hatred he has experienced from humanity has made him cold. She also reveals the loss of his family to Peter.
By the end, Erik has mended the fences with Charles and Mystique after switching sides mid-battle to save the X-Men from Apocalypse (the metal X coming down to physically stop Apocalypse from bearing down upon them all was a bit much). Erik doesn’t stay at the school with them. He has been vindicated as a hero after his role in destroying Apocalypse and chose to forge his own path. I don’t know if Erik is going to stay a good guy for too long. The hatred he has for humanity is too great and there will be a group or a bill that passes thru government that will piss him off and put him at odds with his old friend. I do love that Charles repeats the same line to Erik from the end of the first X-Men when Erik asks about the possibility of someone using his students for something sinister. “I feel a great swell of pity for the poor soul who comes to my school looking for trouble.”
Peter never reveals to Erik that he is his son by the end of the film. He feels like it wasn’t the right time to drop that kind of emotional bomb on another person so soon after losing his other family. For the moment he has chosen to stay with Charles at the school and become and X-Men instead of following his father on whatever he plans to do next. This felt like a little bit of a letdown for me because it would have been interesting to see what Erik would have done with this young man. I do get why the producers chose not to, it would have been too much for the moment. Knowing Erik is going to most likely be at odds again with Charles, it will be interesting to see what side he chooses. His mentor or his father.
Mr. Sinister and Weapon X
The end credits left a nice teaser for those who are fans of the comics when they showed the briefcase a man was carrying brandishing the Essex Corp logo. Nathaniel Essex is a geneticist who wants to create a Mutant clone army. Of course when the Weapon X program is temporarily such down due to a Wolverine rampage killing pretty much everyone, Nathaniel sends in some of his people to get the blood sample of Wolverine for his experiments.
It has been suggested by writer/producer Simon Kinberg that the tease is going to be a part of both Wolverine 3 and the stand alone Gambit film (that seems to keep hitting snag after snag). Mr. Sinister has been a big part of Gambit’s storyline in the comics, so there is a big chance that if that movie ever gets off the ground, he may be a villain for the card-throwing Cajun. The teaser could also suggest the possibility of Weapon-23 who is a female clone of Wolverine that becomes a part of the X-Men after the death of Logan.
Was anyone else really uncomfortable during the scene between Wolverine and Jean? I know those two develop a romance in the future, but that was so weird because Sophie Turner is so young (and so is Jean Grey) and Hugh Jackman (and Wolverine) are so much older than her. It just gave me the creeps.
In the comics, Nightcrawler/Kurt Wagner is the son of Mystique and Azzael. At the end of First Class, Mystique goes with Magneto’s team that had Azzael (played by Jason Flemyng) on it. When we catch up with what happened to Magneto’s team in Day of Future Past, Azzael (and several others) had been killed in Bolivar Trask’s experiments. Obviously she is upset at the loss of her friends, but is she also upset at the loss of her baby daddy? She never explains why she goes to the club in Germany to rescue Kurt and not Angel. Kurt is probably a teenager, maybe around 16 or 17. There is a chance that Mystique could be his mother and that is why she went to save him. After the death of Azzael and her other friends, Mystique could have placed Kurt in the hands of those he thought would protect him for her while she went on her one-woman assassination mission. If Lawrence returns to the franchise, there is a chance they could do this arch.
How in the hell did Stryker (Josh Helman) get Logan when it is pretty obvious Mystique disguised as Stryker is the one who rescued Wolverine from the Potomac at the end of Days of Future Past?
Did anyone else think of Superman 4: The Quest for Peace when Apocalypse launched all of the nukes into space?
80’s movie staple, Ally Sheedy, is Scott Summers teacher in the beginning of the film. She is best known for her roles in The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire, and Short Circuit.
Caliban makes an appearance as a Mutant who helps other Mutants (for a price). In the comics, he was a Morlock that Apocalypse turns into one of his horsemen.
When Angel is visited by Apocalypse and turned into Archangel, Metallica’s “The Four Horseman” was playing on his boom box.
Not only do we get a Stan Lee cameo, but the woman he was with is his real life wife, Joan.
In the comics, Moria MacTaggert’s son eventually becomes a Mutant named Proteus who can shape reality. He eventually becomes a major villain to the X-Men.
I know there are several Easter Eggs I am leaving out. Feel free to list the ones I missed in the comments section below along with any questions or theories you have for the series.