Sometimes I forget that Marvel is fortunate enough to have not one, but two connected Cinematic Universes that bring the company big money. The Avengers is most certainly the big cash-grabber for the past few years, but the X-Men franchise, which includes both Wolverine and Deadpool, has been making big money for Twentieth Century Fox for decades. X-Men Apocalypse is actually quite good, which is a big surprise considering its current 48 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. No doubt there is still a plan with another X-Men film, Deadpool 2, Wolverine 3, Gambit, and The New Mutants.
It is possible that this low score could have been determined the film's beginning, which is not very good. X-Men Apocalypse opens in ancient Egypt, as Apocalypse is being hailed as a god, along with his four horsemen/mutant followers. Apparently, Apocalypse needs new bodies to survive, or something, and he is about to complete a ritual that has this weird yellow magic. At this point, I turned to my wife and said: "We did pay to see an X-men movie, right? This feels like a Stargate movie".
At some point, there is an uprising to collapse the pyramid that Apocalypse is in. There is no explanation why there is this rebellion, but honestly, this backstory shouldn't be branching out into another backstory. The ultra-powerful mutant is essentially sleeping until he is woken up by Moira MacTaggart, a government agent introduced in X-Men: First Class.
By this time, we are in 1983, ten years after the past events from X-men: Days of Future Past. We see that Scott Summers in is high school, and his mutant eye-blasts reveal his Cyclops power. Fortunately, his brother Alex, aka Havok, takes him to Professor Xavier's school for Gifted Youngsters, and Scott is made a student there.
In the meantime, Mystique is in Germany, where there is a forced cage match between Nightcrawler and Angel. It has become apparent that these films since First Class are ignoring the first three films, as Nightcrawler (introduced in X2: X-Men United) is about the right age, but Angel (introduced as a teenager in X3: The Last Stand) shouldn't even be born yet. Mystique finds Nightcrawler and brings him back to Xavier's school.
In the meantime, Magneto is finally revealed, and he has been living in Poland with a wife and a child. His child is even displaying mutant power, and it looks like he is happy. Of course, it is very apparent what will happen as he will be made sad.
Yes, it is discovered that Magneto is the man that threatened the president in 1973, and the Polish police show up to arrest him. They come in force and with no metal and bow and arrows. Unfortunately, one of the soldiers fires his arrow and kills Magneto's wife and child. I have to admit that the accidental arrow was way too precise of a shot to create this tragedy for Magneto, but I have to admit that his reaction to it is very good and a testament to the actor. The scene where Magneto yells to God: "Is this who you want me to be" is just great.
Yes, there is a lot going on in this film, and this is when Apocalypse starts recruiting his horsemen. Personally, I hate the idea that "the Bible got the idea from him", as said in the trailer. In the comics, Apocalypse had horsemen, and the film decided to have some fan service with him getting famous X-men characters.
The first is Storm, who is a thief on the streets of Cairo, and this is pretty true to the comic book origins of the character. I didn't like the scene where he increases her power and gives her the white hair. In the comic, Storm always had white hair as some weird side-effect of her weather powers. I wish this film wouldn't go out of its way to have these "so that's how that happened" moments.
The next recruit is Psylocke, and scant little is told about her. The comic book has her as the brother of Captain Britain, but the X-Men films aren't going there. When I read X-Men back in the eighties (when this film takes place), I found Psylocke was kind of a very quick add-on character because the team needed a telepath. She eventually became a great member of the team, but she couldn't be developed properly in a film that is top-heavy with mutants.
The third recruit is Angel, but he has had his wings damaged due to his fight with Nightcrawler. Apocalypse then gives him metal wings that shoot blades, and this is actually quite true to the source material.
The last recruit is Magneto himself, and Apocalypse takes him to Auschwitz. Here is where there is a weak point in the film is. Apocalypse is a very clichéd villain who just seems to want to judge the Earth, so he is kind of without any real motivation. This is kind of the way he was introduced in the comics, as a mysterious force of nature.
The issue is that director Bryan Singer is very good at delivering X-Men as a human story. He made Magneto into a sympathetic villain by showing his holocaust origins, and it was understandable why he is the man he is. This was made terrible in X3, when he is just a tyrant. The thing about Magneto is that he believes that humans are the next step in evolution, but he would never eradicate humanity unless he perceived them as a genuine threat. With Apocalypse, he just believes that he is God, for some reason, and just wants to wipe people out so the strong mutants can survive.
It would have been interesting if they would have shown how Apocalypse became worshipped. I mean, was he born with that blue form? And if so, why didn't they call him an abomination? I can understand why Egypt praised him as their mythology is based around the pharaoh god-king, but why is it that Apocalypse believes this? I mean, he calls himself Apocalypse for crying out loud!
It would have also been good if it was established what powers that Apocalypse does or does not have. It seems that he is able to teleport by walking through a bubble made of Jello, and it just seems like he has whatever power the scene needs him to have.
Mystique meets Charles and the rest of the good mutants back at the mansion, where Charles Xavier uses Cerebro to locate Magneto. Why his mutant detector doesn't give him a huge red alert on Apocalypse makes no sense. Apparently, Apocalypse can sense this Cerebro and takes control of Xavier, and uses him to take control of militaries around the world.
Apocalypse then lives up to his namesake as he launches all the nuclear missiles of the world in the air, which is what the Sebastian Shaw from X-Men: First Class wanted to do. Yeah, no one brings this up, and Apocalypse does nothing to these missiles but bring them into space. By the way, when real nuclear missiles launch, they go into space, where they drop their warheads. Apparently, those missiles just stay there in this movie.
Why is this scene even in this film? This was one thing that I admired about director Bryan Singer, is that he didn't go for huge scenes like this. The first two X-Men films were done with very little epic conflict with gratuitous special effects, because director Bryan Singer wanted to focus on a character driven film.
However, there is a scene after this where Apocalypse blows up the mansion that is very epic in its scale, but at the same time, it feels at home in Bryan Singer's X-men films. As the mansion blows up, the X-Men Quicksilver runs in as it is blowing up and saves all the people inside of it. There is no way I can describe this scene, other than it takes the "Time in a Bottle" scene from Days of Future Past, and ups it by one thousand, playing "Sweet Dreams are Made of This". It is worth the price of your ticket just to see this adrenaline-rush of a sequence.
With all the missiles being launched, the government comes in and makes it worse. William Stryker then comes in and somehow has some weird guns to stun all but four of the mutants. Now, the young William Stryker was introduced in Days of Future Past, but as I recall, Mystique took his place. I've written before how she did that so the timestream would be kept safe, and Wolverine would eventually get his metal claws. In Apocalypse, Mystique recognized Stryker, but that was about it before she was arrested.
Well, the four mutants that didn't get arrested by Stryker manage to rescue the other mutants at Alkili Lake, where they see Wolverine. Logan kills everyone there, and Stryker manages to escape for another movie.
The film then ends with the group heading to Egypt, where Apocalypse is building a pyramid with Magneto's help, and making the world come apart. What is interesting is he is turning buildings into dust, but there are no dead bodies. Why in the world could Wolverine, a good guy, leave a trail of corpses, and yet Apocalypse, the bad guy, has none?
The rest of the film is essentially like Avengers or Man of Steel with lots of fighting and ruining a city with its collateral damage times one billion. We get to see how Charles Xavier loses his hair, which is unnecessary. Now, it is possible that Apocalypse transferred his mind into Psylocke at the last minute, so he could still be alive. Oh, and Storm changes sides and becomes a good guy.
The film then ends with Charles and Magneto rebuilding the school, which actually brings some continuity with the first X-Men film. Sadly, the two of them share dialogue that is exactly, word-for-word, like the ending dialogue for the first X-Men film.
This is actually the issue with these X-Men films is that the ending of Days of Future Present have essentially rebooted the universe. This means that the events in X-men, X2, and X3 will never happen. That, or they will happen in some other way, which could ruin the original effect.
As far as the next X-Men film will be, there is talk that it takes place in the nineties. This makes sense with First Class in the sixties, Days of Future Present in the seventies, and Apocalypse in the eighties. It means that these films are taking place over the space of a decade, and the next film after the next film will take place in the timeline of the first X-Men film in the 2000s.
There is also talk of The New Mutants, an X-Men spin-off comic that began in the eighties. There are several great characters that they could use from this even younger group of X-Men, and these two groups could even have crossover movies like it is predicted that the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy will have.
Then there is the third Wolverine movie, with the last appearance of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier. It is believed that this film will be taking place in the future, with the concept of "Old Man Logan", a storyline where the villains take over America. Nothing has been finalized as yet, and Hugh Jackman even suggested ideas on Twitter.
Another film in the works is Gambit, starring Channing Tatum as the Cajun mutant that made his comic debut back in the nineties. This fan-favorite character has already had an appearance in the Wolverine movie, but so did Deadpool, and they have rebooted that. Speaking of Deadpool, he is due for a sequel with another fan-favorite X-Man with Cable sometime in 2017.
Well, as far as what is for the next X-Men film, there was a post credit sequence that revealed a corporation known as Essex, which is the only clue for the future. Since these Marvel post-credit sequences are starting become homework assignments, I did my homework and found that Essex could refer to Nathaniel Essex, also known as Mister Sinister, another iconic and very, very evil X-Men villain, according to Cinema Blend.
Yes, Mr. Sinister could be the next big villain for the X-Men, unless they decide to go with the whole Phoenix story. There was certainly a big set-up for that in X-Men Apocalypse, but that is one of several possibilities introduced in a film series that still has some steam left in it.
Maybe, if it ever runs out of steam, 20th Century Fox will give the rights back to Marvel, just like how Marvel got Spider-Man back from Sony. Then an X-Men and Avengers movie could be made. Somehow, I believe that this is the future.