X-Men Apocalypse & Wasted Villains
This is a funny year for blockbusters. Thanks to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the ‘summer’ movie season began in March! It began in February if you count the enormously successful Deadpool. That’s the ripple effect of studios creating more and more superhero movies. There simply isn’t enough room in the summer months anymore.
As a huge comic book movie fan, I couldn’t be happier with the amount of films in development. We will have a giant film to look forward every month before the superhero movie bubble bursts. (If it ever does.) That bubble grew thanks to quality films made by Marvel and the resurgence of X-Men thanks to First Class and Days of Future Past. My fear of studios causing superhero fatigue is slowly coming true. More films are in development than ever before with studios claiming release dates up to five years in advance. It was only a matter of time before a movie failed. That movie was Batman v Superman. Critics and audiences largely disliked the movie. Personally, I was pretty disappointed that Warner Bros and Zack Snyder placed more emphasis on their own shared universe than telling a good BvS story.
However, a giant film featuring Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luther and Doomsday was a guaranteed money maker. So while it may have a 27% on Rotten Tomatoes, the film has grossed nearly a billion dollars worldwide. That’s more than enough for DC’s extended universe to continue.
Batman v Superman always looked cool but there were questions surrounding the story for years as the anticipation grew. The one film I had no questions about was X-Men: Apocalypse.
Every element was in place for this film to be amazing. The father of the X-Men Universe, Bryan Singer, was at the helm of a film featuring an absolutely gigantic cast of mutants. In addition, the X-Men franchise is already established so they didn’t have to force in bloated scenes to set up future movies. Most of all, the film boasted one of the biggest comic book supervillains of all time! Apocalypse. These elements combined should have been a slam dunk… Except Bryan Singer’s two handed smash was denied at the rim thanks to a slow pace and a wasted villain.
It all began when Entertainment Weekly released this photo of Apocalypse:
The entire internet hated that picture. Apocalypse was compared to Power Ranger villains. If you look close enough, you can see hints of Apocalypse’s design from the comics. It was a disappointing debut. As we got close to the film’s release, more promotional material revealed a more refined and ‘finished’ look. It was better but I was still skeptical. I wanted to see a live action version of this:
Not Oscar Isaac in Mystique makeup. I completely agree with the casting choice and there are certainly compelling reasons for Bryan Singer’s design choices but come on! This is a villain fans have looked forward to for decades! The resulting ‘supervillain’ should tower over characters. Instead, Apocalypse looks less imposing than the throw away mutants in The Last Stand.
Still, I held on to hope that Isaac’s performance and the character’s actions in the film would legitimize the design flaws. Wrong again. Apocalypse wakes up, quietly recruits his four horsemen, hands over destructive power to Magneto then lays down to absorb Xavier’s power.
Even then, I felt that the final 15-20 minutes would feature a fantastic showdown between the X-Men and Apocalypse. It started off well with Quicksilver taking a few shots at En Sabah Nur but that ended quickly. (Pun intended) From there Mystique takes a shot with a sword and misses. At this point, I desperately wanted all hands on deck to fight Apocalypse but it never really happens. I’ll avoid spoilers here but let’s just say the final battle isn’t worthy of the name Apocalypse.
His name is Apocalypse! The only character that actually dies is off screen when it happens. The big bad villain destroys a few things and kills a few minor characters here and there but he never really comes across as intimidating. Marvel has been setting up Thanos for years now. When he finally arrives to take on The Avengers the battle will be epic. It has to be. Fox’s X-Men series had that same opportunity with Apocalypse. They could have created a massive villain with limitless power. They could have led their heroes down a path of destruction as they struggled to survive. His name is Apocalypse yet all he seems to do is whisper about saving his children. Scary stuff…
With a villain that doesn’t quite live up to the hype, the rest of X-Men: Apocalypse struggles to make up for it. There are a bunch of cool moments highlighted by another stellar Quicksilver sequence but these moments are few and far between in the opening hour.
We do get some good character moments for Magneto and a few new mutants but not enough to truly invest like I have in the past. Mystique is given a decent arc but that’s pretty much where it ends. The rest of the X-Men get a few action moments but most of the time I found myself wondering when they will get to unleash their powers. It was really disappointing that the X-Men didn’t team up more. When the finale begins we get several Mortal Kombat style 1 on 1 matchups and that’s it.
The movie itself is not unwatchable. I actually disagree with the current 48% rating on RT. In my opinion, it should be sitting between 60-70% AKA somewhere between decent and good. It’s still a X-Men movie. The issue here is they had the opportunity to make the BEST X-Men movie and that’s why I’m disappointed overall.
Apocalypse could have been so much more…