I wasn’t expecting much from X-Men Apocalypse when I went to a screening the other night. Our own Kyle ha-ha-hated it, and so did most other reviewers. And, literal truth, I’ve been on a sleep starved schedule this week and in the comfy theater seat and womblike 3d darkness, for about the first hour of the movie I literally kept nodding off. Especially every time Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse came on screen. Inconceivable! It may be an atrocity commited by director Bryan Singer – right up there with making Superman a deadbeat dad – that he managed to make Oscar Isaac boring!!! (And no Oscar, in real life i will never ever ever fall asleep.) This role could have been played by any halfway competent Hey It’s That Guy….or a Hey It’s That Girl.
The first hour’s shuffling of all the parts to get to the final half hour fight with pretentious on the nose dialog, titles to make sure we know where we are, and the reintroduction of characters that we all know from either the comics, DVDs or FX with new “Welcome to the school!” banter was also of minimal interest. Until Quicksilver came on screen that is! I perked right up! People are calling for a Quicksilver movie but really, this character is a soupçon, a garnish. Too much would not make a meal.
That said, the big fight was one of the prettiest superhero battles in recent years. The intro of Psylocke in action made up for the fact that she’d been standing around looking like a page from a 90s issue of Maxim for the previous part of the movie. The cast was extremely attractive, even when they did nothing. Magneto had nothing to do but hang in the air and look sad for about an hour, but I liked the new Jean Grey and Nightcrawler and Storm and the rest. As shoddy an actual film as this was, Singer does get the X-men character and that’s why he keeps coming back.
That said, perhaps the other thing that put me to sleep was trying to figure out how all 8 (9 if you count Deadpool) X-iverse movies fit together. Short answer: they don’t. The movies now have a continuity as convoluted as the comics and that’s saying a lot.
But twas ever thus. While searching for a write up of the current state of timeline chaos, I found Bryan Singer Is Hoping You Just Forget About Certain X-Men Continuity Problems and 8 Ways X-Men Movie Continuity Is Still Irretrievably F•cked from 2014 that’s jsut the tip of the iceberg.
For a comtemporary account of the problems, Tony Black at Flickering Myth offers a succinct account, if by succinct you mean you will only begin to get a headache about three paragraphs in. Suffice to say that taking into account the differing timelines from X-Men Days of Future Past, X-Men First Class, X-men Origins: Wolverine and everything else there are now at least three distinct timelines.
If we go by this thinking, where do the First Class crew fit in? This means fundamentally that if the X-1 timeline never happened, and X-2 now leads into the recently released Apocalypse in the 1980’s, with a roughly eighteen year old Jean (Sophie Turner), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) & Storm (Alexandra Shipp), then the events of X-Men, X2, The Last Stand and The Wolverine never happened. So how would Wolverine even know Jean in the first place? We can therefore only assume that the changed future in Days of Future Past should be classified as X-3, a third timeline which existed independently of X-1–which takes in X-Men: First Class, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men, X2, The Last Stand, The Wolverine & the original dark future of Days of Future Past–or X-2 which takes in X-Men: First Class, everything in 1973 after Trask survives in Days of Future Past, and Apocalypse so far. If that’s the case however… how do we reconcile the end of The Wolverine?
Of course, it’s really useless to try. As I watched Apocalypse I kept wondering a) how everyone looked exactly the same as they did 20 years ago in First Class and b) why the filmmakers had skimped on putting actual 80s fashions and hairstyles in the film. That would have been so tubular.
Despite this muddle, no one really cares as long as the fights are good. The NEXT X-men movie will be set in the 90s, presumably Singer will be back, and the story, as teased in the post credits scene, will bring back a villain beloved of X-men cartoon fans. And despite the rage of certain Marvel execs at the Mutants being locked in at Fox, the universe will move forward.
Sam Flynn at Heroic Hollywood has a good round-up of what’s still on tap for the Cinematic X-iverse. Commentary is my own.
• Wolverine 3 – March 3, 2017: Hugh Jackman’s ninth and final outing will roughly adapt Old Man Logan by Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven, approximately the 248th Mark Millar story to be adapted for film.
• Gambit (rumored for October 6, 2017): Just because Channing Tatum must be in a superhero movie, but with the erratic Doug Liman at the helm anything can happen.
• Deadpool 2 (rumor: January 19, 2018): Probably the greatest film in the history of the universe.
• The New Mutants (rumor: July 13, 2018): Josh Boone is on hand to direct a film hat stars a whole new class of teen mutants, presumably played by more Game of Thonres ex-pats, while the now firmly coasting on this whole x-thing James McAvoy returns as Professor X and Alexandria Shipp plays Storm. And thus….the cycle is renewed.
• X-Men 7 (rumor: Summer 2019): Singer is supposed to return to a reshoot of the Dark Phoenix saga that Brett Ratner breezed through in 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand/ A 13-year gap between retreads is a bit more palatable than the 10 between Spider-Man reboots.
At this point it’s worth reviewing the fact that the original X-Men film came out in 2000, meaning a full generation of moviegoers has passed into adulthood since this franchise began. As muddled as the film continuity is for people who care about that kind of thing, audiences are likely still hungry for mutants they can call their own. It will never end.
And here’s some stills as the exit music plays!
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.