Why I’m already bored by X-Men: Apocalypse

Jumping the gun on what’s promised to be an exciting month for movie trailers, our first real look at X-Men: Apocalypse dropped today.

You can check it out below:

The trailer isn’t shy about giving us a good look at some of the information we’ve been teased with over the past year, including glimpses of several of the new mutants being added to the roster.

Frankly, for any other filmmaker, I’d be worried about balancing a cast this large, but Bryan Singer’s history has proven he’s a master of giving everyone ample screentime.  (If you don’t believe me, go back and re-watch X2: X-Men United!).

As the current X-trilogy exists in prequel times to the original films, many of these new faces are characters we’ve previously seen on-screen, but recast as their younger selves.  The looks here vary from the good (Storm, Nightcrawler, Jubilee), the bad (Arcangel) to the movie-villain-of-the-week ugly (Apocalypse).

Yes, the unfortunate reality is the title villain is still the least convincing part of this trailer, which I talked a bit about when his design was first revealed.  And I think that’s a huge problem.

I mean, let’s say I’m your average movie-going viewer.  I’ve never picked up a comic book or watched a cartoon in my life, but I’ve enjoyed the X-Men movies thusfar (even X3 because, y’know, someone must have…).  What’s my incentive for seeing this?  Let’s review:

  • The first X-Men was back in 2000, and a milestone in superheroes on film.  You had to see it because it was the first of its kind since Schumacher’s Batman basically killed superhero movies.
  • X2 upped the ante.  There were a lot of threads left hanging from the first film, and this one promised to fill in some of Logan’s backstory, introducing Stryker as the main villain but still involving Magneto as well.  It was a bigger cast, more action, and had a major cliffhanger ending.
  • X3 pushed forward on that cliffhanger, and despite being a disaster of a film, featured a new and unique villain in The Phoenix, giving viewers a villain that the audience has some pathos for.
  • First Class comes along as a surprisingly enjoyable prequel.  Prequels are hot, so the average movie fan wants to check it out.  With an amazing cast in Jennifer Lawrence, James MacAvoy and Michael Fassbender, it delivers.
  • Days of Future Past promises to reunite the old cast and the new cast, which people wanted after X3 left such a sour taste in everyone’s mouths.  Also, time travel.  Everyone loves time travel.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse has… a guy.  Who’s bad I guess.  Looks like he’s strong or something.  No build-up, no history with the X-Men.  Oh, and this is the end of the trilogy.

In other words, in order to sell X-Men: Apocalypse as must-see and raising the stakes, he needs to look and feel like the be all and end all of mutantkind, the way he felt in the source material.  This is by no means a disservice to Oscar Issac, who clearly was a good sport and has a history of taking his roles very seriously.  Rather what we have here is a conceptual failure, where Apocalypse should have been larger than life in both look and presence.  Nostalgia goggles aside, many fans agree that his most memorable incarnation was from the 90s X-Men cartoon, where every line from Apocalypse sounded deeply menacing and prophetic.  What we have here is a normal voiced baddie who spouts the same “end of the world” lines we’ve heard from every villain in the history of comics.

Mishandled or not, X-Men: Apocalypse is due out May 30th, 2016.  Given how cape-heavy 2016’s movie lineup is already, we’ll see if Apocalypse can stand on its own.

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