Film / X-Men: Apocalypse

"Everything they've built will fall! And from the ashes of their world, we'll build a better one!"
En Sabah Nur / Apocalypse

X-Men: Apocalypse is the 2016 sequel to X-Men: Days of Future Past and the ninth installment in Fox's X-Men film franchise, directed by Bryan Singer. The movie is set in 1983 during the Reagan administration. Professor X has successfully reopened his school with Beast's help, Magneto attempts to live an ordinary life in Poland with his family, and Mystique continues her mission to rescue mutants who are in peril. Meanwhile, an ancient and very powerful mutant known as Apocalypse rises, and he's leading his Four Horsemen through a rampage to bring about his namesake. The movie seems to take some degree of inspiration from the Fall of the Mutants storyline.

Its cast includes:

Here's the teaser trailer.

Tropes applying to this film:

  • The '80s: The story takes place in 1983, when there were plenty of mullets and shoulder pads.
  • '80s Hair:
    • Professor X and Havok can pull off the mullet look much better than a lot of the male celebrities of the era.
    • Raven's crimped hairdo is a cross between Madonna's and Cyndi Lauper's in the early '80s.
    • Warren's spiky hair is Billy Idol-esque.
    • Nightcrawler's bangs come straight from A Flock Of Seagulls.
  • Adaptation Personality Change:
    • Warren Worthington III in X-Men: The Last Stand was presented as a wholesome Nice Guy; in this film, he's a rebel who attends fight clubs.
    • Scott Summers is a bad boy instead of a "boy scout" (as he calls himself in the first movie). He encourages a few of his classmates to skip school, and he steals one of Xavier's fancy cars to drive them to the mall.
  • Age Lift: In the Alternate Timeline, Jubilee is (somehow) roughly the same age as Cyclops and Jean instead of being younger than them in both the original trilogy and the comics.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: This magazine scan reveals that Scott is a bad boy, and he develops a romantic relationship with Jean.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Mystique, Beast, Apocalypse, and Nightcrawler are different shades of blue.
  • Antagonist Title: Or subtitle in this case.
  • Apocalypse How: Accidental Pun aside, the writer has said there is an "Extinction-Level Event", which is a Class 3 of some sort.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Quicksilver returns in this movie as a major character with a larger role in the plot.
    • Jubilee finally gets a more substantial role after brief non-speaking cameos in the first three movies.
    • Psylocke only had a brief (and barely recognizable) role in X-Men: The Last Stand; she has been recast with a new actress who is closer to the character's appearance in the comics.
  • Badass Crew: Beast, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Mystique, Quicksilver and Moira (as the Token Human teammate) comprise the X-Men. Havok would normally have joined them, but he's absent from the X-Jet.
  • Bald of Awesome:
  • Bald of Evil: Caliban is a sinister-looking bald mutant who is allied with Apocalypse.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Havok says that Apocalypse took the idea of the Four Horseman from the Bible. Moira counters by suggesting the Bible took the idea from him.
  • Big Bad: Apocalypse is the main threat, given the Antagonist Title this movie has.
  • Birds of a Feather: Jean is described as being scared of her telepathic power and is one of Charles' most prized students in this magazine scan. Xavier himself struggled with his psychic abilities as a child (as mentioned in Days of Future Past), so he relates more strongly to Jean's situation than the difficulties the other young mutants have faced. (This is confirmed by Sophie Turner.) Bryan Singer states in this article that "Jean has a special connection with Xavier, she has a special connection with the psychic world and she has enormous untapped power that's growing."
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Xavier's eyes turning completely black as he declares, "I've never felt power like this before" can't possibly be a good thing...
  • Bling of War:
  • Bullet Time: Quicksilver as he speeds through the X-Mansion.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Moira MacTaggert returns after being absent in Days of Future Past.
    • We finally get to see Nightcrawler again after 13 long years!
    • Jubilee returns in a larger role after nearly a decade of sitting X-Men movies out. Angel, who was introduced in X-Men: The Last Stand, also "waited" the same amount of time.
  • Broken Masquerade: As mutants were publicly exposed much earlier than in the original continuity, this is to be expected.
  • California Doubling: There is a snippet in the teaser trailer where Apocalypse brings Erik to a building which in Real Life is the exterior of John Abbott College, located in a suburb of Montreal. JAC is also featured in this concept art for the same scene.
  • Call Back:
    • Jean has a "nightmare" about the end of the world. It recalls the premonition her older counterpart had in the original timeline that "something bad is supposed to happen."
    • Just like in X2: X-Men United, Professor X is captured by the Big Bad, and the latter steals Cerebro.
    • Moira and Raven accompany the X-Men on their mission just as they did 21 years earlier.
    • Our introduction to Angel in the Alternate Timeline at a cage match is not unlike our first glimpse of Wolverine in X1.
    • Mystique's black leather jacket is similar to the one she wore in X2: X-Men United.
  • Co-Dragons: Apocalypse makes four psychologically vulnerable mutants (Angel, Magneto, Psylocke, and Storm) his lieutenants, the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse.
  • Continuity Nod: Quicksilver is still a big Progressive Rock fan because he sports a Rush T-shirt; in Days of Future Past, he wore a Pink Floyd one. He also keeps his silver jacket.
  • Continuity Reboot: Technically the first installment in the new X-Men series following the Cosmic Retcon in Days of Future Past (though First Class is still canon). To show this trope is in full force, the writer has confirmed that we will likely see entirely different iterations of characters who appeared in the original trilogy. Word Of God is that thanks to Mystique's actions in Days of Future Past, history has been altered so greatly that some mutants have now been born long before they were in the original timeline.
  • Continuity Snarl: Singer appears to suggest that several characters featuring in this film as teenagers would have been born earlier thanks to DoFP rewriting the timeline... problem is, it's only been 10 years since the point of divergence so nobody "born much earlier" could possibly be older than 9 years old in 1983. Applying Bellisario's Maxim definitely helps (or assuming, like was the case in the original comic story, the past scenes of Days were always a different universe, thus accounting for the different birth dates).
  • Cool Helmet: Unlike the previous models of the Cerebro helmet, the inner wiring of The '80s version lights up when activated.
  • Creator Cameo: Stan Lee has a cameo, which (alongside his cameo in Deadpool) is the first time he's done one for a Fox/Marvel production since Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
  • Cult: Moira informs Charles and Alex that cults began to sprang up after the public discovered the existence of mutants, and some of these secret societies believe those with special abilities are part of a Second Coming.
  • Cult of Personality: Apocalypse emphasizes his god-like qualities to draw in potential followers.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Professor X is at a tremendous disadvantage when he confronts Apocalypse because the latter can sizeshift to an impressive degree.
  • Demoted to Dragon: Magneto isn't the leader of the supervillain team; this time around, he plays second fiddle to Apocalypse.
  • Demoted to Extra: Wolverine is in the movie, but based on Hugh Jackman's limited involvement with filming, his part is much smaller compared to previous installments, and is effectively an extended cameo.
  • Disaster Movie: The genre.
  • Distressed Dude: Xavier is abducted by Apocalypse and his team.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Like First Class, this prequel seeks to evoke this for the adolescent X-Men. Jean Grey is scared of her powers and isn't in control of them yet, Cyclops is described as a "bad boy" and isn't leadership material, and Storm is a morally dubious thief who sides with Apocalypse.
  • Evil Costume Switch: All four of Apocalypse's Horsemen are given new outfits after joining his cause.
    • Angel's bird-like wings are grafted to metal, he is provided with a suit of armour, and he adopts a new persona called Archangel.
    • Erik ditches his civilian clothing, reasserts his Magneto identity, and is gifted with Bling of War.
  • The Fashionista: Jubilee is this, according to this magazine scan.
  • Fanservice: Psylocke's attire displays a fair amount of her skin.
  • Fight Clubbing: Warren participates in this in East Berlin.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Since the movie takes place in the 1983 of the Alternate Timeline, and the ending scene of DoFP is set in 2023 of the same timeline, it is obvious that at least Xavier, Beast, Storm, Jean, Cyclops, Wolverine, Rogue, Iceman, Shadowcat and Colossus will survive the events of this film.
    • Or that the Horsemen will betray Apocalypse. Storm was shown in the last scene of DoFP and Magneto was hinted at (to say nothing of the planned New Mutants film) while the X-Force film in development would certainly hint at Archangel and Psylocke's survival.
  • For Want of a Nail: Because of the changes to the original timeline, the public is widely aware of the mutant presence in the world nearly two decades before they originally did... And this ends up bringing En Sabah Nur into the mix. Also, various characters were born much earlier than they were originally. Somehow.
  • Four Is Death: The four horsemen.
    Moira: Wherever this being was, he always had four followers he would imbue with power.
    Alex: Like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. He got that from The Bible.
    Moira: Or the Bible got it from him.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In Moira's office, there is a framed photo of her with a boy, and another of a teenage boy (or possibly an 18 to 20-year-old young man) who may be her son.
  • Friend in the Black Market: Caliban is a broker who operates behind the Iron Curtain, with Psylocke as his assistant.
  • Friendly Enemy: Professor X and Magneto will be this, according to Simon Kinberg:
    "At the end of the [Days of Future Past], [Magneto] flies away without his helmet, with the implication that he'll go off and continue to be Magneto in some form, but not be able to hide it from Charles, who'll be able to read his mind and track him. There's a truce of some kind between Charles and Magneto, but there's a part of Magneto that will always be the Magneto we know from the comics."
  • Gene Hunting: According to Evan Peters, Quicksilver seeks out his father, and Word Of God has confirmed that it's Magneto.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: Writer Simon Kinberg has said that they want to avert this trope with Apocalypse's character in the film, according to the interview listed under Apocalypse How.
    Simon Kinberg: So he's not just somebody who's out there destroying the world because he can. What he's doing is – in his mind – justified and validated by a real compelling, coherent philosophy. He tries to proselytize and convert people – maybe some of our most familiar characters – to come to his cause.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Jubilee sports these instead of the Boyish Short Hair she usually wears in the comics.
  • A God Am I: Inverted; En Sabah Nur claims that the various deities worshipped throughout history were just different names for him.
  • Grand Finale: Singer has referred to this as the culmination of all his work on the franchise, starting with X-Men way back in 2000.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Storm obviously undergoes one at some point, seeing as how she's one of Apocalypse's Horsemenin this film but was seen in her usual role as a teacher in Xavier's school at the end of Do FP.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather:
    • When Raven is at the mansion, she is dressed in a black leather jacket.
    • Warren has a studded one at the cage fight.
  • Homoerotic Subtext:
    • Simon Kinberg said that Apocalypse is the third chapter of a love story between Magneto and Professor X.
      "If First Class was Erik's story and Days of Future Past is Charles' story, then Apocalypse will be both of their stories. The first movie was about Erik becoming empowered. That's the origin story of a man's power. Days of Future Past is about a guy who is a mess, masterminding the end of this massive movie. So they are both at their peak powers at the start of Apocalypse, so Apocalypse for me is the culmination of that three-act love story."
    • While promoting Apocalypse at SDCC, James McAvoy summarized his charater's love-hate relationship with Erik (and Michael Fassbender agrees).
      McAvoy: It's that thing in a love story where you don't always like the person you're in love with, but you still love them. Charles and Erik always hated the way [the other] approached things. It's like, "Argh, he's always wanting to kill the humans! He's always going about the same old shit," and yet I just love the guy. I can't kill him, I don't want to mind-control him, I love him.
      Fassbender: That's right.
  • I Have Many Names: Apocalypse claims to have been known throughout history as Ra, Krishna, and Yahweh among others.
  • Info Dump: Moira's scene with Charles and Alex at her CIA office serves as exposition; she details the cults that have formed after the world learned about mutants in 1973 and Apocalypse's origin.
  • Irony: Unlike the last movie where the conflict stemmed from man's hatred and fear of mutants, the problem is now centered around mutants being admired to the point of worship (see Cult).
  • Large Ham:
    • Erik cries out at the top of his lungs, "IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT FROM ME?!"
  • Leotard of Power: Psylocke wears a purple leotard just like her comic counterpart.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: The cast of mutants in this film rivals even Days of Future Past.
  • Manly Tears: In the teaser trailer, Professor X sheds a tear while he's using Cerebro, and later we see that his face is wet.
  • Marquee Alter Ego:
    • Judging by the teaser trailer, Mystique appears more often in her Raven-as-Charles'-sister form than her natural blue, scaly self. Jennifer Lawrence is the most well-known cast member, so the filmmakers wanted the actress' face to be more visible, not to mention that Lawrence has a strong aversion towards the long make-up process.
    • Nicholas Hoult isn't in the same league as Lawrence fame-wise, but he also doesn't spend much screentime as the blue, furry Beast.
  • Meaningful Name: In Real Life, En Sabah Nur means "The morning light" (he represents the dawn of mutantkind), but the comics (and presumably the movie-verse) translate it as "The first one."
  • Monumental Damage: A section of the Manhattan Bridge is obliterated in spectacular fashion.
  • Movie Superheroes Wear Black:
    • Played straight with the X-Men, who don battle versions of the original trilogy's black outfits.
    • Averted with Magneto, Archangel and Psylocke, who wear red, silver/grey and purple respectively; the latter's outfit in particular is quite similar to the comics.
  • Mythology Gag: Time travel causes mutants to be publicly exposed earlier, prompting Apocalypse to try to take over the world. This is the foundation of the plot of the most famous Apocalypse story, Age of Apocalypse.
    • Apocalypse's Large Ham moment sounds eerily similar to a quote that he said as he gathered his Horsemen in the 90's cartoon:
      Apocalypse: The old world passes away. Together, we shall forge a new one, in fire and blood.
  • New Old Flame: According to Singer, Charles and Moira rekindle their romance which was hinted at in First Class, and so do Raven and Hank.
  • Oh Crap!:
    • While Professor X is connected to Cerebro, he utters, "Oh god. He can control all of us" after Hank asks him "What is it?"
    • Charles' irises and pupils go pitch black while using Cerebro as he proclaims, "I've never felt power like this before."
    • Magneto snatches Xavier, wheelchair and all, flanked by Apocalypse and the other Horsemen.
    • Charles tries to punch Apocalypse, who easily blocks him; the latter then alters his body so that he's gigantic, and he easily crushes his opponent.
  • Older Than They Look: Professor X, Magneto, Moira, Beast and Havok have barely aged since the Cuban Missile Crisis, which took place 21 years prior to this film. Mystique isn't the only one with good genes.
  • Parental Abandonment: Alexandra Shipp confirms that Ororo's parents died when a plane crashed into their home when she was five years old.
  • Parental Substitute: Xavier is a father figure for Jean and Scott.
  • Period Piece: The main setting is 1983, so naturally most of the hairstyles and clothing match the era. The Cold War is still in effect, so Nightcrawler, as a resident of East Berlin, must queue to receive a loaf of bread.
  • Playing Gertrude:
    • During filming, James McAvoy and Rose Byrne were 36 years old while Michael Fassbender was 38, but their characters are in their late forties/early fifties in 1983.
    • Nicholas Hoult was 25 years old during principal photography, but if we assume that his character was around 20 in 1962, then in 1983 Beast is pushing 40.
    • Lucas Till is 8 months younger than Hoult, and Havok is only a couple of years younger than Beast. Alex Summers is roughly two decades older than his brother Scott, but Tye Sheridan is just 6 years Till's junior.
  • Precision F-Strike: Continuing the trend from First Class and Days of Future Past, Magneto has the honor this time around when he comes face-to-face with Apocalypse.
  • Previews Pulse: There are several of these in the teaser trailer.
  • Rule of Sexy:
    • Professor X retains his thick, wavy mane for part of the movie instead of being bald for its entirety. Justified in this case because Xavier didn't display any signs of male-pattern baldness in Days of Future Past, so the hair loss which occurs later on is not natural.
    • The actors in their 30s who play characters who are in their late 40s/early 50s (McAvoy, Fassbender and Byrne) were not given any ageing make-up, and there is very little grey in their hair. This is especially jarring with Professor X (at least when he's not bald), who should appear at least 30 years older than Jean Grey and Scott Summers, but James McAvoy's youthful features make him look like he's only about 15 years their senior.
    • Psylocke's revealing uniform isn't sensible for a battle, but it does provide Fanservice.
  • Rule of Symbolism: There are bookends in Charles' study which are shaped like the mythological figure Atlas, and they symbolize his heavy burden of trying to save the world.
    We look around Xavier's school some more, exploring every nook and cranny of Prof. X's office. We spot a couple of Atlas-themed book-ends, with two muscular men carrying planets on their backs. It makes us flashback to that dark room, where we saw McAvoy cry. If ever there was a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders, it's James McAvoy's Professor X.
  • Say My Name: An alarmed Raven shouts "CHARLES!!!" when her unconscious foster brother is kidnapped by Magneto.
  • Seers: Jean's precognitive ability expresses itself as a terrible dream full of death and mass destruction.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Charles' suits closely resemble the iconic outfits worn by Detective James "Sonny" Crockett from Miami Vice, a popular TV series which made its debut in 1984, one year after the events of this film. Don Johnson's wardrobe on the show ignited a fashion trend, so in the movie-verse, it appears that Xavier was ahead of his time style-wise.
    • Nightcrawler owns a jacket which is replica of Michael Jackson's from the famous Thriller music video, which is somewhat recursive because it resembles his costume from the comics.
    • Return of the Jedi is shown to be playing at the movie theater during the mall sequence.
    • The character poster for Apocalypse evokes the Yorick's skull scene from Hamlet.
    • Singer shot a scene which was directly influenced by a seminal moment from Apocalypse Now.
      We're watching a bald man loom out of the shadows in a stone room, somewhere in a violent foreign land. Emotion wracks his face, and a solitary tear trickles down his cheek. We brace ourselves to hear the iconic line "The horror, the horror" before remembering we’re not actually on the set of Apocalypse Now, but X-Men: Apocalypse. We're not seeing Marlon Brando shoot a key scene as Colonel Kurtz, but James McAvoy's Professor X. His head's shaved for accuracy, not madness.
  • Sizeshifter: Apocalypse can change his size at will.
  • The Social Darwinist: Apocalypse takes this to an extreme level, as always.
  • Stock Footage: The teaser trailer reuses the aerial shot of Oxford University from First Class.
  • Stock Subtitle: Apocalypse. Unique in that it doubles as a character name.
  • A Storm Is Coming: Xavier ominously announces that "A great storm approaches."
  • Superhero School: This is the only entry in the First Class trilogy where we get to see a fully operational Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.
  • Tender Tears: Xavier cries a lot as reported by this article.
  • This Means War Paint: Archangel has markings on his face.
  • Time Abyss: Since he was young during the reign of the Egyptian Empire, En Sabah Nur has been around for four to five thousand years at the least. According to Moira, some believe him to be tens of thousands of years old.
    "I was there to spark and fan the flame of man's spin the wheel of civilization..."
  • Time-Shifted Actor: New actors portray the teenage incarnations of Cyclops, Storm, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Jubilee, and Angel. In addition, an older actor will play the older incarnation of Apocalypse.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Ororo is a skilled thief in Cairo before Apocalypse takes her under his wing.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Word Of God is that the film will take great pains to demonstrate why Apocalypse views his genocidal actions as rational and necessary. Which is a bit of a... departure from his usual portrayal, which presents him as a nihilistic, megalomaniacal monster with a literal god-complex.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: In the teaser trailer, Sophie Turner's American accent doesn't sound quite right.
  • Winged Humanoid: Archangel flies with metallic wings in the teaser trailer.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: As per Singer's claims, many of the younger characters are depicted as teenagers in the 1983 timeframe when they would have been younger (or not yet born) in the original trilogy's timeline. This would be fine... except that the point of divergence—Mystique sparing Trask's life—happened only a decade prior, meaning they couldn't be older than nine years if their births were sped up specifically by that nail in question. (The only exception is Cyclops, who was already a teen by 1979 as shown in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.) Notably, in X-Men: The Last Stand, Jean Grey was depicted as a preteen in its prologue scenes (set "20 years ago")—and Viral Marketing for Days of Future Past states that the original trilogy starts in 2005. Of course, this assumes that the film is set entirely in 1983 as previously claimed—if it moves ahead in the timeline, this may yet be avoided. Additionally, Singer appears to be applying Broad Strokes to details from the previous films, so some leeway is allowed.
  • Younger and Hipper: This movie features Jean Grey, Cyclops, Storm and Nightcrawler as adolescents. Inverted with Jubilee and Angel, who in the original trilogy would either have not been born yet or were toddlers in 1983, but they are now teens during this era courtesy of the Alternate Timeline created by Days of Future Past.

"I've never felt power like this before."