It turns out that the Alternate Timeline was an opportunity for Professor X to correct two tragic mistakes that he had made in the original timeline to two important women in his his life: his foster sister Raven and his surrogate daughter Jean. In X-Men: Days of Future Past, he learns to trust Raven instead of controlling her, and the Sentinel Bad Future is averted. In this film, Mystique becomes Charles' Number Two within the X-Men, which is the Adaptational Heroism equivalent of her position as Magneto's Dragon in the original trilogy. As for Jean, Xavier remembers what he saw in Wolverine's memories about the Phoenix's destructive rampage, so he doesn't place psychic blocks around Jean's mind. Instead, he encourages her to embrace her Phoenix power to its fullest extent, which allows her to defeat Apocalypse, and she ends up saving the world instead of becoming a mass-murdering villainess. By doing the opposite of what he did to Jean in X-Men: The Last Stand, Charles' fate is also reversed—he is rescued by her instead of being vaporized.
In X-Men: First Class, he embodies serenity (which is a synonym for peace). In X-Men: Days of Future Past, his younger self is a lost soul who gradually finds hope again. In Apocalypse, he wields an ability which is just as powerful (if not more so) than his telepathy—The Power of Love. Peace, Hope and Love are Professor X in a nutshell.
The climax of each movie is directly connected to a significant relationship in his life. In First Class, he and his Heterosexual Life-Partner Erik are "divorced." In Days of Future Past, Charles makes amends with his estranged foster sister Raven. In Apocalypse, he strengthens his bond with his surrogate daughter Jean. Break, Repair and Strength are also what his character undergoes at the end of each entry.
It had already been established in the Fridge Brilliance subpage of DoFP that his attitude in the previous two films reflected America's overall outlook in 1962 and 1973, and this trend continues in 1983. The '80s in the USA was an era of excess and materialism (both were regarded as not just acceptable, but desirable), so Xavier's vanity is at its peak, and we get to see much more of his lavish estate and everything he owns within its boundaries. The combination of his smug demeanour, dressing like he had just stepped off the set of Miami Vice, and driving around in a gorgeous, well-maintained vintage car announces to everyone that "I'm beautiful, I'm rich, and I love it."
By freeing Logan from the Weapon X program and restoring his humanity along with a few remaining memories, Jean in a sense "repays" Logan for the favor that he (or rather his original timeline self) did for her, namely inadvertently undoing the events that led to her death. He also throws a quick glance at Kurt before running off, most likely as the briefest of shout outs to their friendship from the comics, but this also provides a reason why he would be so drawn to Nightcrawler given their contrasting personalities.
It's implied that the reason why Quicksilver decides not to divulge to Magneto that he's his son is because Peter feels it's inappropriate when Erik is still mourning for his wife and daughter. However, there's more to the young man's hesitation: after Maximoff learns that Lehnsherr has another family (and one that the older mutant clearly adores), Quicksilver is worried that Magneto may not fully embrace him as a son because Erik doesn't love his mother. Ms. Maximoff is resentful that Lehnsherr had abandoned her before Peter was born, which would've been in the mid-1950s—unmarried women with children were treated like outcasts in those days. Quicksilver carries a lot of daddy issues, and you can't blame him for fearing that Magneto may not be able to love him (at least not in the way that Peter craves) when Erik already has a beloved wife and daughter.
Peter and Charles as foils:
Quicksilver thinking that Moira is a MILF when he rescues her is Played for Laughs, but it's actually a subtle and clever clue to the audience that he's a Foil to Professor X,note you can read their entry for that trope on the main page and the two men actually share several personality traits in common. Maximoff and Xavier don't have any scenes in Apocalypse where they interact directly, yet Peter chooses to stay with Charles and be mentored by him even though he barely knows the telepath. This may seem odd at first, but when you notice their similarities, it makes sense that Quicksilver feels comfortable with the idea of building a surrogate father-son relationship with the Professor. Back in 1973, Xavier had offered Maximoff a small glimpse of his paternal side, and Peter's warm smile showed that he had truly appreciated it—Charles was a stranger to him, yet he still made the effort to be friendly to Maximoff before they went on their separate ways. During the Final Battle against Apocalypse, Xavier had formed a telepathic link to Quicksilver even though they hadn't spoken in a decade, and Charles is close to tears when Peter is severely injured. In these small moments, Professor X has already demonstrated his willingness to be a father figure to Maximoff, and when you have as many daddy issues as Quicksilver does, it's natural that he would gravitate towards Xavier.
After Professor X is snatched by Apocalypse (and is therefore taken away from the other heroes), Quicksilver arrives at the X-Mansion seconds later and becomes an active character in the plot. In a sense, Maximoff substitutes for Xavier as the "cute, confident, charming guy" within the X-Men with abandonment issues caused by Erik immediately after Charles is captured by the villains. Their sameness is also represented visually when they both experience a Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh... situation against Apocalypse.
During the Opening Monologue, there are sand dunes that bring to mind the deserts of Arrakis, and it's only after Professor X finishes speaking that we learn that the scene is set in Ancient Egypt. Leto in the mini-series is a 17-year-old (9 years old in the book, which coincidentally is the age that Charles' Psychic Powers first manifested) who is conflicted about his destiny as the Kwisatz Haderach son and heir of Muad'Dib ("...born with extraordinary abilities, and yet still, they are children, stumbling in the dark, searching for guidance"). Leto is cursed with the gift of prescience ("A gift can often be a curse"), and he's tormented by the knowledge that humanity is doomed unless he makes a terrible choice ("Give them the power of prophecy, and they may live in fear of the future"). By the end of Children of Dune, he gains god-like powers and metamorphoses into a grotesque God Emperor, and the next novel shows that he becomes a brutal tyrant for 3500 years ("Give them the greatest gift of all, powers beyond imagination, and they may think they are meant to rule the world").
Xavier's and Jean Grey's shared telepathy leads them to develop a profound surrogate father-daughter relationship, which parallels the closeness between Leto and his twin sister Ghanima, who struggle with being pre-born because they fear being possessed by the ego-memories of their ancestors. The Atreides twins' emotional journey involves the shedding of their trepidation and accepting the difficult challenges that come with Leto's ascent into a god-like being, just as Charles and Jean learn to embrace the goddess-like Phoenix instead of being scared of it. If Leto fails on his quest to save humanity by bringing about the Golden Path, Ghanima can take his place ("If anything should happen to me, anything, my sister will be your only hope.") Jean is Professor X's Junior Counterpart,note you can read her entry for that trope on the main pageand she becomes the Earth's savior when he cannot defeat Apocalypse. After Leto attains godhood, he marries his sisternote but they never consummate the marriage to evoke the pharaonic traditions of Ancient Egypt, so his blood-soaked "divine" reign of terror is not that different from En Sabah Nur's in the prologue, and Leto is betrayed by his followers.
There is a direct Shout-Out to Children of Dune when Charles is abducted, forced on to a slab and mentally assaulted in order to destroy his mind, which is exactly what happens to Leto. Although Xavier's transformation into Professor X isn't nearly as drastic as the human-sandworm hybrid that Leto becomes, the former does, to paraphrase what Leto says, survive the crucible and arise from his own ashes in its changed form.
Leto tells Stilgar, "A good ruler doesn't need to be a prophet, not even god-like. A good ruler has to be sensitive to the ones he rules," which describes Charles' leadership style perfectly. Xavier is a man who is In Touch with His Feminine Side and wields authority in a manner which is both firm (his friends and students readily obey him) and delicate (he employs his empathy to determine what kind of nurturing works best on an individual). It's analogous to Leto's unique skill of being able to access the genetic memories of both his female and male ancestors. Due to Professor X's mind-reading of Logan in Days of Future Past, the telepath also becomes a unique figure in the Alternate Timeline because he has knowledge from a different timeline that no longer exists, and he uses it to influence events in the hope of paving a better future.
The Horsemen's backstory in the movie fits the theme of the biblical horsemen:
Angel represents Death because he's spent his time fighting to the death in mutant cage matches. As a bonus, Apocalypse bestows him the "Angel of Death" title.
Storm represents Famine because she was a thieving street rat who has to feed her friends. The Rider of the Black Horse is also described as "empire oppression," and Storm is certainly oppressed. She is also commonly seen in black.
Magneto represents War because he has suffered from man-made conflicts since World War II. The Rider of the Red Horse is also described as "empire division," and if there's anything Magneto represents, it's division. Not to mention that he's often seen in various shades of red.
The only odd one out here is Psylocke, as she doesn't have any connection to Pestilence. She does, however, work reasonably well as Conquest, being a servant (and possible slave) who reverses her fortunes. Note that the picture Moira shows Charles and Alex is The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,◊ which portrays Conquest instead of Pestilence. The Rider of the White horse is sometimes described as "empire prosperity," and both she and her boss were making a reasonable living before Apocalypse showed up.
Angel, The Horseman Of Death, is the only one of the four who dies.
The Star Wars reference becomes funnier when you look at Jean. Lightsaber aside, she does have the power set of a Jedi Knight, such as mind tricks and telekinesis.
The Star Wars reference can also be taken in reverse. The Jedi are Force users/mutants in space who strive for peaceful coexistence with normal people, even using their powers to protect those without power. The Sith are Force users/mutants in space who use their powers to dominate others or worse cull the weak from the population. In essence the Jedi and Sith are "evolutions" of the X-men and Brotherhood and/or the Horsemen. Midichlorians could also be another term for the X-gene. Also remember that Marvel published the early Star Wars comics too.
A few verses from the lyrics of the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" allude to the villain's modus operandi:
En Sabah Nur warps across the world and recruits his new "Horsemen" by appealing to their desires ("Traveled the world and the seven seas, everybody is looking for something").
En Sabah Nur's followers are willing to do anything for their "god," including losing their identity to serve as his physical vessel ("Some of them want to get used by you / Some of them want to be abused"). Thousands of years later, Charles Xavier is Mind Raped by Apocalypse ("Some of them want to use you / Some of them want to abuse you").
It's said to be the 10th anniversary of the events of the previous film. Now we know why Erik's co-workers outed him. They probably saw the news report and recognised him.
Nightcrawler's main fight scenes in the film are both with Angel. It's sort of ironic when he's introduced as a "devil" (and said to resemble one) when he's a pretty harmless and innocent guy who joins the heroes, whereas the pretty, winged "Angel" is a hardcore fighter who joins the villains.
There are several catalysts for Storm's HeelFace Turn in the final battle. Her confidence in the side she chose is shaken when she sees Apocalypse abandon Warren as useless. She realizes that he doesn't truly care for any of them, and is just using them for their powers. Mystique sacrificing herself in an effort to save Quicksilver is the final straw. However, it's not the fact that the X-Men stand by and die for each other. It's the fact that Mystique—the woman she calls her hero, and whom she wishes she could be like—is standing against him.
Right before he's destroyed, Apocalypse seems oddly happy about his defeat. However, Apocalypse's schtick has always been survival of the fittest. He smiles because his defeat at the hands of the X-Men means he's leaving the world in the hands of the strongest. He was only incensed by mankind's ascendancy because of their reliance on their technology. Jean's power is her own. However, see below under Horror...
The movie continues the franchise's trend of representing the current state of gay rights. While the movie is set in the '80s, it seems like a fairly accurate reflection of gay rights at its time of release, when there has been heavy concern that LGBT rights are extremely piecemeal worldwide. In this film, we see Nightcrawler walk around in public in New York without being harassed by humans, but he's forced to fight to the death for public amusement in East Berlin. The police in Poland seem uncomfortable with Magneto's daughter when they discover that she's a mutant, but show absolute horror when they accidentally cause her death. It's left ambiguous whether the merchants in Egypt hate mutants, or are just pissed at Storm stealing from them.
Charles and En Sabah Nur as foils:
Professor X and Apocalypse are obvious Foils in the story, and someone who takes the time to compare them thoroughly will realize that on a fundamental level, Xavier actually isn't all that different from a cult leader. Because he's a very benevolent and sympathetic character, he is never labelled with that term and he avoids the negative connotations that come with it. But based on the way Charles recruits and manages the X-Men, it's clear that he wants to be adored and obeyed (albeit as a paternal figure, not as a god), and he converts the members of his team to his philosophy. Because he Desperately Craves Affection, he's both incredibly unselfish and selfish at the same time—the Professor gives all of his love to his followers, and in return, he hopes they will do the same and remain devoted to him for life. (Even Havok, who assimilates into human society after The Vietnam War and was unconnected to the school for 20 years, still carries Undying Loyalty for his ex-mentor.) Apocalypse relies on his Cult of Personality and More Than Mind Control to convince mutants to join and fight for his cause. Xavier is the ultimate Magnetic Hero of the franchise, and even when it isn't his intention to form a paramilitary group ("Charles wants students, not soldiers"), his charm is so captivating that young mutants like Cyclops, Quicksilver and Nightcrawler are willing to risk their lives for him, a virtual stranger. Professor X even shares some of Apocalypse's arrogance and vanity—Charles is an Agent Peacock whose overconfidence is his Fatal Flaw—and their egos crave reverence from a surrogate family that they've mentored personally. It's quite ironic that the Big Good of the film series functions in a similar fashion to the Big Bad of this movie; the crucial difference between them is that Xavier is a Nice Guy with the ideals of The Hero who understands The Power of Love and how to harness it. Because Machiavelli Was Wrong in this universe, Professor X is a more successful cult leader than a self-proclaimed god.
James McAvoy had observed that his character wishes to be idolized in the June 2016 issue of F*** magazine:
McAvoy: That's partly why he's building a school and he wants that family that he never really had, and he wants to be the father. He's got that slight... he's a good man, but he's got a little bit of a god complex as well. He wants to be at the head of the table. It's a good thing, but it's his flaw as well.
Writer Simon Kinberg reinforces this concept when he calls the X-Men "radicals" (and by extension, the person commanding them is an extremist).
Kinberg: It's a guy who takes a bunch of kids, trains them in a Danger Room in his basement, plus they wear costumes, and go around the world stopping evil and injustice. Instead of shying away from that idea, we wanted to explore and embrace how radical the X-Men are.
Magneto has the privilege of saying the F-bomb in this movie (only one is permitted for a PG-13 rating), so for the First Class trilogy, the rare F-bombs are reserved solely for the Spotlight-Stealing Squad of the franchise—namely Wolverine (First Class), Professor X (Days of Future Past) and the aforementioned Magneto. Hogging precious screen time isn't the only thing they're good at.
The events of the previous movies firmly take place in the '60s and '70s. So why do none of the recurring characters seem to be any older? The rebooted movies take place in Comic-Book Time! Like Deadpool said, "These timelines are so confusing..."
In Days of Future Past, we're introduced to Quicksilver in a room of the things he's stolen. In this film, we find out his real father is Erik, who abandoned him before he was born. Young men who grow up without a strong father figure are much more likely to turn to a life of crime.
It is fitting to set a movie with "Apocalypse" in its title in 1983, one of the years that humanity came closest to an actual apocalypse in real life (due to incidents like Able Archer, Korean Airlines Flight 007, and the Soviet false alarm incident in September of that year).
Of course Mystique is the one who finds Nightcrawler and gets him out of the fighting pit. In most continuities, that's her son. If there's anyone that's going to be on her priority list, it's him.
Apocalypse's declaration "You can fire your arrows from the tower of Babel, but you can never strike God!" shows that he is not all-powerful, as he would have everyone (including himself) believe. In the Bible, God specifically created different languages and scattered the humans across the Earth because he knew that if they finished the tower's construction, they would be capable of reaching the heavens and doing whatever they put their minds to. With all the mutants (including Storm and Erik, who Apocalypse drew to his side) working together, they are quite capable of killing him and saving the rest of humanity.
Although the story frames Jean's mastery of the Phoenix as The Power of Love overcoming her fears, it's also a variation of "the point between rage and serenity" lesson that Charles had taught to Erik in First Class. This time, it's Xavier himself who is Jean's serenity, as he's the comforting parental figure in her life (just like Erik's mother was to her son). In addition to the "rage" of Jean's inner "fire," she taps into her own rage when the Professor is on the edge of death. His telepathic Care-Bear Stare allows her to focus the Phoenix Force properly, and when she lashes out at Apocalypse, she's furious.
Apocalypse having Body Surf and Power Parasite as his original mutant powers allows the writers to give him New Powers as the Plot Demands whenever they want without having to constantly explain how he has so many powers and where he gained each new one. Anytime Apocalypse suddenly displays a new power, the explanation is already built in that it is just another one of the many various powers he has collected over the centuries from his unknown number of previous mutant host bodies.
When considered in depth, the core concept of this storyline bears a strong resemblance to the original Age of Apocalypse; both stories see time travel from the future indirectly causing a chain of events that prompt Apocalypse to 'wake up' at a point long before he should have done.
Erik Lehnsherr is the Master of Magnetism. His daughter Nina has the ability to attract animals. Some might even say she has "animal magnetism".
What the hell did Stryker do to Logan to make him such a savage and thoughtless killing machine?
Apocalypse takes Magneto back to Auschwitz, a symbol of the old world that must be destroyed. Still, his own agenda (kill or dominate the undesirables to secure the supremacy of his self-appointed "superior race") sounds a lot like Nazism by Any Other Name. So he's either not well-informed of what has happened there (he's still a Fish out of Temporal Water, even if the Info Dump he instantly assimilated may have helped to compensate it a bit) or he's just a hypocrite.
Just how many millions of people did Apocalypse kill when he razed the entire city of Cairo to the ground and built his new pyramids in the ruins of the city? In 1983, the city center of Cairo alone had a population of more then 5 million people...
As noted under Brilliance above, Apocalypse is strangely happy about being destroyed, smiling and remarking "All is revealed" just before he's obliterated. Then you remember, Jean has just unleashed the Phoenix to do it, which in the comic books is the fundamental force of destruction and rebirth in the Marvel universe. Apocalypse is reveling in the fact that a power that can carry out his philosophy on a cosmic scale has just been released.
Or it could be that he just found a potential future host body with the telepathic powers he wants that are far more potent and appealing than Charles Xavier's.
At the end, we have the young X-Men facing the 1973 Sentinels from X-Men: Days of Future Past in the Danger Room. Seems like just another training exercise, until you remember that Bolivar Trask, while incarcerated, is still alive and well, Stryker is still flying around somewhere, and with recent events being what they are, people may once more see mutants as a threat to be eradicated.
The younger Egyptian man at the beginning of the film who became Apocalypse's host. There was no indication that the man had willingly offered himself as a physical vessel. He might have been in a similar situation as Xavier, captured and wanted due to his Healing Factor.
Not horror as much as it's just sad, but Peter saves the academy's fish from the explosion by containing them in a cup and placing it in the hands of a girl. Soon after Stryker knocks out everyone except Jean, Kurt, and Scott. The girl can't exactly hold the fish when she's unconscious so the fish are likely killed. On a slightly more horrifying note, the poor girl is going to have to wake up with several dead fishes around her.
Jean does not have the ability to make herself or others invisible. She hides herself and her friends by using her psychic powers to make the minds of those around her disregard their presence. When she and the others hitch a ride on Stryker's helicopter they accidentally wind up in an electrified cage which Jean says is blocking her ability to touch any mind outside of it. This means that anyone looking into the cage should see her and the others just fine. There doesn't appear to be anyone in the compartment with them at the time, but it doesn't make sense that they'd turn the cage off before moving the children to their cell, much less turn it off before even looking inside once.
The electrical field seems linked to the helicopter's engine. It starts to take off, and the electrical field turns on, so probably the field turns off when the engine does.