I’m an old enough nerd to remember when the first X-Men movie came out in theaters. At that time, comic books were not the number one driver of all things in popular culture. Bryan Singer’s X-Men certainly featured all the comic’s beloved heroes and villains, but there did seem like there was a concerted effort to tamp down some of their comic-book-ness. Everyone dressed in black. There was no spandex. The story was grounded in weighty real-world themes like prejudice and vengeance. It was the X-Men you knew, but watered down just a bit. It was a gin and tonic, not a shot of gin. X-Men: Apocalypse, in comparison, looks like an entire bottle of Beefeater.
The title villain, for instance, who’s played by an unrecognizable Oscar Isaac, is not someone who could have worked in those early Bryan Singer movies. With his crazy armor and ancient history and wild proclamations, he just seemed too far removed from our own world. But here he is, in all his crazy Chris Claremont glory, assembling his Four Horsemen (in this case Magneto, Storm, Angel, and Psylocke), to do battle with the X-Men, including Professor X, newcomers Cyclops and Jean Grey, and a surprising addition: Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique, now back working on the side of the angel (and looking an awful lot like Katniss Everdeen while doing it).
Singer and his team took certain liberties with the old comic-book continuity (Storm has never, to my knowledge, been a member of the Horsemen), but the spirit of those crazy ’80s and ’90s comics where Apocalypse terrorized humanity sure looks like it’s there. And, hey, they even got James McAvoy to go bald for this one. That looks marvelous. X-Men: Apocalypse opens in theaters on May 27.
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