Comic book adaptations have been some of the most successful films in recent years and, with $3.8 billion in box office sales, the X-Men is one of the most lucrative. Even the critically-panned Wolverine made over $400 million. The reason why is obvious: it’s classic story telling.
What Director, and co-writer, Bryan Singer understands so well is that good comic book tales need to have a Shakespearian edge. It’s not just about telling a tall tale – it’s about making it relatable.
On the surface, X-Men: Apocalypse is an old school superhero beat ‘em up, in which an ancient mutant returns and sets about world domination. But it’s also a film about good versus evil, responsibility, and making the right choices. It’s about family and relationships. It’s about what it means to be human – or mutant, take your choice.
Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) makes a compelling and charismatic villain. James McAvoy (Prof. X) and Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique) shine as the feuding not-quite-siblings struggling to come to terms with their own personal demons. What’s more, we’ve finally escaped from the human versus mutant storyline and [SPOILER ALERT] with Jean Grey coming into her powers, things are about to get very, very interesting. There are some new kids on the block too, with Game Of Thrones’ Sophie Turner and Alexandra Shipp making impressive debuts as Jean Grey and Storm.
The inclusion of Storm’s street orphan backstory is especially pleasing. In the comics, Storm is one of the most fully-fleshed out characters but she has been, frustratingly, sidelined in the films so far. As the trailers have implied, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) does indeed make an appearance, with a cookie at the end of the film that hints at the direction of future storylines.
X-Men: Apocalypse is by no means perfect. There are timeline issues which will probably never be resolved satisfactorily. Not every actor gets the screen time they deserve to really develop their character – especially Tye Sheridan (Cyclops), Evan Peters (Quick Silver) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (Night Crawler) who show great promise but have little to work with. Fassbender’s accent still meanders lazily across the continental divide, alternating between Irish, English, and McKellen-esque Americana. But forget what you’ve heard. Apocalypse is perhaps the best of of the X-Men ‘prequels’ to date.