Explaining the X-Men: Days Of Future Past post-credits sequence

Feature James Hunt 22 May 2014 - 06:00

We take a look at the post-credits sequence of X-Men: Days Of Future Past, with spoilers, and explain what it's all about...

This article contains spoilers for X-Men: Days Of Future Past

Marvel Studios might have made the post-credits scene an event for superhero fans, but it was actually Fox who taught us to look for them in every comic book adaptation we go to. From Daredevil to X-Men: The Last Stand to Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, they established it as a treat for fans long before Iron Man made it the must-see part of the movie.

True to form, X-Men: Days of Future Past contains its own post-credits scene, which occurs right at the very end of the credits, where these things should go. It's also one that's not going to make any sense to people who aren't fans of the wider franchise beyond the movies, because it introduces a completely new character.

But enough preamble. If you don't mind being spoilered, scroll down under the image to read what it is that you see, and what we made of it.

The scene opens on the expansive sands of the Sahara desert. It pans behind a hooded figure standing on the dunes, arms raised. In the background, we can hear the chanting of a huge crowd. Probably thousands of people, all calling the same thing. It's indistinct, but seems rapturous, almost worshipful.

Then we see a pyramid, half-completed. Huge stones lift themselves in the air and begin to reconfigure in complex, Rubik's-cube like fashion, completing the pyramid in seconds. The chanting continues. The camera pans around to reveal the face of the hooded figure. It's young, thin man. Chalk white with deep blue lips. Across his shoulder, we see the silhouettes of four mounted riders. Four Horsemen. And the scene cuts to black.

Fans of the wider X-Men franchise will immediately recognise this figure as a version of Apocalypse. And while it's hard to tell, it sounds like the people might have been chanting his given name: En Sabah Nur, meaning The First One.

Born a slave in ancient Egypt under the reign of Rama-Tut, Apocalypse is one of the people who claims to be the original example of Homo Sapiens Superior: the first ever mutant. A being of immense power, he is dedicated to the philosophy of survival of the fittest and a brutal tyrant destined to one-day rule the Earth. And that's not some vague prophecy: people have seen that future and come back to try and stop him - most notably Cable, who was raised under his rule.

Also present in the scene are Apocalypse's Horsemen. Although he's not afraid to exercise his immense abilities himself, Apocalypse is fond of recruiting agents, often unlocking their genetic potential to show how strong they can truly be. His followers include the Clan Akkaba and the Dark Riders, but his most prominent lieutenants are the Four Horsemen: War, Famine, Pestilence and Apocalypse's second-in-command, Death.

If that sounds convenient, that's because those aren't the names of individuals, but titles given to the Horsemen. Most notably, Apocalypse was responsible for restoring Angel's wings after they had been removed, giving him bio-mechanical ones and turning him into Archangel, the Horseman Death. At various times he's also recruited the likes of Wolverine, Gambit and Sunfire, though understandably it's rare he keeps the X-Men brainwashed for long.

As a villain, Apocalypse is easily one of the X-Men's most deadly. Powerful, fanatical and near-impossible to kill, he and his followers have troubled the X-Men on only a few occasions, but it's always a big deal when they do. The biggest storyline to bear his name is the Age of Apocalypse, a story in which a time-traveller accidentally kills Professor X and awakens Apocalypse early, changing the timeline and allowing his rule to begin early. The X-Men, who are led by Magneto in this reality, end up sacrificing everything to stop him and repair the timeline.

Like the first Avengers stinger, this scene is mainly designed to tease the villain of the next movie. It's not a particularly huge surprise, given that the title has already been announced as X-Men: Apocalypse, but it's nice to find out that the title is talking about THE Apocalypse, rather than AN apocalypse.

The design of the character here is interesting. Apocalypse has taken many forms, due to his ability (and need) to transfer himself between bodies to survive, but he's normally depicted as a huge, almost inhuman individual. Here, he's young and not far through his evolution into the powerful villain we know him as. Given that Fox basically ignored the post-credits scenes of The Wolverine, it's unlikely that they'll carry the actor and design over to the next film – but it's also possible that this is indicative of their general approach.

Still, one way or the other, it's interesting that after almost a decade of keeping the X-Men films firmly centred on the Xavier/Magneto philosophical rivalry, they're finally selecting a villain who has his own school of thought, and the raw power to back it up. He doesn't want coexistence with humans. He doesn't even want a peaceful rule. In Apocalypse's mind, the world should be a crucible of war in which only the strongest mutants survive – and his rule is assured through his own superiority.

But the best thing of all about having a new villain is that if Apocalypse is done right, this could pave the way for all the other X-villains who haven't had a proper look in yet. As much as I like Magneto, that's a more exciting prospect than yet another joust between Fassbender and McAvoy.

Further Reading:
X-Men: Age of Apocalypse (Vols. 1-4) X-Men: The X-Cutioner's Song X-Men: The Twelve The Adventures of Cyclops & Phoenix Rise of Apocalypse Uncanny X-Force Vol. 1

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