Everything we know about X-Men: Apocalypse

From shoot dates to its villain, through to who's returning and more, here's what we know so far about Bryan Singer's X-Men: Apocalypse.

SPOILERS: There’s nothing heavy in here, but inevitably light spoilers, based on what we know from the comics, and a released synopsis.

X-Men: Apocalypse is now most certainly set and ready to take the box office by storm in summer 2016, with Bryan Singer back on board to direct the film that he first announced on his very own Twitter page. And as the follow-up to the most successful X-Men movie of all time, this past summer’s X-Men: Days Of Future Past, the new upcoming X-gene adventure is sure to be the most anticipated cinematic event in the saga yet.

So what do we know about the film? Glad you asked. Here’s everything we’ve gleaned so far…

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The Production Of X-Men: Apocalypse

Remarkably indicating changing attitudes on superhero films at 20th Century Fox, X-Men: Apocalypse – a big budget follow-up to the hugely successful X-Men: Days Of Future Past – was greenlit with seeds being sown by Bryan Singer in December 2013, That was over half a year out from release of Days Of Future Past. Singer tweeted that revelation with just the words #Xmen and #Apocalypse. The official announcement soon followed that the movie would be released on May 27, 2016, almost two years to the day after Days of Future Past‘s debut.

Singer soon surprised fans several weeks later with a new photo displaying the X-Men: Apocalypse writing team. We analysed that picture in, er, a bit too much detail here. While Days Of Future Past’s screenplay was solely written by the series’ increasingly important executive producer, Simon Kinberg (from a story also co-authored by X-Men: First Class’ Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman), the X-Men: Apocalypse screenplay also has a writing credit for Singer, as well as Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris. Dougherty and Harris also penned the excellent X2, as well as Superman Returns. Check out Dougherty’s excellent Trick ‘r’ Treat if you get the chance, too.

By March 2014, Singer was already talking up the X-Men: Apocalypse plot in addition to Days Of Future Past, feeding fans tantalising morsels. He revealed that the next film would be set in the 1980sApocalypse was also teased in the post-credits sequence for X-Men: Days Of Future Past. We dissected it here.

Singer was finally confirmed as the director of X-Men: Apocalypse in September 2014.

Construction is currently gearing up to begin before the end of the year on the movie’s Montreal sets. The film is slated to start production in April 2015.

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The Line-Up And Heroes Of X-Men: Apocalypse

Despite having the novelty of both the main principals from X-Men: First Class and the original X-Men trilogy both appearing in Days Of Future Past, the X-Men: Apocalypse cast seems to be much more streamlined in the amount of heroic mutants set to appear.

When Singer first confirmed that the new film would be set in the 1980s, it immediately seemed to indicate that it would be primarily focused on the continuing (and contracted) First Class cast members who had carried over to Days of Future Past. So that would be James McAvoy as Professor Charles Xavier, Michael Fassbender as Magneto, Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, and Nicholas Hoult as Beast.

Singer and Kinberg confirmed that all four would be coming back as the stars during an interview in April. Kinberg since added that he considered X-Men: Apocalypse to be the third part of a First Class trilogy. “[Apocalypse] is definitely the close of a trilogy for those First Class characters, which isn’t to say we won’t see them in future movies; hopefully we will, but it’s a completion of an arc for them”, he said.

Additionally, Kinberg seems to have a special interest in the role Mystique will continue as an expanded member of X-Men mythology in the timeline that was altered by the end of X-Men: Days Of Future Past. Kinberg expects that we’ll have more scenes of Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique with Nicholas Hoult’s Beast (whose moments together in the previous movie were cut due to pacing issues). But perhaps more importantly, that they will further explore how she is the “child of both Erik and Charles”. 

Indeed, much of the tension of the last movie was Charles bringing his one-time little sister back to the side of the angels, if only fleetingly, to change the course of history.

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Further, it should be no surprise that X-Men movies statesman Hugh Jackman will be returning as the ageless Wolverine for the jaw-dropping eighth time. In fact, Jackman, who has previously expressed reluctance about the training regimen needed to get into Wolverine shape for production, has had the producers openly considering shooting X-Men: Apocalypse and Wolverine 3 back-to-back for Jackman’s sake. While Jackman initially suggested that those two films would be his last hurrah as the Canadian berserker, as recently as May, he’s since expressed a new enthusiasm for continuing playing the character after seeing the finished X-Men: Days Of Future Past film, which he said made it “fresher to me than ever”.

Also, Days of Future Past’s scene-stealer, Evan Peters’ Quicksilver, is also expected to return to the X-Men: Apocalypse cast, as revealed by second unit director Brian Smrz. He revealed that a Quicksilver scene has already been storyboarded.

However, the line-up is also expected to include mutants we have seen before with new, young faces filling the roles. 

X-Men: Days Of Future Past surely left an open invitation when time traveling Logan told Xavier to find and unite Scott Summers, Jean Grey, and Storm. Singer had already suggested that he wanted “familiar characters in a younger time”, going on to name the likes of Gambit and Nightcrawler. Since Singer said that, Channing Tatum has signed on to play the role of Gambit. Tatum has since stated he wants to introduce his version of Remy LeBeau in a standalone film first before a team-up.

Still, younger versions of Cyclops, Jean, and Storm remain heavily implied with thanks to X-Men: Apocalypse‘s 1980s backdrop. Simon Kinberg has admitted that “there may be a chance to tell origin stories for other members of the X-Men universe that was haven’t seen yet” in the new film. It all but seems confirmed given the first synopsis of the film that Fox recently released, revealing that Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Storm will be in the movie. It also confirmed that the movie will be set in 1983.

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At this point, it seems highly likely that X-Men: Apocalypse will star Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy (who talked about the film here), Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, and Nicholas Hoult. Add to that a new Nightcrawler (who Singer has mentioned twice) as well as the ‘original three’ (by movie standards). For his part, McAvoy has said that he expects to be bald in the new movie.

The Villain Of X-Men: Apocalypse

The X-Men franchise is perhaps the longest running superhero series that has yet to have a reboot, yet it’s one that has primarily relied on the same main villain for most of its films: Magneto. And it’s a credit to both Sir Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender that it’s not mattered much at all, as both interpretations constitute one of the genre’s still most memorable and iconic foes. Yet there certainly needs to be room for expansion and change, and the titular Apocalypse offers exactly that.

As we first detailed in our deconstruction of the Days of Future Past post-credit scene, Apocalypse is one of the very first mutants to ever exist in the extensive X-Men canon. That post-credits stinger implied as much when it flashed back to ancient Egypt, depicting the mutant who would become Apocalypse constructing the pyramids with only his mind. We can also expect much more of such imagery, as Bryan Singer revealed when he posted a fraction of the first page to the X-Men: Days Of Future Past script online (pictured above). It hints at an epic prologue taking place during an ancient Egyptian battle, complete with the flying Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

In many ways, Apocalypse is one of the type-A comic book villains, one of such epic and devastating proportions that it causes entire company lines of comic book heroes to team up for a simple K.O. Think along the lines of Thanos (the perpetually teased but rarely used Marvel cinematic universe baddie) or Darkseid.

However, Apocalypse will beat both to the big screen as a major threat in earnest. And he has his own complex mythology. First introduced in X-Factor #5 in 1986, Apocalypse is a mutant originally named En Sabah Nur. With the power of telekinesis and the ability to reanimate and reconfigure his own molecular structure (essentially making him immortal), En Sabah Nur was a very powerful mutant before he developed a god complex.

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From what we saw teased in Days Of Future Past, the X-Men: Apocalypse plot will be pulling heavily from Rise Of Apocalypse, a 1996 miniseries by Terry Kavanagh and Adam Pollina. In that story, En Sabah Nur is an ancient Egyptian who is left out in the middle of the desert to die after he begins demonstrating strange mutations (such as the greying of his skin). He is rescued by another Nomad tribe that instills the young burgeoning warrior with a pre-Darwin Darwinian extremism about survival of the fittest. Soon, En Sabah Nur has developed his aforementioned mutations, which eventually will also include technopathy, not to mention a deity complex. A fun guy.

However, things become dangerous in modern times, because En Sabah Nur soon discovers alien technology (aliens and Egyptian pyramids, get it?) that he spends thousands of years mastering, making him not only invincible, but capable of altering the DNA and psychology of anyone he can capture. He essentially wants world domination, removing the moral ambiguity between Xavier and Magneto’s dichotomy. And he also wants to decimate the world’s inhabitants, leaving only the few privileged enough to meet his criteria as ‘survival fit’. We suspect this will include turning at least one ‘good’ X-Men mutant into a ‘Horseman of the Apocalypse’. Said horsemen are mutants made demonic slaves to Apocalypse’s will. This is all the more troubling since the synopsis confirms that the events of timeline alteration in X-Men: Days Of Future Past will be what awakens Apocalypse.

The Wrap has since reported the unsourced rumor that 20th Century Fox is courting Tom Hardy to play Apocalypse in the new film. Hardy is also being courted by Warner Bros to play an unspecified role in 2016’s Suicide Squad. 

What Else Do We Know About X-Men: Apocalypse?

While details remain elusive for the X-Men: Apocalypse story, certain nuggets have slipped out in recent months. First is the vague, but tantalizing synopsis released a few months ago:

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Apocalypse takes place a decade after Days Of Future Past and is a seamless next step in the story. The altering of time has unleashed a new and uniquely powerful enemy. Charles (James McAvoy), Erik/Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Hank/Beast (Nicholas Hoult) are joined by young Cyclops, Storm, Jean and others as the X-Men must fight their most formidable foe yet – an ancient unrelenting force determined to cause an apocalypse unlike any in human history.

And of course, we know about the prologue set during an ancient Egyptian battle, which will showcase Apocalypse’s power. However, the 1980s setting is also of special consideration. Might the ongoing space race, and Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars defence programme come into it, we wonder?

Whatever the case may be, we know for certain that the X-Men: Apocalypse plot will feature the largest scale of destruction and spectacle yet seen in an X-Men film.

Singer has already said in early interviews that it will have more spectacle than projects he’s worked on in the past. Simon Kinberg added that it will be a bigger movie than even X-Men: Days Of Future Past. “There’ll be disaster movie imagery, like the title would imply”, he said.

Whatever the case, we have our own guesses as to what that might mean for the plot. We are almost certain the film will feature Mystique ‘coming home’ to Charles, as he insisted she would throughout X-Men: Days Of Future Past. However, one thing we also think would be nifty is if they could explain Logan gaining a metal skeleton not from as from Stryker, which was a plan thwarted in Days Of Future Past’s final scene, but as from Apocalypse. After all, the chance to see Wolverine go berserk as a Horseman of the Apocalypse will never come again.

And that’s what we know so far. X-Men: Apocalyse is scheduled for release in May 2016. And heck, we even get a Deadpool movie before it comes out too