In their latest big screen outing, the X-Men battle the original and most powerful mutant, Apocalypse.
Bryan Singer returns after the enormous popularity of X-Men: Days Of Future Past for his fourth time directing Marvel's mutant heroes and writer-producer Simon Kinberg says they hope to exceed the success they enjoyed last time around.
"We had a real challenge to come up with a story that could surpass X-Men: Days Of Future Past in terms of scale and stakes,” says Kinberg.
A creative breakthrough came with the decision to have the new film’s antagonist be the most powerful mutant villain in the entire X-Men universe. “Apocalypse poses a cosmic threat and that sense of scale appealed to Bryan Singer and me,” Kinberg adds.
Singer was particularly drawn to Apocalypse’s self-designation as a god. “I was fascinated by the notion of ancient mutant powers, and what a mutant would think if he or she was born 20,000 or 30,000 years ago. They would, of course, think they were a god, and would behave as one. And they would be looked at and worshipped like a god.
“Apocalypse believed that it was his responsibility to build a society and to remove humanity’s innate savagery. Over the millennia, Apocalypse had done this many times — with, for example, the Babylonians, Arcadians, Sumerians — and he’d been called many gods over many lifetimes.”
“It’s a time of conflict, war and destruction,” notes Singer. “Apocalypse sees this as a civilisation in desperate need of culling. There are false idols: people now worship money, and possess nuclear weapons, which gives them a false sense of godlike power. This does not work for Apocalypse. So he wants to put an end to it and start everything fresh again — and to reshape Earth in his image.”
Having grown up in the eighties, Kinberg understood how it was marked by excess, as seen in the hairstyles, fashion, and cars. “In 1983, Apocalypse rises from the perfection of ancient Egyptian culture into an over-populated, polluted, nuclear-threatened culture,” he says. “So his motivation is understandable, though his methods and goals are extreme.”
As soon as we heard that Oscar Isaac was chosen to play Apocalypse, an already excited Showcase Cinemas went into overdrive! The star of Ex-Machina and Star Wars: The Force Awakens has called his the character nothing less than “the creative/destructive force of this earth. When things seem like they’re no longer evolving — like they did in the 1980s — he destroys those civilisations.”
Singer considered and then rejected the notion of making the character a giant, at least for most of the movie. “You will see him bigger than life, so there’ll be that satisfaction,” he explains. “But I also felt Apocalypse needed to exert his powers of persuasion. That’s why I went with a really fine actor — Oscar — instead of just throwing him in a digital costume and animating him. There are some pretty spectacular things that occur, but it was important to feel a sense of realness — that Apocalypse is a physical being. I never wanted to lose the actor inside of CG animation.”
The role required a juxtaposition of cruelty and violence with a unique kind of humanity. It’s a delicate balance that Isaac executes with consummate skill. “Oscar has all of the different colours of the greatest actors,” says Kinberg.
Joining Isaac, Singer and the team are many familiar faces from the X-Men universe including Jennifer Lawrence as Raven/Mystique, James McAvoy as Charles Xavier (aka Professor X), Michael Fassbender as Erik Lensherr (Magneto) and Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy (Beast) while Rosie Byrne as Moira Mactaggert is one of the new additions, all playing their part in a thrilling, 80s-set sequel.
X-Men: Apocalypse is out at Showcase Cinemas now in 2D, 3D and also in XPlus and IMAX at select locations.