X-MEN: APOCALYPSE is a disaster movie! Plus, Simon Kinberg talks GAMBIT and DAYS OF FUTURE PAST's ending

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There’s a well known rule of escalation when it comes to blockbuster sequels, and based on that chilling post-credits scene in X-Men:Days of Future Past, things are going to escalate to *ahem* apocalyptic proportions in our mutant friends’ next cinematic adventure, 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse.

Simon Kinberg, who will once again be pulling writer-producer duties, knows though that just sticking in an ancient Egyptian despot with gray face paint and questionable taste in lip balm is not going to cut it, not after the massive commercial and critical success of both X-Men: First Class and Days of Future Past, with the latter even doing justice to one of comic books’ most beloved stories with its own take on it. The ante has been raised, and Kinberg and director Bryan Singer will have to rise to the occasion, as the writer revealed in an interview with Vulture.

“The hope of Days of Future Past is that people like it and, even though we changed a ton from the original comic, we stayed true to the essence of it. But the hope is also to broaden the audience, people who aren’t necessarily hardcore X-Men fans, or maybe haven’t even seen an X-Men movie, go see this movie. Hopefully the event of the cast draws people in. So the pressure on Apocalypse is to do something similar. Broaden the audience and stay true to the core ideals of the comics and fans. I don’t approach this stuff as a business, I approach it as a writer and an artist, so how do we do something different?First Class was so different in tone and character. Days of Future is a completely different movie. Science fiction and ambitious. I want Apocalypse to feel ambitious.”

“It’s more of an opportunity. For most of these X-Men movies, Magneto is the villain. Or Stryker. So the idea of having a new villain and a super powerful villain… It’s extinction stakes, which these movies haven’t visualized before. The best superhero movies have subgenres. Days of Future Past is time travel sci-fi. Apocalypse is a disaster movie mashed up with superhero movies.”

Just how much of a disaster movie are we talking here? Well, as Kinberg revealed in a different interview with IGN, you can expect the same gigantic scale of destruction normally employed by a certain highly successful German filmmaker with a penchant for blowing things up (particularly the White House).

“The thing that we’ve spent the most time talking about is not just the visual execution of the character, which is its own challenge – creating a character that’s the most powerful I think of any mutant villain that we’ve seen in the X-Men movies so far. More powerful than Magneto. The kind of scope and scale we’re talking about is like disaster movie, extinction level event. Sort of Roland Emmerich-style moviemaking, which you’ve never seen in an X-Men movie, or any superhero movie, which I think is exciting.

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But just because Kinberg invoked the explosive-prone Emmerich’s name doesn’t mean that they will toss out the X-Men franchise’s recently found (and much appreciated) focus on character, emotional motivation and narrative over flashy kabooms.

“But we’ve also been talking about how to give [Apocalypse] a real emotional and philosophical underpinning. So he’s not just somebody who’s out there destroying the world because he can. What he’s doing is – in his mind – justified and validated by a real compelling, coherent philosophy. He tries to proselytise and convert people – maybe some of our most familiar characters – to come to his cause. “

That last line is especially telling, because as I mentioned yesterday, X-Men have a bit of a well established track record when it comes to ending up as one of Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen. My money is on Channing Tatum’s recently cast Gambit, by the way, to take a little horse ride. Maybe. As Kinberg also revealed to The Daily Beast, despite the fact that the card tossing Cajun hero will definitely be in X-Men: Apocalypse, they haven’t quite got him down yet.

“Gambit is still in-motion and being figured out. Channing made it known that it was a character that he loved and would love to play, and all the people who work on the X-Men movies are huge fans of his, so the notion of him playing it is exciting. I’m more fascinated by anti-heroes, and Gambit is one of those. I don’t know why he wasn’t explored in the original X-Men movies. Maybe the reason why was because they wanted to focus on Rogue/Bobby or the platonic Rogue/Wolverine relationship, and maybe there were too many similarities between Wolverine and Gambit, so in order to make it a Wolverine-centric franchise they had to cut him loose.”

And now here comes the part where I politely ask you to leave if you haven’t seen X-Men: Days of Future Past and don’t want the franchise changing ending revealed to you. Yes, this is a SPOILER WARNING, so please vamoose if you don’t want to hear any details. I’ll even send you off with this lovely (if blue skin and weird acne is your thing) picture of Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique.

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As we saw at the end of Days of Future Past, the changed version of events in 1973 has resulted in what appeared to be a peaceful future for the mutants, one in which we find that not only is Xavier’s school up and running again, but a few previously dead characters – most notably Famke Janssen’s Jean Grey and James Marsden’s Cyclops – were now once again back in the land of the living. If you recall, they both perished in the much derided X-Men: The Last Stand, with Cyclops getting an especially undignified off-screen death that wasn’t even acknowledged properly by the rest of the cast. A much younger Simon Kinberg happened to be the guy that wrote and produced that third film as well – a film that may have been a commercial success, but which nearly sunk the franchise creatively – and now it was finally his chance to undo all his mistakes.

“I went back recently… and I looked at my original outline for [Days of Future Past], which was dated exactly two years before we’re premiering the movie: May 10th, 2012. The original outline, the first thing anyone read — the studio, the producers, anyone — it was something me and Matthew Vaughan worked on together. In that original outline, the characters that come back at the end of this movie came back. For me, the fun of this movie from when I said, ‘We should do Days of Future Past,’ was literally the scene of changing the future and Jean is going to come back and Jean and Wolverine are going to have a reunion. Mainly because I carry such guilt over X-Men: [The Last Stand]. The way we killed Jean in X3 haunts me because I love the Dark Phoenix saga so much.”

“That and Days of Future Past are my 2 favorite X-Men runs. So, I feel like what we did on [The Last Stand] was not make it the ‘Dark Phoenix’ movie. We made ‘The Cure’ movie with ‘Dark Phoenix’ as a subplot. If I was going to do it now, and if we were doing it now because comic book movies are different, the darkness and the drama of that story would be differently supported.”

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Kinberg also cleared the air on the controversial manner of Cyclops’ death, saying that due to Marsden’s commitments on Superman Returns, they just didn’t have much time to work with him, so just tried to get his character out of the way.

“People love Cyclops in the comics. Jimmy does an admirable job. Not to make this about X3, but in X3 we did what we did with Cyclops partly because had a schedule nightmare. He was making, ironically, Superman with Bryan. We had a week with him and we needed to make a decision to integrate him into the film then lose him.”

The story for years has always been that the Fox higher-ups weren’t happy with Marsden’s decision to prioritize Superman Returns – in which he only plays Lois Lane’s boyfriend – over X-Men: The Last Stand, which is why they were so exceptionally callous with his character, so maybe Kinberg is just trying to put a nice spin on it now. Either way, Cyclops is back now, and that’s all that matters.

So does that mean that we will get to see him in some fashion in the 1980’s set X-Men: Apocalypse now that the time travel door has been opened? Maybe.

“[X-Men: Apocalypse] will focus primarily on the First Class cast, but it will certainly have some of the original cast involved, too.”

Bring back Nightcrawler like you guys promised and I think we will all be happy.

X-Men: Apocalypse is scheduled for release on 27 May, 2016.

Last Updated: May 27, 2014

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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