This has been a year for deeply polarising super hero films as for the first time we are starting to see the big divide between the film fans and the comic fans spring up. Deadpool was the result of comic fans showing exactly what they can achieve when they come out in force, turning a niche film into a mainstream success. Batman V Superman showed us what happened when a more mainstream venture panders to the comic fans over the average film goer. Captain America: Civil War was a film that maximised its appeal to the wider audience at the loss of some comic fandom. So where does X-Men: Apocalypse stand? Well in truth in falls into the Batman V Superman category of pandering to the comic book audience but X-Men gets a few things right that BVS got very wrong. X-Men: Apocalypse is a film for comic fans that mainstream audiences can still enjoy, at least to some degree.
Who Is The Blue Guy?
When making a comic book film it’s possible for a director to decide that there is little need for exposition as many viewers know a lot about the characters going into the film. This is a high risk-reward strategy as it allows the film to have a greater flow while possibly leaving some members of the audience with questions. The best way to deal with this is by implementing a few throw away lines, for example if you don’t know who Nightcrawler is his background is covered pretty well here with a few lines between him and Mystique early on. This technique doesn’t work with subtext on key plot point, such as when two heroes mothers have the same name thus revealing to one that the other is more human than they first thought, I’m looking at you Snyder.
This technique is used to good effect constantly throughout the film, as many characters are quickly introduced and we are given some basic background on them. If mainstream viewers want to learn more they know they can check out the comics or previous films, this is how super hero comics have worked for years and it’s great to see it crossing over here. The problem is that while there is a lot of great characters popping up in this plot there is little other substance here.
Apocalypse Is A Bit Of A Candy Ass
It is obvious Bryan Singer has a story he wants to tell. One with Storm, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Psylocke, Angel, Jubilee, Nightcrawler and Beast all standing side by side as X-Men. This is obvious because the entire reason for this film is to build that team. Apocalypse has many great stories built around him but it’s plain to see that he was chosen here because he’s a good device to introduce a bunch of big mutants very quickly. We don’t need an extensive background on Storm, Psylocke or Angel as they are quickly given their horseman makeover and put to work as goons, severing little overall purpose compared to Magneto who seems to be the only horseman Apocalypse needs. I can understand why this feels like the waste of a big villain and I know that some movie goers might find the final battle in particular anticlimactic but it’s the price we pay. Finally I am proud to be an X-Men fan.
Bright Colours And Spandex
When the X-Men first hit the big screen way back in the late nineties it seemed that super heroes just couldn’t work on the big screen. They looked too fake with their bright colours and bold personalities. So when Bryan Singer and others were asked to make an X-Men film they toned down the costumes and personalities, making the team feel more like action heroes with super powers clad in leather. Then the Avengers came and changed everything, finally they made super heroes work on the big screen. Now the X-Men look a little drab in comparison, their combat gear fading into a background against Hulk green and Iron Man’s hot-rod red. However, Singer has geared this film to deliver the X-Men to a point where they are closer than they ever have been to their comic book roots. The final scene of the film shows the team lining up, each dressed in much brighter costumes instead dark combat gear as they prepare to fight in the Danger Room, another aspect of the comics that has struggled to appear in the films. This comic together on the big screen is nothing short of a dream come true for a fan like me. But after the nerdgasms die down, is the film worth your time?
Final Thought And Speculation
I can’t say this is a great film, the final fight with Apocalypse and the one scene with Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine really let down the rest of the film. That being said, there are some scenes in this film that anyone who has ever hummed the Saturday morning cartoon theme must see as it will slap a massive smile on their face, as it did mine. There are hooks placed here for the Phoenix Saga and something linked to Mr. Sinister, also known as Nathaniel Essex for those who have seen the film, and these plants have me thoroughly excited for the next instalment of the franchise set in the nineties. I think this is a film that deserves support and it’s certainly one for the comic fans, but that’s my opinion, what’s yours? Drop me a message in the comments section with your thoughts and until next time…TO ME MY X-MEN!!!
…That was this week’s BearSleuth Opinion Piece!!! Check back tomorrow for a new Comic History 101!!!