X-Men: How the Franchise Has Fallen


Some movie studios seem to believe that saving the world from complete destruction is the most bankable movie plot. Having “Apocalypse” in the movie title and an extremely identifiable character of the same name as the movie’s villain will bring audiences in. But is it the best step to take with a new cast of characters that are less experienced for such a threat and new actors to the franchise that don’t have a connection with audiences yet? Is going apocalyptic a healthy sequel decision or a rushed endgame? These are the questions that arise after the previous film, X-Men: Days of Future Past, worked so incredibly hard to reboot the franchise timeline very cleverly with the help of time travel. *Semi-spoiler-free thoughts*

X-Men: Apocalypse convinces audiences that the franchise was rebooted to find a new end, instead of a new beginning.

Because of that, it feels like a cinematic slap in the face to the previous X-Men film. Audiences must feel it too. It’s strange that Bryan Singer, the director of both films, actually let things become what they did.

Everything other than the casting and acting are questionable pieces that make the movie feels like a failed student film compared to Days of Future Past. The sets are noticeably small, the mass amounts of CG look outdated and the action choreography is awkward (forgivably, because none of the new mutants know how to fight). In a movie with an epic plot, the visuals feel too much like a stage play with a digital screen behind it. The settings either don’t feel real or feel too real to the point where it’s obvious that they shot them in a studio.


In action scenes, the movie focuses on the use of super powers more so than hand-to-hand combat, which increases the amount of CG and strings as well. The demand for eye beams and bolts of lightning is understandable when the fate of the world is at stake, but they could have been integrated as extensions of a character’s offense rather than blunt objects thrown in to remind us that they’re mutants fighting.


Even the mutants featured as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are weak in comparison to other characters already seen in the franchise. Three of four Apocalypse’s mighty henchmen are characters he just so happened to come into contact with upon awakening, not the most powerful he could find. He didn’t even look. He just moped around and went to the bargain bin at the local thrift store. These choices make the build-up fall short.


More importantly, the choice to keep the young X-Men characters inexperienced in the field, literally making their first mission against the most powerful mutant of all-time is a waste of two things: portraying the ultimate villain as unbeatable (because he would seem stronger if he were featured in a movie with more experienced X-Men to face him) and the showcase of a new team forming (because a smaller conflict would have put more of a focus on their teamwork skills instead of world landmarks being destroyed).


Scale is important but the movie suffers from its epic growth. The franchise’s foundation in a human/mutant conflict was strong enough to make a movie about new students protecting their school, not the world, from a great threat. The world could still be ultimately at stake because of how humans perceive mutants but the world doesn’t need to crumble for the conflict to be interesting. The previous X-Men movies prove that.

In Days of Future Past, Xavier had a quote: “Just because someone stumbles and loses their path, doesn’t mean they’re lost forever”, commenting on that in his heart he knew that Raven and his old friend Erik were more than the hate-fuelled Mystique and Magneto. That quote can now apply to the state of the X-Men franchise, lost but not hopefully forever.


Maybe another movie by Fox isn’t the answer. Maybe the world needs a Netflix series about the developing school for the gifted instead of end-of-the-world scenarios that can’t support their own production or story weight.

Another quote comes to mind, from X-Men: Apocalypse, actually. Before the calamity happens, Jean Grey and her friends from Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters are seen leaving a movie cinema, excited to discuss what they saw. We see the marquee read, Return of the Jedi (because the movie takes place in the 80’s, duh.) and the first thing Jean says is, “the third movie is always the worst”. At this point, the audience can’t help but sit through 1.5 more hours of X-Men: Apocalypse to try to get their money’s worth, but by the end of it the statement rings true.

It didn’t have to be this way. It didn’t have to be the end of quality.

Sitting through more of the movie will reward the patient with an end-credit scene that begs the question: Why wasn’t the story that was teased after the credits the path chosen for this third movie?

We shouldn’t have to sift through rubble for an interesting story that does previous films in the franchise justice. Quality should be the standard. No matter what Xavier says.

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