[Warning: spoilers ahead for X-Men: Apocalypse]
Going from outcast to revolutionary to would-be assassin, Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique has had a compelling journey through the most recent X-Men trilogy. In X-Men: Apocalypse we find Mystique in a heroic role, as she trains the new X-Men to fight their most powerful enemy yet. But throughout the film, Mystique is quick to argue that she's anything but a hero.
In the wake of Days of Future Past, Mystique is viewed as an iconic hero by mutants and humans alike. This has a huge impact on the tensions between these two peoples, and the consequences of Mystique's actions are explored in a really interesting way.
A World At Peace
She has become a beacon of hope for mutants everywhere, helping them to understand their abilities and others to accept them. But as Raven argues to Xavier, this apparent acceptance doesn't mean all is well between humans and mutants, "they're just polite about it."
Under the surface of this supposed tolerance runs a deep-seated fear of mutants. By saving the president, Mystique might have helped humans accept mutants but she also shone a light on the mutant community. As a result, this opened the door for humans to seek out mutants in order to exploit them. Which is why at the beginning of X-Men: Apocalypse we find Mystique lurking in the shadows, working for an underground railroad to free mutants who are actively oppressed.
This is one of the most interesting aspects of the film, and it's a shame it wasn't explored more. In fact, this is how Mystique discovers Nightcrawler, as she liberates him from a cruel cage fighting ring in East Berlin.
"You're her!" Nightcrawler immediately exclaims, "The hero." But Mystique doesn't want to be seen as such, despite the fact that she's still working to protect and help mutants. It's a poignant journey for Mystique throughout the film, as she slowly comes to accept her role as a symbol.
This is also a crucial factor in Storm's inevitable decision to betray Apocalypse, as she sees her hero fighting against him. (Much more should have been made of this though. Is it too much to ask for these two characters to talk to each other?)
But beyond Mystique's compelling journey from villain to hero, the events of X-Men: Apocalypse have interesting implications for the tensions between humans and mutants in the future.
In one of the film's most interesting sequences, Apocalypse uses Xavier's telepathy via Cerebro to take control of the world's nuclear weapons. He promptly disarms humanity, firing all these missiles into space. (Which is probably quite short-sighted of him — detonating that many nuclear weapons just outside the Earth's atmosphere is bound to have a negative impact environmentally. But in all fairness, he probably wasn't thinking about the dangers of radiation.)
So where do we go from here? After Mystique's public act to defend humanity, Apocalypse might have persuaded the public that mutants really are too dangerous, as he almost conquered the entire world.
However, this is also the first time the X-Men have come together as a heroic team, as they fight to take down Apocalypse. Moving forward, it all depends on how publicized this fight was and whether any of those conspicuously absent survivors in Cairo managed to photograph this grand battle.
So, tensions between humans and mutants might have eased before Apocalypse, but the events of the film could push the situation one of two ways — either humanity will view mutants as simply too dangerous, or they'll finally laud the X-Men as heroes. And after many films depicting the X-Men as underdogs, it would be nice to see them take their place as the saviors of humanity — until another powerful mutant fucks it all up again.