Everybody, it seems, had a strong opinion on this year's wildly over-the-top X-Men: Apocalypse, be that love (as of right now, it's my favorite movie of the year), hate or general bafflement. We're still waiting, for instance, on an answer to the question of why Psylocke skulked away from the big battle as though walking out of a concert at which her favorite band played none of the hits. Where did she go — on foot — in apocalyptic Egypt? Will she return? Would anybody notice if she didn't?
All pressing questions, but in the absence of any wisdom on that, let's rewind a couple of years to when concept artists were coming up with designs for Apocalypse, his Horsemen and the X-Men themselves. As always, the drawing and design process for this film went through many stages, culminating in the big, blue, plastic-looking En Sabah Nur embodied by Oscar Isaac in the finished movie.
Concept art, which hit the internet this week, shows that at one point Apocalypse was envisioned as something else altogether.
As can be seen in the drawing from Jerad Marantz, uploaded to the artist's own ArtStation page, Apocalypse could have easily gone in a direction far more future-militaristic than that which we ultimately saw on screen. Arguably, this guy doesn't actually look much like the comic book iteration of the villain at all, although the veins beneath his pale blue skin do plenty to communicate that this is a truly ancient being, even if his suit looks like it's from the year 3035.
More concept art from Joshua James Shaw, described by the artist as "unfinished sketches," also appeared on the internet this week. These drawings were almost certainly from the early stages of the movie (probably around 2014), prior to the casting of Tye Sheridan as Cyclops, hence why Summers doesn't have the young actor's face, whereas Mystique is modeled on (a weird, redheaded) Jennifer Lawrence:
It's pretty clear that these designs were commissioned for the final minutes of the movie in which Xavier puts his X-Men to work in the Danger Room, and there are some strikingly clear similarities with the '90s-influenced suits that were eventually donned by Raven et al. on screen (Cyclops's iconic but useless shoulder-strap, for instance, made the cut, as did Raven's gloves).
Although less love/hate than Batman v Superman, the third movie of the new X-Men trilogy will probably continue to divide fans for quite some time. With Bryan Singer stepping away from the franchise for awhile, plus New Mutants on the way with Deadpool 2, the whole series seems ripe for a refresh. Let's just hope that whatever comes next, those gloriously camp costumes from the Danger Room don't get tossed aside, because the entire aesthetic is quintessentially X-Men.
For more X-Men nutrition: A Look Into The Very Colorful Sex Life of Jean Grey