[Minor spoilers ahead for X-Men Apocalypse]
Almost every character in the X-Men comics has a detailed and interesting backstory, some of which are frequently retconned, and of course this is often impossible to incorporate into each movie adaptation. Here and there we get some knowing nods to the source material, and in the case of Storm in X-Men: Apocalypse, we get a little more than that. And yet, there was still something missing from her story.
Apocalypse introduces us to a different Ororo Munroe to the one we love from the original trilogy of films, but this version of the character should seem familiar to comic readers.
A Pickpocket In Cairo
Dirty, downtrodden, and poor, Ororo wanders the markets of Cairo, using her impressive weather controlling powers to aid her petty thievery. This is clearly the only way she knows to survive, but Ororo is not a villain at first — we can see her compassionate and protective side come out when she is surrounded by her gang of urchins, striking an interesting parallel to her life as a teacher at Xavier's school. This isn't actually far from Storm's comic origin story, which also featured her as a pickpocket in Cairo.
In this version of the tale, Ororo is orphaned when a jet plane crashes into her parents' home in Cairo. Although she comes from a long line of mutant Kenyan priestesses, celebrated for their abilities, Ororo finds herself totally alone in the world. She has nowhere to go and no one to turn to, until she picks the pocket of another powerful mutant — one Charles Xavier. He takes her to his school, and the rest is history.
In Apocalypse this becomes an interesting case of there-but-for-the-grace-of-God, as instead of Xavier finding her in Cairo, it's the villainous Apocalypse. He recognizes the epic power within her, and carefully manipulates her into joining his cause.
At this point, Apocalypse is still disorientated, but he soon learns of the horrors of the modern world, quickly taking up a mission to save Earth from humanity. Apocalypse recruits Ororo by tapping into her compassion and fearfulness simultaneously, promising to protect her. There's an interesting moment when he says "this world needs to be cleansed," deftly changing the final word to "saved" when Ororo asks for an English translation.
Ultimately though, it's Storm's destiny to become a hero, and we see her slow realization that Apocalypse is evil come to a head in the final battle.
Storm's decision all hinges on Mystique. Lauded as a hero, Mystique's actions in Days of Future Past have caused her to become a symbol of heroic representation to all mutantkind. The impact on individuals is clear, as Ororo explains to Apocalypse that she wants to be like Mystique someday. This moment is very poignant, setting up Storm's inevitable choice to betray Apocalypse later on. And while this is clearly a factor in Storm's decision, there's a lot of wasted potential in that pivotal moment.
Before the final battle, there are plenty of possibilities for emotional resonance set up. It seems so obvious that two things will happen — Quicksilver's revelation that he's Magneto's son will convince Magneto to protect him, and Mystique will confront Storm about her allegiances. And yet, neither of these moments came to pass, which is aggravating considering a fight between Mystique and Storm wouldn't just have been emotional, it would have been awesome to watch.
Having Mystique and Storm confront one another could have been one of the emotional highlights of the film, and the peak of each character's development arc. Mystique could have fully accepted her role as a symbol, using Storm's admiration of her to reach out to the young mutant. And of course this would cause Storm to doubt what Apocalypse told her, as she learns which side she should have been fighting for all along.
It could have been really cool, but instead we got a lot of Storm just sort of watching everything that was going on, which isn't as engaging for a viewer as seeing the emotional foreshadowing build to its logical conclusion. (And if we had to lose the cliched and ineffective speech Mystique gave to Magneto in order to make this happen, all the better).
Ah well. Here's hoping we get to see more of Storm in upcoming X-Men films, as so far we've seen a lot of potential. As one of the most powerful and interesting X-Men characters, Storm deserves to get the spotlight in a movie someday (or even her own movie). With the added irony of her new origin as a Horseman of Apocalypse, it would be really great to see where she goes from here — as one of the leaders of X-Men's future — now that she's taken her rightful place among the team.