After years of waiting, and months of speculation on how [X-Men: Days Of Future Past](movie:203942) would fix X-Men movie universe continuity, Bryan Singer’s ambitious time travel team-up is now in theaters – complete with a post-credits button scene. As per usual, those outside of comic book fan circles may be confused by what they saw after sitting through all those end credits, but we’re here to help explain. Just as The Wolverine helped set the stage for what to expect in Days of Future Past with a buzz-worthy button clip, a post-credits tease in DoFP prepares the way for the next film, [X-Men: Apocalypse](movie:1194267).
Our discussion is going to be full of SPOILERS from here on out – not just for Days of Future Past, but every X-Men movie that has come so far – along with select X-Men comic book story lines. READ NO FURTHER unless you’re all caught up. Even though most of our discussion will be speculation, a lot of it could be considered FUTURE SPOILERS for X-Men: Apocalypse. You have been warned.
Unlike a lot of post-credits scenes, which build-upon the aftermath of the current film in order to tease what is to come next, the X-Men: Days of Future Past button clip takes moviegoers nearly 5,000 years back in time to ancient Egypt. While casual filmgoers might lack the requisite context, comic book fans who have been following the development of X-Men: Days of Future Past and its upcoming sequel, X-Men: Apocalypse, should have a pretty clear idea of what is being depicted; however, before we dig into what the scene hints at, let’s start with the basics.
The scene opens on a desert environment, revealed to be ancient Egypt, where a hooded figure stands on a sandy hillside, arms outstretched. The camera aims down, where thousands of Egyptian men and women bow in reference, chanting “En Sabah Nur,” as the cloaked boy waves his arms and begins assembling the Great Pyramids by moving massive stone chunks into place through telekinesis. The camera then pans to his face – grey skin, blue lips, with red eyes – before circling around to four mysterious figures on horseback perched on a cliffside to the boy’s left.
Who is En Sabah Nur?
While this young and slender version of super villain Apocalypse, aka En Sabah Nur (a name which means “The First One”), might not be immediately recognizable to comic book readers that are only familiar with his augmented and armored form, the character’s backstory actually begins in ancient Egypt. As the first mutant, Nur was born and subsequently orphaned in Akkaba, an ancient settlement on the outskirts of the Egyptian Empire. After facing rejection by society and the destruction of his people at the hands of Pharaoh Rama-Tut (who was actually the 30th century time-traveler Kang the Conqueror), along with his warlord Ozymandias, Apocalypse used his powers to overthrow the Pharaoh, enslave Ozymandias, and take control of Egypt – where the people worshiped him as a God.
Through the ages, Apocalypse acquired alien tech (from a group of cosmic beings known as the Celestials) that enhanced his appearance and existing powers – providing him with a host of additional (and menacing) abilities. Beyond standard super villain characteristics like increased intelligence and strength, Apocalypse can control his body at the molecular level, allowing him to form weapons from his own limbs, suspend aging, as well as heal fatal wounds – while also controlling objects in the outside world through telekinesis, and networking with technology. He also is a master of genetic enhancement, able to radically alter mutant and human physiology.
Who are the Four Horsemen?
Apocalypse’s ability to modify mutant and human genetics is especially important and instrumental in the presence of the Four Horsemen – a super villain team enslaved to the will of Apocalypse. While the identities of the four characters cannot be determined based solely on the clip, various well-known and obscure mutants have been indoctrinated (and augmented) by Apocalypse over the years to fill the roles of Death, Famine, Pestilence, and War. (In the comics, horsemen have been made by transforming characters like Angel, Mister Sinister, Sunfire, and even the Hulk, into deadly heralds of Apocalypse.) As a result, the specific (albeit nondescript) Horsemen briefly shown in the post-credits scene might not even appear in the Days of Future Past sequel at all; instead, a major story point could be Apocalypse using characters like Magneto as members of a new Horsemen team.
It is also unclear whether the version of Apocalypse shown in the Days of Future Past post-credits scene has yet to harness Celestial tech upgrades. The presence of the Four Horsemen as well as the use of telekinesis would suggest that Apocalypse could be using some alien technology at this point – though he has yet to fully augment his own physique. That said, it’s possible that Singer intends to bypass the Celestial technology aspect of the Apocalypse story altogether and simply credit any change in the character’s abilities or appearance to longterm honing/evolution of his powers. The director has previously indicated that Apocalypse would not be an alien in the upcoming film, meaning he’ll stick to the traditional mutant origin, but that doesn’t mean the character couldn’t still have encountered alien technology.
Prepare for Apocalypse in the X-Men Movie Universe
So how do the Days of Future Past events connect to Apocalypse and how will the villain fit into the existing First Class-centric storyline? Thematically, Apocalypse is a smart escalation of the conflict between Professor Xavier (living in harmony with humanity) and Magneto (who champions mutant superiority). In his early days, En Sabah Nur was raised inside the Sandstormers clan, an ancient people who believed that only the fittest are worthy of survival – a philosophy that Apocalypse in turn applied to mutants. Despite his malevolent actions, Apocalypse sees himself as a tool of evolutionary progress – ridding the universe of the weak and recruiting the strong and pitiless to his side. The character could offer an especially smart juxtaposition for Magneto (who wishes to unite mutant kind against humans) by revealing a flaw in the Master of Magnet’s thinking – specifically that not all mutants are created equal.
As for how Singer intends to explain the sudden appearance of Apocalypse in the new continuity (during the 1980s) without ever mentioning him in the original trilogy, there’s actually a comic book precedent that could be used. While X-Men: Days of Future Past undoes certain original trilogy developments, such as bringing back long-dead characters like Cyclops and Jean Grey, the post-credits Apocalypse scene pre-dates the altered timeline change-up by around 5,000 years – meaning that Apocalypse isn’t a product of the new continuity. He was already alive somewhere during the events of the original trilogy, but for whatever reason did not come face to face with the X-Men.
As a result, we can presume that Apocalypse is awakened by (or attracted to) Logan’s trip through time and the subsequent change in reality. As mentioned, that idea has been explored before in the comics – when a hibernating Apocalypse is awakened 100 years ahead of schedule by time-traveling mutant Cable. At this point, we don’t know for sure how Singer intends to explain why Apocalypse never appeared during the original 1980s (the time period that X-Men: Apocalypse will feature) but if the director chooses to borrow from the comics, a hibernating Apocalypse awakened 100 years ahead of schedule by time-traveling Wolverine would make sense – and adhere to movie continuity. To be clear: In that case, had Wolverine not traveled back in time, Apocalypse could have slept until his pre-determined date – waking up long after the extermination of mutants by the future Mark X Sentinels in the original timeline.
Of course, that’s just speculation at this point, and we’ll have to wait for X-Men: Apocalypse to hit theaters before we know exactly what happened to En Sabah Nur between the Egypt post-credits scene and his reemergence as Apocalypse in the new 1980s continuity.
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