Last week I wrote about how the X-men film universe will look very different after X-Men: Apocalypse, in my article Magneto Bows Out in X-Men: Apocalypse - As Quicksilver Steps Up. But there's a hell of lot going on this film, some of which I didn't get chance to cover, so I wanted to talk about the film's titular antagonist and the threat he represents to the mutants, as well as what we can expect from the newly announced X-Men spin-off series headed for your TV screens, and how [X-Men: Apocalypse](tag:1194267) is in some ways a soft franchise reboot.
Who is Apocalypse?
First things first: if you forgot the golden rule of Marvel-adjacent films (never leave the cinema whilst the credits are rolling) then check out the post-credits scene from [X-Men: Days Of Future Past](tag:203942), which gave us our first look at Apocalypse.
First imagined in the X-Men comic series X-Factor #5 by writer Louise Simonson, Apocalypse is the physical embodiment of a "survival of the fittest" mantra; he has lived five millennia and was the first human being born with the X gene mutation, and therefore the first of the X-men. His name, En Sabah Nur, translates as "the first one".
Apocalypse has a taste for destruction which manifests itself in his habit of travelling from one civilisation to another across the centuries and using his mythical status to collect disciples and manipulate war. He travels with an inner circle of disciples known as the Four Horsemen, although in various comics the identities of the four are changeable. In the movie, his four horsemen are Storm, Magneto, Psylocke and Archangel.
The key to En Sabah Nur's survival is his regenerative ability. Damaged cells repair at will, he can fight off any disease, alter his physical appearance, turn body parts into weapons... oh, and he even has technopathic powers (the ability to control technology with his mind). He's not just a badass, he's pretty much immortal, which makes him a terrifying opponent for the X-men.
The question of exactly what has awakened him in the 1980s timeline of Apocalypse remains unanswered, although it could be that the public attention drawn to the mutants after the climax of Days of Future Past has drawn him into their world.
What's new with Gambit?
A great question, given that the X-men spin-off, which is due out precisely one year from now, still doesn't have a director attached - despite the fact that filming needs to begin by March at the latest if the project is going to keep its October 2016 release date. However recent reports claim that Channing Tatum, who's not just starring in but also co-producing the film, is chasing Doug Liman to helm. Liman has a pretty low profile but has directed solid action/adventure movies from Mr. and Mrs Smith to last year's Edge of Tomorrow (we'll say nothing about Jumper).
Also in contention is Joe Cornish, the Attack the Block director who also had a hand in Marvel's thoroughly excellent Ant-Man, and who would seem to be a stronger option for a film intended to kickstart a new franchise, compared to Liman's more conventional style of filmmaking. Gambit really is going to need something to boost its chances, considering a lot of casual moviegoers don't have a clue who he is. The smart move would be to lay the foundations for the card-throwing, kinetically-gifted mutant with a cameo in X-Men: Apocalypse, but right now FOX are keeping that particular card pretty close to their chest.
Whatever happens, don't be surprised if Gambit is pushed back to 2017.
A spin-off this way comes
If for some reason the absolute flood of superhero movies coming your way in the next twelve months still isn't enough for you, and even the prospect of Marvel and Netflix's returning Daredevil and killer new noir Jessica Jones hasn't got you hyped (in which case, see a shrink), you can now breathe a sigh of relief, because FOX are collaborating with their sister network FX to create a brand new TV series, Legion. Here's the blurb:
The Legion pilot introduces the story of David Haller, a man who may be more than human and who has has struggled with mental illness since his teenage years. Diagnosed as schizophrenic, David has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals for years. But after a strange encounter with a fellow patient, he’s confronted with the possibility that the voices he hears and the visions he sees might be real.
It sounds pretty promising. In the comics, Haller is Xavier's son, but as we've seen with the vague connection so far established between Magneto and Quicksilver, the many histories of the comic universe and that of the film universe don't always go hand in hand. Still, with Fargo creator and showrunner Noah Hawley at the helm, Legion is basically guaranteed to be immensely good fun. We'll have more news about that in the coming months.
A passing of the torch
The X-men franchise hasn't survived fifteen years without evolving, with 2011's X-Men: First Class successfully rebooting the series, but post-Apocalypse, with Jennifer Lawrence on her way out, Hugh Jackman saying au revoir and quite possibly Fassbender and McAvoy too, this film represents something of a passing of the torch.
Magneto, Xavier and Wolverine have been the focus of these films since the beginning, and now it seems Bryan Singer has recognised the importance of new blood, and so we can probably expect Quicksilver, Gambit and either Psylocke or a more established name like Jean Grey to lead the cast from the first film of the next trilogy onwards. If filmgoers take to the new generation of mutants, X-Men will become one of cinema's longest running franchises.
When does the trailer drop?
Whilst there's nothing concrete on this, everything is pointing to a teaser trailer drop by mid-November at the latest - at which point you can reasonably expect the internet to lose its collective shit.
Are you as stoked as I am for X-Men: Apocalypse? Will Gambit cameo, and what does the future hold for this chameleon of a film franchise? Leave a comment and make yourself heard, or write your own post about it!