I don't think there's ever been an X-Men film that is as highly anticipated round these parts as the upcoming [X-Men: Apocalypse](tag:1194267) is right now. It's tempting to forget about the huge 20th Century Fox blockbuster in amongst the slew of other superhero releases coming our way this year, but if it wasn't for the success of the X-Men franchise we probably wouldn't be here right now, and it's not one to be underestimated.
Ever since [X-Men: Days Of Future Past](tag:203942) reset the cinematic timeline audiences have been eagerly anticipating the return to that universe and the chance to see the ultimate formation of the team. But X-Men: Apocalypse does more than just bring our young team together, it also introduces one of the biggest bads and ultimate X-Men super-villain: Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac).
Apocalypse Is Coming
I think by now everyone is pretty familiar with Apocalypse and what his deal is, so I'll just touch on this briefly. As the oldest known mutant in the X-Men canon Apocalypse - a.k.a. En Sabah Nur - has a bit of a bug up his butt about humanity (as we saw in the first offical trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse).
The 5000 year old Apocalypse was abandoned as a baby due to his unusual appearance (grey skin, blue lips), and once his powers emerged he came to regard himself as a god of sorts. He spent millennia travelling the world (in between hibernations) as a god, prompting wars and other "tests" to encourage civilisations to adapt and grow.
If you failed the test though he'd wipe out your entire civilisation, so study up.
The Four Horsemen
The Horsemen are his personal guard, other powerful mutants either recruited or enslaved. Many prominent X-Men characters have fallen under his influence over the series run either by brainwashing or other means. Despite his appearance, that Apocalypse is quite charismatic.
X-Men: Apocalypse is no exception, and this time round our Four Horsemen will be comprised of Angel / Archangel (Ben Hardy), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Storm (Alexandra Shipp) and Magneto himself (Michael Fassbender).
So why are these characters, the majority of whom have traditionally been heroes in the X-Men comics, standing with Apocalypse? Well ScreenRant.com visited the set of Apocalypse last year and had the opportunity to speak with some of the cast and crew, and the answer is closer to reality than you'd expect.
The Cult of Apocalypse
It's obvious from the first look that the themes of Apocalypse are based heavily in religion, and according to director Bryan Singer the Horsemen and Apocalypse are based heavily on research conducted by Singer and Apocalypse screenwriter Simon Kinberg’s into modern day cults:
"We started looking at cults and the nature of cults, because cult leaders, true cult leaders, develop god complexes and [Apocalypse] always traditionally had four horsemen. So I thought a cult [which] has traditionally four factions to it, that interested me."
So how do the Four Horsemen fit in?
Storm - Ororo Munroe - is the "youthful, easily swayed apprentice" and the first person Apocalypse meets when he wakes from his millennia-spanning sleep. Alexandra Shipp describes the relationship between Apocalypse as "pure love."
"I feel like when someone joins a cult, they end up becoming kindred spirits. They’re following the same thing. They all have the same goal. Apocalypse… So what he is attracted to is their level and their magnitude of power."
An angry young woman rejected and "treated like crap" for her incredible goddess-level powers, Storm follows Apocalypse because she believes he can change the world that she perceives is wrong. And Apocalypse needs her for protection, as Shipp describes him as "weak and... alone" when he first awakes.
Olivia Munn echoes the words of Shipp as she claims that each of the Horsemen is lost, seeking something they find in the figure of Apocalypse. Like cult leaders do Apocalypse is able to manipulate their desires to bend towards his own means, as Munn says:
"[Cult leaders] can really see when people are weak and how to prey on that and capitalize on that. You see that with Magneto and Storm and Angel and myself. We all are in a place where we’re really needing somebody to come in and say, 'This is the way.'"
Munn says that Apocalypse recruits Psylocke - Elizabeth "Betsy" Braddock - because he admires her utter lack of fear, even when she faces the big bad wannabe-god himself.
Angel - Warren Worthington III - was one of the most prevalent of Apocalypse's disciples in the original comics so he's sure to be important here. ScreenRant explain witnessing the scene in which Angel gets recruited into the Horsemen; granted "custom armor" and wings consisting of "metallic blades", as we saw in the trailer.
This echoes his original storyline in the comics, the one which heralds his transition into Archangel. Prior to meeting Apocalypse Angel goes down a dark path, a path which ends with the amputation of Angel's gangrenous organic wings against his will. Desolute, Angel nearly dies in an explosion but is rescued by Apocalypse at the last moment, his wings restored with deadly bio-mechanical bladed feathers in exchange for his servitude as the Horseman Death.
With his new organic metal wings, blue skin (and a dose of mental conditioning) Angel becomes the head of the Horsemen and proves a deadly foe against his former friends.
Magneto - Erik Lensherr - is a pretty interesting one since he tends to be leading the team rather than being a servant, but he's drawn into Apocalypse's team after he once again loses everything in Poland following the events of Days of Future Past (we saw a little of this in the trailer with Fassbender looking destitute).
At his lowest point, when Apocalypse shows up, Magneto accepts the outstretched hand as a way of unleashing his anger and pain back upon those he holds responsible, as Fassbender elaborates:
"In a way, it’s like that classic thing of joining any cult or radical group, [Apocalypse has] caught [Magento] at a very low, vulnerable point where he doesn’t really care anymore whether he dies or not or what happens, so he’s like, 'Yeah I’ll join this guy. I’ll go on this path of judgment.'"
Clearly a lot of thought has gone into laying down the character motivations for these Four Horsemen, and we're very excited to see how all this carries over to the big screen once [X-Men: Apocalypse](tag:1194267) releases in theatres on May 27, 2016.