[X-Men: Apocalypse](tag:1194267) will open in theaters in about two months and the fact that this time we will see the character of Apocalypse for the first time in a live action film is pretty damn exciting. Apocalypse is one of the best characters that has ever graced the X-Men comic book pages but one of the most appealing aspects of the character is that he always brings four Horsemen that act as his personal strike team.
These Horsemen are normally mutants who either volunteer or are abducted and then manipulated or brainwashed by Apocalypse. Most of the time, these unsuspecting victims are at their lowest when taken under Apocalypse's tutelage. Normally, these mutants have lost something or someone precious to them or simply want to find a place in this world that hates and fears them.
Apocalypse has many powers but his greatest one is the power of manipulation and it is so easy for him to sway even the most powerful of mutants to fight for his cause. The combination of the four Horsemen that we will see on film is going to be a new iteration that hasn't been seen in any comic book Apocalypse story before.
According to a Collider article, Bryan Singer sees the whole Apocalypse dynamic as a cult leader type of thing:
“Then we started looking at cults and the nature of cults, because cult leaders, true cult leaders, develop god complexes and he always traditionally had four horsemen so I thought a cult has traditionally four factions to it that interest me. It has a political faction, and I’d always felt Magneto could fill those shoes. It always has a military faction, so Archangel could fill those shoes as the guardian. There’s also youth faction, those that you’re trying to seduce and grow into your cult, the young whose minds are malleable, and lastly the sexual component because cult leaders tend to sexualize their position and have sex with half the people in their cult… I always thought there was a mixture of ancient religion and cultism combined in the character of Apocalypse.”
So, in terms of how a cult is composed, the paragraph classifies the Horsemen as:
- Magneto: Political Faction
- Archangel: Military Faction
- Storm & Psylocke: Youth Faction & Seduction / Sexual Component
I put Storm and Psylocke together because I personally think it's a little bit misogynist to consider either Psylocke or Storm just as a sexual component. I get the whole vibe of Apocalypse being portrayed as a cult leader and playing with the whole God complex but then what happens to the appeal of the Horsemen?
In the comics, the Horsemen are the embodiment of their biblical counterparts: War, Famine, Pestilence / Conquest & Death. Maybe they will explore this in the movie or maybe not, but this article will try to the determine the identity of the four Horsemen under the assumption that these mutants will take on said personalities.
1. Pestilence / Conquest - Magneto
Magneto is in a very dark place at this point of the saga. He is alone and it seems there is no point in continuing a battle he sees as a lost one. We don't know how he will come to be an ally of Apocalypse but it's fun to speculate!
Pestilence is the Horseman also known as Conquest. It is referred to now only as Pestilence to avoid confusion with War, but the meaning behind this Horseman is rather interesting. First, as Conquest, this Horseman is portrayed as righteous and represents the successful spread of gospel whereas Pestilence is represented as an infectious disease or plague. What if Magneto represents both sides?
Magneto tried to be the herald of the mutant salvation and failed, then he tried to do the same but this time by force and failed again. Maybe Magneto feels that there's nothing else to do but to blend with human kind and live in a self-imposed exile. Enter Apocalypse and his tricky ways. Apocalypse will encourage Magneto to retake his former motto: mutants are the next step in evolution and the world needs to understand this by any means. The horsemen has also been described as a sign of prosperity and triumph, two things that Magneto desires for his fellow mutants.
2. War - Psylocke
Psylocke is one of the new characters to be introduced to the franchise so it would be foolish to assume her role within the film but it is clear that she is one of the Horsemen and we can play with that aspect of the character. I believe she will personify War for the reason that she will be Apocalypse's "sword" whenever he needs to teach a lesson; a type of enforcer when people won't listen to reason and conflict is the other alternative. Apocalypse is patient and prefers using his tongue instead of his fists but when push comes to shove, Apocalypse will always get what he wants one way or the other and War will always have your attention.
3. Famine - Archangel
Famine is the most complicated of the Horsemen to describe within this context. Famine is described as carrying a pair of scales and as the "Lord as a Law-Giver." Noticing that wealth and bread were unfairly distributed, Famine will punish those who had achieved such balance through injustice and excess. Warren Worthington III, also known as Angel and then Archangel, comes from a wealthy family and might have experience with such excesses and people's ill gotten goods. He might be portrayed as someone trying to "balance the scales" between classes and Apocalypse will give him the opportunity to be a symbol of hope but at the same time, someone that could easily take away that which hasn't been rightly earned.
4. Death - Storm
Storm is one of the most powerful mutants in X-Men lore and it would be interesting to see her development through her early years. She also becomes the leader of the X-Men at one point in the comic books. It looks that Storm will be the first one to meet Apocalypse and he might see the potential in her, taking advantage of her naïveté. Death has been described as the leader of the Horsemen in X-Men lore and in Christian Eschatology. Death is always followed by Hades (the resting place of the dead) and could be represented in the film just like that. Once Storm shows up, Apocalypse will always be nearby.
Well, that's it! That's my theory regarding the identity of the Horsemen of Apocalypse. The film might not even touch upon them as symbols since it's kind of religious territory but it would be really cool to see this side of Apocalypse explored within the movie.
source: Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, accessed 3 March 2016, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Horsemen_of_the_Apocalypse