2016 has already been a hell of a year for superhero movies across the roster —from Fox's Deadpool to Marvel Studios's Captain America: Civil War — but we're not too far away now from Fox's second offering of the year, [X-Men: Apocalypse](tag:1194267) (and we're excited regardless of what the reviews say).
The ninth installment in 20th Century Fox's well loved X-Men franchise is due to land towards the end of this month, and will pit the younger X-Men team against one of their oldest and deadliest enemies from the comic books — Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac).
Apocalypse is just about as formidable as his name suggests. He's an ancient mutant, thought to be immortal, and he's developed as one of the primary antagonists to the X-Men team over a long and complex history with them.
He's spent millennia traveling the world as a God, causing wars to test civilizations, destroying them if he deems them unworthy. He has a habit of recruiting or enslaving mutants as part of his personal guard — known as the Four Horsemen — which often includes prominent X-Men characters.
Which brings us to this: the Horsemen of X-Men: Apocalypse. Who are they, and how do they compare to their comic book counterparts?
We're all pretty familiar with both Michael Fassbender and Sir Ian McKellen's portrayals of Magneto / Erik Lehnsherr over the course of the X-Men films, but his character tends to be a bit more shades of grey (no, not that kind) in the comic books — usually walking a fine line between being wholly good or wholly evil (more like the young Magneto we saw in First-Class).
His actions are typically driven by his desire to protect mutants from a humanity that would see them destroyed — a deep-rooted desire that stems from the young Magneto (then Max Eisenhardt) being imprisoned in Auschwitz, and later the death of his daughter at the hands of a frightened mob.
And here, we already know from the trailers that the death of Magneto's family turns him towards Apocalypse and the path of the Horsemen in the upcoming movie.
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 (via ScreenRant):
"[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.'"
In the movies thus far we've usually seen Magneto leading the antagonistic team, but this time it looks like he's going to be following orders rather than giving them.
Warren Kenneth Worthington III (Ben Hardy) — better known as Angel — is a bit of a strange one, as his character has undergone a lot of changes over the years.
Angel was originally a bit of an egocentric spoiled brat, the son of billionaires Kathryn & Warren Worthington Jr. As a teenager wings started growing from his back, ostracizing him by making him feel freakish (as seen in X-Men: The Last Stand).
However, he soon gets over himself and realizes he can use his powers to help people as the Avenging Angel. He's later recruited into the X-Men by Prof. Xavier.
Angel is notable as one of the Horsemen who has a history with Apocalypse in the comics. At one point he goes down a pretty dark and confused path, ultimately leading to the amputation of his organic wings against his own will when they become gangrenous.
If that wasn't bad enough, he's then almost killed in an explosion — but Apocalypse rescues him from the blast and restores his wings, provided that he'll serve him as the Horseman Death.
With his new bio-organic metal wings — and extensive mental conditioning — Angel becomes the head of the Horsemen and proves a deadly foe against his friends. Later he becomes the heir to Apocalypse following the villain's apparent death, before eventually returning to the X-Men under the new name Archangel.
We've seen these bio-organic metallic wings in the concept art and promo materials already, which correlates with the turn Warren takes away from the Angel persona and towards the darker, more sadistic Death under the watch of Apocalypse.
Psylocke / Elizabeth "Betsy" Braddock (Olivia Munn) appears in many different iterations in the comic books, and even made an appearance in X-Men: The Last Stand. Initially she appeared as a powerful telepath, able to control minds, project illusions and affect other mutants' powers. She was also able to occasionally see the future through precognition, though she had no control over this.
Later her mind was transplanted into the body of a ninja assassin and she gained expert martial artistry and fighting skills. She's able to manifest psychic swords and knives with which she can destroy the minds and nervous systems of others. Basically, she's pretty badass.
Psylocke has generally been a hero as part of the X-Men team, rather than a villain, but she's another one who has history with the Horsemen in the comics.
At the time of Angel's ascension as the heir to Apocalypse, the two had a history and an ongoing relationship. As a result, she was unable to bring herself to kill him — so he turned her into the Horseman Death to serve as his protector and his Queen.
As for the Psylocke of Apocalypse, Munn told ScreenRant that Apocalypse recruits Betsy Braddock because he admires her utter lack of fear, even when she faces the big bad wannabe-god himself.
The young Ororo Munroe (Alexandra Shipp) — known as prominent X-Men member Storm — appears in the comics as an orphan surviving as a skilled thief in Cairo, where she first encounters Xavier.
If you're not familiar with the comics it might be tempting to view Storm as a loving, motherly type, but she's far from that. There have been many instances in the comics which portray her as an fierce, confused and dangerous young woman, and her unlimited potential has led to much speculation that she's an Omega-level mutant.
It's also worth noting that Storm has actually appeared as a Horseman before, in the non-canon comics What If Legion Had Killed Xavier And Magneto? and as Famine in the TV series X-Men: Evolution, alongside Mystique (who will have a major role in X-Men: Apocalypse), Xavier and Magneto.
Shipp describes Storm as the "youthful, easily-swayed apprentice," and she's the first person to encounter Apocalypse when he wakes from his millennia-spanning sleep. She calls the relationship between Storm and Apocalypse "pure love," and states that he's drawn to the magnitude of her 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.
It's a safe bet though to presume that over the course of the film she'll end up changing sides and join up with Xavier, taking her place as one of the leaders of the X-Men team.
X-Men: Apocalypse is set for a May 27, 2016 release.
Who is your favorite Horseman? Tell us in the comments below!