It's fair to say that I thoroughly enjoyed X-Men: Apocalypse. It might even go down as my blockbuster of the year, depending on whether or not Suicide Squad delivers on the promise of the trailers. As it stands though, Fox is the one to beat — Apocalypse is a flawed but immensely entertaining entry into the X-Men franchise.
In many ways it feels like a comic book movie rather than a superhero movie, so it's no surprise that the movie is jammed full of Easter Eggs that reference both Marvel Comics and wider pop culture. Let's check out 10 of the best.
1. Star Trek Educates Apocalypse
Early in Apocalypse, En Sabah Nur visits Storm at her home, where he learns of 20th century culture by putting his hand to the television and absorbing pretty much everything. It's weird, and more than a little bit ridiculous.
One of the shows playing on the TV is Star Trek, specifically "Who Mourns For Adonais?" from Season 2 of the original series. In that episode, an alien who believes himself to be the Greek God Apollo takes the crew captive, describing them as his "beloved children." In this movie, Apocalypse tells his Horsemen "You are all my children" — a God complex he may have, but the ancient mutant has still has much to learn about reproduction.
Ironically, if he truly had absorbed everything from the TV, Apocalypse would know that the alien Apollo lost his powers at the end of that Trek episode. The omens were never good.
2. You Said It, Jean!
"At least we can all agree the third one is always the worst," Jean Grey tells Scott and Jubilee as they leave the mall having seen Return of the Jedi. Those who didn't find much to love in this movie might perceive that as a weird self-burn, but it's far more likely to be Bryan Singer's dig at X-Men: The Last Stand, the almost universally hated third film in the original trilogy.
There's a special significance to Jean being the one to say that line, considering The Last Stand made such a hatchet job of The Dark Phoenix Saga. Having seen what Jean can do in this movie, you wouldn't bet against Singer putting his own stamp on Dark Phoenix in the very near future.
3. Stan The Man
As Apocalypse sends the world's missiles into space, residents of a suburban street watch on in stunned disbelief. One of them, credited as The Man, is played by Stan Lee. The Man's wife? That would be Joan Lee, real-life wife of Stan. That's cute.
The cameo, in my opinion, is one of his best, eschewing comedy to give us the memorable imagery of the missiles headed skyward reflected in Stan's shades.
In the comics, Blob is a morbidly obese mutant who pops up now and then to taunt the X-Men. He makes a living performing as a circus freak, so it's apt that it's at an underground mutant fight club in East Berlin where we meet Blob in Apocalypse.
Mind you, "meet" might be too strong a word for it. He's actually out cold, having just been handed his ass on a plate by Angel. Better luck next time, son.
5. Welcome To The Danger Room
In the closing scenes of Apocalypse, Charles adjust his attitude toward mutantkind's place in society, aligning just a little more closely with Erik by sending his best students into battle training in the Danger Room.
Although the comics have often gone with simulated fights in the Danger Room, this time Xavier trains Raven, Jean, Kurt, Scott, Ororo and Peter by having them do battle with actual, re-purposed Sentinels, a nice callback to Days of Future Past.
I think it's fair to say the Professor is taking the whole thing pretty seriously.
6. Hank's X2 Callback
Hank seems quite pleased with himself when he tells Raven that he built an exit for the X-Jet beneath the school's basketball court. More than just being awesome, this is quite clearly a call-back to X2, when Stryker used word of the X-Jet being stowed away beneath the basketball court to persuade the President that the X-Men were planning a strike on humanity.
7. Oh, Moira! What Have You Done?
Wasn't it great to see Moira MacTaggert again? Rose Byrne's CIA agent ended the movie exactly where we always knew she would — back in Xavier's arms — but she may yet serve a bigger purpose in the next trilogy of X-Men movies.
During his visit to her office, Charles notices a photograph on her desk. Turns out Moira has a young son from her dissolved marriage. In the comics, Moira's son Kevin is an extremely powerful mutant with powers of telepathy and the ability to bend the laws of physics — turning pure energy into matter, for instance. However, he can only warp objects that exist in his line of sight.
Better known as Proteus, he's one of the villains featured in the X-Men Animated Series from the '90s, which was clearly a major influence on this movie. Having inadvertently awoken Apocalypse, will lovely Moira once again be responsible for throwing a supervillain into the path of the X-Men in the next movie?
It basically has to happen, if only so we get to see Proteus transform Moira's gun into a snake.
8. Weapon X
Wolverine's escape from the Weapon X facility, aided by Jean and the gang, is a pretty insane sequence which comes out of nowhere, with no explanation for how Stryker got his hands on Logan again. Wolverine darting into the forest was also supremely funny, although I'm not sure it was actually supposed to be.
Either way, Logan's look throughout his cameo, with the cables and the bizarre industrial helmet, is very reminiscent of the Weapon X origin story featured in Marvel Comics Presents back in '91.
He barely looks human in the strip, and that translates to the big screen in Apocalypse. This Wolverine is pure animal, and it's almost a wonder that Jean Grey manages to get inside his head at all. But she does, and they share a moment.
9. Suited And Booted
Back to the Danger Room now, where we get our first look at the young mutants post-makeover. Scott has a new pair of glasses, but his iconic X shoulder strap is restored (does anybody know what it's actually for?), while Quicksilver looks totally comic book-ified.
In fact, all of the designs seem to pay homage to classic outfits from the comics, which should please those who think the X-Men movies haven't been faithful enough until now. That's not something you could accuse Apocalypse of.
10. Something Sinister This Way Comes
Finally, the brief but tantalizing post-credits sequence teases the prospect of the supervillainous Mister Sinister's arrival in the X-Men Cinematic Universe. At Alkali Lake, some corporate baddie or other places a vial of Wolverine's blood labelled "Weapon X" in a suitcase belonging to "Essex Corp."
Considering Sinister's real name is Nathaniel Essex and he's a lunatic geneticist obsessed with the acceleration of evolution via manmade genetic mutation, it's not much of a stretch to imagine that Mister S is the one pulling the strings here, or that we'll be seeing the clone X-23 at some point in the not-too-distant future.
That doesn't necessarily mean he'll be the main villain of the next X-Men movie, which is to be set in '93. Producer Simon Kinberg has said that Essex's meddling influence may be felt in a variety of X-Men movies, from Gambit to Wolverine 3.
The crazy amazing header art was created by Doaly on Behance.