*WARNING: Spoilers for the X-Men franchise below. Proceed with caution.*
One of the most impressive scenes in X-Men: Apocalypse is Quicksilver's arrival at the Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. The super-fast mutant uses his speed to save the lives of everyone inside from an explosion that tears the building apart. It's a brilliant technical achievement that's well-constructed and very entertaining to watch. There's even time for a few jokes too. It's stunning and exciting, but totally tonally inconsistent with everything else going on, which is exactly my problem.
The buildup to the scene is one of the most dramatic parts of the movie. Apocalypse overwhelms Charles Xavier in a chilling display of power, de-arms the human race and kidnaps Xavier right from inside the X-Men's grasp. To top it all off, we have the only heroic fatality in the film — Alex Summers, older brother to Cyclops.
This is a serious moment for the heroes. Reduced to their lowest point with their leader captured, one of their comrades dead and the others sure to follow. Then Quicksilver swoops in by coincidence.
If Quicksilver had decided to go looking for Daddy Magneto just a little later, everyone inside the school would have been obliterated. From the music to the jokes, the whole scene is just completely out of place with what else is going on. It doesn't fit, despite being an incredible scene if viewed in a vacuum. The death of Alex, the only main heroic character death in the movie, doesn't have a chance to land properly because suddenly we're swept up in the mandated Quicksilver-being-awesome scene.
Evan Peters is a great actor and does a fine job with the character. I enjoy seeing him on screen, doing his super-speed thing and adding some snarky comic relief. His powerset is genuinely cool and the kind of thing many of us dream about. But director Bryan Singer makes him too awesome, makes him too pivotal to the plot without asking anything of the character in return.
Days of Future Past (2014) had a similar issue with Quicksilver's scene, if the viewer decided to ask the question “Why didn't Quicksilver do all the work?” He's incredibly overpowered in these movies, but at least in the previous film he's really just a glorified cameo to move the story along. In this one, he's a vital part of the movie.
But as a character, Quicksilver doesn't really have any limitations. The X-Men universe is full of similarly over-powered characters, but they all have something holding them back. Magneto is insanely powerful, but he has his internal conflict and relationship with Xavier to keep him grounded, who likewise has his fear that Magneto might be right and of his own potential. Jean Grey is terrified of the power within her. But Quicksilver doesn't have any of that development yet; he runs around making jokes and doing cool things.
In fairness to the movie, he does get briefly captured by Stryker and later overpowered by Apocalypse himself, but not before beating the crap out of a CGI rag-doll version of the villain. It is kind of satisfying to finally see Quicksilver get put down a little bit, it's still after he's made Apocalypse look ridiculous. This is one of my pet peeves with movies like this — making a joke out of the villain.
Even if he gets the chance to have some revenge (as he does against the speedster), it's a little too late to save his dignity. Far more interesting, from both a character and storytelling point of view, would be to see Quicksilver not even have a chance to do any damage before getting put down by Apocalypse. It would cement Apocalypse far better as a threat and shake Quicksilver's confidence even further.
There's potential in Quicksilver's injury to add some much needed character development, but there's not enough time left in the film to really get into his head about it and it looks like we won't. For someone with super-speed, a broken leg would be about the worst thing that could happen to him, but he seems totally fine when we see him at the end of the movie, still debating about revealing himself to Magneto as his son. This plot line isn't anything we haven't seen before and isn't enough of a character trait to make Quicksilver more than just a cool plot device.
Despite my complaints, Quicksilver really is one of the most promising things about the franchise moving forwards. He's got a solid actor behind him and his powers have allowed for some of the most visually impressive scenes in the series so far. But you can't have a character that un-restricted without damaging the story. At the moment, his powers alone negate the need for any other X-Men, so if we're going to have Quicksilver has a full member of the team, there needs to be more to the character than what we've had so far.