The Story Geeks blogger Ashley Pauls responds with an additional perspective to the same topic discussed in this week’s podcast – making “X-Men: Apocalypse Better.” Want to share your own take? Join the conversation in The Story Geeks Facebook group!
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Maybe I’ve just got a soft spot for the X-Men franchise, but I didn’t think “X-Men: Apocalypse” was all that bad. Sure, it doesn’t come close to topping the previous two entries — “First Class” or “Days of Future Past” — but I enjoyed watching it, and sometimes that’s enough for a film.
I haven’t stopped talking about how much I love Michael Fassbender as Magneto since I first saw him in “First Class,” and he has an intriguing and tragic arc in “Apocalypse” (he tries to stay off the grid and put aside the past, but is recruited by the villain after his wife and daughter are murdered). And Quicksilver — who was such a scene-stealer in “Days of Future Past” — has another great slow-mo sequence, set to the tune of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).”
However, as mentioned before, this is the weakest of the first three X-Men reboot films, and there are some tweaks/changes that could have helped make this a stronger film. Here’s what I’d recommend:
1. Don’t force Oscar Isaac to act under all that makeup
Oscar Isaac is an incredibly charismatic actor. He’s charming even when he’s being a bit of a rogue (looking at you, Poe Dameron in “The Last Jedi”), and he’s still transfixing as a performer when he’s playing a character who’s decidedly sinister (re: “Ex Machina”).
Unfortunately, his costume as the villain in “X-Men: Apocalypse” does him no favors. The heavy blue makeup makes it hard to see the actor underneath, and it looks more than a bit fake.
This is an example of a time when it may have been better to deviate from the original comics portrayal. What works on the page may not work on the screen, and the Apocalypse costume unfortunately buries the actor. A slightly more realistic style probably would have worked better here.
Oscar Isaac has the acting chops to give us a really compelling villain, but the costuming and script hinder more than help him in “Apocalypse.”
2. Save Jean Grey’s power reveal for ‘Dark Phoenix’
The rebooted X-Men franchise has always played a little fast and loose when it comes to timelines and continuity. Professor X and Magneto have aged suspiciously well, considering the amount of time that has passed over the course of the reboot films. Overall this franchise doesn’t have the same cohesiveness as the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
At the end of “Apocalypse,” we apparently witness the birth of the Phoenix as Jean Grey unleashes her powers against Apocalypse, incinerating him. Which is kinda weird, because in “Dark Phoenix” we see the supposed origin of her powers.
I’m sure the writers could have found another way for the X-Men to defeat the villain in “Apocalypse,” without introducing the Phoenix concept and making the film timeline so confusing. It makes more sense to save the power reveal for “Dark Phoenix.”
Overall, they could have done a better job tying all the X-Men reboot films together and bridging the gap between them.
3. Remove the Wolverine cameo
I know, I know — everybody loves Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. I do too. But there’s so much going on in “Apocalypse” already that I don’t think you really need the “Weapon X” (a.k.a. Wolverine) cameo in this movie.
The film can be a little confusing to follow at times, due to all the locations, characters, etc., and trimming out the Wolverine cameo would probably streamline the film. Especially since Wolverine doesn’t really pop up again in this franchise, and “Logan” kinda has its own timeline thing going on anyway.