"#Xmen #Apocalypse 2016!"
And with that one tweet, director Bryan Singer lines up his next gig.
Vulture, Badass Digest, Movieweb, and pretty much every fanboy site on the interwebs is reporting Singer and 20th Century Fox are already hard at work on a sequel to next summer’s X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. Subtitled APOCALPYSE, the film will feature the “First Class” group of mutants – Professor X (James McAvoy), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Havok (Lucas Till), and whoever else might be introduced in DAYS – doing battle with fan favorite baddie Apocalypse (pictured above).
I would explain Apocalypse, his connection to the X-Men, and his master plan, but it’s wayyy too convoluted to explain in just a couple of sentences. Click HERE to check out his Wiki page, if you want. Long story short, he’s a giant purple ancient mutant warlord hell-bent on destroying Earth. He’s basically the Thanos (the giant purple ancient mutant warlord who appeared in the end credits of THE AVENGERS) of the X-MEN universe. Not that his comic description matters. First Showing has uncovered the film version of Apocalypse will likely be quite different from the comic book version.
How different, you ask? VERY DIFFERENT. Be warned, the next paragraph contains MASSIVE SPOILERS about the post-credits scenes of DAYS OF FUTURE PAST.
Per First Showing: "The credits bumper jumps back to the past with a young Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) in a ramshackle house in the desert eating dinner, clearly on the run from all the authorities who want to bring him down. While using a well outside to get some water, the young Magneto sees something fall from the night sky and crash to Earth nearby. Upon inspecting the impact zone, he encounters what is described as an "alien form" who is "towering, terrifying, with a twisted metal face and dark pits for eyes." It's Apocalypse and he says, "I have crossed rivers of time to find you."
Magneto asks, "Who are you?" The alien responds, "I am your future." Suddenly Apocalypse merges with Magneto, who screams and blasts an insane amount of energy and shockwaves around him. This energy explosion levels everything around him, with a blast radius that goes for miles. As Magneto looks at what he's done, he has a realization of the power he now holds and a villainous grin begins to form before the film cuts to black."
Hmmmm… a Magneto/Apocalypse hybrid? Sounds interesting, but I’m not sure fanboys are going to dig yet another dramatic alteration of a classic X-Men character. I mean, seriously, didn’t Fox learn anything from Dark Phoenix in X-MEN: THE LAST STAND and Deadpool in X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE? But hey, Fassbender. If anyone could make this work, it would be him.
Which brings me to the rant part of this piece: Bryan Singer. I have no idea why Fox is keeping this clown around for APOCALYPSE. Hell, I don’t understand why they brought him back for DAYS OF FUTURE PAST in the first place. I get that Singer helmed X-MEN and X-2: X-MEN UNITED… but that was over a decade ago, back when he still had some talent (I’ll be the first one to admit THE USUAL SUSPECTS and APT PUPIL are AMAZING) and wasn’t addicted to spending hundreds of millions of dollars on blockbuster busts.
Don’t like me talking smack about Singer? Deal with it. Here are some fun facts: Singer’s last film, JACK THE GIANT SLAYER, cost over 200 million (that number doesn’t include marketing costs) and only brought in 197 at the box office.
Another fun fact: The two films Singer helmed before JACK were the instantly forgotten “Tom Cruise as a Nazi” pic VALKYRIE (200mil worldwide off a 100mil budget) and SUPERMAN RETURNS (391mil worldwide off a 300mil budget) which was so misguided (Supes in now a overtly Christ-y ex-stalking absentee father. Yay!) and maligned (defenders of RETURNS are few and far between) Warner opted for to go full reboot rather than with a sequel.
Why bring up box office grosses? Well, Singer’s last three movies have been duds. None of these flicks, save for maybe VALKYRIE, actually turned a profit. Plain and simple. This is a very important factor when you consider X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST is the 2nd most expensive film Fox has ever produced, right behind James Cameron’s AVATAR. The budget is reportedly… A LOT. That’s the easiest way to put it. Some are saying Singer has blown 300mil, others are saying it’s more like 400mil. There's even a couple of folks saying it might be around 500mil. That's some serious bank for a franchise that has never broke the 500mil barrier at the box office.
For all you numbers fans, here’s the breakdown of how much money each X-MEN pic made at the worldwide box office:
X-MEN – 296mil
X2: X-MEN UNITED – 407mil
X-MEN: THE LAST STAND – 459mil
X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE – 373mil
X-MEN: FIRST CLASS – 353mil
THE WOLVERINE – 414mil
Notice anything? The highest grossing X-MEN pic was THE LAST STAND with 459mil… and it was the one helmed by Brett Ratner. The best reviewed X-MEN pic, for those interested, was FIRST CLASS. It’s currently sitting pretty at 87% over on Rotten Tomatoes… and it was directed by Matthew Vaughn. None of these films have grossed over 500mil at the box office and that is what DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, regardless of current budget, will end up costing, if not more, once all is said and done. Process that for a second.
And process this: Vaughn was originally signed to direct DAYS back when it was going to be a legit sequel to FIRST CLASS. His original vision was a straightforward sequel that would’ve dealt with the X-Men in the era of the civil rights movement and Vietnam War. Magneto’s assassination of president John F. Kennedy was reportedly going to play a big part.
That all changed when Singer realized JACK THE GIANT SLAYER was shaping up to be a big box office bomb. Not just any bomb, but one that could possibly end his career. Dude needed a hit movie to helm and fast!
Enter FIRST CLASS 2. Singer, who was already producing the flick, quickly swooped in, gave Vaughn the boot, and reworked the script with Simon Kinberg into a more fanboy friendly AVENGERS-esque epic, all before JACK rolled in and stunk up the multiplex. Shrewd, if dick, move.
Gone was the straightforward storyline and social commentary Vaughn and writer Jane Goldman had hoped to deliver. In their place is a sure-to-be-at-least-mildly-disappointing adaptation of a classic X-Men tale (Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s “Days Of Future Past”) and return appearances by the old school X-Gang (Patrick Stewart as Xavier, Ian McKellen as Magneto, Halle Berry as Storm, Ellen Page as Kitty, Shawn Ashmore as Iceman, Anna Paquin as Rogue, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine).
Black leather. Don’t forget the black leather. F*ck those colorful suits from FIRST CLASS and double f*ck the current superhero movie trend of actually making superhero supersuits colorful like their comic counterparts. Singer is black leather all the way, baby! No yellow spandex here! Color is for f*cking chumps!
Oh and you like the optimism present in the Marvel Studios pics? Well, f*ck that noise! Prepare to double down on dark and gritty. The future segments of DAYS OF FUTURE PAST are basically a Sentinel version of THE TERMINATOR, a desolate wasteland where everyone is either dying or dead. The past is a hopeless dream that will ultimately be shattered so everybody can get with the dying and being dead. So f*cking depressing. ARGHHH!
Whew. Sorry about that. Mini-rant inside of a rant. INCEPTION. I guess what I’m trying to get at is I am not a fan of Singer’s vision of the X-Men. Never have been. My personal fav X-Pics were FIRST CLASS, THE WOLVERINE, and THE LAST STAND. I love those flicks because they remind of the X-Men comics and cartoons I grew up with. They are what I want from these characters. Peppy pop bubblegum badassery, not dark and depressing bullsh*t. If I wanted my superheroes to always be on the verge of crying or screaming at the heavens, I’d watch THE DARK KNIGHT or MAN OF STEEL.
While Singer’s first two X-MEN films aren’t nearly as depressing as I'm making them out to be, they are dark. All black leather and brooding. DAYS looks to continue that trend, if the teaser trailer above is to be believed. The future looks grim, the past looks grim. Everything looks grim. I hate that. I hate APOCALYPSE is likely going to be more of that. I hate that he’s going to take the fun “First Class” crew, whom I absolutely love, and shove them through the grim and gritty filter. I that hate Bryan Singer managed to worm his way back into the X-MEN film franchise. It was better off without him. Fox should bring back Vaughn. End of rant.
USELESS KNOWLEDGE: Including his cameo in X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST this will be Hugh Jackman's seventh portrayal of Logan/Wolverine, raising his own record for the most times a comic book character has been played by the same actor in theatrical films. He will also be the only actor to appear in the entire X-MEN film series.