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Bryan Singer has shared a new photo from the set of next year’s X-Men: Apocalypse, apparently showing Ben Hardy‘s Angel in a 1982 Berlin “fight club” for mutants — a moment that draws deep on the comic book mythos of Marvel’s mutant superheroes.
While Angel hasn’t spent much time as part of fight clubs in his long-running comic book career (As one of the original X-Men to debut in 1963, he was always a little too clean-cut for that kind of thing, even when he was temporarily a villain in the mid-1980s), there is a history of mutant fight clubs in the comics — or, rather, of underground “arenas,” where mutants fight for the entertainment (and gambling) of others.
Originally debuting in 1984’s Beauty and the Beast miniseries (unconnected from the fairy tale in any way but for the title; the series starred the X-Man Beast and future X-Men member Dazzler), the first such arena was the Underground Mutant Theater, created by a character who claimed to be the illegitimate son of Fantastic Four villain Doctor Doom. Ostensibly a safe form of entertainment akin to professional wrestling, the concept’s next appearance in a storyline in the New Mutants monthly series the following year revealed that the event had become corrupted into a bloodsport where death was a likely outcome for participants.
An entirely disconnected mutant fight club would appear in a 2004 story arc of the X-Treme X-Men comic book, titled (appropriately) “Storm: The Arena.” In all three cases, however, the concept is used to illustrate the lure of public acceptance, and to explore the question of how far mutants would go to gain that acceptance. Also in all three cases, the hero at the center of the story has a moment of moral uncertainty before reaffirming that they are, in fact, a hero with clear boundaries. Given that X-Men: Apocalypse will see the heroic Angel work with Apocalypse for part of the movie, it’s unlikely that this is a coincidence.
The extent of the fight club will be seen in X-Men: Apocalypse, which will be released May 2016.
A photo posted by Bryan Singer (@bryanjaysinger) on
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