Forget Captain America: Civil War — the most political superhero movie of the year might, accidentally, end up being X-Men: Apocalypse, judging by the new trailer for Bryan Singer’s fourth movie in the franchise.
Returning to a theme often visited by the movies — that all of mutantkind is, in the words of Marvel Entertainment’s classic comics, “feared and hated” by humanity, and as a result is constantly under threat — the new teaser for Apocalypse firmly positions Oscar Isaac’s eponymous new villain as a charismatic leader who speaks to the fear in the hearts of many mutants in an attempt to gain power and defeat his enemies.
Isaac’s face isn’t orange-tinted and his pitch to Magneto doesn’t involve the namedropping of “Apocalypse Steaks” or “Apocalypse Wine,” but nonetheless, the Donald Trump comparison is drawn.
For longtime fans of the X-Men franchise, however, the most interesting element of Apocalypse just might be the identity of the Four Horsemen. Three of the four — Storm, Psylocke and Angel — are longstanding X-Men in comic-book lore, with all three also having made appearances as such to varying degrees in previous movies (which, because of the complicated continuity of the series, took place after the upcoming release). Magneto, on the other hand, has a turn to full-on bad guy in his future, judging by his role in the original X-Men movie trilogy.
(Interestingly, the massive promo image unveiled as nine covers for British movie magazine Empire doesn’t feature the Horsemen and X-Men in conflict, but instead suggests all of them teaming against Apocalypse himself, potentially signaling a last-minute turn in the movie.)
This suggests two things: Firstly, that Apocalypse isn’t going to end the world, although that should never have been in doubt, thanks to the movie being set 30 years before Deadpool, where the world is still around. Secondly, that he will succeed in creating an acolyte in Michael Fassbender’s master of magnetism, whose future M.O. — advocating mutant supremacy and a race war with humanity — doesn’t feel too far afield from what Apocalypse is preaching in this trailer.
Just listen to what Magneto says in the trailer, going from, “Doesn’t it ever wake you up in the middle of the night, the feeling that they’ll come for you and your children?” to “We’ll take everything from them.”
It’s a shift that makes sense, when considering the final shot of the movie’s first trailer and that Apocalypse has been described as the final act in a trilogy that started with X-Men: First Class. Just as Apocalypse will make the final push in transforming James McAvoy’s Xavier into the character as he appeared in 2000’s X-Men, it appears as if the same will be true of Magneto, with Apocalypse teaching him the final lessons necessary to become the primary mutant threat to humanity.
That isn’t the only sign that Apocalypse is intended, in part, to connect back up to X-Men. It’s notable that the movie’s new additions complete the original core team of X-Men as seen in the 2000 film, albeit with Storm (Alexandra Shipp) being on the wrong side of the conflict.
X-Men: Apocalypse, then, might close the loop on the series’ complicated continuity, and allow the next installment — whatever and whenever it arrives — to finally return to a contemporary setting for the first time since 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand (although 2013’s The Wolverine and 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past both offered alternate presents for the franchise).
It might not be the beginning of the end for the world, but it might, after three movies, finally be the end of the beginning.
X-Men: Apocalypse will be released May 27. Watch the trailer below.