This was originally published at The Edge SUSU on June 29th 2014.
X-Men: Days of Future Past graced our screens last month with a very successful box office take, 700 million dollars and counting, which was a relief for fans after the so-so box office performance of First Class. Therefore, we can now eagerly look forward to what is to come. The next X-Men film, Apocalypse, was actually announced a while back. Nevertheless, the acclaim and success of DOFP makes the sequel feel like a more tangible and exciting prospect. There seems to be scope to take the franchise in multiple different directions now, especially after the film’s killer ending, and with that in mind it is worth thinking about what kind of things Fox should deliver to keep the anticipation levels high.
After being rumored for months, it was eventually confirmed that Channing Tatum has been in talks for the role of Gambit in X-Men: Apocalypse. The character has such a special place in many readers’ hearts, and the filmmakers know this, but not everyone is enthusiastic about Tatum’s casting. It is true that he isn’t the first person that jumps to mind when considering the comic-book iteration, which makes one wonder if Fox is planning to do something totally new with the fans’ favorite mutant, instead of just sticking slavishly to the source material. Either way, there is no denying that the promise of Gambit being well executed on the big screen is pretty exciting.
4) The 70s
One of the things that was really unique about both X-Men: First Class and DOFP was the way they played with history. However, it is hard not to feel a small trace of disappointment, when considering the lost opportunities in taking further advantage of the 1960’s setting established in First Class. It seemed like a shame to whiz straight from 1962 (First Class) to 1973 (DOFP) when there was so much 60s goodness yet to be explored. Nonetheless there is no denying the allure of the new 70’s era world either. There is plenty of room for more political backdrops, humorous references to the period’s culture. The plan for Apocalypse is said to be to catapult the mutants into the 1980s. The notion of moving the action to the 80s does seem like a logical step forward but do we need it just yet? After all, wasn’t the whole point of First Class to show us Professor X and Magneto when they were younger and less wise? What is the point in going forward full throttle to end up right back where we started?
This might seem like a given, but it is worth mentioning: too often, great comic book villains have been brought to the big screen only to emerge as crushing disappointments (Galactus, Venom, Dark Phoenix). Apocalypse offers up the possibility of a Mutant Villain (that isn’t Magneto) that could pose a real threat to the X-Men. He has got a comprehensible motive, tons of backstory and a heap of devastating powers. Not to mention those four horseman sidekicks with mutations that cause pestilence, famine, death and war. On top of that, it would be good to expand the franchise’s Villain roster.
2) Time Travel
This one is a little bit more general, but if Fox could keep going with the time travel thing it could really open up lots of potential avenues for the X-Men universe. Parallel dimensions
and timelines have always been a big part of the comic-book source material and have provided some of the most memorable and cherished stories from the X-Men canon. Now that Brian Singer has shown it can be pulled off, it would probably be a good idea to continue with the time travel stuff. It would also give the X-Men films something to further distinguish themselves from other superhero franchises, especially since there is nothing comparable to it in the Marvel or DC cinematic universes at the moment.
1) Focusing on the characters
Most importantly, it is pivotal that the focus remains on the characters and the relationships between them. There has been talk of Apocalypse being pitched as a superhero film crossed with a disaster movie, indicating that the next X-Men film will probably be the biggest in terms of its scale. Now that is all very exciting and this idea of each new X-Men film being a different genre (For instance DOFP is a time travel flick) to stop things from getting too stale is a smart one. However there is a danger that if the director (whoever they end up being, given Singer current legal issues) gets too caught up in the epicness of the story, they may lose sight of its heart. It’s definitely a fine line, these are after all summer blockbusters and people want to see action and stunning set pieces etc. but after the amazing job Singer has done in developing the character’s in DOFP it would be a shame to see everything become all about the action. The ending of DOFP leaves us curious about where the characters will go next, so hopefully the filmmakers will keep that central and prioritize the story and characters over the action sequences (whilst still delivering on that front too…) On the same subject, more of Evan Peter’s scene stealing Quicksilver would be welcome too.