In the most recent trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse, which pits The X-Men against the oldest and most powerful mutant, we see a scene in which Apocalypse gets empowered by some alien/future technology.
This excited me as it’s something that has never been shown or referenced in any of the other Fox films of this franchise,
In the comic books, however, this is fairly common. In most of the X-Men films, the battles are mostly concerned with the mutant’s contentious relationship with humans and their retaliation i.e. X2 & Days of Future Past.
While this is fine in terms of strengthening the key themes such as persecution and bigotry (and props to Bryan Singer and co. for launching one of the first franchises to deal with such issues in a comic book movie), I can’t help feeling that it’s time to look to new ways to re-invigorate the X-Universe on film.
With the success of Marvel Studios and the current renaissance of the comic book movie genre (which, arguably, the X-Men kicked off) the general non-comic book fan audience seem to have warmed to the more fantastical comic book stories, ideas and characters we now see on our screens.
Sure, the relatively street level Iron Man was the entry point for audiences but even the most optimistic Marvel fan couldn’t have predicted the success of Guardians of the Galaxy.
Who would have thought that audiences would react so enthusiastically to a talking tree and an anthropomorphic raccoon? Marvel Studios set the precedent for these cosmic films as they slowly build to more and more epic stories, building to a cosmic crescendo with Infinity War.
I think if Fox wants to keep their X-Men franchise fresh and relevant they need to start thinking outside the box a little…
If the Singerverse is your only exposure to the X-Men you may be surprised to find that since the mid 70’s the X-men have been intrinsically linked to outer space. Chris Claremont & Dave Cockrum (creators on the X-Men book at the time), being huge sci-fi nerds created a sprawling epic of Star Trek/Wars proportions introducing one of the major extraterrestrial ruling bodies in the MU The Shi’ar; a bird-like warrior race and The Imperial Guard (who were inspired by DC’s The Legion Of Superheroes). They also invented The Starjammers (grow up!); a bunch of rebellious space pirates created 40 years before the most famous iteration of the GotG.
Since that time all these characters have been a quintessential part of almost every X-men story written since. Personally I can’t imagine the X-Men without these characters and concepts including;
Lilandra Majestrix leader of the Shi’ar and love of Xavier’s life, Corsair leader of The Starjammers and Cyclops’ long lost father, Gladiator a devoted follower of any and all Shi’ar rulers, leader of The Imperial Guard and a clear homage to Superman.
Not to forget another important character and the protector of the reality altering M’Kraan Crystal known as The Phoenix.
Franchise fatigue and overexposure are never a good thing, especially with critics calling “SUPERHERO FATIGUE!” every time any given comic book movie fails to make a billion dollars. Sure, it can be difficult to get a new spin on an old idea sometimes but I feel that maybe the whole mutant thing (and don’t get me wrong I’m very excited to see Apocalyse and I’m glad they’re branching out) may have reached that point.
I’ve said this about the Spider-Man franchise as well up until recently. “How many mad scientists and freak accident villains can he fight until the waters turn stagnant?”, but now the world is excited to see a new Spider-Man because he is moving in an entirely unprecedented new direction. After the incredible success of Deadpool I feel that we might have the shot in the arm Fox needed to get past their old way of thinking. These new characters could add a whole new dimension to the franchise that we’ve never seen before and up the threat level exponentially… But what about the message you ask?
Fear, Hate and Loathing in Chandilar
The Shi’ar are often considered the mediators of the galactic UN usually conducting these meetings from their homeworld of Chandilar. The council consider that Earth and its people, dangerous uncouth savages, the yobs of the universe. It’s not hard to see why as we constantly at war with each other and the mutant situation only exacerbated those problems. Why wouldn’t these alien races treat us with contempt and distrust? The message is the same only instead of the mutants protecting a world that fears and hates them, they now safe guard a galaxy that fears and hates them.
Fantastic Four Characters
After the absolute box office flop that was Fant4stic it’s doubtful that Fox will be returning to the Baxter Building any time soon. However, because the wealth of awesome cosmic characters contained within those rights will now be going unused, why not bring them over to The X-Men?
The Skrulls, for instance, though primarily F4 villains once almost took control of the Shi’ar empire in one Uncanny X-Men story. I think Fox also owns the rights to The Brotherhood Of Badoon, another reptilian race that, in one possible future, rules the universe. I’m pretty sure I don’t even have to mention Annihilus who ravaged The Shi’ar with his own army.
Heck, why not bring Galactus and his heralds while you’re at it?
Kang The Conqueror
Ok now let’s take a step back; if the idea X-Traterrestrials is a bit much how about time-travel? After all, it’s familiar ground in the franchise now.
A character that is heavily linked to Apocalyse’s origin is Kang, a time-travelling warlord from the 31st century. Bored with his utopian present he finds an ancestor’s time machine and goes off to conquer all of time. Kang is another character that Fox owns via the FF rights. At one point he ruled all of Ancient Egypt with his future tech until Apocalypse (and the FF) deposed him and he escaped back into the time-stream.
What if the tech we saw in the trailer was Kang’s?
What if Kang came back for revenge on Apocalyse or all of mutantkind with all of time as his weapon. Now that would be a story for the ages…
Probably the most famous storyline in the X-Men canon and for good reason. This story is as epic and cosmic it gets yet it still has huge heart to it. They handled it very poorly in X-Men 3: The Last Stand, the less said about that film the better. In the comics The Phoenix is a cosmic entity with power comparable to Galactus.
When it possessed Jean Grey in order save the universe from the destructive power of The M’Kraan Crystal it got seduced by all her senses and empathic nature and remained in her body.
In the process it drove itself and Jean mad, going so far as snuffing out a star in The Shi’ar Galaxy and in the process destroying several nearby planets and ending billions of innocent lives in order to abate it’s own dark appetite. Because of this The Shi’ar calls for Jean’s execution with only The X-Men standing in their way.
Now if that doesn’t sound like a movie you want to see I don’t know what does?
Whether Fox will go this route is doubtful; I believe they’re more interested in films like X-Force, New Mutants, Gambit and of course Deadpool. They are also branching out into TV with Legion & Hellfire Club, whatever happens only time will tell…
Unless Kang alters it…