Now that we’ve learned just how closely the origin of this take on Storm will stick to the comic books, one might think the same would be true for Apocalypse. As the post-credits scene of Days of Future Pastshowed, Apocalypse would still rise to power (along with his Four Horsemen) in the days of ancient Egypt, and be blessed with the telekinesis needed to assemble an entire pyramid. After that, his powers get a bit more… comic book-ish. In short, he can do just about anything a comic book reader could think of.
For the X-Men movie universe, some restrictions need to be applied. While that might sound disappointing to fans, Singer reveals a new origin for the villain – and an explanation for his immortality – that will have fans more curious than upset:
“He moves from body to body. Apocalypse himself is not a physical form, he’s an energy. I don’t know what he is. What he does is he accumulates powers over the millenia by moving from body to body, and what’s wonderful is he thinks in the beginning of the film he’s found this great body. I don’t want to give away what the power of the body this mutant has but it’s a familiar one that you’ve seen a number of very famous mutants have. It kind of ends up being the wrong one because he gets stuck in it for a long time, but then suddenly he has this opportunity and that becomes his agenda.
“He has a number of different powers that he’s acquired over the years as he’s moved from body to body, accumulating these various abilities. One of them is to imbue other mutants and to heighten their powers and abilities beyond anything they ever imagined. Secondly he can shield from psychic powers, he can form shields so that it makes it harder for a psychic like Xavier to tap in and get to them. He’s not a psychic himself though. He can amplify your power, transform you as a mutant but his ability to physically damage, destroy, or build is in the non-biological world. That’s in the physical world, he can change the inorganic molecules of things.
The one restriction should be immediately obvious, since the comics saw Apocalypse able to reshape his own body, size, and density at will (making him a tough villain to actually beat). The same thinking is likely behind the decision to remove telepathy from his power suite, granting him the power to manipulate others to his cause, but not sense when they may be straying from the path – a pivotal point if Magneto, Storm, Angel or Psylocke are ever going to return to the side of our heroes.
Singer went on to tease more powers being explored, since the possibly infinite number of former hosts could offer plenty of tricks up his sleeve – and the question of where Apocalypse’s true origin lies, as a being of energy, isn’t going to be answered before the movie hits theaters. The core mystery seems to be the one body Apocalypse attempted to occupy, when a mutant ability he craved turned out to be more than he bargained for, and presumably saw him disappear for centuries.
If he’s been able to actually plot or plan that entire time, then the X-Men looking to stand against him will be in for a massive fight.
THE RIGHT MAN FOR THE JOB
So, how do you find the right person to bring to life a mutant who is as old as time, perfectly equipped to manipulate minions, draw followers willingly to his cause, and attempt to rule the world with an iron fist? Apparently, it wasn’t a difficult question, since Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina) was their top pick:
“He was our first choice. When we started talking about Apocalypse, it was back when we were making Days of Future Past and we started talking about who could actually play the part from the standpoint of who could hold the screen and even dominate the screen with Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, all the actors we have.”
That’s a task that Isaac is more than up for, having earned critical acclaim in half a dozen movies in recent years. Ex Machina, Inside Llewyn Davis, Show Me a Hero, and A Most Violent Year may be targeted at a different audience than an X-Men adventure, but given what’s been said about Apocalypse, there’s enough character work to put Isaac’s skills to work. That’s assuming that Singer hopes to make him as nuanced and believable a villain as Magneto before him.
But talent wasn’t the only reason Isacc was a perfect choice. In a world where superhero franchises are regularly criticized for giving little representation to minority actors (or characters), Singer and his team made the decision to cast a non-Caucasian actor if they could. Their criteria wasn’t as explicit as Apocalypse’s presumed ethnicity – Egyptian? Arab? A blue-skinned alien mutant? – but it did play a role in their search:
“In terms of his ethnicity, we wanted it to be someone who wasn’t white so that was actually another part of the decision process, so that was a nice coincidence for us even though he’s not, as you say, Egyptian or Middle Eastern. But really it came from a place of who’s the best actor in the world to us who hasn’t already been in an X-Men movie [laughs] or some other superhero movie, because we couldn’t cast somebody from Avengers.”
Deadpool opens in theaters February 12, 2016; X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27, 2016; Gambit sometime in 2017; Wolverine 3 on March 3, 2017; and an unannounced X-Men film on July 13, 2018. The New Mutants is also in development.