Apocalypse Wow!: Will This Be The Most Awesome X-Men Movie Ever?

Prepare For The Apocalypse. Only The Strong Will Survive.

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“I’ve been called many things over many lifetimes: Ra, Krishna, Yahweh. I was there to spark and fan the flame of man’s awakening, to spin the wheel of civilization” – Apocalypse.

Apocalpse is a-comin’! Are you ready? 

As blockbusters go, this blogger could not be more excited. 

For the past two years, this movie has had a reserved place at the back of my mind. This week, this Post would have run with a completely different topic, but ever since last week’s well-received (yay, thanks everyone!) concoction, my thoughts are still running with all-things-Marvel and – crucially – the latest Trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse was released today!

This has been shaping up to be the blockbuster that should set awesome new heights for the comic book blockbuster. Blessed with an exceptional team of actors, with a master director: Bryan Singer at the helm, another impressive script from Simon Kinberg and Singer; not to mention boasting one of the most formidable comic book villains of all time, this promises to be a fitting finale to what has been an extraordinary X-Men Origins trilogy. 

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Moira McTaggart: “Wherever this being was, he would always have four followers who he would imbue with power.

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Alex Summers: “Like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. He got that one from the Bible.” 

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Moira McTaggart: “Or the Bible got it from him…”

Ever since witnessing that astonishing post-credits scene from X-Men: Day Of Future Past,  the character of Apocalypse has intrigued me.

The synopsis sounds irresistible: 

Worshiped as a god since the dawn of civilization, En Sabah Nur – the first and most powerful mutant in history – has emerged (in 1983): “after thousands of years, disillusioned with the world as he finds it and recruits a team of powerful mutants, including a disheartened Magneto, to cleanse mankind and create a new world order, over which he will reign.” 

Naturally it is up to Prof Xavier’s team to stand against him.

At some point during the mid-80s, my access to X-Men comics was lost, for reasons that not even Cerebro can unlock. Hmm, how can the term: ‘X-Men fan’ be applied to me when my knowledge of a badass like Apocalypse is woefully lacking?! 

Never mind: back on the windy, rainswept streets of the UK, bookshops, comic book stores and even libraries have been frequented to catch all the mutant-lit my grubby paws can grab! There is still two months to go back through the X-Universe, swot up on background details… and become reacquainted with one of the most inspirational comic titles ever published, before this guaranteed masterpiece hits big screens worldwide.

Interestingly, this forthcoming distraction was initially set to be titled: X-Men: Age of Apocalypse, but – presumably to avoid confusion with Avengers: Age of Ultron – it was renamed. 

Besides, the producers felt that X-Men: Apocalypse strikes a more ominous tone…

Apocalypse (1)

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“He looked fantastic. Also, the name is dynamic. It tells you right off this character means trouble… His philosophy… fit in with the harder edge of evolution which is part and parcel of the mutant story. Isn’t that what humans fear about mutants? That they are the next step?” – Bob Harras.

The immortal mutant known in ancient times as En Sabah Nur made his debut in X-Factor #5 (May 1986).

That story-line hinted that a mysterious supervillain was behind the then adversaries: the Alliance of Evil. Originally intended to be someone else, editor Bob Harras felt the time was right to introduce a monumental new character – a “Magneto-level villain who would up the stakes.”  

Writer Louise Simonson duly obliged, and Apocalypse made his first dramatic first appearance on the end page of that fifth issue. Not surprisingly, the sixth issue turned out to be something of a revelation. This big, bad, blue-skinned mutant became an instant hit. Since then he has gone on to make several reappearances in the main title and in other limited series and spin-offs.

It was not a difficult decision for Bryan Singer to make Apocalypse the main antagonist of his latest foray into the X-saga. “It deals with ancient mutantism, the origins of the mutant state; or the origin of gods and religion,” he explained. “There’s a mixture of ancient religion and cultism in the character of Apocalypse.”

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“He doesn’t distinguish between mutants and humans like the other villains do. To him it’s all just one giant screwed-up world that worships false idols. He is the God of the Old Testament: if there isn’t the order and worship then I’ll open up the Earth and swallow you whole!” – Simon Kinberg.  

Exactly thirty years after his inception, Apocalypse looks set to conquer the box office. Offering fresh new faces as familiar characters such as Scott, Jean and Ororo, first appearances for Pylocke, Jubilee, (and Dazzler?!); Fassbender and (at last! A bald) McAvoy excel yet agin as Erik and Charles; an interesting new look for my fave mutant: Nightcrawler; Oscar Isaac as the titular villain (come on!); the return of Quicksilver (and the absence – perhaps mercifully – of Wolverine).

In the meantime, you can catch the latest slice of mutant awesomeness unleashed today right here: 

Of course, just when you think all that needed to be geeked here had been covered, yet further awesome pics surfaced. 

Apocalypse teaches his X-opponents a lesson…  

Enjoy!

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Everything they built will fall (on 27 May) – can’t wait! 

Great Xpectations: A Tale Of Love, Mutants And Apocalypse

What’s the last thing you remember?

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“Get off the bloody chandelier, Hank!” – Charles Xavier.

With the release of X-Men: Days Of Future Past on DVD, this ol’ X-fan has finally got round to enjoying what was inevitably shaping up to be one of the best blockbusters of the year; with Bryan Singer back at the helm, and a plot grabbed from a major story arc in the original comic, it was looking like a very promising prospect indeed.

In the original Days of Future Past comic, it is intriguing to learn that it was Shadowcat (aka Kitty Pryde) and not Logan, who was tasked with the time-travel duties.  Also, the “future” events supposedly take place in 2023, but interestingly enough, the original 1981 comic specifically mentions 2013 – the year incidentally in which filming began.

Well over thirty years ago, visits to London during school hols would always culminate in raiding the bottom shelf of the station newsagent for a comic to read on the train home. Obsessed with finding as many crazy-costumed-crusaders as possible, the search usually concentrated on teams rather than solo heroes. So, er… X marked the spot as it were. No pun intended, for any Uncanny X-Men issue swiftly became the treasure of my (modest) comic collection.

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“So, I wake up in my younger body, and then what?” – Logan.

Why – if you like the X-Men so much – has it taken so long for you to get round to watching this: one of the finest in the franchise? Oho! Trust you to come up with such a good question, dear Follower.

When X-Men:DoFP was released in mid-May, my usual mid-year sojourn in the UK was weeks old; the film was available in multiplexes throughout the country, humongous billboard posters of Wolverine and Mystique taunted me in London Underground tunnels, but still, no muto-show. What on Earth was holding me back?

Thousands of miles at home on the Gulf of Thailand, Mrs. B waited patiently. During our daily chats on the phone, we agreed to not seeing it separately until my return.

In the past “a new and uncertain world” as Charles Xavier called it, (late 2000 to be precise), while flying down to Australia, watching The X-Men as inflight entertainment was such a great experience, and helped allay pressing concerns about how (and where) to find gainful employment and/or the love of my life.

Fast forward to May 2003, Bradscribe – living and working in Southeast Asia – sat in a fine, yet freezing cold, cinema, with his gorgeous girlfriend (who is now the lovely Mrs. B) enjoying X2: X-Men United beside him. My own “world of endless possibilities and infinite outcomes” had been seized successfully. Such an amazing movie – we ended up watching it together at the cinema three times. Not only did we promise to grow old together, but vowed to watch any more X-Men sequels that came our way!

It’s such a shame that X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) turned out to be a huge disappointment, jettisoning the drama and character development of the first two films for a monotonous cascade of lame fight sequences. It may have been a weak movie, but our love remained strong.

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“We were supposed to protect them. Where were you when your own people needed you? Hiding! You and Hank, pretending to be something you’re not! You abandoned us all!” – Erik Lehnsherr.

It should be said that it was stupendous news to learn that Michael Fassbender had been cast as a young Eric Lensherr, in X-Men:First Class (2011). Mrs. B acquired the DVD when it came out. We settled down to watch, and sure enough, Fassbender as Magneto proved to be impressive; his presence made the film work and took the franchise to an interesting new level. But it soon became evident that my beloved clearly did not dig what was going on. To her, an X-Men movie without Scott or Jean – or completely Ian McKellen-less for that matter – ain’t worth her time. Yet this new instalment, with all of Her faves reinstated, and some spectacular scenes on offer, looked like rekindling our mutual mutant appreciation.

For me, DoFP did not disappoint. Again, Fassbender is on top menacing form. An instant classic scene sees a sinister fedora-clad Eric, infiltrating the facility where his helmet is stored; the image of him marching down the corridor levitating metal balls above his palm, was cool and impressive, not only requiring  inmmediate playback, but just had to be incorporated into this Post by any means necessary. The tension between Erik and Charles in 1973 clearly in my view surpasses the ’60s drama of the previous movie. The scene between the young and elder Xaviers is especially astounding, and the dialogue between Wolverine and a dispirited Charles in Cerebro is a contender for one of the best scenes from the whole franchise.  

The final scene where Logan wakes up in a peaceful but busy Xavier School and sees Jean Grey was a nice touch and brought back teary-eyed memories of that happy month in 2003… when only one movie mattered.

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“The thrust of Apocalypse is really to complete the trilogy… There will be familiar characters and new characters that we haven’t seen… ever… but it’ll be the completion of what we began in First Class” – Simon Kinberg.   

Last, but by no means least, the post-creds sequence for DoFP must stand as the most thrilling this fanboy has ever seen in any Marvel-related movie. From the depths of my dark, tangled mind, the character portrayed was instantly discernible. Apocalypse was one of the most powerful mutants, also known as En Sabah Nur (“the first one”). This final instalment in the trilogy may feature other mutants not previously featured onscreen, but should provide an awesome spectacle when it is unleashed in May 2016. But will Mrs. B appreciate it? “It’s going to take the two of us.”

Well, as our new DVD got underway, it came in for instant criticism. She frowned discouragingly during the opening mutants vs. Sentinels battle.

“Who are these guys?!…”

It is with deep regret that even yours truly had to confess to not knowing who any of those mutants were.

“You’re the fanboy! You should know!”

Yes, my dear, but 1981 was a very long time ago, and none of the onscreen X-Men sport their unique costumes as seen in the comics, so it all looks rather confusing.

When Logan wakes up in 1973, he just had to be absolutely starkers, didn’t he? Mrs. B was clearly not amused. She huffed discontentedly, snuggled down on the sofa, and fell fast asleep, leaving me to sit through the rest of the movie on my own which, as mentioned before, is what this blogger should have done four months ago anyway.

Oh well…

Er... no, not exactly
Er… no, not exactly

 

 

Make Mine Marvel!

 

Posted: 11 April 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: everything a movie blockbuster should be
Captain America: The Winter Soldier: everything a movie blockbuster should be

“Marvel was pioneering new methods of comics storytelling and characterization, addressing more serious issues and in the process keeping and attracting readers in their teens and beyond” – Peter Sanderson.

Having watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier the other night which, in this case, thoroughly deserves the overused tag: “awesome,” the whole phenomenon of comicbook movies has proved its worth, and looks set to be the most bankable genre of all time. A tremendous amalgam of superhero action and the twists and intrigue of a political thriller, The Winter Soldier showcases all that should be big and spectacular about the modern blockbuster.  

It cannot go unmentioned that Marvel comicbooks greatly inpiring my own writing. The standard of scripts was engrossing. Even now, skip through a certain classic and the descriptions and dialogue still look superbly crafted.

The Avengers movie (2012) not only invigorated the Marvel franchise, it practically blew every other blockbuster out of the park. Having grossed $623.4 million in the US and $1.5 billion worldwide, it has become the third highest-grossing movie of all time. Only had one Avengers comic, and that was just to get scenes with The Vision (my personal fave Avenger) the “synthozoid” who can alter his own density to walk through walls, and spoke some of the more poignant dialogue of any comicbook.

Stan Lee: Creator of the best comics
Stan Lee: Creator of the best comics

“You know, I guess one person can make a difference. Enough said” – Stan Lee.

The one aspect which Bradscribe loves about the Marvel movies is the numerous cameos by Stan Lee, the mastermind behind Marvel Comics. His best appearance must surely be in Hulk (2003) in which he appears as a security guard talking with a colleague played by Lou Ferrigno, who played the green giant in the original TV series; if only the rest of this dull movie had been as good as this charming moment…

Back in 1980/1981, the heyday of my avid comic accumulation period, whenever given the opportunity to peruse the latest copies on the newsstands, there was a tendency to select a different title every time; if the cover carried the epithet: “Stan Lee Presents” it was sure to be a winner.

It is estimated that more than 8,000 characters exist within the Marvel Universe alone. Thus, there is an unlimited trove of possibilities for Marvel Studios to dominate the multiplexes for the foreseeable future. An enlightening prospect considering that Marvel had filed for bankruptcy in 1994! Moreover, when Disney snapped up Marvel Entertainment in 2010, the former’s stock price tumbled; Sony Pictures owned the film rights for Spider-Man while Fox controlled the X-Men. When a big-budget production of Captain America was mooted, it seemed nobody believed that the success of Iron Man could be repeated…

The original X-Men stories were reprinted from 1986 onwards: my best homework!
The original X-Men stories were reprinted from 1986 onwards: my best homework!

..Stan Lee had this huge breakthrough of two-dimensional characters. So, they dress up in costumes and do good, but they’ve got a bad heart. Or a bad leg. I actually did think for a long while that having a bad leg was an actual character trait” – Alan Moore.  

The comicbook which excited me the most was The Uncanny X-Men. During 1987/1988, a friend’s overflowing comic collection spurred the second wave of my comix-fix. Classic X-Men (which began in 1986)reprinted the hard-to-obtain earlier editions from the 70s. In addition to Chris Claremont’s writing, brilliantly realised by John Byrne’s artwork, it was amazing to learn the frustrations and complications suffered by mutantkind. X2 (2003) remains my personal favourite Marvel movie, perhaps coming closest to transferring the tight script and catchy characterization from comic pages to the big screen.

Like Iron Man and the Hulk, Thor was a co-creation of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Just a few issues of The Mighty Thor comic inspired me to peruse Norse mythology, and expand the scope for creating my own historical fiction. Even at such a tender age, the “peculiar” way in which the Thunder God spoke enthralled me.

When news of a major movie production was finally confirmed, this fan became anxious. How would they treat the Thor-talk?! The result (2011) was agreeable; appreciated the choice of director and the presence of Anthony Hopkins as Odin, but as usual, any gravitas it could have achieved was submerged under a deluge of frenetic fights, CGI tomfoolery and… Thor just didn’t sound right.   

Never mind, Captain America is turning out to be a major franchise; who knows, it might be big and cool enough to entice kids off computer games and back to comicbooks!